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What Are Friends For

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“Nora, you do realize you could just ask her yourself.”

The girl’s hands were clasped beneath her chin, her eyes wide and round. “But Ren, you know she doesn’t like me that much… please?”

Ren sighed a little. “Nora.”

Her voice skipped an octave with desperation. “I’ll do your share of the dorm-cleaning for a week if you talk to her for me! Promise!”

Pink eyes rolled heavenward, seeking patience in the clouds. “Nora, you don’t–”

“Pretty pleeeaase?” She blinked her wide eyes a few times for good measure, and Ren let the urge to laugh wash over him.

“Nora I’m trying to say I’ll do it.”

Nora broke off her pleading to beam, hop, and uppercut the air a little. “Yay!”

“I hope you’re serious about doing my chores, though. You still owe me from last time.” Ren paused for a moment, before amending, “The last three times.”

She promptly drooped like an over-watered house plant. “Aww.” Almost immediately, she bounced back, as always. “Okay, will do! Thanks, Ren.”

Ren’s eyes darted about, before settling on a nearby teacher, who just so happened to be the very source of Nora’s agitation. An idea bloomed in his mind, and he effortlessly kept any sign of it out of his expression. Or rather, his lack thereof.

“There she is now,” he remarked blandly. “What a coincidence.”

Nora seized his arm with both hands, jostling him. “Oh good, you can get it over with. You’re the best, Ren.”

Their teacher was heading in their direction but clearly not heading toward them; she didn’t even appear to notice them yet. The courtyard was mostly empty, aside from a few students wandering about, and their teacher seemed to have somewhere important to be. That was unfortunate for her, because Ren was not one to let an opportunity slip past him.

“Excuse me, Professor Goodwych.”

She seemed preoccupied, especially when she hesitated a few moments before turning her attention to him. “Ah, good afternoon, Mr. Lie. Is there something I can help you with?”

As students went, Ren knew that he was up there among Professor Goodwych’s favorites, along with Pyrrha and Weiss. It wasn’t that she actively played favorites; on the contrary, she was a fair teacher if it killed her. But Ren could tell the difference between who she liked and who she found… difficult.

Case in point.

“Actually,” he said, without a single hitch in his deadpan tone, “Nora was wondering if she could ask you something.” He turned his flat expression to his startled friend. “Weren’t you, Nora.”

There was a beat of silence.

Re-en!” Nora nearly wailed. “You said you’d–” Her voice trailed off.

An infinitesimal twitch of his eyebrows, invisible to anyone who wouldn’t know to look for it, told Nora that she was going to have to learn how to talk to strict teachers eventually. Wide, injured eyes told him that she would rather have learned much later. Much, much later.

“Well, Miss Valkyrie?” Professor Goodwych prompted patiently.

Of course, Ren didn’t move from his spot as a defeated Nora reluctantly asked their teacher about better methods of improving her academics – she couldn’t raise all of her grades by swinging her hammer around, of course. And, he decided, he may as well do his own dorm-cleaning duties, seeing as he went back on his end, just a little bit.

Once the brief discussion was over and the pair was walking away, Nora punched lightly at Ren’s shoulder with both fists. (Punching lightly, by Nora’s standards, could still leave bruises on bad days.) “You’re the worst,” she informed him.

“She’s not going to want to help you if you use me as a carrier pigeon,” he answered flatly.

Nora stared at him with a comical look of melodramatic betrayal on her face. “You owe me all the pancakes for this.”

That wasn’t quite true. But Ren did like making pancakes.


Ozpin was contacting her through her scroll, but Glynda still found herself somewhat distracted by the two students that were walking away.

Nora Valkyrie was an excellent combatant, truly she was. Her attitude, on the other hand, left something to be desired. It wasn’t that she was sullen or disrespectful, she was simply incapable of taking anything seriously. It was poor behavior for a prospective Huntress.

“–will have to let Port know that penning a Boarbatusk on the roof of the faculty building may be taking it a bit far.” In her distraction, she had miss the first part of Ozpin’s message, and he seemed to realize it. “Are you listening? Is something the matter, Professor Goodwych?”

“I apologize for that,” she said, reluctantly, though she was still watching Lie Ren and Nora Valkyrie walk away. “I’m a bit distracted.”

“Oh?”

She watched as the girl pummeled at her teammate’s shoulder, nearly knocking him off balance. “I really do think we ought to rethink our partnering procedure,” she said, dropping her voice a bit to avoid being heard. “I could not think of a worse teammate for Lie Ren than Nora Valkyrie. I can only imagine what the poor boy must put up with.”

Glynda was still watching the two, so she saw when Lie Ren halted as abruptly as if he’d slammed into an invisible wall. His teammate skipped on, apparently oblivious.

Momentarily confused, Glynda watched as the trainee Huntsman glanced over his shoulder and looked her straight in the eye.

…Oh.

He was such a quiet boy, it was hard to believe he had that much venom in him to put into a single glare, but there he was, managing it.

Ren held her gaze for a good few seconds, wordlessly challenging her with a single cold look. Then he turned around again and followed Nora out of the courtyard.

“What was that, Professor Goodwych?” Ozpin sounded amused. And somewhat smug.

Glynda sighed heavily. “Nothing, Ozpin. Forget I said anything.”