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Hello Yang

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Weiss Schnee woke up to the sound of a baby crying in her bedroom.She waited. Was she going to go to sleep again? Snowdrop took a deep breath, and screamed even louder. Weiss sighed, and elbowed the girl lying behind her.

"Whu?"

"She's crying. Go see what it is."

"Probably hungry. Who of us is lactating?"

"It's not a hungry cry. Get out of bed, you lazy bumper. I'm not the only mummy here anymore."

Ruby Rose, wearing not a shred of clothing, grumbled and got up. She walked over to the crib. Weiss put her head on her hand and watched Ruby's perky little bottom.

"Oh gods. I can smell it from here."

"Oh dear," said Weiss, with that almost genuine tone of concern. "Have you never changed a diaper before?"

"I'm the youngest child," said Ruby. "I only have..."

In the dim light, Weiss could see Ruby's shoulders slumping. She leaned on the crib. Weiss jumped out of bed, put her hand on Ruby's shoulder. She picked up her one month old daughter and put her on the commode. She took Ruby's arm.

"First, you take off the yucky diaper."

Ruby looked at Weiss, silvery eyes shining.

"Come on. Better get this done with."

Ruby steadied her breath, then pulled away the diaper.

"Yechh."

There is something about a dirty diaper that brings you right to the here and now. Ruby used the diaper to wipe off the worst. Weiss filled a bowl with warm water, dipped a wipe in it, gave it to Ruby.

"Now what you do is you take both feet in your left hand, and wipe with your right."

Ruby started cleaning shi- poo off little Snowdrop's bottom.

"Are you ever going to tell me who we owe this to?"

Ruby's voice sounded shaky. Weiss gently stroked Ruby's back.

"Haven't asked im if I could tell anyone. Only Snowdrop has permission to go look him up when she's sixteen."

"Give him a call. Ask." Ruby put the wipe in the bowl, swished it round. "You know I don't mind you doing it the way you wanted. Hell, I'd have watched. And I know why you didn't want to come with me, you being from Atlas and all. But you didn't wait for me. I'd have wanted to hold your hand."

Ruby inspected Snowdrop's bottom, found a bit she'd missed, wiped it. Weiss handed her a towel and she dried Snowdrop off. She looked carefully.

"Her skin is all red."

Weiss looked. "Oh poor baby." The pot of ointment was within arm's reach on a shelf. "Good thick layers."

Ruby dipped two fingers into the half-empty jar, and smeared layers of ointment onto the red spots on Snowdrop's bottom. Next was a layer of talcum powder and a new diaper. Snowdrop smacked her lips.

"Oh here we go again," said Weiss.

Snowdrop started crying again. Children at that age are easy. They have exactly two needs. They'd done one.

"Now that is definitely your department," said Ruby.

Weiss smiled, carried Snowdrop to the bed, and lowered her nightgown. Apply baby to nipple. Feeding commenced. Ruby and Weiss simply sat in silence for a while, watching their child. Their child. Weiss looked into Ruby's eyes.

"It's Neptune," she said.

Ruby grinned. "I knew it. The only boy you've ever had eyes on." She wriggled a bit closer. "How was he?"

"He was... interesting."

"Details, girlfriend," said Ruby. "Filthy details!"

"He's almost as good as you at eating out," said Weiss. "Almost. And very considerate, all things concerned." Weiss grinned. "Not to mention up for things you wouldn't expect of him."

"Keep talking," said Ruby, nuzzling into Weiss' neck.

"First time, it didn't work. But we made Snowdrop out in the open." Weiss grinned. "On top of Ozpin's tomb."

Ruby rolled back laughing. "You made her... oh my. Snowdrop is so going to be the Winter Maiden when she grows up. Oh wait till I tell Y-"

She closed her eyes, seemed to shrink. Weiss was starting to feel empty on the left. You don't pop the baby off the nipple. Popping Baby off leads to really sore nips. Instead, she pushed her finger into Snowdrop's mouth till she started sucking on that, then put her on the other side. With all the jokes about breast size, she had plenty of milk. Yang would have been surprised. She looked back at Ruby, who was staring at the ceiling, face still and pale.

"She's not coming back, you know."

"Maybe she will," said Ruby.

"Not with half the world wanting her dead, and half her family honour-bound to kill her."

"I'd almost found her, Weiss. Almost. And then I had to come back here."

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault. I just want to find her." Ruby choked back the tears. "I just want to talk to her. Tell her I love her. I miss her so much."

Weiss put Snowdrop down on the bed beside Ruby, then took Ruby's face in her hands, kissed her forehead, her salty eyes, her lips.

"I know, Ruby. And I wish I knew a way to get her back. But she made her choice. She's gone."

"She didn't know what she was getting into."

"So she made her choice without knowing all the facts," said Weiss. She smiled wryly. "Sound like anyone we know?"

Ruby wrapped her arms round Weiss, held her close and cried. Hunger. Soil. Pain. Humans learn more and more cries as time goes on, and not all of them can be silenced.

Weiss looked into Ruby's eyes.

"When are you leaving?"

Ruby took a few deep breaths.

"I'm giving myself a whole day with you and Snowdrop."

Weiss smiled at her. "Have you planned the day? I think I still have a binder if you need one."

"I'm going to lie in bed with you and Snowdrop."

"Best day ever."


 

Qrow Branwen sat on a sofa, waiting for a call on his scroll. He'd been expecting that call all day, but a good hunter knows how to wait. Finally, the chime rang. He deliberately let it ring for a few moments, then answered.

 

"Hello Yang."

"Hello Uncle Qrow. You went through a lot of trouble to give me this scroll. Ruby says hi. What do you want? Ruby seems to think you are going to sort out all my troubles, but somehow I doubt it."

"Do you know what job they gave me, Yang? Do you know what job you gave me?"

"Do tell."

"My job, my only job now, is to hunt you down, to find you, and to kill you."

"Oh Uncle Qrow." Yang's voice dripped with disappointment. "You wouldn't do that to me, would you?"

"Do you really need me to answer that question, Yang?"

"I suppose not." Yang took a breath. "I'm going to tell you this only once, Uncle Qrow. Not because I think you'll listen, but because I need to tell you. Don't come after me. I'm no longer the crippled girl you once knew, and you are no longer the invincible huntsman I once thought you were. You fight me now, you die."

"You're right," said Qrow. "I'm not going to listen."

Yang Xiao Long gave a mirthless little laugh. "Well. See you around then, I suppose."

 

The connection dropped. Qrow reached out and picked up a much more advanced piece of comms equipment.

"Qrow, Spot One."

"Spot One Qrow, send it."

"Do you have the shot?"

"Affirmative."

"Take her out."

"Roger that... ah. Shit."

"What?"

"She did her thing again. She's gone."

Damn.

"Roger that, Spot One. Next time, don't wait for her to stop talking. I've told her all I need to. return to base."

"Solid copy, Qrow. R.T.B. Spot One out."

 

Qrow dropped the radio onto the sofa and swore. He'd wanted to get this over and done with. He had already made up his mind that this job would be his last. Command had always treated him like a mushroom. Kept in the dark, fed on shit, and as soon as you stick your head up, you're likely to get it cut off. Killing his own flesh and blood, though, was the final straw. It wasn't like he couldn't see their point. Yang, with her habit of rushing into things head first, had made a profoundly stupid choice, and set back the Atlesian war effort several years. Two more years of war and suffering. If some Atlesian broad had done that to Vale, he would want her dead. Jimmy Ironwood himself had insisted that he'd send in a troop of commandos to capture or kill her. If that bunch of sadists got their well-manicured, gloved hands on her...

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his hip flask. He looked at it. Oh damn, she had given it to him when he'd lost his old one. Had his name and some stupid joke engraved on it. He sighed, put it back in his pocket.

Qrow had begged for this job. He was on a tight schedule. At least, Yang had kept the scroll. He turned to his portable terminal, and waited for Yang to show up again.


 

"Hello Yang."

"Uncle. Nice to hear you. How's the family?"

"Grieving."

"I'm not dead yet, Uncle."

"Only a matter of time, Yang."

"You know, there's a part of me that's enjoying this. You know how you always feel most alive when your life is in danger? I used to think who wrote that was full of shit, but I'm living it."

"I've been doing this job since before you were born. I can always find you, no matter where you zoom off to."

"Time was when that was comforting to know," said Yang. "But thanks to Mother, I don't have to worry about that too much."

"Didn't help her in the end, Yang. It's not going to help you."

"I went to Patch today, but nobody was home. I raided the fridge, left a note. Sign of life, you know?"

"Stop doing that, Yang. It's not helping them. You're only giving them false hope."

"Better than no hope at all."

Qrow sighed. "You're gonna die, Yang. That's the long and short of it. Maybe I get you. Maybe one of my people gets you. But we will get you. I'll make you one promise, though. I'll be as quick about it as I know how to. You don't need to suffer. At least I think you don't. Not everybody agrees."

"What do you expect me to do, put my head on the block?"

"Would be a lot easier for all concerned. If you don't, you're not going to like the last few weeks of your life, Yang."

There were a few noises, a dull thud and a male scream.

"Gotta go, Uncle. Some of your men are sneaking up on me."

The connection dropped.

 

"You need our help," said Winter Schnee.

"Get lost," said Qrow. "If any of your tin men set foot in Vale, or Mistral, there's going to be hell to pay."

"Where is she now?"

"None of your damn business."

"Her sister is in my sister's bed. Tell me again how it is not my business."

Qrow glared. "You are the last person I want to get her hands on her."

"If you tell me where to find her, I can get my hands on you. I can make it worth your while." Winter sat down in Qrow's lap, undid the first few buttons of her blouse. "It's been a while. Anything happening down there?"

"You've got to be joking."

Qrow grabbed his scythe and drew it across Winter's throat, nicking her only the tiniest bit. Winter drew back, then stood up and pointedly buttoned up her blouse. She touched her throat, looked at the blood on her fingers, then willed her aura to close the cut.

"There goes your chance of fucking a full Field-Marshal. I'll just have to go over your head. Luckily, it's not very far off the ground."

"Get lost."


 

"Hello Yang."

"I just watched the news. War criminal? Really?"

"That's because, not to put too fine a point on it, you are. You organised an escape from a prisoner-of-war camp, and those prisoners weren't exactly civil about it."

Yang's voice tightened. "Don't call that hellhole a prisoner of war camp. They were torturing them, uncle Qrow."

"Were they? For information?"

"You don't pour boiling water on someone's face if you want him to talk. You don't burn people alive in front of their friends. You don't tie someone to the ground in the desert naked, and let them die of hunger and thirst and sunburn. This wasn't a P.O.W. camp, it was a death camp. The prisoners were there to be murdered. I set them free."

"They died all the same," said Qrow.

"They died on their feet, fighting for their freedom. Not strapped to a chair with electric wires clamped to their genitals. Anyone who does that, does not deserve to live happily ever after."

"Fighting for their freedom? They found some weapons, and descended on New Kuchinashi. Ten thousand people, Yang. Slaughtered. Families. And once they took it, it took thousands of Atlas and Mistral soldiers to get them out again. It's probably the most bloody battle in the whole damn war."

"I..." Yang swallowed. "I didn't know they were going to do that."

"The point is, if you hadn't let them out of their pen, it wouldn't have happened."

"What would you have done, Uncle? Would you have just stood by and let those people be killed? Listened to the screams?"

Qrow was silent for a moment. "Maybe I'd have done the same. Maybe I'd have got on the scroll to Jimmy and let the whole damn place be bombed to hell. Maybe I'd just have done nothing. You made your choice because you have a heart, Yang, and I don't hate you for it. But you caused more misery than anyone else. The people with dead families in New Kuchinashi have a good reason to want you dead. I couldn't argue against them."

"The real war criminals were the people who ran that camp, Uncle Qrow. If I had to do the same again today, I'd do it in a heartbeat."

"Your heartbeats are running out, Yang."

"Not today, Uncle. Not today."

 

"There is no discussion, Qrow." Winter Schnee pointed at the soldiers. "They will join you on your hunt. The Atlesian Council is growing restless. Yang Xiao Long should have been in our custody by now."

Qrow looked at the Atlesian soldiers. Four men. Two women, including the captain. Clean uniforms. Clean shaven. Qrow hated them instantly.

"I work alone."

"You work slowly, said the captain. "I believe the target is related to you? Does that not affect your performance, or dare I say, your dedication?"

"In case you didn't know, she can instantly walk from one continent to the next. Anyone else would never have seen her again."

"Your methods are antiquated and inefficient. Using our skills, we will soon have her in our hands."

Qrow scowled. "No you won't. My job, our job, is not to catch her. It's to kill her. She's not going to end up in one of your little hobby rooms."

Winter smiled. "I can see you are going to get along famously," she said. "Natalia? If he obstructs progress... tell me."

Qrow deliberately looked at her butt as she walked out. He turned to his new comrades.

"At least put on some Vale uniforms."


 

"Hello Yang."

"Uncle Qrow. How could you?"

"How could I what?" said Qrow, even though he knew perfectly well.

"Those people were innocent."

"They were with the Raven's Claw," said Qrow. "That's not innocent."

"They were sympathisers. The worst they ever did was write pissy messages on the CCTS."

"No it wasn't. They were aiding and abetting a dangerous war criminal. You."

"All they did was give me a bed for the night and a bowl of soup. And you killed them for it. It's not only that you did. It's how you did it. I honestly didn't think you would ever do such a thing."

Yang's voice was shaking with anger. Qrow couldn't remember Yang ever using such a tone with him. And she was right. He could tell her that they weren't his own people. He could have told her that he hadn't been there when it happened. He could have told her that of the six soldiers, two had been assigned to keeping him away. He could tell her all that. It would be perfectly true. And it would be perfectly irrelevant. This happened on his watch. For all intents and purposes, it had been him.

"They ripped all the fingernails from her hands to make him talk, Uncle. And gods, he told them everything and still it wasn't enough. And then they put a rope round his neck and hung him. He died watching them beat his wife to death with their guns. This is how it all started!"

"Better not get food and shelter from the locals then," said Qrow. "You're putting them in danger."

There was a beep on Qrow's scroll and he saw a video icon appear.

"To the contrary, Uncle. Tonight, I've eaten well, and I am going to sleep like a baby. Higanbana food agrees with me."

"Higanbana?" Qrow frowned. He looked at the map on his terminal. The red dot was nowhere near there. "What were you doing in Higanbana?"

"Do you remember a waitress there? The one who lost two fingers and an eye to that cockroach Faunus while trying to protect you?"

"Mika Nymen?"

"She didn't tell me her name. But she did tell me a lot of other things. I made you a video. Watch it till the end. There's a message."

The connection dropped, and the red dot disappeared from the map. The video was called, simply, 'Don't.'

"Yang... What have you done?"

 

He started the video. It was dark. There was the sound of frightened breathing. Then the light came on and Qrow looked into the terrified face of the pretty waitress who had given him a very good drink on one of his meetings with Raven. She wasn't pretty anymore. Half of her face had been burned with the acid of Tyrian Callows' tail stinger. She was blind in one eye, and she was looking at the ground, not daring to look at...

Oh no. Yang.... Oh please no!

"Please don't hurt me. Please don't hurt me. There's Grimm out here."

The camera played on her face, up to her arms tied over her head to a tree.

"I know there are. That's sort of the point. Do you remember Qrow Branwen?"

"Qrow..."

Yang's voice was steady as a rock. "You said you didn't know him once before. That didn't end well."

Yang's metal arm came into view as she reached for the girl's hand. There was a cracking noise and the girl screamed. Qrow's mouth fell open. Please Yang... no!

"Remember now?"

"Yes! Yes! I don't know where he is... Please!"

"The farther away the better." Yang moved the camera closer to the girl's face. "Do you have anything you want to say to him?"

"Please please please Qrow give her what she wants. Please do what she says please!"

Qrow shook. The poor girl was obviously terrified, and fear brings... No. No no no.

"That's enough. I think he'll get the gist. Now. A big smile for the camera."

"What?"

"Perfect."

As Qrow held his breath, Yang's metal hand came up to the girl's face and before he could even breathe, Yang pushed her thumb into the girl's remaining eye. Qrow winced as blood spewed out and the girl started screaming, thrashing madly. Qrow couldn't look away. Could only sit, and listen to the growls of Beowolves coming out of the darkness. He could only watch the little details. How Yang walked backwards, keeping the camera pointed at the girl. How the Creatures of Grimm streaked past her without noticing she was even there. The high pitched cries as they tore at the girl's body. One of her arms coming off and her falling to the ground.

Yang turned round, pointed the camera at her own face. Her eyes were the same crimson red as Raven's had been the day she died. Her teeth were bare as she bit every word at him. She started to walk away.

"Uncle Qrow. Do not. Not. Ever. Go after my friends again. Because I can play that game too. And you have more friends than I do."

The video ended abruptly, in mid-scream, and Qrow sat back, shaking.

"Oh Yang," he said. "What have you become?"


 

"Hello Yang."

"Hello Uncle. Thank you for the soldiers. They were fun."

"They weren't mine," said Qrow.

"I could tell. These were from Atlas. I thought they weren't allowed in."

"They aren't. Naughty Winter. I'll have a word with her. We need to get you in the ground without a bunch of Atlesian tin men stinking up the place."

There was a noise as if Yang stretched out.

"I like killing soldiers," she said. "There's no moral dilemma about killing them. They are here to kill me, and I am here to kill them. Much better than innocent civilians, don't you think?"

Qrow wanted to tell her that what she'd done at Higanbana was wrong. It was. But then, the things he had done, or rather his Atlesian psychopaths, were wrong, too. So he let it rest.

"I have to admit that the Atlesians are a bit harder to crack than the Vale crowd. But crack them I do. I'm getting quite good at it." She took a deep breath. "And I have to admit that when I go for the women first, the Vale soldiers actually care. Atlesians don't give a damn."

"You can't keep this up forever, Yang."

"Nobody lives forever. At least I want to get my hands on the bastards who killed my friends before I go."

"I don't like them much myself," said Qrow. "I'll give you a present. I'll send them somewhere you can find them. They have been wanting to meet you."

Yang actually laughed.

"And I'm sure one of your friends will be there with a sniper rifle."

"Of course," said Qrow. "But I'll tell him not to shoot until your fight is over."

"You know," said Yang. "If I have to go, then being sniped isn't so bad. Here one moment, gone the next. Doesn't mean I'll just let him do it, of course."

"I'll send them to the temple in Emerald Forest. You remember where that is, don't you? The one who tore out Mauve's fingernails is called Sabine Eisfeld. The second woman in the group. They'll be there tomorrow."

"Thanks," said Yang, and cut the call.

 

"Spot One Qrow."

"Qrow. Send it."

"Atlesians are still having a nice picnic. You sure she's gonna show?"

"Sure as anything these days. Stay alert."

"Roger that. Hang on. Something's up. Psychos are running into the temple."

Qrow waited.

"Spot One, Qrow. Gunfire. Inside."

"Detonate."

"Detonate. Roger that."

Qrow waited.

"Spot one Qrow. Temple collapsed. No way any of them survived that."

Qrow closed his eyes for a moment. Was it done? He didn't believe it for a moment.

"Better make sure Spot One. Command wants a body."

"Roger that. Moving... Hang on. Someone's coming out. It's her!"

"Take her out!"

"Firing. Oh damn."

"Report, Spot one!"

"That has to be the luckiest girl in the world. She raised her arm to teleport, right in front of her. The arm took the bullet. She went back into the temple."

"Heading out to you. Qrow out."

 

Qrow found Spot One by his homing beacon. Or what was left of him. Yang hadn't been quick or merciful. He looked at the temple. Fuck them. Winter could get her own scum out. His scroll chimed.

"Hello Yang."

"Thank you for that, Uncle Qrow. The sniper I expected. The explosives were a surprise, though."

"You need some repairs, sweetheart?"

"More presents Uncle? No thanks. I'll take this one myself."

The connection cut out.


 

"Hello Yang."

"Saw Blake today." Yang's voice sounded tight.

"She still alive? Or did you get her too?"

"She thinks I was there in New Kuchinashi. She thinks I was the one leading the slaughter!"

"And you weren't? Please Yang."

"I was never near the place! I freed the prisoners, and I went!"

Qrow scowled. It was the official word. Someone had found out who it was that broke the enemy soldiers out of their comfortable holding facilities. Of course she would go on to lead them into battle. That it would look better on the newsreels to capture and execute a hot blonde didn't play into it of course. Yang had been with them. She had a history of being violent and cruel. Of course, the Vytal Festival tournament thing had been dragged out again. By the time the propaganda machine had finished, Yang Xiao Long had personally executed a thousand innocents.

"They don't want you dead for nothing, Yang. All those dead people want justice."

"You don't believe that, do you? It's bullshit! It's not true!"

"Are you sure you're remembering it right, Yang? Are you really sure?"

"Of... of course! I'm not a murderer! I'm not a war criminal!"

"Tell that to Jason. Oh wait. You can't. He's dead."

"The sniper? He shot me!"

Qrow cut the connection. If she hadn't moved the way she did, she would be safely dead now. And she wouldn't have to go through what he was about to do to her.


 

"Hello Yang."

"Hello Uncle Qrow. I haven't seen your soldiers for a while. Are you running out?"

"I've finally convinced Command that I work alone."

"Keeping it in the family, are we?"

"You don't have a family anymore."

"What, are they dead?"

"No. You are. They are coping with their loss. They had Weiss over for dinner. And the baby. They'll be fine."

"Did you tell them I'm dead? I can fix that. Pay them a visit. They'll be happy to see me."

"I told them what you did, Yang. I showed them the video you sent me. Ruby threw up when she saw it. Stay away from Patch, Yang. They don't deserve having their wounds torn open again."

"Did you show them the whole video, Uncle?"

"I showed them what they needed to see. Leave them alone, Yang. If you have any decency left, leave them to deal with their loss. Just... leave them be."

There was a choking noise on he other end.

"I'll never forgive you for this, Uncle. I'll..."

"You'll do what? Convince people you're really innocent? That you didn't kill all those soldiers? That you didn't strap that poor girl to a tree, and blinded her, and had her torn limb from limb by Grimm? Good luck with that."

"You did the same thing! My friends..."

"You don't have any friends! Why don't you just give up, Yang? What do you have left to live for? Why don't you just die already? Remnant is almost at peace, but that peace is standing on a knife edge. Every day you stay alive is another day Vale doesn't deal with its war crimes. Every breath you take gets us nearer to some Atlesian assholes rampaging through Vale and Mistral looking for you. Every heartbeat is another one where you put the whole world at risk of blowing up again! Why don't you just die?"

"Fuck you. Fuck you, Uncle Qrow. I'm being made into a sacrificial goat. I didn't do anything wrong. I even put that waitress out of her misery. Misery that you put her into." Yang took a few breaths. "You said you wanted to kill me quickly. You said it was better if you did it, because of the torture. Do you really think I care if some dude shoves his cock in me, or smashes my head in with a bat? It's only pain. I'm not afraid of pain anymore. They can only hurt my body. Do you really think... do you really think that what you are doing to me is less cruel?"

"I'll tell you what. You said you'd kill me if we ever fought. Come to me now, and I'll give you your fight. No soldiers. Just you and me. And then we'll see."

There was a long silence.

"May as well. Where?"

"I'll be at Mountain Glenn. Take your time."


 

There hadn't been a call. Yang had finally gotten rid of the scroll. She must have realised long ago that he was tracking her with it. Why had she kept it so long? Qrow was on one of the few buildings still standing. There were soldiers hidden in various places. He'd lied. Of course he had.

He turned his head at the sound of gunfire. It stopped as suddenly as it had started. There was a voice in his ear.

"Team one. Contact with he enemy. Team two is out. Repeat, team two is out."

"Roger that," said Qrow. "You have a visual?"

"Negative. No sign of... Fuck!"

There was another bout of gunfire, then an explosion, then silence. Qrow jumped at a familiar voice in his ear.

"Uncle? These soldiers weren't in the deal, I don't think. Just let me get rid of them for you."

"Yang!"

There was no reply. Heavy explosions rocked the building.

"Team three! We have visual on the target. SDC office to the North. Oh fuck! She's got a..."

There was the rapid hiss of rocket propelled grenades, then explosions, screams. Qrow looked over, and saw her. She was on the roof of an office building, cradling a gatling gun in what remained of her metal right arm. She aimed down, fired, and kept firing until the gun was empty. Finally, she threw the gun itself at her enemies, and screamed. A primal scream made of pure rage, of anger at a world that had taken all the gifts she had given it, and crapped on her head for a reward. From below, a rocket flew up, and hit the floor below where Yang was standing. Qrow saw her body fly up high, then disappear behind the top of the building.

He concentrated, then leapt off the building, turning into a stormcrow as he fell. He flew to the building where Yang was, changed back, drew his scythe, ran forward...

 

He found her hanging by one hand off the side of the building. She saw him. Vainly, she tried to get purchase on the wall wih her feet, unable to pull herself up. Qrow stepped forward. All he had to do was step on her fingers. Watch her fall into the abyss. Hear her terrified scream until it'd stop when she'd hit he ground. He could even just wait. She'd lose her grip before long, and then it wouldn't be him. It wouldn't be his fault.

Qrow bent down, took a firm hold on Yang's arm, and pulled her up. She got up on shaking legs, and stared at him. He looked her over. There was a filthy bandage on one of her legs. Scrapes and scratches, red and infected, that she hadn't bandaged up. Her prosthetic hand was a tangled mess of twisted metal. Her eyes were hollow, sunken into her thin face. She was shaking, simply looking at him. Out of Aura. Out of fight. Out of time.

Qrow dropped his scythe, stepped forward, put his arms round her shoulders and pulled her to him.

"It's okay, Sweetheart. It's okay. It's over. I've got you."

Yang's body shook. "Please... Tell Dad. Tell Ruby... Tell them..."

Qrow put his hands on Yang's shoulders.

"I never told them anything, Sweetheart. Taiyang and Ruby love you very much."

Yang closed her eyes and choked up.

"Let's get you home," said Qrow.

Yang's voice was only a whisper. "Home. I'm going home."

Qrow turned round, leaving Yang standing, with trembling lips. He picked up his scythe.

"I'm going home..."

With all the speed and strength he had left in him, Qrow swung his scythe round and hit Yang in the chest, off to the side a little. Her violet eyes opened wide, her mouth opened in a scream that would never come. Then her knees gave, and she fell to the ground.

There wasn't much blood. If you hit the heart, it stops flowing. Qrow touched his radio.

"She's down."

"Command to Qrow. Please confirm. Is the target down?"

Qrow breathed in. He bent down and turned her onto her back. Straightened the legs and arms, and buttoned up her coat.

He put his ear to her lips. Nothing.

He put his fingers on her neck, looking for a pulse. Nothing.

As a final test, he touched his finger to her eyeball. Even coma patients blink when you do that.

There was nothing.

He closed her eyes, stroked her forehead. He smiled.

"So long, Firecracker," he said.

He touched his radio. "That's affirmative. Yang Xiao Long is dead. Request extraction."

"Copy that, Qrow. Well done. Bullhead arriving..."

Qrow tore out his earpiece. He sat down next to the still body. He reached into his inside pocket and took out his hip flask. The inscription read 'To the best druncle in the world!! Ruby, Yang'. He pulled off the cork, sent it flying over the side of the building, and began to drink.