Thaw – 2.9

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The door slammed shut behind Ruby and a long, awkward pause settled in the room as Weiss and Yang both stood completely still and silent. It wouldn’t have overly surprised Weiss if a tumbleweed bounced across the room. 

She cleared her throat and clasped her hands behind her back to hide their shaking. “So…” 

Yang blinked at her. “So.” 

“I guess I’ll get started on homework,” Weiss decided. 

“No you won’t!” Yang shouted, pointing a goofy finger at Weiss. “I’ve been given the solemn duty by our fearless leader to make sure you’re okay!” 

Weiss sighed. Of all the times for Yang to actually take her little sister seriously, it had to be this one. 

“Well, I’m fine. I just want to do homework.” 

Yang scoffed. “That in and of itself is proof you’re not okay.” 

Huffing and rolling her eyes, Weiss stomped over to her desk. Or at least she tried to. Yang moved to block her path. 

“Is it really so ridiculous that some of us like being productive and responsible?” she demanded, her voice sounding a bit petulant even in her own ears. 

“Yes,” Yang answered dryly. 

“You’re an idiot!” 

Yang smiled a bit and shrugged. “Sure,” she said simply. 

What did that even mean? She was just okay with being an idiot?

Or maybe she was just okay with Weiss thinking she was an idiot…

Yang glanced down and then frowned, taking a half step back and raising her hands up a bit in surrender. “Hey, are you really that mad at me?” 

“What?” 

Yang gestured down, and Weiss realized what was wrong. Her hands were now balled into fists at her sides, shaking. 

“Oh, no! I’m… I’m sorry.” She went back to her normal default of hugging her elbow, only to immediately drop the hand again. Ruby told her not to pinch herself, which is what she always ended up doing when she was feeling like an inadequate failure like this, so she needed to make sure she didn’t go back to that. But now she didn’t know what to do with her hands. 

A small part of her wondered why she was listening to a dolt’s orders for her, but it wasn’t just because Ruby had told her to stop pinching herself. She recognized it was a bad habit. She hadn’t even noticed that she did it until Ruby pointed it out last week, but now that she knew, it definitely didn’t seem like a healthy thing to do. 

“Hey…” Yang said, her voice that gentle tone that had surprised Weiss before. Weiss looked up at her, and she slowly placed a hand on Weiss’ shoulder. “You okay?” 

“Yes, I’m fine,” Weiss said instinctually. The physical contact was making her emotional alarms start ringing all at once, and Weiss had to consciously remind herself that Yang wasn’t her mother or father. 

Yang raised an eyebrow. 

“I’m not mad at you,” Weiss reassured her. “It’s just…” She waved a hand to try to convey nothing and a million things at once. “My father…” 

Yang gave her a sad smile. “Yeah.” She seemed to flounder for a moment, unsure of what to say. Eventually she hedged into a different, though still unfortunate, topic. “What was all that Ruby was ranting about you pinching yourself?” 

Weiss grimaced. She really wished Ruby hadn’t just blurted that out. It was embarrassing. “Just a… nervous habit,” she simplified. 

That wasn’t entirely accurate. She’d been pinching herself when she was feeling self-loathing or disappointment. But that wasn’t a necessary distinction to give Yang. 

Yang nodded in understanding, though. “Yeah. Sometimes I chew on my hair when I get nervous.” 

Weiss wrinkled her nose. “Gross.” 

Yang laughed and let go of Weiss’ shoulder. A sigh of relief escaped Weiss quietly, and she felt her heartbeat slow down, though she hadn’t consciously noticed it speed up. 

Yang took a few steps back and leaned against the back of Weiss’ chair where it sat in front of her desk. The fact that someone was touching her stuff made her brain itch, but it didn’t seem appropriate to complain. 

“Hey,” Yang said again. 

“What?” Weiss snapped a little too tersely. 

‘Damn it, Weiss. She’s just trying to help.’

She hugged herself again as she chastised herself, not realizing what she was doing until the moment her nails dug into the skin of her arm again. 

She dropped her hands. 

Yang seemed to notice the flustered motions, giving Weiss another small smile. “Look,” she said softly, “I know that you probably grew up very differently than Ruby and I did.” 

Weiss nodded slowly. She was worried about where this was going. 

“I’m guessing you went to some fancy rich people private school?” Yang guessed. 

This time Weiss shook her head. She was homeschooled, but she was having trouble finding her voice to say that aloud. 

Yang’s eyes widened in surprise. “Public school?” 

Weiss shook her head again. “Ho–” she broke off into a cough and cleared her throat, her voice having come out raspy and weak. “Homeschooled,” she tried again. 

Yang let out a low whistle and crossed her arms. “… Shit.” 

A soft snort escaped Weiss. Yeah, that was a good way to put it. 

Yang gave her another soft smile at the shared humor that slowly faded. “So… what was a normal day for Weiss like, before you came to Beacon?” 

Wow. That was… a big question. 

“Do we have to talk about this?” she whined, looking around to try to find some sort of distraction. 

“Yes,” Yang answered forcefully. “We’re teammates, Weiss. And I’d like to think we can be friends, especially since Ruby freaking loves you, so I’m going to have to find some way to get along with you. And I’m hoping you and Blake can be friends to.”

Weiss raised her eyebrows at that, but Yang pressed on.

“I think it’s possible. As… difficult as you can sometimes be, and unfortunate views of faunus aside, you do seem like a nice person.” Weiss opened her mouth to protest, but Yang didn’t let her get a word in, finishing, “Ruby wouldn’t like you so much if you weren’t.” 

That made Weiss stop short. Was it bad that the best advocate for positive traits in Weiss wasn’t Weiss’ own behaviour, but rather the fact that Ruby liked her?

Probably, though a couple months ago Weiss wouldn’t have even cared what opinion of her someone like Yang even had. But she should care now, right? Like Yang said, they were teammates. 

“So I’d like to know what your life was like,” Yang continued. “You’re so… different, and I’d like to understand why.” 

Different? Different as in better, sure. 

‘Stop it, Weiss.’

Weiss sighed, pushing her ego aside. “Okay,” she conceded. 

“Wanna sit?” Yang asked, gesturing to the chair next to her. Ruby’s chair. 

Weiss nodded, but moved to sit on the edge of her bed instead. Yang took it in stride and pulled out Weiss’ chair to sit in front of her. The back of Weiss’ brain was itching even more at the sight of Yang in her chair, but she kept ignoring it. 

“So,” Yang sighed, clapping her hands down on her knees. “So let’s just say it’s Monday morning at the Schnee, uh, palace a few months ago. What’s Weiss doin’?” 

Weiss swallowed. She really didn’t want to have this conversation, but… but it would help, right? She needed to figure out what the Crucible she was doing with her hands, though. She eventually settled on clasping them together in her lap so tightly it hurt. 

“Well… I’d wake up at seven and go for a run, like I still do.”

Yang nodded, familiar. “Why do you do that, by the way?”

“Why do I run?” Weiss asked, unsure what the point of the question was. Didn’t it make sense for a huntress to be fit?

“Yeah. Like, when did you start waking up at seven in the morning to go running and why?” 

“Oh. Well… I started running a couple years ago. I decided I wanted to be a huntress like my sister and she told me I should get fit, so… so I did.” 

Yang nodded again. “Makes sense. Oka–”

“And I feel like, you know, I’m never going to be very strong, like you are, and my aura doesn’t amplify my strength very well, but at least I’ll have a lot of stamina to make up for that. Maybe. I’m not sure if it will, but–” 

“Weiss.” 

Weiss looked up to Yang, who was giving her that same soft smile. 

“It’s okay,” Yang said. “I get it. And I’m sure it will help.”

“Thanks,” Weiss murmured, looking back down at her hands. 

“How fast is your mile?” 

“Hm?” The question caught Weiss off guard. 

“How fast do you run a mile?” Yang asked again. 

“F-four fourty-nine.” 

Yang let out a low whistle of appreciation and leaned back. “Damn. Nice.” 

The competitive edge that Weiss was constantly honing forced her to ask, “What’s yours?” She knew her mile time, but she wasn’t really sure what she should be comparing to. The fastest Vytal Games time recorded was 4:04, but was Weiss, as a huntress, supposed to measure herself off of competitive runners, or other huntsmen and huntresses?

She should ask Winter what her mile time is. 

“Five thirty-four,” Yang answered easily. “So you’re, like, almost a minute faster than me. That’s pretty damn impressive.”  

The complete lack of shame Yang had in admitting to being slower threw Weiss off. How was she so okay with being… worse?

“T-thanks,” Weiss said instead. “Though I’m sure Ruby would beat me anyway.” 

 Yang chuckled. “You’d be surprised. Sure, Ruby might beat all of our asses in a hundred yard dash–even without her semblance–but I’m not sure she could beat you in a mile.” 

“Really?” 

Yang nodded. “She’s pretty bad at long distances. Can’t keep a steady pace. Starts too fast and tires herself out.” 

“That sounds like her,” Weiss said with a smile.

Yang laughed again. “Yeah, plus she doesn’t have the patience to just run for that long. She’ll get bored.” 

“That definitely sounds like her.” 

Yang smiled again. “So you go out at an inhuman hour to run and be a fit lil’ huntress. I’m guessing it’s cold as all heck that early in Atlas, yeah?” 

Weiss nodded. “It is. I’m okay in the cold, though.” 

“Is it ‘cause you’re an Ice Queen?” Yang teased with a grin. 

“I will freeze you in a block of ice,” Weiss threatened. 

“Spoken like a true Ice Queen,” Yang teased some more. 

Weiss rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t get too mad when it was very clear from Yang’s smile that she was just joking.

 “So you run in the cold morning when you should be sleeping ‘cause you’re a crazy person. What then?” 

Weiss huffed out a light laugh. “Well… then I’d come in, shower, get dressed, and Klein would have breakfast ready for me.” 

“Klein is one of your manservant dudes?” 

Weiss’ eyes narrowed. “Butler, and he’s the only one.” 

“What’s he like?” Yang asked, cocking her head to the side curiously. 

Weiss smiled. “Klein is great. He’s always been kind to me.”

“And you’ve been kind to him?” 

“Of course!” Weiss bristled, offended. What was that supposed to mean? She had nothing but respect and admiration for Klein. He was… a rock of kindness in a storm of awfulness back home. He was the only friendly face in the mansion once Winter left. 

Yang raised her hands in surrender again. “Okay. Just askin’. What kind of breakfast would he make you?”

Weiss tilted her head in a little shrug. “All sorts of stuff. He’s an amazing cook, so I just was always happy with whatever he made me. Crepes, omelets, quiches–” 

“Daheck’s a quiche?” 

“It’s like a… breakfast… pie?” 

“Oh. Huh.” 

“They’re really good.” 

“I’ll take your word for it.” 

Weiss sighed. “But yeah. I’d eat whatever Klein cooked, which was usually just whatever he felt like making that day, but sometimes Whitley demanded something specific for breakfast, and Klein would make me the same thing too.” 

“Whitley’s your brother, right?” 

Weiss nodded. “Little brother, yes.”

“What’s he like?” 

Why was Yang asking all these annoyingly personal questions? Weiss could feel goosebumps forming on her forearms from how uncomfortable this was. 

Maybe that was just her imagination. 

Though Weiss shouldn’t feel this uncomfortable, right? She’d be totally okay talking about this stuff with Ruby because she knew Ruby would never judge her or look at her differently for how… deranged her childhood was. But Yang was Ruby’s sister. They would have been raised the same, right? 

They weren’t the same person, though. Yang was more combative, confrontational. More likely to decide she didn’t like Weiss if Weiss said something she didn’t like or approve of. But… but she was here, trying to get to know Weiss. That should count for something. It did for Ruby.

“He’s… unpleasant. He and I don’t have the same kind of relationship that you and Ruby do, that’s for sure.” 

“Well duh, that’s ‘cause I’m the best and Ruby’s even better,” Yang said with a smile. Her expression faded back to somber. “What’s unpleasant about him?” 

Weiss shook her head and let out a long breath. “He’s just… arrogant and petulant and demanding and self-obsessed.” 

“Hm.” 

“What?” 

Yang shook her head. “Nothing.”

It clearly wasn’t nothing. 

“What?” Weiss demanded. 

Yang deliberated for a second, then shook her head again and repeated, “Nothing. So your breakfast-maestro-that-has-to-be-lame-’cause-he-can’t-make-Yangcakes cooks for you, then what?”

Ignoring the teasing barb at Klein, Weiss continued. “Well, then the tutoring starts, unless there’s something special my father has us do.” 

“What kind of something special?” 

“Oh, just like if he’s having a meeting with board members and wants me to sit in, or if he has a lunch with another councilman or something. Or if it’s tax season and he wants me to learn from the accountants how to minimize taxes… or when hard-light Dust was first being developed, he had me meet with the research scientists about a billion times to learn what it does and how to use it, then we talked to the director of marketing another billion times to figure out how to sell it and to whom… Stuff like that.” 

Yang blinked a couple times. “That sounds… W-was it boring? It sounds boring, but you’re weird, sooo…” 

Weiss rolled her eyes. “No, it wasn’t boring.” 

Yang shook her head in disbelief, but Weiss realized she wasn’t being entirely truthful. 

“Well, okay. The auditing is boring. It’s… yeah, it makes even my eyes glaze over. And I always hated meeting with politicians or investors or the company board. But I liked–” 

“Why?” Yang interrupted. 

“Why what?”  

 “Why do you hate talking to the rich people?” 

“B-because… I hate people?” 

The answer clearly didn’t satisfy Yang. She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. 

“W-well I do!” Weiss protested. “Mostly.”

It was true! As a general rule, people were idiots and annoying and Weiss hated them. Then there were annoying idiots like Ruby that Weiss for some reason didn’t mind all that much anymore. And there was Yang, who was partially stomachable except for when she was being a nosy jerk like right now. 

“Did you hate something in particular about these people?” Yang asked, still not letting it go.

“No,” Weiss sighed. “Well, some of them were arrogant, condescending assholes, and the ones that weren’t just kissed my father’s ass all day hoping for his investment or social backing. Except General Ironwood. He was always kind, and the only person I’ve ever seen my father defer to, though he was never happy about it.” 

“It doesn’t sound like he’s ever happy.” 

Another dry huff of a laugh escaped Weiss. “No, that he isn’t… And…” She trailed off, not sure she really wanted to continue this thought. 

“And?” Yang prompted. 

The words spilled out of Weiss, coming out in a desperate tumble. “And those meetings were awful because no matter what I did my father was never happy. When we’d go home he’d be furious at me for embarrassing him, no matter how hard I tried. Like I accidently called an unmarried woman missus because I didn’t realize she was unmarried and she got offended because she was a snobby socialite that cared about that for some reason, and Father was… really mad. And once, when I was young, I used the wrong fork for my salad and one of the idiot men we were eating with commented, and apparently it was a big enough deal that I got the belt that night. And when some–” 

“The belt?” Yang asked, alarmed. “He beat you?” 

“I… um…” 

‘Shit.’

Leaning forward in her chair, Yang looked at Weiss with an infuriating amount of pity and concern, to the point Weiss wanted to slap her. Nobody should pity Weiss Schnee, heiress to the freaking world. There was nothing to pity her for. 

“Weiss?” 

“Only when I messed up,” Weiss answered honestly. Her father only hit her when she made mistakes. Because she wasn’t supposed to make mistakes. She was a Schnee. Winter and Whitley never made mistakes. But for some reason there was always something for Father to get mad at her for. 

Not that it was all that bad the past couple years anyway. After getting control and practice over her aura, she’d used it to make the disciplining substantially less painful. She’d just had to make sure it was weak enough that Father didn’t notice, because he became a thousand times madder when he did. 

“How often did you… ‘mess up’?” Yang asked, the tone of the last two words making it clear she didn’t see it that way. 

“Only once or twice a week,” Weiss told her hands. 

“Weiss….” 

What?” 

“That’s not…” Yang trailed off, leaning back with a sigh. 

“Not what?” Weiss challenged. “Not normal? Plenty of parents discipline their kids. Save your pity for someone that deserves it.” 

“Wei–” 

“I’m part of the richest family in the world, Yang, and I’m set to become the richest person when I inherit the company. Something tiny like my father beating me is nothing compared to how good I have it. So just leave it alone.” 

… Wow. The amount of bite in her words surprised her, and from Yang’s shocked expression and the way she pulled back, it had surprised her too. 

Weiss just really hated that pitying look. It was the same look her mother gave her whenever Weiss talked about how she was trying to please Father. 

“… Sorry,” Yang said eventually. “I didn’t mean to… I just… Maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s normal. But it’s not okay, Weiss.” 

“I–” 

“Regardless of how nice your money is. Fathers shouldn’t… they shouldn’t treat their daughters that way.” 

Weiss looked down at her hands again, then unclasped them when she realized her nails were digging into the backs of her palms. She really needed to stop this. 

“I’m sure our experience with parenting is very different,” she said quietly, willing her anger away. 

A snort came out of Yang. “Yeah, that’s an understatement. Speaking of which, where’s your mom in all this?” 

Oof. 

“I don’t see her all that often anymore. She kind of claimed one wing of the mansion and stays there drinking all day. Except for when she goes out to party. Only Klein really sees her every day I think. I used to, but it got… tiring. I don’t really like talking to her. And she always smells bad from the alcohol.” 

Yang stared at her in silence for a few seconds. “… Wow,” she finally breathed. 

Weiss sighed. “What?” 

“I just… can’t even imagine living in your home. Like… what the fuck?” 

Weiss swallowed thickly. “Well… I still have a pretty good life.” 

“I’m not sure the money is worth that family, Weiss,” Yang said gently.

“My sister’s great, though! And I usually got to see her at least a couple times a month.” 

“Wait, why just… is she drinking in another room all day?”

“What?!” Weiss almost screeched, offended that anyone would talk about Winter that way. “No! She was just in Atlas. Academy! Atlas Academy. And then she joined the military.” 

“Well sure, but don’t you live in Atlas? Like, the same city? Why couldn’t she visit more?”

“Oh. Well she couldn’t visit pretty much ever. When she decided to become a huntress my father was furious and excommunicated her from the family. She’s not allowed to come home.” 

“Oh. Crap.” 

Weiss shrugged. “Indeed. And I was only allowed to leave to visit her when I was done with my lessons and didn’t have any special tasks from my father. And Winter was busy a lot. I got to see her a bit more once she was getting started in the military because she got stationed in Atlas and got her own apartment and stuff… Like, she taught me how to drive this summer! That was… neat.” 

“Oh, nice,” Yang said with a smile. Then she frowned. “But… question.” 

“Mm.” 

“If he was furious at your sister for leaving to become a huntress, why is your dad okay with you doing it?” 

“Oh.” Weiss took a deep breath. “Well I promised that after graduating I’d come back to the company. That’s mandatory. And when Winter left she kind of insulted Father a bunch and said she didn’t want to lead the company. But she could do that because General Ironwood gave her a full scholarship, so she didn’t need Father to pay for her schooling.” 

“Dang. So she’s awesome like Ruby, huh?”

Weiss smiled proudly and nodded. “Very awesome.” Her smile faded away. “Also, I think Father was extra mad because Winter was also really good at being… you know, an heiress.” 

“What do you mean?” 

“She never did anything to make Father mad like I do. She was… is… perfect. And she left, leaving my father stuck with me to take up her mantle. And I’m… bad at it.” 

Now that Weiss thought about it, her Father started getting mad at her more after Winter left. Probably because he hadn’t been paying much attention to her before then, so he hadn’t noticed how often she messed up.

“Weiss, I don’t… I don’t understand.” 

“Understand what?” 

Yang spread her hands wide in exasperation. “I don’t see how your dad or you can think you’re so awful at so much. Like, I’m not gonna go all Ruby on you and tell you that you’re super duper uber awesome or whatever, but you are… really good. At a lot of things. And I haven’t even gotten to see you do much yet. Maybe you are super duper uber awesome.” 

Weiss smiled sadly. “Really good isn’t good enough for a Schnee.” 

“What about super duper uber awesome?” Yang asked with a small grin. 

Rolling her eyes, Weiss sighed. “That would be better, probably. But I don’t think I am. Maybe if I can beat Pyrrha…” 

“Hey, what about me?” Yang chirped, straightening up and putting her hands on her hips. “I’m really effing strong, yo.” 

“I’m sure you are,” Weiss replied lightly. 

“I am! I’ll show you. Professor Awesome said we’re doing two v twos this Friday, right? I’ll wreck your and Ruby’s faces and then you’ll be all ‘Wow, Yang is so super duper uber awesome’ and I’ll be like ‘yah’.” 

Weiss rolled her eyes again. “Whatever. Are you done interrogating me?” 

Yang’s face fell. “I’m not trying to interrogate you, Weiss, just tr–” 

“I know, I know,” Weiss interrupted with a sigh. “Sorry. I just don’t like talking about this stuff.” 

“Yeah,” Yang nodded. “We can stop. How much of this does Ruby know?” 

“Um. No specifics. I’m not sure how well I even could explain it to her. I don’t think she really understands the concept of a father being… not nice to his daughter.” 

“Yeaaah,” Yang sighed. “She thinks everyone in the world is as nice as her. Even though people have been mean to and around her all the time. It just, like, doesn’t register. She makes excuses for them, like ‘those meanies are actually nice, but’, ya know?” 

“I do. So it’s hard. I don’t mind talking to her about it too much, but it’s hard to make her understand.” 

“Yeah. But I guess that’s the price you gotta pay for that bubbly bundle of sweetness.” 

That got a laugh out of Weiss. It was an accurate description of Ruby, though annoying and hyperactive and annoyingly hyperactive should probably be fit somewhere in there.  

“Yes,” Weiss agreed simply instead. 

When Yang tilted her head and gave her a quizzical  look, Weiss bristled again. 

“What?” 

“You’re so weird, Weiss.” 

“What? Why?” What had she done? She’d just agreed that Ruby was sweet! 

“Have you ever said ‘yeah’ or, like, ‘yep’ or ‘yeppers’ or anything like that instead of just ‘yes’?” Yang asked, making the last word sound deep an imperious–probably how she thought Weiss sounded, though it was totally off. 

“Well those aren’t words, so… no.” 

And you said ‘whom’ like a total nerd.” 

“It was the correct word to say! I’m sorry you’re uneducated and lack any desire to use proper grammar!” 

Yang chuckled and stood, giving Weiss’ knee a light backhanded slap. “I’m just teasin’ ya, Ice Queen.” 

“Well I’m not teasing you… Fire… Peasant…” 

Okay, Weiss’ insulting nicknames needed some work. 

From her snorting laugh, Yang thought so too. “Points for effort, babe,” she chuckled. Just then, her scroll beeped, and she pulled it open to read a message and smile. “Well, looks like Ruby’s on her way back. And she said Blake’s calmed down a bit.” 

“For now,” Weiss grumbled. 

“Yeah, well, you’re not going to get any help from me on that front,” Yang said, spreading her arms out wide and stretching casually. “You may be nice enough, but your views on faunus are totally asinine.” 

“Well I didn’t ask for your help, and… your face is asinine,” Weiss retorted. 

“I thought you thought ‘your face’ jokes were lame,” Yang commented, dragging Weiss’ chair back to the desk, bouncing it along the carpet as she went. Each bounce made Weiss wince. 

“I don’t,” Weiss agreed. “But… fight fire with fire, right?” 

Yang raised an eyebrow at her, then let out another laugh. “Ha! Clever.”

Weiss huffed in response. Of course she was clever. 

“Rubes says she’s on her way back. Do you wanna come with us to the game?” 

“Noooo,” Weiss answered quickly. 

“You sure? It’ll be a lot of fun. Lots of people, great game, concession stand food, cotton candy…” 

“That sounds…” Weiss had to physically keep herself from shuddering. “No. No, thank you.” 

She actually really did appreciate that Yang was inviting her–she’d expect it from Ruby because… well, it’s Ruby. But Yang trying to convince her to come along? That was something else. 

But crowds and loudness and over-processed, low-quality food and unholy amounts of sugar… That sounded like Weiss’ own personal hell, sans her parents. 

“Okay,” Yang conceded. “I’m sure Ruby would be happy to have you there, though.” 

When Weiss narrowed her eyes to squint suspiciously at Yang, the blonde’s straight face broke, and she let out an embarrassed grin. 

Yeah, she knew it was a low blow attempt to persuade Weiss. 

“I’m sure she would,” Weiss said diplomatically. “But she also knows why I wouldn’t want to go.” 

Attempts foiled, Yang frowned. “Aight. I’ll bring you a souvenir of the fun you mis–” 

The door to the room banged open and Ruby stood panting in the doorway, hands on either side of the frame. 

“I’m back!” she panted. “Is Weiss still alive?” 

“Hey!” they both cried in protest.

Weiss could totally take Yang. 

Ruby rushed over to Weiss and gently cupped her face with her hands. The suddenness and intimacy made Weiss freeze. 

But then, Ruby used her thumbs to pull on the edges of Weiss’ lips and said, “Smile for me, Weiss.” 

“What? No!” 

“Smile! I need to make sure you have all your teeth!” 

“Get off me you dolt!” Weiss demanded, pulling her face back and pushing Ruby’s hands away. 

Ruby let out a little giggle, then turned and skipped over to her sister to give her a hug. 

“Blake’s alright?” Yang asked. 

“Mm-hm!” Ruby nodded. “I don’t think she’s so mad at Weiss now. I told her how big of a buttface Weiss’ dad was. She already kinda knew, but… I told her it wasn’t Weiss’ fault and I think she listened. At least a lil’ bit.” 

 “Well that’s good,” Yang smiled, ruffling her sister’s hair affectionately. “At least a lil’ bit.” 

“Yep!” Ruby agreed, this time not noticing or caring that her hair had gone from messy to disheveled from her sister’s touch. “What’d you two do while I was off being an awesome team captain?” 

“Oh, ya know. A couple friendly arm wrestles. Weiss won.” 

“Whaaaaat?” Ruby gasped, turning and staring at Weiss with wide-eyed disbelief. 

“That didn’t happen, Ruby,” Weiss stated flatly, containing her smile that Ruby had actually somewhat believed it possible that Weiss had won. “We just talked.” 

“Oh,” Ruby said with a pout. Her pout turned into a childish glare as she turned to her sister and kicked the girl in the ankle. 

Yang gave her a rueful smile and enveloped poor Ruby in a big bear hug while the little brunette squirmed in her arms. 

“No! You don’t get hugs! You’re a lying buttface!” Ruby squealed with her unsuccessful escape attempts. “Butt!… Face!… Grrrrr!” 

“I’m not getting hugs, Rubes,” Yang grinned. “I’m givin’ ‘em!” 

“Release me, fiend!” 

“Why, so you can go bother Weiss and ask her what we talked about while you were gone?” 

“Yeah!” 

“Feel free to not release her,” Weiss said with a small smile. 

Yang’s laughter filled the room as Ruby let out a whine. 

“Weeeeiss! Why hast thou forsaken me?!” 

“Why you talkin’ like a goofball, Peanut?” Yang mumbled into the messy ball of brunette hair in her face. 

“I’m using fancy Weiss-speech!” Ruby chirped, still wiggling to try to get free. 

Weiss went to her desk and began pulling out the study materials for Dust Theory. “I do not talk like that.” 

“Prove it!” 

“Wh–how? What?” 

“Rubes, I think you dialed your doofus meter up a little too high,” Yang said, miming turning a dial on Ruby’s head with one hand while easily maintaining her grip on the girl with the other.

 “I dialed it just right, thank you very much!” Ruby said with a giggle. She gave another tug and this time Yang let her go, so she stumbled backwards and almost hit her head on the bedframe. She didn’t seem to mind, though, and immediately skipped over to Weiss where she was sitting at her desk. 

“Whatchya dooooin’?” Ruby sang, wrapping her arms around Weiss shoulders from behind. 

“Homework. Like you should be,” Weiss grumped at her partner.

Blanching, Ruby straightened up, scratching her head. “Oh… yeah. Totally. Should totally be doing thaaa–hey, Yang! Shouldn’t we be going to the windball game with team JNPR soon?” 

 Weiss rolled her eyes and tried to focus on her homework as her teammates bantered behind her. 

“I dunno, Rubes, maybe we should stay in and do homework,” Yang drawled. 

Weiss raised an eyebrow at the statement, but from Yang’s tone she was clearly being facetious. 

Ruby didn’t seem to catch that, though. 

“What?! Wait–hey, no!” 

“Kidding, doofus.” 

“Oh.” 

“No way am I spending a beautiful Sunday inside doing homework.” 

“Truuuuue. See, Weiss? Yang knows what’s up.” 

“Yeah, Weiss,” Yang added. “Get woke.” 

“Ignoring yooou,” Weiss sing-songed.

Just then there was a knock on the door. Yang opened it to reveal Jaune and Ren. Jaune had what looked like a pancake rolled into a haphazard cylinder wrapped in a paper towel in his hands. 

“You ladies ready?” Jaune asked. 

“Sure!” Ruby chirped while Yang darted to the bathroom shouting, “I need to do my haaaaair!” 

“Alllright,” Jaune said. He looked at Weiss and leaned overly casually against the doorframe. “So, uh, Weiss. Will you be join–” 

Weiss closed the door in his face with a glyph. 

“Weisssss,” Ruby chastised, walking over to open the door again. “Don’t be mean.” 

In reply, Weiss stuck her tongue out at her partner.

Jaune was rubbing his nose and Ruby let out a little giggle. “Whatcha got there?” she asked, pointing at Jaune’s rolled up pancake. 

“A breakfast burrito!” he answered. From the way Ren lifted a hand to rub at his temples tiredly, Weiss got the impression this was a source of some contention between them. “Pancake wrapped around bacon and syrup and scrambled eggs and cheese!” Jaune added. 

“Is that… what a breakfast burrito is?” Ruby asked, confused. 

“No,” Ren sighed. 

“How is this not a breakfast burrito?!” Jaune exclaimed, raising his hands up in the air in exasperation, and in doing so a bit of scrambled egg tumbled out of his paper towel and onto the carpeted hallway floor. 

“Oops. Hold on.” Jaune knelt to pick it up and tipped his stupid pseudo-breakfast burrito, causing another piece of egg to fall to the ground. “Ack!” 

Ren shook his head sadly. “I have to live with him,” he lamented, straightfaced. 

Another giggle came out of Ruby as Yang exited the bathroom. She presented herself to Weiss. 

“How’s my hair?” she asked. 

Dutifully, Weiss inspected her teammate’s golden mane. 

“… The… same?” she answered honestly. 

“Nice,” Yang said with a nod. 

‘Then what was the point?…’ Weiss wondered to herself. She shrugged away the question. Yang was just weird. 

“Ready to go?” Ren asked the two sisters. 

“Yep!” they both answered together. 

Ruby bounced over to Weiss and gave her another hug. “Bye, Weiss! Have fun!” 

Weiss considered saying that she wasn’t trying to have fun, she was trying to be productive and responsible, but… that didn’t seem like the right thing to say. 

“Thank you. You too.” She gave one of Ruby’s hands a light pat before the girl pulled away and gave her a big smile. 

“We will! I’m gonna eat all the cotton candy in the world! When I come back I’ll have a blue tongue!” 

“A worthy endeavor,” Weiss joked, rolling her eyes. 

“Later, Weiss,” Yang added, clapping Weiss’ shoulder annoyingly as she headed out. 

As she closed the door, Ruby gave her one more smile and tiny wave that Weiss returned. The door clicked shut. 

At last. Some peace and quiet. 

Weiss did her best to purge the anxiety that had built up over the past couple hours, from the awkwardness of sitting next to Blake while playing a board game to the terror that had slammed through her veins as she spoke to her father to the discomfort of that annoying conversation with Yang. She just focused on her homework. It would have served better as a distraction if it had required a modicum of thought, but it the questions and equations were basic Dust principles that Weiss had learned when she was eight. 

Still, though it didn’t take brainpower, it did take time. She even dragged it out a bit, making sure to show all of her work, every bit of arithmetic. Even carrying the ones. 

A good hour passed with this distraction, but once she was done… 

The room was silent. There was no assignment to work on. There was nobody to talk to–or rather, nobody around to talk at her. She was considering going downstairs to the piano or playing her violin when she remembered… 

Ruby’s paints. 

She probably shouldn’t, though. Weiss was terrible at art. Time spent making any was wasted. 

But if there ever was a good time to try, it was now, while she was alone. Nobody was around to witness how incredibly untalented she was. And she might be able to improve a little bit, to the point where she could maybe make something impressive to show Ruby so she wouldn’t think her sweet gift was going to waste.  

Not that Ruby was a priority, but… making something nice with her paints just seemed like a considerate thing to do. 

Her mind made up, Weiss gave her pen back to Sir Writes-A-Lot and slowly stood and shuffled over to her bed, under which she’d stored the paints and canvases and other supplies she’d gotten, like the paint tray and the table easel and the painter’s tape. 

She tiptoed out to the kitchen to get a cup of water and a paper towel. With team JNPR and the rest of her team gone, it wasn’t very likely that she was going to run into anyone, but she still moved quietly because she couldn’t shake the irrational feeling that she was doing something bad. 

Plus, she really didn’t want to bump into Cardin right now. 

She got what she needed and crept back to their room, gingerly sitting at her desk and setting everything up. 

What to paint, though?

She could try painting her inner spirit again–or rather, Winter’s because she still didn’t know what hers looked like, since she still hadn’t ever managed to summon it. 

Their ‘inner spirit’ was what their grandfather had supposedly called his first summon, believing it to be a manifestation of their souls to a more literal degree than aura was. His had been a large clockwork soldier with the head of a bear, according to Mother, which sounded… strange. 

Winter’s was a huge knight, with a massive kite shield and a longsword and long, sweeping cape. Weiss assumed hers would look much the same because she and Winter were so similar… other than the fact that Winter was better at pretty much everything that wasn’t music. 

So Weiss’ inner spirit would just be a smaller, weaker knight, right?

But she’d tried such a painting before and it hadn’t gone very well. She could never get people to look right, always messing up their form somehow. She was better at landscapes. And preferred them. 

She could do a painting of the Vale cityscape… The mental photo she’d committed to memory was still in full detail in her mind’s eye… 

There was also Beacon. The castle-like school looked beautiful, standing proud on its own island with the ocean all around it. 

An image formed in her mind, one of a tasteful oil painting of the academy on the its tall island, waves crashing into it with Beacon Bridge in the foreground and leading to the painting’s subject. The edges of the image could fade out with artsy brush strokes. 

If she could do it right, it would be beautiful. 

Of course, she couldn’t, but if she got close enough then maybe Ruby might like it anyway.

With one of the medium sized canvases–or canveese, as Weiss remembered with a smile–set up on the easel in front of her, Weiss penciled in the rough shape of Beacon in the center. She remembered Winter’s patient lessons from years ago and focused on making sure the size and position of the parts of the composition were sketched in, rather than an excessive amount of details. 

She drew in Beacon, its spires and towers, then added in the rocky cliffs of the island it sat on. It looked bad–it was impossible to find the balance between curves and jagged lines to make the rocks and dirt look right–but… it was just a rough sketch to figure out placement. Even Winter’s initial sketches didn’t look all that great. 

Well that was a lie, but regardless, it didn’t need to look great yet. 

What about the waves? Should she sketch in the waves–or the clouds, for that matter? Probably not? Too much lead on the canvas would discolor the paint. 

The bridge should be on there, though. Weiss fished a ruler out of her bag for that. Ugh, getting the perspective right was frustrating. Luckily, the bridge was straight and centered, so it wasn’t too bad, she just had to make sure the angles of the two sides were symmetrical. Which was still annoyingly hard. 

Okay, the shapes were all there, more or less. Time for some painting.

The acrylics Ruby had gotten for her… weren’t the best. They weren’t drying as quickly as she was used to, weren’t adhering to the canvas right, but…they were  from Ruby. At least they mixed well! 

She started with the ocean and sky because it would be easier to go over the lighter colors later. And–

Yep. It already looked terrible. The water didn’t really look anything like water, just a big expanse of pthalo blue. How was she supposed to make it wavy-ish? White, right? Adding white at the right spots to make the ocean look both reflective and three dimensional. 

It wasn’t really working. It looked better now, sure, but still not like an ocean. With a sigh she moved on to the sky. 

Was she supposed to paint the clouds in white or just leave the canvas bare where they were? Paint, right? Leaving it bare would leave the canvas lines in the image. 

After coating the top of the scene with a light blue, she waited (longer than should be necessary) for the sky to dry before adding in some clouds. 

Clouds were hard. 

She remembered watching Winter paint them before, giving light little flicks of the brush with a loose wrist. Emulating that, Weiss added–

Oh no. She’d messed up already. 

The brushstrokes were too far apart! They looked less like clouds and more like drops of bleach had just been splattered randomly across the canvas. 

Crap. 

She added some more flicks to try to connect the original flicks… and sighed. This was awful. Clouds definitely weren’t supposed to look this geometrical. 

Time to move on. 

The island was hard too, particularly figuring out the colors. Just a flat brown for the rocks definitely would look wrong, but she wasn’t sure what needed to be added to improve it. She added some green on top for grass, some darker browns and blacks to add dimension, but… 

But it mostly just looked like a big brown blob. 

Another sigh of frustration slipped out of her as she leaned back, cleaning off the brush she was using with the paper towel a bit more forcefully than necessary. This was such a waste of time. 

She spent a long time inspecting her pathetic painting, the goofy blue and brown nothings that had looked so much better in her head. 

Might as well finish. Add the buildings of Beacon and get this catastrophe over with. 

Beacon’s color scheme was easy enough–clean whites and dark greys. The shape of Beacon Tower was also pretty iconic, so it didn’t take much to make it look like the suggestion of the building. A suggestion was all she could really manage to make with how small it was on the canvas, but perhaps that was for the best. If she tried to make it detailed it would just end up looking awful. More than it already did. 

Next came the spire that was connected to the tower main by the weird bridge thing. Then the dome of the Battle Center, with it’s–

*click*

Weiss let out a shriek as the door opened, stumbling back and pushing the canvas away from her, knocking the easel back a bit and tipping it on its side. The painting bounced and landed face up on Ruby’s desk. 

“What the–Weiss?” 

A shadow stood in the doorway and faded away to reveal Blake peeking in from the hallway. 

“S-sorry,” Weiss gasped. “Just… frightened me is all. I wasn’t expecting anyone back so soon.” 

Blake slowly made her way into the room as Weiss recomposed herself. “I was only gone for almost six hours,” she said quietly. 

“What?” Weiss pulled out her scroll and checked the time. How was it already past five?

“This looks nice,” Blake said, still quiet, staring down at the painting. 

Weiss scrambled to pick it up. “Ha! No. Sorry. Don’t look at that. It’s terrible.” She tucked the painting into the space between the edge of her desk and the wall where it would be hidden from view and started cleaning up her supplies. 

“No, it… it looked nice,” Blake offered again. 

Weiss gave her a weak smile in response. It most certainly didn’t look nice. It was terrible. So Blake was either being kind or just didn’t know good art when she saw it. 

Blake pointed, then awkwardly dropped her finger and stammered, “Those the, uh… paints that Ruby got you?” 

Weiss swallowed, freezing. Apparently they were having a conversation now. “Yes,” she answered nervously. 

Blake nodded to herself, then slowly shuffled over to her own desk. “Ruby’s, uh, something else, huh?” 

So that’s how we’re doing this?’

That was fine with Weiss. She was happy not to talk about… that. And talking about Ruby was easy. 

“She is,” Weiss agreed. 

“Kinda nosy, huh.” 

That made Weiss chuckle. “She’s just trying to be a good team leader. And, you know, she wants everyone in the world to be best friends.” 

“Yeah. But… not everyone can be.” 

Weiss swallowed. Was Blake saying they couldn’t be friends? Or was it just more of a general statement?

“I don’t know,” she hedged. “Ruby might be able to make it happen.” 

Blake smiled softly at that. “If anyone can, it’s probably her.” 

“And she’s our team leader,” Weiss stated. 

Blake’s eyebrow quirked at her. “Yes…” 

“So we’re, um… we’re ground zero of her friendship powers.”

There had to be a better way of saying what she meant. That they were so exposed to Ruby and her peppiness that they had to find a way to become friends. If they couldn’t, then… 

“Friendship powers?” Blake grinned. “She has gotten to you.” 

Weiss rolled her eyes. “She has not!” 

“Mm.” Blake turned her chair and sat facing Weiss, clasping her hands together and leaning on her elbows. “She told me that… your dad isn’t… um, much of a dad.” 

Weiss sighed. “That’s not really something she should go around saying.” 

“No, probably not,” Blake agreed. 

“If she tells too many people and something gets out and public perception of my fath–” 

“Weiss.” 

Weiss stopped and settled her fidgeting hands. 

“I don’t really care about your ffff–” Blake cut herself off and took a deep breath. “Sorry. I just…” 

“You might not care about his reputation, but I do. I have a family legacy to uphold. I have to care.”

Blake nodded again. “I know what that’s like,” she whispered. 

“You do?” 

What did that mean? Who were Blake’s parents?

“A bit. Not the same as being the heiress to the biggest business empire in the world. I’m sure that’s not easy.” 

“No,” Weiss replied with a swallow. 

“I’m sure your father is an impressive, talented, intelligent man, and you probably have to be the same if you want to take over some day.” 

“Yes.” 

Again, Blake nodded. “That doesn’t mean you have to be exactly like him, you know.” 

“I know that,” Weiss huffed. What was she suggesting? 

“Right. Like I’m sure you want to be a better parent. I-if you ever have kids.” 

Weiss blinked. “Sure.” She hadn’t really given that much thought at all, but yes, if she did ever become a mother then she’d want to be nicer to her children than her father was to her. 

“And you probably want to have a nicer reputation than I hear he has with his employees and business partners and whatnot.” 

Weiss nodded again. 

“And… his views on faunus.” 

The statement hung in the air, heavy. 

Weiss didn’t respond. 

“Those are something you shouldn’t hold on to either,” Blake finished. 

Weiss scoffed. “According to you.” 

Blake closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She was clearly trying to swallow her anger. 

Woops. 

“Yes,” Blake said. “According to me and anyone else with a moral center.” 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” 

“It mea–it–sorry. Sorry.” Blake sighed and put her fingers to her temples. “I meant… I know that you’ve had bad experiences with faunus, Weiss. You just need to understand that they’re not… they’re not all bad. Just like there are bad humans like–there are bad humans, but they’re not all bad.”

“Ruby said the same thing,” Weiss sighed. 

“Well even a goofball like her can be right sometimes.” 

That made Weiss smile a little bit. “I think Yang is the goofball influence.” 

Blake snorted. “Pretty sure it’s a vicious cycle of goofy between the two of them.” 

“Fair.” 

 Another long silence stretched between them. 

“Look,” Blake finally sighed, “my point is that faunus and White Fang aren’t the same thing, okay? Just like humans, faunus are people, people that range from good to bad, and there are a lot more good ones than bad ones, okay?” 

Weiss was tempted to point out that they weren’t people, they were human-animal hybrids, but… Ruby had said that being human and being a person weren’t the same. It seemed like Blake was saying that here, too. 

So what was she supposed to say instead? 

Five seconds passed before she nodded numbly. 

Blake frowned at her. “You don’t really use facial expressions much, do you?” 

Shaking her head, Weiss exhaled a light laugh. No, though Ruby always seemed to know what Weiss was feeling, even if she couldn’t figure out why. 

Just then, Weiss’ scroll startled both her and Blake with a ring. 

Winter. 

Crap, Weiss hadn’t called Winter after last night. Why hadn’t she done that?

She looked at Blake, who raised her hands in a ‘go ahead’ gesture. 

Weiss nodded and quickly answered the call. 

“Hello, Winter.” 

“Good evening, Weiss. How are you?” 

How was she? She’d just been berated by father, had her awful family circumstances exposed to her team, had to sit through an awful conversation with Yang, had pissed off Blake again, had been ordered to befriend a cretin for the sake of the business, had watched people die last night, and was still worried about how Ruby was handling that whole thing.

“I’m fine,” she answered. 

“Mm. I saw an article about you–” 

“Oh nooo,” Weiss groaned. “Is it the idiocy about me being out on a date with a girl last night?” 

“I–well, yes. I didn’t put too much stock in that though, just tabloids being greedy clickbait idiots.” 

Weiss sighed in relief. “Thank you. I wish Father had been the same.”

“Did he give you a hard time?” Winter asked worriedly. 

“Naturally. I told him I had just been out with Ruby, but he didn’t care. But I think it’ll be okay. I just wish he’d paid more attention to the fact that we stopped a known serial killer and saved someone’s life, because that seems… significant.”

“It is, yes,” Winter agreed. “And that’s the real reason I’m calling.” 

“Oh?” 

“I saw the police report. Multiple dead, killer escaped, and two young huntresses that left the scene in what is described by the officer as a state of mild shock. Are you okay?” 

“How’d you get the police report?” Weiss blurted. 

“I asked the right people. Are you okay?” Winter repeated. 

 “I am. I wasn’t… only one of the victims died while we were there, and they were all a bunch of criminals anyway. Ruby’s taking it harder, though. I think she’s okay now, but she asked me to stay awake with her last night because she didn’t want to close her eyes.”

“Oh dear.” 

“Yes. I think she’s doing better now.” Weiss looked over at the incomplete board game that was still laid out on the floor in the middle of the room. “We played some board games before Father called and… distracted everyone.” She glanced at Blake, then quickly away. 

“Ah. Did your teammates get… exposed to… him?” 

Weiss sighed. “Yes.” 

She could almost feel Winter’s grimace from across the scroll. “My condolences.” 

Weiss laughed aloud at that. “Yes. It was unfortunate. Did your team ever…” 

Shit. Why had Weiss said that? Why did she bring up Winter’s dead teammates?

“… get exposed to him?” she finished automatically, voice pitched down to a hush. 

“…” 

“Winter?” 

Crap. She’d messed up. 

“Sorry,” Winter said. “I just… haven’t heard you laugh like that in years.” 

‘Oh.’

“… Oh.” 

“It’s just nice to hear again.” Winter cleared her throat. “But in answer to your question, yes, but it was in our third year, so they held no judgement against me because of him.” 

“Ah.” 

“I know how you feel about therapists, but have you and Ruby considered talking to someone about last night? Watching people die can be… unbalancing.” 

“We did talk about it, actually,” Weiss said, happy that she’d done something her sister might approve of. “The police captain that we talked to offered to give us the information for a department counselor.” 

“And?” 

“And neither of us want to. I really am fine, and Ruby… well Ruby didn’t want to, whatever her reasons.” 

“Well her wanting it and needing it are two different things, Weiss.” 

Weiss sighed and leaned back in her chair. “I knowww. But I don’t want to be pushy.” 

“A push might be what she needs, though,” Winter counselled. 

“But it’s Ruby. If she goes she’s going to insist I go with her.”

“That may not be a bad thing,” Winter said gently.

Darn, Weiss had trapped herself. She didn’t really have a good argument against this other than she simply ‘didn’t want to’. The prospect of talking to a stranger about her feelings and getting psychoanalyzed was… 

“Ugh.” 

“Ugh?” Winter repeated, a bemused note in her voice. “Since when do you say ‘ugh’?” 

“Since you started saying exceptionally ugh-y things,” Weiss answered, thinking that was a very Ruby phrase and smiling to herself. 

“… Well then. I suppose that’s… a thing,” Winter stumbled. 

Weiss laughed again. Winter was hardly ever confused about what to say or do, and here Weiss had perplexed her with a single not-word. Is this how Ruby felt when she was talking to Weiss? It was delightful. 

“How is everything else?” Winter asked, regaining her composure. 

What Weiss really wanted to talk about was Blake and this whole… faunus business, but Blake was still her, now quietly reading a book on her bed. Weiss could leave, but… she was trying to extend an olive branch. 

Which meant not leaving and not bringing it up. 

She had other things to talk about, though. 

“Good. Professor Rustheart had us spar against our partners on Friday and I fought Ruby, and it was actually very… fun.” 

“Oh? Did you win?” 

“Of course I won,” Weiss huffed indignantly. “But it was a very enjoyable fight.” 

“You should mention the cat-fighting bit,” Blake teased lightly from her corner. 

“Quiet, you.” 

“What was that?” Winter asked. 

“Nothing!” 

“Hmph. Well I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. How were your other teammates? Blake and… Yang, correct?” 

“Yes. They were also impressive. Blake is incredibly fast and acrobatic–” she glanced back over at Blake, who watched her carefully but with a small smile “–and Yang is…” 

“Terrifying?” Blake offered. 

“Ha! Yes. Yang is terrifying.” 

There was the sound of a drawer opening, then closing from Winter’s side. “Terrifying how?” 

“She’s just… insanely strong and deceptively fast and her semblance makes her more and more dangerous the longer you fight her.” 

“What is her semblance?” 

“When she gets hit she can store that damage as energy–with some strange conversion rate based on how much aura she’s missing–and she can release the energy to hit incredibly hard. I think there’s a bit of a kinetic blast along with it, because she punched a crater into the ground.”

“Oh. That’s… impressive. Can you take her?” 

“Of course! She’s still an oaf.” 

Weiss was fairly confident she could take Yang. Like, 85% positive. But she didn’t want Winter to know about her 15% of uncertainty. 

“Hm. Well, very nice. I’m glad you’re getting to know your team, and it sounds like they’re all capable individuals.” 

“They are,” Weiss said proudly. “And the professor said we’d be be sparring against another team this coming Wednesday. I’m hoping to fight Pyrrha Nikos.” 

“You must tell me how that goes,” Winter said eagerly.

“I will!” 

“Better yet, you should take a video and send it to me. Does Beacon record your fights for you to review?” 

“They do, yes.” Ruby had the video Professor Awe–Rustheart had sent her, though it was just sitting on her scroll forgotten. They’d planned on watching that today, actually… Before breakfast yesterday Ruby had made the Executive Decision that Saturday was to be their relaxing day out and they’d watch the video together Sunday night. Then Saturday had actually happened, and with this tension between her and Blake now, Weiss wasn’t sure if that was still the plan. Though Blake seemed to be civil now. Maybe they’d still do that after Ruby and Yang got back. 

““I have the video of my fight with Ruby, too,” Weiss said. “W-would you like to see that too?” Winter reviewing her fight would be… invaluable.

“Absolutely,” Winter answered immediately. 

“Looking forward to telling me all the things I did wrong?” Weiss said, only kind of joking. 

Did you do anything wrong?” Winter asked. 

“No!” 

“Well then why would I tell you that you did?” 

Weiss huffed. “I don’t knowww. It was a joke!” 

“Hmph. You tell jokes now, too. Who are you and what have you done with my sister?” 

“Oh, shut up.” 

Winter chuckled. “But in all seriousness, please send those videos. I’d love to see you fight. And Ruby, too. I’m curious.” 

“I’ll have Ruby give them to me so I can send them through our CCT channel as soon as she gets back.” 

“Excellent. I look forward to it. Now am I stealing you from anything important?” 

“Not really. I was just…” Weiss looked over to where the canvas she hid along the wall was tucked away, barely visible, “… painting.”

Painting? Really? I hadn’t realized you’d picked it up again.” 

“I mentioned that I used to paint with you to Ruby and the dolt decided to get me a set of acrylics as a gift, so… so I figured I’d use them.” 

“That was kind of her,” Winter remarked. 

“Yes. Yes it was.” 

“How’s it going?” 

Weiss sighed. “Terrible. I’m trying to paint a landscape image of Beacon, but I can’t do anything right. The ocean looks flat, the clouds look like white vomit, the island’s practically a poop emoji–” 

Winter snorted a laugh. 

“It’s not funny!” 

“I’m sorry! You’re right, it’s not. It was just an amusing description. If you’d like, you can send me pictures and I could give you some advice?” 

‘Great, so I can have another reminder of how much better you are than me at everything.’

Weiss swallowed past her bitter pride and recognized her sister’s offer for the kindness it was. She was probably incredibly busy, yet she was still offering to take time out of her day to help Weiss at a skill she knew Weiss was helpless at. 

“I’ll send it to you once I’m finished.” 

“Sensational.” 

Weiss blinked. “What?”

Winter chuckled again. “Nothing. It’s something one of my wards says. Speaking of which, duty calls. I have to go.”

“Of course. Thank you for calling.” 

“My pleasure, as always. I love you.” 

Weiss smiled. “And I, you.” 

The scroll clicked. 

After a long moment of happy silence, Blake asked, “Who was that?” 

“My sister.” 

Blake, not being the nosy little butt that Ruby was, hadn’t sat down and leaned into Weiss’ face to listen in on the call, so she would have only heard Weiss’ side of the–

“She sounded nice,” Blake commented. 

Wait…

“You could hear her?” Weiss hadn’t put the call on speaker…

Blake’s eyes widened a bit, then she shoved her book into her nose. “Oh, you know. A little bit. Not really.” 

…. Blake was strange. 

But at least she was okay with being in the same room as Weiss now. 

Weiss pulled out her scroll to message Ruby. 

 

Weiss: Hello, Ruby. Are we still going to watch the battle videos from Friday later tonight?

 

It took a couple minutes before she got a response, which made sense considering Ruby was probably busy being jostled and deafened by sweaty sports fanatics. 

 

Ruby: Greetings, Weiss. I, Captain Ruby of Team RWBY, doth declareth that we shall watcheth the aforementioned article of video and audible media together at a later hour. 

Ruby: Forsooth. 

 

Weiss sighed. Declareth? Video and audible

Forsooth?

Weiss looked back at the message she sent and realized that starting with ‘Hello, Ruby.’ was probably a little on the formal side. That was probably what inspired Ruby’s ridiculous reply. 

Her partner was an absolute dolt. 

 

Weiss: Winter asked for the video of us fighting. She’d like to see it. I told her we’d send it later tonight. 

 

Ruby: o neat! Ok!

Weiss: When will you be back, by the way?

Ruby: Games done in 3 mins. So like an hour?

 

Okay. Soon. Not too long for Weiss and Blake to be alone together, which was probably good. Blake was being civil now, but–

 

Ruby: U want some cotton candy? I can grab 1 on way out!

 

Weiss couldn’t help smiling at that. Of course she didn’t want cotton candy, but the image of Ruby carrying a wad of the stuff through the city shuttle was amusing. And incredibly unlikely. There was no way she would make it back here without inhaling the sugar. 

 

Weiss: I’d love some, thank you.

 

Grinning maniacally at her own response, Weiss chuckled to herself when Ruby eagerly replied a second later. 

 

Ruby: 😀

Ruby: wut color?!!?!?

Ruby: prolly blue rite?

Ruby: we gotta hurry to get in line Ill get blue

Weiss: Blue would be great.

 

In all honesty, Weiss wasn’t even sure what colors cotton candy came in. Did it even have an impact on the flavor?

Either way, it wasn’t going to make it back to Beacon in any form other than in Ruby’s stomach, so it didn’t really matter. 

A few minutes later, Weiss’ scroll dinged again. 

Ruby had sent her a picture of herself holding a wad of fluffy blue sugar on a stick triumphantly in the air. Yang was standing next to her, arms crossed, her deadpan gaze at the camera lens saying ‘I’m so tired of this bozo’. 

 

Ruby: on our way with ur magnicifent gift!

 

Magnicifent. Weiss smiled again. 

Poor Yang looked so done. The longer Weiss looked at the girl’s face, the funnier it became. She walked over to Blake’s bed to show her the picture and the following message. 

Blake, after her eyebrows quirking up in surprise at Weiss approach, squinted at the screen. She let out a laugh. 

“Yang’s lookin’ pretty, uh…” 

“Yeah,” Weiss agreed. 

“You asked Ruby for cotton candy?” 

Weiss tilted her head in a shrug. “More like she offered and I was curious to see if she could actually get it back here without eating it.” 

Blake giggled a bit. “A social experiment, eh? Should I message Yang and ask for one too?” 

“Yes!” Weiss said delightedly. “That’s brilliant.” 

Fishing her scroll out of her pocket, Blake shot off a quick message. 

“But Yang’s responsible enough and not addicted enough to sugar to get it back here,” she said with a smirk. “So I’m gonna win.” 

“Win what?!” 

“The… best partner award?” 

“Pfft. She’s probably going to drop it. Or get angry at some random pedestrian on the train and smack them with it.” 

Blake nodded slowly, thoughtfully squinting her eyes. “There’s… a non-zero chance that you’re right.” 

Grinning, Weiss headed back to her desk. 

She’d gotten through a completely normal, even funny conversation with Blake! That was progress, right? Or at least, a return to normal. 

Maybe there was hope. 

 

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