Thaw – 2.6

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It took all of two minutes of playing to realize video games were now dead to her forever.

“Can we watch TV or something instead?” Ruby asked after she’d just pressed a button and caused a dude to collapse in a spray of blood.

Weiss did her nervous finger twisting. “I–I thought you wanted to play Huntsman Royale,” she stammered softly, like she was afraid if she spoke too aggressively Ruby might break.

Or that Ruby might break her. She’d definitely raised her voice and gotten really angry a little while ago. She regretted it already. She’d just been super freaked out that she’d just seen people die and then Weiss had started saying anti-faunus dumb crap again, and Ruby had kinda snapped.

And now Weiss, after her reflexive angry defiance, was acting like Ruby was an eggshell and a bomb at the same time.

“I did. I just… don’t feel like watching people die, even if they’re pixelated.” Honesty was always the best.

“Ah. Yeah, that’s… yeah.”

Weiss put her controller on the coffee table and Ruby reached out to grab it. Suddenly she realized that her hands were once again covered in blood. Dripping red, the liquid spreading up her fingers, palms, arms.

With a yelp, she drew her hand back, but the blood was gone.

She never thought she could hate the color red so much.

“You okay?” Weiss asked her, making Ruby wince. No, she wasn’t okay. She was supposed to be a superhero that slays evil monsters, not a useless child that couldn’t do anything to save people from a crazy killer dude. But that’s exactly what she was tonight.

“Yep! Sorry. Thought I, uh, saw a ghost!”

Maybe honesty wasn’t always the best.

She zipped around to put Weiss’ and her own controller on the tv stand, turned off the gaming console, and zipped back to the couch, bouncing on the cushion next to her partner.

“Where’s the remote?”

“How should I know?” Weiss asked. “You used it to switch to TV two.”

“Oh yeah.”

Ruby looked around. She checked on the coffee table.

Nope.

Under the coffee table?

Nope.

Between the couch cushions?

Nope.

Under the couch?

“Hm. I dunno what I did with it.” She turned to Weiss for help. “Are you sure you haven’t–”

The remote was in Weiss’’ hands, which were resting gently on her lap. Her lips were pursed together really hard to keep from smiling, but her eyes were doing it for her.

“Yer a butt,” Ruby griped, picking herself up off the floor.

Weiss’ lips twitched.

Ruby snatched the device from Butt’s hands with a fake-grumpy huff, bouncing again and jostling Weiss (not nearly enough). Weiss moved a bit, crossing her legs, and when they were both resettled Ruby realized they were both gently leaning against each other’s shoulders.

The support was nice.

She switched back to the TV and started flipping through channels to find Cartoon Station. It was channel 62, right?

Oh. No. Guess the channels in Vale City were different than the ones in Patch.

“Do you know which channel Cartoon Station is?” she asked. It was a long shot, but–

“Uh, no,” Weiss responded, clearly saying ‘I don’t watch cartoons’ with her tone.

“Hnnngh!”

Ruby went back to flipping through channels. She looked down at the remote in her hands, trying to find a button that said ‘TV Guide’ or something. Maybe she could fi–

Her fingers were covered in blood again.

She must have made some sort of noise because Weiss’ head jerked towards her.

“What’s wrong?” she asked urgently.

“N-nothing! Sorry.” Ruby went back to quickly flicking through channels.

“See another ghost in the remote?” Weiss pressed skeptically.

“Nooo, that’s silly!” Ruby replied, trying to be distracting with an upbeat, cheery tone.

“Ruby, what’s wrong?” Weiss demanded, crossing her arms and turning her body to face Ruby. She lifted her legs up a bit, resting them across the side of Ruby’s thigh, the weight serving to keep Ruby in place. Or rather, to let Ruby know Weiss wanted her to stay. It wouldn’t be enough to stop Ruby from Rosing away she wanted to.

Did she want to?

“You said you were always honest,” Weiss prodded her.

Darn her, using Ruby’s words against her. She was right though, Ruby had said that. And Mom would be super grumpy at her right now for trying to lie about something like this.

“Sorry,” she repeated. “I just keep seeing… you know.” She waggled her fingers a bit.

Weiss glanced down at Ruby’s hands, eyes squinting in thought. “No, I don’t, “ she said. “What do you keep seeing?”

There was… there was no way she didn’t know what Ruby meant, right? Either she was really dumb–which she wasn’t, unless faunus were involved apparently–or she wanted Ruby to say it out loud.

Which was really mean! Right? Or maybe it would help her to say it out loud? That was something she’d seen in TV shows and movies before, therapists getting patients to say out loud what was wrong.

But she didn’t need therapy! She was a huntress! She was tough!

Dad had tried getting her to go to psych-iatrist/ologist (whichever one it was), even gotten her all the way into the chair in one’s office a couple years after they’d found out Mom wasn’t coming home, but Ruby had blitzed away as soon as he’d let go of her hand. Talking to strangers about Mom was… no.

But this? This was bad, but it wasn’t Mom .And she’d gotten through Mom, or at least gotten by, so she could handle this too, right?

But Weiss wasn’t a stranger. She was a friend, and she cared, even though she tried to act like she didn’t when people other than Ruby were around.

“Blood. On my hands,” she finally murmured. She looked down at her hands as she said it, but the words didn’t conjure the image. It was just her hands. Super scrubbed clean with medical-grade alcohol solution, white–though not nearly as pale as Weiss, medium length skinny fingers. Just hands.

“I’m sorry,” Weiss whispered. “I should have been the one trying to stop the bleeding.”

Ruby shook her head. The awful possibility that if Weiss had been the one doing it and she’d realized the victim was a faunus, she would have stopped ran through her mind, but she dismissed it before the thought had even fully formed. Weiss wouldn’t do that. It didn’t matter anyway. That wasn’t the reason she’d insisted on doing it herself.

“It was my idea to go there.”

“But–”

“It was my idea to go there, and I can handle it. I’m just as much a huntress as you are, Weiss.”

“I know you are, Ruby. But you just… you’re…”

“Just a kid?” Ruby guessed. It was an argument she was expecting, and it was a dumb one. She was only two years younger than the other freshmen here! Not even that, in some cases. And her birthday was in a couple months!

“I–no,” Weiss recovered. “No, you’re not just anything. I’m sorry. I misspoke. I just meant you’re… innocent?” She looked at Ruby as if unsure the word would land.

It didn’t.

“Huh? Like I haven’t committed any crimes? Have you?”

No way, right? With how much Weiss hated faunus for being criminals (whatever), there was no way she was one herself. Although… she wasn’t really her own biggest fan a lot of the time, maybe that was the reason?… She had a weird thing going where she’d act all ‘I’m awesome and so much better than you hahaha’ and then if she was ever less than perfect she’d beat herself up–literally pinch herself so hard she almost drew blood–when she was alone.

‘Or around me, I guess.’

Did that make Ruby special? Or did it just mean Weiss cared so little she was there that she’d forget and think she’s alone?

No, Ruby had just noted that Weiss cared and was just bad at or didn’t like to show it. She was asking if Ruby was okay now because she cared.

Wait, what were they talking about?

“Not innocent like that, you dolt.”

Oh, right.

“Innocent as in… I don’t know. You know Grimm are evil and need to be stopped from hurting people, right?”

“Of course.”

“Yeah. I just think you just haven’t realized that people hurt people just as much–or more–than Grimm. They can be pretty awful, just like that guy tonight and the people he was killing.”

“Thinking about the White Fang?”

Weiss winced and looked away. “They’re not the only ones.”

“I know,” Ruby said tiredly. “Or, like, I know that as, like, a concept.” She waved her hands. “But people are supposed to be good! And we’re supposed to protect them! What fairytale has people as the bad guys when there are giant monsters of pure evil prowling around being all douchey and evil?!”

Weiss smiled. “Yeah. In a perfect world, you’d be right. But this isn’t a fairytale, Ruby.”

“I knowww… It’s a fanfiction of an anime.”

“What?”

“What?”

“What was… what did you say after ‘I know’? I… I seem to have forgotten.”

“I didn’t say anything after ‘I know’… I don’t think…”

Ruby and Weiss frowned at each other for a moment.  

“Okay. Well–so are you… do you think you’ll take Officer Macklin’s advice and talk to a counselor?” Weiss asked hesitantly.

“Ew, no! Wait, why? Do you think I should?”

Weiss tilted her head. “I think therapy could… help?”

Ruby frowned. No, talking to strangers about deep, personal thought stuff was gross. “Would you do it?”

Weiss scoffed. “Never. I don’t need therapy. I’m perfectly fine.” She blinked and her eyes went wide, darting to Ruby’s. “But–but it does have its merits. It might be helpful for you.”

“…… Naaaaaaaaah.”

Weiss’ eyebrows scrunched up. “Okay,” she said slowly. “Well… in that case, give me your hands.” She held out her own.

“What? Why?”

“So you can’t look at them,” Weiss answered with a tiny smile.

“Oh. Um, is that the best way to deal with this?”

Weiss rolled her eyes. “I don’t know. If you want somebody that knows what they’re doing with this, then see a therapist.”

“No!” Ruby squeaked.

“Then give me your hands!”  

“Fine.” Ruby placed her hands, which still held the remote, into Weiss’. Still that comfy-pillow cold. Weiss sandwiched Ruby’s hands with hers and gave a reassuring rub with one of her thumbs.

“But I need to change the channel,” Ruby complained–though she wasn’t really complaining. This was nice.

Weiss sighed and loosened her grip so Ruby could flip the remote the right way and keep scrolling through the channels.

“Is there anything you want to watch?” Ruby asked.

“Mmm… Not really.”

“Don’t watch much TV either, do you?” Ruby guessed. If Weiss hadn’t seen a lot of movies, it stood to reason she hadn’t seen many TV shows either.

Weiss shook her head. “Not really. Though I do like ‘Discovering Remnant’.”

“The nature documentary thing?” Ruby asked, wrinkling her nose.

“Yes, don’t make that face! It’s interesting. And beautiful.”

“But it’s so boriiiiiing!”

How is it boring? Have you seen the Floating Isles of Mistral? Or the Lava Fields in Vacuo? Or the Infinite Maelstrom? Or–”

“Okay, I get it! There’s cool stuff in it. Neat. There’s still no people or plot or p… something else that starts with P!”

Weiss rolled her eyes. “Yes, but those cool things in it are real, Ruby. You could go to them and see them and stand on top of them.”

“Pfft. we can’t afford to travel, are you kidding? Dad only gets a couple months off in the summer anyway, and he usually has to run training camps for young huntsmen for extra money during it.”

“Well, you can afford it now.”

“Huh? Yang and I haven’t gotten paid for any hunts yet. And I thought the school took half of what we make while we enr–”

“Not you, dolt. Me.”

“Oh. You’d do that?”

Weiss shrugged a little. “I’ve always wanted to travel. I figure after we graduate or during our breaks would be a great time to go see the world, and I–it… well, I’d be incredibly rude if I didn’t invite my team with me.”

“Wow, that’d be–”

“And I’d pay for everything,” she quickly added.

“Yeah, I–wow. That would be super cool, Weiss.” Ruby wasn’t really sure what to say. ‘Thank you’ didn’t really seem like it did the offer justice.

‘I’m gonna have to get ten of those earrings if she goes through with this.’

A pleased smile spread across Weiss’ face.

Ruby found the nature channel by total accident. It wasn’t playing ‘Discovering Remnant’, but that was okay. It was one of those Grimm survival education shows meant to teach civilians about Grimm, how to avoid drawing them to you, and what to do if and when they did show up. It mostly just boiled down to ‘stay calm and hide’ and ‘call for help’, neither of which Ruby found reassuring or useful, but they were probably the kinds of things people without mega weapons, force fields, and superpowers should do.

“I do not understand the people that leave the big cities,” Weiss muttered at the screen. “They want to make their own village and just end up wandering off into the woods to die.” She kept rubbing her thumb against the back of Ruby’s hand as she spoke.

“I dunno. I think it could be a fun challenge. Like playing a survival game.”

Weiss huffed a laugh. “I mean, sure. If it was a village full of Rubies you’d be fine. Any village of huntsmen would. But these people are just normal civilians. They have business going out in the wild.”

Ruby hmmed. “I guess, yeah. But I can also understand wanting to get out of the big cities.”

“What’s wrong with the cities?”

“Nothing! It’s just… I dunno. Vale City is great, but it’s also really big and crowded. I can imagine that can be tiring.”

Weiss frowned a little. “True.”

“You don’t like crowds, right?”

“Right.”

“So it would be like that, but instead of not liking standing in a crowd, they don’t like living in one.”

Weiss pursed her lips. “I guess that makes sense…. Though if the options were ‘stand in a crowd’ or ‘walk into a Beowolf and die’, I think I’d just suck it up and deal with the crowd.”

Ruby giggled at that. The image of Weiss getting beaten by a single Beowolf was laughable.

The image of the bleeding monkey faunus flashed in front of her eyes.

“Ahem! Yeah, but, uh… uh, maybe some people think they’ll be okay.”

“Well those people are stupid.”

“Wei-eissss,” Ruby chastised, her tone a light-hearted sing-song to force her emotional state away from… from that.

“Well they are!”

“Compared to you, I’m pretty sure everyone’s stupid, Weiss. That doesn’t mean you should say that.”

Weiss huffed and crossed her legs again, kicking the top foot once. “I’m not saying it to them, though. Just you.”

“… Yeah, that’s true. I suppose that’s… better?”

Weiss nodded once, affirmatively.

They watched the show for a little bit in silence. It was showing some footage from an airship of a pack of Beowolves driving a momma bear and her cubs out of their cave.

😦

Oh no, not just driving them out. The Beowolves were hunting them! One Evil Death Wolf ran at one of the two cubs and Momma Bear moved to block it. She clopped it on the head with a big paw, but the bone plating protected it from the claws and it scratched her with its own. Blood sprayed, and she–

Suddenly, Ruby was back in that horrible garage. Knife Jerk was in front of her, crouched over the body of the faunus. He pulled his weapon out with a spray of blood. She had expected a squelch or something when he’d done that, but it had been utterly silent save for the ragged inhale of the stabbed man.

She changed the channel.

Weiss glanced over at her and gave her hands a squeeze. “So!… Um… So, uh, what did you think of dinner?” she stammered.

Ruby smiled. It was pretty obvious what Weiss was doing, and it was kinda sweet. “It was great. But you already asked me that.” She knew calling out Weiss on trying to distract was probably wrong, but she was pretty sure it would fluster her, and flustered Weiss was cute.

Sure enough, Weiss’s eyes went wide and she started blinking super fast as her back went rigid. “Oh. Oh, right. Um, soooo what did you think of the statues?”

“They were awesome! I can’t believe there are people out there that can make stuff that awesome with their hands.”

Weiss smiled and nodded. “I thought the same. Talent like that makes me a little jealous.”

“Oh please. You’re just as good as they are at music!”

Weiss pursed her lips. “I’m really not, Ruby.”

“Yuh-huh! I haven’t heard you sing, but I bet it’s awesome. And your piano playing is, like, concert pianist level awesome!”

A skeptical eyebrow crept up. “Ruby, have you ever even heard a concert pianist before?”

“Uh, yeah. You!” Ruby grinned.

Weiss did that little half-eye roll and looked away. Smiling, Ruby shifted around a bit to get comfy and rested her head on Weiss’ shoulder the way she did with Yang all the time. Weiss stiffened up reflexively, but she didn’t move or push her away.

“You can breath, Weiss,” Ruby said with a giggle.

The response was an ever so slight shake of Weiss’ head. “I don’t want to move my shoulder.”

That was cute. “I’ll be okay,” Ruby reassured her. “I usually fall asleep on Yang’s shoulder. That’s basically a rollercoaster with how much she moves around.”

“That’s fair,” Weiss said with a small laugh.

They stayed up half watching TV, mostly talking, for what felt like ever. It was kind of weird. Weiss was the one pushing conversation and not letting too long of a silence stretch out. She clearly was not very skilled in the art of coming up with random things to talk about, so Ruby helped her out, of course. It was fun to talk to her, and it was infinitely better than the flashes of red Ruby was seeing when she went too long without being distracted.

She also sent a couple angry messages at Yang yelling at her for not answering her scroll.

A bit past midnight, Weiss rested her cheek over so lightly on top of Ruby’s head. From the way her speech got mumbly and her response time slowed, Ruby realized she was starting to fall asleep.

“Have you ever wondered, like, if you dyed water a different color and then turned it into Dust, what color Dust it would be?” she asked.

“… Mmmm?”

“Like, if you died the water orange, would it turn into orange Dust? *gasp!* And if it’s orange Dust, would that mean it’s lava Dust? Could you turn water into lava?!”

“… I don’t–” Weiss covered her mouth with the back of a hand as she yawned widely, with an adorable little high pitched squeak at the end of it “–… think it works that way, Ruby.”

“I’m pretty sure it does, Weiss. I have Science on my side.”

“…You’re… a dolt.”

Ruby giggled. “You wanna go to bed?” she asked. She really wanted to stay up and chat forever and ever, but Weiss was very clearly exhausted. Considering she wakes up at seven every morning like a crazy person, it made sense.

“Will you?” Weiss asked, a hint of a plead in her voice.

No. Not really. Ruby would be fine going to bed and lying down, but she very much doubted she’d be able to fall asleep.

“Sure. Let’s go to sleep.”

Weiss nodded appreciatively, her cheek rubbing against the top of Ruby’s head and probably making her hair do funny things. Ruby got up first and pulled a sleepy-eyed Weiss to her feet.

When they walked into their dark bedroom, they were somewhere else. The store garage again, and the masked killer was back. He was standing victoriously on top of the truck, the truck bed piled high with bodies. The body on top was the monkey faunus, eyes simultaneously empty and glaring, accusatory, at Ruby.

Ruby froze, blinked, and squeezed Weiss’ hand, and the image faded. The yellow light of street lamps softened to pale white moonlight through the window, crates of guns and drugs gave way to bunk beds and study desks. Where the killer and truck of dead people were just a bookshelf-dresser and the open blinds.

“Yehh meh-mer?” Weiss mumbled beside her.

“What was that?” Ruby asked, struggling very hard to fight back a giggle. Sleepy Weiss was adorable.

Weiss forced her eyes open wide in an attempt to jolt herself awake. “You okay?”

“Yeah! Sorry. Just trying to find the light switch.”

“Noooo,” Weiss protested softly. “No lights.”

“Hehe. Okay. Come on, go to sleep, Princess.”

Ruby led her partner to their bunk, and Weiss shuffled the last few feet on her own and slipped under her covers, somehow still managing to be graceful while ninety-five percent asleep.

She laid her head down on her pillows with a contented sigh. “You too,” she mumbled into her pillow. “Go to sheep.”

“Sheep?” Ruby teased, giving Weiss’ shoulder a little shake. “What sheep? You got sheep?”

“Hnnnngh!” Weiss whined weakly. “Goff sheh menshter,” she said, her face now fully buried in her pillows.

“I’m sorry, what was that? My Sleepy Silliness is a bit rusty.”

“…”

“Weiss?”

“…”

Ruby poked Weiss’ shoulder.

“…”

‘Wow, she went out like a light.’

Ruby got ready for bed. Brushed teeth, PJs on, clothes in… hamper? These were fancy Weiss gift clothes, were they supposed to go in the hamper with her normal pleb clothes? Probably not. Instead, she folded them as neatly as she could and placed them on the top of her dresser. She’d ask Weiss what she should do with them in the morning.

It took all of ten seconds lying in bed staring at the ceiling in the dark for her to come to the conclusion that she still wasn’t tired enough to fall asleep. She probably would, eventually, but it would take time. Time in which she’d have nothing to do but think.

And she really didn’t want to think right now.

She got out her scroll and played some Grimm Crush, muting it to make sure she wouldn’t wake up Weiss, of course. The mind-numbing match-three game was good for what she needed–a distraction.

A few minutes of that worked, until she noticed that the index finger she was swiping with was covered in blood.

‘No, it’s not, Ruby. Relax. Be tough. You’re a huntress.’

“… Gah!”

She grabbed her pillows, hugging them to her body, and hopped off her bunk. Her landing made a dull thud, and behind her Weiss stirred. She went still, head almost one-eightied like an owl, checking to see if she’d woken her partner up.

…. No, she was good.

She crossed the room and tossed her pillows up onto Yang’s bed, then climbed in herself. Now she had double the pillows, and half of them smelled like Yang’s cinnamon shampoo, which made her feel better. Like Yang was here, so she was safe.

Physical tiredness was starting to set in. There was a sharp pain behind her eyes now, but it didn’t really get any better when she closed them. And her brain was still firing at a billion roses per hour, threatening to fill her vision with images from tonight. At least when her eyes were open there was something to look at to override those images, making them easier to push aside than they were when her eyes were closed.

She should just focus on something else. Like other, happier memories from today!

Shopping with Weiss had been so much fun! And Ruby actually looked pretty good in fancy clothes! Weiss had said so, and she’s an expert. And Yang had thought she looked good, and she didn’t even like fancy people clothes. She preferred short shorts and crop tops to dress pants and button downs.

What else was there? There was… well, there was that whole ‘Weiss hates all faunooses’ thing, but… like, that obviously wasn’t a good memory, but was it a bad one? It mostly just didn’t make any sense. Hopefully Ruby could get Weiss to see she was being silly, and that there are lots of nice fauni out there.

And dinner! Dinner was… well it was awkward and tense ‘cause Weiss and Blake were, like, fighting or whatever, but the food was awesome and the restaurant was neat, and some of the conversation had been really fun! She still didn’t know what the birds and the bees meant though…

And the statue gardens were SO awesome! Painting and photography had never really enraptured Ruby, especially landscapes and abstracty weird stuff, but statues of people and animals and gods? That she could walk around and look at and felt like they were actually here in the world? That was pretty sweet.

Then…

Then blood.

Time for more Grimm Crush.

She was far enough away from Weiss that she felt safe turning the volume up a bit, and the innocent blips and plops and squacks of the cartoony Grimm heads as she matched them up and made them pop were another welcome sensory distraction.

Now it was one in the morning and Yang still wasn’t h–

“Nah nah nah nah nah na-ah,” came the singing voice of Ruby’s dumb, stupid, non-scroll answering sister. There was a soft electronic click from the lock, and the door opened with a whoosh. Yang jumped in dramatically and pointed finger guns at nobody in particular.

“And live while we’re young!” she finished, kinda loudly. There was a brief moment of quiet as Yang squinted around the dark room. “… Oh. I think they’re asleep.”

Blake came in behind her, wobbling a little bit as she walked. “It is one in the morning, and Weiss is Weiss and Ruby’s bedtime is probably eight or something.” She giggled lightly and clutched Yang’s elbow to steady herself before slowly making her way to her bed.

“That’s rude,” Ruby scolded her.

Blake let out a light shriek and jumped back, landing in Yang’s arms like that one dog did in that cartoon.

Yang snorted out a brief laugh. “You got the spooks there, Blakey-Blake.”

Flustered, Blake stumbled to the floor. “I just–bleck–wasn’t expecting someone in your bed. Ugggh, my head.” She rested on the floor on her knees and tucked her head down between them, placing her hands on top of it and interlacing her fingers. You know, in case a bomb was about to go off or something.

Yang let out a little gasp. “Is that a Rubles in my bed?” She bounded up and stood on the edge of Blake’s bed and grabbed onto the edge of her bunk. Ruby instinctively scooted closer to her so their faces were close together.

“Well, hey there, Peanut,” Yang smiled. “I’m sorry, did we wake you?”

Ruby shook her head.

“Well, that’s good.” She reached over and rubbed Ruby’s cheek with a finger. “Whatchu doin’ over here?”

Ruby hummed an ‘I don’t know.’ “Why do you suck so much?” she pouted.

“Whaaa?” Yang gasped. “Why am I suck?”

“Look at your scroll.”

With a light frown, Yang pulled her scroll out of her back pocket, pulled it open, and her eyes went wide. “Thirteen missed calls, seven new messages… ‘Answer your scroll’, ‘Yang, you suck’, ‘Stupidhead’, ‘I needed your help, what the heck’, ‘Dad told you to always answer your scroll when I’m calling’, ‘poop emoji’, ‘Yang–exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point, ex–’ that’s a lot of exclamation points.”

“Yeah, well you’re a lot of dumb,” Ruby griped, putting on her best grumpy face.

For whatever reason, her grumpy face made Yang smile. “No arguments here, Sis. So, what’s up? What was so urgent it warranted thirteen calls and–” she check her scroll again “–… nine exclamation points?”

“I–”

She stopped. Did she really want to talk about this right now? She was ninety-five percent sure she just wanted to forget about it.

“Weiss and I ran into some trouble,” she hedged.

Yang’s eyebrows immediately furrowed in concern. “What kind of trouble?” she asked, her voice with a hard edge now.

There she was. Protective Mama Bear Yang. And she was better at punching Beowolves than the mama bear on TV had been.

“It’s… can I tell you tomorrow? I just want cuddles and sleeps. I–I can stay here tonight, right?” They did it all the time before, but maybe being in school and in a dorm changed the rules?

“Of course, silly,” Yang said. “You don’t need to ask. One condition, though.”

“What?”

“You have to leave all these extra pillows with me forever and ever.”

“Nooooooo.”

She smiled and kissed Ruby on the forehead. “Let me go get some P-Jiggles on. Be right back.”

“Mkay.”

Yang hopped to the floor and looked down at her partner, who was still rolled up on the floor taking cover from a bomb. “You need some help getting to bed, lightweight?”

“No!” Blake protested. She weakly swiped a hand out to try to smack Yang’s ankle, but Yang stepped back juuuuust out of reach. She then gagged and brought her hand back on top of her head. “Yes please,” she said in a tiny voice.

Yang laughed lightly and bent down to gently pick her partner up, then laid her down in bed. “Gimme da feets,” she said. Ruby couldn’t see what was going on, but she heard the light thuds of shoes hitting the floor.

“Night, pardner,” Yang said. “You’ll feel better in the morning… kinda.”

“I’m with Ruby… you suck.”

Yang laughed it off. “Ya’ll are a buncha bullies,” she quipped as she headed into the bathroom.

Well at least Blake was getting along with Yang really well.

“How was clubbing?” Ruby asked, scooting a little bit closer to the edge of the bed so she could hear Blake’s response from below.

“It was fun,” Blake replied, even though her voice sounded strained. “I just like giving Yang a hard time.”

“Ha! You’re telling me.”

“Heh. But yeah, it was great. Dancing was fun. I think the– …‘scuse me–think the drinking was a mistake, though.”

“Are you old enough to drink?”

Technically, no. But the bartender didn’t care. He was too busy staring at Yang’s boobs.”

Ruby snorted. “Darn her and her secret weapons.”

Now Blake snorted. “Not very secret.”

“Secrets?” Yang whispered loudly, announcing her return to the room. “What secrets? They’re not about me, are they?”

“They’re your secrets, actually,” Blake said. Ruby could just barely see Blake’s foot lightly swing out from her bed to tap Yang on the thigh.

“I don’t have secrets!” Yang protested.

“Yes, you do. Big ones. Two of them, to be exact.”

Yang’s eyes narrowed, though it was barely visible in the moonlit dark. “This is a joke I’m not getting, isn’t it?”

“Wow, that sounds so unlike you,” Blake teased.

Yang pointed a finger at where Blake’s head probably was. “I will bite you.”

“You keep saying that, but it’s not that scary when there’s never any follow through.”

Yang blinked. “I–I’ll do it!”

Blake let out a little giggle and pushed Yang back with a toe. “Empty threats.”

“I… you’re just drunk, Blake. Sleep it off. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Peanut to crush.”

Blake let out a barely audible “Hmph” while Ruby squeaked.

“Noooo, don’t crush me, Yang! I’m an innocent peanut!”

Yang climbed up the ladder dramatically. “That’s too bad, ‘cause you’re gettin’ the crush.”

“Noooo! This is injustice! Somebody save me from the crush!”

Yang settled in behind Ruby, folding on arm under the mass of pillows under Ruby’s head and wrapping the other around her, pulling her close. Ruby wiggled a bit to snuggle into her sister, who was, as always, extra warm. Warm and safe, where no crazy knife dudes could get her.

Yang gave her squeeze. “Krrrck! Got you.”

“Ack! I am swain! Aaaaah.”

Yang made ‘nom nom nom’ noises and pretended to eat Ruby’s head.

“Ah, my brain! I knew you were a zombie!”

“Darn, I’ve been found out. Good thing you’ll soon be one too, so no witnesses!”

Ruby reached back and tried to give Yang’s rib cage a tickle. Fruitless, of course. Yang was immune to the power of tickles.

“Oh, you want to go there?” Yang fake-growled. She placed her fingertips on Ruby’s ribs and pressed down juuuust a little.

“No, please!” Ruby squeaked. “I’m so tired.”

Yang huffed out a breathy laugh and wrapped her arm back around Ruby, pulling her even closer and nuzzling her hair.

“You have fun dancing tonight?” Ruby asked.

“Mhm! Lots. Blake’s a great dancer.”

“*Hic!*” Blake added from below.

“That figures,” Ruby smiled. “You think all ninjas are good dancers?”

“Prolly,” Yang answered. “Oh! Speaking of ninjas, there was some creepy dude that followed us from the club–”

“Whaaa?”

“Yeah! He got on the bus after us and everything. I wanted to go punch him in the face, but Blake convinced me not to. Instead, we gave him the slip like total ninjas. It was sweet.”

“I have a hard time seeing you being sneaky,” Ruby teased.

“Don’t make me eat your brains again. You’re already in dire need of more.”

“Hey!”

Blake mumbled something below them.

“What was that, Blake?” Ruby asked.

“She almost gave us away three times ‘cause she was laughing like an idiot.”

Yang huffed indignantly. “Hey, it was funny. Did you see his face? He was so confused! He had no idea where we went.”

“That’s kinda how being sneaky works, Yang,” Blake said in response.

“I–you… go to sleep! Both of you! Buncha clowns. You’re gonna wake up Weiss!”

“You’re being louder than we are!” Blake protested at the same time as Ruby shook her head.

“She’s out. Pretty sure an Ember Celica blast next to her face wouldn’t wake her up.”

“You knock her out or something?” Yang asked.

“What?! No!”

“I’m just sayin’, she was being kinda a butt. It would be understandable.”

“Nooo, she’s tired because she was being not a butt. She stayed up past midnight just to keep me company ‘cause she’s sweet.”

“Oh. Huh. Well that’s nice. Although midnight is weaksauce.”

“She wakes up at seven every day.”

“… True. Are we certain she’s not crazy?”

“She doesn’t have any cats.”

“Hmmm.”

Blake piped up again from below, “Hey! Having a cat doesn’t make you crazy. Cats are great.”

“Oh wonderful,” Yang drawled. “My partner’s the cat lady.”

“I–I’m not a cat lady!”

“You’d make a good one, though,” Ruby said. “Your bow kinda makes it look like you have cat ears.”

“N-no it doesn’t!”

“Awwww, Blake’s all flustered again,” Yang teased.

“No I’m–go to sleep!”

“Can you three please shut up?” Weiss groaned from across the room. “You’ve all told each other to go to sleep multiple times and you’re still talking.”

“Weiss!” Ruby squealed. “I’m so sorry! We’ll be quiet!”

“Please do.”

“Wow, way to go, Blake,” Yang joked.

Blake didn’t offer a response, and after a moment of silence it was clear she wasn’t going to give one.

‘Oh, right. Weiss is awake.’

How long was this fight going to go on?

Whatever. Something to deal with in the morning.

“Good night, Team RWBY,” she said to the room.

Weiss mumbled something that trailed off, like she was falling asleep halfway through the whatever she was saying.

“Good night, Ruby,” Yang said, scooting herself even closer, to the point she was almost squishing Ruby into the bed.

It felt nice. Plus, Ruby knew Yang liked super close cuddles.

When Ruby finally drifted off, she dreamed of sushi and dragons and Weiss with a monkey tail, and the whole world was red. Not like how it was when she was in Rose form.

A deeper, darker red.

She wasn’t scared, though. Even in her weird, wild dream state, she still knew Yang was close. There was no reason to be scared.

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