Actions

Work Header

The Things They Taught

Work Text:

You are born an average child, the first in a family that would eventually grow to have six children. You are blessed, somehow, with this mediocrity.

You're expected to grow and learn, to help look after your younger siblings when your parents grow your family - a task you love.

You're an average 7-year-old child, and your most remarkable feature is your gentle heart and the way you love everyone you meet, always offering a smile and a kind word.

You're expected to contribute to the family farm, to help raise horses, perhaps take up smithing to add a little variety to your family's repertoire.

You're an average 10-year-old child, but your most remarkable feature is now your height; you are often mistaken for being several years older than you are.

You're expected to go to school and learn your letters and numbers, and to help little old ladies reach things that are above their head in the store and to rescue kittens from trees.

You're an average 12-year-old child, and your height is nearly as remarkable as your strength - you can easily lift things much heavier than any of your peers.

You're expected to help open jars and till the fields, to help with stubborn animals who refuse to move without a firm hand and ease the birth of foals who struggle to be born without assistance.

Despite the things that make you remarkable, you are still an average child, and because of this, you are told you can do anything you want.

You have a reputation to uphold in the town - to live up to the honorable Daichi name, and you see no reason not to.

You are an average child who wants nothing more than to raise horses on your family farm and bake cookies with your siblings.

And this is exactly what people expect of you and so you find support everywhere you turn.


But something changes when a growth spurt during the onset of puberty makes you the height of most adults.

You're tall and lanky for just a short period of time before you start to fill out with muscle and fat, growing into the promise of your shoulders. People are quick to compliment you, telling your parents you've grown up into a strapping young lad, but there's an odd look on their face when they see you carrying your five year old sister - just the briefest glimpse of concern before they turn away.

Your strength only grows alongside your height - and yet it is not your semblance, as you discover around then. Instead, you have one that hunters only dream of: the ability to shield those around you from falling objects and projectiles.

But you don't pay attention to it - you don't use it the way a hunter might. You have no interest in the violent life they lead, and you use it instead to protect your siblings from falling branches, or to have unfair snowball fights with the rest of the kids your age.

You're an average child, with remarkable strength, height and semblance.

It's not a sudden change in how people perceive you - or you don't think it's one. You like to think that no one consciously decided that you were gentle one day and dangerous the next.

The realization, at least, does not come as quickly as your growth spurt had, rather, it comes in bits and pieces every time someone tells you no and their expression is one of fear.

The first hint is when you offer to babysit for a young couple whose third anniversary is coming up. You love their daughter, who's barely one, and you've babysat for them before.

There's an odd look on their face, one you can't quite place, when they turn you down, saying they don't have plans for that night, but they'll remember you offered if that changes.

When you see them out in town without their little girl on the night in question, they refuse to meet your confused gaze.

It's the stables, next - you'd always loved working with the horses there, you'd always had a way with them, able to tame even the wildest of stallions. This is what you want to do.

It's one of them you go to now - pulling an apple out of your pocket to soothe the beast, gently stroking his neck.

You've always found comfort in working with the animals.

But when you go to fetch the tack, the owner stops you, shifting anxiously at your size, asking if you could muck out the stalls instead because the horse wasn't up for being worked with just now.

You don't mind the dirty work, so you do so eagerly, but from where you stand, you can see one of the less-experienced stable hands taking the stallion out to work with him.

The owner won't give you a straight answer when you ask about working with any of the horses.

Hurting, you leave the stables, not entirely sure you ever want to come back.

On your way out, you walk past the blacksmith's forge - where you see burly men about your size working with hot iron.

And that's something you could do - you learn they're looking for a new apprentice and take you under their wing eagerly.

But the comfort you find in the repetitive motions there is short-lived. You spend less than a year there before you outgrow the largest safety equipment they have, and you still have to be careful not to damage some of the more delicate tools with your immense strength.

The smith is at least kind, and turns you away in as many words. Even with an activated aura, you can't work in the forge.

But they say something that haunts you:

"Why don't you become a huntsman?"

You could - but you've never wanted to. The life seems too cruel, too harsh - too violent. You just want to live out a quiet life in town.

But once one person said it, it feels like a floodgate opens. Everywhere you turn, someone is encouraging you to become a huntsman.

And everywhere you turn, more opportunities are being denied to you, with a gentle suggestion of "Why don't you sign up for guard duty? They always need more people on patrol - and you'll have experience then for when you go to one of the academies!"

Heartbroken and with nowhere else to turn, you enroll in combat school, far from the home you know, instead.


When you're 13 and in your first year at Signal, you meet Velvet Scarlatina on a battlefield.

The arena isn't a forest, nor is the enemy at hand creatures of grimm.

Laughter draws you into a little-used corridor and a pained cry quickens your step down the hallway and out of sight from any teachers who would interfere.

The arena is a darkened doorway and the enemy at hand is the abusers of a young woman who doesn't seem to notice your presence.

You're only 13, but you stand head and shoulders above the 15 year olds who loom over the girl who is cowering at their feet, curled up on herself as she tries to avoid the kicks from steel-toed boots and the grabbing hands that bite into the tender flesh of her ears.

You realize for the first time that you can use your size - the fact that people fear you - for good.

"Hey!" you shout, raising your fists to your peers for the first time in your life.

You aren't a violent person, but you've been forced into a violent life, and maybe you can use it to help someone this time.

The older students turn and look at you, the same fearful expression you've seen so many times before plastered on their faces.

But this time you're glad - you want them to be afraid.

But you're equally glad when they scatter, not forcing you to make good on the threat your closed fist offers.

You don't know her name - just that she's quiet and sits in the back of classes, often across the room from you. She has her hands clasped over her ears and she's curled up on herself - you're not sure she's even noticed your presence.

Kneeling down next to her, you're somewhat unsure on how to proceed. You don't dare touch her - and a quiet "you're safe now" doesn't get her attention.

You're patient, waiting her out. As she realizes no one is attacking her, she uncurls, letting her hands fall to her sides.

It's something of a miracle when she doesn't flinch away when your gaze meets hers.

She doesn't look afraid - confused, perhaps, but she's not afraid.

You suppose you don't look so intimidating where you are crouched down next to her. "Are you hurt?" you ask, keeping your voice low.

She shakes her head. "Why?"

You're not sure if the question is "Why do you care" or "Why did you help" but your answer is the same for either: "Because no one deserves that." You gesture down the hall to where the bullies had run off.

"Oh."

You both stand, and you can't help but look to see if she too becomes afraid when you're looming above her.

But she doesn't flinch and doesn't move away, she simply smiles and offers you her name and a friendship you think might be able to last.


You can't help but wonder if she had been afraid of you the entire time and just happened to be better at hiding it, though, when she cuts you out of her life suddenly and without warning.

You don't know what happened - what changed, how everything went wrong - and it hurts; she was your closest (only) friend and you just want to fix it.

You suspect you know - you had finally given in and agreed to spar with her, despite your fears that you would hurt her, and she hadn't spoken to you since.

Either way, you accept that it's broken beyond repair - just like everything else in your life - when you try to ask her and she walks away from you.

It takes a week for Velvet to see you out and sit down next to you in the library.

"I'm not weak," is how she greets you.

And you cock your head, trying to figure out why this was an issue.

"No, definitely not," you agree. She's one of the strongest people you know.

Her hands ball into fists. "Then spar with me." She looks up at you, not an ounce of fear in her expression - just pure rage. "And don't hold back this time."

Oh.

You look away. You don't like sparring with anyone - much less your friend who is so much smaller than you. (She always gets annoyed when you say as much - 'I'm almost as tall as you!' she insists, which is true when you count her ears.) You avoid it whenever you can - and last time…

You hadn't hurt her, physically, but you had hurt her by holding back.

You don't want to hurt anyone - you still aren't sure you really want to be here at Signal.

"I - " you choke on your words; your hands start to tremble.

"Yatsu?" she asks, putting her hand on yours, rage giving way to her gentler nature.

"I don't want to hurt you," you choke out. You can't look up at her. It's not you think her weak - you're so careful about who you spar with at all.

(You weren't always so careful and choosy - and you'd left bruises on more than one classmate your first week at Signal from what should have been gentle hits.)

And you think that's going to be it - that you're going to lose Velvet over it. You're going to hurt her if you you fight her without holding back - but you'd hurt her regardless.

But you figure it's easier to lose her to this than to lose her to a training accident.

You're acutely aware of the fact that you could kill someone without meaning to.

You'd figured that out after you'd broken a bone when someone's aura had shattered mid-blow.

If it'd been their head…

You try not to think about it.

"I won't let you."

You look at Velvet, and see confidence there. There's a fire in her eyes that wasn't there before, a strength you hadn't known she'd had.

She'd been holding back as much as you had and you can only nod.

Later that evening, you spar together - and neither of you hold back.

You walk out arm-in-arm twenty minutes later, laughing and pleased - not a bruise to be found - both of you with your auras drained to nothing.


But accepting that Velvet can go toe to toe with you in the ring does not get rid of your fears of your future.

Resigned, you apply to the various combat academies alongside her. You honestly don't know what else to do with your life - you can't see yourself doing anything else. Everyone looks at you and calls you a huntsman before you've said a word about your career plans, that same fear in their eyes that's been haunting you since you were twelve.

It stings.

But you know it means the world to Velvet, and at least going with her will make the journey more bearable. She's become your best and closest friend and you wouldn't give that up for anything.

Still, when the final acceptance letter arrives - to Beacon Academy - your hands shake so badly it rips in two.

Velvet puts her hands on yours - she'd come home with you that day because you were expecting a letter from them.

(She had gotten her acceptances to all four academies months ago - it had taken you a long time to gather up the courage to apply at all.)

"You don't have to come," she says, looking up at you, gentle as ever, but with a tightness around her eyes.

You close your eyes and look away. If you say you don't have another choice, she might try to talk you out of it - or, worse, give up her dream of becoming a huntress.

But you think maybe - just maybe - you can do it, with Velvet.

She's the first person who's told you you could be something else.

She's the first person who's told you you aren't dangerous.

She trusts you to be gentle.

"Where are you going?" you ask, setting the ripped letter to one side.

"Beacon," she says, her answer immediate. "It's - " she sighs, twisting a lock of hair around her finger. "Vale is very accepting of faunus."

"I'll go with you," you say.

"You don't have to. You can do whatever you want, Yatsu."

You don't have to go to Beacon, no, but you've accepted the inevitability that you will be going to one of the academies, and going with Velvet seems like the best option.

"I know. I want to go with you to Beacon," you say, sure of your course in life for the first time in a long time.


The hum of the airship under your feet is comforting, taking you the last stretch from Vale up to Beacon Academy properly.

But you find yourself not minding the separation so much - Velvet is pressed up against you as you watch the crowd of other students move around the ship.

Glynda Goodwitch - no doubt a professor at Beacon - gives a speech you only half-listen to.

The crowds shifted again, this time pushing against you - you had stood at the edge, away from people, but now that the windows were uncovered everyone wanted to see what was going on.

Velvet slipped away, murmuring half an apology. (You didn't blame her, honestly, you walked to the new edge of the crowd yourself, trying to remove yourself from the press of people.)

Admittedly, you're not paying the closest attention when suddenly she's back at your side, wide-eyed and barely containing her panic.

"Velvet?" you ask - gentle, so not to startle her.

"It's - " she gestures to two figures standing alone in the center of the airship, one of whom suddenly doubles over in laughter. You think you recognize her, though not her companion, as an Adel, and your anxiety spikes.

You know the Adels, like all of Remnant, and you're afraid of what it means for Velvet.

"What do you want me to do?" you ask, not sure if you can help.

She looks up at you, a vulnerability in her eyes you've not seen before. "Come with me?" she whispers.

You take her hand without a second thought, letting her lead you to them, grateful you can provide a little bit of comfort to her.

"Fox?" she asks as they approach the pair.

The way he cocks his head, not to get a better look at her but to hear her better gives you a moment's pause.

"Velvet?" he asks in return, like he's not sure it's her.

"I'm sorry - I just was startled."

You don't think the statement quite encompasses the issue, but it works.

"It's fine - I know Coco's something else. She doesn't bite though." His sunglasses make it hard to get a read on his expression, but you can tell he's standing stiffly.

Coco composes herself, standing up straight and extending her hand to both of you. "Hi Velvet, it's nice to meet you."

Velvet turns slightly to you. "This is my friend Yatsuhashi. Yatsu, these are Coco and Fox."

Fox extends his hand too, awkwardly off to one side, and you take it. "It's a pleasure to meet you both," you say, but it's a bitter lie. You're not sure what to make of Coco but you're cautious - she is an Adel after all.

"What brings you to Beacon?" Velvet asks.

Coco stiffens briefly. "It seemed like the best fit for the two of us. You?"

Your hands ball into fists. It had been a simple look at the numbers.

You'd had your choice of schools and friendly environments.

Velvet couldn't trust the citizens in Atlas, Vacuo or Mistral to accept her - not near as well as Vale.

"Same."


When you're 17 and working through initiation at Beacon, you meet Velvet Scarlatina on another battlefield.

This time, the arena is a forest - and the enemy is creatures of grimm.

Laughter draws you in again, but it's Velvet's this time and it's happy.

She's got a beautiful smile on her face as she meets your eyes over a dissolving pile of grimm, leaping at you and throwing her arms around your neck when you make eye contact. "Yatsu!"

You hug her tight - you'd both been worried that you wouldn't be partners - that finding each other would have been difficult and people would try to stop you.

You press forward towards the temple hopeful for how the rest of Beacon will go - and the next person you meet only reinforces that.

Velvet is off a bit trying to scout out which way to go when you hear someone cursing quietly over to one side, you head over to investigate.

You recognize your classmate from the airship - he's bleeding, which has you alarmed - had he already lost his aura? - and seems to be looking for something.

"Fox? Is everything all right?"

He doesn't look up at you, just nods and starts to check the wound on his shoulder. "I can't find my sunglasses."

"It's Yatsuhashi - from the airship. I'll help you find them," you say, unsure if he recognizes you. You start to look around the leaf litter - finding the twisted and useless frames some ways away.

"They got knocked off in battle - I got turned around and I'm not even sure which way is towards the temple and I don't even know if we've made eye contact," Fox says, voice a growl before you can tell him you found them.

Velvet walks up, ears twitching at the commotion. "Yatsu and I have already partnered up. Do you want to come with us?" she offers easily, taking your hand and squeezing it.

You don't mind - you don't want to leave anyone behind or alone in the forest if you can help it.

But Fox's face contorts into an angry snarl. "I can handle myself."

You're not quite sure what caused his rage, but Velvet takes it in stride.

"I know. We could use the help though."

Fox's shoulders slumped after a second. "I want to try to find Coco. Just keep an ear out for a gatling gun and a sailor's mouth."

You hide your wince and Velvet goes stiff beside you, but the three of you move forward regardless. You'll figure out what to do about Coco once you meet up, parting ways if needed.


The snap of a twig behind you is the only warning you get.

You jump and turn to see Coco Adel stalking towards you.

Someone else might have said she looked angry, but you can see the way her posture relaxes when she sees Fox, seemingly unaware of you and Velvet.

Your partner pulls you away as Coco approaches, giving them a moment of privacy.

You can't hear their conversation - but you watch as she gives him her sunglasses and cup his face to deliberately make eye contact that no one could deny.

After a quiet conversation, she turns to you and Velvet, her brown eyes seemingly looking through to your soul. "Do you want to travel together?"

You look to Velvet, who is still stiff beside you, her breath coming in short pants.

"Velvs?" you whisper. "We don't have to."

You think it's interesting that Coco had offered - you hadn't expected that from her.

"I know," she whispers back. "But I want to."

"It's up to you," you promise her. You have no stake in the matter either way - and when Velvet nods, you call back to the other two, accepting the generous offer to travel together.

If nothing else, it would be safer.


A pair of cards, styled after the four of hearts and embossed with braille to tell Fox the same, binds you together as team CFVY.

It had been a choice at the temple.

When the question had come up, Velvet had wanted a moment to talk with Coco about it. You watched, warily, as they had a quiet discussion, ending only when Velvet nodded, tense stance relaxing, and they took the matched cards before coming over to join you.

You relax and give Velvet a hug - you like your new teammates so far, but you know she has very different concerns than you do.

The illusion shatters for you, though, when Coco starts talking about training that weekend in the sparring ring.

Your mouth goes dry and you don't have any way of responding - you aren't sure you trust yourself with your new teammates.

So you keep quiet and busy yourself with unpacking.


You don't want to be afraid.

It's a thought that's plagued you ever since you became aware of how everyone perceived you - and ever since you realized that maybe they were right.

You want to be able to trust your teammates - trust yourself. You spar, willingly, but you hold back with the others. You don't let go - you don't dare - and you always ask to go three-on-one with them, knowing Velvet will keep you grounded - and is capable of taking you on on her own.

But you can't do it forever, and you know Coco wants the chance to take you on one-on-one.

And you relent - you promise yourself you'll hold back, but you relent and eventually take them both on individually.

Velvet always sits in on them and makes sure - you can always look over to her and remember you don't have to worry.

But then Velvet's away one day, caught up after class with Doctor Oobleck, and you go with Fox to the gym regardless. It feels reckless - but you do it anyway because you don't want to be afraid.

It is supposed to be a straight forward sparring match. Fox is eager, bouncing on the balls of his feet, practically begging you for the chance to spar - to go one on one with you.

And it was a trust exercise - a moment of believing your teammates can take your strength and won't break if you accidentally go too far.

Fox has always been cagey about how he'd gotten the scar on his face - even as hunters in training it's unusual - but you never push.

Coco never says anything either, even though the tight smile she has whenever Fox's scars came up told you she knew.

You try not to think about it most of the time - it doesn't matter, really.

It doesn't matter until you take a misstep and your sword - it was always too big too unwieldy - hit Fox directly.

It doesn't quite register at first - it'd happened with Velvet before, though rarely - it happens when you spar.

Training accidents happen, weapons meet flesh in ways they aren't supposed to.

What doesn't happen is the sudden burst of red liquid on dark skin.

The pained gasp as your sword meets his leg, tearing through flesh like it's paper.

His pants leg ripping open as you pulled your weapon away.

The blood dripping off the edge of your sword.

(You can't see the blood on his thigh, except for the angry red wound, seeping liquid onto the dark cloth of his pants.)

You let out an alarmed cry.

You drop your sword as Fox spins around to hit you.

You don't even try to block it - you take Fox's weapon to your face.

(If your aura had been drained, you likely would have lost an eye.)

When he turns full circle and realizes you've dropped your sword and aren’t fighting back, he stops.

Cocks his head.

You fall to your knees and stare up at him.

"Fox - " you choke out.

"Yatsu?" he asks.

You had earned that name, it had taken so long for him to call you Yatsu instead of Yatsuhashi and now it's like a slap to the face.

"You're bleeding."

It's such a simple statement - you sound almost calm, staring, transfixed at the bleeding line on Fox's leg.

He frowns and shakes his hand free of his weapon to feel the injury on his leg.

"It's already healing," he says, a wry smile crossing his face.

You flex your hands - you can't quite look away from the knitting flesh - or the thick scar your weapon is leaving behind.

You scramble for an explanation, pulling out your scroll - but Fox's aura isn't depleted.

"Yatsu?"

You stare at your sword, at the weapon that had injured your teammate, and the line of red blood on it.

You can't pick it back up.

"Yatsu, hey, are you okay?"

"No."

The word sounds distant - you're not quite hearing it right, but somehow you still manage to vocalize your discomfort.

"Yatsu, I'm okay," he says, reaching out to you.

You close your eyes - you weren't prepared for this.

"You're bleeding."

And he doesn't have a response for that - who could? He'd been trying to convince you he was fine and then suddenly you point out he's very much not fine.

"Yatsu," he says again, gently, so gently. The tenderness in his voice is tearing at your heart - it's everything you want to be and can't be. "I'm fine. It happens. It's - " he laughs. "I bleed, all the time. Tiniest hit and suddenly I'm bleeding all over the place."

You open your eyes and blink up at him. It - it happens?

Missteps happen.

You've hit Velvet before.

But this - this the blood and the damage and the injury - does not happen.

"You're scaring though," you say, opening your eyes and reaching out to brush your fingers across the rip in his pant leg. It's nothing more than a scar now, puffy and still red, though even the irritated skin is slowly fading back to its normal dark brown.

Fox's hand goes up to the scar across his lips. "It happens," he reassures you.

But you shake your head. "I did it though, it, it shouldn't have happened this time."

He starts to take off his weapons and then gloves - you automatically look away from the bared skin when he does, he doesn't like to be looked at, stared at, you know this, you've helped him with it before.

"Yatsu, look. It's okay," he says, like he knows you wouldn't look without express permission.

Carefully, slowly, you look.

And his skin is a mess of scars, criss-crossing his hands and arms. A distant part of you is surprised by how nimble he is despite the heavy scarring.

"I scar, every time. It doesn't matter what state my aura is in." He pauses. "I bleed every time. It happens."

You close your eyes and look away - Fox may have been willingly showing you but you also can't bring yourself to stare.

"It doesn't - " he starts, then pauses. "Yatsu, I promise, I'm fine."

His hands come down on your shoulders. "I didn't even notice you'd hit me," he admits.

You can't even imagine - but you also can't quite comprehend what kind of life Fox had led up until this point either. "You swear?" you ask, looking up at him.

"I swear," he promises, offering you a hand up.

You take it willingly, bending down to pick up your sword.

You're not quite ready to go back into the ring with him, but your hands don't shake when you clean the blood off your blade either.

Maybe it'll be okay.


The Vytal Festival Tournament.

You're not sure you want to participate, to put yourself out there in what's supposed to be a friendly sparring match. (You know how badly one of those can go and you still don't trust yourself.)

But you can't deny that Coco had made the right call - going into the tournament makes sense for you. Velvet wants photos for her weapon, and this is the easiest way to get them.

The four on four round goes as well as you expect - and you even find a few fans who want you to show off after the fight is over. (You happily do so, smiling when they laugh at your antics.)

But then Coco pulls you aside after you all get lunch.

"We need to talk about the two on two round," she says and your anxiety spikes.

"What about it?" you ask, though you suspect you know.

"Velvet doesn't have a weapon, not really," Coco says.

She's right. Velvet's weapon isn't for something like this.

"And Fox - he's good, but I know he's…" she sighs "not the greatest against unknown human opponents."

And even though he's been more willing to wear revealing clothes and ditched the sunglasses, you know the scars are a sore point for him, and they'd narrowly avoided him getting more in the first round, but there was no point in putting him out there for more.

"I know it's not what you want either." She sighs again.

You know what she's asking - would you be willing to do it anyway, for them? It's not an easy question, nor does it have an easy answer.

"I could honestly see if we can withdraw from the tournament at this point. Velvet got a bunch of photos already."

You shake your head. "I don't want to hurt anyone," you say, eyes closing. There's so much risk, and yet you can't ask Coco to withdraw just for you.

"I won't let you," she promises. "But I also won't make you do this."

But there's something in the way she's shifting, the way she's not quite meeting your gaze, that tells you it's more important to her than she's letting on.

"I'll do it," you say.

The bright smile you get in response tells you it was the right choice.


The first thing you ask when you wake up is "Are they okay?"

You don't remember.

You remember the fight - you remember Coco getting pulled away.

And you remember how angry you were, and you remember not thinking you needed to hold back.

You remember forgetting you're dangerous.

"Not even a scratch," Velvet reassures you, knowing you're asking after the other team. "Coco woke up about ten minutes ago. Are you okay?"

Your body aches, your ears are still ringing and you're not sure you can stand on your own.

Regardless you smile.

You didn't need Coco to prevent you from hurting the other combatants, no matter how hot your temper had burned.

You hadn't hurt them.

You weren't gentle.

But you weren't dangerous either.

"Never better."