Weiss bit into the end of her pen and scowled down at her paper, trying to intimidate it into finishing itself.
As an essay on the impact of differing economics theories during the Cold War, it left much to be desired. At this point it was barely more than an outline, with just a few sections fleshed out enough to be considered some sort of draft. And with the paper due the following week, it wasn't something she could put off for much longer. She just needed to focus.
That was the problem, of course. She couldn't focus. Not when Winter was supposed to arrive half an hour ago. But every step of the way, something conspired to stop their reunion. First, her flight was late, then there was a mix-up with the rental car, and the last text she'd gotten was that Winter was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway. Even that was taking her longer than she'd hoped – apparently there was a four-car pileup on I5. There were no fatalities, but as the wait stretched on, Weiss started seriously considering adding a few of her own. Starting with the idiot who caused the accident.
It didn't help that Ruby couldn't go ten seconds without-
"I made the tea you like!" an annoyingly cheerful voice chirped from behind her, making Weiss' fist clench so hard the pen creaked in protest. "I know you said something you were off about the Earl Grey, so I thought maybe some of the rosehip you keep stashed away would be good. Especially since it's supposed to be good for your skin and an antioxidant and did you know that they're actually-"
"For the love of god, stop trying to cheer me up." Weiss snapped, setting aside her notes. Wait, why is she concerned that it's good for my skin?
Weiss shook her head. She could obsess over what that meant later. When she didn't have a sister coming and a girlfriend making her want to tear her hair out. "Seriously, Ruby. I know you are trying to help, but this is ridiculous."
Ruby frowned, the hand holding the teapot sagging a little. Settling down on the sofa, she put the teapot down, next to the plate of cookies she'd set out a minute earlier. And the remote she'd moved just in case Weiss wanted to watch something. And the tissues she brought after Weiss had sneezed. Once. And the blanket she'd wrapped around Weiss' shoulders, and the extra pens in case hers ran out ...
"You just looked down," Ruby said, her voice sullen. "I thought maybe I could make it easier for you to work if you had everything you needed."
Weiss sighed and rubbed at the bridge of her nose. "I'm waiting for my sister to arrive so I can introduce her to my girlfriend. I can't focus because I'm nervous, not because I'm hungry, or cold, or because I need tea."
Weiss set her pen down, and reached over to pull the smaller girl to her. She knew why Ruby was so intent on doing something, anything, to try and help. She probably felt the same way Weiss did. This would be the first of Weiss' family the girl had ever met. She was just as invested in making a good first impression as Weiss was. Ruby had even started cleaning before Weiss could, doing anything short of steam-cleaning every object in sight. This was likely her version of Weiss' studying, trying to something to do to keep busy.
"It's fine," she said, squeezing Ruby gently around her shoulders. "I know you're nervous about meeting her too. Just please stop this."
When Ruby nodded, she pulled away, gathering her notes back onto her lap and twirling her pen. Her paper wouldn't finish itself, no matter how much she would rather put the blasted thing off.
"Just try to relax. You flitting around is giving me a headache."
"Oh! Let me get you an aspirin." Quick as lightning, Ruby was off the couch and headed to the kitchen.
This time, the Weiss' pen snapped cleanly in two.
"Ruby, what did I just say?"
"Guess who's co-teaching a class out of the Asian languages and literature department!" Nora cheered in the sing-song voice she used when she was particularly happy, nearly bouncing out of her seat.
Pyrrha turned her eyes to the only professor who could make Nora that enthusiastic about anything. Ren was calm as always, long dark hair swaying as he shook his head at his wife's obvious amusement.
The three were seated in the couple's living room, surrounded by photos from their honeymoon and any number of dates and adventures together. They shared the couch, Nora's legs tucked up beside her while she leaned against her husband ... at least until another round of bouncing. Pyrrha had the loveseat to herself, the rich chocolate leather soft and supple against her back.
"Who are you teaching with?" she asked, smiling. If Nora was this enthusiastic, it had to be someone she found interesting.
"Professor Hori," Ren answered. It wasn't a name Pyrrha knew, but Asian Literature had never been her forte. "All his idea, and he was very persuasive."
"What's the class?"
"Special Topics in Asian Literature," he recited off-hand, using the terminology the university crafted to define its subjects. "Genre film."
"He means martial arts film," Nora grinned, nudging her husband with an elbow. "Everything from Seven Samurai and Lone Wolf and Cub to Ashes of Time Redux and Kung Fu Hustle. There'll be punching and kicking and backflips-"
Pyrrha laughed. That explained why Nora was so happy about it. Action movies were something she'd always enjoyed. "Well, it definitely sounds like it won't be boring."
Ren gave another of his laconic shrugs, but Pyrrha thought she saw a spark of humor behind his eyes. "Maybe. After The Matrix and Daredevil, I wonder how many students will actually be interested in old wuxia and chambara films."
"Stop it. You'll be great." Pyrrha smiled.
This is nice, she thought, listening while Nora tried to convince Ren to add Shaolin Soccer to the list. It had been almost two weeks since the three of them really got a chance to talk. Best of all, it was relaxing. They were all busy – Pyrrha prepping for the cup, Ren with his student's classwork and his own papers, Nora taking over the coaching position for the football team – and finding the time to sit, to talk, was a blessing.
"Plus," she laughed. "You can't do worse than the Matrix sequels."
Nora's eyes went wide. "There were sequels?" Nora whipped her head to the side, sending a wave of regret washing over Pyrrha as she turned to face Ren. "You didn't tell me there were sequels!"
Ren's palm smacked cleanly into his forehead.
"So Pyrrha, when are you gonna ask that girl out?" he asked in a blatant attempt to change the subject, ignoring the glare the redhead shot him. "It's obvious she likes you"
"Yeah! She's gonna yes."
Pyrrha looked between the both of them. Something about the looks they gave her was putting her on the defensive. Really, Ren? Did you have to use me for your escape?
"Her sister is in my club."
"So you're seriously gonna wait two and half more years to date her?" Nora scoffed. "Pyrrha, it's not a conflict of interest – the school wouldn't mind."
"... I know," Pyrrha swallowed and nodded, slumping forward in the loveseat until her elbows rested on her knees.
"She's worried," Ren said. His words were quiet, and kind, but they still made Pyrrha wince as she heard them. "About what happens if she's not actually interested. Or what happens if she is."
He met Pyrrha's eyes in a look of complete understanding. "And as long as you do nothing, nothing bad can happen."
"Oh for the love of," Nora slammed her hands down onto the couch with a smack. "Pyrrha, she'll say yes!"
Pyrrha looked up, eyes wide as she stared into Nora's face. "How do you know? Did she say anything?"
"She doesn't have to," Nora practically screamed, frustration boiling up and turned her face a brilliant red. "Anyone can see she's into you."
Pyrrha sighed and slumped back into position, her head hanging down towards the floor. Maybe Ren was right. Even if he wasn't right about Yang, he was right about her. She hadn't felt this way about someone in, well, over a decade. Even at their age, that was intimidating. She'd thought about telling Yang several times, even had one dream where she'd kissed the poor woman, but each time she tried nothing seemed right. There was always something off, some reason for her not to go through with it. Yang was younger. She was older. She and Yang's sister knew each other from the university. Barely.
And there's the fact that I'm terrified she'll say no.
Nora took a breath, replenishing her supply of air for another bellow. But before she could unload on their old friend, Ren began to speak. "Pyrrha, you're forgetting something important."
"What is that?" Pyrrha asked, eyes still trained on the carpet.
"That even if Yang is aware you're attracted to her, eventually she will stop waiting." He sighed and shrugged apologetically. "If you do nothing, eventually the choice will be made for you."
"You're scared of what might happen if she says no. How much worse would it be to know she would have said yes, but didn't, because she'd already moved on?"
Weiss tried to ignore the way Ruby bounced on the balls of her feet, practically humming with held-back energy as she watched the much taller woman step in through their door.
Winter had called just as she turned into Weiss' apartment complex. That had sparked a brand new round of panicked cleaning, mostly clearing away the detritus Ruby had brought her. Then Ruby decided there was something wrong with her hair, patting and fixing it frantically in the hallway mirror.
She had just enough time for one last "You look fine," before there was a knock on the door. Winter had arrived, her long white coat in a military cut covering a business suit that was only slightly less severe.
"It's really good to see you, Winter," Weiss said and smiled up at her elder sister. She didn't move to hug her; Winter wasn't fond of physical displays of affection. Weiss normally wasn't either, but almost two years with Ruby had broken her of that somewhat. So she waited, hands clasped before her, ignoring the way Ruby's eyes bounced back-and-forth between them as if she was watching a tennis match.
"You too, Weiss," the older Schnee said. "I am glad I was able to arrange a visit. I know your schedule is quite busy these days."
Weiss gave a skeptical little laugh. "Nothing compared to yours." That was an understatement. Winter's posting in the Air Force kept her more than busy, and her recent promotion hadn't exactly helped matters. As a newly-appointed colonel directly under General Ironwood, she had a whole host of new responsibilities, most of them some level of classified. Ironwood's involvement in overseas operations didn't help. Unlike other staff officers, Winter didn't spend her time at the capitol or any number of state-side bases. Instead, she was posted with the general, along with the rest of his staff. Added together, it made finding time to see her younger sister ... difficult, to say the least.
Winter was right in the middle of unbuttoning her coat when Ruby finally lost control. "Oh, um, do you want me to take that?" Ruby asked and stepped forward with her arms outstretched.
The elder Schnee blinked and turned her gaze on Ruby for the first time. Eyes narrowed, she gave Ruby a quick once over, and from the expression on her face, wasn't particularly impressed by what she saw. Turning back to Weiss, she said "And who, may I ask, is this?"
Before Ruby could answer, Weiss stepped to the side, putting one arm around Ruby's shoulders. "Winter, this is Ruby." She paused, a part of her still wondering if she should wait, if there was a better way to tell her. There wasn't – she'd decided that days ago – but that didn't stop the worry. Still, better to tell the whole truth now that piece it out over the course of the evening.
Whatever warmth had been in Winter's eyes vanished in an instant. She gave Ruby a long, cold, calculating stare, eyes sweeping the shorter girl up and down. Ruby might be tactless, but she wasn't oblivious. From the way she tensed, Weiss knew Ruby had noticed the sudden tension filling the room.
Without a word, Winter pulled off her coat and hung it on the rack. When she turned back to them, her face had settled into a stern expression Weiss recognized all too well.
"Would you give us the room?"
Ruby blinked and stiffened, completely taken aback. "Sorry?"
"The room," Winter said, pulling off her gloves by the fingers. "My sister and I need to speak in private."
"Winter!" Weiss snapped, glaring up at her. This was the last thing she needed right now. Ruby needed to know that some member of her family would approve of them, would support Weiss without question. That was supposed to be Winter. Winter, who Weiss had looked up to all her life, the big sister who escaped from their father's clutches and joined the military. Winter, who excelled at everything she put her hand to. Winter, the one member of her family she could trust completely.
"No ... it's okay," Ruby said, using the tone she always did when she lied. "I'll be in the study. If you need anything."
Giving Weiss one last worried look, she walked off down the hall. Weiss watched until Ruby vanished into the study and closed the door behind her.
When Weiss looked back at Winter, her face was drawn into a deep, narrow-eyed scowl. How dare she-
"Explain," Winter said, her voice quiet.
"Explain what, exactly? She is my girlfriend, and you just-"
"That is not what I meant." Winter's words were slow and exact, each one piercing through the air as she stepped towards Weiss. "You know Father will never approve. Neither will Mother, although her reaction is likely to be less damaging."
Ice-blue eyes so similar to Weiss' own stared down at her, flickering every so often as Winter sought her gaze. "You must know what this will do to your relationship with them."
"I do." Weiss looked right back at her, gaze completely steady. "I stopped caring a long time ago."
"I love her, Winter." Weiss said through clenched teeth, her jaw set stubbornly.
Winter gave her one look, knowing that Weiss only used that expression when she was ready to dig her feet in, and sighed.
"Your trust fund-"
"Won't last the day once he finds out," Weiss finished grimly. It wasn't anything she hadn't expected. In fact, she'd actually planned on it. "That is why I have been taking advantage of every loophole to funnel the money away from my trust fund. Why I made sure he can't touch my investments or my personal accounts. I'll be fine, for at least a few years after graduate school."
Winter nodded slowly, staring down her nose as the younger, shorter Schnee. Weiss couldn't tell quite what was behind those eyes – she never could – but she could have sworn she saw...
"You are absolutely sure about this?"
"I told you," Weiss said without a scrap of doubt in her voice. "I love her."
Winter held her gaze for a long moment, looking, searching for ... something. Whatever it was, Weiss wasn't going to give her an inch. Not on this. She stared right back, brows furrowed, her scowl implacable.
"Alright." Winter said finally. She straightened with military precision and strode into the central room of their apartment. Within seconds she was seated at the head of the kitchen table, smoothing the pleats of her suit before folding her hands expectantly atop the hardwood.
"Y-you mean it?"
"Of course I mean it," she snapped. "Well, go on. Bring her back. I need to see her properly this time." She must have seen something in Weiss' eyes, some remaining scrap of stubbornness. Winter's scowl snapped back, a perfect match for her sister's.
"Do not give me that look, Weiss. If you are really this serious about her, I need to see if she's worthy of being with my sister."
A few hours later, the two girls collapsed back onto the sofa. Both were exhausted after Winter's ... well, the only correct word for it would be 'interrogation.' The older Schnee daughter had put Ruby through the wringer, asking question after question and demanding answers almost faster than Ruby could get them out. There were questions about how they had met, their first date, the first date Ruby planned instead of Weiss, if Ruby could cook, what she would learn to cook, what her plans for the future were and how she could support Weiss – answered only by talking over Weiss' strenuous objections.
Finally, Winter had called it a night. Deeming Ruby 'adequate' she packed up her things and redressed for the spring cold. Weiss offered to put her up, but Winter had insisted – apparently, her 'leave' included several weekly teleconferences with the General, and Winter wanted privacy she wouldn't be able to find in an apartment shared by her sister. While Weiss was sad to see her leave, if only for a few hours before they met up tomorrow morning, it was probably for the best.
"So," Ruby said, slumping as her body was slowly absorbed by the cushions. "She's ... intense."
"And you're surprised?" Weiss cocked an eyebrow at the shorter girl. "She is my sister after all."
Ruby snorted, then sighed. Scooching over on the couch, she leaned in, and snuggled into the curve of Weiss' side.
"Hey Weiss?" she said, her head resting on the older girl's shoulder. "Can I ask a favor?"
Reaching over, Ruby slid her hand atop Weiss', fiddling with it slightly while she looked up at her. Then, in a tone way too serious to actually be so, Ruby nodded gravely and said, "I want you to talk to me like one of your German girls."
Weiss sighed and rolled her eyes. It had been an accident the first time, when she was half-asleep, seated beside Ruby as they watched some movie late into the night. Ruby had been leaning against her shoulder, and in her barely awake state, she'd murmured to the girl in German.
"That was terrible impression, and you are such a dork."
"That a no?" Ruby pouts.
"... fine. I suppose I owe you that much after today." Sighing, she looked Ruby in the eyes. "Schatzi, kann ich einen Kuss haben?"
Ruby's grin was wide and infectious as she snuggled closer. "Course."
Fingers pressed beneath Ruby's chin, Weiss pulled her up into the kiss, feeling the sweetness flow into her as the smaller woman melted against her side. "Ich liebe dich," she said when they came apart, just before pressing her lips to Ruby's forehead.
Ruby beamed, humming as she wriggled deeper into the curve of her side. "You too."
They stayed there for a second, Weiss holding Ruby in her arms, just reveling in the feeling of the girl she loved resting against her shoulder. Then softly, in a voice barely above a whisper, Weiss said, "Du bist die Liebe meines Lebens."
Ruby's brow crinkled. "Sorry? I only got half of that."
Weiss just tugged her closer. "It wasn't important."
"So," Yang said, staring out the window as she drummed on the dashboard of Pyrrha's car. "You planning to bury my body or just dissolve it in acid?"
"When you murder me," Yang nodded and sucked air in through her teeth. "I mean, that's the only way this ends, right? You ask me to take a ride with you, we end up in the middle of nowhere-"
"We're in the suburbs, Yang."
"So were the Stepford Wives."
For a second, Pyrrha almost believed her, at least until she saw the humor sparkling behind those violet eyes. Shaking her head, Pyrrha tried to focus on the road. It wasn't easy. She had picked up Yang from the bar – which meant she was still wearing her work clothes. Micro Black jacket that stretched across her collarbones, short black skirt strapped to her thigh-highs, and a cream top that showed off a fair amount of cleavage.
Needless to say, Pyrrha had plenty of reasons to look away from the road.
After a few more minutes and several protests from Yang that Pyrrha was clearly just finding a good site to bury the body, they pulled up into a parking lot. Before them sat a large, warehouse-looking structure, built just past the edge of a commercial park. From the car, Yang could just barely see the signs for a restaurant and a grocery store, but the warehouse was big enough to block their view of almost anything else. It was enough to block their view of almost everything, actually. If you headed deep enough, into the loading bay between two of the structures, you would be invisible to anyone who wasn't looking straight at you.
"Yup," Yang said, sighing dramatically. "You're definitely planning to murder me."
"Not unless you keep that up." Pyrrha joked wryly. Taking a breath, the first of several, she looked got out and went to look up at the building. Yang followed, curious, standing by her side as Pyrrha stared wistfully at the place. Just say it. Come on, Pyrrha, you rehearsed this a half-dozen times in the car. You can do this.
"You were right." Pyrrha said, still staring blankly at the building rather than Yang. It was easier to focus that way. "I'm not satisfied with coaching for the university. I'd like the opportunity to make my own coaching schedule, my own curriculum."
"So, this is what?" Yang asked, one eyebrow cocked as she stared confused at the warehouse. "Your new gym?"
"More or less. I'm thinking about opening a salle d'armes of my own. Somewhere I can train fencers myself. Where I can work with them earlier, at younger ages than the college kids I do now. More varied classes, availability for individual training for those who are interested in competing-"
"Makes sense." Yang nodded, biting thoughtfully at her lip. "I mean, I meant 'take a vacation,' but this is cool. Now who's Sally Arms, and should I be jealous?"
"A salle is a fencing hall, Yang," Pyrrha said, chuckling. As jokes went, it wasn't very good, but it has Yang's usual charm to it. The same thing that kept people from throttling her after one too many puns. "The building has what I need. It's big enough, and the ceilings are high enough to run the machines for the fencing strips."
"No idea." Pyrrha shrugged. "Haven't told the owners I'm buying it yet."
Yang snorted, but didn't say anything. She stood by Pyrrha's side, craning her neck to peer up at the warehouse. Taking one last calming breath, Pyrrha bit her lip and turned to look at Yang. Now or never. Come on, Pyrrha, just tell her, for Pete's sake.
"Yang, there's also something else. Something I've been wanting for myself." She managed to get the first part out without stumbling over her words. It wasn't easy. So much of her fought the idea of doing this. Fought to just climb back into the car and drive Yang home
"Good." Yang grinned and looked over at her. "Like I said, you should try being stupid and impulsive for a change."
"... do you really mean that?"
"Yeah. Look, do something reckless." Yang cocked her head to the side, ducking down just a little so she could look straight into Pyrrha's eyes. "Take a risk, you'll feel better for it."
"Yang," Pyrrha choked out, her throat tightening. She'd know this would be hard, but did her heart have to beat that loudly. God, she can probably hear it. She's close enough. "Do you really mean that?"
"Uh, yeah? You got carte blanche." The blonde shrugged, a perplexed look coming over her face. "Look, do something stupid and impulsive because you can. Whatever crazy thing you want. Whatever makes you hap-"
Yang never finished her thought. Throwing caution to the wind, Pyrrha cut her off by leaning into Yang and kissing her mid-sentence. It was cautious and tentative, as if she was expecting Yang to pull away and honestly surprised when she didn't. Her pulse was pounding in her ears, to the point where Pyrrha didn't know if her light-headedness was from nerves or from the feeling of finally, finally, kissing her. Then it was over, and Pyrrha pulled back to stare at her, a horrible mixture of terror and hope clutching her chest in an iron grip.
"... py," Yang finished, a startled look on her face..
"I ... I'm sorry." Pyrrha stammered, her throat closing, eyes wide in wistful terror. "I've wanted to do that for ... for a really long time." Swallowing, she brought her hands together before her, squeezing tight as she waited, desperate to know how Yang took it, and dreading every single word. "Was that really okay?"
Yang blinked, then gave her a grin that made her heart stop. "Hon, that was way more than okay." Reaching out, Yang wrapped her hand around the back of Pyrrha's neck and drew her close. Pyrrha barely had time to breathe before Yang's mouth met hers. Lilac eyes fluttered shut as she leaned into the embrace, holding Pyrrha close and pressing ever deeper into the kiss.
For a split second, Pyrrha froze. She couldn't think, couldn't move. Then her body took over, and with a plaintive hum, she surrendered into the kiss. And it was a surrender. Yang wasn't as gentle, pressing hard against her as if it was the only thing she'd thought about for months. Her entire world smelled of Yang's perfume, anchored by the fingers sliding tenderly into the base of her hair.
By the time they came apart, both of them were short of breath.
"So," Yang withdrew just a few inches, a wide grin breaking across her lips. "I'm your stupid impulse, huh? Took you long enough."
"You knew?" Pyrrha was still short of breath, her body trying to remember how to breathe properly. "This whole time, you knew?"
Yang shrugged, a long, rolling motion that set her hair waving behind her. "The lingering looks at my abs were a bit of a hint." She grinned, and one hand slipped slowly up Pyrrha's arm, rubbing almost ... shyly along her bicep. "I might have put it down as professional respect for someone else's workout regimen, but then I caught you checking out my ass. Then you kissed me when you were drunk, so ..."
"That was real?" Pyrrha groaned, covering her face in her hands. Had she really ... "I hoped it was a dream."
"Nope. You got my cheek ... and tried to go for the real thing before I stopped you."
Pyrrha groaned again, a bone-deep sound that carried with it the entirety of her shame. God, this was humiliating. It had been bad enough when she thought Yang had just taken her home, taken care of her.
"Please. Continue. I didn't feel sleazy enough about this already."
"Why?" Yang asked. "Cause you're older than me?"
"It doesn't make this any easier."
Yang sighed and reached out, tilting her chin up until the redhead met her eyes. "Pyrrha, I would be lying – really badly lying – if I said I hadn't looked at you that way a couple times." She grinned sheepishly. "Okay, more than a couple times. But it was obvious that this wasn't something you were up for and I wasn't gonna push."
She took a long, slow breath before pulling away. Crossing her arms, she sat back on the hood of Pyrrha's car, a small smile playing across her lips. "I'd be happy to be friends. But if you want to try being something else, I'm happy to try that too."
There she sat, watching her, that same small smile playing across her lips as she waited, biding her time until ... until what?
She's waiting for me to say it, Pyrrha realized, her heart seizing. To be fair, I deserve that. And who ever said she'd make this easy?
Taking in the deepest breath she could, Pyrrha cleared her throat and looking into those patient, lavender eyes. "Would you like to have dinner on Friday?"
"That's Ruby's birthday, actually." Yang winced, her face falling. The blonde gave her a compassionate grin and brushed her hair back behind her ear. "How about Sunday?"
"It's a date."
Yang laughed, a sound that made Pyrrha's heart soar. "Now who's being sapp-"
She leaned in, and claimed Yang's lips for the second time. The first second was filled with thought and worry, about how long she should kiss her, how much contact was too much, how to keep from scaring her away before they'd even really begun. Then Yang's tongue swept across her lips, and Pyrrha melted into her, hands knotting in the cream fabric of Yang's top.
Neither of them noticed the first few drops of rain splattering onto the ground. Or when the first few dropped into their clothes. It wasn't until the steady plinking of rain against the car hit their ears did both of them realize they were already halfway to being soaked. Laughing and wet, the two of them raced back to Pyrrha's car, shutting and locking the doors behind them and watching as the heavens opened. Within seconds, the whole area was drenched with rain, the windshield blurred by the steady pounding of droplets.
Pyrrha smiles, her heart still beating frantically in her chest. There was something romantic about the rain. Maybe she was projecting, and the sheer joy that she felt and couldn't quite believe was coloring the world. Still, she couldn't help but ...
Her train of thought derailed as Yang leaned across the car, fingers brushing along her jaw to pull her back into another kiss. It seemed to last forever, slow and intoxicating, shutting out any thoughts other than the feel, the taste, of the blonde running her fingers through Pyrrha's hair. Their hands were wet from the rain, damp hair sticking to both of them, the odd droplet of water running down their cheeks.
And even so, it was perfect.