Thaw – 2.8

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“Wei-eisss! Don’t be grumps!” 

Weiss crossed her arms and grumped. Like, hardcore grumpy frown. 

“I’m not grumps! What does that even mean?!” 

“It means that,” Ruby said, poking her partner’s cheek, making the girl frown even deeper. 

With an indignant huff, Weiss pushed her hand away. “If you say something stupid about my face again–” 

“Your face is grumps!” Yang blurted with a big grin. “Now quit bein’ a sore loser and give Blake your Dust cards!” 

Grumpily glaring down at the game board that was now devoid of blue Atlas pieces and where Blake’s pieces stood triumphant on her capital, Weiss silently and sullenly passed her substantial stack of Dust cards to Blake. 

“This game is stupid,” she pouted. 

“Noooo!” Ruby cried, diving around the board to give Weiss an awkward hug to console her. She’d really wanted Weiss to have fun so they could keep playing this together. 

“Get off me you dolt!” Weiss griped, though the light push she gave with her elbow seemed half-hearted, so Ruby kept holding on. 

“I just wanted you to have funnnn!” 

“Yeah, well getting brutally murdered by everybody from the very start isn’t fun at all.” 

Yang rolled her eyes and turned back to her pieces while Blake began organizing her new cards in her hand, casually smirking about something. 

I didn’t brutally murder you!” Ruby protested. “I tried to help!” 

“You gave Blake the huntsmen she needed to kill me!” Weiss retorted, this time elbowing Ruby more forcefully. Ruby let go sadly and straightened up. 

“I didn’t know she’d just rush you with them!” Ruby ended the sentence with a glare at Blake, but Blake was too busy reordering the cards in her hand and looking satisfied with herself to notice. 

Ruby had tried to save Weiss once she’d realized what was happening, but Yang attacked her and she had to devote too many resources to stopping her to really help. Except she’d tried to ignore Yang’s attack and save Weiss anyway and lost part of Vale for it. Even begging and her patented puppy dog eyes hadn’t been able to get Yang to back off. What was she supposed to do when even puppy dog eyes didn’t work?! 

To Blake’s credit, she’d played it really well. If she hadn’t had to ask for clarification on so many rules, Ruby would think she’d played this game before with how well she’d managed her resources while attacking Weiss. 

And Weiss, who’d been enjoying herself building a little Dust empire up at the top of the world by herself (after repelling Yang’s obligatory blitz attack in the first three turns), had panicked as soon as Blake’s troops hit her shores and threw everything at the invasion. Some unlucky dice rolls and an action card from Blake led to Weiss’ army getting wrecked and her economy was left ruined, so she couldn’t rebuild in time to save herself. 

Not that Ruby would ever tell Weiss she’d messed up. At least not when she was this upset. And Ruby was kind of upset too. This was supposed to be a fun, friendly first game for Weiss and Blake to get them into it! Like, sure, they’re all playing to win, but… Blake didn’t have to do that

And Ruby had a nagging feeling that Blake’s decision to blitz Weiss was motivated by this whole faunus fight they were having rather than an actual strategic gameplay decision. Especially considering now that Atlas was gone, there was no way for Blake to get their powerful end game units, so once Ruby curbstomped Yang the Buttface she’d be able to roll over Blake easily.  

“Yeah, well, she did,” Weiss sputtered after a moment. “And Yang gave her those ridiculous faunus mi–” 

“Hey,” Blake cut her off. 

Weiss’ eyes went wide and she backpedaled. “I–I just meant ridiculous as in ridiculously strong! I–I didn’t mean… I meant…I–” 

“It’s okay, Weiss,” Yang reassured her, cutting off her rambling. Blake turned and raised an eyebrow at her partner, but Yang shot her a pointed glare and Blake rolled her eyes and went back to her cards. 

Weiss, eyes wide and alarmed, didn’t seem convinced. She was also clearly still upset. 

“I’m sorry,” Ruby said. “If you’d been able to get your Cavaliers up in time you coulda fought off the fff–the militias.” 

“But she attacked me too fast!” 

Weiss was getting way more upset about this than Ruby had expected her to. She’d thought Weiss didn’t really care about the game and was just playing along to appease her, but… 

Maybe Weiss had really been having fun?

Which made this even worse, because with how things were now she would leave with the memory of being upset and eliminated and not want to play again. But should Ruby tell her she messed up? Maybe if Weiss knew she’d lost because she’d made a mistake and not because the game is unbalanced or unfun, then she’d be willing to try again?

But Ruby the Dolt telling Weiss the Genius Princess that she’d messed up seemed… daunting. 

“Come play with me!” she chirped. “We can be a team!” She was fairly certain Weiss wouldn’t want to, but Ruby wanted her last experience to be dying early. She’d even just let Weiss play as Vale if that made things better! She’d just have to learn a completely new playstyle…

“I don’t want to,” Weiss mumbled, crossing her arms again. 

She wasn’t getting up to walk away, though… In fact, she was still looking down at the game board with a slight (cute) pout, and Ruby guessed she was probably thinking back through what had happened to her armies based on the way her narrowed eyes were roaming intently across the map. 

“Come on!” Ruby said again, patting the carpet next to her. “You can learn how Vale works!” 

“I don’t care how Vale works,” Weiss sulked. 

“Oh my worrrrrd, Weiss,” Yang groaned. “Stop being so salty!” 

“Sal–what?” Weiss blinked, confused and offended and probably confused about whether or not she should be offended. 

“Ignore her,” Ruby said, patting the carpet again and giving Weiss what she hoped was an endearing smile. Well of course it was an endearing smile–Mom and Dad had told her she had a magical smile of sweetness (which she’d tried to convince them was a result of eating cookies, so they should feed her more so she’d be extra sweet). But whether or not it was endearing enough for Weiss….

Weiss stared at Ruby for a long moment, her bottom lip slightly askew in her subtle pout, then rolled her eyes. “You’re so annoying,” she grumbled, scooting over to sit next to Ruby. 

“Woohoo!” Ruby cheered, giving Weiss another hug that was a lot less awkward ‘cause she didn’t have to bend around the board. 

“I want to do homework,” Weiss grumped. 

Ruby chuckled and patted her partner on the back. Silly Weiss, wanting to do homework. What a jokester! 

“Look,” Ruby whispered so Buttface wouldn’t hear, showing Weiss the two Huntsman Power cards in her hand. “Whatchu think?” 

Ruby had had six huntsman trained, though she had five now because Yang the Buttface had killed one, and it had been one of the huntsman on the full team, so now that team leader didn’t have his team bonus anymore!

Buttface. 

Now she probably needed to get another huntsman trained in Beacon and deployed before Yang’s militias and two huntsman made it to Vale City. One of the trainees just needed a power added onto her and one turn to deploy and she was good to go, but both the powers Ruby had to equip on her kinda sucked. One was a power that costed three red Dust to use, which she was in no position to pay right now. She only had one red Dust and one blue, and right now she was getting only the bare minimum one random Dust per turn because she’d moved so many units to try to help Weiss. And the other power card was an ability that only costed one yellow Dust, but was only really useful if she was attacking in another player’s kingdom, not defending her own. 

‘Ugh.’

Weiss sighed and gingerly took the cards from Ruby to read them. 

“… Deal one damage to up to four enemies sounds good?” she said quietly. 

Ruby nodded. It was good, but… 

“Nowhere close to three red Dust, though.” 

“Oh?” Ruby showed her two Dust cards, and Weiss gave a slow nod of understanding. “Oh. Well this one doesn’t seem very helpful right now,” she said, wiggling the other card a bit. 

“Nope!” Ruby agreed happily. 

Weiss squinted at her. “So… they both suck?” 

“Yep!” Ruby grinned. She was pretty happy that Weiss had figured it out. Not that it was a surprise–Weiss was super smart. But she also wasn’t a gamer and used to thinking in gamery ways. 

“You seem way too happy about this.” 

Ruby shrugged, not wanting to explain. “I have a redraw and a draw. Just gotta pray to the RNGoddess.” 

She looked over at Yang, who was paying way too much attention to where Ruby’s troops were placed. 

“Look away, Buttface!” she demanded.

Yang raised an eyebrow at her. “Oh, am I ‘Buttface’ again? Wonderful.” 

“You’ve been Buttface before?” Blake asked her. 

Yang nodded. “Pretty much any time I attack her first instead of Dad or Uncle Qrow. I become ‘Yang the Buttface’ for at least a week.” 

“Buttface!” 

“You two are so sweet,” Blake remarked dryly, earning a smirk from Yang. 

“Quiet, Buttface Helper!” Ruby retorted. 

“Oof,” Yang chuckled. “Welcome to Clan Buttface, Blake.” 

Blake wrinkled her nose. “Not sure I like that.” 

“One of us. One of us,” Yang chanted. 

These… these buttfaces! They were sitting there laughing and smiling and joking while Weiss was dead and sad! 

Grrrr. 

They must be taught a lesson!

“Shut up and die, Buttfaces!” Ruby cried, discarding the useless yellow Dust power card and drawing two more dramatically. 

‘Well that’s crap,’ she thought, looking at the first card. The second one, though… 

“That looks good,” Weiss commented, looking at the same card Ruby was, a red Dust ability that granted an attack bonus as long as there were no Grimm in your kingdom, which there weren’t. 

Ruby grinned and pointed at Yang’s stupid nose. “Begone, evil dragon! I will smite you!” She windmill slammed the power card down on top of the training huntress’ card, turning her into a trained, level one huntress that she could put on the board. 

The big windmill slam meant she was a little inaccurate though, and Weiss straightened out the power card to sit neatly on top of the huntress’ template card with an annoyed grumble. 

Hiding a smile, Ruby got out the huntresses figurine so she could deploy them next turn while Yang blinked at her, unimpressed. 

“Oh no. You have a person that’s not even on the board yet,” she said, deadpan. “Whatever shall I dooo?” 

“Whatever! You’re dead, buddy.” 

“I’m not your buddy, pal,” Yang said back with a beaming grin. 

“I’m not your pal, friend,” Ruby joked back. 

“I’m not your friend, gal.” 

“I’m not your g–” 

“Stop, please,” Blake interrupted. “I can feel my brain cells melting.” 

That prompted a snorting laugh from Weiss, who quickly covered her smile with her hand and looked guiltily at Ruby. 

Ruby glared at her partner briefly, then turned back to the board. She drew her single Dust for the turn–red Dust. She couldn’t use it on anything useful now because her five current huntsmen didn’t have any useful red abilities, but next turn! Next turn her new recruit, Hanna Hero, would get her attack bonus twice! Huehuehue!

What she really needed was to take the Lillyreach region back so she could get her extra Dust next turn, but Yang had both her huntsmen and a faunus militia sitting in it being turds. She only had two huntsmen defending her kingdom, and while they were higher level than Yang’s huntsmen, Ruby wasn’t sure she’d win if she sent them both at Lillyreach. 

But screw it! She’d already thrown the gauntlet! She’d gabbered a bunch of gibberish and declared war! There was no turning back now! 

“Raaaaah!” she growled, moving her pieces into the region with Yang’s. “Fight me, coward!” 

“Oh, you did not just call me that,” Yang huffed, grabbing her dice and squaring her shoulders at Ruby. “You’re going down, punk!” She rolled her dice. “Ha! A six!” 

Ruby blinked at her. “What are you doing? You can just roll! You have to name who you’re attacking and with who!” 

“Whom,” Weiss said tiredly. 

“You have to name whom you’re attacking with whom!” Ruby tried again. 

“No, it’s–… nevermind,” Weiss muttered. 

“Whatever!” Yang retorted. “I’m keeping that six though. That’s my first roll against yourrr, uh–” 

“Noooooo!” Ruby whined. “You can’t do that! You have to reroll!” 

“I don’t wanna!” 

“Stop being a cheater, Yang!” 

“Your face is a cheater!” 

“No it’s not!” 

Beside her, Ruby heard Weiss sigh loudly. 

“I think Blake should settle this!” Yang declared. 

“What?” Ruby squeaked. “Why?!” Blake couldn’t be the deciding vote! She’d definitely side with Yang! “I think Weiss should settle it!” 

“Weiss doesn’t get a vote!” Yang argued. “She’s dead!” 

“Wow, rude,” Weiss grumbled. 

Blake cleared her throat and everyone looked at her. “I think you should reroll anyway,” she said to Yang. 

What?!” Yang blurted out. “Whose side are you on?!” 

“Uh… the rules’, I guess?” 

Yang scoffed. “Traitor!” She turned to Ruby and pointed at her nose. “You did this! You turned her against me!” 

“You have done that yourself!” Ruby quoted back at her. Then she reached out and grabbed Yang’s hand and pulled it in to bite her finger. 

It didn’t do anything. Yang had her aura up. If anything, it kinda hurt Ruby’s teeth. 

Yang frowned at her. “Why are you eating me?” she asked. 

“I dunno,” Ruby answered, though it came out more as “Ah ‘urro.” 

“Could you, like, not?” 

Ruby crossed her eyes looking down at the finger she was biting on. She should probably stop biting Yang, but on the other hand… she really wanted a win right now. 

She bit down harder. For Weiss! 

It didn’t do anything against Yang’s aura. Poo.

“Weiss is right,” Yang teased. “You’re a total barbarian.” 

Weiss rolled her eyes. “You both are. Could you please pull your finger out of her mouth?”

With a sharp jerk, Yang’s finger was yanked away. Ruby stuck her tongue out at her buttface sister, which just made the girl chuckle and ruffle Ruby’s hair. 

“Stoooop!” Ruby whined. “Muh hurrrrr!” 

Yang snorted. “Alright! Gary Goodguy is attacking… which one is this one?” She pointed at one of Ruby’s attacking huntsman. 

“Penny Protector!” 

“K. Gary’s gonna kill Penny.” 

“Nuh uh!” 

Yang shook a die around a bit, blew on them in her fist, then rolled them on the board, only barely not hitting any pieces.

A two! With Gary’s attack bonus, that was only a four, so he missed!

“Ha! Suck it, sucky sucker!” Ruby cheered. 

“You two are absolute wordsmiths,” Blake sighed. 

Weiss let out a dismayed groan at the remark and buried her face in her hands, her pretty ponytail falling over her shoulder. The reaction made Blake smile before she seemed to remember she was mad at Weiss, shooting the girl a quick glare before looking away. Luckily, Weiss didn’t notice. 

You suck!” Yang smartly countered. 

“Now it’s Penny’s turn!” Ruby shouted. “Attack the Gary the Buttface, my brave and loyal minion!” She grabbed a die, gave it a big windup, and the chucked it at Yang’s face. It bounced off her forehead with a tiny spark of yellow and she watched it with a grumpy frown as it arced down onto the board, then bounced and rolled a bit before landing on… a… SIX!

“Woohoo! The forces of evil buttfacery shall fall today!” Ruby pumped a fist in triumph. 

“That should count as my roll,” Yang huffed. 

“What?! Why?!” 

“‘Cause I touched it last!” 

“That doesn’t count!” 

“Does too!” 

“Weiiiiiiiiiiss! Tell her she’s being stupid!” 

Weiss lifted her face up to make eye contact with Ruby and give her a long, deadpan stare, then let her face fall back into her hands. 

“Man, you’re no help at all,” Ruby grumbled. 

“Hah!” Yang smirked. “Blake, I’m right, right?” 

“No.” 

Yang whirled around. “Girl, you suck!” She got up on all fours and crawled over to Blake and threw herself on top of her. “You’re supposed–to be–my partner!” she yelled between Blake’s cries and giggles of protests and Yang started tickling her. 

“No, stop! N–stop it! My head! Ya–YANG stoooooooop!” 

Ruby was grinning dumbly at the cuteness until Blake’s wiggling attempts to escape Yang’s clutches made her hit the gameboard. Figures were knocked over and scattered, and the decks of resource cards that were just beside the board got hit, the top cards sliding of.

“Yang-uh!” 

“That wasn’t me! That was–ow!” she cut off as one of Blake’s flails smacked her in the nose. “That was Blake!” 

Blake, now breathless, tried again to push away from Yang, still to no avail. “St…sto-ooop!” she wheezed. 

Yang, smiling victoriously, stopped tickling Blake but left her fingertips threateningly on the poor girl’s ribs. “So I’m right, right?” she demanded. 

“Y-yeah,” Blake panted. “S-sure. Whatevvv.” 

Yang nodded, satisfied and looked over at Ruby smugly. 

“I–that doesn’t count! She was under duress!” protested Ruby. 

“Look at you and your fancy words,” Yang grinned. She scooted a bit and laid down next to Blake, who was still on her back desperately trying to get air back in her lungs, and wrapped her arms around her. 

Blake squirmed a bit in protest. “No! No more, please.” 

Yang laughed and shook her head. “No more,” she agreed. “These are just apology cuddles. I’m sorry I had to tickle-torture you to make you see the light.” She gave Blake a squeeze and rested her cheek on Blake’s shoulder, the way she did with Ruby a lot. It was really sweet. 

“Oh. Okay,” Blake sighed tiredly. “No more tickles.” 

“No more tickles,” Yang assured her. 

“Okay. But why are you hugging me?”

“‘Cause I wanna!”  

Blake sighed, but didn’t make any attempt to push Yang away, which was good! Yang loved cuddles, so her partner being okay with them was probably good if Ruby ever wasn’t around. 

Ruby glanced over at Weiss, who had just finished grumpily straightening the decks of cards and was now standing up all the pieces on the board that had been knocked over. 

Ruby started helping her and glanced back over at the Buttfaces. Yang and Blake looked so cute! But… but wait! They had a game to play! 

“Yang! Cut the cuddles and get back over here so I can smite you!” 

Yang gave her a grumpy face. “But I wanna cuddle.”

Crap. That came on suddenly. Yang tended to get moods every once in a while where she really wanted cuddles. Of course, Ruby was always happy to oblige, but they were in the middle of something!

But Mom had told Ruby once that Yang really started wanting hugs and cuddles ever since her birth mom left, and that Ruby should always give her a hug whenever she needed it so she knew she was loved. So of course Ruby always did! Maybe cuddles with Blake worked too. 

Hmm…

“Well… I guess I just win by default then!” she decided. 

“You’ll win my fist in your face,” Yang threatened with a playful glare.

Ruby rolled her eyes and scooted over to where Yang had been sitting. 

“Hey!” Yang said, pointing a finger at Ruby. “No lookin’ at my cards, you little hoodlum!” 

“I’m not!” Ruby replied. “I’m just marking the damage on Gary!” She put a little damage marker on the huntsman. Only one more hit on him! 

“Oh. Okay, fine.” 

“She’s a hoodlum, now?” Blake asked, side-eying Yang. 

“Yeah! ‘Cause she’s got a hood!” 

Blake’s eyebrows twerked up. “You know that’s not what that word means, right?” 

Yang blinked. “Really? What’s it mean?” 

“It means… you know what? Nevermind. I like your version better.” Blake gave Yang a smile and patted the hand that was resting on her ribs, getting a big smile from Yang. 

“Don’t just let her make up definitions,” Weiss grumbled, sitting back as she finished righting the last fallen piece. 

Blake regarded her coldly for a long moment, and Weiss turned skittish and looked away. Yang gave Blake a pointed squeeze, and Blake finally relaxed a little bit and responded, “I dunno. I think Ruby being a hoodlum because her cloak has a hook is kinda cute.” 

Weiss’ eyes went wide in surprise and she did that thing where she froze, like if she made any sudden movements she’d get yelled at or something. Her gaze darted around, pretty much everywhere but at Blake, and finally settled on Ruby. 

Ruby gave her a big smile that she tentatively returned. 

“I suppose it is pretty cute,” she agreed quietly, though Ruby wasn’t sure if she really meant that or if she was just agreeing to make Blake happy. 

Whatever the case, Blake accepted the agreement with a casual nod. “You know, Yang,” she said, “we should start a dictionary with all your and Ruby’s ridiculous words.” 

“A Yangtionary?” Yang asked. 

“No,” Blake said flatly. “That’s horrible.” 

“Awww.” 

“A Ruby…tionary?” Ruby attempted. 

“No,” Weiss shot her down. 

Ruby and Yang both pouted at each other. 

“Just get this fight over with and kill Yang, please,” Weiss sighed. 

“Hey!” 

Ruby grinned and tossed a die over to Yang that landed on Blake’s stomach. Blake looked down at it with a furrowed brow, lower lip puffing out grumpily. “Rude.” 

“What’s it gonna be, Yang?” Ruby challenged. “Want to try and fail to hurt my fearless huntress again, or will you surrender?” The question was mostly just to egg her sister on. Yang never sur–

“I’ll never surrender!” 

Yeah. That. 

“Bring it on, Sist–” 

*Ring ring!*

Ruby looked at Weiss, whose scroll was buzzing. Weiss blinked at her, then started. 

“Oh! Is that me?” Weiss muttered before scrambling around to find her scroll, which was hiding under her skirt. 

“Is it the police officer again?” Ruby asked. 

“Maybe,” Weiss murmured as she pulled the device open. “I’m not sure what…” 

She froze and stared at her scroll screen for a long moment, the call still ringing. She swallowed. 

“Weiss?” Yang asked. “Who is it?” 

“Um…” Weiss answered uncharacteristically. 

She was doing the statue thing. Something was wrong. 

“Weiss?” Ruby leaned over to see the name. She half expected Weiss to push her away and tell her to it was private, but no push came and Ruby rested her chin on her partner’s shoulder and realized what the problem was. 

Father.

“Oh.” 

“What’s wrong?” Yang asked, eyes darting between Weiss and Ruby. “Who is it?” 

Blake perked her head up a little and frowned at Weiss’ scroll, then looked at Weiss in concern. 

Weiss didn’t answer, so Ruby did for her. “Her dad.” 

The answer made Weiss look at Ruby, expression blank but Ruby was pretty sure her eyes were slightly wider than normal. 

The scroll rang again, and Weiss was jarred into action. She stood, making Ruby tip backwards, and cleared her throat. “Please excuse me, I have to take this,” she announced formally.

Ruby reached out and grabbed her partner’s hand before she could walk off. “Stay here,” she pleaded, activating her puppy dog eye power. Yang was resistant to it now, but Weiss?

Weiss frowned down at her, then glanced worriedly at her scroll. The call was probably going to end soon if she didn’t answer…

Ruby tugged lightly on her hand and Weiss sat back down with a roll of her eyes. While Ruby silently celebrated her tiny victory, Weiss straightened out her skirt, composing herself into her Serious Student Weiss mode that she had in class. On the other side of the game board, Yang pushed herself up and gave Ruby a questioning look, like she didn’t understand what was going on. 

Right. Yang didn’t know how weird things were with Weiss and her dad. 

Unfortunately, Ruby wasn’t in a position to explain right now, so she just shook her head slowly and tried to make a sad face. 

Weiss brought the scroll up to her ear, not putting the call on speaker like she had with her sister, and leaned a bit away from Ruby–but she didn’t let go of Ruby’s hand.

But Ruby wanted to hearrrrr!

“Hello, Father.” 

 The gruff voice that answered her was too muffled for Ruby to understand, but she could hear the anger in the man’s tone and volume. That, and Weiss immediately flinched and squeezed Ruby’s hand instinctively as soon as her dad started talking. 

“No! Fath–” 

Weiss flinched again as her dad bulldozed over her. 

Ruby gave Weiss’ hand a supportive squeeze, but Weiss didn’t react. She remained stone-faced, staring at the ground but not really, lips and chin sometimes making small movements as she tried to say something but then changed her mind. 

Ruby leaned closer to try to hear what JerkDad was saying. 

… rlfriend?! And it… y opinion?… dacity to even mention me in th… cause you’re strutting around the streets like a whore!” 

Ruby jerked back like she’d been slapped in the face by the words, though Weiss gave no reaction other than a deep trembling breath and holding Ruby’s hand ever so slightly tighter. 

What the heck kind of a dad talked to his daughter like this? Weiss hadn’t even done anything wrong! In fact, she’d done good! She’d stopped a bad guy!

“But she–” 

Weiss spun and glared at Ruby, shutting her up instantly and making her flinch back. But Weiss didn’t seem angry. More… scared? Her expression even softened and she gave Ruby’s hand another squeeze, then shook her head. 

Okay. No talking. 

“Not paying for… useless fucking lesbian!”

Weiss closed her eyes and waited for her dad’s rant to end before she said anything. “May I explain?” she asked quietly. 

A one syllable response on the other end. 

“The article is… the journalist, if you can call him that, is lying. I wasn’t out on a date.” 

… why did… plastered on social… to see?”

“My team and I went out to dinner, and afterwards I wanted to see the statue garden that was nearby and R… my partner came with me.” She glanced at Ruby when she was about to say her name. Ruby tried to give her an encouraging smile, but Weiss looked away again before noticing. 

“No, then we heard gunshots and… and we ran to help and we stopped a killer!” Weiss said the statement hopefully, forcefully, like maybe it would be good enough to make her dad not mad. 

Yes, I… ulations on saving criminal scum.”

Whatever hope Weiss had was dashed away with that. She frowned. “B-but we still saved people! And the police captain thanked us! And… and the man we saved was a faunus!” Weiss shot a nervous glance at Blake, who pushed herself up and looked at Weiss coldly. 

You risked your… and gave… icity for a faunus?!”

“Well he’s…” Weiss blinked at Ruby as she trailed off. “He’s a person too,” she finished. 

Ruby’s heart thu-thumped in her chest, and she gave Weiss the biggest smile she’d ever given anyone, ever. She looked over at Blake. Her head was cocked to the side and she was regarding Weiss curiously. 

Need I remind…. ey’ve done?! Has a week… forget what they do to our family?!”

Weiss flinched and looked back down to the ground. “No! But–no! It’s not bad publicity! It’s good publicity!” 

How is… ood publicity?”

Weiss rolled her eyes, then jerked her head a bit and shook it, as if to took it back. “Ignore the lie about the… the date! Your daughter personally saved a faunus criminal! That makes the White Fang look even more unjustified in their hate for us! So… that’s good publicity, right?” 

Blake scoffed as Weiss finished and angrily stood. Yang reached out for her hand to try to stop her, but Blake brushed it off. 

On the other end of the line was a thoughtful silence, but Weiss was looking at Blake with wide, almost apologetic eyes. 

That’s true…” mused JerkDad as the team watched Blake stomp to the door. 

“Blake, wait,” Yang called out, lurching to her feet to follow. 

Who was that?” Weiss’ dad demanded. 

“N-nobody!” Weiss stammered. “Just my teammates are… going out.” 

Blake threw the door open as Yang reach her, and she pushed Yang off her as Yang tried to get her to stop. She turned in the doorway and glared at Weiss. She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it and panted heavily, balling her fists. She was angry. 

But apparently she couldn’t figure out what to say. She shook her head and turned away from Weiss, to Yang. She said something, too quiet for Ruby to hear, but she say Yang take a step back. 

“What did I do?” she whined. 

“Nothing!” Blake replied hurriedly. She said something more, something longer that Ruby couldn’t hear again, and Yang sighed and nodded, stepping away. Blake walked away and Yang closed the door behind her, sighing and resting her forehead against the pale wood. 

What the heck was Ruby supposed to do here? She needed to make sure Blake was okay, but she also needed to make sure Weiss was okay, and it was apparently impossible to do both of those at the same time. 

Maybe… stay her with Weiss for this scroll call, then run after Blake?

Dang it, why did even board games have to get ruined by this drama? Maybe Ruby’s dream of a big, happy team of BFFs would just never come true. Ruby seemed to be getting along great with Weiss, as impossible as that may have seemed at first, and Yang and Blake got along great despite being complete opposites as far as Ruby could tell, but Weiss and Blake… 

Ruby needed to talk to Blake. They hadn’t really gotten to know each other all that well yet. She knew Blake liked books and seemed very willing to accept Yang and all her Yanginess pretty easily, and she had a dry sense of humor, but that was about it. Not enough. 

“No, just teammates moving around,” Weiss said into her scroll. “Yes, it’s all four of us in a room.” 

Ruby leaned in again to hear JerkDad. 

“…. telling me I’m paying… you to live in a commune?” 

Weiss shook her head and closed her eyes. “No, it’s a dorm room! And it’s nice. It’s…” She looked at Ruby. “It’s certainly taking some getting used to, but it’s okay.” Her eyes flickered to the door Blake had just stormed out of. “So far,” she added under her breath. 

Yang walked slowly over and sat next to Ruby cross legged and sighed, giving Weiss a concerned, kinda angry frown. 

There was a long pause in the call, and Weiss’ eyebrows knit together. “F-Father?”

Stop your mewling, girl.” Weiss swallowed and straightened her back a bit. “… thinking ab… said about publicity…. could spin this.” 

The hopeful look came back to Weiss’ eyes. “Really?” 

“Yes. Good thinking.” 

The compliment made Weiss beam brighter than Ruby had ever seen. “Thank you, sir,” she crowed.   

Weiss called her dad sir? That felt… reallyreallyreally weird.

“Hm. I’ll have Atlesian… Schnee saving a faunus  cr… girl was your teammate?” 

“Yes.” Weiss looked at Ruby again and gave her hand a squeeze, managing a small smile. She seemed way less worried than she had before, so that was nice!

 “…need to have… retract the idiocy… daughter is a lesbian.”

Weiss blinked. “W-wouldn’t it be better to just ignore it? If we make a big deal about it then that’s what th–” 

“Did I ask your opinion, girl?” 

“N-no, sir,” Weiss answered, face falling again. 

Stop stammering!” 

Weiss flinched. 

“Now… reporter that… this slander and… understood?” 

Grimacing, Weiss took a deep breath like she was about to sigh, but held it back. “Yes, sir.” 

“Good. Now… class with… chester?” 

White eyebrows shot up, and Weiss blinked at Ruby. “Cardin?” 

Ruby blinked back at her. Why was Weiss’ dad talking about that total creepzoid?

Yes… company expansion… Vale with the Winchesters, and… are classmates.” 

“Yes, we’re classmates,” Weiss said slowly. “Why?” 

“Befriend him.” 

Weiss didn’t seem at all surprised by the order, just hanging her head in resignation. But it surprised Ruby. She thought everyone should be friends with everyone, of course, but Weiss definitely didn’t feel the same. In fact, as fat as Ruby could tell, she was Weiss’ only friend. And that had taken a lot of work on Ruby’s part. And Weiss had already made it pretty clear that she definitely didn’t like Cardin, so there was no way Ruby say them being friends at all. 

“But he’s–” Weiss started protesting. 

“I’m sorry, did… ‘but’ to me?”

“N-no, sir!” 

“Stammering!” 

“S-s… Ahem. Sorry. It’s just he’s a…” Weiss trailed off. 

“A buttface?” Ruby offered. 

Weiss snorted out a little laugh, the corners of her mouth twitching up ever so slightly before quickly recomposing herself.

“What was that?”

“Nothing! Just… he’s–Cardin’s a cretin man-child.” 

Oof. That was way meaner than anything Ruby had to say. Weiss really didn’t like him, huh?

… don’t care what you think of… matters is the business. Have you forgotten… parading around the streets?”

Weiss opened her mouth to protest, then deflated. “No, Father. I haven’t forgotten.” 

“Then you’ll befriend him. I’ll… meeting with his mother within the week… tour of the Winchester facilities.” 

Weiss scowled at the floor, but the look of resignation was still there. “Yes, sir. Are there talking points you want me to–” 

Yes. I’ll message…. documents later today.” 

“… Okay.” 

“Okay?”

“I mean–yes, sir. I-I understand.” 

If you stammer… Lady Winchester, she’ll think… family of idiots.”

Weiss’ grip tightened on Ruby’s hands to the point it was kinda starting to hurt. “Sorry, sir. I–” 

There was a click from her scroll. 

Did her dad just hang up on her in the middle of a sentence?

From the way Weiss blinked and stared in surprise at her scroll screen, he had. 

Wow. 

Weiss’ hand with the scroll fell into her lap, and as she looked at it she seemed to notice that she was still holding Ruby’s hands. She let go and moved to pull away, but Ruby didn’t let her. She held on to Weiss’ hand, and Weiss gave her a one of those “Ruby, you’re being dumb” looks. 

Ruby pursed her lips and squinted defiantly, and Weiss huffed in amusement before giving her one of those small, sad smiles. 

There was a moment of silence.

“Hey, Weiss?” Ruby spoke up eventually. 

Weiss smiled. “Yes, Ruby?” 

“Your dad’s a buttface.” 

Weiss smiled sadly again and looked down at their hands in silent agreement. 

“For freaking real!” Yang blurted from behind Ruby. The other two girls both jumped in surprise at the voice. Ruby had totally forgotten Yang was even here! She hadn’t spoken in… a long time! That was definitely not a Yangish thing to do. “Did he really just hang up on you? You didn’t even say anything wrong! And why do you have to call him sir? That’s so… so freaking weird.” 

“Could you hear him at all?” Ruby asked, tipping her head backwards to look at her big sister upside down. 

“Not really,” Yang shook her head. “But he sounded really angry.” 

“Yeah,” Weiss agreed with a depressed sigh.

“Is he… always like that?” Ruby asked. 

“He…” Weiss trailed off, moving her frown from her hands to the board game that sat forgotten. “No. He’s not always that angry.” 

“But is he always that jerky?” Ruby asked, not even sure if she believed Weiss’ hesitant answer anyway. 

Weiss smirked a bit. “Yeah… But… But I messed up.” 

“What? How?” Yang asked. 

With a sigh, Weiss continued. “I should have called him before he saw the article. Or, better yet, not let the article happen.” 

What?

“But… the article was wrong!” Ruby protested. “And you didn’t do anything to make it happen!” 

“I went out with you,” Weiss answered. 

“But… there’s nothing wrong with that!” 

“Apparently there is.” 

“What? But… but…” Did that mean Weiss didn’t want to hang out anymore? That would suck! Ruby really liked hanging out with Weiss. 

“That’s stupid, Weiss,” Yang stated simply. 

Weiss bristled. “Excuse me?” 

“That’s stupid,” Yang repeated. “You were out having a nice night with a friend and some stupid jackass decided to lie about it. That’s not your fault.” 

Weiss looked back down at her and Ruby’s hands. Ruby gave them a wiggle, then another when the first failed to get her to look up. She did, and Ruby gave her a smile. 

“You okay?” 

“I’m fine,” Weiss answered reflexively, and Ruby knew she wasn’t. 

“What was that crap about Cardin?” Yang asked. 

Weiss rolled her eyes at that. “Apparently the SDC is expanding some production facilities to Vale, and part of that is a partnership with Winchester Arms. So I have to–” she grimaced “–befriend Cardin.” 

“Yuck,” Yang said. 

Ruby nodded, and Weiss gave her a small smile that quickly faded. 

“I hope I don’t have to marry him,” she remarked. 

“WHAT?!” Ruby and Yang both yelled together. 

Weiss jumped at their raised voices, then let out a nervous little laugh as she look at their shocked faces. “S-sorry. I just… I’ve been told I’ll need to marry someone that will benefit and grow the company. I don’t think Father would want me to marry Cardin because Winchester is big enough that they wouldn’t agree to just fold into the SDC, but…” She did her little head tilt shrug. 

“Um… Weiss?” Yang spoke up. 

“Yes?” 

“That’s effed up.” 

“I don’t think I’ll have to marry him!” Weiss tried to reassure them, though Ruby was just staring at her, wide-eyed and terrified. Marrying Cardin sounded gross. Marrying anybody sounded gross. “I just meant it’s… you know, slightly possible. But just a little bit!” 

“Weiss, marrying anybody for your family’s company instead of love seems effed up,” Yang clarified. 

“Oh.” 

“And gross,” Ruby helpfully added. 

Weiss raised a perplexed eyebrow at her. 

“Marrying,” Ruby explained. “Marrying is gross.” 

“Oh.” Weiss gave her  a long look. “But you’ll have to marry someone eventually.” 

“No I won’t!” 

“Why would she have to get married?” Yang asked, defensively putting a hand on Ruby’s  shoulder. 

“Because… because you’re supposed to!” Weiss sputtered. “You’re supposed to go to university–or huntsmen academy, I suppose–graduate, get a job–which I already have waiting–and get married to some guy and have kids.”

“Why’s it have to be a guy?” Yang challenged. 

Weiss blinked at her. “Um.” 

“Just saying,” Yang shrugged, “girls marrying girls is okay too. And guys marrying guys.” 

“Right. Um. Yeah,” Weiss struggled. “I’m… yes. But it’s not okay for me.”

“Why not?” Ruby asked. 

“Because… because I have to marry a man. And have kids. And–” 

“You could adopt,” Yang cut in. “Women that marry women can adopt.” 

“S-sure. But they wouldn’t be a Schnee.” 

“Why wou–” 

“Why are we even talking about this?!” Weiss shouted, launching to her feet. “This isn’t important right now!” 

Ruby hurried to stand too. “Sorry! Sorry. Did–what did he say about the reporter? I didn’t catch everything.” 

Weiss gave her a condescending frown that Ruby had no idea how to interpret. She blinked innocently, and Weiss rolled her eyes and looked away. 

“I have to get the reporter to retract the bit about me being on a date with a girl.” 

“I don’t like your dad,” Yang stated flatly.

Weiss scoffed. “Regardless of whether or not you like him, but he’s become the richest and most successful man in the world.” 

“He’s a dick.” 

Weiss shuffled her feet and stared at her toes. 

Ruby looked back at the door. Weiss was really sad right now, obviously, but she seemed okay, all in all. But Blake was upset enough to storm off and tell Yang to leave her alone… 

“Did Blake say where she was going?” she asked her sister. 

Yang sighed and turned back to the door too. “To find a new book that could convince her not to throttle Weiss.” 

“What?!” Weiss squeaked. 

“So library, I guess,” Yang finished. 

“But what did I do?!” Weiss whined. “I said faunus were people too,” she pined to Ruby. 

It’s true! She had said that! And that’s awesome!

“Yeah, then you told your dad to turn it into a company talking point for publicity,” Yang told her coldly. 

Weiss hugged her elbow and started pinching herself. “Well–well yes. That’s… that’s how he thinks. That’s what I had to say to make him happy.” 

“Mm… That makes sense, I guess,” Yang admitted. “He does seem douchey like that.” 

“Yang!” Weiss cried. 

“What?! Do you disagree?” 

“You’re talking about the richest and one of the most powerful men in the world! And my father!” 

“So you don’t think he’s douchey?” 

Weiss rolled her eyes. “I don’t even know what that means,” she huffed. 

“You know exactly what it means.” 

Again, Weiss rolled her eyes, but she stayed silent. 

Ruby gently reached out to grab the hand she was using to pinch her upper arm. Weiss blinked at the contact and flinched, but then looked down at her arm and saw the noticeably pink spot on it surrounding a crescent shaped indent in the skin. 

“Oh. Thank you,” she murmured. 

Ruby smiled, then leaned in and gave Weiss a quick hug, then turned to Yang. “Can you keep Weiss company? I’m gonna go after Blake.” 

“She wanted to be alone, Rubes.” 

“Yeah, but that’s dumb.” 

“Ruby–” 

“I just want to make sure she’s okay! And explain why Weiss said what she did.” 

“Shouldn’t Weiss do that?” 

Ruby looked back at Weiss, whose wide eyes conveyed the total terror she felt at the prospect of talking to Blake. 

Yeah. Ruby had figured that would be the case. 

“They’d just end up fighting.” She moved to the door before Yang could protest some more. “Just keep Weiss company! Please!” 

Weiss and Yang looked at each other apprehensively. 

“Fine. Just don’t annoy her, okay?” Yang grumbled.

Ruby frowned. “I would never!” 

Yang and Weiss both let out little laughs, and that confused Ruby almost as much as how douchey Weiss’ dad was. 

“W-what?” she asked. 

Yang shook her head quickly. “Nothing. Go on. Message me up and let me know how it goes, ‘kay?” 

“Okay!” Ruby opened the door, then shot a glance back at Weiss. “Weiss!”

“Hm?” 

“No pinching yourself!” 

Weiss rolled her eyes, but then stared nervously down at her feet again. 

Ruby pointed at Yang. “Take care of her!” 

“I don’t need to be taken care of!” Weiss shouted at Ruby’s back as she sped away. 

Yeah. Right.

So Blake was probably at the library. No surprise there. The library and the tree down in the side courtyard that she and Yang like to hang out at seemed to be her “spots”, kinda like Weiss and the piano or roof. 

Ruby ran to the library in her Rose Form, leaving a slash of petals in her wake and startling a couple students that were out walking. 

It was a big building, with a weird kind of pyramid shape at the bottom and a spire kinda thingy at the top. It looked like it was supposed to be a temple, not a library. 

Inside it was warm, and the open, tiled lobby was really pretty. There were a couple tables on each side of the entrance that had arrangements of promoted books. A bit of a ways away was the front desk, where a student with her back turned to Ruby, talking to someone on the far side of the desk. 

Wait! It was Velvet! She had the cute bunny ears and the perfect hair! 

Ruby rushed forward and got a view of the other person. 

It was Blake! 

Dang, that was easy!

“Blake!” Ruby shouted, Rosing over to her. 

“Sssssssh!” Blake and Velvet both hissed together as Ruby materialized by the desk. 

Ruby winced. “Sorry,” she whispered. 

“Ruby, I told Yang I wanted to be left alone.” 

Ruby glanced at Velvet, who Blake was very clearly talking to, but didn’t comment about it. 

“I know!” she chirped instead. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.” 

“Well I’m fine,” Blake spat. “Don’t you have a racist heiress to entertain?” 

Ooooookay. Ruby glanced at Velvet, who seemed solemn rather than surprised at the description of Weiss. 

So Blake was talking about this with her. Ruby figured that made sense a bit. Velvet was a faunus. She probably had some sort of super wise insight to give Blake about all this. 

Plus, she’s really nice. And her accent is awesome! So she’s always great to talk to. 

Ruby cleared her throat and turned back to her teammate. “She’s… Blake, she’s not evil.” 

“Really?” Blake shot back. “‘Cause the kind of crap she spouts is the reason the White Fang she hates so much even exists. But she doesn’t just hate them! Somehow all faunus are evil degenerates because of the actions of a few. If we judged humanity on the actions of jackasses like the Schnees it would go the same way!” 

… ‘Kay, she was really mad. 

“Y-you’re right, Blake.” 

Blake’s eyebrows shot up, then narrowed suspiciously at Ruby. “I am? I mean, I am, but why do you think I am?” 

Ruby fought back a little laugh. “You’re right. The Schnees are jerks. Especially Weiss’ dad. If you heard their whole conversation… he’s not nice, Blake. And that was to his own daughter. He’s probably an evil supervillain to everyone else.” 

Blake crossed her arms, unimpressed. 

“To use Yang’s words, he’s a douche.” 

Blake’s lips twitched, but then she rolled her eyes. “Right. So I’m right and they’re awful.” 

“Yes, but Weiss is only like that because she was raised by that douche. But she’s not him!”

Blake scoffed. “She wants to use her saving a faunus–something that she wouldn’t have even done if you hadn’t gone into that store–as a publicity stunt for her company!” 

“Because that’s the kind of thing her dad listens to!” 

“And it’s the way she thinks!” 

“Blake, me and Yang asked her about it after her dad hung up on her. She said that to try to find a way to make him happy.” 

Blake gave her a ‘you’re an idiot’ look that Weiss would have approved of. “Yes, Ruby, and as long as she’s trying to make her father happy, she’s going to be a racist bigot.” 

“Well… yeah, but…”

“But?” 

“But she can change! She thinks faunus are awful because that’s how she was raised, and I think she’s been overexposed to White Fang. And-and she knows her dad’s not a good person. I think she’s just trying to keep him happy so she can stay at Beacon.” 

“Well maybe she shouldn’t.” 

“Blake!” 

Blake lifted her chin challengingly. “What? If she’s a hoity toity princess up in Atlas then why is she even here?” 

“Because she wants to get away from her family. Or at least her dad. She likes her sister. I’m not sure about her mom, and I don’t think she likes her brother very much. But yeah! She knows her dad is mean. So we just gotta show her that he’s also wrong about faunus!” 

Blake scoffed. “That’s not my job. I’m here to be a huntress, not to pointlessly try to fix a broken person that I don’t even know.” 

Ruby put on the grumpiest face she could. “Blake! She’s our teammate! And she’s really nice if you get to know her. And I know she likes you, she thinks you’re really cool when you two aren’t freaking hating each other!” 

“Ruby–” 

“She just needs to meet nice faunus! I don’t think she ever has! We just need to show her that faunooses are–” 

Velvet let out a little giggle, and Ruby shot her a big smile before continuing. 

“–are just normal people too!” 

“Great, so she can be just a normal condescending brat instead of a racist one.” 

“Hey! Weiss is awesome! And really nice!” 

Blake rolled her eyes. “You ever heard the phrase rose-tinted glasses, Ruby?” 

“Uh…” Had she? It sounded familiar. She wasn’t sure what it meant. “No? But roses sound good, sooo…” 

Blake rolled her eyes again and smirked. “Whatever. I don’t want to, is that enough?” 

“No!” Ruby yelled.

“Sssssh!” Velvet hissed at her again, reaching over and swatting the back of Ruby’s hand. 

“Sorry!” Ruby turned back to Blake and dropped her voice to a hush. “She’s our teammate, and we’re here to make each other better huntresses and better people. So no, it’s not okay for you to not want to help! You can’t hate her this much for something that can be fixed without doing what you can to try to make it better! Why do you even hate her so much for this? Why is this so personal?” 

Blake and Velvet shared a long look that Ruby didn’t understand. “Why do I have to have a reason to not like a racist?” Blake finally asked. 

Dang nabbit. “That’s not an answer!” 

“I just–the faunus mean a lot to me, Ruby, okay? More than they do to you. And I’ve watched people like Weiss ruin lives, regardless of whether or not the way they think is their fault. Okay?”

“Okay… Um.” What was Ruby supposed to say? “Um… Just give her a chance?” 

Blake looked at her flatly. 

“Give her a chance!” Ruby repeated more forcefully. “That’s an order from your team leader!” 

“I’m pretty sure that’s not how you’re supposed to use your team leader powers, Ruby.” 

“Pft–I–well… I’m pretty sure your face isn’t supposed to be fat and stupid, but it is!” 

Blake turned to Velvet. “Is my face fat and stupid?” 

Velvet shook her head, looking alarmed at Ruby’s outburst. She didn’t think Ruby really thought Blake’s face was fat and stupid, right? It was obviously a joke. 

“Does Coco pull her team leader card like this?” Blake asked the bunny girl. 

“Sometimes,” Velvet nodded. “Most of the time we just listen to her ‘cause she’s… you know… Coco. But when Fox and Yatsu don’t listen or try to argue she goes all ‘Raaaah! I’m team leaderrrr!’ on them.” She did a little angry Ursa impression with the last part. “It’s pretty funny.” 

“What about when you don’t listen to her?” Blake asked. 

“Oh, I always listen to her. I’m her Bunbun.” Velvet gave a blushing but pleased smile. 

Blake rolled her eyes. “So wrong,” she muttered. 

Why?” Velvet asked in a way that made Ruby think this wasn’t the first time they’d had this conversation. “I’m a rabbit faunus. She has a cute little pet name for me. She doesn’t mean it in a mean way or anything!” 

“You’re just exacerbating the problem when you let humans give you pet names. We need to convince them we’re not animals.” 

Velvet’s eyebrows furrowed grumpily in anger, something Ruby hadn’t expected from her. “Coco isn’t part of the problem. And I don’t need to convince anybody of anything. I’m just here to be me.”

“Wait…” Ruby cut in as pieces clicked into place. “Is Coco, like, your… partner?” 

Velvet gave her an amused smile. “Yes. Not team partner. But relationship partner, yes.” 

Ruby let out a squeal. “That’s so cuuuuuuuuuuuuute!” 

“Sssssh!”

“Sssssh!” Ruby hissed back instinctively. 

Velvet rolled her eyes. “But thank you. You’re right. Coco is very cute.” 

“You are too!” 

Velvet blushed again. “Thanks.” 

An idea popped into Ruby’s head. “Hey, Velvet?” 

“Hm?” 

“Do you think you could talk to Weiss?” 

Velvet’s eyes went wide, and she looked at Blake like she’s just watched Ruby grow a second head. “A-about what?” 

“Um. Nothing! Just talk to her. Just so she can see that there are super awesome nice faunooses like you out there.” 

“I don’t know…” 

“You guys are both interested in hard-light Dust, right? You could talk about that! And if it works, maybe Weiss would be nice enough to get you some ‘cause she’s, like, the Dust Princess, ya know?” 

Velvet frowned. “Yeah… Talking about Dust with someone like her might be fun.” 

“Yeah!” 

“But…” 

“But?” 

What was there to ‘but’ about? This plan was perfect! Velvet was super sweet and smart and great to talk to. If talking to anyone would make Weiss see that faunus weren’t all bad, it was her!

“I’m not… I’m not a spokeswoman for all faunus, Ruby. And I don’t want to be.” 

“You don’t have to! Just… if she sees that you’re awesome, and I find her other awesome faunus to meet, then maybe she’ll realize she’s being silly and change her mind!” 

Blake snorted. “‘Silly’. Right.” 

Velvet turned to her. “Shouldn’t you be doing this? Isn’t being an advocate for faunus equality kind of in your blood?” 

“What?” Ruby said aloud. “What’s that mean?” 

Nothing,” Blake growled, glaring at Velvet, who glared defiantly back. 

“Why would faunus equality advocate…ing be in her blood?” Ruby asked Velvet, since Blake wasn’t sharing. 

Velvet seemed to fold under Blake’s glare, and she looked away. “N–she’s not. Nevermind. I don’t know about this, Ruby.” 

“Don’t think about it like you have to, like… do anything faunusy or something. Just think of it like getting to know a new friend! Weiss is awesome and smart and if your weapon is even half as complicated as what you were saying yesterday, she’d be really great to talk to!” 

Velvet sighed. “I… I guess. I’m gonna talk to Coco about this first.” 

“Okay!” 

That sounded fair. And it was really cute!

With another sigh, Velvet turned to Blake. “Is she always like this?” 

“Yes.” 

“Like what?!” Ruby squeaked. What was she being like???

“Overly earnest and cheery and lacking any compunctions,” Blake answered with a smile. 

“Oh.” Those sounded like good things! What was a compunction, though? Wasn’t that a word you use to connect two sentences together? And, but, or?

Did Blake just call her a butt?

Another student approached the desk, a stack of books in their arms. An older student that Ruby didn’t recognize. 

“Hey, Chase,” Velvet greeted him, wheeling over to a computer behind the desk that Chase approached. 

“Hey, V. You make any progress on Goodwitch’s assignment?” He plopped the pile of books down and Velvet began scanning them. Books on Dust, it looked like. ‘The Equations of Magic’, ‘Dust Mechanics Vol. 3’, ‘Dust: Refinement and Purification’, and others like that. 

“Not yet,” Velvet answered ruefully. “Although you won’t find any answers in these. Hard-light Dust hasn’t been around long enough to be in textbooks.” 

“I knooow,” Chase sighed. “Just hoping something in one of these will jog some brilliant revelation out of me.” 

“I’m pretty sure there’s no right answer,” Velvet told him. 

“What?” 

Velvet shrugged. “There’s no way she can expect us to give anything other than theories. It’s not like we can just pop over to the shop and get a hard-light vial to test it on skin contact. Pretty sure she just wants us to try to think through it and present our train of thought.”

“Huh. Well… that’s way less stressful.” 

 Velvet laughed. “I could totally be wrong, though.” 

Chase grinned. “Hey, you’re in librarian mode right now. It’s physically impossible for you to be wrong. You have brain powers.”

“Ah, is that what that tingly feeling is?” Velvet joked, handing him his books back. 

He laughed and gathered up his stack of learning. “Tell Coco she still owes us that coffee run,” he said as he walked away. 

“Oh, she remembers. She just wants you to beg for it.” 

Chase laughed again and rolled his eyes. “Have a good one!” 

“You too!” 

Velvet turned back to Blake and Ruby. 

“So… are you the librarian?” Ruby asked. That seemed weird. 

Chuckling, Velvet shook her head. “No, I’m just on the work-study program. So three days a week I spend four hours here scanning books.” 

“What’s Coco think of that?” Blake asked with a smug grin that made Velvet blush but confused Ruby. “She into that ‘stern librarian’ roleplay?” 

Velvet went straight red and decided that her fingernails were suddenly very interesting. 

“………. Maybe,” she finally whispered with a giggle. 

“I don’t get it,” Ruby blurted out. 

“Good!” Velvet immediately piped up. “Good. Now go away, both of you. I have returns I need to sort.” 

“You’ll think about talking with Weiss? Or… whatever?” Ruby asked her. 

Velvet nodded, her smile falling a little bit. “Yeah. I’ll talk about it with Coco. She’ll know what to do.” 

That was really sweet how much trust she had in her partner. It was like Ruby and Yang! But different!

“You coming back to the room with me?” Ruby asked Blake. 

Blake thought for a moment. “In a little while. I actually do want to look around for some books.” 

“Okay. Should I tell Yang you’re okay? She was worried.” 

Blake smiled and rolled her eyes at the same time. “I’m fine, Ruby.” 

Wow, that sounded familiar. 

“Alright. I’ll see you later?” 

It took a moment for Blake to realize that was a question. “Uh, yeah, of course.” 

Okay. So Blake wasn’t so mad she wouldn’t come back to a room with Weiss in it. Or at least she wasn’t anymore. 

“‘Kay bye!” Ruby chirped, speeding away and leaving a grumbling Velvet swiping and griping at rose petals. 

Time to go make sure Weiss and Yang hadn’t exploded or frozen each other. 

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