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Such Sights are Bright

Chapter Text

August (Summer)



Amongst the chatter and slight chaos of the patrons of the airport, a small family bid their farewells as an announcement caught their ears.

‘This is the final boarding call for flight BGR213 to Columbus, final boarding call.’

“Oh, I’m gonna miss you, sis!”

“You’ll see me in a couple of months, Rubes. But, I’ll miss you more!”

“It’s more than a couple, Yang. Still, you better hurry or you’ll miss the plane!”

Yang nodded, agreeing with her father’s concern. Giving her little sister, Ruby, one last bear hug, she took in a shaky breath.

“I better scoot, then, eh? I love you guys,” she embraced her dad, the man trying to hide his sadness – and failing.

“Be safe, my sunny little dragon. I love you,” he sniffed.

“See you at Christmas!”

Taking in the sight of Taiyang and Ruby waving goodbye, looking like they missed her already, Yang hoisted her backpack over her shoulder entered the boarding gate for her flight, bound for Ohio.

Her new adventure awaited her, after all.

Drifting into a state of quiet fear, Yang let her feet and legs carry her through the gate and onto the plane, not fully processing the situation. She knew she was leaving everything she’d known for almost her whole life, but it was like it was yet to sink in. She sat in her seat – a window view – happy to have several hours to get used to everything.

Asking herself if she was truly happy with this decision, she knew that it seemed impulsive and foolhardy to her dad and sister. Even if they had planned this move sufficiently, it seemed sudden anyway. Why would a seventeen-year-old girl want to uproot herself to a different state just before her final year of high school? It was social suicide, especially since she was one of the most popular girls around.

It’s because Yang was sick of that little town and everybody in it (not Ruby though, and to a lesser extent, not her dad either). Nothing was a secret there. Judgement was grating on her nerves as she grew older and older and saw it more and more.

They all knew their family was a mess since Summer had died.

Taiyang had not taken the loss well – in fact, he took it very badly.

It was not the best situation for six-year-old Yang and four-year-old Ruby – so to say ever since she had died, it was to say that the last eleven years of their lives had been an uphill battle.

When their father had shut down, the townspeople had done their best to help them, but it wasn’t enough. They couldn’t be the mother they’d lost. The mother Ruby lost.

Yang did the only thing she could: become the best mother she could be. In turn, she sacrificed her childhood for Ruby’s – and she’d do it all again if she needed to. It wasn’t Ruby’s fault. As Ruby grew old enough for Yang to step out of that role, it was too late for her to regain all the time she had lost.

So, Yang made the most of the time she had.

She knew that her father had tried his best, but it wasn’t enough. He gradually improved over time, and by the time she was eleven, he took most of his fatherly duties much more seriously, giving her her chance.

To say that she was a bit of a problematic kid was an understatement – not that she was a brat or treated her father terribly, no. School became the best place for her to let out her frustrations and have fun. She never even tried to reach her potential, putting more effort into being ‘cool’ and having the times of her life.

The last couple of years especially, were a riot. Not even considering the future, Yang loved to party and loved to keep up an image. An image that rebelled against the picture of the poor girl the town thought she was – she wanted them to think she’d been unaffected.

It wasn’t their business, anyway.

The truth was, Yang had made a mess out of the life that lay ahead of her. She had only done the minimum to stay at a passing grade or to be able to do whatever sports her school had offered. It was easy to be athletic and not very book-smart.

The other truth was, after Summer had died, Taiyang told her she wasn’t actually her mother at all. That her mother was another woman named Raven, whom had a twin brother, that he and Summer had met and worked with in Canada before she was born.

Ever since that day, Yang had craved more knowledge about her true mother, something she investigated many times to little success. Her uncle began to visit them periodically, now that she knew about his existence. She knew that if her dad wouldn’t tell her about Raven, Qrow was the only other person she could ask.

Which had led her to this decision to move in with him in another state. Yang felt trapped in her life in her small town, partly by her own choices, partly that in another year, she’d have finished high school and have nowhere to go. Deep down, she recognised that she was probably too late to have a revelation such as that, and it was just a little bit ironic that she was late in growing up when she had had no choice at age six to mature rapidly.

Maybe being this screwed up was Taiyang’s fault. He’d shirked all responsibility on her, falling into a pathetic hole of alcohol dependence and ignoring his depression. A little kid shouldn’t have had to slap her father awake from a bender just to ask him to help out – which never worked anyway.

She shouldn’t have had to find him sitting at the kitchen table staring at a knife late at night. Too often she’d been shooed away, hearing him say goodnight, and wondering if when she woke, he’d be gone.

As much as he’d apologised when he had realised – with her help – that he needed to get it together, she’d still lord it over him when she felt petty. When he’d chastised her for something stupid, or tried and butt in on her life, she’d told him that he wasn’t there for her before and didn’t get to decide when he was now. ‘Wake up,’ she’d said, ‘you don’t get to play the dad card now.’

Yang would admit she felt accomplished when she’d told him what she wanted to do and he had responded, ‘Yang, I’ve never been able to hold you back, but not by choice. It’s time for me to be a man, and choose to not hold you back any longer. Be the person I know you can be.”

Because at that moment, she knew they could both move on from their past.


Landing in a new place was kind of nerve wracking, she thought. But this was what she wanted. She had made it another step closer to knowing where she’d come from.

Looking amongst the strange faces of a strange place, she looked for a sign of her pickup. It had been awhile since she’d seen him and Yang hoped he was still the old, grumpy faced man she remembered.

She spied a familiar ringed hand tip a familiar flask up to a familiar scruffy face, and smirked. He was the old grumpy faced alcoholic she remembered.

As Yang eagerly sidestepped travellers to her uncle, he screwed the lid back on the container that was likely filled with something strong enough to make her cringe.

Tucking his contraband back into his jacket, Qrow Branwen welcome his niece with open arms. “Hey, firecracker. Look at you, all big and strong.”

His gravelly tenor was a sound she had missed. “You know me,” her shoulders shrugged off the praise, despite the pride she felt that he’d noticed. Taiyang had been helping her develop the capacity to pursue her athletic hobbies – anything physical, Yang was down for.

“Come on kid, it’s a bit of a drive,” Qrow gestured for her to follow. “Hope you’re not disappointed with a normal car ride.”

Yang snorted shamelessly. “I’ll deal. Did Bumblebee make it here safe?”

Turning towards baggage claim, her uncle nodded, “Yep.  You named that death-trap after an insect?”

“Excuse me, I’ll have you know that my bike,” she paused, considering that he may have been accurate describing the motorcycle as a death-trap, “…is named after the coolest insect on the face of the Earth.”


Qrow had made an effort and drove through the most interesting route in Canton, Yang noting the well-known Pro Football Hall of Fame as the city’s pride and joy. She guessed she’s a Browns fan now – not like Maine had their own football team.

It was daunting to know this was now her home for at least the next year. Backing out part way through would be stupid – she came here gain some of the freedom back.

…and to learn more about her birth mother – her estranged birth mother.

She knew she looked a lot like her father, blonde hair, tall, with an affinity for the colour yellow. Yet Taiyang had always said she looked like her mom, which she only had one, old and lousy picture of. Her golden hair did not match her mother’s black, so she always figured that he was just saying that. He had never understood or agreed with her craving to know more about his first wife, Raven Branwen – it seemed her uncle was on her side.

He obviously saw that at age 17, Yang was sick of being given the little-kid treatment.  Otherwise, she didn’t see herself being here, in the twin-siblings’ hometown, living with him.


The car turned into a new street. “Yeah, yeah, we’re almost there,” he muttered.

“Not that. Just…thanks.”

She saw him crack a hint of a smile. “No problem,” they pulled into the drive of a small two story house. “Welcome home.”

He wasted no time in approaching the door to unlock it, as Yang pulled her bags from the trunk – since she was fully capable.

Passing through the threshold held somewhat of a weight for her. This was the Branwen’s family home. Her mother had lived here, at some point, long ago. It surprised her to see that the room towards the rear end of the house housed a lone upright piano. The walnut was weathered, clearly showing its age, dust coating the flat surfaces.

As she inspected the instrument, Qrow curiously observed from the doorframe. “I didn’t think you could play,” he stated.

“I can’t. I like sports, remember?” she laughed. “Judging by the dust, you can’t either.”

Qrow shook his head in agreement. “Not my style either. Family heirloom, or some crap.”

Yang lifted the cover and placed her fingers on the spotless keys, accidentally pressing a sour note when she heard, “Raven could,” from behind her.

She suddenly found herself disliking it.

“I’m gonna unpack,” she quickly exited the room and any further conversation about that. Funny, how this was what she wanted to know about, but she didn’t know if she’d enjoy finding it all out that much.

A low hum followed her. “Upstairs, first room on your right. Don’t worry, it’s as empty and impersonal as they get.”

Thank fuck for that.

Chapter Text

September (Fall)



The first Monday in September had arrived, and so had the schoolkids. The air was full of foggy puffs of breath, students making beelines to get indoors, away from the cooler than usual weather.

One girl shivered, thinking that it had to be now that the weather decided to take a colder turn. Her first day of school, and she had to worry about keeping warm on top of the typical teenager burdens.

There was no time better than the present, the saying went. She could argue that any other time than the morning was better, but since she had no choice, she made sure to pull her scarf over her mouth and look as uninteresting, and disinterested, as possible. Time to blend in.

She could do this!

…she couldn’t do this.

This was a completely new experience and she didn’t know what she was doing. Just because it was her first day of school, it didn’t mean it was for everyone else. These kids had been here for years, knew where everything was, knew what teachers were strict, knew it all.

But this was why she came to Canton. To have a better life, a new life. Getting lost in a high school was a small price to pay, and it was much better than what she was used to.

Luckily, she had at least received a class schedule before today, otherwise she’d be wondering what room exactly she was getting lost looking for. Depositing her bag and her scarf in her assigned locker, amongst the honestly annoyingly loud congregation of kids, she grabbed some supplies and tried to remember the vague map of the school she’d looked up yesterday.

It seemed that someone was looking down on her, because she easily found the room she needed before the first bell had rung.

Maybe she could do this.

Social studies, something she was very interested in, was her first class. With any more luck, it was going to be as good as she’d hoped it would be when she enrolled. Taking a seat in the front row, it upheld its reputation for being the least populated, as nobody else wanted to take a chance on it.

Trying to ignore the nagging voice in her head worrying the rest of the class probably thought she was a nerd, the second bell rang not long after the teacher made her way to the front. She looked kind of uptight, nodding to herself as she counted how many students were present, as if she was disappointed more hadn’t shown up. Do kids not show up in senior year? Was that really a thing, and not just in movies?

“Students, my name is Ms. Peach,” the teacher that she was just gossiping about in her own head addressed. “For the next forty minutes, we are going to cover what we’re going to be learning this semester, and the project you will be completing with one of your fellow classmates.”

Great. At least she’d make a friend - even if it was forced.

Ms. Peach took out what was assumedly a roll, and began calling out names at random for pairs. Not adhering to alphabetical order, she wondered when she’d be next.

The woman suddenly looked displeased, as the door opened, presumably a student not bothered on getting to class on time standing there. “You’re late,” the teacher scolded. Looks like she was one of the strict ones.

A reserved laugh. “Sorry-”

Peach simply raised a hand to silence whoever it was that had interrupted her routine. “Name?”

“Uh, Yang,” the girl said self-consciously, “Xiao Long.”

She refrained from turning her head to look, everybody else was probably staring, no need for her to add to that.

“Take a seat in the front row, Miss Xiao Long. You’ll see your partner for the class project was organised enough to arrive on time.”

Wait, what? She couldn’t have just gotten the only person in the class that was late on the first day as her partner. This was going to turn out horribly, wasn’t it?

She felt the gaze of Peach, who was looking at her with a small smile that lacked the harshness of the tone she had just used with Yang. “Perhaps Yang could learn something from you, Miss…?”

Of course! The teacher wanted her to guilt trip the unorganised oaf into at least trying. How does a seventeen-year-old get dragged into a plot like that by their teacher?

By being a pushover and letting them, that’s how.

Giving the teacher what they wanted, she answered the call. “Belladonna. Blake Belladonna.”


Once Ms. Peach had handed out a list of possible topics to each partnership, she detailed how each one was relevant to their studies and that the assignment was important for their grades. And that if anybody slacked off, there would be consequences.

Blake was relieved to hear that. Having someone that was apathetic enough to bring others’ grades down wasn’t her type of person.

The class was instructed to choose their topic by the end of the class, and to decide the format from the suggested list, and report it to Peach.

“So, Blake, right?” Yang nudged her as soon as they could talk. Finally allowing herself to give the attention the girl wanted, Blake turned and took in the sight of the person she’d already judged to be…not her sort of friend.

She didn’t know what she was expecting, but somehow, it felt like that Yang looked like exactly what every popular girl wanted to look like. She had already noticed the blonde hair that was not in short supply, but upon closer inspection the colour was almost golden. It appeared that she had gotten dressed in a hurry, or in the dark. Her dark plum flannel shirt was buttoned up unevenly, and despite the weather, easily showed…a lot of cleavage.

A lot. Girls were probably jealous of her. Blake realised she’d been silent for too long as a hand waved in front of her eyes. “My eyes are up here, but it’s nice to meet you,” the blonde snickered.

Well, that was assuming of her! “I wasn’t-” Blake sighed. “Your shirt is done up wrong,” she explained. Apparently, Yang was used to people staring at her breasts – not that Blake was.

Examining herself, Yang made a noise of surprise. “Huh. So it is!” Hands quickly began unbuttoning the offending article, because apparently you just take your shirt off in the middle of class?

Feeling panic descend upon her brain, unable to look away from what was unfolding in front her. This girl was going to get in trouble again. “What are you doing,” she felt herself whisper frantically, begging that Peach was oblivious to the situation.

The hands paused. Yang looked at her like she was crazy. She wasn’t the one undressing in public!

“It’s rude to stare, you know,” fingers resumed their work, the flannel opening further, “Relax, I’m wearing a tank top.”

So she was.

Admittedly, she felt stupid for worrying so much, and judging by the look on her partner’s face, it had been an overreaction.

Her mind working to brush off any embarrassment, Blake could only compete with something equally as jaunty. Fight fire with fire, right?

“Do you always greet people by taking off an article of clothing?”

Yang laughed again, this time not holding back under a peeved adult’s stare. She genuinely laughed, and Blake was the reason.

“Only the pretty ones,” she was teased back. Did that mean that Yang wasn’t offended?

If she laughed, that meant Blake was funny. If she could keep this up, she could potentially have a friend that was someone popular. That would mean fitting in. It didn’t hurt that the girl seemed friendly, as well.

Playing along, Blake let herself smile. She technically had been complimented. “Alright Casanova, you can stop now.”

Focusing on the task at hand, she read through the topics they were supposed to be discussing, noticing ‘discrimination in the modern day’.

Yang tapped her chin in thought, ignoring the effort to get started on their work. “Casanova? Ya know, I’m not Italian. ‘Yang Casanova’ doesn’t have a nice ring to it.”

“Oh, you’re telling me ‘Xiao Long’ isn’t European?” Blake replied sarcastically.

“Smartass. It’s Chinese, f-y-i. But ‘Belladonna’ is Italian, isn’t it?”

Giving credit where credit was due…Yang was correct; perhaps she wasn’t as bad as Blake had initially thought.

“Yes. It translates to ‘pretty woman’. But you already mentioned that.”

Grin on her face, Yang leaned over to read the topics as well. “At least it’s accurate. I’m not exactly a dragon like my name says. Uh, I mean, I’m not at all a dragon. Just a regular person.”

The girl straightened in her seat, backpedalling, “Not that it matters! Faunus are way cooler than us boring ol’ humans,” she then pointed at the topic that Blake had noted. “Racism isn’t cool. Especially in this day and age.”

The embodiment of ‘popular teenage girl’ sitting next to Blake was full of surprises. Friendly, non-discriminatory and outspoken.

“Would you like to do that topic? I was considering it anyway,” Blake enquired, pleased that she had found common ground.

Yang nodded her head enthusiastically, her bangs swaying in front of the oddest coloured eyes Blake had ever seen.

She could do this.


Having exchanged phone numbers as a recommendation from Ms. Peach, Blake wasn’t surprised to see that by lunchtime, Yang had already sent her a message. Not that she was complaining that someone wanted to be her friend, no. Blake was just curious as to why someone like her didn’t try and fit in with a clique.

Saved you a seat in the caf! We should get to know each other a bit better if we’re gonna be study buddies :P, the message read.

She had a point.

Blake grabbed her lunch, scanning the tables for the bright hair that could be seen from the sun itself. She found that her new friend was alone, but since it was only the first day, that was likely to change within the week. She herself had met some nice people in other classes.

It was almost reassuring how happy Yang looked when she joined her. Blake told herself to not get too attached, having experienced enough in life to know that good things never really lasted. But, feeling sad seemed almost criminal in a presence such as Yang’s; she had a strong exuberant vibe that was oddly charming. Probably a cool person thing.

“Hey, Blake!”

“Hi. How was the rest of your morning?”

Yang sipped at a strawberry flavoured soda. “Interesting. I’m managing, though,” she said, “to at least not be late again.”

Blake felt the need to ask, “Why were you late?”

“Couldn’t find the classroom, as stupid as it sounds,” she continued, “but, I’ve made one confirmed friend on my first day. Not bad.”

Blake hesitated as she lifted her fork to her mouth. First day? “You’re…new here?”

Yang sounded an affirmative. “How did you not know that?” the blonde pointed her own fork accusatorily towards her. “You’d notice a new kid in senior year.”

Two new kids getting stuck with each other, probably hoping the other was going to save them from any embarrassments they might have run into.

Feeling sheepish, Blake laughed. “Not if you’re new yourself. I think we’re in the same boat.”

“No kidding!”

She wished she was. They were getting to know each other, alright.

“Where’re you from, Blake?”

Telling her backstory, however ambiguously, to a person she’d met only a few hours ago? No, Yang had called her her friend. It’d be fine.

“Not far away, actually. I grew up in a small village called Bolivar in Tuscarawas County. Most interesting thing was the Erie Canal and an ice-cream shop. I knew any other place would be better.”

The girl opposite shrugged, taking a mouthful of food and speaking, crumbs falling down her still open overshirt. “Yeah, pretend I don’t know what any of that means?”

“It’s less than a half hour away, Yang. You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Nope,” more crumbs. She swallowed. “Actually, I wasn’t even born in America, if you really wanna know.”

Blake guessed based on her name. “China?”

“Nope again. Closer than that, have another guess!” she said in a sing-song voice.

“If you think I’m going to keep guessing, you’d be wrong,” Blake advised, mimicking her.

Yang huffed in pretend annoyance, rolling her eyes. “Fine. Montreal.”

That didn’t seem right. “You don’t sound Canadian?”

“Just because I was born there, doesn’t mean I was raised there.” Yang winked. “Moved to Maine when I was two, been there ever since.”

“So why move to another state at such a crucial time in your education?”

“I have my reasons,” was the cryptic reply. “You did the same thing, didn’t you? What’s the point?”

Blake returned her own wink. “I have my reasons.”

“You’re a feisty one, aren’t ya? Oh well. I’ll find out eventually!”

Sounds like she intended to keep being Blake’s friend. This girl was making it easy to like her.

“So, why Ohio? Do you have family here, or?”

Yang finished off her lunch and soda, clearly a ravenous eater, not caring who stared as she crushed the aluminium can. “Yeah, my uncle’s from here. Meh, long story,” she moved on, not leaving any room for interruption. “What do you do for fun? Like, hobbies. And what’s there to do ‘round these parts?”

“I like to read.” Blake set to finishing her own meal, distracting herself from the fact that now the questions were slightly more personal.

“That’s cool.”

“You don’t think it’s boring?” Most people thought she was a loner due to her love of books.

“Psh, nah. I read stories to my little sister every night, I came to appreciate how a story can let you get away from the real world for a while.”

Feeling more than satisfied with that answer, Blake couldn’t argue. She wondered what it would have been like to have a big sister read to her when she was younger. It sounded nice.

She smiled. “That’s sweet of you. Your sister sounds like a lucky girl.”

“She would probably disagree with you right now. She was a bit peeved that I left her in Maine with dad.”

Yang appeared down revealing that, Blake guessing that they were very close, felt the need to reassure her. “But you had your reasons to come here, I’m sure she doesn’t resent the fact?”

“You’re right. Ruby doesn’t have a resentful bone in her body.”

She checked the time. Lunch was almost over, and the conversation hadn’t been difficult at all.

“You’re a good listener, Blake. I’m used to people talking about me, mostly behind my back, judging me.”

She had judged her, but Yang didn’t need to know that, not when Blake had been entirely wrong. “You’re more than meets the eye.”


Yang had texted Blake, asking her to meet her in the parking lot after their last class. She enjoyed the other girl’s company more than she’d ever anticipated, and was beginning to think she’d maybe been hanging out with the wrong kind of people her whole life. Nice and quiet, versus two-faced? She knew which one she preferred.

Having instructed her friend to look for a yellow, orange and black motorbike, Yang leant upon her pride and joy – Bumblebee – as students walked past trying to subtly stare at her. Obviously, she noticed them looking – she hadn’t expected that just because she was in a different state that people wouldn’t leer at her. The way she dressed, it was bound to elicit that behaviour. Not that she was happy or accepting of that, but she didn’t let anybody’s reactions or opinions dictate the way she wanted to dress. Her outfit had been pretty tame today, simple black jeans that were undeniably tight (but she was proud of her figure, so why not), a plain white tank top and her favourite purple-y red flannel shirt.

It was probably the fact that the flannel wasn’t done up and was showing her considerably ample chest that had attracted the eyes of boys and even girls. Girls such as Blake, even if she’d denied it. Maybe she swung that way, who knows? She basically agreed to do their social studies project on discrimination as soon as Yang had brought it up, and had taken her natural flirting on with ease. It was racism she was talking about at the time, but homophobia totally counted as discrimination. Yang had nothing against anybody, really. This was something that she should tell Blake, just in case-

“You weren’t joking about the bike. It’s really yellow.” An amused Blake had magically appeared beside her, frightening her. It sounded like she wasn’t impressed with the colour of the motorbike.

Holding her hand over her rapidly beating heart, Yang gave the silent walker a look of incredulity. “Jeez, what are you, a ninja? And you say that like it’s a bad thing. Yellow is the best colour.”

“I prefer black,” Blake said as she ran her hands over the paintwork she’d just made fun of. It was an impressive machine.

“It’s got black and yellow. I happen to think that’s a perfect colour scheme for Bumblebee.”

“I’m going to ignore that you just called it an affectionate name. What’d you want me to meet you here for?”

Right, there was a reason. Yang was a bit nervous about having an educational commitment to somebody, and hammering out any details regarding their joint project was a good way to ease that concern. “I wanted to let you know that I plan on joining the football team, so you wouldn’t be surprised when I tell you I can’t work on the social studies assignment at certain times.”

“The football team? Will they let a female on it?”

Blake looked sceptical. Yang wasn’t worried in the slightest. “They’ll be begging me to join! If I’m good at anything, it’s physical activity.”

“Well, if you want to. I hope you make it,” the girl clad in black said, offering a kind smile. The sun had decided to show up in the afternoon, following the cold morning and shining bright light to make up for it. In the rays, Blake looked lively, even with her dark clothing, and Yang was grateful that a good person had found their way into her life. If only she’d figured out sooner that there were people like her she could have been friends with all this time.

“Thanks! Do you…like football?” She asked, hoping they had other things than books in common.

Blake appeared contemplative as she tucked a lock of black hair behind her ear. “Does anybody in Ohio? Stuck with a team like the Cleveland Browns? It wasn’t a huge priority to me, but it’s not the worst sport in the world.”

Yang bumped her shoulder jovially. “Ah, it can’t be that bad. Plus, if I’m playing, you should like it! You could try out for cheer squad, you look fit enough for that.”

The other girl visibly cringed. “No thanks. I’m not the cheering type. I could probably find something I’m good at, if you’re that desperate for me to be there.” Because putting herself out there was a good thing.

“I’m soooo desperate for you to witness the greatness that is me playing sports!”

“I’ll look into it, Yang. Was that all you wanted to tell me?”

“I was also wondering how we’re gonna work on the project. My uncle’s house is nice and quiet, unless you want me to come to your place?”

“Uh, no, that sounds perfect. I like quiet.” Blake seemed a little off.

“You sure?”

“Positive. I should go now,” Blake suddenly was eager to get going.

Yang had no idea if she had been keeping her from something, but there wasn’t much she could do now. “Sorry, I didn’t know you had to be somewhere. I’d give you a lift,” she gestured to Bumblebee, “but I’m on a temp permit.”

“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t have accepted. I’d prefer to not die horribly,” Blake stepped away. “See you tomorrow?”

Why did everybody think her baby was unsafe? Once she was allowed, Yang was going to make her ride it. She chuckled. “Yeah, sure. See ya, Blake!”


A week later, things were going well for the two new students of Beacon high. Coincidentally, they had met two other new students that took a liking to them. They figured it was because they were boys, but they were very friendly.

Sun Wukong and Neptune Vasilias had transferred from Texas, having been childhood friends, and stuck to each other like glue. They both joined the football team, meeting Yang who had successfully made it on the team irrespective of her gender.

The three were playing their first game, and Blake was there to cheer them on – from the sidelines. She’d been able to find a use for her talents, working behind the scenes to set up the sound for the stadium. Responsible for making sure Beacon hosted a great football game, she was sitting at the soundboard, doing what she’d been told to do. Check speakers, play the touchdown song, blah blah, make sure it all worked. Lame, but easy. Plus, Yang, Sun and Neptune appreciated having some music while they had fun before they were to prepare for the match.

She was gladly watching the three athletes muck around with each other on the grass. Sun was a goofy kind of guy, always looking to have some fun, usually dragging Neptune into it. She attributed it to him being a monkey Faunus, knowing he wouldn’t mind (he always talked about how great bananas were). He also was partly Chinese, like Yang, and blonde. It was uncanny how similar they were. They both apparently had taken multiple martial arts classes, fist bumping when they agreed that karate, even though it was Japanese, was their favourite.

Blake had stuck in an old Weezer CD, receiving a thumbs up from Neptune and several other players warming up, one of them even signing along. Ignoring the autumnal weather, they easily all nodded along to the song about having fun in the sun. Checking that the volume controls indeed worked, she saw Yang and Sun were leisurely doing karate, playfully sparring and laughing as Neptune pretended to referee.

She began to make her way over to them, letting the song and the CD play as she took a break. She had completed her tasks anyway, it wouldn’t hurt.

“Hey, emo kid,” she was greeted, knowing only one person that would call her that.

“Mr. Branwen.”

He sighed. “I told you already, Qrow is fine. You make me feel a million years old.”

When she had gone to his home a few days ago to study with Yang, he’d been clear on two things. Don’t call him mister, and that Blake’s sense of fashion was totally emo. Then he had left them to their own devices, obviously not used to having teenagers in his presence.

“Qrow,” Blake corrected herself. “I assume you’re here to watch Yang.”

“I was gonna wait till it started, but I heard this old song and wondered why the hell it was playing when it is clearly cold. Then I saw you and I knew.” He shrugged at the irony of it.

“This state’s much better in the Summer. Still, beats Maine, or Canada. Yang’s never been bothered by the cold, though.”

Blake laughed, recalling the day they met. “I noticed that. She hasn’t been wearing all that much, and I’m inclined to hate her just a little bit for it.”

As they walked, she found he was much friendlier to her now. Maybe Yang had mentioned something to him, but she was happier for it.

“Hey, who’s this dude?” Sun noticed their approach, having not met Yang’s uncle, and was distracted.

Yang landed a hit on him, rolling her eyes. “Just some dusty old crow,” she teased.

“I’m this idiot’s uncle. And I’m not old.”

“Qrow, this is Sun and Neptune, my teammates. Guys, meet my uncle Qrow.”

The boys shook the man’s hand in turns. “You kids like football huh? We should all go to a Browns game and be collectively disappointed,” he offered, making an effort to be chummy with his niece’s friends.

“Are they seriously that bad?” Yang laughed, having heard people insult the team again and again.

Qrow dipped his head. “Let’s just say the Cuyahoga river’s caught fire more times than the Browns have been in a Superbowl.”

Blake snorted, finding the analogy perfect. “It’s not hard to beat zero,” she said, everybody chuckling along like she was a comedian.

“Alright, screw the Browns. Once it gets hot, we can go experience the peak of Sandusky summertime.”

Yang turned to her uncle, not understanding what he was referring to. “Huh?”

Knowing that the park was something quintessential to any tourist in Ohio, Blake piped up to educate her. “The Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, less than an hour away. Big rollercoasters. It’s practically on the water of Lake Erie, Yang.”

The bubbly girl looked enthralled at the mere idea. “Well shit, I’m in!”

Qrow let a rare smile grace his features. He had to admit, he was glad he could give Yang a proper experience while she was with him. She often had a smile on her face, looking much more radiant lately than she ever had back in Maine. He could feel her joy sometimes; it was fascinating that his gloomy sister was her mother.

Except that it was hard to reflect somebody you didn’t know.

“Hey, me and Nep are gonna go get ready,” Sun informed them.

“I’ll catch up,” Yang gave a small nod as they departed. “What’re you smiling at?”

Qrow placed his hand on her shoulder, feeling almost paternal. “Ohio’s been good for you, firecracker.”

“There’s nothing better than knowing where you come from,” she replied, obviously referring to her search for all things Raven.

“Kick some butt.” Qrow nodded and set off for the bleachers, having given some sort of good luck to Yang.

Blake uncharacteristically giggled, trying to hide it under her hand and failing. “Nice nickname, firecracker.”

“Don’t laugh at me!”

Ignoring the demand, Blake continued right on laughing. “Why does he call you that?”

“Obviously because I’m hot,” she bragged, flexing her arms, “and I have a short temper, Blake.”

The noirette, still amused, wasn’t bothered at the mention of a temper and took an opportunity to tease. “Do you make a big noise when you explode, too?”

Yang smiled deviously, taking her opportunity for a good innuendo. “Get me into bed and you’ll find out!”

Blake shut up immediately, blushing profusely and trying not to think hard about what Yang had implied. She groaned, irritated. “You’re incorrigible.”

“You started it. But I gotta go,” Yang dismissed her complaint easily. She swept a hand across her chest as she backed away. “Try not to picture all this naked, ya pervert.”

“I resent that claim!” Blake shouted. That girl needed to get her head out of the gutter. It was kind of funny though. She could admit that Yang had a very quick wit when it came to humour, whether it was dirty or not. At least it wasn’t toilet humour. Sun had bad fart jokes.

She returned to the music that had played itself out, removing the disc and leaving everything as it was. Luckily, someone else had the job of all sound operation during the game, so at least she could watch her friends. Making sure to bundle up in her coat and scarf, she tightened the silken bow upon her head in case the wind picked up tonight.

People had begun to arrive, carrying and wearing anything Beacon Bulldogs related they could, or other school’s colours. It wasn’t the first game, but the crowd was nonetheless buzzing as they filled the stands. It was almost remarkable that a high school game of football attracted this many patrons, but, being a town with a football hall of fame, it must have its dedicated fans. It didn’t hurt that they got to play on the turf there, either.

Blake took a seat next to Yang’s uncle, sitting in companionable silence between idle chit chat. He appreciated it as much as she did, for which she was grateful. She prepared herself for an eventful hour.


As the clock ran down, the Bulldogs fans chanted in celebration. They'd won, just barely. Not feeling particularly proud, the team exited the field with a few high fives. Blake had left the stands to congratulate her friends, but found them looking disappointed – Sun in particular.

She was surprised, since the three had executed the play that secured the win. Yang had blown a hole in the opposition’s defence line; somehow managing to knock over two guys at once, allowing Neptune to cover Sun as they ran as fast as their legs could take them to the scoring zone.

They removed their helmets, faces shining with sweat, not feeling the low temperature like Blake was. She made a mental note to tease Yang about the braids she’d put her hair in. In fact, her whole ensemble was a sight to behold. The shoulder pads and other bodily protection made her appear much bulkier, yet also intimidating. The girl had demonstrated her strength playing as a tight end, blocking like a maniac, despite her stature being smaller than most of the players.

They did win, so she acknowledged that. “Why the long faces? You all did amazing!”

Yang let out a scoff. “No thanks to the QB, Cardin. He's a jerk and a racist,” she muttered.

Neptune nodded in affirmation, placing his gloved hand on his best friend’s shoulder, who was clearly offended at what had transpired, his monkey tail swaying behind him as he grunted. “He wouldn’t throw the ball to me, even though it was the right thing to do for the team!”

Blake felt terribly for him. For them all. They had to take direction from a snobby kid that put his own dumb opinions first. “He’ll have to live with the fact that you three were responsible for winning and not him. I was very impressed, if that makes you guys feel any better.”

The teammates shared smiles, appreciating the praise. Blake took a step back, having realised they all had worked very hard, and smelled like it too. “But please, go take a shower.” She pinched her nose to block their scents.

Sun laughed heartily, doing what he was told. Yang’s face scrunched in protest. “I’m not showering with any of them! Imagine that…on second thought, don’t imagine that.”

“I agree,” Neptune shuddered, uncomfortable.

“At least one of you is sane. Let’s go get this gear off, Nep.”

Blake waited for her friends to return. Turns out there was a lot of waiting around that she hadn’t been aware of, but she didn’t mind it that much. That’s what you did for friends.

Qrow moseyed over. He drank from a flask, which she hadn’t seen him do all night. Or had she just not noticed, being enthralled by the game?

“That was exciting, huh?” he asked, like he knew what she was thinking. The man was very observant and aware, not alluding to his calm and distance façade.

“The best game I’ve ever watched. Not that there’s much competition.”

“Thanks for taking an interest in her…hobbies. She hardly shuts up about how great you are, but I’m just relieved you’re not half as crazy as that monkey boy. Otherwise Yang’d be back into old habits.”

He did not elaborate further. Blake wondered what exactly that meant, but felt it wasn’t right to pry. It was true that her new friend liked to talk, especially about things she liked.

“She hardly shuts up regardless.”

“What was that, Blake?”

Blake jumped almost a foot in the air, feeling her heart skip more than a few beats when the topic of conversation herself whispered in her ear, having successfully snuck up on her – somehow.

Yang and Qrow shared a high five as Blake gave them both glares. “Told you she scares easily,” her friend said, earning herself a hard shove. “You need a ride, Blake?”

The girl in question shook her head no. “I’ve got a bus pass,” she patted her pocket for emphasis. “But thank you.”

“No, thank you, for coming. But it was fun, right?” Yang grinned.

“As you said, I would witness greatness. You’re good.”

“Damn right I am! Talk to you later,” she tightly embraced Blake before she could protest, either forgetting she stank, or not caring.

The smaller girl struggled to get away. “Get off me! Yang, gross!”

Chapter Text

 October (Fall)



“How’s your Yang-less life treatin’ ya? I’d say how’s it Yangin’ but…”

Her younger sister let out a small whine, sending a scowl even Yang could fear through the video call. “I don’t like it.”

Yang felt bad, she truly did. But Ruby had relied on her for so long, she had to get out into her own world, no matter how much she thought she didn’t like it. It’s not like Yang was the best role model these days.

“You just started your sophomore year! Aren’t you excited?” she asked, hoping to learn how her kid-sister had been coping without her.

“A new girl did transfer in from Germany. I bumped into her on the first day and she lost her mind!”

Yang tried to picture a foreign girl ranting and raving in a native language over something so minor. “Was it funny?”

“Not at the time. Turns out she was angry because she isn’t a senior, even if she’s your age. Because of the differences between here and her country, or something…” she trailed off, becoming distracted.

That sounded shit, if she was honest. But, Ruby was such a nice girl, she assumed that even an annoyed person would appreciate her kindness – if it was offered.


Ruby chuckled like she always used to when she was caught stealing cookies. “She pretends to not like me, but I think we’re friends now.”

She was relieved to hear that the girl hadn’t been a bully to her baby sis. Otherwise she’d have to consider going back just to teach her a lesson. But Ruby could handle people better than she could, no matter how much people thought the opposite. Sure, she had a certain charm, but good looks only get you so far when you’re prone to punching people.

“Way to go! See, you don’t even need me!” she encouraged. She was trying to hammer home the fact, because Ruby needed to hear it from her if she was going to even begin believe it.

“That’s not the point, Yang,” her sister deflected, still not happy. She had her famous pout going, arms crossed, just like Yang herself had done many times before. Little copycat.

The older girl did her best to resist that kind of manipulation. She’d raised Ruby for years and wasn’t about to forget it. “I know it’s not, but my point is you’re managing fine. And, it’s not that long ‘till you guys are comin’ to visit! I’ll make cookies!”

That seemed to cheer her sibling up. Ruby couldn’t resist an offer of cookies. Just like Summer used to bake.

“Fine, only if you make cookies,” the brunette pointed at the screen for added effect, changing the subject herself. “What about you? Made a million friends?”

Yang counted all the people she had met and befriended. There was Blake, Sun and Neptune – Ruby already knew of them. She described to Ruby the other people that she’d met – there was Nora, a hyperactive cheerleader that was a hoot to hang around. There was Ren, Nora’s not-boyfriend; Jaune, the football team’s waterboy; and Pyrrha, who was way too cool to hang out with Jaune but did anyway. She was suspicious that Pyrrha had a huge crush on him, but whatever. Those four had been friends for years. The best part was, they were all like Blake. Friendly and appreciative of the good people, and unappreciative of people like Cardin Winchester.

He was still ruining their hopes at winning matches, which reminded her that their game later was going to be another loss. Since her first match, she and Sun and Neptune hadn’t been able to make any great plays to make up for it.

A concerned voice broke her out of her thoughts. “Yang? What’s wrong?”

“Don’t worry, just football stuff. QB’s still not playing ball with Sun,” she frowned, “pun not intended.”

Optimistic as ever, Ruby suggested she try and be nice and convince him to do the right thing. The only thing she could do was try.

“I’ll let you know how I go. Maybe we won’t lose…I should go.”

She was given a thumbs up. “Good luck Yang! Love you,” Ruby said.

“Love you too, sis.”

The window on the screen went black as the video call was ended. Yang caught her face in the reflection of the screen. As much as she was enjoying herself, it hadn’t been all smooth-sailing. Blake had been wanting her to work on her part of the project, but, if football games weren’t getting in the way, she just wasn’t doing it. And Blake wasn’t pleased with her avoiding the subject, not one bit. Yang just wasn’t that good at concentrating on school stuff, and when she’d admitted that, her friend had offered to help her improve. She was coming over after the game that evening so they could work together – work better.

Or so Yang hoped.

By the time she and Qrow arrived at the field, the matter of the social studies assignment had been put on her mental backburner. As much as she had a commitment to that, she also had a commitment to the team – mostly Sun. He was her friend, and he was being treated unfairly, and she wouldn’t stand for that.

The coach had noticed their crappy performances, but not the cause. He was making their pre-game discussions and preparations more intense, demanding everybody show up earlier to make up for it. Either he was insanely stupid to miss what was happening, or insanely racist, just like Cardin.

Yang was beginning to think it was the latter.


By half time, Beacon was losing yet again. Cardin wasn’t changing, not even in the face of defeat. Yang’s anger decided that he would change, even if she had to bear a conversation with someone she loathed. Walking off the field, she looked up at the stands, a sea of disappointed supporters amidst elated faces of the cheering opposition crowd. Even the cheering squad; with powerhouse in pep Nora Valkyrie, couldn’t perk them up. The girls in skirts were trying to mask their pessimism, but they couldn’t fool somebody who was really looking. Removing her helmet, she gratefully took the proffered water from a concerned Jaune. “Thanks, Jaune. Pretty miserable out here tonight, ain’t it?”

The boy, with a mop of blonde hair that reminded her of her dad, nodded. He handed more water out to passing players. “I wish I could do something,” he muttered, not out of earshot.

“It’s not your responsibility.”

Maybe it wasn’t hers either. But she had to talk to Cardin right now. It had gone on long enough.

Up in the bleachers, Qrow was not unaware of his niece approaching the elitist Quarterback. Yang had informed him many times of the dumb-asshole-rich-kid that didn’t like Sun just because he had a tail. He had some idea of how this situation could end up, and if he was being honest, he wasn’t going to do anything to stop it happening. Kid deserved to be knocked down a peg, he bitterly thought.

“What’s she doing?” He heard Blake say. The girl beside him stood up, trying to get a better view.

In his head, Qrow was debating whether or not he could bet with himself as to how long it would take for the talking to turn into fighting. He’d sat through multiple disappointing football games, and convinced himself it was one hundred percent not his fault if the snobby prick got his ass handed to him.

Apparently, down on the grass, most of the people had noticed Yang stomp over to Cardin. The cheer squad was being as nonchalant as they could, watching the only female on the team confront the guy…that nobody truly liked.

Sun and Neptune observed hopefully.

Blake surveyed the scene.

Qrow silently wagered it’d be a minute before shit hit the proverbial fan.

“Cardin, I need to talk to you,” Yang attempted to hold the bite in her tone. Getting what she wanted peacefully wasn’t out of the question yet.

She was much smaller in stature compared to him, as he glanced down at her, a slimy smile on his ugly face. “Have you quit playing hard to get?”

Yang completely ignored his question, resisting the urge to shudder. “If you don’t start passing the damn ball to Sun, our team will be a laughing stock,” she reasoned, even though he was likely too egotistical to care about what cost his bigotry came at.

“Oh, you’re standing up for that animal, I see,” he sneered, “you’re only doing this because you like him.”

Growing exasperated as he dribbled on, she did a double take. “Excuse me?”

“Listen. You’re too perfect to be wasted on a dirty beast like that. Tell you what. Ditch him, we could be a great couple. If I’ve got you, I might contemplate passing to the monkey.”

Yang couldn’t believe he was trying to ask her out. If that even counted as asking somebody out. She didn’t even like Sun that way! This guy is seriously braindead, a voice in her head shouted. “Are you serious?”

Cardin laughed. It was a horrible sound – pompous and haughty. He entered her personal space, and she could feel his warm breath on her face. “You know you want me,” he said, as she felt a hand grope her butt. Behind her, she was sure she heard Nora make a gagging noise, and recognised a faint gasp that could only be Jaune.

As much as she wanted to deck her assaulter right then, she kept her calm and pushed his arm away. Turning to Nora and the squad, she pointed at them, “You guys saw that, right?”
Receiving only nods, Yang couldn’t help but smirk. If she had witnesses, she’d be fine. Mostly.

Blake was in disbelief. Cardin had felt Yang up! Her stomach dropped as she wondered if her friend had let him, as a means of persuasion.

Qrow sighed as he stood to join her. “What an idiot.”

“What do you m-”

Yang had twisted back from the cheerleaders and slugged Cardin right in the face, the crowd’s gasps answering Blake’s unfinished question.

The boy stumbled backwards and tripped over a bench, crying out in pain. Not deterred by his fall, he recovered and pushed past the coach, who was attempting to calm his star player.

Yang, having her back to him, hadn’t seen him get up. She hadn’t expected him to, but partly was backing off to avoid making things any worse than they were.

“You bitch!”

Too late did her reaction come, because before she could defend herself, she was treated to a knuckle sandwich of her own. Catching a distinct crunch over the murmuring patrons, her head whipped to the side, and then came the sensation of blood starting to pour out her nose.

He had gotten her good, but it became clear that he wasn’t averse to hitting girls, especially those that had embarrassed him. As soon as she had gathered her bearings, he’d clocked her left eye not unlike she had done to him moments before. The coach and several players scrambled to pull Cardin back. Yang wiped her mouth with her forearm, smearing sticky, hot blood along it, as Sun and Neptune arrived to pull her back.

“I will RUIN you!” the QB roared from behind a wall of bodies, as Qrow arrived with Blake in tow. The older man cut through, grabbing a fistful of shirt as the beefy teenager tried to shove him.

Scarlet eyes narrowed. “You better pipe down you snot-nosed punk!”

“She hit me first!”

“No,” Qrow retorted lowly, “you lay your hand on her first, and I’m willing to bet there’s at least ten eyewitnesses that’ll say Yang was acting in self-defence.”

Cardin was not to be easily swayed. “Says who, you?”

“Yeah, me. I think an ex-cop would know, don’t you?”

His complexion fading only the slightest at the revelation, Cardin knew he was cornered. His only option was to give up, but he wanted the last word. “I’m not playing with that she-beast and her mangy boyfriend!” He yelled, and stalked away as soon as he was released.

Qrow shrugged at the coach that shot him a look that said this is your fault. “Get someone else to play. He was why your team sucks.”

Meanwhile, Yang’s friends had been fussing over her leaking face. Well, mostly Blake. Sun was saying how awesome the fight was, Neptune was trying not to faint because there was so much blood.

“Guys! Here,” Jaune once again produced water, Blake taking the bottle, only to have her hand halted by Yang’s scuffed knuckles.

She tried to voice her protests, but the hand held steady. “No point. Still bleeding,” she sputtered through the stream.

Nora had hurried over and was bouncing around Sun, the two repeatedly exclaiming how hilarious it was that Cardin had hit the deck like a sack of bricks, and Yang had taken two hits and hadn’t even faltered.

The crowd had grown restless, calling for the game to continue. The fight was over, and now they needed entertainment once again. The whistle blew, the referee calling to their coach to play on or forfeit.

Having successfully removed Cardin, they had a shot. Yang couldn’t play right now, but the rest of them could. “Go! You don’t need me!”

The boys left her with a pat on the back and a fistbump, running out with their reserve Quarterback.

Her uncle stood watching silently, but Yang knew he wasn’t mad at her. He’d defended her, after all. Then there was Blake. She, however, was wearing a look that could only be described as calmly freaked out. Oxymoronic, yes, but Yang could tell just by the look in those amber eyes.

Yang tried to lift the tense mood that had blanketed them. “And that’s why Qrow calls me firecracker,” she joked. Blake did not find it funny.

“I can’t believe you. Getting assaulted and then cracking jokes.”

“Please, it’s nothing I can’t handle. I’ve had worse,” she said as slender fingers cupped her jaw. Inspecting Yang’s nose, Blake carefully tipped the water over it, the bleeding having ceased over the last minute.

“Your crooked nose says otherwise, firecracker.”

Lifting her jersey, she used the hem to wipe at her face, clearing the metallic taste off her lips and chin. Smiling to herself as Blake’s eyes focused on her uncovered stomach for a second before quickly looking away, she gave her a wink when her gaze was finally met. “It was crooked before. But you probably noticed that with how much you stare.”

With a huff, her friend crossed her arms defiantly, not engaging with the taunt. Which to Yang, meant she was the victor of their banter.

Resisting the chastising look she was getting, she played innocent. “I’m gonna get the medic to fix this,” Yang thumbed over her shoulder towards the direction of the guy that should have already attended to her, but had been busy coddling Cardin until he stormed off once again.

Blake tracked the retreating figure keenly, but couldn’t watch as the man set Yang’s nose back into place, a curse reaching her ears instead. Only now she noticed that there was quietly enraged adult bickering with Qrow – likely Cardin’s father. If what Yang’s uncle had said was true, everybody would just move on and sweep the short brawl under the rug. She wasn’t pleased that there was a boy that was essentially getting away with sexual assault, even if it was minor.

She also hadn’t noticed that the Bulldogs were scoring – now that there weren’t any racist interferences, until Yang returned looking sore but proud, telling her to look at how Sun was whooping and hugging Neptune. Which reminded Blake of something.

“Is what Cardin said true? You and Sun?”

Taking the small icepack – she must have gotten it from the medic – away from her eye, Yang didn’t falter in her response, as surprised as she was that Blake even had to ask. “Hell no. Apparently, you have to be fuc-”

Stopping mid-sentence, she made a noise of regret, deciding against her choice of words. “Like a guy to stand up for him. Or not want to go on a date with somebody.”

Blake contemplated. Yang hadn’t done it because she and Sun were dating, nor had she done it because she had a crush on him. Why had she let guard down, even though she was fully capable in self-defence? “Then why’d you do it? You got hurt, Yang.”

Beneath her shoulder pads, the girl heaved a sigh, eyes wistfully following her Faunus friends’ tail as he ran downfield. “Somebody had to. If Sun had brought it up, it wouldn’t have ended well, you and I both know that.”

There was regret in her tone. Sun’s bully would have only twisted the situation to place the blame on the person he despised.

“Neptune was going to, but I knew if anybody had a chance of persuading a jock only interested in his ego, it’d be the girl everybody notices for her physical appearance,” Yang said, clearly referring to herself, a sad smile gracing her beaten face. “But, mostly I did it because Sun deserves to be treated better than that. I’d gladly take a punch or two for him to escape prejudice.”

If there was a word to described how she was feeling, Blake didn’t have it in her vocabulary. That was one of the most honest, selfless and kind-hearted things she’d ever heard a human say about a Faunus. If Yang wasn’t covered in blood and sweat, she’d have hugged her. “Then you’re a good person,” was all she managed to get out, but she couldn’t help but feel that it didn’t quite cover what she thought.

“That depends on who you ask,” Yang replied cryptically. “Before you say I’m a good person, there’s probably some things you should know about me.”


The car ride back to Qrow’s house was quiet, save for the low static of evening radio that had been called upon to fill the silence. With their best efforts, the Bulldogs had not been able to secure a win, but, they had almost closed the gap in scores. For that, everyone was happy.

But, Blake honestly didn’t know how to take what Yang had said to her. It was the first time since the blonde walked in late and been assigned as her partner that she was doubtful. She didn’t know what to think. What kind of things should she know? What was she going to be told?

She tried to keep her imagination in check. Surely, it wasn’t going to be anything bad…the last thing she wanted was to have made friends with another person that broke her trust.

As the three of them followed Qrow into the house, the man headed straight for the kitchen. The clinking of a glass and the distinct sound of a lid being unscrewed was all that filled the silence that seemed to have trailed them from the car. Deciding that that was best left unmentioned for now, Yang tugged Blake upstairs and into her bedroom.

“Do you mind if I take a shower first?” Yang queried, finally seeing her appearance in a mirror. Taking in her bruised nose and eye, she moaned. Quite dramatically, if you asked Blake. “Shit, look at my face! Tell me I’m still beautiful!”

Not letting her doubts show, Blake begrudgingly reassured her complaining friend. “You’re the most beautiful.”

Tilting her head in review of the answer, Yang sighed. “You’re lying. But okay, fine. Make yourself at home,” she said as she removed the loose sweatshirt she’d put on after her removing the bloody uniform back at the field, taking effort to avoid her injuries. That girl had no shame.

Picking up a few things, Yang went to the bathroom, again scrutinizing her face. So maybe she had lied when she said she’d had worse. Cardin was a pretty huge dude, and it hadn’t helped that she’d been completely unprepared. Gingerly touching her nose, she knew it’d just cause more pain to try and clean her face without the utmost care. Ruby was the one that had always helped her out when it came to things she couldn’t mend herself…

A guilty face popped back into the room not a minute after Blake had been left alone. “Blake? I kinda need your help cleaning this blood off properly.”

Face unreadable, the girl spoke apprehensively, trying to find an excuse not to. “Can’t your uncle do it?”

“This requires…a delicate touch. He couldn’t manage it even if he wasn’t perpetually drunk.”

A dark eyebrow raised at her reasoning. “Are you saying he’s an alcoholic?”

“Eh, semantics. Please, though. I’ll do anything you want!” Yang offered, hoping she could at least bribe Blake to assist. Having not thought of the implications, she grew worried as Blake stood up and sashayed towards her, a predatory glint in appraising eyes.


Yang was not sure what exactly had come over her, but she was thinking it was: one, probably not appropriate; two, very gay; and three, totally and completely inappropriate. And all because her friend, her best friend, had said a simple word.

And she could only respond with a simple word of her own. “Yes?” Though it wasn’t very convincing, coming out more as a question than an answer. This was fine. It was just a passing moment. She’d have to be blind to not think that Blake was very attractive – that didn’t mean she was attracted to her. There was a difference, people!

In a flash, Blake was back to…normal. “I want you to promise you’ll work diligently on our social studies assignment.”

Visibly relieved, Yang nodded instantly. “I promise!”

“That’s a much saner and not-gay request than I was thinking,” she mumbled to herself, when Blake had already gone into the bathroom. She had only promised to work on their project like she should have already been doing. She was lucky that Blake was willing to help her and not leave her to suffer the wrath of Ms. Peach – that lady did not like Yang.

Catching up to her now waiting helper, Yang prepared a warm and wet washcloth and handed it to Blake, who set to work. Leaning against the counter, she let her eyes close, finding it increasingly hard to look Blake in the face without feeling shame about what had come over her before. Especially when she was trapped between Blake and the sink, knowing that if this was a scene from a romance book or TV show, things wouldn’t be so platonic – because this was platonic, and nothing else.

Internally shaking all her current thoughts from her head, Yang took a deep breath and let her senses concentrate on the soft cloth being gently pressed against her face. Though the process wasn’t fast, it was done without any agitation, which she could be thankful for.

A voice cut through her peace, Blake being satisfied she’d done a good job. “There. All clean.”

“I didn’t feel a thing, you’re the best! Don’t tell Ruby I said that,” Yang said, taking back the grimy material from Blake’s outstretched hand. “I’ll wash the rest of me myself. Unless you wanna help with that too?”

Facepalming, Blake huffed. “For the love of...just hurry up, Yang.”

Shaking her head, Blake quickly slipped out the room.

“It was just a question!” A question she had just let slip out, the words forming before she’d had a chance to tell herself to stop hitting on Blake when she didn’t mean it.


After a thorough scolding from Blake when Yang had walked back into the room in just a towel, she finally re-entered after having opted to leave the room lest the towel miraculously fall away before Yang got dressed. The dark-haired girl’s nervousness returned with a vengeance when she joined Yang, settling down on the bed.

Still wary of what she might hear, she got the conversation started just so they could get it over with. “So, what things should I know about you?”

“First, I want you to know that I haven’t been in any fights as bad as tonight’s. I lied.” Clearly, Blake’s voice had lacked confidence, if Yang was already defending herself – albeit in a roundabout way.

“I never went into that conversation with the intention of using violence to get what I wanted, and I also never intended to use myself or my body as an incentive. It just so happened that Cardin provoked me to hit him by trying to get himself a date and a handful of ass.”

Blake had never seen her friend this serious. Granted, she’d only known her for just over a month, but still. She was also relieved that her earlier apprehension had been misplaced.

“But when you told me that I was good…I just can’t let you say that unless you know the real me, or at least who I’ve been. I left home because my life was a mess, and I hated the image I spent years creating. Thing about this place is, I’m looking for something. Well, someone.”

Seeing no major reaction from Blake, Yang continued. “You see, my mom vanished on the job when I was six. Her name was Summer Rose, and she and dad used to be cops. They never found out what happened to her. I don’t think Ruby even realised what was really going on, but dad, he was overwhelmed with grief. He shut down, leaving me with a four-year-old to care for,” this did garner a reaction in Blake, her mouth opening in slight shock. “I always resented the fact, until I learned why he couldn’t handle it.

“Everything started in Montreal. Dad and Summer did investigative type stuff, and took on a case there. They got teamed up with Qrow and his twin sister Raven, who lived there at the time. After it was all said and done, dad had fallen for my mother, not long after they had little baby me on the way. But it wasn’t Summer dad fell in love with, it was Raven. And she left us right after I was born.”

Yang sounded so bitter. She spat her birthmother’s name with venom, such disdain, that it didn’t even sound like the Yang Blake knew.

“Dad was devastated, and Qrow came back here after it all fell apart. Summer brought my father back home, which eventuated into our happy ever after when they rebuilt together and had Ruby two years after me,” the girl visibly slumped, sighing sadly. “But as you know, that happiness didn’t last.”

Trying to consolidate Yang’s story, Blake put together the pieces. “You came here to look for Raven.”

Yang nodded. “I wanted to get away. It seemed like the perfect place.”

So she wanted to leave, and had the perfect place to escape to, but also had an ulterior motive…

Blake could see how difficult Yang’s childhood would have been, but failed to see what exactly her story had to do with everything. Taking Yang’s hand in her own, she squeezed it supportively, trying to convey her sympathy. “Yang, I’m sorry that happened to you…but wanting to leave doesn’t make you a bad person.”

Yang squeezed back, but her hand retreated soon after. “I agree. But it’s everything else that I did that might, Blake.”

“I gave up my childhood to raise Ruby, because our dad couldn’t. Even though the people in our town tried to help, they couldn’t be Summer. I couldn’t either, but I sure as hell tried. While he was moping around and drinking until he couldn’t stand? I cooked and read Ruby bedtime stories. When I couldn’t rouse him from a hangover or stop him thinking about taking his own life? There was nobody caring for me. It took five years for dad to finally pick himself up, and I tried to make up for the time I’d lost.

“I am everything that I bet you thought I was the second I walked into your life. A party girl that only cared about being popular and looking good,” Blake winced, and Yang knew that she was right, that that’s what Blake had assumed she was. “And you had every right to think that! I hated the pity party everybody threw for our family every day of my life, so I became obnoxiously confident and disobedient to prove to them that I was better than the sad little girl they thought I was. I had every kid in town jealous of my cool rebellious personality,” she said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

“The last couple years all I did was drink and do things I regret with people I don’t like. In a way, I gave them my life, let them mould me.  That’s just another way of saying peer pressure gets to us all, though. What did it matter if we were all having fun, our hearts beating fast, and doing dumb shit once night fell? How many times I passed out on somebody else’s lawn and didn’t wake ‘till the sun came up, just trying to cover up how sad I really was,” Yang confessed, voice cracking and wavering.

Blake couldn’t imagine being their age, younger even, and partying until you were inhibited enough to just fall asleep outside. In that area; freezing cold in winter, it would have been dangerous, right? Not having any regard for her health or her safety, Yang slept like a homeless person when she had a bed that was a luxury homeless people could only dream of. It did seem like Yang knew she had made an error in acting like an ungrateful bum, though, otherwise she wouldn’t have been pouring her heart out like it was about to break from the guilt weighing it down. As much as Yang had embodied the type of person Blake loathed to be associated with, underneath it all was just as much of a girl that had a less than preferable upbringing. Only until too late had Yang realised that…and it was that similarity to herself that Blake found hardest to accept. She hadn’t lost two moms like Yang, but she knew that the way she grew up had ended up being bad for her future, and so she too had left it behind.

“But last year, I came to a crossroads,” Yang’s voice tore her away from her thoughts, not having finished her story. “I realised, fuck, I’m supposed to be graduating and I’ve only got passing grades and fake popularity to my name! I started to finally hear everything my friends had been saying behind my back, and for the first time in years I cried myself to sleep. And it’s pathetic, because I’m saying this like it’s a sob story that I didn’t write myself.”

“Yang, please,” she spoke, lilac eyes catching her own in a fixed gaze. “I understand, and I don’t blame you. Maybe you made some mistakes, maybe you didn’t do all the right things. But everyone makes mistakes. It’s what you do to try and fix them that matters to me, and you did a wonderful thing for Sun.” She knew Yang shouldn’t blame herself for the things she had done; her behaviour was warranted; she had hardly been raised to act any better. People with better childhoods had done worse.

Yang couldn’t stop the liberation she felt from revealing her feelings, nor the happiness from Blake’s kind words. But it still wasn’t enough to be convinced. “I feel like even though I’m tryin’ really hard, I still can’t do things right…maybe if I had spoken to Cardin differently, it wouldn’t have ended like it did.”

Society these days was always victim-blaming, and Blake couldn’t stand it. “It was Cardin who was doing the wrong thing. Don’t you dare feel guilty about him trying to take advantage of you, so help me, Yang,” she said hotly, her frustration beginning to show.

“Alright, alright,” Yang acquiesced at her insistence. “Sometimes I think you’re too nice to me. I haven’t known you for long, and I kinda barely know anything about you. Yet you’re still the best friend I’ve ever had.”

Blake could easily say the same about Yang – well, she knew a lot more about her now. The girl was barely the person she’d described herself to be anymore. She had a feeling that Yang was a good person all along, but hadn’t been able to see it after all her hardship. Blake just wasn’t ready, or prepared, to reveal her own issues to someone she’d known for such a short time.

“I don’t like to talk about my past, but there’s things I should tell you. Just…not yet.”

Detecting it was a sensitive topic for her, Yang nodded easily. “Whenever you’re ready, I’ll listen.”

Blake felt lucky that Yang was patient enough; it didn’t seem fair that she’d gotten so much personal information for nothing in return. “You’re too nice too,” she said, shuffling over to Yang to embrace her. “I wanted to do this earlier, after you said you helped Sun because he deserved better. You just had too much blood on you.”

Returning the hug, Yang chuckled. “Fair enough.”

Pulling away, Blake kept her arms around Yang’s neck. “This one’s for everything else.”

As she was hugged again, this time, it felt more like a cozy, comforting, cuddle to Yang. She trusted Blake like she trusted her own sister, and it was almost like if she closed her eyes, she was back home.

“Aw, Blakey,” she uttered, instinctively going into bear-hug mode – the bear-hug Ruby always claimed was bad for her health with how much force was applied. A small squeak was her cue to let go.

Taking in a breath, Blake coughed from the sheer affection – whether it was the physical squeezing or the emotion, she wasn’t sure. But she was sure of something else. “I’m not accepting ‘Blakey’ as a nickname.”

“I’d like to see you stop me from using it,” Yang stuck her tongue out childishly.

Before she could even register the words coming out of her mouth, Blake retorted, “Put that tongue back in your mouth unless you plan on using it,” unable to stop herself from finishing her sentence, she blushed furiously. “Oh my God! I’ve spent too much time around you!” She pointed at Yang, who was barely containing herself in hilarity.

“I’m forgetting that ever happened! Let’s get to work on that assignment right now.”

Recovering from her giggles, Yang sheepishly looked away. “You mean start the assignment…”

“You haven’t even started?”

Blake sounded pissed off now. Yang knew that she had dropped the ball with this, but hadn’t been able to admit it to her yet, not when the girl hadn’t learned about her past. “This is what I was worried about! I haven’t tried with my schoolwork in years, and now, I’m letting you down! I always get so distracted with the football, and the fun things!”

Blake addressed her sternly, formulating an idea that could help whip her friend into academic ship-shape. All she had to do was get Yang to agree. “If we’re gonna get it done, you need to commit to it, Yang.”

“I can’t commit when I don’t know if I can,” she said, “that’s unfair to you.”

“Then I’ll help you break out of your bad habits. What you have to do is say a definitive goodbye to your old life.”

The blonde seemed unsure, a pensive expression on her features. “That sounds great, but how?”

Taking her own moment to ponder the how, Blake came out swinging with everything that she could think of, hoping Yang would take something and run with it. “Anything we can do for you to feel some sort of closure. One last time, you act like a rebel. We can take the bus, go anywhere in town, do something stupid. We could fall asleep on the ground with the sounds of nature, if you wanted,” she paused, as Yang began to slyly grin, a tiny spark in her eyes.

“I want it. I want all of that, and I wanna remember doing all that dumb shit with you. A moment good enough I could frame it. But I think it needs one final touch.” Blake gestured for her to go on, and Yang waggled her finger in denial. “Nuh uh, this one’s a surprise!”

“I’m starting to think you’re liking this a bit too much,” Blake replied sarcastically, giving Yang her moment. By the end of the month, she’d have a fully committed partner – it was a bonus that she could also help Yang start a new chapter.

Yang enthusiastically jumped up, the whole bed moving in her wake. “You have no idea!”


A week before Halloween, Yang was taking Blake somewhere in town. Though it had been her suggestion to go out and do something, Yang had taken the reins and told her she had the perfect place in mind, despite Blake’s assumption that the girl new to town wouldn’t have a clue about where to go. They had also taken the bus – at Blake’s insistence – as she knew Yang wasn’t allowed to take passengers on her motorbike. Not that Blake wanted to be on that beast of a machine anyway.

Blake felt out of place, sitting on public transport in a ‘hot’ outfit – that was at Yang’s insistence – in the evening. When she’d shown up on Qrow’s doorstep, the door had swung open to reveal Yang dressed as what only could be described as quite literally the definition of hot young woman. Blake almost envied the way Yang’s skin hugging black pants only served to emphasise her long and well-toned legs. Underneath a brown leather jacket that was stylishly asymmetrical looked to be something orange, and she had tall leather boots to match.

Blake always felt she looked plain, and Qrow had said she dressed in a lot of black…yet there Yang was, making the same kind of pants Blake wore look amazing. Though her own pants were a dark purple hue, they were also trendily tight, and her black boots were also tall, enough to bring her eye to eye with Yang. She decided that since it was still cold, she wouldn’t need to take off her white vinyl jacket that hid a cropped black top.  Blake had always wanted to wear this somewhat revealing item, but never had the guts to – either she was inspired by Yang, or knew that the possibility that it was going to be shown was small. Or both. It’s not that she didn’t own clothes that were complimentary to her body, it’s just that she preferred to not bring attention to it.

But it only served to boost her self-esteem when Yang had taken in her white, purple and black ensemble, finally telling her, damn, you’re drop dead gorgeous. And Blake believed her.

Beside her, the blonde was almost wiggling in her seat, all her energy directed into her knees that couldn’t stop bouncing. It was funny how a simple thing had made Yang this happy. All Blake had done was agree to do some ‘stupid’ things, that she’d probably never done before herself.

It’d be an experience to say the least.

She felt an elbow nudge into her arm repeatedly, Yang leaning over and speaking in an excited whisper, “Almost there Blakey!” To her dismay, the nickname had stuck. It was painfully obvious that she could indeed do nothing to stop Yang using it.

“Can you please refrain from calling me that in public?”

Grinning like a madwoman, Yang threw an arm around her shoulders. “Fine, fine. Tonight, you get to be grownup, hot yet mysterious, Blake Belladonna!”

That sounded awfully suggestive. “What do you mean by that?”

Springing up from the seats, Yang prepared to disembark as the bus came to a stop. “You’ll find out a minute!”

Joining Yang before she lost the very spirited girl, they stepped down to the sidewalk. Hauled across the pavement, Blake finally got what had made Yang so…crazy. Taking in the signage, in all its glory before them was Ozpin’s Bar.

“No. No way.”

“We’re doing something stupid Blake, gotta break a few rules,” Yang gleefully said.

As Yang continued to drag her, they passed the short waiting line of people, and Blake could only focus on not tripping over. “This isn’t breaking rules, this is breaking the law! We won’t get in there anyway.”

The doorman looked up from checking a patrons’ ID to the two underage girls, Blake instantly recognising his face. “Welcome to Ozpin’s, ladies. Don’t cause any trouble now, ya hear?” He greeted, ushering them both in the door without a fuss. As they walked further into the halls, the music grew louder. It wasn’t obnoxious, bass-heavy beats, but rather more tame and alternative.

Yang spoke in Blake’s ear to combat the ambiance. “Don’t worry, Qrow is good friends with the owner. He won’t get in trouble and neither will we!”

Yang’s uncle was an ex-cop and had no issue letting them in. But maybe letting her choose their activity hadn’t been the best idea.

Finding that Ozpin’s wasn’t a nightclub, Blake felt slightly less worried about enjoying herself here. Apart from the crippling anxiety from being a kid in a bar, of course. It had dim lighting, but it created a warm atmosphere, and wood mixed with steel gave the walls a modern look. There was a bar situated at the back, away from the floor where many people swayed to the music.

“This is so my scene! You gotta dance with me, Blake!”

Dance? No way. “You can drag me here but you cannot make me dance.”

Not able to get Blake to change her mind with a pout, Yang opted for a more…conventional method. “Let’s see what a few drinks can do to you then!”

“Only if you’re paying for them!” Blake shouted as they passed the dancefloor, willing to accept a free drink if that meant she could avoid busting a move with Yang, who probably had great dancing skills.

Laughing, Yang unzipped her jacket. Underneath, not unlike Blake’s own, was a tank top that showed off a reasonable amount of stomach. And cleavage. “Who said I’ll have to pay to get ‘em?”

Seeing where she was going with her display, Blake, feeling particularly daring, also unzipped her jacket. “We can double our efforts.” Her crop top was much more liberal in displaying all that she had to offer, only completely covering her breasts, leaving a lot more skin on show than Yang.

Although Yang had clearly distinct abdominal muscles and a larger bust size, Blake had stunned her. She hadn’t even imagined what Blake had been wearing, but now, again, she was convinced she might be just a little gay. Picking her jaw up off the floor, Yang tried not to stare. “Wow, um, wow,” she babbled, not coming up with anything remotely complimentary. “You…I think you tripled our efforts.”

Taking in flustered Yang, Blake started to understand why her friend enjoyed teasing so much. It was fun, and there was certain feeling of triumph. “Stare any more and I’m gonna have to start charging you.”

Yang however, took her words in stride, fist pumping. “Yes!” Pointing at Blake, she seemed rather approving of Blake’s attitude. “I love it when you’re feisty!”

Following Yang’s lead, they both sauntered over to the bar, hovering around, pretending to be contemplative for a few minutes. Apparently, fortune favoured the brave, because it wasn’t long before the bartender was waving them over, informing them that a multitude of people wanted to pay for whatever they wanted to drink.

Yang listed off a very fruity sounding cocktail and gave an order for Blake, starting her off with something she promised tasted better than it sounded. As she was handed hers, Blake wondered what exactly it was, but liked the way the orange and red liquid resembled a majestic sunset.

“One Sex on the Beach for you, one Strawberry Sunrise for me!”

Blake deadpanned. “Really?”

“Yeah, like I said, don’t knock it till ya try it!”

Taking a sip, she found that Yang was telling the truth. “Sex on the beach sounds good until you get sand in places it shouldn’t be. Good thing that has the nice taste without the sand,” Yang explained, having already downed her whole glass.

Agreeing with the statement, Blake scrunched her face up at the mere thought of sand down there. It sounded painful. “I hope you’re not talking from experience, Yang.”

“Thankfully I’m not,” Yang replied, turning back to get a refill. The glass came back with something new in it, Yang mentioning that her favourite sweet drink was barely alcoholic at all.

After a few generous customers at Ozpin’s had satisfied their thirst, they began to feel the buzz of the alcohol. Blake had said that was enough for them, and Yang was inclined to agree. She got a bit out of hand when she got drunk, and Qrow had only allowed them entry on the condition that they stay out of trouble. It just so happened that Blake’s first drinking experience hit her just a bit more than it did Yang after the last drink was gone, with the girl donning a drunk smile Yang knew she’d worn too many times herself.

Unperturbed in her state of mind, Blake had lost her usual reserved demeanour, her eyes wondering down Yang’s body several times. Shrugging coyly every time she was caught didn’t prevent her from doing it every few minutes, like she had amnesia, or maybe she just didn’t care. Yang snorted to herself as she did recall that when they met, Blake stared at her chest. Perhaps her friend did swing for the other team, or both – not that it mattered. She could respect that Blake wasn’t afraid to let her guard down, acting without subtlety. She figured that Blake probably just thought her abs looked good – because they did – and felt some friendly jealousy. Yang was in no way unhappy with herself, but she could admit Blake had an ass that she just couldn’t compare to.

Feeling that it would be beneficial and totally not selfish to see Blake flaunt her stuff, she guided her over to the dancefloor. As she made to weave through the people, Blake tugged, refusing to venture further. Her lips mouthed too loud, drunkenly missing her ears and gesturing way above her head.

Fine with staying on the edge of the fray, Yang took Blake’s hands and started to swing along to the beat of the music, to coax her into the rhythm. “Show me your moves, Blake!” She laughed.

As the bodies around them bumped into Blake, she clung to Yang’s open jacket, trying not to fall. She clearly had lost her footing as Yang was pulled down a bit, using her strength to bring Blake to her body and haul her to her feet. “I got you, don’t worry,” she steadied her friend as she regained her balance.

Eventually, Blake found a rhythm – it wasn’t the one of the music, but her own, and Yang went with that. Every time Blake’s eyes found hers, she made a stupid face, each time eliciting more and more snickers. It surprised her that nobody had approached them tonight, looking for something more than just a pretty face and body to give drinks to. In the end, it was probably better that way. It wasn’t her fault if the reason might have been that people assumed they were there together.

Yeah, it was better that way.

Finally, at midnight, Qrow’s shift ended and he found them still rocking along inside. Having sobered up slightly, the girls felt tiredness creep up on them and were happy to follow him as he finished up and they exited into the alley. The black-haired girl was nodding off in the backseat as soon as they got into the car, and Yang was unable to keep her happiness off her face.

“Looks like you had a good time then,” her uncle noted quietly, “I didn’t think you’d be able to get a girl like her to have fun your way.”

“I think she enjoyed letting loose for one night. She caught on quick too.”

He chuckled. “You’re welcome. But don’t ever tell anybody that I helped.”

“Don’t get all good cop, bad cop on me,” she joked, “but seriously, thanks. Again.”

As they rolled down the street, Yang saw the moon, big and bright. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A perfect way to end the night, she thought.

Once they were home, a sleepy Blake leant on her as they walked through the house and out the back door. Her uncle gave her a few blankets bidding them goodnight and mumbling about how kids were weird as they walked out into the grass.

Laying a picnic blanket down, Yang then settled on it, and Blake processed what was happening. “We’re actually doing the ground thing?” She yawned, just accepting it for what it was and laying down too. There was a blanket and Yang was warm – it’d suffice.

Yang tucked them under the fleece and tossed the edge over their heads as Blake cosied up to her, no doubt trying to steal her body heat.
“Tonight was fun. I can see why you like to do that stuff, it’s kind of liberating.”

“Exactly. Feeling free is one of my vices. I’m glad you liked it too,” Yang said, sensing herself starting to drift off. An owl hooted nearby, and she felt Blake jolt, the reaction scaring her more than the owl had.

Blake pressed a bit closer. “If that bird tries to eat us it’s your fault. And if it gets too cold, you’re carrying me inside.”

Yang took that as a fair request, relaxing into the soft cushion that thick grass provided. “I’ll protect you from the scary bird, Blake. Goodnight.”

Blake’s soft reply came as she fell into her slumber. “G’night.”

Chapter Text

November (Fall)



The cold weather that had lasted since the beginning of fall had grown worse as winter approached. Although it was only the first week of the month, it seemed like they were going to be in for even more chills in December. Not that this really bothered Yang, no; it was Blake that was increasingly grumpy about it. Blake was thrilled when her athletic friends played their last game for the year, for she no longer had to attend and endure her torture (as she’d put it).

It became increasingly obvious that Blake had a particular disdain for being cold, after Yang had been woken in the early hours of the night that they had slept out on the lawn after their trip to Ozpin’s bar. Blake had claimed she’d turned into a popsicle, and demanded to go inside lest she get hypothermia and die. Yang, being very grateful of her friend entertaining her hijinks all night, had repaid her by swaddling her in blankets and carrying her all the way inside, to the bedroom. She would admit that it hadn’t been all that bad when Blake had snuggled up to get warm.

The problem Yang was now met with wasn’t to do with Blake at all – because everything was great with her. They’d been making good progress as friends and with their assignment.

She had been home from school for ten minutes, yet before she could even sit down to relax, there was a concerning whining coming from the front stoop. The rain had only begun to fall as she brought Bumblebee to a stop in the garage, but it was now pouring, the droplets hitting the pavement making the pitter patter more akin to elephants parading down the street.

Her problem was this: there was a small shivering black cat wailing its little lungs out just outside the front door, pleading for its escape from the torrent of rain. As the smell of the saturated trees hit Yang’s nose, so did the smell of garbage. Dark fur glossy, golden eyes wide, the cat immediately darted inside and rubbed Yang’s leg as thanks. Even though it’d wiped its stink on her jeans, she couldn’t resist letting the feline stay as it purred. In her opinion, it needed to be washed. She knew cats could groom themselves, but this one smelt like it’d been in a dumpster.

Gingerly scooping it up, she pulled out her phone to send a message to Qrow who just so happened to be grocery shopping right that minute. It was lucky for the little rascal that they had every means to take care of it until they could figure out if it belonged to anybody. Requesting food, cat shampoo and appropriate bathroom arrangements, she then carried the cat upstairs to the bathtub. Hopefully it would like warm water and not cause a big fuss.

Not long after she’d been able to settle it into a shallow bath and brush out its medium-length hair, her uncle had returned and handed off the much-needed shampoo.

“That furball is your responsibility, got it?”

Yang gently massaged the cleanser with her fingertips into the cat’s fur. It seemed to enjoy the heat it was now getting from the water and was cooperative with her efforts. “I’m only keeping it until I can find out where it came from. It’s kinda cute though,” Yang said as it meowed up at the man standing over the tub.

Qrow gave a noncommittal grunt. “I thought your favourite colour was yellow.”

“It is yellow,” Yang then used a cloth to wash its head, mindful to not get water in its ears. “Why?”

“You keep bringing home things in black,” he teased.

Taking a second, Yang then let out an indignant scoff as she caught onto his game. “Blake is not a thing. And I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Qrow might not be a social person, but he wasn’t blind – he assumed Yang would stop raving after the first few months about her new friends. She had made quite a few, but the kid wouldn’t shut up about Blake. Like it was all she thought about.

And yet, Yang didn’t see something in her that Qrow had. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what, but that girl was hiding something. Yang was so fixated on her that she hadn’t bothered to find more information out about Raven. And he couldn’t quite tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Oblivious to the actual implications of what he’d said, Qrow easily redirected the conversation. “You should ask her to help you deal with the cat. Since you say she’s so great.”

“Now that’s an idea! I’ll invite her over right now,” she wiped her hands dry and typed out a message, deliberately leaving out the part about her new friend. That was a surprise. Making sure the cat had been freed of its bad odour, she wrapped it in a towel and let the bath drain.

“There. Now you’re cuddle-worthy.”

After a thorough drying, the cat was once more pleased to be warmed up, as she carried it back downstairs to feed it – it being a him. She was pretty sure it was a boy, anyway. Blake had replied that she didn’t want to go out in the rain unless necessary, so Yang promised it was worthwhile and that she’d cook her dinner.

Blake gave in.

As the cat dug into his meal, Yang made sure to set up a litter box before deciding to get changed. Her clothes had absorbed some of the dumpster smell. “Don’t scratch anything up while I’m gone. Be a good boy.” The cat meowed back, and Yang hoped that meant he understood her. When she returned, to her relief, he was using the litterbox. “You’re a housecat, then. No wonder you’ve been so easy to take care of.” Which was clearly a good thing. It would be perfect if she took it to a vet or something tomorrow, and they’d find a microchip and be able to get the cat back home. Yang thought that his collar must have fallen off and his smell had made him appear a stray to anyone that might have seen him.

Again Yang was thanked with a leg rub as he let out a rumble of happiness. Unable to resist such an adorable thing, she picked him up and took a seat on the couch in the front room. He kneaded her legs before curling up. She gave him a rub on his smooth ears, which he seemed to enjoy. Content to wait until Blake turned up, she tried to brainstorm a temporary name for her temporary pet.

This however, proved to be harder than it sounded. No name she could come up with fit the calm-natured cutie. Name after name that popped into her head was rejected as the minutes passed, until she was distracted by said cat as he stretched and slowly padded over to the window that looked upon the street outside. Curiously, he jumped onto the sill and slid behind the privacy curtain, tail hanging down as it flicked back and forth.

Her own curiosity piqued, Yang also rose to look out the window. “Whatcha lookin’ at bud?” The question was pointless, but as her view outside widened, she found something outside staring at the cat.

Well, more like someone.


Eager to get out of the rain, Blake had hurried down the sidewalk taking care not to slip in any puddles. The umbrella she was using was holding up, but if the downpour from earlier returned, she feared she may just have to kill Yang for getting her into it. Coming up on the front lawn that she had frequented more often than not these days, she noticed something odd before she could take refuge under the awning at the front door.

There, in the front window, was a black cat. But they didn’t own a cat – Yang had even said she was more of a dog person, her family owned a dog and she missed him. The cat was staring at her, she was sure if it, and something compelled her to stare right back. Admittedly, she felt stupid doing so, which increased tenfold when Yang appeared at the front door, leaning on the frame with a questioning look on her face.

Blake hurried over and took shelter, closing the umbrella and forgetting the cat’s stare in her embarrassment. “Where did you get a cat?” she asked as she was ushered inside, her coat being taken and hung as Yang explained.

“After I got home, he was just crying on the front stoop, all wet and smelly! I think he’s just lost. I’ve been trying to think of what to call him until I can return him to his owner.” The subject of conversation appeared at their feet, sitting behind Yang and peeking up at the visitor. Again Blake felt its eyes on her, but tried to ignore it.

“Cats don’t just get lost, they know their way home. The rain must have hindered him, which I understand. And by that I mean, you got me to come out in that weather just for a lost cat?”

Yang rolled her eyes at Blake’s complaining. “You get a free meal out of it! I’m a great cook.”

“You better be.”

“Don’t be so grumpy!” Yang laughed, picking up the cat and cuddling him. “Look, he’s adorable!”

As the feline was held up in front of her, Blake had the opportunity to finally see him completely. Shiny black fur covered his body, with white dashed on his front toes and chin. Pointy ears stood tall on his head, and his eyes where a golden shade of yellow. It was almost uncanny, really, his appearance. Again, caught in a staring contest, Blake couldn’t help but mutter, “He looks a lot like me.”

Gasping dramatically, Yang then compared the two quickly. Black and white fur versus black hair and clothes with accents of white. Yellow eyes. Blake’s hair bow did look like ears. “You match!” She gasped again. “That’s it, the perfect name! Blake!”

“What? No. Nuh-uh,” Blake tutted repeatedly as Yang nodded furiously.

“Yes yes yes!”

Blake stamped her feet. “I will fight you on this, Yang, so help me.”

“Just don’t get my face, I like it unbruised!”

Yang dropped Blake – the cat – and they both made a run for it down the hall as Blake – the person – all but pounced, having taken Yang’s request as permission to actually fight her. Naturally, Blake’s lack of weight did nothing to hurt Yang as she jumped on the latter’s back and latched on, though the blonde did stumble with her altered balance. Yang grasped the doorframe to steady herself, Blake now noticing something she’d not seen before – that was happening a lot today – the room in front of her was empty, except for a dusty old piano. It looked to be well-loved, yet for some reason, Yang gave off an air of animosity as she too stared at it. The cat – she refused to call it by her own name – wandered inside, having found a new playground, letting out a short mew in interest. Blake too let herself drop the small distance to the floor, and followed him in.

Yang did not step over the threshold, as she watched her friend examining the first – and last – thing she’d discovered about Raven since she arrived. She’d not even come in here since that day, not feeling comfortable, like there was a presence still lingering. Even if she knew there wasn’t any such thing, she still didn’t like it.

Blake placed a finger on the dust cover; which was indeed doing its job, dragging a trail through the coating. “It looks like this hasn’t been played in a very long time,” she said, hoping that Yang would open up about what was bothering her.

“It hasn’t. Raven played it, you know, when she was still here.”

Blake recognised that tone of voice. The one that only was used when Yang spoke of her birthmother. She could see why her friend wasn’t so fond of it, now. The black cat that had been standing by Blake’s feet jumped onto the seat, and then onto the dust cover, and then agilely to the very top. He had left small feet prints in the layers of fine particles, but seemed to be pleased with a new perch to observe from.

“I guess you don’t like it, then?” she questioned, as Yang nodded in affirmation. “That’s a shame,” Blake stated matter-of-factly, “though I wonder if I could change your mind.” She sat on one half of the tall chair, patting the wood next to her in invitation.

Only now did Yang enter the space, slowly approaching. “You can play?”

Lifting the cover, Blake smiled sassily. “I’m more than just a book-nerd with a pretty face. Though I don’t know if it will sound very good if it’s not tuned,” though to her surprise, as she tested a chord, it sounded okay to her finely tuned hearing. “It sounds well maintained to me.”

“Qrow said it’s a family heirloom. Maybe whoever they got it from does it while I’m at school.”

Blake hummed in acknowledgement, fingertips dancing across the ivory keys, but not pressing down. The corner of Yang’s mouth quirked as she scooted on the chair to give Blake more room.

“Go on, change my mind then.”

Though it had been a very long time since Blake had last let herself play, it was the perfect time to share this part of herself. It had been even longer since she had recited this piece, but it was almost like she had no control over what her hands were doing as she began to play. The movements came naturally from memory – almost instinctively. For the longest time, she didn’t believe that she deserved to play it anymore, but this wasn’t for her. In some way, maybe she was changing her own mind and not just Yang’s.

Yang was now met with a problem that did involve Blake (this time it was not the cat). Her brain was trying to focus on three things at once; the notes in her ears, the way Blake gracefully worked the keys, and Blake’s face. It was almost a sensory overload, in the way that suddenly, she liked the piano so much more. It was like the connection to Raven had been overshadowed wholly and completely – replacing the feelings of contempt and abandon with a caring tenderness. She almost forgot to breathe as she sat and the music flowed.

Her problem seemed to solve itself as Blake’s expression became bittersweet as she smiled sadly. All Yang could do was wonder what this song meant; since it didn’t seem sad to her. As Blake finished playing, and the notes in the air slowly faded, Yang wasn’t sure what to say. The moment seemed to last for hours, even days, though it was only a minute. There was just…this thing about Blake. Like she was a mystery that couldn’t be solved.

The two were broken out of their reverie as the cat decided he’d had enough of sitting quietly, and made his descent right onto the high notes of the piano, the notes tinking and clinking as his paws made their brief stop before landing on the floor with a muted thud.

Blake let out a small sigh, closing the cover once more. “My father wrote that piece for me. He taught me to play, too.”

“It’s beautiful,” but Yang didn’t know if she meant the song or Blake. “You haven’t mentioned your parents before,” it seemed as good a time as any to bring up something that she’d been wondering about.

“They,” Blake swallowed audibly, “passed away when I was younger.” She was enveloped in an embrace, somehow, on the tiny chair they shared.

“Oh, Blake. I’m sorry,” Yang murmured, and Blake knew it wasn’t just a sympathy hug – her friend had lost both of her mothers. “You don’t have to say anything else if you don’t want to.”

Her head buried in Yang’s neck, the dark-haired girl whispered her thanks, revelling in the gentle comfort. It was not a story she was fond of, nor did she want to re-live it yet. It still felt nice to at least tell Yang, and not be obligated to explain, that her parents were gone. The hand that was slowly rubbing her back stopped as Qrow entered the scene, clearing his throat.

“I feel like I’m interrupting…something,” he said, face unsure.

The girls separated, and Yang gave a one shouldered-shrug that said yes and no. “Blake was putting this thing to good use,” she bumped her other shoulder against Blake’s, who remained quiet.

“I heard. You’re pretty good, kid. Whatever you two were talking about, I’m not gonna ask. I just came down here to give Yang something I thought might entertain the fluffball,” he produced and handed his niece a metallic object. “We don’t have cat toys, but this should do the trick.”

“Whoa,” Yang drawled, holding it up as if it were an incredible marvel, “ancient technology!”

As she broke into giggles at her own humour, Qrow didn’t appreciate her mocking his age. “You’re a little shit, Yang Xiao Long. Just like your dad.” She was her father’s daughter alright. He left promptly to avoid being dragged into playing with the cat. He had contributed enough, in his opinion.

Yang pointed her new tool down at the floor. “Let’s see if he likes it.” In the corner where the cat was sitting, his sharp eyes focused at the red dot that had appeared before him. A tentative paw swatted, but to no avail. As the dot suddenly travelled across the floor and into the corner, he scrambled after it at such a speed that his feet barely gripped on the lacquered wood. “Jeez! What a crazy cat,” Yang laughed, getting no response from Blake. Turning to her, it was almost like déjà vu as Blake’s eyes were also honed in on the beam from the laser pointer. Wiggling at a new spot on the floor, her gaze flicked to the new position. She was oddly transfixed, twitching forward when Yang moved the laser to their feet. As for the cat, he had sat back down in the corner, still watching with longing eyes, but holding back.

“Earth to Blake?” Yang called. Nothing. She tried again, and her vision caught an odd response. The bow Blake wore moved ever so slightly. Not sure what was happening, Yang directed the laser towards the door, with Blake abruptly standing and stalking after it. The cat had the same idea, but at a more uncontrolled pace – he bolted after it. Blake let out a noise of surprise as the cat sped past her, coming back to reality as she lost the red dot. After this suspicious behaviour, Yang wasn’t going to jump to any conclusions as to why her friend had suddenly acted like a cat, but…

Blake turned to her, sheepish. “Did I just…”

“Chase a laser? Yep.”

Once again, Blake had gone quiet, avoiding eye contact. It was like she was shrinking into herself. Yang knew if she didn’t address this now, she’d lose her chance. “So are we just gonna pretend that didn’t happen? Or, are you gonna explain?”

At this point, Blake had no choice but to spill the beans. There was no other way to explain her behaviour. She’d wanted to tell Yang, she really had, but it wasn’t easy. “There’s a reason why I wanted to write our assignment on prejudice. Why you standing up for Sun impressed me so much. I’ve been hiding what I am from you, Yang.”

Seeing Blake so nervous had Yang’s heart in a vice. All she wanted was for her to feel safe enough to be her true self. “Blake,” Yang spoke measuredly, “I don’t care about what you are, I care about who you are.” When Blake gave a hint of a smile, Yang approached her, hoping that her words had been reassuring enough.

“I guess I should thank that cat for giving the perfect opportunity to tell you this.”

“And what are you telling me?” Yang asked.

Blake grasped her elbow with one hand, going for raw honesty. “I’m a Faunus. A cat Faunus. And I should have told you sooner.”

“Where’s the fun in playing all your cards at once? I think you’re charmingly mysterious,” Yang declared. She wasn’t mad – in fact, the opposite. “And I’m willing to bet that you’re hiding some cute ears under that bow.” They were probably soft. Would they be black, like her hair?

“You have no idea how much effort it takes to stop them twitching all the time,” Blake adorably huffed. She was basically outed by the very thing she tried to hide, the traitors.

“So you have super hearing or something?”

The least Blake could do was answer Yang’s questions. “To put it simply, yes.”

“Does your tongue feel like sandpaper?”

Blake shot her a questioning look. “Faunus only have one animal feature, remember?”

“Is that a no?”

The cat-girl sighed, giving her the facts of the matter. “I only have the ears. And night vision, obviously.”

Yang looked impressed, apparently forgetting that crucial piece of information at the time. “Ooh, that’s gotta be advantageous, right?”

“It is useful sometimes,” Blake admitted. She could read in low light, which was something she valued dearly.

“So after that night at Ozpin’s when I brought you inside, you could see me changing?” Yang sounded so casual, once Blake realised what she’d done, it was too late. She’d walked right into that one.

“I,” she stuttered, a red tinge working its way up her ears. “I will neither confirm or deny that statement.”

“You so could,” Yang wore a sly grin. “I was joking when I called you a pervert, but now I’m not so sure.”

Blake adamantly and loudly refuted. “I’m not a perv-” she lowered her voice, remembering Yang’s uncle was still somewhere in the house. “I’m not a pervert. Once I realised you were naked, I averted my eyes.”

“I’m surprised you had the self-control,” Yang had an ever-present smug smile, obviously enjoying learning of these events.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Blake retorted, trying to ignore that Yang had just implied that she’d wanted to stare at her naked.

“You couldn’t stop yourself when we were at the bar.”

Blake had no excuse for that. She distinctly recalled not caring that night despite being caught several times. That didn’t mean she had to admit it. “I was inebriated.”

“Hey, if that’s what you’re into. I’m not judging you.” The way the blonde said it was very sincere, like she wanted to make sure that Blake knew it.

But, of course, she knew that. “Yang, I know that you wouldn’t judge me if I was gay. You incessantly flirt with me and make innuendoes all the time, which in turn, is a dynamic that wouldn’t work if I was homophobic. In a way, it boosts my self-confidence. The way you reacted when I showed that crop top at the bar was incredibly ego-boosting, because you have a look girls dream about having,” Blake said, and this time it was Yang’s turn to blush.

“I am a firm believer of flaunting what you’ve got,” Yang mentioned, still a bit bashful.

“And besides, the night you fought with Cardin,” Blake added, knowing full well that she was about to embarrass Yang again, “I heard you when you said my request for you to promise to work on our assignment wasn’t as gay as you thought it was going to be.”

“Oh, fu…dge,” Yang was busted and boy was that awkward. This whole time, Blake had known and not brought it up. “You really do have super hearing.”

Blake smiled, but not maliciously. She’d had her fun teasing. “It’s fine. I provoked you, anyway. We’re teenagers with hormonal brains, it’s easy to mess around like that. I assure you that I’m comfortable with that dynamic.” What kind of a hypocrite would she be if she wasn’t supportive of whatever Yang wanted in life?

Looking notably more relaxed, Yang laughed, engaging in the back-and-forth dynamic that they were so good at. “And here I thought you thought all my jokes were stupid!”

Blake playfully jabbed Yang’s arm. “I do think some of them are stupid, but I still like them because they’re your jokes. I’ll enjoy listening if you enjoy telling them.”

“That’s super corny, Blake,” Yang said. Because it was corny – but she was glad on the inside, because it was kind of touching.

Golden eyes rolled good-naturedly. “Well, you’re super gay.” It was a lame comeback, but it wasn’t meant to be insulting anyway.

“Only for you,” Yang winked and pointed finger guns at Blake, smirking at her joke.

Blake pretended to think, hand on her chin. “Then wouldn’t you be Blake-sexual?” She looked expectantly at her friend, surprised when Yang made a noise of disapproval. “What?”

“That was Yang level-bad!”

“Now you know how I feel when you do it,” Blake countered easily, Yang pouting like she’d been terribly betrayed. Seconds later she snorted and chuckled, breaking the façade.

“Hey, you know, since I offered to make you dinner,” she began crossing the hall into the kitchen, Blake following, “is it mean if I ask you if you like fish?”

“What do you think, genius?”

Yang gave her a narrowed glance over her shoulder, now bustling about in the refrigerator. “But do you?”

Blake, arms crossed, now observed in interest. Maybe she did like fish. Despite it being a totally gross generalisation of cat Faunus.

“’Cause Ruby says I make a mean tuna bake,” Yang emerged holding two cans of delicious, delectable tuna.

Feeling her stomach growl, Blake tried to be nonchalant. “I’ll be the judge of that.”

Yang gave her a knowing smile, gathering her other ingredients and utensils. “Why don’t you grab a book to read on the couch while I work my magic?”

“You’re appealing to all aspects of me. Clever.” Blake took up her offer without missing a beat. She chose a book from the bookshelf in the living room that had an old cover and had that distinctive smell she loved. Curling up on the cushions, she couldn’t help but be happy as she heard Yang sing something about bumblebees as she clattered around, obviously carefree.

It wasn’t too long until the blonde bounced into the room, with her long hair swaying in a ponytail. She must have put it up to prepare the food, but she quickly pulled the elastic out of her hair and tousled it before flopping down onto the sofa.

“Where’d the cat go?” Yang wondered aloud.

Not even bothering to look up from the pages of her book, Blake replied, “I’m right here.”

Yang giggled appreciatively at the humour of her words and plonked her head unceremoniously in Blake’s lap, well, moreso on top of the book she was trying to read.

“Excuse you,” Blake chided, but still rearranged herself so Yang had her lap-pillow while she could continue reading. It was like the cat had heard the earlier question, and leapt onto the arm of the couch at Yang’s feet. He obviously wanted to sap Yang’s warmth as he sat on her torso, kneading her flesh.

Yang flinched in Blake’s lap. “Watch the boobs Blake, geez,” she said as she guided the little cat paws away from her chest, talking to the cat with confusing name she’d chosen. “What is with the name Blake and pervs, huh?”

Peering over her book, Blake glared at her friend. “I still resent that claim. I am nothing more than a supportive friend, and thus, think you look like a goddess. It’s my duty to think that.”

“Heh, doodie.”


After they’d finished dinner (Blake had devoured it), Qrow had headed off to work. He’d been amused at the quiet and reserved girl’s fervour, considering she always acted aloof. He would agree that the tuna bake was quite delicious, but the kid had gone on about it like she’d never eaten in her life.

As Yang took the plates to the sink, Blake was still in her chair trying to savour the taste in her mouth. “Yang, oh my goodness. What did you do? That was amazing!”

“You said that three times already,” Yang tried to downplay the praise. Blake must just really like tuna.

“But it was,” Blake said insistently.

Yang waved her hand facetiously in dismissal. It wasn’t that special. She filled the sink with some hot water, dumping everything they’d used in. “I learned a lot over the years. I just threw things together sometimes, or substituted ingredients.” She leaned on the bench, facing her pleased guest. “If you must know, the secret is cottage cheese.”

Blake made a thoughtful noise. “I do like cheese.”

“It’s just like the sex on the beach cocktail. Tastes better than it sounds.”

That was true – Blake had liked the drink. She made a mental note to buy cottage cheese. “Since you made good on your promise, let me wash the dishes. You can dry.”

As they worked, the cat strode over after munching on his own dinner, bumping his head against Blake’s ankle and meowing. Yang was cooing over how cute it was and that he liked her now. Pointing out that the cat wasn’t staying, Blake wasn’t getting too attached, and she hoped Yang wasn’t either. Though her friend probably was just fine with having a cat Faunus around instead of an actual cat.

Her suspicions became confirmed later that evening. They were watching a classic mystery film in the lounge, and Yang had been designated as a space-heater by both feline-human and feline-animal. The cat was snoozing on her lap, while Blake sat at her side, watching the television screen attentively. It was a good movie and it was at a good part – so she paid attention.

Yang had a different idea. While Blake was distracted, this was her chance to get her darned bow off. It wasn’t a cunning plan per se, rather, it was the best plan she could come up with in the few seconds that she thought about it. She tried to be the sneaky, carefully snaking her arm to the silk fabric that sat upon her friend’s head. As her fingertips closed in on the loose end that stuck out of the knot, she held her breath, waiting for any sign that she’d been caught. Letting ten seconds go by, she assumed she’d gotten away with it and was just about to-

“And you said I don’t have self-control.”

Nope, she definitely hadn’t gotten away with it.

What was she supposed to do now? Go through with it anyway? Or-

“You should let go,” Blake’s voice interrupted her again.

Doing as she was told, Yang brought her hand back to her lap, choosing to go for the less guarded set of ears on the other Blake. “Sorry,” she told Blake ruefully. Because she was. Well, she was sorry that something so simple as ears had to be hidden. “I don’t want you to- I just,” Yang stumbled, for there was no easy way to tell somebody that was clearly afraid of prejudice to just let down their guard. “This is a safe place, with me. I like you, cat ears included. Nothing’s gotta change if you don’t want it to.”

“There’s nothing I’d like more than being able to sit here and not be self-conscious. In time, it’ll probably happen. But I want to make it clear to you. Don’t touch my bow, or my ears, without permission. I’m not a pet,” Blake told her, struggling to keep her voice steady.

“Got it. Hands to myself,” Yang said, heeding her instructions. She had to, if she was going to respect her.

“And, I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t trust you Yang, so believe me when I say that I wish I didn’t have to make sure-”

“Blake,” Yang cut her off, taking her hand that was slightly trembling. “I’m not gonna tell anybody. I pinky promise,” she told her, offering her littlest finger in solidarity.

Blake let herself indulge in the childlike solution. If it was how Yang let her know that the secret would stay secret, that was all that mattered. Though she’d shed some emotional baggage today, and felt lighter for it, it was still draining. “I’m starting to feel everything catch up with me. Would it be alright if I took a shower before hitting the hay?”

“Whatever you want. I’ll grab you something to wear,” Yang switched the TV set off and gently eased the sleeping cat on her lap onto the couch. “Come on,” she gestured to Blake to follow, getting up and briefly stretching.

There was a short conversation about the proffered clothes. Yang’s tops were already a bit larger to accommodate her chest, meaning they’d be even roomier for Blake – so she made a point to ask for a shirt and not a tank, so that there wouldn’t be any chance of a wardrobe malfunction. The first (and last time) she wore a tank top to sleep; Blake had woken up to a bit too much of her boob outside the top. Never again. Yang had also leant her a pair of underwear, but dug out the brightest yellowest ones she said she owned. Just for her. They were gaudy and almost blindingly Yang’s style.

Now alone in the bathroom, Blake folded her own clothes neatly, freed her feline appendages, and tied up her hair in a messy bun. Turning the water on, she relaxed into the soothing steam and pressure of the water, and it was an effort to not use all the hot water. She made quick work of finishing up and drying off, trying to retain the heat she’d soaked up. Internally hating the yellow underwear she was now wearing, Blake was relieved the dark grey shirt covered them. Gathering her discarded outfit, and bow, she made a conscious choice to not put it back on. Might as well get it over with now, and not leave Yang stewing in her nosiness for weeks on end.

As Blake walked in Yang’s room, luckily the girl wasn’t indecent but rather slipping on her shorts. She had also retrieved the cat from downstairs and it was sitting on the bed; he was regarding her entrance with a lazy gaze. As Yang looked up to greet Blake, she did a double-take and must have realised that instead of a bow, there was cat ears. She lost all coordination; getting her foot stuck in the garment, she jerked and tripped, falling as the other leg she stood on couldn’t bear her mistake. Blake had to admit, it took all her being not to outright laugh at Yang lying on the floor with her ass in the air. Even the shorts had given up and fallen down her legs.

Stifling her amusement, Blake set down her clothes so she could assist her clumsy friend. “Only you could manage to undress while trying to get dressed,” she commented, now hauling up a recovering Yang.

“Well if that didn’t impress you, I could always try a striptease? It’s half off! Get it?” Yang laughed, referring to her state of undress, and presented herself with bravado. Even if she looked like an idiot standing there with her shorts around her ankles. It was honestly less surprising to hear such a question than it was to realise that Yang hadn’t said a single thing about her ears. It was odd.

And, for a fleeting moment, she wondered if Yang knew how to perform a striptease. Or could manage one. The answer was probably in-between yes and with difficulty. Blake snickered. “Does that include you falling over in the process? And most likely suffocating me in your boobs? Or do I have to pay extra for that?”

“Ooh, that’s a bit kinky,” Yang responded, hand on her hip. She wiggled her eyebrows at Blake.

Blake sent back a halting motion, stuck in the midst of being confused by such a ridiculous sight. “Alright, keep your pants on,” the stupid shorts were still around her ankles – it should be criminal to look attractive while simultaneously being the epitome of dorky.

“You mean put my pants on?”

“Yeah, that. Do that,” Blake pulled back the covers of the messily made double bed and jumped on, fluffing her pillow and trying to control her warm cheeks. Avoiding looking any longer at the vivacious blonde helped.

Behind her, a low whistle rang out. “Wow, Blake. You look good in yellow!”

So much for controlling her blush – she gave up and buried herself under the covers.

Blake’s muffled voice reprimanded Yang as she mercilessly tormented the reserved girl. “Can you stop looking at my ass, put your pants on and go to bed?”

Despite having the capacity to tease endlessly, Yang relented and put her shorts on (without falling this time). Avoiding disturbing the cat at the foot of the bed, she climbed in and switched the lamp off, the room falling into a deep darkness. Hearing Blake shuffle around next to her, but not say anything, she felt as though she needed to reaffirm her loyalty as a friend after literally falling over in shock at the sight of her Faunus ears. They were downright adorable, and Yang wished she could express that, but she’d already overstepped her boundary earlier. Avoiding making a big deal out of it was probably the best course of action – since Blake hadn’t even brought it up, she probably wanted it that way.

Taking into consideration what she’d learned about Blake today, there was something that she could offer as a kind gesture. Yang spoke softly into the silence, “Hey, Blake? Would you wanna…have Thanksgiving with us?” Surely, it was lonely around this time of year without your family. Yang had always felt the holidays were more difficult after Summer had died, especially with their absentee father. She’d not wish that upon anybody. She held her breath, pleading that Blake wouldn’t shut her out on this. She had said a while ago that she didn’t like the topic of her past.

“Yeah. That’d be nice,” she eventually replied. “Thank you, Yang.”

Relief flooded over Yang. This was good. “’Course. Goodnight.”

As Blake bid her goodnight too, Yang wondered what the hell she was going to tell Qrow. The thought didn’t last long as sleep took hold.

When her mind slowly bled back into consciousness, Yang was feeling a little overheated. Rested, but hot. Coming to her senses, it soon became clear that just like last time, Blake had gravitated towards her warmth. Like a moth to a flame. There was little space between their bodies; Blake tucked against her, angling her head into the cocoon of warmth of Yang’s neck. And, well, her boobs – Blake was in there alright, Yang beginning to feel a little humid at her throat as Blake breathed deeply.

Yang’s own shallow exhales came from her nose as her temperature kept rising, creating a tickling sensation on her chin. She could see Blake’s cat ears were twitching sporadically, dark fur fluttering at the breeze they were met with. It was soft and featherlike, almost soothing – if it wasn’t for the tickling. Yang wanted so badly to not wake her, but either she’d stop breathing or be tickled to death. And she was not going to lay a finger on those ears. She tried to ease her head away, but that only irritated the sleeping girl.

Resigning to waking her, Yang tried to not be too loud in her ears. “Blake.” There was a small grumble. “Blake,” she tried again, this time met with a sleepy murmur. “Blake, wake up, and I’ll buy you tuna for a year.”

“Tuna?” Blake breathed in the crook of her neck, sounding so hopeful.

That had her attention. “No. Blake, your cat ears are tickling my chin.”

Finally relenting, Blake retracted from her haven and Yang was able to get some much-needed space to cool down. She threw off her side of the covers, feeling a lot better already.

“You were too warm,” Blake realised from the multitude of blanket that was tucked around her.

“Sure was.”

“Why didn’t you move?”

Yang shrugged. “Didn’t want to wake you. The tickling really got me, though. So, sorry, I guess?”

Mulling this over in her lethargic mind, Blake thought she should be sorry, not Yang. Apparently, what she’d said yesterday about the no-touching-my-ears rule had its intended effect, and it was nice that waking her up was a last resort. And it was really nice that Yang allowed her to freely seek the warmth her body craved constantly without making a fuss, and even getting to the point of unselfishly being overheated.

Instead of apologising, Blake could return in favour, something she knew Yang wanted. “For going through that warm and ticklish discomfort, I want to repay you for being so accepting of me. If you treat me as if I am no different to you, I can try and get used to the fact. I give you permission to touch my ears if it serves you to better understand me.”

Yang stared at Blake as if- well, as if she’d grown another set of ears. Except that she was born with four ears and certainly did not just sprout extra ones as an infant.

Gradually, the shock subsided, as Yang recovered. “Okay. Yeah. If you’re sure?”

Blake nodded, trying not to flinch as Yang rolled to face her and slowly extended her hand. This was a trust exercise. Still, the hand hesitated, lilac eyes meeting amber for one last check. Blake trusted her – so she hoped her eyes conveyed it’s fine before closing them. Nothing says I trust you like being vulnerable.

She almost missed when Yang’s fingertips finally swept across the fine fur, it was that tentative.

Yang didn’t want to make a big fuss, the ears were so soft and Blake was just too cute, so she settled for just enjoying the moment while she could. “I’ll admit, this is a little weird,” she felt herself growing to like how silky the fur felt with the pad of her thumb, which probably wasn’t ideal.

“I know. I never thought I’d be doing this.”

“What? Lying in my bed letting me touch you?” Yang froze as she finished her sentence. She could have swore she never even caught that one being formed in her head. Pulling her hand away, Blake cracked an eye open, and Yang wondered how she could look that disbelieving with just one eye. “That came out wrong,” Yang said, because it had.

“Unintentional innuendo aside, yes,” Blake let the slip-up go. “I never thought I could trust somebody this much.” She had wanted to say trust a human, but that’d make her a hypocrite. She was trying to lesser the divide, not make it bigger.

“Thanks, Blake.” Yang was beaming at her now. “We should get up and at ‘em, got a lost cat to return home, and all.”

And so they did; Yang grabbing a quick bite to eat as Blake gladly settled for a cup of tea. When she first started coming over, they hadn’t had any, but somebody added it onto their grocery list as her visits became more frequent. She sat in a chair in the corner, progressively sipping until only the dregs remained, being a quiet observer. Yang was gathering the things she’d gotten for the cat to donate to the animal shelter at the front door, the feline meowing every time she came back, and staring at Blake in-between. Yang had been considerate to take care of the stray, trying not to get sentimental and think of herself as being taken in as a stray too. Because the fact was, she was much happier now than she’d ever been since she lost her parents.

Once Qrow had driven them to the shelter, they both got the vocal black cat inside and was able to get him checked for a microchip. Luckily, the owners had been smart enough to pay for one, and pulling up the contact info saved a lot of hassle. The girl that picked up the phone was missing her beloved cat, and wanted to thank Yang for keeping him safe, and after a brief chat they were on their way.

Walking back to the parking lot, Yang was just glad to help a creature in need. But one thing did bother her. “Turns out that his name wasn’t Blake, would you believe that? I think it suits him, but no, he’s called Adam. Stupid name, right?”

Blake tended to agree with that statement.

Chapter Text

December (Winter)



Blake had never particularly liked when Winter rolled around. There was the incessant cold weather; waking up and dreading stepping onto any tiled surface with bare feet, going outside and feeling the chill of the air – or worse, the dreaded snowflakes had invaded the land.

Then there were the holidays. Being alone got old very fast.

While Thanksgiving wasn’t technically a Winter holiday, it was still cold and it was still lonely. That had changed when Yang Xiao Long walked into social studies class late, and into her life (thanks to Ms. Peach). Because Yang was a wonderful person despite her easily judged outward appearance, and had made quick work of walking her way right into Blake’s heart. Which was why she had accepted her new best friend’s invitation to join her and her uncle for Thanksgiving.

And thanks she gave, because it had been the greatest Thanksgiving Blake had in five years.

It should have come as no surprise that Yang had approached her the next day of school and handed her a formal invitation (she claimed that, but it was just a piece of notepad paper) to Christmas day celebrations – this time with pre-approval from the whole family, she’d said.

Yet, Blake was surprised. Especially learning that her Thanksgiving invitation had been impromptu and not quite as thought at as she had assumed it was. Now Qrow was again opening his door to her, and Yang’s father and sister were just fine with sharing their family time with a complete stranger.

Yang definitely had a way of charming people.

Looking back on the past three months, Blake included herself as someone under Yang’s charm – the amount of things she’d never dreamed of doing, let alone voluntarily, she’d done. All because the girl had been enthusiastic enough to do a school project on discrimination. She hadn’t known at the time, but hearing Yang openly support Faunus made Blake like her all the more; there was no benefit for Yang to have said that back then. But along the way she’d shown her support time and time again. When they were deciding on what way to present their information, Yang had immediately gone for an essay – because a serious issue needs a serious platform, was her reasoning.

Now they were on the home stretch of finishing their serious essay, and to say that Blake was proud of her partner for her efforts was an understatement. They’d come a long way.

There was no way Blake could refuse Yang; she’d been talking for weeks about how she was looking forward to Christmas, and if Blake had gotten an invitation, then there was no reason for her to not go.

Despite that, the closer the twenty-fifth got, the more anxious she became. Blake was suspicious that it was some internal need to impress her best friend’s closest family members, but she couldn’t fathom why. It wasn’t like she was marrying Yang. Not to mention that Qrow seemed to like the effect she’d had on the rambunctious youth.

Yang had made sure to mention every couple of days to her that there was nothing to worry about. It was now the twentieth of December, they were discussing finalising their social studies project to be submitted in two days, and pretending to listen to one of Nora’s recounts of a crazy dream she’d had. Which was another indication of Yang’s dedication, since she was usually enthralled by those stories.

Like some infernal alarm clock, Yang had slipped into reassure-Blake-so-she’ll-come-to-Christmas mode while Sun had the whole table distracted with how great the festive celebrations were in Texas. “So Blake, my dad and my lil’ sis’ are getting here Christmas Eve morning. They can’t wait to meet ya.”

“Are you sure you want me there on the Eve? I don’t want to impose,” Blake chewed her lip to distract herself from the nervous flutter in her stomach which arose every time Yang brought this topic up.

“Don’t be silly! You being there for Christmas Eve is imperative to the Christmas experience!” Yang said a little too loudly. Though her use of vocabulary was a pro, she’d brought attention to their conversation, and everybody knowing that Blake was going to someone else’s family Christmas was a con.

“Excuse me,” piped up Nora, looking awfully intimidating for someone that was incredibly short. “Why am I not invited to your Christmas, Yang?”

Ren looked defeated as he chastised his best friend’s behaviour from behind his facepalm.

Chuckling nervously, Yang tried to diffuse the situation as best she could with all her friends eyeing her. “It’s not that I don’t want you there Nora,” a lie, “it’s just that Blake’s special! Uh, I want her to meet my family!” Not a lie. The whole thing equalled a half-truth.

“Isn’t that the kind of thing couples do?” Sun asked as he tore off a mouthful of his banana, looking pointedly at the black and yellow duo as he chewed.

Yang gaped at how quickly she’d gotten herself backed into a corner, left helpless as Blake had hid her face on the table muttering, “Why has God forsaken me.”

“Uh. She’s not that kind of special…” Trailing off, Yang made a mental note that Sun needed some sort of punishment for being such an ass.

Recovering, Blake added with a neutral face, “I’d prefer to keep the reason private, if you all don’t mind. And it’s not a couple-thing. We’re friends. Which, by the way, is a descriptor that no longer applies to ourselves and Sun.”

Yang felt a pang of satisfaction as the monkey Faunus choked on his fruit snack, Neptune coming to his aid and whacking his back as everybody snickered at Blake’s sass. The bell rang, and the group separated, Sun struggling to compose himself as he complained. “Dude, that was harsh. It’s not like I’m wrong,” Neptune dragged him away, having chosen not to infer the girls’ wrath, and Yang almost felt like going back to tell Sun to knock it off. She chose to ignore it and get to class, but it seemed that Sun liked pain, as he popped up after school in the parking lot bugging her about it.

“Come on, you don’t have to pretend! I’m your friend, even if Blake said I’m not. You can tell me anything,” he insisted, placing his hand on Bumblebee to prevent Yang from getting on and leaving.

“I’m not pretending. Blake and I are just friends. And get your hand off my bike,” she said irritably. The guy meant well, but he was wrong.

Just friends?” He repeated. “Sounds like you wish it was more than that,” his hand casually left the chassis of the motorcycle to rub at his chin.

Letting Sun get to her was the last thing she was aiming to do, but he somehow had a knack for it. “It does not,” Yang crossed her arms defiantly. That’s not what she meant by just friends.

“You like her, don’t you!” He accused. It wasn’t even a question in his mind.

“You need to pipe down, Sun,” she shut him down with a glare. “Blake has crazy good hearing, what if she heard you!” The prospect made her mind panic, and for so many reasons. One of those reasons was totally not that Sun was right, though.

“What does it matter if she hears, if you’re so sure you don’t like her?” He sure was persistent. Persistently annoying.

Yang rolled her eyes at such empty logic. “It just does! It’s not some secret Christmas couple rendezvous, I just invited her for friendly company,” she explained.

Sun looked at her like she was speaking gibberish. “Ron-day-what-now?”

“Rendezvous,” she repeated, “it means Blake and I aren’t a couple and you should stop insisting that I’m hiding anything,” she ended in a growl. He could search for the real definition on the Internet, but Yang had a feeling he couldn’t spell it anyway. Stepping past the now sceptical blonde Faunus, she swung a leg over the seat of her motorcycle and sat, fishing the key out of her pocket to start the engine.

“I’m not buying that, Yang,” Sun spoke with confidence then, but Yang went right back to ignoring him and started Bumblebee, revving it loudly.

“Didn’t hear you! Too loud! Bye!” She yelled over the noise, both of them knowing full-well that she had. 

Yang had been nervous for weeks about handing in her and Blake’s social studies assignment. When they’d given Ms. Peach their essay, the teacher had congratulated them on their teamwork. She’d said that if the quality of their writing was as strong as their friendship had become, they’d do well – to their embarrassment.

Now that the school semester was over with, their project submitted and Yang no longer worrying over the academic obligation she had to Blake, she found herself worrying over something else. Sun’s pestering had made her edgy about Christmas eve, because even though he was totally not right about liking Blake.

He’d made it awkward, when it shouldn’t have been. And Blake shut him down so hard in the cafeteria that Yang was now overthinking everything. Even though Blake had said the flirting didn’t bother her, and had made it pretty clear that sexuality didn’t either…Yang couldn’t help but wonder about all the what ifs. What if Blake got the wrong impression? What if Sun told her something that mislead her? What if Sun saw something that they couldn’t? What if-

“Somethin’ on your mind, Firecracker?”

Yang blinked as the road signs flew by on the other side of the window, her head turning to face her uncle.

“I thought you’d be excited, kid,” he said, eyes briefly flicking towards hers before returning to watch the road.

She was excited. They were on their way to the airport, the same one she’d landed at five months ago, to pick up Taiyang and Ruby. Qrow didn’t know about her internal battle she’d just been having, and felt it best to avoid a shitshow where she spilled the beans about something as trivial as non-existent schoolyard crushes.

“Ah, well, you know dad. Just don’t want him embarrassing me in front of Blake,” she lied. She wasn’t technically thinking about that, but it still was a possibility.

An amused smile found its way onto Qrow’s face. “You know damn well that he’s gonna do exactly that, intentional or not.”

“Ugh,” Yang said, realising that he spoke the truth. Although, maybe Blake would feel more comfortable if the attention wasn’t on her. It might be a good idea to set down a few ground rules to avoid any awkwardness. She’d have to remember that for later.

It wasn’t long before they were standing at the gate, eyes flitting from face to face as the small crowd exited the plane. Yang heard Ruby before she saw her, the teenager’s high-pitched voice talking a mile a minute; a squeal of her name was the only warning she had before her younger sister nearly bowled her over in a hug. And before she could gather her bearings, Ruby had moved to latch onto Qrow’s arm, happily chanting his name.

“There’s my girl!” Taiyang greeted, his arms opening as he emerged, at a more reserved pace.

“There’s my old man,” Yang teased light-heartedly as she accepted his embrace. “I missed you guys so much!”

It was incredibly nice to finally have them here after many months of waiting. As much as she was enjoying her time away from home, she still loved her family dearly. She briefly wondered if everything would have been different if Raven had never left. The thought immediately was shoved out of her brain as Ruby began telling her about everything she’d missed, as they all walked towards baggage claim, Yang feeling like everything was at a good medium between her normal life and her new one.

On the ride back to Canton, they were entertained with stories from Ruby about her German friend, who was a mixture of friendly snobbery and hilarious indifference. To Yang, this Weiss Schnee seemed like the kind of person she’d love to not get along with. The girl also had a soft spot for their dog, Zwei, which was a plus in her books.

Then they arrived at the Branwen family home, Taiyang even commenting that he got a weird feeling being in his ex’s home. Yang told him that you get used to it. They gave a tour, and got around to eating lunch, then Tai and Yang got to work on preparing dinner. The early evening crept up on them as they caught up and told of funny memories from ages ago.

Qrow glanced at the kitchen clock, addressing his nieces, “It’s getting late, are you two planning on dressing up for our guest of honour tonight?” Placing a sarcastic emphasis on what he referred to Blake as, only to get on Yang’s nerves.

Ruby gasped comically, seemingly having forgotten about that part of the occasion. “Oooh, yes! I’m so excited!”

Yang, luckily, recalled that she’d wanted to prepare her dad and her sister for their guest.

“I wanna establish something here. Blake’s really important to me and I hope that me trusting her is good enough for everyone,” she said, getting nods from all three of them. “Cool. Can you please not ask any personal questions of her? I invited Blake because I don’t want her to be alone, and not because we’re dating. Just to be clear about that.”

“Why would you have to clear that up?” Qrow asked, yet he sounded like he was being sarcastic again.

Yang grumbled in frustration. “Sun got wind of what was happening and tried to convince our friends, and even me, that we’re secretly in love or something. I just don’t want everyone getting the wrong idea,” she glared at her uncle.

“Don’t worry! We’ll all behave, won’t we!” Taiyang tried to settle any animosity between the two, not even bothering to phrase it as a request, rather just hoping everyone would play nice.

Qrow raised his hands in surrender. Two Xiao Longs was a little too much for him to go up against. “Sure, sure.”

Yang made sure to keep her eyes locked on her uncle as Ruby dragged her out of the room. They ascended the stairs, both entering Yang’s bedroom to no doubt give each other sisterly advice on what to wear. As her little sister unzipped her suitcase, immediately destroying any semblance of order in it, Yang tried to think of her options.

It wasn’t long before Ruby spoke up, but it wasn’t what Yang was expecting. “Soooo,” the brunette began, “you don’t have a crush on Blake?” The kid almost sounded guilty for asking.

“Not you too, Rubes,” Yang spoke regretfully. She wasn’t going to go off at her little sister, she was only fifteen after all. “I almost had to knock it into Sun’s head that I don’t,” she added with a laugh, though in retrospect, it wasn’t really that funny.

“But you always talk about her like…” the younger girl didn’t finish her sentence.

“Like what?”

Ruby scratched her head, a nervous tick she’d had as long as Yang could remember. “Like she’s the smartest, coolest, prettiest person you’ve ever met?”

“That doesn’t mean I want to go out with her,” Yang said dismissively, but all she got in return was a face that said it doesn’t? “Look,” she thought of how she could explain it. Ruby was innocent enough to still think that romance was as simple as checking a few boxes. At least the kid wasn’t caught up on the fact that they were talking about a gay relationship. “Blake’s great. But I don’t think I’m what she’s looking for. And even if I liked her that way, it isn’t gonna happen.”

“How do you know that?” Ruby asked, obviously in disbelief.

“When Sun asked if we were a couple, she acted like that was the craziest idea in the world,” though she may have been exaggerating it, Blake definitely hadn’t seemed open to the idea at all. Surely that was proof.

“What if she just didn’t want you to know that she likes you?”

Now that was farfetched. “Trust me. She doesn’t. And I’m okay with that, alright?” Yang signalled the end of their conversation by leaving the room, Ruby hearing something along the lines of her going to take a shower.

Still, the younger sibling was not persuaded to give up her wingwomanly duties. “We’ll see about that,” she said to herself, returning to rummaging around for appropriate clothing.

A short time later, Yang was having a crisis. What the hell was she going to wear? Why now of all times was she being indecisive. Why did it even matter? Ruby was of no help; the hyperactive girl having disappeared before Yang returned from the bathroom. Was it better to go with something casual or something a little classier? Maybe she should save the classier outfit for Christmas dinner.

When the doorbell rang, she might as well have imploded, because now she had no choice but to settle for the clothes she was wearing. Black jeans and a modest tank top – not the pinnacle of fashion, but it’d have to do. “I’ll get it!” She yelled down the stairs, “none of you even go near that front door!” There was no way she was letting any first impressions go unsupervised. Blake probably heard her shouting, but that was still better than any other prospect.

Almost rolling her ankle speeding down the steps at a speed Ruby would be proud of, she took in a deep breath as her hand turned the doorknob. It was time to kick off a great Christmas celebration!


“You made it!” Yang grinned a thousand watt smile as she greeted Blake, the Faunus clad in what appeared to be many layers of black clothing, and even sporting a beanie too. It was dusted with snow until she carefully removed it and shook it off.

“And you made it to the door first,” Blake commented, having heard Yang’s commotion.

“What kind of person would I be if I invited you, but didn’t bother to greet you? I was worried Rubes would beat me to it. She wasn’t upstairs with me.” The blonde ushered her in and took several coats off her hands; it almost looked like a comedy skit.

As if on cue, Ruby appeared in the hall and bounced towards them. “I’m here!”

The older girl ruffled her younger sister’s hair affectionately. “Blake, meet the most hyperactive person that exists next to Nora,” Yang said without a shred of insincerity. Those two would get along like Thor and lightning.

“It’s great to meet you Blake!” Ruby waved, resisting her inner urge to hug a stranger. “Yang’s said a lot about you!”

“Good things I hope?” Blake raised a brow towards the blonde; familiar with her reputation preceding her when meeting a relative of Yang’s. “It’s nice to finally meet you as well, Ruby.”

“The best things! Oh, would you look at that,” Ruby gestured with grandeur at the ceiling, putting her clichéd and corny plan into action, “mistletoe. Strange.” She shoved Yang back in front of Blake, racing off to avoid any retribution. She made sure to stay nearby to assess the success of her genius.

Her emotions ranging from shocked to angry, Yang’s face eventually settled for mortified as she realised she’d been set up. She’d told Ruby not an hour ago that this was not going to happen!

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that Ruby had been talking to Sun,” Blake said good naturedly, not offended by the younger girl’s prank. It was harmless, really. Well, harmless to her. Yang looked like she was on the verge of dishing out some punishment – and not the bad joke type.

Yang let out a huge sigh in exasperation; first Sun, then Qrow, then Ruby! “Sorry about her, she’s a little crazy sometimes. I don’t even know where she found mistletoe, let alone how she got it up there. Explains where she disappeared to, though,” she tried to land all the blame on Ruby – because it wasn’t like she had asked for this.

“It’d be a shame if all her effort went to waste,” Blake partially meant her words, but wanted to see Yang lose her composure once again. The girl had no problem mercilessly flirting, until she became the victim.

And composure she lost, but this time Yang turned a brilliant shade of red. “Uh, what?”

Blake smirked, finding herself to be enjoying herself already. “Oh, relax, I have no intentions of trading saliva with you.”

Yang visibly relaxed. “You had me going there for a second,” she chuckled, assuming it was just a joke as Blake continued to smile.

Ruby poked her head into the hall, frowning. “Yang! You can’t break the sacred tradition of kissletoe!” she reprimanded. Yang turned to her and stuck out her tongue, maturity thrown to the wind, looking back at Blake smugly as her sister sulked.

Only to be almost floored when Blake easily landed a small peck on her cheek as she brushed past.

“Merry Christmas eve,” Blake winked at Yang, returning the smug look as she walked towards Ruby who was now delighted that somebody was at least smart enough to go along with it. “That was for you, Ruby,” she claimed.

“Don’t encourage her!” Yang whined, thoroughly defeated. Ruby was going to take this and run with it. If the Earth was flat, she’d run right off the edge – but it wasn’t, so she’d never stop. No matter what she said, her little sister would stop at nothing to get her to admit to a crush she didn’t have. She would die right then and there on the spot if it weren’t for Ruby suggesting Blake go and meet their dad. She had to soldier on, and so she hurried after the two. Flicking Ruby on the back of her head, she exacted revenge. Two could play this game. “Ruby Rose, I swear to God, I’d ground you, but that wouldn’t teach you anything. I think I’ll just forget about making those cookies I promised.”

Before Ruby could protest, Blake butted in, “Will you make them for me?” knowing that the answer could only be one thing.

“Ugh, fine. I hate you both,” Yang gave up, opting to just try and get through the last introduction without a disaster. “Dad,” she called as they approached, the eldest Xiao Long turning to face them with a friendly smile. “This is my friend Blake. Blake, this is Taiyang.”

“Tai is fine!” he offered his hand, Blake extending her own as he continued. “I hear that you’re responsible for setting my sunny little dragon straight?” He asked, referring to Yang’s change in behaviour, but the innuendo was not lost on the rest of them.

“I wouldn’t use the word straight,” Qrow whispered to Ruby, the two snickering as Blake supressed a laugh herself.

Yang mainly groaned because she knew Blake was going to tease her about the nickname. “I wish I’d vetoed that name from being used in front of people,” she buried her face in her hands, effectively letting her uncle and sister get away with their mocking.

“I’d argue that we’ve been good influences on each other…but I’ll take the credit if you’re giving it,” Blake replied.

Yang’s father beamed at her. “I’m grateful Yang’s got good friends looking out for her. I’m sure we’ll talk more over dinner, but I’ve got a bit more catching up to do with Qrow.”

The three girls took that as their cue to run off and be teenagers, since dinner was already cooking. Tai and Yang had prepared dish of roast pork, which was their family tradition for Christmas eve. They migrated to the lounge, Yang plonking quite literally onto the couch and switching the television on.

“Yang, what could you be possibly looking for on TV? It’s Christmas eve,” Blake said as she took a seat next to the blonde, that looked at her incredulously.

“Uh, Die Hard?” Yang answered, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

The Faunus was momentarily shocked. “Die Hard is not a Christmas movie.”

Yang faux-gasped, “How dare you!”

Blake looked to Ruby for support, who sat on her older sister’s other side. “It takes place on Christmas eve,” the small brunette shrugged.

As the TV landed on channel after channel, Yang let out a noise of happiness as the film she was searching for appeared. She let out another noise when she realised what scene she’d come upon. As the main character spoke over walkie-talkie with the villain, and despite the tense tone of the scene, Yang exuberantly quoted, “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfu-”

“LANGUAGE, YANG!” Her father yelled from the other room, cutting her off, knowing exactly what she was doing. She did the same thing every year.

“Aw, man.” She slumped in her seat, Taiyang’s reign of humiliation never-ending.

Yang was just about ready to die when Blake hit her with a humdinger, “Remember, you’re on the straight and narrow now, sunny little dragon.”

Ruby burst into laughter, obviously enjoying herself. It was rare to see anybody tease her sister and get away with it, and it looked like Blake had mastered the art in a few short months.

“You are so not allowed to use that name!”

“Only dad calls her that. He takes a lot of pride in their similarities,” Ruby explained, and Blake could see, at the very least, that Yang was certainly a chip off her father’s shoulder in her appearance.

“Too much pride if you ask me,” the blonde muttered, “he might as well have named me Taiyang junior.”

“Technically, he did. Just in another language,” Ruby said, taking her opportunity to tease some more. An embarrassed Yang was easier to manipulate, and she intended to manipulate her into confession.

Yang whacked Ruby in the arm with an annoyed grunt. “Ruby, you’re not helping me here.”

“Yang, I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” Blake nudged her friend with her shoulder, “you allude to something marvellously bright, warm and powerful, and you have the ability to light up a room without even trying. My name translates, literally, to black. I know which one I’d rather.”

Lilac eyes glanced her way, taking in the Faunus’ choice of clothing…it was incredibly un-festive; more akin to funeral attire. “You can’t say that your name isn’t accurate, Blakey. Besides, even if you aren’t bright like you say I am, light shines brightest in the dark, right?”

Just like that, Blake found herself stunned. That sounded like something out of a movie; how did she think of that on the spot? “Uh, well, when you put it that way,” she said, not quite sure how she felt about how utterly sweet the sentiment was. They shared an awkward look as the pause turned pregnant, before Ruby came to the rescue.

“Jeez, when did you become such hopeless romantic, sis?”

So much for rescue

“I’m not- ugh, Rubes, please…just watch the movie.”

And so, they sat in awkward silence, dinner-time drawing closer at a snail’s pace. Blake was mildly concerned that Yang had been pushed to her limit until she noticed that the younger sibling had cuddled closer with little resistance. The two seemed engrossed in the action onscreen, leaving the Faunus with little choice but to attend to her wandering thoughts.

It was true that Yang was quite possibly the brightest thing she’d ever come across in her life – next to the sun itself. Every time she wondered how exactly she’d made friends with someone so opposite to herself in every way, it always came back to one reason: her happiness was contagious. Over time Blake had come to believe that she would cast a shadow over anybody she got close to. How could she not, when it was all she got told? You’re a black cat, Blake, they’re bad luck to anybody that comes across one. Not only was she the darkness that her name suggested, she was the deadly nightshade, the poisonous belladonna. At least, that was what he had said.

If Blake was the night, then Yang was the day. Bright and sunny, warm and comforting. Day and night couldn’t coexist…

...but maybe she could learn to believe that light shines brightest in the dark.

As the three sat through Die Hard – Blake still didn’t think it was a Christmas movie – eventually Tai called in Yang to finish off dinner preparations, so she left the other two to better acquaint themselves. Not without warning to Ruby to behave, of course.

“So, Ruby…it seems like you’ve missed Yang more than she anticipated,” the ravenette spoke up. She remembered the first day of school when Yang had mentioned she had a little sister back at home.

“Yeah, I missed her! But what do you mean?” The girl wore a confused look.

“I know mischief when I see it. Yang’s an expert at it, and all things considered, you’re likely even better,” Blake said, “I’ve had my fair share of poking fun too, but maybe you should go a little easier on her. Yang missed you more than you realise. She even talked about you the first day we met.”

Ruby smiled. Her big sis had apologised a million times for leaving her to pursue other things, and she understood, she did. “Oh, I know, I’m not trying to make her feel bad about that,” it was undeniably adorable that Blake was that concerned and looking out for her friend. She hadn’t realised what exactly this was all about! “I just think sometimes Yang can’t see what’s right in front of her. She’s used to taking care of other people, and not always thinking about what’s best for herself. And from what I can tell, you make her really happy.”

“Oh,” Blake tried not to blush at the implication. Ruby was actually trying to push them together, not just use romance as a source of embarrassment. At that moment, she tried to remember that the girl was only fifteen and that she would need to diffuse the situation carefully.

“I can tell you just want to help, but unfortunately not everything is as simple as that.”

“It could be simple! Yang thinks you’re the bee’s knees,” the younger girl waited, hoping that she was being convincing.

Blake’s reaction appeared to be disbelief. “The bee’s knees?” What an odd thing to say, for a kid. Did this family like bees in particular for any reason?

Ruby nodded, finding that she was running out of persuasive things to say. “…technically she didn’t say she wouldn’t date you,” she finally added, as if that was proof in itself.

So, in whatever conversation the sisters had, Ruby had asked if Yang wanted to go out with her? And she didn’t say yes, but she hadn’t said no, either. Why they were talking about it, Blake didn’t know. Perhaps there was more she needed to find out before jumping to any conclusions, but, there was one important thing they hadn’t factored in.

“It’s sweet you’re trying to look out for her, but by no fault of her own, I’ve never even contemplated Yang that way. I don’t think it would work,” Blake said in honesty.  Because there was no way.

The girl opposite her looked disappointed, “You don’t mean because you’re girls, right?”

Such an innocent question was at least reassuring. But it was hardly the problem. “No, no, not that.”

“You guys balance each other, you know,” Ruby tried again, not ready to give up.

But it was no use. Blake was adamant, “I know. We just…” Aren’t the same, was what she wanted to say, but that would only raise more questions.

“We don’t match,” Blake waited for a disagreement, but none came.

It took a moment, but Ruby made no further objections. “Huh. Okay, then,” she said with a little shrug.

Had the sisters planned to get an answer from her? “Okay, then?” Blake repeated warily; she felt like this was some sort of test.

“Yup! Forget about it,” Yang’s sister flashed her a happy smile and returned to watching the television screen, dropping the subject like it was hot.

Why did Blake feel that if it were a test…

…she had failed it?

Throughout dinner, Blake tried to quell her unease from her conversation with Ruby. Mostly, she had gone back to thinking that she’d been reading too much into what they’d discussed, and that Yang was oblivious to her sister’s antics – it really did seem like the kid hadn’t been that serious if she gave up like she did.

Besides, it was hard to stay worried when she was presented with such a happy situation. Finding herself sitting at the dinner table surrounded by a family was something she had been deprived of for many years. It may not have been her own family, but it was a loving one nonetheless. They certainly had made her feel right at home, Tai asking questions about school; wanting stories of the things they got up to; how on Earth she had managed to reign in the rascal that is his daughter; and all of them chatting amicably to her. Even Qrow seemed to be in a good mood – well, a better mood than usual.

They’d all finished their meals, Blake feeling particularly sated; Yang was without a doubt, talented in the kitchen – it hadn’t been just the tuna talking last time.

Ruby let out a hefty sigh. “I’ve missed your cooking, sis,” Yang giving her a subtle wink when their father made a noise of indignation, “uh, no offense, dad!”

“I take much offense! Don’t forget I also cooked.”

“You were helpful,” Yang chimed in, “as in, you helped me cook.”

Before their harmless teasing went too far, Blake felt it was only fair of her to offer her thanks, “Well, it was delicious. So, compliments to both the chefs.”

“Ah, see, my children? You’d fare well to be politer, like Blake,” she saw the sisters shrug their shoulders in unison as they giggled. “Since you’ve experienced a little of our family traditions, Blake, I think it’d be only fair if you got to choose our evening activity!”

As a child, her family had always been into all the typical family bonding things. There was one thing in particular she felt would be appropriate. “If all parties are willing, I’m up for playing a few festive tunes,” she returned the sincere smile the Xiao Long elder sent her way.

“Oh, no, no. I don’t do carolling,” Qrow spoke up, finally deeming the conversation worthy of his input.

Yang abruptly stood, her chair almost toppling over in her enthusiasm. “You’re gonna sing Silent Night, and you’re gonna like it, old man! Blake’s fingers are like a Christmas miracle- I mean, Blake’s piano playing, not her-”

“Alright, alright,” Qrow rolled his scarlet eyes at how bad Yang’s recovery was, “don’t hurt yourself, kid,” he rose and lightly shoved her while she was still stuttering out what sounded like an apology.

“Christmas songs, yeah!” Ruby sped off after Qrow, out the kitchen and down the hall, Taiyang chuckling at the sheer difference between their attitudes.

“If you can get Qrow to sing, I think you might be my hero,” he said to Blake as he also exited the room.

“How many songs do you have memorised?” Yang asked quietly, while nobody could overhear them.

“Only the ones I had to,” Blake casually replied. That could mean anything, to Yang. “Come on, I want to hear you sing,” the Faunus tugged the blonde along with a cheeky smirk, “maybe your mouth can be a Christmas miracle too.”

Yang instantly felt ten degrees warmer all over at the insinuation. Blake had been feisty all night; at this pace, Yang would be dead by midnight of embarrassment.

The mismatched family had danced and sung for hours to Blake’s piano notes. Well, she had taken a break an hour ago, and been replaced with a crappy CD – Qrow had fished it out from the depths of his music collection – when Yang had complained she hadn’t gotten to dance with her. Blake had finally lost all her composure when Yang had had one too many sips of her uncle’s drink and busted out what she called the slutty Jingle Bell Rock dance. “It’s from the most popular teenage girl movie everrrrrrrr,” she’d claimed. How she remembered the moves was beyond anybody at that point, but it had become too much to contain their laughter when Qrow and Tai even tried to follow her lead.

Ruby had cried, “I’m traumatised!” and covered her face with a pillow when the men curtseyed at the end while Yang just tripped on her own feet and fell down.

Tai tutted at his little dragon who was cackling on the floor at her own clumsiness, “Yang you’ve had too much to drink! No presents from Santa for you!”

Still laughing, Yang mock whispered to Blake behind her hand. “Should we tell him Qrow let us in at the bar?”

“Young lady!” Tai looked at her, then at Blake. “Ladies!” He corrected, “what happened to behaving!”

Yang guessed he wasn’t really that mad. She’d done worse at home. “It was only one time. Besides, we’re almost eighteen!”

Ruby poked her head out from behind the pillow. “But the legal drinking age is twent-”

“Actually, I think we’re gonna go to bed before Santa comes!” Yang quickly gained her footing and dragged Blake with her on her retreat. “Goodnight!”

Blake watched with amusement as Ruby followed after them, Yang stumbling as they ascended the stairs. “I swear to drunk I’m not God,” she laughed, deliberately messing up the phrase, “but damn, Qrow drinks some hard liquor.”

Blake gave her a slight knock upside the head. “For some reason I think you were probably aware of that,” she sounded mad, but just like her dad, Yang knew she wasn’t either.

The three crowded into the bathroom to try and brush their teeth. Ruby and Yang shoved at each other, thankfully leaving Blake out of their squabble. She had taken her toothbrush she kept here, that Yang insisted she have. If you’re always here, might as well have a toothbrush, she had said. It only occurred to her then that it was kind of a weird thing to do; and it only was due to how often she seemed to stay over.

“You have your own toothbrush here?” Ruby asked, almost spitting mint froth all over the place.

“Manners, Rubes,” Yang tapped her sister on the head with her own brush that she was yet to use. Ruby sped up her brushing under Yang’s stare, finishing up in record speed. “Uh, sorry,” she murmured. Looks like Yang had caught on to her. “I’ll see you in the morning! Bye!” She tried to squeeze her way out the door, but strong arms caught her.

“Hold up there, squirt,” Yang wrapped her sister in a bear hug that rivalled every other she had given before. She was giving equal parts love and punishment, after all. “Don’t let the bed bugs bite. Seriously,” she winked, “love you.”

Ruby returned the sentiment and left for the spare room she would be sleeping in with their dad. There was only one spare room, after all; with Blake joining them there was no choice but to have sleeping arrangements that way.

The older girls remained, tending to their dental hygiene, Yang making silly faces in the mirror every time their eyes met. Blake attributed it to tipsiness, but was proved wrong when they finally retreated to the privacy of Yang’s room and heard Yang apologise.

“I’m sorry if Ruby’s said anything…weird to you tonight.”

“If being greeted under mistletoe didn’t scare me off, you have nothing to worry about,” Blake let herself laugh a bit, because it was kind of funny seeing Yang grimace at the mention of the incident.

“You so shouldn’t have kissed me. I think my little sister is going to ship us together like TV characters,” Yang wore a pensive expression, and Blake wasn’t sure how Yang really felt about it. It was the best time to find out, though.

“I’m not entirely sure what Ruby wanted to accomplish, but she did bring that…topic up. While you were gone.”

That prompted Yang to groan for the umpteenth time that night. “I told her we weren’t a thing and we aren’t going to be. For the record.”

The blonde began stripping herself of her clothes haphazardly. Her statement had sounded a bit forced. The sisters hadn’t agreed, that much was obvious. She still didn’t know why Yang was annoyed, and frankly, if they had both denied it then there was no reason to keep talking about it.

“She stopped when I said the same thing, basically. Really, Yang, it’s fine.”

Yang looked at her then, and Blake made sure her face said it’s okay. Because it was. Everything was okay.

“I’m actually surprised that you’re still single,” Blake decided to steer the conversation away from them, “there should be guys lining up at the mere sight of you, but they’re not.”

“Are you patronizing me?” Yang mocked offense, scoffing snootily. It would have been a great act if she had any shred of dignity left; it was hard to take anybody standing in their underwear and socks seriously. At least they’d gotten off the awkward topic.

Yang put on her usual sleeping ensemble while Blake busied herself finding something to wear in Yang’s dresser. She’d been given permission for unlimited access after Yang had found it too bothersome to give the okay every time her friend asked. I’m not hiding anything in there you wouldn’t want to see, was her reasoning. It was both comforting and unsettling that Yang knew exactly why she was apprehensive, because that meant she now knew that Blake wondered about certain things she shouldn’t be thinking about.

She opted to slip into sarcastic indifference to mask her slight embarrassment at the memory. “No, not at all.”

They lapsed into momentary silence and Yang climbed into bed. “Maybe it’s because everyone saw me hit Cardin. They probably think I’m a savage or something,” Blake could tell that she’d actually hit a sensitive topic just by Yang’s words. Though she was genuinely curious if Yang had prospective partners; whether the bombshell blonde had neglected to inform her altogether, or rejected anybody, really wasn’t any of her business.

But, her business was to be a supportive friend. “They’re probably just afraid,” she dismissed the preposterous self-notion. All teenagers had second-thoughts about asking someone out. She was pretty sure of that, at least.

Yang looked up with her brows furrowed. “Oh.”

The Faunus felt her cat ears droop instinctively at Yang’s dejected tone. She elaborated, “afraid that they’re not good enough for you.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“I mean it.” God help her if she felt this bad about an insecure Yang Xiao Long. The confident girl was disarming, but this was worse. It made her say things she didn’t know she thought. “In my opinion, nobody is good enough for you.”

Not even me.

Blake undid the bow atop her head, incredibly conscious of what had just run through her mind. It was true, but it didn’t mean she understood why it made her feel worse. She had perked up her friend, and that was what really mattered. She started to undress as Yang said nothing more. Usually, she’d prefer to change without an audience, but, Yang wasn’t looking anyway…and Blake had come to learn that she really didn’t care if she was. Flaunt what you’ve got, right? Even the voice in her head had started to talk like Yang, and it was growing stronger every day.

When she lay down and switched off the lamp, she could see Yang next to her; eyes searching fruitlessly for her own in the dark.

“Can I tell you something?” Blake asked, feeling that this was another opportunity to let her guard down.


“My father started a Faunus rights activist group before I was born. He used to tell me that it was different, back then. The other members eventually worked against him to change it to…something akin to a religion. He let them take over. He didn’t want to fight with humans, let alone his own kind. So my parents practiced with them, and I was raised with their beliefs. But, once they were gone, things began to change,” Blake trailed off, unsure of how to describe what her Church had become. The White Fang had gone from activist protesters to organised preachers, holding sermons of how one day they’d save every Faunus and eradicate humans.

As she listened, Yang’s hand presented itself in a kind gesture. Blake was glad for the reassurance and held on to it with her own. Her friend said nothing, but remembering Blake’s night vision allowed her to give her plenty of physical signals.

Yang’s hand squeezed hers, encouraging, go on.

“I think I grew up in a cult.”

“But you left, right? That’s why you moved here?”

“Somebody I trusted changed. It wasn’t in an instant, it was gradual. Little choices began to pile up, and they became too much to bear. Eventually I realised I wasn’t doing the right thing, so, yes. I left.”

“You are not defined by your past, Blake. I hope you know that.”

“If you keep telling me that, I might start to believe you.”

“Then I’ll tell you every day. And I’m really glad you’re here,” Yang said quietly.

Blake knew that those were grateful words. “So am I,” she replied, and hopefully, that conveyed her thanks too.

But, just in case, she got a little closer to her own personal sun. Yang was quick on the uptake and pulled Blake to her chest, but when she released the hug, the Faunus did not move away; content to share the comfort of another. Like the rumbling of thunder, Yang’s strong heartbeat almost echoed in her head, the rhythm of a rolling drum lulling her to sleep.

Blake felt like she woke in an instant, but it seemed that it was now early morning, and neither of them had moved in their sleep. Her ears picked up no voices in the house. She wondered if this family rose early for Christmas, like hers once did. She was not against lying in wait, for it was oh so very warm with Yang. Eventually, she did feel the blonde shift and sensed the change in her breathing.

There was a slight grumble. “Blake?”

“Hey,” she acknowledged the sleepy call. “Merry Christmas.”

“Huh? Oh, right,” Yang moved again, but away this time. When Blake whined just slightly at the loss of heat, Yang chuckled. “I’ll be right back, you leech,” she rolled over once Blake relented, and opened her bedside drawer and pulled out a nondescript envelope.

On her return, she looked slightly sheepish. “I know I told you not to get me anything, but I still wanted to give you something. Merry Christmas.”

Blake took the gift with a little huff. “That’s entirely unfair.”

“I don’t need you to reciprocate everything I do,” Yang dismissed, “just let me have this one.”

And she did, if only because of the sincerity. Flipping open the unsealed covering, she took out its contents, and the simplicity of it came as a shock somehow. Inside was a gift card to one of the local bookstores, and it wasn’t exactly a small amount of money. Her face must have betrayed her head, because Yang didn’t let her protest.

“I know you love reading, and now you can buy whatever you want. Maybe you won’t forget about me when you’re having the time of your life buried in a book.”

“This is very thoughtful,” Blake said, not quite sure what that was supposed to mean, but she smiled nonetheless.

Yang looked very pleased with herself. “I know.”

“Wow, humble,” Blake teased. It was a wonderful present. “Got anything else for me in that drawer?” She joked.

With a smirk, Yang murmured, “Nothing you’d wanna see.”

Yang Xiao Long, you are an idiot,” Blake swatted her pest of friend for such a despicable joke, but was forced into a bone-crushing hug as Yang giggled.

If her crushed bones didn’t kill her, then the heart attack she had when the door was almost blown off its hinges as Ruby barged in yelling, “WAKEUPIT’SCHRISTMAS!” would have. Blake squealed adorably – in Yang’s opinion – when Ruby jumped onto the bed and landed on the both of them.

Great, Yang thought, they were caught in such a compromising position. Ruby had the worst timing. “Holy crapoly, little sister! Have you ever heard of knocking?”

For some reason Blake had pulled the covers up over her like she was naked. It made them look less-than-innocent, that was for sure. It was kinda funny too, though.

Ruby looked confused. “What, you guys aren’t being gay are yoooohhh my gosh Blake you have four ears,” her face lit up as her words transitioned from her sheer joy.

In an instant, Blake had disappeared under the bedspread. “That is why you knock,” Yang said, exasperated.

“Don’t worry Blake, I can keep a secret!” When the Faunus did not emerge from hiding, Ruby added in earnest, “I promise.”

Yang couldn’t help herself. “You could say you paw-mise.”

Blake rose up then just to assault Yang with punches for such a crappy pun.

It turned out that the twenty fifth day of December was every bit as good as the twenty-fourth. They all gathered around a small plastic pine tree – that Qrow had deemed festive in air quotes – for a brief trading of presents. Most were for the youngest attendee, but Yang did receive a particularly well-fitting motorcycle jacket that Blake couldn’t help but admire.

Then, they’d eaten a delicious breakfast whipped up by the chefs Xiao Long. Yang also made the batch of cookies that she’d promised, and while they were baking, Ruby announced that she had a special video call to share. Apparently, her friend Weiss was dog-sitting Zwei back in Maine – and one of the care instructions had been to call on Christmas day so they could say hello.

It was oddly fitting how much Tai, Yang and Ruby babbled at a dog on a tiny screen. Blake and Qrow shared a glance of amusement behind their backs.

Once the cookies were out of the oven, Ruby was lost to the world. Blake would admit that she’d eat more of the treats than she normally would, they were that tasty. Yang was well equipped to tame the hyper girl, but her younger sister then wanted her father and uncle’s help tinkering with a new project that they’d given her, so the two friends took a few cookies back upstairs and let them go wild.

Yang noticed that Blake was beaming with happiness. Most of the time, Blake hid her emotions well, so it was a rare sight. “That smile looks good on you.”

“Yeah? Well, credit goes to you for that one,” Blake said, nudging her.

She was actually being open about it, to Yang’s surprise. She expected an eye roll or something. “What did I do?” She asked, thoroughly intrigued.

Blake became bashful at Yang’s insistence. “You, and your family too, are restoring my faith.”

“Like, in humanity?”

Blake hummed in agreement. “And my literal faith. Kind of. See, when I left the White Fang, I also left my beliefs behind. But now that I’ve changed, I think that whatever God is up there is rewarding me. Everything has been so much brighter since I met you. You’re like a blessing. I guess I didn’t realise it until now.”

Well, shit, Yang thought. She knew that Blake wasn’t trying to be, or implying anything romantic…but her heart suddenly jumped into her throat and she almost choked. She was a goner. This was it. This is what it felt like to fall for someone you shouldn’t.


Yang found herself wrapped in a hug. Blake hardly ever initiated hugs.

“Thank you, Yang.”

“Yeah,” what was happening to her! Say something better! “I love you too, Blake,” she said it like a joke, and the irony was lost on the oblivious Faunus.

This is bad

That evening, Blake left. Spend some time with them alone, Blake told her, you’ve done enough for me as it is.

So Yang let her go.

It was almost a relief, after the revelation of her true feelings. It was weird, knowing that she’d vehemently denied it – because how wrong could you be about yourself? Closing the front door, she was confronted with her sister.

“Blake’s nice,” Ruby said matter-of-factly.

Duh. “I know.”

“And she has cute little kitty ears,” a whisper.

“I know, Ruby.”

“Are you sure you don’t like her?”

Not anymore. “I am such an idiot.”

Chapter Text

January (Winter)



On New Year’s Day – well, morning – Yang did not have a hangover. She’d made sure to avoid that; where Sun got alcohol for a bunch of teenagers was beyond her, but it had been difficult to bear witness to the wonder that was drunk Blake. One would expect that Yang would’ve easily gone back to her irresponsible persona, but, one would be wrong.

Because getting drunk and losing your inhibitions was not conducive to keeping a secret.

She should have kept her friend under a more watchful eye, but to her own credit, she tried. She later suspected that Sun was working against her; refusing everything he shoved at her in those stupid red cups – he couldn’t get Yang to confess under the influence, so Blake was the next target. It wasn’t Blake’s fault that she was a lightweight, nor was it his, but he was going to be in trouble once Blake woke up.

The party was tame, in her opinion. Herself, Blake, Jaune, Pyrrha, Ren and Nora had been invited to Sun’s place while his parents were out of town. Neptune was also obviously present, and so were the boys’ friends Scarlet and Sage. Nobody too crazy, though Nora was accountable for about fifty percent of any craziness; Sun himself thirty-five percent, and the rest of them all contributed to the remaining allocation. It had gone well, until her friends forgot the concept of privacy.

Yang blamed Sun the most, purely because he used Nora as an outlet for announcing possibly the worst party game in existence – Nora couldn’t refuse a game – and so she watched helplessly as truth or dare finally came to claim her poor soul. That was, until Ren saved her by asking her if she’d like to sit it out with him. He had a knack for telling when people were uncomfortable, and it was an understatement to say Yang was not comfortable with being at the mercy of Sun.

There was not much she could do as Blake; already pretty tipsy, was roped into the game. Dares were passed around; Nora daring Pyrrha to kiss Jaune, Neptune daring Scarlet to eat wet bread – she’d never seen somebody gag that much – and as expected, Sun wasted no time in asking Blake truth or dare. Yang didn’t know she’d been holding her breath until Blake finally said truth. At least there would be no kissing dares, not that she approved of dragging non-participants into the game. Truth was hardly going to get him any good information, since Blake did not like her.

But alas, from the couch she and Ren sat upon, she heard the monkey Faunus ask the cat Faunus, “Blake, if you had to kiss someone in this room, who would it be?”

Yang was instantly fuming at the blatant attempt to embarrass her, and words had promptly slipped out of her mouth before she could stop them. “Oh, fuck off!”

In turn, the outburst caused the circle of friends on the floor to swivel their heads to look at her. Even Ren looked a little surprised, and that was saying something. It took all her willpower to not go over to Sun and smack his arrogant smile off his face when he had said, “Something, wrong, Yang?”

She would have given him a piece of her mind, if not for the fact that Blake giggled and proceeded to whisper-yell, “I already kissed Yang!”

Everybody gasped – it was like a soap opera – save for Ren and Yang herself. Because she was livid.

Sun on the other hand, was living. “I was right! You two are gayer than a rainbow!”

“That’s not true!” Yang found herself standing, heart racing. “It was a kiss on the cheek,” she realised she’d admitted that it was kind-of true, but still. It didn’t mean he was right. If she was honest with herself, she had no idea why she was bothering to deny it anymore, but then again, Blake was right there watching her.

“You only kissed her cheek?” Nora asked, sceptical of both of their behaviour.

Blake shrugged. “Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.”

“I see,” Nora replied. “Alright, people. Lock them in the closet!”

“I thought we wanted them to come out of the closet, not go in it?” Jaune said, misunderstanding her literal meaning.

“We are not locking them in a closet, Nora,” Pyrrha interrupted, sending a disapproving look to her orange-haired friend, “let me handle this.” The tall girl had wasted no time in whisking Yang away to talk in private.

Yang quickly broke down her situation to the only girl that she could trust to keep her secret. Pyrrha was at least understanding of what she was going through, but her advice was something Yang already knew would come.

You have to talk to her about this.

She just put on a brave face when they returned to everyone in the midst of dancing dumbly to some music, but it had been hard to keep it up when Sun had shimmied on over into her personal space.

He kept his voice discreet. “Dude, Blake wants you. Why are you making this so hard on yourself?”

Why was she? She looked over at Jaune who had taken Pyrrha’s hand, both of them looking quite content. Nora even had Ren doing ridiculous dance moves with her too; Neptune and Scarlet were surprisingly dancing in-sync, and Sage was spinning a laughing Blake in a casual waltz. There were cute couples and good friends, though she felt a pang of jealousy of seeing Blake with someone else. And it was ridiculous.

Her eyes watched Blake move. She was less graceful than usual, but all the more attractive; she was carefree. “I need to figure this out on my own.”

Sun placed his hand on her shoulder. “What more is there to figure out?”

It took a moment, but she looked him in the eye. “How the hell I’m going to tell her.”

“You’ll think of something. Go dance with her,” he smiled goofily.

Though she hadn’t quite forgiven him, he did have good intentions, and he was finally letting up. He followed her over to Blake and Sage, intervening one last time.

“May I borrow him, lady Blake?” Sun mocked Scarlet’s British accent, cutting in on the dancing pair.

“Why of course, mister Wukong, sir,” Blake did a much more accurate impersonation, as Scarlet exclaimed something nonsensical about Sun – boi was the affectionate term – in his signature birdcall. Blake then turned to her and offered a hand.

“Would this lady like to dance?”

Yang ignored the slight blush she felt adorn her face, but let a smile grow on her lips unbidden as she too spoke with a faux-accent too. “Why, it would be an honour!”

They took turns leading each other in a waltz to eighties classics – Scarlet had said something about hauling oats? – and Yang found it progressively harder to keep Blake from falling over her own feet. It reminded her of their outing to Ozpin’s. Alcohol dismantled Blake’s restraint then, and it had not let her get away this time, either. She had no doubt sober Blake would have never said that she’d kissed her. There was every possibility that unlike herself, Blake didn’t want to admit she was attracted to Yang, and if it was true, that presented…a problem. More of a problem than she already had, that was.

Being so focused on enjoying the moment with Blake, Yang almost forgot what day it was until someone remembered to switch the TV onto the local news station. The countdown to midnight was approaching fast as the group gathered around. She was getting ready to count along; at least she wouldn’t mess up like every other year she had been wasted.

She was about to chant ten, just like everyone else, until Blake completely stole her attention by whispering in her ear.

“I think it’s your turn to kiss me.”

It was funny how a few words could take her breath away. Not funny like ha-ha funny, but funny like she would never forget it for the rest of her miserable life.


Yang barely choked out a response. “What?”


“Come on, Yang,” she had only provoked Blake to practically cling to her.


Maybe she could make it out alive of this. “You’re joking?”


Blake was not joking. “Everyone else is gonna be doing it, it’s tradition.”


Goddamn kissing traditions were the bane of her existence.


“It’s just a kiss on the cheek,” Blake said, like it was the simplest thing in the world.


“Not everyone-” Yang began to turn her head, but was stopped by grabbing hands.


“Don’t look at them, look at me.”


She shouldn’t have listened to her, because now they’d made eye contact and even though Blake had said cheek, Yang was thinking of everything but. “You have no idea what you’re doing to me, you know.”

But Blake wouldn’t know. She probably wouldn’t even remember this. And she seemed at least a little desperate, and it made Yang really wonder if Sun was totally right.


“Happy New Year!” 

It was well after noon by the time the black cat Faunus woke. Although, to her, she felt more like death reincarnated. “I feel awful,” she groused, still wrapped in a thick fleece blanket and struggling to sit upright in the chair Sun had pulled out for her when she’d stumbled into the kitchen.

For her sake, he kept his voice down, whether or not he knew she had extra ears to be mindful of. “You’re a lightweight, Blake. You were drunk, like, an hour after you got here.”

Too tired to refute that she was, in fact, a lightweight, she was more concerned at the length of time he’d mentioned. “But I don’t remember the whole night! Oh, God, please tell me I didn’t do anything stupid.”

“I wouldn’t say anything stupid,” Sun’s smile was reassuring, but, his words weren’t.

“What does that mean?” She was almost afraid to ask.

“You were all over Yang like white on rice,” he leaned against the kitchen counter, still jovial.

Blake knew very well that Sun had been convinced that she and Yang were an item, but this was bad if he was telling the truth – what had she done? “I was what?”

“You,” he pointed at her, “were all over Yang.”

He took her silence as a sign to keep talking. He must have thought she didn’t understand what he was saying, but really, she was just trying to wrap her pounding head around it all.

“Take it from the Chinese guy, rice is white all over. Yang’d back me up. She’s Chinese too, we like rice,” Sun rambled, “but we like all kinds of rice, so maybe I should have used a different analogy,” he added, thinking he’d confused her.

A different voice chimed in, “You’re generalising your own culture, Sun.” It was then that Yang walked in on their conversation, oblivious as to why they were talking about rice. “You’re finally awakey, Blakey. How’s the old noggin’?”

In a knee-jerk reaction, Blake turned her frustration onto its source. “Don’t call me that.”

Yang recoiled at the hostility. She knew how hangovers could be bad for moods, but even for Blake, that was harsh. “Hey, don’t get mad at me. It’s Sun’s fault,” she said, happy to direct Blake’s ire onto their mischievous friend. He suddenly looked a lot less carefree now that he’d been blamed.

“Clarify,” Blake demanded over Sun’s spluttering.

“Everything you drank came from the monkey bar,” Yang resisted laughing at her own joke for once – even though it was a good one – and proceeded to boil a kettle to make some calming tea for her friend. Sun hadn’t even thought of that, since he was probably too busy being sneaky.

“Did you just make a pun outta me?”

Ignoring Sun, Yang sat down with Blake. “There wasn’t much I could do. Everything I took away from you, he replaced just as fast.”

“Throwing me right under the bus, here,” Sun said, cowering and meekly laughing when furious amber eyes locked onto his.

“That’s the plan,” Yang leaned back in her chair, tempted to let this play out. “Pour the lady some tea, would ya? It’s the least you could do.”

Stuttering in agreement, he promptly delivered a steaming mug to a very irritated Blake.

“Leave us,” like a queen would order a peasant, a disgruntled Blake shooed the apologetic boy away. More than happy to escape, Sun gave Yang a thanking-prayer motion behind Blake’s back.

“What happened last night?” Blake cut to the chase before Yang had a chance to say anything.

“Is that what you were talking about?” She was in no rush to discuss it, but she was curious about the whole rice thing.

“Sun said…something,” Blake wrapped her hands around her cup of tea, but did not drink. “I trust you’ll at least tell me the real story.”

“Nothing happened,” Yang didn’t even look at her. When she did, though, she seemed nervous. “Well, not nothing, but not not nothing?”

To that, Blake said nothing – nothing was an appropriate response to more nothing, but she did raise an eyebrow slightly.

Yang sighed. “What did he tell you?”

“Apparently, I was all over you like white on rice,” Blake recounted in her signature monotone, ever the face of nonchalance.

“So that’s why he was talking about Chinese people and rice,” Yang tried to lighten to mood to no avail. She’d have to tell Blake sooner or later, and it was going to be sooner.  “He got you drunk because I refused to get drunk. He wanted one of us smashed, and you were a much easier target to get a confession out of.”

Under Blake’s bow – which had managed to stay secure – cat ears stood attentive. “You don’t mean?”

“I do,” Yang nodded. They both knew, that with Sun, it was always about their relationship. “It sorta worked, too.”

“I’m never drinking again,” the Faunus muttered.

Yang contemplated what to say. This could end up being a very awkward conversation that she wasn’t sure she was ready to have. She tried for honest with a bit of humour. “Long story short, you announced you’ve kissed me before, and everyone went nuts.”

Blake’s cheeks became rosy as she went on the defence. “Why would I do that? It’s not even true.”

“I said the same thing,” the blonde shrugged. “Nothing came of it…until it was time for the midnight countdown.”

“We did not kiss at midnight,” Blake’s face had become hard to read, but to Yang, she sounded kind of disgusted. It was disconcerting.

“Do you think I’d take advantage of you like that?” Yang hadn’t meant to sound so defensive, but honestly, that’s how she was feeling right then. Blake had never acted this way before, even during conversations with similar topics.

“You wouldn’t have the chance to,” the Faunus said hastily, “I wouldn’t…do that.”

Her emotions were beginning to bubble under the surface, and Yang couldn’t stop them showing for long, she knew that. “I hate to break it to you, but it was your idea.”

Blake moved her cup tea to the side so she could lean forward on the table. “Yang, tell me what happened.”

“You kept insisting when it was counting down,” Yang growled, making it abundantly clear that she hadn’t asked for it herself. Why should she be interrogated for something when she had been the one that was pestered? “It was just a kiss on the cheek, like you said.”

“That’s it?” Blake leaned back. Rubbing her temples, she sighed in relief. “Thank God it wasn’t anything worse.”


It was happening again. This was it – this was what it felt like to have fallen for someone that you really shouldn’t have. She didn’t know that it would hurt this much to have her fears confirmed, and it made her so damn angry. “Oh yeah, wouldn’t want me to get the wrong idea after throwing yourself at me.” She was mad at Blake, and she was mad at herself.

“Excuse me?”

Blake feigning innocence did nothing to quell her internal rage. Was she really that clueless about what she said and did?

“I’m sorry,” Yang said with fake politeness, “I didn’t realise that sober Blake and drunk Blake had different sexual orientations.”

There was still no reaction from her friend; no retaliation. Indifference was something Yang despised. It was just how she imagined Raven would act.

“Yang, you’re overreacting-”

I’m overreacting? I’m not the one pretending it didn’t happen! You can’t even remember it, but I do!” Yang remembered everything; every betrayal in her life. She stood and the chair legs scraped on the floor, no doubt hurting Blake’s sensitive hearing – if her shouting hadn’t already.

“I waited around to see if you were okay, but I guess I didn’t need to. Enjoy your tea,” she ignored Blake’s face as it turned to shock and pulled her jacket on. She was leaving. “Happy new year.”

Heavy steps travelled to the front door, followed by a slam, and a motorcycle engine revving then peeling out.

Blake heard Sun curse in the other room, and he took tentative steps towards her. She felt like crying. He asked, “I guess it didn’t go well?”

A beat passed before her tears fell.

Fast forwarding to five days later, it had been the longest amount of time that they’d not seen or spoken to each other since they met.

And it was driving Yang crazy.

While she hadn’t outright admitted anything, she’d done a lot worse than that. Every time she closed her eyes she saw Blake’s face; every time it made her feel like an idiot. Emotions had gotten the better of her, and ruined everything.

She was lucky she hadn’t taken a spill the way she drove home that day – reckless and too pissed off to care much about consequences. That was where her luck had run out, though; as the days progressed she’d gotten more irritable and clumsy. Every night she’d lost more and more sleep, and tonight she felt it’d be completely sleepless, with her brain going over everything in her head again.

It was probably because Blake hadn’t contacted her – not in her own anger, and not even to apologise. So, Yang stayed silent too. It was childish, but for once in her life, she couldn’t help but act that way. Once again, Raven’s past actions were affecting her life. It was a shitty excuse to behave that way, but everyone was a product of something – it just so happened that she was a picture-perfect product of abandonment.

Why had her mother bothered to have a kid just to leave it behind?

And why had Blake bothered to be so reassuring about being accepting of homosexuality? She’d been open to flirting, comfortable with it, she flirted back. Was it really just the alcohol talking?

So what if it was? She already had conceded that could be just it – but it didn’t make sense to Yang. If she wanted answers, she’d have to talk to Blake. It could ruin their friendship, but at this point, it might be too late to save it, too.

Although…Blake had flirted with her at other times. Maybe there was hope.

The spark of optimism made Yang hastily pick up her phone, but as soon as she tried to call Blake, her nerves returned. She settled for re-reading the text messages she’d received from Sun. It was easy to tell that he’d overheard their argument – it was hard not to – so he hadn’t been grilling her for an explanation. No, he texted her a few hours after she’d taken off to chastise her for making Blake cry.

At least he was still on her side – well, he still was convinced they were perfect for each other. He’d been sending her different ideas on what to do, and she appreciated the effort, but it was easier said than done to fix her mess. A little teamwork sounded appealing at the moment, since her own courage was waning.

Yang started to type out a plea for his help just as the phone came to life. The contact photo she’d set of Blake stared at her – she had refused to smile for the photo – and Yang was just about ready to go into cardiac arrest. An opportunity had just presented itself to her. She could take the chance…no.

She had to.

Yang answered the call, but failed to speak.

“Yang?” Blake’s voice brought her back to Earth. She didn’t sound angry.


“What- um, what’s up?”

Yang had never heard such a bad attempt at a conversation starter. But it also meant that she wasn’t the only nervous one; nor the only guilty one.

“Oh, y’know,” she said casually, “just…missing my best friend.” She heard a muffled laugh.

“I miss you too,” Blake said quietly. “I know it’s kind of late-”

“Eight-thirty isn’t late,” Yang interrupted.

She heard Blake sigh through the phone. “It is when I’m asking if I can come over.”

“Come over as in, tell me how much of a jerk I am…or impromptu sleepover where we paint our nails and stay up all night talking, come over?”

There was a little contemplative hmm. “How about both?”

Yang finally felt relieved for the first time in days. “I wasn’t sleeping tonight anyway. Come on over.”

“See you in a bit, then,” Blake said, hanging up.

That had been easy. There was no animosity. But had it been too easy?

She quickly updated her little sister of the situation via text, feeling like she could use a bit of Ruby’s everlasting encouragement.

Stepping out onto the curb, Blake took the box that Sun held out to her.

“Thanks for the ride, Sun,” she smiled at him as he gave her a thumbs up, “and the pizza.”

“You know I only did this on the condition that you guys fix this mess and stop avoiding each other! My boss would kill me if he found out, then he’d fire me.”

“You better get going, then.” Blake was grateful that her and Yang’s mutual friend cared enough for both of them to help her out. He delivered pizzas part-time; it was the perfect way to get to Yang’s in the evening and have an icebreaker. She waved goodbye to him and walked up to Qrow’s front door.

Hopefully it won’t be the last time I do, she thought. After knocking, it wasn’t long before she heard the lock click and found herself face to face with the latest person in her life she was afraid of losing.

Steeling her resolve, Blake presented the warm box to Yang, “I brought apology pizza.”

“Was I supposed to get you a bribe too?” Yang asked with a small laugh, taking the food and motioning her inside, out of the chilly air.

Blake felt that their back and forth joking from earlier was a good sign, so she kept it going. “You mean you didn’t?”

She must have sounded more serious than she intended, or Yang was just too nervous to realise it was sarcastic. “No, no! Wait right here,” Yang held up a finger with a big cheesy grin, “one second.”


“Uh-bup-bup!” Yang disappeared down the hall, still holding the pizza.

Blake busied herself with removing her coat and beanie. “I was joking,” she said to herself.

Arms behind her back, Yang returned in a matter of seconds. It was impressive how easily she was able to think of anything, let alone something believable, to get for her.

Yang flourished, presenting a single purple flower. “Voilà!” She used the French term energetically, holding it out for Blake.

It was a little odd to think that someone like Qrow, or even Yang, had a vase of flowers in the house. Nonetheless, it was a lovely shade of purple; Blake focusing on the petals before realising it was the same colour as Yang’s eyes. Even though she knew Yang hadn’t prepared it, it somehow felt more thoughtful than sauce and cheese on bread.

Blake accepted the flower, fighting the warm flush that was threatening to creep up her neck. She wished she had known that a mere flower could produce butterflies in the pit of her stomach. “Merci beaucoup, je l'aime,” she thanked Yang in French, hopeful that it would distract the blonde from noticing her reddening cheeks.

“Whoa,” Yang gawked, clearly not expecting it. “Pardon your French!”

Blake deliberately rolled her eyes. “Pardon is French, Yang.”

“Sooo, you speak French? That’s kinda hot,” Yang said despite the implications – Blake was glad Yang wasn’t going to be afraid to speak her mind around her, but she definitely had lost the battle with her blush when Yang wiggled her eyebrows.

She allowed herself the satisfaction of talking again in French, just to see Yang’s confusion, as payback.

Yang responded the best way she could to a foreign language. “It’s hot, but I have no idea what you’re saying.”

Blake repeated herself, in English. “Yes, but the pizza is getting cold, and that is a waste of a free pizza.”

“Ah,” Yang replied.

Blake shouldn’t have been surprised, but Yang then spouted a sentence that was assumedly Chinese. Raising her brow, she silently asked for a translation.

“I said, I don’t wanna waste free food,” Yang winked, and led her to the pizza that was sitting in the kitchen next to a vase of the purple flowers her gift had originated from. Perhaps her friend did like floral decoration. As lovely as the flower was, Blake didn’t really have anywhere to hold it, nor did she particularly like the idea of letting it wilt.

Blake carefully slotted its stem back into the vase with its kin. “I’ll retrieve this when I leave.”

Yang looked a little disappointed that Blake’s flower was now just another set of petals in the arrangement again, insignificant.

“I promise.”

Yang nodded after hearing that, and opened up the pizza box, grateful for the edible distraction. She was also pretty hungry; having been fretting too much to bother eating. Consciously, she avoided jumping right into the awkward conversation they were going to have to have. “Where’d you pick up French?”

“I was allowed to choose a secondary language to learn in my home-schooling. Little Blake thought it was the language of romance,” she held back a laugh at the speed Yang took and devoured a slice of pizza.

“Aw,” Yang said still chewing, “what does Blake think about it now she’s all grown up?”

Blake took her own helping of pizza, smiling wistfully. “I think I was young and naïve.”

“Well, that’s just depressing.”

Yang wasn’t wrong. It was sad, how hopeful she’d been as a child; it was a far cry from her present self. “It’s wasn’t meant to be uplifting, Yang.”

The blonde just stared at her. The scrutiny of her gaze was intense. “You are such an enigma, Blake Belladonna.”

“Some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved.” Knowing Yang, she was going to take that as a challenge. Yet she seemed to ignore it, picking up the pizza box once again and audibly sighing.

“Let’s go sit down on the couch and get the hard part over with. The suspense is killing me,” Yang walked away, her mood having switched from laid-back to serious.

As they got comfortable, they both fidgeted. Blake wasn’t expecting an apology. People never seemed to say sorry to her – for anything.

“I’m sorry for what I said. I was out of line, about everything.”

Yang was constantly surprising her, and now was no exception. She was different to other people in her life. She isn’t him; Blake felt terrible that she even had to remind herself of that when Yang had never done anything to harm her. She had intended to be the one apologising, and wasn’t going to withhold it just because Yang had also felt guilty.

“And I’m sorry too,” nonetheless, Blake was still clueless about certain details. “I don’t know what I said, but I made you upset, and that’s the last thing I wanted.”

Yang gave her the tiniest hint of a smile. It was enough to calm her frayed nerves, and it was certainly much better than the shouting she’d gotten last time they spoke.

“It’s not what you can’t remember you said,” Yang let out an airy laugh as she took another helping of pizza. “None of that was bad, even if it made me really confused.”

Blake followed her lead, taking her second helping as well. “I didn’t start speaking in French, did I?” She thought it was funny, but on second thought, it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise that she could speak French just now, if she had already done it before.

“No, I meant it made me confused,” Yang said, not bothered by talking with her mouth full of food. She did however, finish chewing before adding quietly, “about my feelings.”

“Oh,” Blake was not quite prepared for such honesty, and giving such a lame response almost made her cringe.

“Yeah,” Yang had a face of discomfort, doing the cringing for them both. “Blake, I’m not mad at you anymore. I was, but only because you acted like it wasn’t a big deal. Still, I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”

In her mind’s eye, Blake could see that angry version of Yang towering over her in Sun’s kitchen. The blonde had been intimidating, and that brought unpleasant feelings to the surface. It also made her realise that just because she had never experienced it, Yang had always had the ability to act that way. She’d knocked over Cardin Winchester, after all. But, sometimes, words could hurt more than physical violence, and she’d hurt Yang with her own, and vice versa.

She deserved to be scolded; reprimanded with scathing words that would teach her a lesson. Instead, the only thing Yang was doing was seeking her forgiveness. This was what she wanted, but nearly all her life, she’d been taught that humans only wanted to hurt her.

“How can you not be angry with me anymore?”

“My anger was misplaced, Blake,” Yang glanced her way before lilac irises became focused on something distant. “I let it get to me because I have this stupid idea in my head that everyone that tries to disregard me is doing the same thing my mother did when she up and left me. She wasn’t fair to me…but I wasn’t fair to you. You’re not her.”

For once, the strong passion that Yang usually spoke with was gone. Replaced with a gentle sadness that broke Blake’s heart. Yang knew exactly what it was like to have somebody that was supposed to take care of you break that promise; both of them had unintentionally let their past experiences affect them in the present.

“Yang, it’s not stupid, and it’s not your fault.” Blake, against her better judgement, moved closer when Yang became downcast. The need to reassure Yang when she was vulnerable won out over possibly making the same mess all over again.

With the utmost care, Blake placed the palm of her hand on Yang’s cheek, guiding the blonde to look at her in the eye. She tried not to think about how soft her skin was, or that it was warmer than hers, or that if you stared long enough, you would see a ring of deep, rich burgundy surrounding purple irises.

None of it is your fault,” she repeated, and she’d say it a thousand times over if that was what it took for Yang to believe her. If she could be convinced that her past did not define her, then she owed it to Yang to reiterate that she didn’t do anything do to deserve abandonment.

Blake felt Yang lean ever so slightly into her hand.

It felt like they were frozen in time, along with Blake’s breathing. She didn’t dare move, lest everything shatter before her eyes. She would not let up until Yang knew she meant her words; she would not hurt Yang again.


Suddenly, Yang was smiling and Blake could breathe again. It wasn’t exuberant, nor was it done gleefully. It was small, but appreciative.

It was beautiful.

Blake embraced Yang; not just because she wanted to, but because she was scared she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from doing something more. She just couldn’t do that to her.

“Thanks, Blake.”

She sensed that Yang was still not quite ready to let go, and she was happy to wait.

“Can I just ask you one thing?”

At Yang’s tentative question, Blake felt her heart beat a little faster. They’d done well so far; come to an understanding, and everything was forgiven. What else was on Yang’s mind?

Upon separation, Blake tried to keep her expression as measured as her words. “That depends on what it is.”

Again, Yang was hesitant. Blake had never seen her this way before. “Why were you so worried about us…about what might’ve happened?”

Upon contemplation, Blake found that it was an easy enough question to answer – but the easy answer was going to make things complicated, so she chose to be truthful without a specifying a reason. “Because, despite what I said or implied, it would have been a very big deal. There is nothing that would change the fact that I trapped you in an uncomfortable situation.”

She hoped Yang understood. At least one of them would understand what was going on in her head. If there was one thing Blake was sure of, it was that she had never been more unsure of herself in her life. She’d laugh at the irony if it wasn’t so frustrating.

“Hey, we all make mistakes sometimes,” Yang reassured her, smiling again like her normal self.

Blake huffed. “What is it about alcohol? It’s like it wants me to embarrass myself.” She hadn’t made any mistakes. Drunk Blake had made all the mistakes! If she didn’t drink at the party, she wouldn’t have acted the way she did.

“Don’t beat yourself up about it, Blakey!” Yang relaxed into the couch after taking another helping of the dwindling pizza. “I’ve done way worse things with half the amount of booze,” she commented casually.

“Such as?” Blake inquired, grateful that Yang was always trying to cheer her up. She would have been in trouble if Yang had tried to press her for more answers.

“You don’t wanna know, and I don’t wanna remember.”

Yang cried in indignation as Blake swatted her arms for such an incriminating response. “That is hardly reassuring, you party animal.”

“It’s not like I did anything that wild,” Yang added hastily, fending off the Faunus’ hands, “there’s no raunchy stories!”

Golden eyes rolled, a heavy sigh following the halting of Blake’s hands. Then, Yang grinned, looking much too happy for her own good.

“That I can remember!”

“Yang!” Blake cried, resorting to outright shoving the blonde’s shoulder. She knew Yang did these things on purpose, and Yang knew that she would always react this way. The cackling of laughter that always followed was quite telling of that.

“Okay, okay!” Yang said, letting up and rubbing her arm, as if Blake had the capacity to even remotely hurt it. “At least you didn’t call me a jerk like you were supposed to.”

Blake stared at her friend with stern eyes, but there was a ghost of a smile on her face. “Oh, there’s still plenty of time for that.”

After the girls’ stomachs were sufficiently stuffed, and they’d embarrassedly recounted how both of their lives were uneventful and lacklustre the past few days – totally unrelated to one another’s absence – there was finally a lull in the conversation.

Yang was caught off guard when Blake decided to save them from an extended silence.

“You know, I was pleasantly surprised to see that bouquet of flowers in the kitchen. I just didn’t take Qrow as the type.”

“Those are mine, actually. I couldn’t resist Carnations ready to bloom, and I bought them for…” Trailing off, Yang never elaborated. Blake didn’t know if she had been about to say they were bought for a specific reason or a specific someone.

“I mean, they’re, uh, a nice colour?”

What Yang wasn’t telling Blake was that on New Year’s Day, hours after she’d regretted how she treated her, she’d gone out to try and find the nicest flowers to apologise to her with. Only after she purchased them had she realised she had no clue where Blake lived, and by then she had deflated and lost all her resolve, so she gave up and brought them home instead – if only to remind her of her immense failure.

“You know what type of flower they are?” Blake was giggling now.

Yang pouted in response. “Why are you laughing at me?”

“I’m not,” Blake said, even though she most definitely was. “It’s just cute.”

Yang’s pout was replaced with her arms crossing. It’s cute. “In that case, I’ll only talk about flowers from now on.”

Blake did not laugh at her again, but she was still at least mildly amused. “I had no idea your knowledge of flowers was that extensive.”

“Dad likes to garden,” Yang explained, “me and Ruby had our own sunflowers and roses to take care of too.”

Before she could get made fun of anymore, Yang tried to bring the conversation around to something more useful – useful meaning trying to come up with some sort of way to break it to Blake that she was totally gay for her. It sounded much easier than she knew it was going to be, but at least she had a good segue.

“Speaking of, it’s almost Spring! Do you know what that means?”

Not willing to play a guessing game, Blake’s answer was technically accurate, but lacking in effort. “It means…it’ll be March soon.”

Yang rolled her eyes, fond of the Faunus’ talent for never-ending indifference. “It means you won’t have to suffer in the cold anymore.”

She wanted to remind Blake that the weather would soon be much more suitable to doing activities – outdoor activities (which Yang was also fond of). She had begun to think that it’d be best to bring up the conversation on how she felt while walking around town in the sunshine with Blake; maybe going out for lunch, yada yada yada.

She’d asked Qrow; as he was a long-time resident of the city, if there were any places to visit in the springtime. He’d shrugged, claiming he knew none. That hadn’t necessarily meant there was none, he just didn’t care for parks and the like. All Yang had gotten was the excuse that they always say in Canton you Canton-joy yourself. It was a good pun, but not very helpful. He’d not bothered to ask why, in particular, Yang wanted to go to nice places – but the questioning looks he’d given her said it all.

It was then apparent she had nobody to turn to – well, except her friends. As far as she was aware, Pyrrha, Jaune, and Ren and Nora had grown up in Canton, or in the surrounding area at least. Scarlet and Sage were also an option, and Sun was likely to gather his own friends to help her out (she hoped). That meant she had six knowledgeable people, plus Sun and Neptune, as possible wingmen/women.

Yang was broken from her fantasy thoughts of the perfect date-but-not-a-date by the subject of them.

“I have you, so I don’t have to suffer in the cold at all,” proving herself right, Blake made herself quite at home snuggled up to Yang’s warmth. “Spring is useless to me.”

Yang wasn’t really willing to reject that statement, if she was being chosen over warmer weather. Still, she had to find a convincing truth to get Blake to go out with her. “But haven’t you heard? This Spring will be the best!”

“And where did you hear that?”

“Oh, everyone’s been saying that.” Nobody had been saying that. “It’ll be our first Spring as friends! We can go on walks in pretty parks, and have picnics. Oh, I have this great sandwich with cottage cheese I think you’d like. And there’ll be flowers, butterflies, birds, and bees!”

Yang’s enthusiasm for the flora and fauna was not shared by Blake.

“What is it with you and bees?” The ravenette asked incredulously. It was something she’d been wondering about for a while now – she hadn’t ever met anybody with such an affinity for insects.

The blonde was shocked and appalled, dramatically insisting, “Have you seen bumblebees? They’re so cute!” That was not enough on its own though. “Plus, black and yellow,” Yang gestured between them both, referring to their hair (and general favouritism) of the colours, “is a good combo.”

A small cough came from Blake, though she quickly retorted, “Maybe you don’t need me, then, if you have bees,” rejecting the idea of humouring Yang’s obvious hint about the two of them.

“I do love bees,” Yang cooed. “But, let me tell ya, I always wanted a cat. As a kid, I used to see the Maine coon cats around town and think, ooooh they’re so big and cuddly! I might just get one, if you leave me.”

Blake abruptly snorted, finding that slightly ridiculous. “And it will be black with yellow eyes, and you’ll name it Blake!” She faked excitement and went along with Yang’s plan, if only for a second, just to shoot it down with her trademark sarcasm. “Oh, wait. You already did that.”

Yang harrumphed. “You got me, there.” So she hadn’t realised how dumb that had sounded. At this rate, she’d put her big foot in her big mouth and let something even stupider slip, like the only cat I ever want to cuddle is you, Blake. There was a part of her that thought she’d get in trouble for that, but Blake had made jokes about her feline features before – funny ones, that had made Yang laugh. She’d missed laughing with her.

“Can I just say, I feel a lot better now that we’re friends again,” Yang said aloud, not having considered how it might have sounded. “Not that stopped thinking you were my friend! Just, you know?”

Blake hummed in agreeance. “I know. I never thought we would be friends in the first place, but now I can’t imagine what my life would be like without you.”

It served as a reminder that Blake held no animosity towards Yang for their differences or the reason for their slight falling out. It also made Yang wonder what the hell was going on. Surely she wasn’t that good of a person to be trusted this much, and certainly not by someone that grew up being told humans like her didn’t even exist.

The only explanations Yang could think of was that she was a better person than she realised, or Blake was holding herself back for some reason. And she’d be damned if she didn’t figure out which one it was.

“Well, if it’s anything like the last couple of days, it’d probably suck.” Yang took her assumptions from how miserable she’d been – and considered herself lucky if Blake felt the same way.

“Is that an indirect way of saying my life would suck without you?”

“Totally,” Yang laughed, “and, since you’ve been gone, I can breathe for the first time!”

“Are we just making obscure references to Kelly Clarkson now?”

“No, Blake, I’m totally serious.” Her constant snickering said otherwise. Abruptly, as she was well capable of, Yang abandoned an amused Blake on the couch to jump onto the coffee table. Taking care to not step in the pizza box as she brought her feet down like she was performing to an arena of people, Yang brought her fist to her mouth, dramatically miming the greatest singing Idol of American history. “How can I put it, you put me on, I even fell for that stupid love song. Yeah, yeah, since you been gone.”

Blake smiled at the blonde that was shimmying on the table; her hair bouncing, legs working in those stupid short shorts of hers. If she wasn’t enjoying watching Yang having fun and her nonsensical antics, she’d have gotten up there too – okay, maybe not. It wasn’t her house, or her table, to dance on.

Yang continued on. After all, they were having fun, and they needed it after everything. “How come I’d never hear you say, I just wanna be with you,” she sung to Blake, knowing it wouldn’t come off as a real question. Even though, deep down, she could relate to it. Yang tried not to think about that, though, pushing it out of her mind.

Blake held up a finger, catching Yang’s attention. “That song was about breaking up.”

“Oh, you’re right.” Yang seemed to deflate, her happy energy fading.

“I enjoyed the show nonetheless. Very entertaining, great stage presence. I’d vote Yang Xiao Long to be the next American Idol.”

“If only they still produced it, and not trashy shows about trashy people’s lives,” Yang sighed, stepping down to the floor, “oh, except for the Bachelor. I’ll binge watch that any day of the week.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Blake replied, not one for reality shows that pitted numerous people against each other for the heart of a single person.

Yang’s phone buzzed with a text in the confines of her bra, the girl almost forgetting she’d put it there (her shorts lacked the luxury of pockets). Earlier, she’d hurriedly messaged Ruby; who’d known about her sulking the whole time, that Blake was trying to make up with her. Her sister had sent a well-wishing back, but not before asking, you mean kiss and make up? And then make-out? with a kissy face as well. Yang appreciated the girl’s positive attitude, but she hated how good Ruby was at poking fun at her.

When she opened the text, it was a simple question:

Have you told her yet?

She was about to reply, until she did a double take at who had sent it, Abs Wukong; complete with a banana emoji next to his contact name (he’d taken the liberty of making his own nickname). She wasn’t even annoyed that Sun was trying to help this time, she was more worried about how he knew that she was with Blake. Another buzz brought another message from the monkey Faunus.

Your welcome for the pizza, btw!

Slowly, her brain made the connection in her head, but before Yang could once again scold Sun for his constant nagging, Blake interrupted her train of thought.

“Are you trying to set your phone on fire by glaring at it?”

Yang realised she had been practically glowering at the screen. At this point, she was not willing to admit that she and Sun had been arguing for almost a month about something that involved Blake without her knowing.

“Sorry, I’ll be one sec,” she began furiously typing while trying to think of a legitimate enough excuse. “Just tryna help Rubes with…” Yang trailed off, as her priority was to reply to Sun.

You’re* as in, you’re going to explain what you know RIGHT NOW!

In a time of improvisation, Yang learned her mental capacity was severely lacking when she finished her sentence with, “…uh, a homework problem.”

Oh, yeah. Real smooth.

“Right,” came Blake’s disbelieving drawl.

Yang chose to ignore her. She didn’t have a better lie than that anyway, even if it was terrible.

Sun replied, I was just the bribery guy I swear! Blake asked me to help win you back ;)

Honestly surprised at that revelation, Yang decided to grant mercy – everything had turned out fine, anyway. Blake had reached out to Sun, of all people, to help her. After the things he’d said about them, and done to them, it didn’t make sense to ask him – unless Blake was hiding something. That was always the answer to things these days, and, it failed to make Yang feel any better. Regardless, if she were to have Sun as support, criticising him wasn’t exactly the way to keep him on her side

I guess I owe you one, banana boy. TTYL. She sent off her last text before tucking her phone away again.

“I’m going to pretend that you didn’t just blatantly lie to me, since you look a little conflicted,” Blake had the sincerity to sound concerned; an invitation in her voice that she was open to talking about it, but Yang was in no state to discuss anything just yet.

She needed to plan.

“I’m not lying,” Yang said entirely unconvincingly; voice much too snappy to be credible.

“So, Ruby needs help with homework on Winter break?” Blake questioned in turn, not really caring about what excuse she was getting. Yang was suddenly behaving oddly, and she didn’t like being kept in the dark after recent events. What were the contents of those text messages that’d so drastically changed her mood in a few minutes?

Noting that Yang couldn’t make eye contact with her, she patiently waited for an answer. She wouldn’t demand anything, no. That wasn’t how friendship worked. Especially when Yang allowed her to keep as many secrets as she did. She’d wade through whatever obstacles Yang threw her way slowly, surely, not pushing too hard – because Yang usually caved, anyway.

“She…has extracurricular activities?”

“Yang,” Blake called softly. It failed to garner Yang’s attention, the blonde just standing awkwardly with her hands by her sides. The Faunus, not wanting to risk an argument, dropped the subject. “Are you alright?”

“Actually, I think I need some fresh air,” long legs started inching towards the hallway. “Is- is that okay?”

Truly baffled, Blake wanted nothing more than to pursue the issue and Yang – but she had been in the same position before. Sometimes, people just needed space.

“Sure, Yang. Take your time,” Blake wore what she hoped was a reassuring smile. “Fair warning though, if you’re gone too long, I’ll find a book to read and you’ll have that to deal with.”

What she said was in jest, as Yang knew all too well how difficult it was to get Blake Belladonna to put down a book when she was enthralled with a story.

She knew she had said something right when Yang smiled just slightly, replying, “I’ll take my chances.”

And Yang had meant it, because time ticked away slowly; agonisingly, her absence approaching half an hour with Blake having held out on picking up a book. Concluding that she’d given Yang plenty of space and time, she only had two choices – wait even longer, or join her outside. The fact that it was positively freezing outside at night didn’t make her decision any easier, but one of Yang’s discarded hoodies was sitting in the living room.

That about sealed the deal for Blake; she’d be better prepared to sit out there with her friend if need be. Picking up the dark navy hoodie, she realised it was much too large for herself, let alone Yang. On the front, worn letters read Maine State Police; the garment tag had the name T. XIAO LONG scrawled over the care instructions tag in waterproof marker.

It was Taiyang’s, then. Blake wondered if Yang had taken it specifically because she would miss her father, or she had already claimed it before moving – not that it mattered. It was rather unimportant, really. Practically wrapped in the hoodie, Blake ventured to the back of the house in the dark, easily spotting Yang sitting out on the paved patio. It wasn’t hard to see such a blonde mane, even in low light.

Blake opened the door; hinges announcing her presence with a slight creak, and from shadows she slipped into the moonlight. Yang didn’t move, but when Blake entered her peripheral vision and sat next to her on the cold stone she finally addressed her.

“I thought you said I would have to deal with you stuck in a book, not you stealing my clothes.”

She spoke with a fondness that Blake could appreciate. If there was one thing about Yang, it was her uncanny ability to exude a comforting aura.

As usual, Blake danced their familiar conversational waltz, with a witty comeback that was almost instinctual. “Your clothes? Since when does your name start with a T?”

“You can’t steal the hoodie that I already stole,” Yang protested, as if it was obvious.

“Consider it a loan, then.”

Yang simply hummed noncommittally, barely taking the time to look at Blake. Her eyes were trained on the clear sky; stars visible – but not to the extent that it was anything to write home about. Cities tended to have lacklustre star displays. Blake wondered if Yang was used to better views in Maine; she had mentioned she grew up in a small and mountainous town.

While she had the chance, Blake let herself observe Yang uninhibited – it was often hard to catch her distracted like this. Being able to see more than the average human at night had its advantages, but she had to remind her brain that she shouldn’t stare for too long, no matter how much she would have liked to. Blake could have sworn she caught Yang’s eyes reflect a trail of stardust that flickered by in the dark sky.

Proving she wasn’t insane, Yang quietly asked her if she had seen the shooting star.

“Yeah, I did.” Convinced that the universe was intent on teasing her temptations, Blake tore her eyes away before she dug an even deeper hole and fell right in; pining after someone she couldn’t have – that was a very bad idea, and she needed to stop and move on.

“Not that I mind,” Blake tugged on borrowed long sleeves to keep her fingertips warm, “but you’ve been out here a while.”

“I was just thinking about some things, lost track of time, I guess.”

Blake found Yang’s answer too vague to be of any help. “And…are these things bothering you?” She asked an equally vague question, hoping that Yang would bite and play ball with her.

The blonde did bite, but immediately threw the ball back in to Blake’s corner. “Do you want the long answer, or the short answer?”

“Either one is fine.”

“Short answer, yes. Long answer…” Yang paused to think briefly. “Uh, hell yes.”

Despite being struck with the desire to be able to try and fix Yang’s problems, Blake was well aware she was terrible with problem solving; even if she knew what the issue was. There was not much she could do but be empathetic.

“I’m not going to tell you to confide in me, since that’d make me quite the hypocrite. I also don’t have words of encouragement, because I know that some things are just frustratingly difficult to deal with. Talking about it might not solve anything, but it might help you feel better.” Blake had learned that over the past few months. Having someone new to trust was something she’d appreciated after losing many people dear to her heart. “I always feel a little lighter after opening up to you.”

She also had begun to feel a lot more than just lighter; more than what was strictly platonic, when Yang had responded so well to all her history. Her brain, trained by many years of White Fang gospel, rejected those feelings so vehemently. She battled with the confliction that she continued to grow more attached to Yang every time they were alone, especially as of late – her drunkenness on New Year’s Eve had shown cards that she had tried so hard to keep to her chest.

Convinced enough by Blake’s answer, Yang spoke again. “Do you ever have a problem that should be easy to deal with, like, the answer is right in front of you…”

Blake felt a shiver that she would blame on the cold, not on how Yang seemed to be reading her mind.

“…but something is just making it so much more complicated than it needs to be?”

If only you knew, Blake thought. Instead of saying that, though, she tried to be more helpful. “I think that if the answer is easy enough, you should say to hell with whatever is making it so complicated.”

“I think my attitude is rubbing off on you, Blakey,” Yang’s shoulder bumped slightly into Blake’s, their bodies in much closer proximity than before.

A simple thank you would have sufficed, but Yang loved to use that infernal nickname. Blake rolled her eyes. “Oh, drat. I don’t think they’ve found a cure for sunny-little-dragon-itis.”

“Well, I’m glad there’s no cure for your sass. I love it when-”

“I’m feisty. I know,” Blake cut in, as if finishing Yang’s sentence for her would alleviate the constrictions in her chest she knew she would get from the often-stated compliment.

Yang stretched her legs and slowly stood from the ground, briefly swiping any dirt from her behind before reaching a hand down for Blake to help herself up with. “Taking my clothes, giving me advice, and finishing my sentences. What did I do to deserve you?”

Blake, feeling much too embarrassed to worsen her erratic heartbeat and warm cheeks with a real answer, parroted Yang’s response from earlier once she was upright. “Do you want the long answer, or the short answer?”

The laughter that it elicited from Yang, along with the fact that she hadn’t released Blake’s hand from her own, served as the final push over the edge.

Oh, yes, Blake was falling for this wonderful human, and she had no way of stopping it.

Chapter Text

February (Winter)



The buzz of a bee rang in her sensitive ears – well, more like the roar of Bumblebee instilled fear into her heart. It was a beast, a mechanical feat; Yang’s pride and joy.

“Why did I agree to this?!” Blake knew she was yelling a little too loudly, but at this point she could be excused. The revving of the overpowered engine did nothing to quell her anxiety, and it attracted the eyes of all the students in the parking lot.

Grinning like a madwoman, Yang bounced on the balls of her feet, itching to finally fulfil her incessant need to have Blake ride with her.

“Because you’re a rebel at heart!”

The cat Faunus, unconvinced she wanted to die this young, couldn’t bring herself to get on the bike – no matter what she’d agreed to. Not even if she was wrapped up in all protective gear that she could possibly bear plus a mile of bubble wrap. Which, by the way, she wasn’t – Yang had handed over her protective jacket; the brown one from Christmas that Blake really liked, insisting she would rather Blake wear it.

Blake would rather they both had a jacket, that was for sure. Yang had promised that she knew what she was doing, and to be fair, she had passed her recent tests and graduated from a temporary permit to an actual license – I can’t believe I’ve been in Ohio for six months already, she’d said. The blonde also explained that she had been riding much longer than she was legally allowed to, having lived on private land, and had experienced rides as a passenger as well as with one.

Not that Blake didn’t trust her, it was simply fear of the unknown. “Are you really sure this is safe?” She tried to imagine what her father would say; he had been protective, but not overbearingly. She wanted to think he would still want her to be safe, no matter where he was.

“Perfectly safe. We’re both wearing jeans, you’ve got good shoes and I’ve got boots, and Bumblebee is a dream to ride. No exposed parts or anything to be afraid of, a comfy place to sit and something sturdy to hold onto.”

Mentally following and checking off the list, keen yellow eyes scanned the purring monster in front of her. “Uh, I don’t see anything to hold onto.”

Yang smirked, her gloved hands forming finger guns. “You’re lookin’ at her!”

Of course, after recent…discoveries, Blake found that to be one of the more acceptable parts of her predicament.

“Lucky me,” Blake said sarcastically, well aware her body and mind were not looking forward to fighting the battle that would come with straddling Yang for dear life.

“Lucky me,” Yang winked, not noticing Blake’s blush, preoccupied with reaching down into her compact backpack.

The bag was severely weighted to the ground by the two helmets clipped to its straps, which triggered a realisation in Blake’s mind – Yang had had every intention of getting her on the bike if she had brought a second helmet along.

“Okay, I got you some gloves, they should fit,” true to her word, Yang held a pair of riding gloves above her head for Blake to take. “And this helmet is specially for you, made with love and consideration for those with a little extra on their heads. The best part is, it’s discreet and sleek!”

Yang stood up, holding the helmet, looking proud. Such a sweet gesture immediately dispelled any thoughts Blake might’ve been having about the impulsiveness of Yang’s invitation – while she’d sneakily planned it, she’d planned with consideration. She’d been reminding Blake every month how much closer she was getting to being able to have a passenger, anyway, so being surprised was no excuse for not expecting it.

In the end, Blake knew she hadn’t been forced. She could have easily turned down the offer for a lift to the public library; utilising her bus pass instead. Really, it was Mr. Port’s fault for assigning the paper that needed hard copy resources. The man was truly living in an era well forgotten.

Slipping on the black gloves that did indeed fit, Blake finally allowed Yang to pass her the special helmet. It was open face, with an attached shield for eye protection; painted matte black with white stripe detailing. Sleek was an accurate description.

“Put it on! The guy at the store said it gets great reviews, and I’ve been dying to see you try it,” Yang said, rubbing her hands together in anticipation.

“Here goes,” lifting the helmet up and onto her head, the Faunus’ mind chanted, please fit, please fit, please fit. It’d crush Yang if it turned out anything worse than okay.

As it slid on, Blake felt cushioning – as well as something she couldn’t quite put her finger on – almost mould itself to her cranium. Yet, the snugness was not uncomfortable, leaving her bound ears enough breathing and wiggle room.

Looking at Yang’s expectant and hopeful face caused Blake to grin, not bothering to verbally confirm how impressed she was.

“Hell yes! You look like a sexy badass, Blake! You should be a biker chick,” Yang was even more ecstatic as she clipped her own bright yellow open-faced helmet on. “Oh, let me clip you up.”

“Thanks,” Blake tried to ignore the blatant compliment and Yang coming closer to do her chin strap as well. It was difficult to forget Yang’s words that black and yellow was a good combination when she said things like sexy badass.

“Um, okay. How do we…do this?”

“Oh, right! There’s only a few things you have to remember. Ready to learn?” Yang began, continuing when Blake nodded affirmation. “It’s important to know that shifting your weight will unbalance the bike, so basically, you should try to sit still. Make sure to pay attention to the road so you can brace when I brake, and support yourself when I accelerate. And when we turn, you’re trying to stay in line with the angle the bike leans at. Looking over my shoulder that’s on the inside of the turn usually helps to get it.”

Blake nodded along. “Sit still, watch the road, look over your shoulder. Okay.”

“Let’s establish signals. I promise I won’t go fast or anything scary, but if you need me to stop, give me a thumbs down. If you’re feeling unsafe, panicking won’t help, and if you grab my arms it’ll probably end in us on asphalt. If you want to talk to me or rearrange your butt, you’ll have to wait till a stoplight.”

“Got it. Because I should sit still, right?”

“Exactly! I’m pretty sure you’re gonna be fine. Now we have to get you on the bike. It’s important to make sure I know when you’re getting on and getting off,” Yang scrunched her nose, snickering at the innuendo. “Heh, I just realised what I said.”

Blake simply stared at her, raised brow asking really?

“Alright, fine, back to serious stuff.” Yang put on her aviators, turning to the bike. “The important thing is that you swing your leg over and then get settled, like this,” the blonde easily got on Bumblebee, her motions well-practiced. Taking it out of its lean with a few manoeuvres, Yang motioned her over. “Your turn, Blake! Don’t use the foot peg as a step, grab onto me for leverage if it makes it easier for you.”

Being a bit shorter than Yang, Blake had to really hoist herself over the seat, but Yang’s offer did help. She let herself sit close to the body in front; they were no strangers to contact at this point, and she did not want to fall off.

“Nicely done! Now, hug me ‘round the waist.”

Once again, a task easily completed – though Blake couldn’t recall a time where she’d clung to someone and felt a bit guilty about enjoying it.

Oblivious, Yang kept the instructions coming. “In front of your hands you’ll find a good place to brace when braking. Just use one hand like you’re patting the gas tank,” she demonstrated accordingly, though Blake was inclined to believe Yang pet her bike in all seriousness.

After their lesson, the school’s parking lot had emptied considerably, and there was nobody around to watch them. Blake felt better already, but still reserved some worries about the dangers. It was probably wise to be vigilant, though.

“I’ll take you around a few laps in the lot to make sure you’re good to go,” Yang pointed at the parking lot; rectangular in shape, and motioned clockwise. “You can practice your leaning in the turns, and on the way back I’ll break halfway for you to try bracing, okay? Put those feet of yours on the pegs, and we’ll start off slow.”

Establishing herself on the seat and pegs, Blake prepared to put herself to the test. “Okay, I’m ready.”

Easing off the brake, Yang walked along the ground as Bumblebee began to roll forwards. Gradually gaining speed, the blonde shouted, “Get ready!” before lifting her legs and accelerating. They weren’t going very fast, but Blake sensed that they were braking slightly to take the upcoming corner, so she did as she was told and braced herself. Remembering the tips Yang had given her, she didn’t lean too much and looked over the blonde’s shoulder (noticing that she was going to have to deal with said blonde’s hair while riding).

They approached the next turn the same way. On the straight, Blake practiced bracing again; for braking and accelerating. Finding that the whole ordeal was not as difficult as she might have assumed, she decided to give Yang a thumbs up to signal that she could do another lap.

Once they’d repeated the process and come to a stop, Yang commended her. “Perfect passenger skills! I think you’re ready for the real thing!”

“To the library, then.”

A short ride later; something Blake (and her rear end) as a first-time passenger was thankful for, they arrived at the North Branch of the Stark County District Library. It was fairly close to Beacon, and not far out of the way of either girl’s usual route home.

Having found a place to park, Yang turned off the engine and set her feet on the ground. “You have arrived at your destination,” she spoke robotically, imitating a GPS. “You are now safe to disembark!”

Blake was eager to stretch her legs more than she was to surrender her hold on Yang. It’d been quite enjoyable to be her big spoon, so to speak. “Thank you. I’m getting off.”

“Ooh, baby,” Yang giggled, gleefully embracing the multiple meanings of the phrase.

Her teasing, however, was hitting much too close to home with Blake nowadays. “Shut up, you idiot,” she blushed madly, still clinging to Yang so she could dismount Bumblebee. Mortified at the thought of such talk between them, she was now much happier to be apart from the girl.

“Was it as good for you as it was for me?” Yang asked as she dismounted, setting Bumblebee into its self-sustained lean (Blake didn’t bother to try and understand the workings of the motorcycle; it was much too confusing).

Blake did not humour her question, giving a nice, normal, not sexual answer. “You’re not dead, I’m not dead, and only half my butt is sore.”

“Half all over, or half like, just one cheek?”

“Yang,” Blake couldn’t help but roll her eyes at such a silly question. Yang looked on, apparently expecting a reply. “The first thing you said,” the Faunus relented, giving in to the urge to have Yang satisfied enough to stop teasing.

“Sorry about your Bellabooty! But, it’s normal to have a sore ass, don’t worry. I’m really glad you let me do this with you, Blake.” The expression on Yang’s face turned from cheeky – pun not intended; she was spending too much time with her – to kind.

Bellabooty? Choosing to not question the nickname for her butt, Blake agreed about being glad. Despite her apprehension, it had been a fresh and exciting experience. “I would be happy to ride with you again sometime. I had fun, after I got comfortable.”

Packing away their gloves and clipping their helmets back onto Yang’s backpack, the two started towards the entrance. “We can go on longer day trips, if you felt up for it. Uh, sometime?” Yang offered lightly, glancing towards Blake.

Eyeing the blonde, Blake thought briefly about how ambiguous the question sounded. Did she intend to sound like it would be a date, or not? She might have been biased, but it hadn’t sounded that casual to her ears.

“Maybe,” Blake eventually answered, not trying to seem too interested or disinterested. There was a part of her that wished she was wrong; she really did not want to have to end up rejecting someone as sweet as Yang. For both their sake, it would be better if it was just a friendly offer.

Walking through the glass doors, they passed the front desk and a few librarians. Blake sent a brief smile to one that looked up to greet her. The displays near the entrance were all white cardboard cut-outs with love hearts and cheesy sayings on them, the librarians playing to the strengths of the current month to promote romance novels.

“Wow, they went all out for Valentine’s day.” Yang started bobbing her head, sounding impressed with the atmosphere.

Being the sarcastic person she was, Blake didn’t share the sentiment. “It’s a shame all the popular and mainstream romance novels are literary trash,” she commented, walking towards the non-fiction section to find a small table to sit at.

Walking faster to catch up with Blake, who had left her behind at the displays, Yang seemed amused at the remark. “You got anything better to recommend, Blakey?”

Watching Yang wiggle her eyebrows, Blake caught onto Yang’s game quickly. “We aren’t here for book club.” She placed her own backpack on an empty table, looking inside for her assignment details. “And don’t think I’ll fall for that, I’m not telling you anything.”

“C’mon!” Yang said, hopping up to sit on the table surface playfully. “I looked up that book I saw in your bag once, it’s quite steamy from what I could gather.”

Blake sent a deadpan stare at glinting lilac eyes. “Dream on, Xiao Long.” She would never admit to such a thing.

“I don’t dream about it,” the blonde defended, “well, maybe there was this one time…”

“As much as I’d love to hear about that,” finding the sheet of paper she was looking for, Blake zipped up her bag. “I have work to do. I want to find the right resources for Port’s assignment.”

“Eh, you worry too much. You manage to get me an A minus in social studies. Me! An A!” Referring to their essay from last semester; Yang had been ecstatic reading her report card. She had improved all around the board in general, but her real pride was the high grade in the class they had met in. Ms. Peach had deemed their essay to be of a high standard and commended the pair – and Taiyang had even passed along his thanks to Blake for working and supporting his daughter.

“Don’t forget you worked for that grade as well, Yang,” Blake encouraged automatically. She had seen firsthand how much of an effort Yang had made; she was more impressed by that than herself.

“I know, but I wouldn’t have wanted to if it wasn’t for you. Don’t forget that,” Yang’s legs swung from the edge of the desk as she smiled at her friend.

Those darn legs, swaying to and fro; they were so distracting to Blake. If she stepped inbetween them to kiss Yang, would they wrap around-

Stop! What are you thinking? You’re fantasising about your best friend in a library for God’s sake. Pull yourself together, Blake told herself. She was glad her imagination hadn’t skipped to something dirty. She needed to stop reading so many adult romance novels.

Turning around to hide her reddening face, Blake quickly spoke. “I have to look up the material I need on the computers. And no, I don’t need your help. Just relax, read a book or something. I won’t be long at all,” she walked away before Yang could get a word in edgewise.

Blake was begging her teenage body to calm itself. Stupid hormones, stupid imagination, stupid attractive Yang – a bad combination for someone that wanted to keep even a remnant of the walls she’d built to protect herself.

Her hopes of her crush fading with time had withered away, just like the Carnation Yang had given to her; the one that never ceased to remind Blake of Yang’s eyes and the twinkle within them. The past month, the flower sat alone in a small vase – for some dumb symbolic reason, Blake thought if she watched it slowly die, she’d get over her feelings because they would die along with it. But as it turned out, she was just like the fading flower; alone, and feeling like she was slowly dying.

Her heart had been locked up, a self-imposed isolation, to keep away from anyone that might take it again only to shatter it to pieces. Yet, Yang had found a way in, like she’d found a master key that Blake didn’t know existed.

After accepting that her feelings were not just a passing lapse in her defences, Blake had tried to keep herself in check every time Yang complimented or smiled at her, or God forbid, casually flirted. Each passing day, instead of appreciating how put-together the blonde was, Blake was finding her eyes wandering down Yang’s curves and admiring the way her clothes accentuated her features.

While her feelings were a problem in itself, the pure attraction she’d felt to the other girl was driving her insane. She’d had no idea that she was that much of a voyeur, but the beauty of Yang Xiao Long was captivating. Figuring that out had been the easy part; the hard part was convincing herself that it was just physical, and the way she felt about her had simply followed along.

It was shallow, yes, but beauty was not everlasting; it had to fade. If the allure of the person was gone, then, her feelings would disappear too.

It was a futile wish.

She didn’t know how badly she wanted to love and be loved. Imagining what it was like to kiss her wonderful lips, she would simply have to be content with dreaming of it while drifting to sleep every night.

Back to work, she thought.

Sifting through the electronic catalogue, there were plenty of references she found to be suitable. Easily drifting through the bookshelves, Blake slid each one out by the spine and stacked them in one arm. This was something cathartic to her, especially after the trip she’d had on the way here; at least she was able to be distracted for a little while.

Praying that she’d be spared from any more torture today, she returned to the table that Yang had made herself comfortable at. Leaning back in her chair dangerously; legs propped up on the table and book in hand, the blonde didn’t notice Blake. But, Blake did notice what novel had her so enthralled.

“Yang!” She whisper-yelled, taking a little satisfaction at the panic that grew on Yang’s face as she jerked in her precarious position. “Where did you get that?”

That being the same steamy romance novel that Yang accused her of reading. While she maintained one hundred percent that she did not have it in her possession, if Yang had happened to look for it in her bag, she could wave that excuse goodbye.

“Jeez! Where do you think? We’re in a library, Blake.”

She has a point. Blake felt like she’d lost her mind. That had been too much worry and suspicion for someone that didn’t own the book.

“What, you thought I took your copy? I’m not that stupid,” Yang chuckled, having put the pieces together.

Blake had far too much pride to give up now, especially when giving up meant more teasing. “My copy? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Pfft,” the blonde stuck out her tongue playfully, but to Blake, it put her on edge. “I forgot you don’t have one. Why don’t you check this one out? Or just check me-”

“Finish that sentence and you’ll regret it,” Blake was almost certain that she would be the one regretting it, but, whatever. She just wanted to check out her books – not Yang – and go home to sulk.

To her relief, Yang said nothing. Gathering her things, Blake went to the front desk with her assignment resources in hand, making idle chit chat with the middle-aged woman as she scanned their barcodes.

An avid reader and library-goer, Blake handed over her library card without prompt before sliding each book into her backpack. The only extra weight she would be willing to carry was one of a book (or as many as she could fit).

“Hey, Blake,” Yang had decided to sidle up to her, leaning on the counter with her elbow. “You don’t even need a library card to take me home.”

Hearing the surprised oh of the librarian that was currently in the process of handing back her library card made Blake’s reaction all the worse; stuttering out her thanks with the face of a tomato, she scooped her bag up and rushed out the door.

Knowing that she’d be in trouble for that one, Yang shrugged. “Worth it.”

“I don’t think your, er,” the librarian addressed her sceptically, “friend will be waiting for you.”

Thinking for a brief moment, Yang realised the woman might be right. Blake still had her jacket, and even if the Faunus hadn’t left her behind, she would rather be safe than sorry. “I better be leaving then, bye!”

Upon reaching the parking lot, one glance at Bumblebee confirmed her worries. Blake was gone, and so was her jacket. Maybe if she hurried, she could catch her – so the blonde took off towards the street, hoping to catch sight of a black bow.

“Blake!” She yelled to high heavens, counting on the fact that cat ears would hear it. To the east, there was nobody to be found, but to the west, at a bus stop, stood a lone figure. Thanking herself for her love of fitness, Yang sprinted down the sidewalk, two motorbike helmets attached her bag slamming into her backside.

“Helmets are a pain in the ass,” she huffed to herself, trying to find some humour in it. “Blake!” Relief flooded through her system when Blake turned to her; nervousness taking over once she saw how pissed off she looked.

“You’re incorrigible, did you know that?” The ravenette said, arms crossed in a standoffish manner.

“I’m sorry, really,” Yang had never seen Blake this upset before, and definitely not at her. She had changed her mind, nothing was worth this. “I went overboard with the teasing. I didn’t think it bothered you this much.”

“It didn’t before!” The Faunus snapped, silence following. “I mean…it’s not you, Yang.” She sounded apologetic, but Yang didn’t feel like she should be. Besides, what she said was kind of unclear.

“Are you okay, Blake?”

Sighing, Blake looked down at the ground. “I’m fine. I’m sorry, it was just a little too much.”

“You don’t need to apologise, it was my bad.” Having run out of things to say, Yang took in their surroundings, trying to come up with something. “I didn’t know there was a park here,” she noticed a street sign pointing north. “Well, of course I didn’t, why would I know that?” Yang rubbed the back of her neck, feeling awkward all of a sudden.

“What?” Blake was looking at her with curious confusion. Maybe she hadn’t been paying attention?

“There’s a park, right there,” Yang pointed up the road to where she could see green grass, and what looked to be sporting courts. She had been looking for parks to visit, and maybe it was as good a time as ever to talk to Blake about her feelings. Reading the street sign more closely, she laughed shortly. “Weis Park, huh? I’ll have to tell Ruby about that. Blake, come take a walk with me.”

Amber eyes regarded her wearily, silently asking, really?

After all her stunts today, she barely earned any favours from Blake. Still, Yang cocked her head, putting on her most pleading face. “Please?”

The black and yellow duo had explored the extent of Weis Park, or as Yang put it, Ice Queen park. The extent of it, well, was not extensive. In fact, it turned out that it was not really the kind of park Yang was hoping to find, but their feet were on autopilot while they experienced a lengthy period of silence.

As a cold breeze picked up, Yang considered just giving up on her courage for now. Blake was probably too polite to say anything about how much she’d been irritated and wanted to leave. Perhaps her extra layer of clothing was the only thing that granted some tolerance to the situation.

The Faunus slowed her steps, turning her head towards the south with mild surprise on her face. “Do you hear wedding bells?” She said after a moment.

Yang didn’t bother to stop, not really sure if she cared. “Do you?” She shot back, not hearing anything other than the wind blowing intermittently. Blake pointed to her bow; her cat ears, which Yang realised was much better at capturing sound than her own.

“Duh, I’m stupid.” She often forgot that Blake was different to herself. Giving her friend some credit, she promptly stopped walking and listened. There was a faint ringing, or at least she thought. “Uh, yeah, I think I can hear ‘em. How do you know they’re wedding bells?” She honestly though it was odd at this time of day, and in winter no less, for a wedding to be happening.

Blake stared wistfully into the distance. “There is nothing like bells chiming so loud the whole town can hear it. It’s announcing love.”

Yang found that to be a thoughtful sentiment – not quite what she was expecting to hear, either. “You know, you criticised little Blake for dreaming about romance, but you know a lot about wedding bells.”

Resuming her staring match with the ground, Blake spoke quietly, “As much as I know now that would be easier to not fall in love, I’m still the same girl that wanted to. Sometimes, you just don’t have a choice.”

That was the understatement of the year. If anybody had asked Yang if she had planned on falling in love with someone in a completely new place, or at all, she would have laughed. It was ridiculous, in a way, that she’d been completely swept up by one person that hadn’t even tried. “That’s a good way of putting it.”

Because she really hadn’t had a choice. She almost felt like they were meant to be.

There was nobody else that had come remotely close to what Blake was to her. Someone that she could miss at any hour of the day, feel so complete with – and she even looked forward to the school bell ringing just because she knew that she would see the Faunus over the course of her day. Whether it was quick exchanges walking between classes, or even sitting with her new group of friends, that were wonderful, but still constantly going back to the fact that Blake was there with her.

“It’s funny you should say, that, actually,” Yang started, not really sure where her words were coming from. But they had already fallen out of her mouth, and there were more pushing their way out; unable to be contained like a dam breaking from the sheer content of what it held within.

“About what happened in the library…I know I can be too much sometimes. I can stop flirting with you, if it’s a problem. I never wanted you to be uncomfortable, or think that I’m just trying to make you embarrassed. I don’t know why I do it, really. I guess the only way to explain myself is that I like it. It doesn’t feel weird, even though I’ve only known you for such a small fraction of my life.”

“You like it?” Blake turned to her, incredulous. Her eyes weren’t wide in shock, but rather bright with…worry? “What does that mean, Yang?”

Realising that she was about to breach a difficult subject, Yang kept herself from getting any closer to Blake; not wanting to risk spooking her with a pushy outward appearance. “I realise that I might like it more than a friend should. I- I’ve…got this thing. About you,” her voice wavered slightly, as Yang found it much harder than anticipated to put it into a few words exactly what she felt; how much Blake meant to her.

Taking some mercy on her poor soul, and at least trying to make sense of the disarray of words she’d just blurted out, was Blake. “You’ve got a thing for me?” She asked slowly, not wanting to take Yang’s words and twist them into something else in case she’d misunderstood. Yet, deep down, somewhere in her heart, she knew that there was not much else it could mean.

“Yeah, that’s what I meant!” Yang nodded, glad that she wasn’t a complete idiot and that Blake had interpreted it much better than her own brain. “I like flirting with you because I’ve got a thing for you,” the statement came out – pun intended – much easier the second time around.

“You’ve…got a thing for me.” Blake, on the other hand, could barely say it. Hearing Yang tell her that; so boldly, so soundly, caused a shockwave within. Fear and elation were born simultaneously, in her brain and her heart. Her mind reeled at the fact that a human was confessing to her, so oblivious to her inner turmoil. But then, her heart went into overdrive in an uncontrolled response that was incited by the forbidden attraction she had to her sunny and kind friend.

Her silence spurred Yang to fill the pause, the blonde not willing to ignore Blake’s possible thoughts. “But I’m not sure how you feel. I want you to know that you can be totally honest with me, though. This isn’t just about me.”

If honesty was the best policy, Blake had no choice but to confront the issue and tell the truth. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea to go into this. I didn’t want to get close to anybody when I moved here, but you came along and changed that,” the fact of the matter was that Blake had let Yang in, never having dreamed that one person could change her life that drastically. “But I didn’t think it mattered if there was nothing more to it than friendship. All this time I’ve been pushing the idea away that you’d think about me this way, trying to stop anything before somebody got hurt. Now that I know you’re not just joking around with me, it matters much more.”

“For a long time, I was just joking around. But then you told me I made everything brighter...I realised how good it felt that you were happy. I’d never felt anything like that before. I didn’t know what to do, and I panicked after what you said on New Year’s Eve, too,” Yang didn’t want Blake to think that she had had any intentions of making things so complicated, or had spent longer than two months well aware of her feelings – if only to ease her mind a fraction.

“I know I said the wrong things that night,” Blake once again regretted ever going to Sun’s new year’s party. It had done her no good. “I should have thought about the consequences.”

“Consequences?” Yang asked, not quite sure what she was getting at – what had happened wasn’t a bad thing, or at least not in her opinion. It was more like a learning experience, even if it was an involuntary one.

Blake had started to wring her hands together, not caring about the chill of the air that was enveloping her skin when she was this anxious. “I was drunk and I had my guard down. I said things I normally would have never said, Yang. Clearly, what I said had an effect on you,” the Faunus felt guilty; if she had kept her mouth shut, maybe this wouldn’t be happening to her right now. She wouldn’t have planted these kinds of thoughts in either of their heads.

“Why would you say things you didn’t actually mean?” Yang was staring at her now, her voice laced with concern, pleading for Blake to open up to her. She was holding her breath that maybe, Blake felt the same way that she did, but the Faunus hadn’t even coming close to revealing that.

When Blake answered, it was the answer that Yang had been waiting for.

“Because I was so sure I didn’t want you, that I couldn’t, because it wouldn’t work. But it just…hit me, after we made up after our argument. When I looked at you that night under the stars, the way I looked at you changed,” Blake finally looked up at Yang, tears forming in the corners of her golden eyes. They were Yang’s favourite colour, even when they were sad – nothing would change that.

At that second, Yang’s heart sang, and her spirit felt like it was soaring. Blake felt the same way. Her worries were set free; she hadn’t imagined the last few months of her life and hadn’t been seeing things that weren’t there. In that very moment, it was like the whole world had been made for her just to experience this joy.

Yet, Blake stood there, stock still. It was a stark difference between them; one girl elated and the other so deflated. Carefully stepping towards Blake, Yang was determined to find out what Blake could possibly be thinking for her to be upset.

“That’s why you were so worried about what happened on New Year’s, isn’t it?” The blonde tried to fit the clues together, the ones that were like a myriad of puzzle pieces forming a picture she hadn’t been able to see clearly until now.

“Yes! I was worried that I’d lead you on, and if you liked me, I would have to tell you no,” Blake rubbed at her eyes, tear drops being whisked away before they could stream down her cheeks.

Yang would have done it herself, but the way the conversation was going, it seemed inappropriate. Yes, Blake liked her too – but something was wrong. “I don’t get it,” Yang felt uncertain, her joy morphing to a tightening of her chest. “If you like me too, why would you say no?”

It hurt even more to see Blake turn away from her. Nothing made sense; she couldn’t even look her in the eye?

For Blake, it was easier to say the truth without watching Yang’s reaction. She couldn’t trust herself to say what needed to be said otherwise. “I can’t lie to you Yang, I’m so afraid that this will end badly. For both of us. That’s why.”

Yang was not about to give up. She’d never been a quitter – not when it came to the people she cared about. There had to be a way to convince Blake. “I’m scared too, y’know. I’m scared to lose you, because I love you-”

“What?” Blake instantly recoiled while turning; her body trying to pull her in two different directions.

Realising that she may have worded her reassurance ambiguously, Yang backtracked slightly. “Whoa, I mean, don’t take that as I’m in love with you, that’s a different kind of love. But I feel like I’m falling for you faster than I can keep track of, and I’m scared because I’ve never felt this way about anybody. And I’m most of all scared that I’ll lose the chance to tell you how I feel if I let my fear control me.”

Seeming slightly calmer after the retraction, Blake tried again to reinforce her defence. She would have to tell Yang the real reason why they were incompatible – it was the least she deserved. “People would stare at us if they knew what I am. They’d judge you. You’re human, and I’m…not.”

There was hot air in Yang’s lungs that threatened to become shouts. It was contained, but only to become a scoff that made its way out of her mouth unhindered. “That doesn’t matter at all to me! And nobody else knows that. It makes no difference to the way we feel about each other.”

She thought Blake had accepted their differences, but this was the opposite to her expectations. Maybe she hadn’t experienced things that Blake had, but was she that naïve to ever assume Blake didn’t care she was human?

“But I shouldn’t feel the way I do!” Blake cried, trying to hold back more tears. “You should fall in love with a human and I should be with another Faunus, or alone. That’s what society wants. That’s what I was told, and-”

“Fuck what other people think, Blake!” Yang was unable to hide the bite of rage in her tone, but she’d already worn her heart on her sleeve and wasn’t going to sit down and surrender. “You’ll never be happy if you let other people make decisions for you. Especially people that wanted to control you and lied to you when you trusted them.”

She wasn’t willing to listen to her best friend talk herself down like that, and like hell she would ever let society; that had already driven her to unhappiness before, steal away her or anyone else’s confidence to trust themselves.

“You don’t understand! I’m no good for you!”

Unlike before, Blake fought back against Yang’s fire with her own. Instead of thinking about who was really against her, her body was autonomously pushing away anything and anyone trying to get close to her. “Did you know that Belladonna is another name for the deadly nightshade flower? That’s what I am, I’m dark and poisonous. I hurt people that I care about, and I’ll only destroy your light and happiness.”

Blake believing that was more painful to Yang than the rejection. How badly beaten down had this girl been? What kind of selfish people would brainwash someone into thinking they were worth nothing?

There was more to worth than what other people saw in you – Yang had heard a million times that to love someone else, you had to love yourself first…but that never stopped anybody before. If Blake couldn’t look and see what would make her happy, would she ever find a sense of harmony in her life? Would she ever get the wedding bells she dreamed about?

Yang would not stand idly by and watch her fade away; never to be loved only because of self-doubt. “Blake, without you, I wouldn’t be as bright as I am. You know that light needs the dark to shine!”

Maybe it was a bit sentimental, but she’d grown fond of their contrast. She’d always liked finding the good in people and making sure they knew about it.

“I wouldn’t have had the time to let myself get away from responsibility back home if there was no night to sneak out into. The stars in the sky wouldn’t be there without the dark. I need the dark! Nightshade or not, you’re a flower I’d pick any day.”

There was no response. Just silence in the air. Yang hoped that her words had gotten through.

But, there was a ringing in Blake’s ears – it wasn’t that of bells; it was a blend of a piercing tone like a bomb had gone off, and Yang calling her name.

Finally, the Faunus took a breath, composing herself before the argument was dragged out any longer. “I need to process…all of this,” Blake said, backing down. One of them had to. Yang just stared at her, ironically looking like the defeated one. With no objection, Blake started off to the bus stop to take herself home, forcing a separation.

Metaphorically speaking, a bomb had gone off. One that was planted in the inevitability of this moment – if she rejected her; if Blake left, it could break Yang’s heart. It might destroy their friendship for good…

“Blake, wait!”

“Yang, please.”

“No, I get it,” she muttered. “But I kinda need my jacket back.”

“Oh.” Blake shrugged out of the jacket, gingerly handing it back. She’d forgotten she had it on. “I’m sorry,” and she was.

…but if that was what it took, Blake would suffer the consequences. If Yang hated her for it, all the better.

Chapter Text

March ( Spring )



Spring had sprung in Canton, and it was beautiful.

Yet, the butterflies, the birds, and the bees had no effect on a particular person.

After all, Yang would not be spending time with the girl that had recently become everything she never knew she dreamed of.

She had it bad for Blake, and then everything had gone bad. First, her confession went over terribly, and then Blake had left her hanging on to hope that she’d come around eventually and warm up to the idea that they’d be okay.

The opposite, in fact, had happened.

Yang wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but it seemed like Blake had fallen off the face of the Earth, as if she hadn’t ever existed.

Like a shadow that had been burned out by the sun.

She hadn’t seen Blake since that afternoon, not even at school. Nobody bothered to ask her why she had lost the person that she had been attached at the hip to – either her morose attitude told them enough, or someone had forewarned them that it was much too personal an issue (Pyrrha was Yang’s guess; even if Sun was the most informed, his lack of tact would never win him any awards).

There was a part of Yang that considered a third possibility; Blake had only been avoiding her. It wasn’t like Blake to skip school for a month, and as good as she was on her feet, it’d be hard to avoid the eight other people in their friendship circle. Which made for an awkward confusion that Yang would rather just not bring up, for fear of the emotions that would likely follow if she found out that the others had seen or even spoke to Blake.

After the first few weeks of the seeming game of cat and mouse, the rag-tag group of friends began to grow worried. While they wanted to respect their privacy and personal space, on the other hand, Yang was clearly suffering. Nobody liked seeing her sunny disposition diminish with every passing day.

Yet, there was nothing they could do once Yang had given up. There came a point where she no longer kept her lavender eyes peeled for a sign of a black bow; waiting around in the halls or by the bus stop Blake used to frequent. She had furtively scoured libraries across town, cafés that sold teas the Faunus favoured, even grocery store aisles where canned tuna and packaged cottage cheese where found (it was a reach, but she had tried anything she could think of).

There was only so much she could do, being one girl, and she had nothing to work with when Blake wouldn’t take her calls or make contact with her in any way, shape or form.

For umpteenth time, Yang was abandoned by someone she thought would be by her side. She’d forgotten all about her estranged mother, the woman she’d intended to learn about, because of Blake. Finding someone that wanted to be in her life and appreciated her overshadowed that and filled the hole left by Raven, but it turned out that when the going got tough, Blake had just run away from her too.

The inside of her head was a mess, her thoughts jumbled. It was a perpetual state of confusion. She’d be thinking of something related to her current situation; school, or driving, or the food she was mindlessly eating, but then her train of thought would switch tracks to Blake. Everything about her. All the things that got on her mind would end up making Yang think about Blake. Between being convinced that she wanted Blake back regardless of what had happened, and being adamant that she didn’t miss her because she made her choice – it was driving Yang crazier than when she had been mad at Blake after New Year’s.

Yang was angry, but underneath that, she was lost. The give and get she was used to – being able to talk to somebody that listened, and return the gesture, that had come and gone. All her emotions were bottled up without anyone to talk to. She didn’t want to burden Ruby with her troubles; her sister had been able to see the way she felt before she had even realised it herself, and had been set on playing matchmaker for them. She was ecstatic when Yang had admitted that she had a crush on Blake, and Yang didn’t want to disappoint her. She didn’t want Ruby to wonder what had gone wrong, because she didn’t even know the answer. Yang just wanted to turn down the thoughts inside her head, because every night, it would just give her heart ache.

It hurt, most of all, because it didn’t need to be that way. The guilt and self-blame that had overtaken Blake was something that Yang just didn’t understand, not for lack of trying, but because she hadn’t been given the chance to.

Maybe it would hurt less if she knew why Blake was so afraid.

Maybe it wouldn’t.

Even though she wasn’t completely alone, the wide birth Qrow had been giving her at home certainly made it feel that way. The house was empty, not just missing the hopeful spirit she’d had, but without Blake visiting all the time there was nothing to stop Yang remembering exactly whose house it was.

Her uncle had done his best to cheer her up; he knew exactly what had happened, having suspicions about of the nature of their friendship for some time. At the same time, Qrow had unwittingly offended his niece – he never claimed to be good at cheering teenage girls up. His harsh life lessons maybe weren’t what she had needed to hear.

He had noticed Yang had been acting strange as of late; no longer making jokes or laughing at his dry sense of humour. Always wearing a frown or staring off into nothingness, barely speaking a word to him. Qrow had finally had enough, and asked her what the hell her problem was. A few words was all she said.

Blake’s avoiding me.”

That alone was enough to piss off Qrow Branwen – he hated seeing his niece subjected to the same thing over and over again. His protectiveness of her stemmed from the lack of care by his sister, and he was not about to let that girl off the hook for ditching her so-called best friend.

I always thought that girl was hiding something, Yang,” he didn’t really know what that had to do with anything, but he never trusted her. “Now look what she’s done to you, you’re devastated-”

You don’t know what you’re talking about!” Yang shouted, visibly upset.

Qrow, taken aback at how easily she defended Blake, scowled.

You don’t know her like I do,” his niece pleaded for him to understand.

He couldn’t hold his tongue, remembering how he had never once thought that his sister would abandon her daughter during her pregnancy. He had been wrong, and so was Yang. “Well, it looks like you didn’t know her as well as you thought you did!”

He swore he saw the eyes of his sister bore into his own that night. That and the slamming bedroom door told him that he’d only rubbed salt into the wound. Qrow hadn’t seen Yang that mad since she found out that Raven still contacted him from time to time – which wasn’t actually his fault; the communication was not a two way street.

The man realised that Yang must have some serious feelings for Blake if she was that upset. It probably would have gone without saying, as his niece had begged to live with him so she could learn about Raven – yet the longer she stayed, the less that became her priority.

As much as he didn’t like admitting it, he’d be willing to forgive and forget about everything if Blake came back and Yang was happy. He guessed the same went for Yang, but he couldn’t be too sure – she wouldn’t talk to him much these days.

Qrow told himself that it was Yang’s problem to take care of, not his. Unfortunately, it was illegal for him to track Blake down and drag her home demanding she fix his niece’s broken heart. He just had to have faith that Yang would work it all out, with or without Blake.

Faith, however, was something Yang was severely lacking. There was no way Blake was suddenly going to break out of her mentality if she was isolated with only her own thoughts, and Yang had run out of ways to try and fix that. One month without the Faunus was going to turn into two. If Blake wasn’t in her future, then she saw no reason for her to stay in Ohio any longer than necessary – it’d only remind her of her failure. She would have stayed with Blake; if Blake needed her to be there, Yang would have followed her wherever she lead her.

But now, she was seriously consider getting herself back home after graduating. Ruby was there; Ruby still loved her. Her father would welcome her with open arms, just happy that she still loved him. Zwei would bark and wag his stubby tail, none the wiser. If she was going to be living without Blake, it would be with her family, at home.

Yang knew she would eventually have had to make a choice regardless; stay in Ohio or go back to Maine.

Maybe it was time to choose.

Blake stared at the mess she’d made. Her bedroom was littered with clothes and books; drawers open and draped with things that hadn’t made it into the suitcase she’d hurriedly packed in a panic. It had become routine for her to freak out every couple of days, somehow getting the idea that she would be better off going back to Zoar; back to the White Fang. She wanted to run so badly, but she’d only be leaving where she had originally ran to in the first place. It was a delicate situation; always leading to her unpacking and reorganising her belongings, only to bring them out again when her flight instinct flared up.

Leaving would not solve her problems, it would only replace them with old ones. Her issue was that she never actually solved any of her problems, just ran from them, and it tended to pile up after awhile. She had promised that she could be mature; independent, earn her right to go to college and support herself once she turned eighteen. It would not look good if she came home with her metaphorical tail between her legs, and because of a human, no less.

There had been a few simple rules; keep her Faunus trait hidden, stay out of trouble, send updates home every week, and keep to herself. Those were the conditions she’d agreed to – not that she had a choice, really. Her appointed guardian had the control, and while Blake didn’t completely trust the woman, she was never the worst member of the church.

Sienna Khan, a tiger Faunus, was her father’s successor as the high leader of the White Fang. After her parents’ passing, Blake had also became Sienna’s charge. Blake always hoped that if Sienna was deemed worthy enough by her father to lead, then she was capable of being her guardian. Luckily, Blake’s inheritance was unable to be accessed by anyone other than herself, and was hers to do with as she pleased – and she so pleased; using it in her argument to convince Sienna that she was able to live by herself for a year in preparation for her future, renting a house in Canton – not too far away.

And while Blake had eventually broken one of the rules, nobody would ever find that out. Yang had kept her mouth sealed shut when it came to her Faunus heritage, and Blake hadn’t let the blonde in on her home address. She’d kept that to herself when it came to Yang; she was human, and Blake wouldn’t put it past Sienna and the church to figure out somehow that a human girl was constantly showing up at her house. That was not something she wanted to explain to someone that had promised the destruction of humans that stood in their way to equality. Better to be safe than sorry on that one.

Blake knew that her home was never with Sienna and the White Fang. She had planned on making her own home far away from them once she was an adult, and that day was going to come within a few months. She almost made it a year without screwing anything up, but here she was throwing away the best thing – the best person, to ever happen to her.

And for what?

An ideology she didn’t agree with?

Blake knew pushing Yang away didn’t make any sense. She blamed it on their biological differences, but Yang had seen through that.

If Blake had gone any further in her reasoning, all of the mistakes of her past would have had to come out. All this time, she had wanted to hide that part of her away; pretend like he hadn’t affected her. The truth Blake couldn’t tell Yang was that there was a voice in her head that forbid her to love a human, and it was controlling her – even if that voice belonged to her worst nightmare; her former friend and confidant...

...her first love.

Blake despised what he’d done to her and all the lies he’d told her, but he had been that manipulative. It had taken far too long for her rose coloured glasses to come off and to see him for what he had become. And when she did, it was a wake-up call; a warning that there was no future in the path they were on – in regards to their crusade for better treatment, and their relationship.

Blake had disagreed with Adam for the last time. That is, he had had enough of her defiance. The girl had avoided helping him with his plans with lame excuses for months, and he was tired of her letting him down. Worst of all, she wanted out – she wanted to give up and pretend she wasn’t a Faunus and live alongside humans, instead of ridding the planet of the vile beings.

He was furious that she would even have the guts to refuse him, and he was going to let her know that. “What do you want, Blake? To mingle with humans? They’re lesser beings! We are superior-”

I want equality!” Blake cut him off. She wouldn’t listen to his excuses; her mind was made up, and she would not let Adam walk all over her anymore.

He was furious. He would not let Blake betray him and ruin what he had worked for, and he was not going to hold back his ire. “What you want is impossible! We are destined to light the fires of revolution and deliver the justice that mankind so greatly deserves.”

The spiteful tone of his voice only served to further convince Blake that she was doing the right thing. “We must strive for peace, not bloodshed! I can’t do this with you anymore, Adam.”

He was no longer someone she could trust to keep her safe.

Then, as if he had read her mind, Adam silenced her with a forceful slap to her face, shocking her and sparking fear of what he was truly capable of inside her heart for the first time.

He cared not for her wide eyes staring at him in pure fright, snarling at her with malice she had never experienced before, even from humans. “Y ou’re worthless, Blake. I’m the only person that will ever love you, and don’t you dare forget it!”

How could she explain what Adam had done to her? He scared her to no end. She could still feel the impact of the back of his hand connecting with her cheek. After that, he had become more violent and spiteful – she tried to forget every bruise from his vice-like grip on her arms or throat, or every time her chest would burn when he kicked her to the ground, and the verbal abuse he’d spit in her face when she refused to comply with his twisted ideas.

But she could never be rid of those memories, and the only thing she could do was hide them from others and try to convince herself that they hadn’t broken her.

She’d been a fool to trust Adam, and to fall for him had been even more foolish. Messing with the bull had gotten her the horns, so to speak – he was a bull Faunus; towering over her at over six feet tall, with an odd mixture of brown-red hair. He had once been kind and caring, his good looks and sweet words pulling her in. But, like she had told Yang, he changed over time – and by the time Blake realised that, it was too late for him, but not for herself.

Leaving hadn’t let her escape him, though; she carried Adam and his burden with her wherever she went. She never, ever, wanted to see him again for the rest of her life.

Somehow, she’d manage to forget about him – well, Yang had helped with that. There was something about that girl, and the more Blake thought about it, the something was everything. Everything about Yang had made Blake into something else, something she herself didn’t recognise.

She had smiled every day for about five months, even on bad days, right up until she’d stomped all over the blonde’s heart. Blake believed with every fibre of her being that the smile on her face had been because of Yang. It was the smile; an expression of pure unadulterated happiness – Yang must have known it, too. She’d told her that it looked good on her on Christmas day, and it could have only been because she believed Blake was happy.

And she had been. She had even thought, in rare moments, that everything would be alright if Yang had a romantic interest in her. In a perfect world, at least it, would have been – but Blake didn’t live in that world, even if she desperately wanted to. The new voice in her head, the one that roared to high heavens and was somehow even louder than Adam’s venomous yelling, kept trying to tell her that all she had to do was let her fear go.

It was unwavering, despite the two voices being continually at odds. The one that always encouraged her to follow her heart and find happiness sounded a lot like Yang – and it always complimented her when she was feeling self-conscious. The other was Adam, berating her and never failing to rub her nose in her insecurities.

Blake found it so easy to listen to Yang’s voice, not even bothered that it had made itself at home in her conscience. It was her own mental cheerleader, and it was just the right kind of charming. Being stuck with that honey-sweet voice for as long as she had, she wouldn’t be able to resist believing that everything would be alright for much longer when it said, I’ve got this thing about you, just like the real Yang had. It wasn’t eloquent, it didn’t make total sense, but it was honest and raw – which was more than Blake had the decency to give back.

This was always the point where she would hate getting to in her thoughts. Reliving the moment when she’d heard what she wanted to hear, only to throw it away not soon after. It became difficult to even sit still for five minutes without risking replaying the conversation over and over, contemplating that she would simply be alone forever – not because she wanted to, but because it was better that way. An empty house for an empty heart, where she’d live out the rest of her days pining after someone she could have let herself have if it wasn’t for Adam.

If she was lucky, she could shake herself out of it before she started crying. Forcing herself to blink a few times, she finally came back to Earth and refocused on her surroundings. Observing what clothes she’d mindlessly decided to pack in her haste this time, her keen eyes were taken by something almost neon in colour.

If God was looking to punish her just a little more, that punishment was in the form of a bright yellow pair of underwear that, without a doubt, didn’t belong to her. She supposed that she deserved it really, if she’d never insisted on returning them to Yang after she’d borrowed them that one time many months ago. There was no guilt in forgetting she had them, no, only a painful reminder of the girl she wished she had. How cruel a world she lived in if the only thing she had left from Yang was a God-awful looking pair of panties – it was a somewhat inappropriate item to keep, after all. Although, it would admittedly be stranger to try and return them; an idea Blake quickly disregarded after imagining Qrow finding them in his mailbox.

She practically dived into her suitcase, grabbing the offending garment so she could shove it far into her dresser drawer, lest she get anymore stupid ideas about it. Forcing herself into a lifetime of loneliness perhaps wasn’t the best idea with such an active imagination that centred mostly around a very attractive blonde – especially when she couldn’t even bring herself to throw away a borrowed pair of underwear. Maybe she could just keep them...

“I apparently look good in yellow, anyway,” she said aloud, wondering when she’d gotten crazy enough to talk to herself.

Blake, frustrated, started cleaning up. If she left everything lying around too long, she’d be too tired later to bother.

The amount of times she’d been through this process left her wondering if she was not simply crazy, but completely out of her mind. To deny Yang when she so clearly only wanted the best for her seemed like another mistake she would regret. Blake would admit that it was selfish to have caused Yang pain in the hopes that she would be hated for it, because she was too weak to walk away on her own. It would have been so easy to accept Yang’s love; ignore everything bad that had ever happened and pretend it would be smooth sailing from then on.

But that was not who Blake was. She was guarded, and paranoid that she was bad luck, bad news, a bad omen. Everyone that had previously known her would have said that she was cynical, never convinced that a positive word was said about her – but Blake was well aware nobody in the White Fang was very fond of her. She was a Belladonna, part of the family they’d grown to despise, and every rumour that Adam spread about her didn’t help. No matter how nice or smart she was, how well educated she became, they’d never treat her as one of their own.

That was more terrifying than facing Yang again.

Blake knew that was the reason she hadn’t run off for good. She truly did not want to go back to her old life; even if she had to live without Yang, anything would be better than that. In a few months, if she wasn’t hated by all her friends for ghosting them, she could have the freedom to reach out to them – and not worry what Sienna or the White Fangthought.

That was the most positive thing she had thought of in God knows how long – and it ignited a small ray of hope. If she had to run from one thing, it would be the church full of angry Faunus. That was what she had been trying to do all along; if running from Yang, even for a few months, helped Blake achieve would be alright. She’d have to live with the guilt of it, but it was more bearable than having something happen to Yang that was out of her control.

Blake would fix her own mess before dragging Yang into it. She deserved that much. If she could hold out a little longer, maybe she could even get the chance to explain herself. It was with that resolve Blake took a deep breath, hoping to take one day at a time with less worry clouding her mind.

Having returned everything that was misplaced to normal, she turned back to her suitcase to pack away the rest of her things. while tucking her clothes back into their drawers, she had the passing thought of also putting her suitcase away so as to not tempt herself into filling it again. Lying in the bottom of her suitcase was a plethora of books – it was so predictable of her to have packed her books first. Many of them had been bought in the last few months using the gift card that Yang had given to her for Christmas.

While trying to ignore the flash of memories that it brought on, Blake attempted to haul them all out in her arms and back to the overstuffed bookshelf. She cringed as one slid from her haphazard grasp, failing to stop it tumbling to the hardwood floor, with several dull thunks signalling a rough journey. Placing each tome back into place, Blake went back for the one that hadn’t been as lucky to come out of her stupor unharmed, dreading the crumpled corner that it now likely had. Unable to see it at the foot of her bed where she had expected to, she huffed, deducing that it had made its way underneath said bed. Kneeling, she ducked her head down, only to be surprised to find more than a book sitting on the floor.

The Faunus wasn’t one to use the floor as a wardrobe, and she was silently irritated that she had no clue how long there was a shirt under her bed. Leaving it in favour of her dropped book, she brought the tome out to inspect the damage. In awe of her good luck, Blake found there was none – a small miracle. She was particularly pleased; it being a copy of one her favourite traditional fairy tales, La Belle et la Bête. Most people would just call it Beauty and the Beast, but it was the original French tale that Blake much preferred to read, and in its native language. She had it specially ordered in to the bookstore, paying no mind to the fee – all the while thanking Yang for spoiling her.

Having rescued it, she stretched her arm under once again, tucking her shoulder in the gap to make the distance. Avoiding stirring up or collecting any dust, her fingers dug into fabric, bunching as much as they could into her palm. Bringing out the lost shirt was simple, easy – but realising what it was, that was an entirely different thing.

If there was any doubt about Blake’s wardrobe, it was its range of colour. Blacks, greys, whites, hues of purple. She never had the desire for any more of the spectrum – neutrals were much simpler, in her opinion. So, in theory, to find a shirt of the yellow variety could mean little but one thing.

There was more than just Yang Xiao Long’s underwear in her bedroom.

It just then occurred to Blake how insane she, and Yang too, must have seemed to Sun to deny his accusations of their relationship. She had ended up never bringing her own clothes, or even a toothbrush, when she stayed at Yang’s; always happy to wear things that she knew damn well always smelt like her.

Honey, cloves, and a hint of roses.

The lightweight shirt, however long it had been there, still had the faint trace of the aroma Blake had almost forgotten. It was well worn; a few holes, stitching in places that was beginning to come unravelled. The back was adorned with faded lettering, the Xiao Long name emblazoned above the numbers zero and three. Blake could not recall borrowing any such shirt before, inherently curious as to its origins. The left breast being printed with Signal Academy Volleyball Team did give her a vague idea – Yang loved her athleticism, and she probably would want the shirt back, assuming it had sentimental value.

It wasn’t as if Blake had taken it on purpose, though. It could have fallen in her bag, or been swept up with schoolbooks or a sweater, and she just never noticed it fall out onto the floor. It was the last thing she wanted; to feel so obligated to return something when she felt as equally obligated to hand it over in person. This was entirely her fault, and it would be callous to not give it back. Yet, who was to say that Yang knew where it was? She could return it without ever being implicated.

“God, I’m pathetic.”

It hurt to admit it, but Blake knew it. She wanted to give the shirt back, but she wanted to keep it, too. She had no right.

She had no right to love Yang, but she did anyway.

But, that was much too scary a prospect to even consider. Love had never brought her any happiness before, and who was to say it would be different this time? It was times like these that she wished for a sign that she was wrong.

She wouldn’t mind being wrong. At least she would know how much she’d screwed up, rather than grow old wondering if she could have lived a happy life; safe, secure and loved by a blonde that had a liking for terrible puns. She’d become so used to having Yang by her side that she was utterly lost without her.

“I don’t want to do this on my own,” she whispered, resigning herself to the fact that it would never not be painful to have turned her back on Yang.

Heaving her body upright, she turned and put La Belle et la Bête back in the bookshelf as a muffled sound emanated from somewhere. Having sensitive hearing was only good for eavesdropping and finding a lost mobile phone, and Blake was dealing with the latter. Still clutching Yang’s shirt, she finally pinpointed her ringing phone inside her dresser – bundled in with the clothes she’d cleaned up.

She was actually surprised to see that Yang was calling her. Maybe a couple of weeks ago, she wouldn’t have been, but Yang had stopped trying as of late. Blake had asked for a sign, but this was as plain as day.

Still, she’d made her mind up. She’d wait until she was eighteen and free to live her life her own way. She had to commit to that path, no matter how badly she wanted to stray from it.

“I’m sorry, Yang.” Blake dropped her phone back in the drawer and slid it shut. Letting it ring out was the best option, but she couldn’t just sit there and listen to it. There was only one thing she could do when she needed to relax – a warm bath and a good book.

Holding, once again, La Belle et la Bête in her hand, Blake quickly retreated to the bathroom, hoping to get lost in a fantasy world that belonged to someone else.

Blake emerged from the bathroom many hours later, after the water had finally lost its warmth and the French on the pages had become too bothersome to read. Her body felt better for it, but her mind immediately flooded with guilt when she saw Yang’s shirt on her bed. It was stupid, and wouldn’t help her at all, but Blake felt the overwhelming need to wear it, and pretend that it was almost like having Yang here in the flesh. So she put it on, the fabric wrapping her up like Yang used to; a good enough placeholder for now.

Retrieving her phone from her drawer, she was met with three voicemail messages from Yang. Three? That was excessive, even for her – before she had stopped bothering to call altogether, they used to be short pleas for Blake to just say something to her, or demands to block her number so she had some sort of closure.

So for there to be messages left again, after so long, there was no way that Blake wasn’t going to listen to them – even if it was slightly torturous. Her curiosity would always get the better of her. Yang probably knew that. The Faunus shoved the blame onto her heritage before opening her voicemail; bringing the phone to her human ear, completely unprepared for what she was about to hear.

“You have three new messages,” the robotic voice said. “Friday, nine-twenty-three p.m.”

Blake. I’m sorry,” the message started, Yang’s sad voice coming through quite clearly. “I don’t know what I’m sorry for, since you won’t talk to me so I can figure out what I did wrong. But I can’t forget about you like I know you want me to. You need to know that. You need to know that I wanna be there for you, but you won’t let me,” she sounded frustrated then, a heavy sigh blowing into the receiver. “You must have some reason, something that made you turn your back on me like this. I won’t believe that you’re this cruel, not after the things we’ve been through, not after the things you’ve done, what you’ve said-

A tone sounded, and Blake heard the report that the next message was recorded barely thirty seconds later.

Your message bank cut me off, but some stupid machine won’t stop me. You’re gonna listen to this, you have to, I need you to. Right now all I have is a voice message that you might not even hear as my last resort. You changed me Blake, from someone that had no plans for the future. Suddenly, my future was filled with you. There was this time in my life, I was hurt and I was looking for answers,” Yang’s voice wavered, but continued on, “and you were there, playing some heart-wrenching piano piece.” Blake heard a bitter chuckle and a sniffle, while she herself fondly remembered the moment. But it was hard to listen when it was obvious that Yang was close to tears, yet she still was managing to speak. “And that moment felt like it lasted, oh…for many days-” the words became quiet and mumbled as the blonde choked up further, “and I don’t know what that is, but...” Yang trailed off again, but there was an audible moment of composure before she kept going. “Everyone knows that I’m not fine, and it’s because...well, it’s because I-”

Another beep and another report came through similar to the last. The last message played.

I don’t know if what I said was cut off, it doesn’t really matter whether or not it was, since I’ve given up hoping that anything’s gonna change your mind. I know that I told you that I get it, I get that you need time, space...that’s the last time I could say it with a straight face, because I don’t get it, Blake. I fucking don’t get it. I don’t know what I’m doing at all anymore. I don’t even know if I can turn around and leave you behind, even if that’s exactly what you did to me, when you knew how much it would hurt me.” There it was; that was what Blake was afraid of. Hearing it from Yang just made her feel guiltier, and rightly so. “I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow...” through tears, Yang almost incomprehensibly uttered, “and baby, I don’t want to do it...unless you’re...”

After the last beep, the voice droned again, “end of messages.”

Blake’s mind short circuited for a moment, especially hearing a term of endearment like baby. “Wait,” she discarded that fact when her brain caught up to what else Yang had said. “Unless I’m what?” The amount of words she could have ended that sentence with was overwhelming, and she’d never be able to guess.

She felt terrible that she was the reason Yang was crying; she’d never seen her cry. The girl had been clobbered in the face and had her nose bent out of shape and she still didn’t cry. She hadn’t even shed a tear when Blake rejected her.

Yang was right. After all they’d been through, how could it make any sense for Blake to treat her this way? She never intended to be cruel, but she knew the definition of cruel. Yang had no idea how much more it would hurt if the White Fang ever caught wind of...whatever they felt for each other.

Blake knew she was being a coward. All she knew how to do was run away from people, hurt them because she was too afraid to tell them the truth and afraid to find a better solution than running. She’d been blinded by her own affection to even try and prevent Yang from growing too attached to her, and for that, she’d failed.

But, after all this...if Yang would let Blake walk back into her life when the time was right, just like the blonde had walked into hers?

Blake would love her with everything she had.

That was the only thing she was sure of.

Chapter Text

April (Spring)


It was just another lazy, boring weekend for Yang. All she had been doing lately was forcefully focusing her mind on school, and relishing how soon she would be graduating. She’d worked hard to get where she was; there was little point in throwing it all away. After the bell rang at school in the afternoon, she’d decline all invitations to be social, then it was back to the Branwen home to have wordless dinners with her uncle before he disappeared into the night (whether he was working or going drinking, she didn’t really care).

She was tired, constantly, due to faking a smile everyday just for appearances. By late March, she thought it was time to at least pretend to her friends that she’d gotten over what had happened. She was just as tired of the looks they gave her when they thought she wasn’t paying attention, so, she turned back into the old Yang – the Yang she had been at her old school. It was frustrating that she couldn’t ever seem to escape the façade of being okay for other people.

The blonde, currently sprawled on the couch, was staring at the television that droned with whatever the hell was programmedon a Saturday afternoon. Re-runs of old sitcoms that never went off the air, even decades after they were over. Catching the famous tune I’ll Be There for You made her switch the channel swiftly, not in the mood to be reminded that Blake, her supposed friend, was not there for her.

She’d been trying to find her way after her unexpected parting with Blake, but that was the whole issue. Yang felt as if being with Blake was the way she was supposed to go in life. It had crossed her mind many times lately that her own father had been through the same thing before, not once, but twice. Though they’d mended their relationship, it was never what she wished it was – these kinds of troubles would only bring up old memories for him, and she never wanted that for her dad. She also, in truth, didn’t want his advice; he had crappy coping mechanisms, and he would be too harsh on her (unintentionally, or not). He had a certain way of looking at the world, and it was often-times too simple for Yang’s liking. She really didn’t want to hear you’re moping, Yang. He’d be all, up and at ‘em. Which would have just seemed hypocritical, considering he never was up and at ‘em when he was left alone by people he loved. Then they would have an argument about iy, and she was not up for that.

She knew he had been heavily reliant on Summer’s parents after Raven left him, as they tried to welcome him into their daughter’s life the best they could, despite living in Germany. While the Rose family descended from Deutschland, Summer and her parents had been born and raised in America; Yang’s non-biological grandparents moving to Europe way before way she was even born. They had been around for a bit after Summer passed away, but they had their own lives to get back to. Eventually, they entrusted the children to Tai. They had never found out how bad of a job he did; Tai much too ashamed to admit anything to them whenever they called, and always making sure to present a happy home upon their infrequent visits.

Yang felt guilty about how they’d been lied to, but as a child, she was afraid she would lose her last parent if she told them of his incompetence. She never wanted to burden anybody, either. Thus, she hadn’t ever seen much of Ruby’s Oma and Opa, but Yangknew that Tai had started asking for advice once he had shaped up. He started calling them frequently, basically doing anything they told him to, particularly when it came to Ruby – he always hoped Summer would have wanted them to have a say in her life.

Yang supposed that having followed their advice so much, her dad had never really found his own way to deal with things, his own way to live his life. He searched for guidance from others, combining it into his life to find stability. She couldn’t ever tell if what was in his head; his parenting techniques; his lessons to her, were his own. She didn’t want to take after her father, no. She wanted to find her way to fix things, she wanted to do it on her terms.

If she could ever bring herself to do that. In all actuality, she often lost track of time these days. Sitting around not really paying attention to anything tended to do that to a girl. She almost wished she could go back to being a mentally frantic mess, instead of someone that thought about nothing and nothing of substance. What if searching forever for a way to cope was better than never finding a way at all? At least she’d be doing something, rather than nothing.

She barely stopped herself falling off the couch when her phone vibrated, essentially kick-starting her lethargic heart from its dull existence. Finding a text message alert, she idly tapped on the screen to read it.

Nora and I have been missing you at the gym. We wouldn’t want you to atrophy and Nora beat you at an arm wrestle.

Pyrrha, lovely, considerate Pyrrha. The red-heads that she’d befriended had their own love of physical workouts, and that message was not even subtly baiting her to get out of the house. They had always trained on Saturday, spotting each other and competing to be the one that could do the most reps or push-ups, or anything they could think of that was measured numerically. Deep down, Yang missed the burn of her workouts, and the camaraderie of girls that didn’t only care about yoga, or Pilates, or whatever current fitness trend was taking the world by storm. Suddenly, she had the desire to blow off some steam, maybe bring back a semblance of the best parts of herself.

Yang replied that she would be there.

Maybe it was a sign that she was starting to find her own way.

In the warm and sweaty atmosphere of the gym, where clanking of various equipment and grunts or groans (which frankly, was not something they could ever resits giggling at) broke the odd silence, three young women finally collapsed on the mats and panted for dear life. Pyrrha and Nora had put Yang through her paces, and it had become obvious that she’d neglected her body lately. Still, Yang relished the feeling of being utterly spent; her body only looking for a place to rest and her mind much too out of it to think about anything but her screaming muscles.

Unable to stick to just taunts and jabs about each-other’s shape and form, Pyrrha interrupted their cool-down period with something she’d been dying to say since Yang arrived. “It’s unlike you to miss a work out, Yang, let alone weeks and weeks of them.”

Not offended by the thinly veiled concern in her statement, Yang smiled guiltily.

“Yeah!” Nora sat up, giving the blonde a competitive grin. “I thought for sure you’d be afraid that I’d get ahead of you!”

Just glad that she was regaining a sense of normality, Yang casually shrugged, not thinking twice about her response. “I know. I wasn’t really thinking about it. I’ve been totally distracted.”

“Dare I say,” Pyrrha was unsure if she was about to tread on thin ice, but she was never one to be afraid of doing the unthinkable, “distracted by a certain someone?” It went without saying who that someone was.

“You could say that,” Yang heaved a struggled sigh, still regaining her breath.

Nora, not a big fan of ambiguity, steered the conversation in the direction she was most interested in. “What, you still pining after Miss Cool-and-Mysterious that reads smutty books when she doesn’t think anyone can see?”

Yang whipped her head towards her in surprise, while Pyrrha let out a small gasp. “Nora-”

Raising her hand, Yang stopped Pyrrha before she could continue. They were just trying to look out for her, although, Nora did it in a roundabout way. “It’s okay, guys. You’ve probably been stepping on eggshells around me this whole time. I’m sorry. It’s just...”

Yang was unsure of what to honestly say. Would they understand what she’d been going through? She stared at the ground, wrapping her arms around her legs and pulling her knees to her chin. Her friends shared a look over her discouragement.

Feeling a hand on her shoulder, Yang turned to see Nora with a pensive expression – a rarity. “You really liked her,” Nora said, no doubt in her voice.

Nodding slightly, Yang returned her head to rest on her knees. “I still really like her, Nora. Like, a lot.” It was hard to admit, especially when she didn’t want to think about it.

Crossing her long legs, Pyrrha sat in front of the blonde and lightly touched her arm in a comforting manner. “Do you want to talk about it? I did notice, Blake had been acting quite aloof the few weeks before her…absence. And I mean more aloof than usual.”

Blake was being weird? Before she ran off? Yang hadn’t noticed. Did her friends see everything that she hadn’t? If she thought about it, it would explain Blake suddenly freaking out about the flirting – because it wasn’t sudden, it was weeks in the making.

“That makes sense, actually,” she acknowledged aloud, “I guess everyone’s been dying to know why.”

“We kinda hoped she’d come back and we wouldn’t have to ask,” Nora awkwardly admitted with a laugh. “But it’s been almost two months, and you haven’t been the same since.” Even she knew that.

“You how you told me to tell her that I like her, Pyrrha? At Sun’s party?” Yang asked tentatively, not a big fan of the night in question. Pyrrha nodded, and Yang began to rub her neck in nervousness. “She was freaking out about how much I flirted with her, one day in particular. So, I explained everything to her, like you suggested. That didn’t go over so well.”

“You’re kidding?”

Yang felt herself frown. “I wish I was. She said no.”

“Oh, Yang, I’m so sorry,” Pyrrha reached out again, but Yang’s demeanour quickly changed.

“But that’s not it at all!” The blonde stood, her energy and adrenaline returning at the mere recollection of her and Blake’s conversation. All she had wanted to do was chase after the Faunus, but she had chosen to let her go. “I don’t get her, because she said she feels the same way! But then she got even more freaked out about her- about something, and said we wouldn’t work out. She wouldn’t change her mind. I’ve been trying to get used to it-”

“That’s silly!” Nora sprang up to join her, their energy combining to boost the shorter girl’s spirits. “You can’t give up on love!”

“I never said I-”

“That’s it, no more being miserable!” Wildly motioning with her arms, Nora shouted in her very Nora way. That was to say, it was loud and commanding. “Our duty as your friends is to help you get Blake back! Love will prevail!”

Her enthusiasm was not shared by Yang, who had only just begun to accept what had happened. “I don’t think-”

“Don’t think, just do!” Nora wouldn’t take no for an answer. She’d take nothing but yes for an answer. Her friends needed their help to find each other.

Yang was surprised at her insistence. It wasn’t like she hadn’t already tried. “Do what? I did everything I could, but she won’t talk to me!” She didn’t mean to sound so negative, but her patience was already running thin.

“There’s gotta be a way! Did you even bother to ask anyone to help you?!” Nora questioned incredulously, pointing out a fairly important thing to Yang.

“Uh, no, I guess I didn’t,” the blonde admitted, the gears in her brain turning slowly to the realisation that she’d done the same thing as Blake; shut people out.

“We’re wasting time! Treading water waiting on a wave!” Nora marched towards the locker rooms, Pyrrha and Yang glancing at each other in slight confusion as the girl disappeared through the door.

As they slowly moved to follow, Nora’s head popped back out, her turquoise eyes bright. “We’re not getting any younger, here! Let’s go, slowpokes! We have a lot of work to do, Pyrrha!”

“I’m gonna look like such an asshole if Sun was wrong,” she muttered to herself, searching for the button she needed. It was slightly difficult to see it at dusk, but she was able to catch the pesky triangle symbol in the slowly dying light. She hesitated, doubts beginning to form.

But, remembering how she’d gotten this far, she psyched herself up, pushing the doubt to the wayside. “I will not let my heart ache. I won’t be treading water waiting on a wave,” she echoed Nora’s coaching words. “Nope. I will not let my heart ache.” She pressed play before she could chicken out, and lifted her arms above her head despite the dully protestant muscles, staring down the compact double-storey townhouse before her.

As the rhythmic strumming of guitar chords filled the air, she said a silent apology to the people that would absolutely wonder what the hell she was doing. The lyrics drifted out, the melancholic melody gradually growing stronger.

How can I put it, you put me on. I even fell for that stupid love song
Yeah, yeah, since you been gone
How come I’d never hear you say, I just wanna be with you?
Guess you never felt that way

As the chorus dropped, she swore she saw movement in a top-storey window.

But since you been gone!
I can breathe for the first time

Curtains drew open in the very same window, the glass panel sliding open and revealing a face Yang swore had never looked so beautiful. The song continued but it was white noise to her at that point, because she could breathe for the first time in forever, and she so hadn’t moved on.

On Blake Belladonna’s front lawn, Yang Xiao Long stood; a plan devised by Jaune, determination from Nora, encouragement from Pyrrha, wisdom from Ren, a Bluetooth speaker borrowed from Neptune, and critical knowledge from Sun all helping her.

The utter disbelief on Blake’s face was palpable. She had to shout over the music, “Yang! What are you doing!?”

Lifting the speaker a bit higher in the presence of Blake, Yang also had trouble yelling a reply. “I’m serenading you! I saw it in a movie!” It was kind of cliché, but her friends had taken her mention of the famous movie scene as a wonderful idea for a plan. That had been the push for Yang.

Blake, meanwhile, still looked like a deer in headlights. “But that song was about breaking up!” It wasn’t exactly a normal occurrence for her; someone serenading her, and the song choice was baffling her on top of the fact that Yang was there.

“I know!” The blonde shouted with confidence.

Taking that as a sign that there was just no stopping her with common sense, Blake disappeared out of sight, sprinting as fast as she could down the stairs to the front door. Wrenching it open, she approached Yang quickly to shut off the music to try and avoid drawing any more of an audience than there may have already been.

Yang squeaked a noise of surprise as the Faunus began to drag her by the arm. She took the few seconds to take in her appearance – Blake dressed like she’d never really seen. Black lounge pants and a black cardigan over a yellow shirt….which was pretty out of the ordinary for the girl that favoured neutral colours. As they entered the house, the moment and her staring was squarely cut off with the slam of the front door.

Five seconds of tense eye contact between them passed.

“What’s going on? How did you find me?” Blake demanded, breaking the silence.

“I told you, I’m serenading you,” Yang put Neptune’s speaker down on the floor, her confidence unwavering. “And I didn’t find you, Sun ratted you out.”

Blake rechecked every precaution she’d ever taken to prevent this exact scenario. “But...I didn’t tell Sun my address.”

“Well, he knew this street. So, I knocked on everyone’s door asking if they knew of you, and which house you live in,” Yang gave a bashful smile to Blake, hoping it didn’t come across the wrong way. “They did.”

Blake was having trouble hearing how much dedication it had taken. “But why, Yang?” And she was partially annoyed that she’d been forced into this situation, even by someone that would never hurt her.

“Because Summer used to tell me to chase my dreams.”

Yang was fairly sure that Blake was blushing at the implication, if how quickly she looked away was anything to tell by. It was a tiny bit mean to flirt with her when she was well aware of her feelings – and that her feelings conflicted with her actions. But this was her last shot, so there wasn’t anything to lose.

Having recovered from Yang’s bold statement, Blake turned back to her defence, trying to keep her resolve. “Does that have anything to do with why you’re blaring Kelly Clarkson to the whole neighbourhood?”

“It’s because my life sucked without you. The woman has a way with words.” Yang laughed, but briefly, her semi-joke was not taken extremely well by Blake. “And, well, you kinda already broke up with me before giving me a shot, so it kind of makes sense to use a breakup song. In a dumb way.”

Blake sighed, hugging her arms around herself. “You shouldn’t want a shot. There shouldn’t be a shot at us. You shouldn’t even be here...” She began to worry that her fears would come true, if she was being watched.

But Yang’s voice begged, “Can you just hear me out?”

Blake had no choice. At this point, there was no way of getting away from this, from Yang. She knew where she lived, and there was nowhere left for her to go that wasn’t worse than this. And she knew that whatever Yang was about to say wasn’t going to be what she wanted to hear – she was so close to falling off the rails completely and giving in.

Just like always, Yang commanded every shred of her attention. She was tall and powerful, especially in her boots, but not intimidating. It was like a moth to a flame; Blake instinctively gravitated towards her as she shone the brightest.

“I’ve never really chased my dreams before. I’m not even sure I had any before this. And I’m not really sure how my dreams found me, but I guess that’s the way you are. You found me first, so, then I had to find you. And I tried so hard, failing at every turn. Without our friends, I would have let you go. You can’t go through everything alone,” Yang said, hoping that she could get that message through. “But now I’m here, and I just want to be with you, Blake. I want you to see that you’re free to love whoever you want. And I don’t care if people don’t like it, because I’m not in it for them, I’m in it for you and me.”

Blake shut her eyes, Yang’s words washing over her in waves. She was afraid, but for all the wrong reasons. She was afraid that Yang was so dedicated to her and that she didn’t deserve it.

“But...if you tell me now, that you don’t want this, don’t want me…I can’t force you into anything. As much as I’d want to, I can’t stop you leaving me if that was what you chose. It’d be a mystery to me why you’d go through all this only to give up. You have to know Blake,” Yang stepped close to the Faunus, gentle coaxing her hands away from herself so she could hold them. Blake didn’t resist, not even completely sure if this was really real. She’d almost convinced herself she’d never have love again, let alone Yang’s love.

Yang gazed into amber eyes with conviction. “There’s nothing I won’t do for you. Whatever you’re afraid of, I’ll protect you, be right by your side the whole way. I don’t know if it’s always gonna be as hard as this was, but I promise you I’ll be here no matter what. And not just me, everyone else, too. We all miss you.”

Blake knew she couldn’t really promise that, but she so badly wanted to believe it. This wasn’t at all what she’d planned. Nothing since she had met Yang had gone the way she’d planned, but her life the last eight months had been better than she could have ever hoped.

Yang could see how conflicted Blake was. But, she came to say something, and she would talk until her words were exhausted. She’d never been this determined in her life; used to dragging her feet because she never cared how far she got. Ever since she met Blake, that had changed, she had no set destination but she wanted to move forward again. And she wanted the same for Blake; for her to have ambition, be unafraid, and do the things that she wanted without inhibition.

“I want you to make the choice based on what you want,” Yang didn’t dare look away, fearing that if she did, she would come across as anything but wholly sincere. “I’m only here because I didn’t to want lose my chance to show you that what I feel for you is real.” It was a tad vain of her to have come here, acting like some sort of saviour, when she had been as depressed as she’d ever been not even a week ago.

But there was no way in hell Yang would make her intentions vague – Blake didn’t need someone that would manipulate her and trick her. “And I’ll be here, even if it’s only just as your friend,” she let Blake’s hands go, backing up a step. She’d done what she needed to, now it was up to Blake, once and for all.

“What?” Blake almost couldn’t believe her ears, and she had four of them. “You want to just be friends?”

“If that’s what you want, Blake.”

What did she want? What she wanted and what she had prepared for were two different things. Blake had told herself that she simply couldn’t have the person that had just shown up at her doorstep, that it was too dangerous. That for all her guilt of the unknown, she’d run away scared, and was willing to break both their hearts because it was easier? Both outcomes she’d deliberated over were undesirable, but now, Yang was offering her another option. Just friends.

“Do you honestly think we can be just friends? Pretend there’s nothing more, knowing what we know?” Blake was careful to take in Yang’s reaction to her question. If she were to label it, she’d use the word sheepish.

“I think we could. But...” Yang glanced at her cautiously, unsure if Blake wanted to know her true thoughts.

“But?” Blake let herself echo, curiosity once again killing any other instinct she had – like she lived for nothing but the thrill of the chase.

“I’m getting real tired of having to pretend,” Yang said, tiredness ebbing into a slight upturn of the corner of her lips.

Pretend was what Blake had done almost their whole friendship; pretended she wasn’t a Faunus, pretended like she hadn’t sent romantic signals, pretended as if she wasn’t into Yang. And then she had pretended like everything would be okay, like she hadn’t hurt her best friend,and that Yang would magically forgive her over time. Not five minutes ago, Blake let her stand in front of her and pour her heart out, but was she pretending to hear her out for Yang’s sake, or her own? Who benefited from this?

Blake felt it; she was teetering on the edge, so willing to throw caution to the wind because why couldn’t she just be happy for once? Would she hold on, or let go? Letting go was all she’d ever known. But would she waste this opportunity, her second chance? Would she let her heart ache forever, tread water waiting for that perfect wave, and risk losing it all?

All she’d wanted to was leave her old life behind, but never once did she think about what came after. When would her new life begin?

Staring at the human being that was Yang Xiao Long told Blake all she needed to know.

“So am I,” Blake voiced her decision. She chose to be honest and vulnerable. She chose Yang, for herself, and not for anybody else. “I want you in my life. And not just as a friend.”

Slowly, a grin grew on Yang’s face, as she ran a hand through her hair and exhaled the breath she had been holding. “Thank fuck for that, Blake,” she chuckled out of pure relief. “Because I missed you.”

“I’m sorry,” Blake tried not to let guilt interrupt the happiness of the moment, Yang taking her hand and pulling her into an embrace. She nestled her face in Yang’s neck, instantly soothed by the strong scent and all-encompassing warmth that was now hers to absorb. “I missed you too. So much.” She would never move again if given the option; her doubts disappeared and the dark clouds above her head fled in shame as the light of her life was beside her once more.

“What do we do now?” Yang still held onto Blake despite the question, but she was pretty sure she couldn’t stand there for hours like that even though she wanted to. “It’s been kind of a tiring day for me, I could use a nap, but I can go home?” Even though they’d reconciled – more than that, even – there was still some uncertainty in it all. She had a feeling they’d need to talk about a lot of things.

Blake leaned away, shaking her head slightly. “You can stay, if you want,” she was not inclined to be without Yang again so soon, after so long. Suddenly she was self-aware as Yang’s fingers came up to her neck to run along the hem of her cardigan. “But, um, let me change out of these clothes.” Her brain kicked into overdrive at the slightest possibility of either of them shedding a shred of clothing, a million scenarios (all embarrassing) running rampant in her imagination. Not that she was thinking about...that. No, it was much too soon for that.

“Change?” A small raspberry blew from Yang’s lips. “You look fine! Great, even. You could be wearing a garbage bag and I’d be happy to see you.” With a slight bias, Yang still thought Blake would be able to pull even the most trashy thing off – pun intended. Needless to say, she then gave the Faunus a once-over, mentally trying to replace her current outfit with a garbage bag. It occurred to her again that Blake was wearing yellow.

Blake shook her head again, this time in disbelief. “Why would I wear a garbage- nevermind, I don’t...” she saw a questionable expression dawn on the blonde’s face. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“That’s my shirt,” Yang said, all too smugly. Her eyes shone with a mischief that made Blake want to dig herself into a deep hole only to escape the stupid feeling of embarrassment that had taken over.

She must have looked like a walking disaster with her – Yang’s – yellow shirt and her beet-red face.

“No it isn’t?” She cringed in weak denial. Why she bothered denying it when Yang had pulled enough of her cardigan away to prove herself right was anybody’s guess.

Yang gasped scandalously, beginning to circle her like she was prey. “Blake Belladonna, you thief,” she continued to tug away at the outer layer to reveal her stolen property in all its glory; Xiao Long revealed on the back as her proof.

Blake turned in place, blush still running rampant across her face and neck. “It was an accident!” It was the truth, but she still had no reason to have kept it.

Yang humoured her a little, teasing coming to the tip of her tongue like she’d never lost her beat to dancing the line between them. “You just accidentally came into possession of my crappy old shirt? And accidentally put it on your body?” She wasn’t exactly bothered by the concept of Blake in one of her favourite shirts (or any of her shirts at all). “It’s been missing for months. Like, before Christmas.”

“It smelled like you,” Blake was contrite in her reasoning, knowing it would have been wrong to never give it back. “I only found it a few weeks ago, under my bed. I figured it got mixed up in my stuff, and I wanted to give it back-”

“Keep it,” Yang interrupted her rambling, an ever-present smile only growing fonder as the seconds went by. She decided to take it easy on Blake, just in case she made the Faunus’ heart weak pumping all of that extra blood. “Anything mine is yours.”

The simple proclamation eased Blake, but she was certain she was smitten, finding the audacity to play coy as if Yang hadn’t already confessed to her twice. “Even your heart?”

Yang’s head tilted, a half-smile leaning with the angle of her face as her lips parted in quiet surprise. “Wow.”

“What?” Blake asked, finding herself smiling right along with her. It was contagious. Yang was contagious, but she’d never get sick of it, never get sick of her. They had become love-struck teenagers in record time, and Blake finally understood what all those stories that she’d read had been talking about.

“That’s super corny, Blake,” Yang felt a familiar sense of understanding herself. One that dated back to very early in their friendship, as if they’d been waiting to come full circle and realise what they needed from each other. It was kind of touching.

“Yeah, well,” Blake shrugged halfheartedly, because she didn’t mind one bit that it was true. “You’re super gay. For me,” and she really didn’t mind that that was true. How she would have laughed if she’d been able to tell her past self how she would have the same conversation twice; that the meaning would eventually shift beyond friendship.

Yang, always striving to get a genuine laugh from the Faunus, was chuckling. “The term is Blake-sexual, thank you very mu-”

But it wasn’t funny anymore, not as Blake was suddenly close, shushing her; finger barely pressed to her lips mid-sentence.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” golden eyes glimmered mischievously, looking up at Yang. “Don’t speak, okay?”

Now Yang was the one with the weak heart, falling to pieces when the thought occurred to her that there was absolutely nothing stopping them from doing whatever the hell they wanted to each other.

It was nerve-wracking. “But-”

“Uh-uh,” Blake stopped her again, but with slightly more pressure. Their height difference was more pronounced with Yang in her boots and Blake without any at all, and the blonde could see Blake having to tear her eyes away from her mouth just to look her in the eye.

The thought that Blake wanted her was exhilarating, but terrifying. Yang knew she was scared because what they had was real, unlike anything she’d ever experienced. The feeling had never been mutual before; she’d always tried to please others before herself, but it was different with Blake.

“Now, this is the quiet part,” Yang heard Blake whisper, much closer than she’d ever been.

If Blake wanted to kiss her, Yang would let her steal her breath away. Yang placing her hands on Blake’s waist, pulling to lift her like she was weightless just enough to reach her waiting lips was all the encouragement she needed.

Blake had imagined this moment a few times, but it was incomparable to the real thing. Not only that, but she was kissing the girl that she had been convinced at first glance was shallow. She was falling for someone that she had thought would be a horrible partner. She deepened the kiss; trying to support herself by snaking her arms up around Yang’s neck, the brush of their lips crossing into much more intimate territory as the blonde reciprocated.

Yang wasn’t sure why she was so eager; why every second that passed made her want more. But, she would gladly walk along down that path and turn what Blake gave her into the desire to give back more, embracing the mystery that was the thing she had for Blake Belladonna.

Maybe Yang would never solve the mystery; she had wanted to, but maybe it was better that she didn’t. Her life never failed to deliver surprises, but they wouldn’t always be as hard to get through as they’d been in the past, and if Blake was going to be there to support her then she would have the strength tackle anything head on.

A smile crept onto Yang’s face, and Blake sighed in contentment as she pulled away ever so slightly. Yang hummed quietly, trying to commit the feeling and moment to memory. She hadn’t let Blake be the one that got away, and she wouldn’t ever let her go. The warm and fuzzy feeling in her heart made her sure of that.

“I’d take a vow of silence if that’s gonna become a thing,” Yang joked, gently nudging the Faunus’ nose with her own, so enraptured with the way Blake was looking at her; with such adoration, as if she was the sun itself. She was going to be end up in a lot of trouble if a kiss was all it took to turn her into putty in Blake’s hands.

“I have wanted to do that for a long time,” Blake admitted, revelling at the opportunity to act upon her affection – and her freedom to do it in the future.

Lowering Blake to the floor, Yang resisted the urge to tease her about it, choosing a different question. “Do I live up to expectations?”

“I think it’s a good thing that you’re not at all what I expected.”

“I’ll take it,” leading Blake to the couch, Yang laughed as she tugged the smiling cat Faunus towards her. “Now come and kiss me until I fall asleep.”

While Yang had napped, Blake had quietly set about making something edible for dinner while she listened to the occasional soft snore drift in the air. It was about time she returned the favour of cooking a meal, after all, even if she knew it wouldn’t measure up to Yang’s efforts. In fact, it had been rather simple, but as they sat down together in the evening, Yang still shovelled it into her mouth and sung her praises in-between chewing.

Then they did the washing up together; Yang scrubbing away the little that was left behind on their plates while Blake dried – the shorter girl having to resort to whipping her tea towel at the cheeky blonde’s butt for whistling when she had bent over to put away the pots and pans.

Of course it was incredibly domestic, but neither of them were complaining if their future held the same enjoyment that could last a lifetime.

When Yang had suggested an early bedtime; involving nothing but the promise of cuddling up with a good book, Blake was happy to oblige. Even in the unfamiliar environment of Blake’s house, Yang felt welcomed when she was presented a brand new toothbrush followed by a kiss on the cheek. But, as they hopped into Blake’s bed wearing each other’s clothes, she counted herself luckiest of all to nuzzle into silky cat ears, placing a kiss between them in silent reassurance.

And as Yang asked Blake to read aloud, the hushed commentary of Yang’s unbridled thoughts added a new element to a story Blake had experienced many times over already. And she wasn’t at all offended as she felt Yang’s head lean heavier against her own as she drifted off to her narration, setting aside the book so they could settle down, murmuring their goodnights under covers, pressed together not only because the small bed called for it, but because they could.

For the first time in months, they both resisted restlessness, sleeping soundly. As always, Blake woke early by habit, but instead of a feeling of disappointment and unmotivation because of her choices, she felt like the bright brand-new day outside waiting for her. The crack in the curtains did little to block the unyielding sun rays that rose in the northeast, shining beams playing along the floor and in the golden pool of Yang’s hair as she slept like she belonged in Blake’s bed.

At that very moment, Blake was the only person in the world to see the sight – the glow that radiated was almost holy; only she could know how much of a blessing her existence was. And not just that, she was able to wake up every morning knowing Yang chose her, like some sort of magic she didn’t understand. But, just because she didn’t understand it did not mean she wasn’t convinced that she should never let it go. Yang was someone she should never let go.

She’d wasted so much time already; losing track of the things that she wanted while the White Fang clouded her mind with their own designs. Blake was proud of herself for not relinquishing control of her life, taking back the right to choose the happiness that she deserved – not letting her status as a minor hold her back from cutting ties with the church she so desperately wanted to leave behind. They would not find out what she’d done, and they probably never would, so there was nothing they could do to stop her. Not anymore. She was going to do things her way.

A low grumble came from Yang’s throat as she turned on her side, eyes blinking lazily in the face of day. The noise became satisfied as Blake came into focus; Yang idly thinking she could get used to mornings like this. Everything in her life felt perfect for once – she hadn’t felt that way since before Summer had died.

Blake snuggled back towards Yang; taking a break from admiring her, amused at her dopey smile a few inches away.

“Hey, baby,” escaped from Yang’s lips. Though, in her sleepy haze, it sounded more like a half-garbled hey, beebee – which made more sense than it should have to the Faunus. Blake didn’t ever think she could handle some sort of pet-name like that, but, with just made her heart fill with love. It was so casual, yet anything but.

She afforded Yang a chaste kiss returning an affectionate, “Hey,” eliciting another pleased hum. Before she could even consider getting carried away, Blake insisted removing herself from bed – otherwise she would stay there for much too long. “I’m going to take a shower. You should get up when I’m done.”

Crawling out of bed was easy, but for Blake, as lidded eyes trawled over her form; Yang’s volleyball shirt that draped over black underwear her only saving grace, the hard part was walking away when Yang announced, I like you in that.

She wasn’t surprised when she returned to find Yang snoozing again, deciding to leave her a little bit longer while she had her morning tea. After mulling around the kitchen, the embodiment of pure bliss, she sat down in the kitchen with her steaming brew. An almost imperceptible rustle caught her attention – Yang had almost succeeding on sneaking up on her.

“I know you’re there,” the Faunus stated, not allowing any surprises around a liquid sure to burn the both of them.

Yang let an aw of disappointment out, opting instead to hug Blake around the shoulders from behind.

“Looks like you’ve got a backlog of mail, there,” she observed, the small table almost overtaken by the pile of papers.

Blake simply sipped at her tea, leaning into her warmth. “I suppose I do,” she eventually replied.

Sensing apprehensiveness of the topic, Yang coaxed her a little more. “Blake, there’s a lot of huge-ass envelopes.”

“I can see that.”

Yang sighed, moving herself to sit across from Blake. If she wasn’t going to say it, then there was no choice but to be blunt. “It’s April. They’re college applications, aren’t they?”

“When I moved, I planned to go to college and move far away from here,” Blake said slowly, gauging the blonde’s reaction.

The aforementioned reaction was furrowed eyebrows on a fallen face. “You never told me that.”

“You never asked,” Blake shrugged, displeased with how forlorn Yang had become, “but it wasn’t something I wanted to really discuss.”

“I didn’t think about it. I never wanted to go to college,” Yang revealed, realising they’d missed plenty of topics of discussion that she was suddenly curious about. “Still don’t. But I should have asked you,” she added hastily.

“Yang, it’s fine. It’s not that important to me, not anymore,” golden eyes pointedly stared, trying to convey a message. “I have other options, now.”

“But you’re so smart,” Yang threw out her opinion, not really sure she wanted to be the reason Blake gave up a better education. There were many things the bookworm could excel at.

“I’m glad you think so,” Blake said, smiling as she continued to drink her tea. Yang had already given her the compliment umpteen times over, but the effect never wore off. “What did you plan to do after graduating?”

“Funny story. I was going to go back home, but, now...” Yang stood, partially avoiding giving any real answer. She had time to think about it, anyway, her dad having already made it clear he would be happy to have her home without any pressure. “I have other options,” she winked, beginning to like the way Blake had phrased their newfound relationship.

“That’s a coincidence.”

That may have been an understatement. They could have the chance to find their way in the world together, even if wasn’t what they had planned.

“Yup! Now, speaking of options, what’s for breakfast?” Yang dropped the topic, starting to feel the beginning of hunger grow in her stomach.

“No sex joke? I’m impressed,” Blake spoke into her cup, throwing a cheeky sideways glance at Yang.

“I’m actually hungry,” the blonde whined, a pink tinge colouring her fair skin at the implication, embarrassed at how forward Blake was being with her.

“Hey, look,” the Faunus turned in her chair, gesturing Yang to sit in the seat next to her. After all, there was no time like the present to broach the topic. Yang sat, her bare legs threatening to distract Blake. Of course she didn’t put any pants on, she mused. No shame.

She powered through, not wanting to freak out the unexpectedly hesitant Yang any more. “Just because I’m very much attracted to you, doesn’t mean I’m expecting anything. I’m content to move at our own pace.”

Yang nodded, not surprised at how considerate Blake was being. It was odd, really, how she felt the need for direction. She knew they both wanted the same thing, but she didn’t want to take the initiative – she wanted Blake to be happy, and Yang knew that the best thing for them was to show that she trusted Blake to guide her. But, she was also apprehensive about her first real relationship. She so badly didn’t want it to end in heartbreak, and she had to make sure that they communicated properly before any misunderstandings pushed them apart.

“Well, I like the things you’ve been doing,” Yang said truthfully, having found there was hardly anything weird about kissing Blake. “I just don’t want us to end up so impatient that we rush through everything. I want to learn and take in things that will make, but together...” she chuckled, rubbing a hand through her hair. “I’ve been listening to Nora too much.”

Blake took her hand as it retreated from golden locks. Yang was turning out to be just as sweet when it came to romance, and though she had some...urges, Blake had no desire to skip the things Yang was talking about.

She ran a thumb over the dips of Yang’s knuckles, absentmindedly feeling old scars where the skin had once torn. “Are you worried that I don’t feel the same way?”

“I know you were hesitant enough as it is,” Yang answered, “and just because we’re at this point now, doesn’t mean whatever that held you back in the first place is suddenly gone. Right?”

Yang couldn’t admit that she was nervous; afraid that she might be more inexperienced than Blake. It seemed naïve to assume that someone as pretty and wonderful as her had never been in a relationship – and she couldn’t bring herself to ask, in case it was a painful memory.

“You’re right,” Blake didn’t push her for another reason. She was happy to let things play out. “If we were to just...take it slow, at least for a little while, I’d like that. And, if we could keep it to ourselves…?”

“I can keep a secret. You know that.”

“Once I’m eighteen, I’m no longer legally tied to the White Fang. It’s a complicated story, but I think that’d be best.”

“I’ll take you out on your birthday to celebrate, then,” Yang concluded, not fussed about being discreet. It would probably be fun. She smirked. “But, for now, I’ll be your dirty little secret.”

“I know you’re joking, but, please never refer to yourself as that again,” Blake said as she moved away, looking slightly mortified. She tried to hide her face while finishing the last of her tea.

“Because you’re not ashamed of me or because the sexual connotation is too much for you?”

She could hear Yang chuckling, despite the fact that it was for both of those things that Blake didn’t consider her a dirty little secret. Agreeing to take it slow with such a serial teaser was going to be such a task.

“I will tell you the answer on my birthday,” Blake eventually said, no hint of any emotion in her voice as she got up to wash out her cup in the sink.

“Haha, I know what it is now,” Yang chanted childishly behind her back, Blake just thankful she had a distraction to hide her blush.

Oh, yes, such a task.

“I have a question,” the blonde once again moved on, her attention span for one thing not really strong in the light of her ecstatic mood. “When is your birthday? Now that I need to know, and all.”

That was one of the things Blake had also failed to mention. Yang figured it hadn’t rolled around yet – still, she supposed it was probably normal that friends didn’t always talk about their birthdays for no reason, and they hadn’t exactly had a smooth friendship the last few months.

“It’s next month. The ninth.”

“Huh,” Yang said thoughtfully. “You May-be older than me.”

Blake finally turned, pretending to be unamused at the pun and the proud expression on her face. “Judging by your sense of humour, it should have been obvious,” she taunted, smiling slyly. She had really missed their banter.

“Wow, harsh. I give you the ammunition to make fun of my age, but you go for my jokes instead,” Yang acted offended, pouting dramatically.

“Okay, give me a do-over,” the dark-haired Faunus giggled, unable to hold back. “Haha, I’m older than you. I win, so you should...” she faked contemplation. “You should kiss me.” She enjoyed the ridiculousness of it all; acting her age instead of like the whole world was weighing on her shoulders. Maybe this wasn’t what she had planned, but it certainly felt right. Blake wasn’t to think that they were in for a life free of disappointment; a picture perfect masterpiece, because even the best works of art had flaws and mistakes. But there was something liberating knowing that Yang wanted to be by her side, and she was about to be released from the choke-hold that the church of the White Fang had around her neck – they had no influence over her and what she would become.

“That’s more of a win-win, in my opinion,” Yang approached, coming to press Blake against the counter as she fulfilled the request. Lingering for a moment, she had hardly lifted her lips away from Blake’s when she whispered, “You can do me over any day.”

“There it is.” Rolling her eyes, Blake couldn’t stop the corners of her mouth turning up at the innuendo. She expected nothing less from Yang.

Blake had thought she was hopeless, but really, nothing was hopeless. Now, the heartache of her past could begin to heal.