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Just Enough Time To Start Again

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                Ruby Rose stood at the end of the world, truly. At sixteen she had benefited from a dramatic growth spurt that would put her a solid five inches taller than her father. If he were still alive. If anyone was. She stuffed her hands in her pockets and let her long cloak and mane of hair beat in the wind that always blew against the ruins of Beacon tower. A small grimm scuttled up to her, starving and emaciated. Finding no fear, no hatred, it scuttled away.

                Ruby didn’t have much of that left. No one left to hate. No one left to fear. Everyone she hated was dead, except possibly Ozpin, but he was a technicality and since she like Oscar it didn’t really matter what she thought of Oz. Salem was dead. She had killed her herself.

                So was everyone else. Every human, every faunas. Everyone but her and Oscar, all dead in the firestorms of the dust bombs, killed by grimm, or killed in the wars that preceded the end. She tugged her black gloves a little tighter. Not that it mattered, her arms were metal from just below her shoulders anyway.

                Her single silver eye and the mechanical facsimile beneath her black glass “eyepatch” scanned the city once more as she fingered the little device in her pocket. A gift from the late doctor Polendina. A second chance he had called it. She wondered why he had never hit the button. Perhaps he simply lost the will to live on. Presumptuous of him to think she had any of it left.

                She considered her options. She could press the single button on the pancake shaped metal disc, and see what happened. Or she could give it to Oscar and use the high caliber hand cannon that sat on her hip to put a bullet through her brain.

                Being alone for the last year and a half was really starting to get to her.

                “Fuck it.” She mumbled, pulling out the magic technology pancake. She set it on the ground and stepped on it with one thick black boot, depressing the large red button at its center.

                And then everything was black.

                -

                And then everything was white. And cold.

                She stood, brushing snow off of her cloak and gear.  The air was crisp and icy, and alive. She coughed. A quick look around found a snowy but verdant living forest. A cliffside. A familiar cliffside. She walked, slowly to the place where she knew thirteen stone blocks had been laid. At the edge of the cliff she brushed away the snow that was on her mothers headstone. Or at least, the snow where it should have been. Instead there was nothing.

                Her heart skipped a beat. Her head was full of static. She pushed her aura into the pinky of her right glove, activating the gravity and wind dust mix she had embroidered on it a few months ago, and used a blast of high impact wind to blow away the snow. There were no headstones. Just a blank hillside. She choked on air for a moment.

                She was so deeply confused, but, by process of elimination she was pulling her world back together. The forest was living, so no dust bombs had fallen, no headstones so no dead family had been buried here. She had used a metal time pancake. It hadn’t come back with her, or perhaps it was destroyed the moment it was activated.

                All her friends weren’t dead. Her mom wasn’t dead. The whole world wasn’t dead.

                Salem, also, was not dead. Her minions weren’t dead. But she also wouldn’t be a threat for at least twelve years, maybe more. Maybe a great deal more.

                This time it would be different. This time Salem would have to fight the most powerful huntress who ever lived.

                Ruby turned and started walking, back home. A home that wasn’t her home. A home that was Summer’s and Qrow’s and Taiyangs and Yangs and… Ruby’s. Just not this Ruby. Ruby as in her. Time travel was already giving her headache, and she hadn’t even started planning her “unfuck everything”… plan.

                The first major thing would be to stop and hopefully kill Cinder. No, the first thing would be stop her mom from dying. Next would be stop Cinder from ever becoming a maiden.

                The actual first thing would be to get some food, actual good food. But she had no money. Actual first thing, kill something for money, then get food, then go see if the house was still where it was supposed to be. Would it even be there? Would anything even be on Patch? How far back did she go?

                Further revised plan: go find out date, kill for money, eat something, go look at house/figure out alternative. Maybe she could think of a backstory on the way as well.

                -

                Four hours later found her sitting in the little diner on Main street, reading the local paper. Apparently Dawn Summers had just won the ‘Miss Patch” pageant. She was a stunning young woman with short hair, dark skin, and a vivid scar down the side of her face from an Ursa she had killed. Ruby approved, the paper was dated Friday, January 17, 1234, putting it a good three months after her own birth.

                She was munching on a massive steak, her reward for doing three hunts in under two hours. Now that Artificial Alphas and fucking Doctor Morons great green glowing fuck monsters weren’t with every pack of grimm it felt like mowing through Ads in one of Yang’s videogames. She’d decided to put up in a hotel for a night and then head over to the Xiao Long house around noon the next day.

                She was distracted from her paper when a young woman came up to her table with a pitcher of steaming coffee. Dawn Summers, Ruby realized from her distinctive scar and peppy step, although she looked almost afraid to be approaching her. Ruby wondered why.

                “H-hello! Would you like a refill on your coffee.” She stuttered through a fake smile.

                “Why thank you! I would.” Ruby grinned wide, unwittingly showing her sharp canines, a result of her silver eyes. Probably.  As the young woman poured Ruby let out a light hum, making the girl flinch. “You wouldn’t happen to have any good whiskey, would you? I could use a Vacuon coffee.”

                “No, I’m sorry ma’am.”

                “Fuck, am I a Ma’am now?” Ruby dramatically let her paper fall from her hands.

                “Im sorry M-uhm, I meant no-” The young woman fumbled.

                “Shhhhh.” Ruby interrupted. “I need a moment of silence, for my lost youth. Killed at only twenty seven.”

                “You’re twenty seven?” the girl in a hushed tone, before grabbing her mouth and blushing. Ruby put a hand dramatically across her heart and fell back in her chair. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean-”

                “Its fine, I’m just fucking with you. I know I look like I got hit with a train on a good day. I do mean with, by the way.” Ruby grinned and winked.

                Dawn laughed politely but awkwardly and finished pouring her coffee and left her to the meal. There was literally nothing in Ruby’s life that had ever tasted better than this steak. Nothing. Perhaps it was because it was the first real food she’d eaten since the bombs fell, or perhaps she had simply found the best steak joint in the world. Which was odd, since she’d most likely eaten in that same little diner as a child. Or will have. Or would have.

                Occasionally a tremor of fear and doubt would run through her. Of doubt. It was a shock, indescribably massive, to have everything that she had lost back in such a sudden burst. She hadn’t fought for it, or designed for it, or anything. It was odd, having good fortune gifted to her, rather than having to steal and fight for it.

                The town on Patch was small, since the whole island was only home to about four thousand people, the main town housing just over half that. It was pleasant and quaint, and the hotel Ruby checked into that night was just as small and quaint. The pleasant family establishment smelled of wood smoke and air freshener. Ruby found herself appreciating the quaint rural decorations and the man behind the counters excellent customer service.

                Her room was on the third floor, and it was thoughtfully fully equipped for huntsmen. She was deeply grateful for the amenities. She slowly removed her gear. Cloak, pouches, bandolier, back pack, bracers, gloves, auxiliary armor, extra pouches, etc. etc. Two hours later she finally was laying back in a recliner in only a fine robe provided by the hotel. The shower basin looked like someone had collected several buckets of grime, filled the buckets with water, and then emptied them into the ceramic tub. She looked at the sad state of her clothes, thankful that they were incredibly durable. They would look relatively fine, after she spent a couple hours washing them. She’d do that after going through her beautiful weapons and getting them good and clean.

                Crescent Rose MK IX, the beautiful but unnamed silver handcannon/revolver/sickle, her boot machetes, and the ever useful utility knife. Oh how she loved the utility knife. It took another two hours to make them all shiny and new again, but cleaning them felt deeply right. It was a neglected prayer, a nigh forgotten ceremony to a god that actually listened and spoke death into her, its champion. Metaphorically speaking of course. If remnant ever had gods they were long dead. Qrow and Oz could tell all the stories they desired, they were still just stories.

                Finally there was just one thing, well, two, left to cleanse of the apocalyptic remnants. Her own two hands. The two steel appendages  were permanently attached of course, but she didn’t need to clean the mechanisms. Genius designs really, mostly the work of the good doctor Polendina. It was a gift she would repay a hundred times over now, by making sure his daughter would never die as a stupid sacrifice for Salem and Ozpins game. Perhaps this time the young Ruby would get to take that relationship somewhere. Hopefully young Ruby would still meet Penny.

                Maybe Ruby should get a new name. Thorn maybe? Thorn Rose… no, that was awful. Rose… Rose… Rosemary? Rosemary Rose… Saffron… no that’s yellow. What was the red S again? Sce… Scarlet! That was it! Time travel may have affected her brain more than she thought.

                Tommorrow she would wake up as Scarlet Rose, and meet her mother… who would be younger than her. And currently nursing… Baby her… Huh, that’s weird.

               

Chapter Text

 

 

                Ruby slept for fifteen hours. She slept for fifteen hours and felt like she had died at last and finally rested, yet in the early afternoon she awoke with a crick in her back from sleeping on a real bed for the first time in… who knows how long.

                On the brighter side of things, all the emotions of the previous day had sloughed away in the night, leaving only the lightest stains of joy that managed to give a subtle glow to the façade of joviality she kept plastered over whatever she actually happened to be… feeling at a given time.

                With a small grunt and a burst of rose petals she threw herself out of bed and landed on the balls of her feet between the footboard and the TV. She absentmindedly flipped it on, and studiously ignored the evening news as she put on her newly clean clothes, a process which took easily twenty minutes. She probably spent five fucking minutes dealing with pouches alone. It was harder than she remembered to put all of her gear on, but then again it was something she only had to do every couple of months. Not like anyone had been alive to see how dirty she was.

                She stopped and looked at herself in the mirror. She felt… out of place in this world. Her silver eye stared back harder than she remembered, her face seemed more damaged, the scar that spread from where her left eye used to sit seemed to be set more harshly against her skin. She remembered a time when her hair was short, now her mane seemed to be almost Beowulf like.

                … She could probably drop most of this shit huh? She hardly needed her entire stock of ammunition. She wouldn’t need to carry all her weapons either, just her beloved and the utility knife.

                After another ten minutes she had shed about half of her gear, opting not to bother with any armor. Just her cloak, her clothes, and some basic necessities.

                She walked out of the hotel and into the town, and was hit with the pure volume of changes that would occur in this town. The little furniture store across the street would be bought out in about eight years, and turned into a scroll store. The little shop on the corner would go up in flames and be replaced by a little park. The clock tower at the center of town would become an excellent ruin from which to snipe unsuspecting Atlesian soldiers… wait, no that would never happen. What if the little corner shop never burned down either, because Ru- no, Scarlet would buy something there the day before and then the owner wouldn’t leave to pick up something until a few minutes later because one of the employees spent two extra minutes telling him about the weirdo that came in the day before and bought thirty six boxes of Cookie Kings Valhalla?

                All this bullshit was going to give her a headache. Maybe she should stop by the burger place down the road and get some coffee. And she could totally go for a bacon cheeseburger, and some of those damn good fries. Striding through the town was easy, with how everyone seemed very happy to get out of her way. At a steady walking pace her cloak billowed dramatically behind her. She let herself slouch a little, in a vain attempt to make her gangly form look less like a reaper stalking the streets. She failed utterly to make herself look more approachable.

                “Maybe she’s born with it… Maybe its- oh hey, the burger place actually is still here!” She mumbled to herself as she skidded to a stop in front of the little silver diner. A relic of a past age… or perhaps a remnant of a passing one, the little diner was that mix of pastels and art deco and chrome that still managed to be inviting. The little red leather seat she perched on in front of the bar while she waited for a server was super comfortable. A lot more comfortable than sitting on rubble to munch on non perishable food anyway.

                Video games always made the apocalypse look so fun, but really it was just kind of boring when the monsters were starving too.

                “What’ll ya have?” Someone said from behind the counter.

                “Bacon Cheese Burger and the good good fries please and thank.” Ruby grinned, making the poor man jump. She really needed to keep her mouth closed. Or not, it was pretty funny.

                She briefly wondered if it was a Vytal year. Lets see, if she was born in October of 1233, and her Vytal festival happened when she was fifteen, then… Yes? It was every two years, and it happened in the Spring, so yeah, it should be a festival year. She was totally gonna go, she could destroy those ring toss games.

                Her thoughts were interrupted by a massive burger with a heaping side of delicious looking seasoned fries was slid in front of her. “Anything to drink with that?”

                “Strawberry Slaughter please!”

                “W-We don’t have… that?”

                “Oh, then whatever you do have that’s strawberry flavored! If possible pour some ever clear or something in it too!”

                “O-Okay? I’ll see what I can do?”

                She cleaned the plate before he returned with a glass of something bubbly and pink. She tossed him a couple thousand lien and left with the cup. So this is what it was like to be rich, not that she was really all that rich but deathstalker nests tended to pay pretty well, even better when profits didn’t need to be split with the rest of RNJR…

                And she was half way to her old house.

                And she still had no idea what she was going to say.

                She was Scarlet Rose… She had just escaped from a tragic life in which none of her friends or enemies had survived, she was a long lost relative of Summer Rose, and was there to meet her because… there was no one else. Because Summer was the closest thing to family she had in this world.

                Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea? But then again… her other option was to stalk her mother for years until she found the moment Salem had her assassinated. Or she could just… go try and kill Salem. But that wasn’t a sure thing, she was a badass but not “1 v however many minions Salem had at this point” badass. Probably.

 

                Tai could get used to quiet evenings, watching Yang play in the snow with Qrow, Summer beside him watching on with a little tiny bundle in her arms. It was wonderful. Even if Raven was gone, was gone and never coming back. His days were still long and full of joy, and with the new teaching position he was honestly happier than ever. All three of them loved their roles at Signal, Qrow with his MWF Grimm tracking classes, Summer with her TTF combat training and himself, teaching basic mathematics MTW.

                Qrow was, at least so far, keeping his promise not to let the Ozpin situation interfere with their lives as well, so their lives of quiet happiness were allowed to play out outside of whatever secret shadow war was happening.

                They were playing under the tree just left of the pathway from where he and Summer stood. He let his eyes drift from watching them, slowly looking out over the snow covered world. In the distance, along the little road leading to town was a figure in a billowing red cloak, slowly walking their way.

                He sighed. Not a lot of people came out this way. It was pretty unlikely, all things considered, that whoever was stalking down the road was doing so for a good reason.

                “Hey Sum, you see that person?”

                “Yeah, I’ve got the girls. If anything seems off I’ll toss you Ruby and hold them off while you and Qrow arm yourselves.”

                “Alright. You recognize them?”

                “No, but I cant really see much of their face with that hood up anyway. Actually change of plans…” Summer whispered to him, and walked casually towards Qrow. Tai followed close enough behind her to hear her tell him to go inside, and get their gear ready just in case, and nodded to Qrow as he passed by casually with Yang by his side and Ruby in his arms.

                They reached the edge of their lawn a few minutes before the stranger in the billowing cloak. Tai was not sure what he was expecting. A drawn blade, an awkward wave as the stranger passed on by, but it wasn’t for them to wave awkwardly and say: “Hi, uh, are you Summer Rose? I think we are kinda… related?”

                Before either of them could even respond the stranger awkwardly fiddled her hands in front of herself. “Shit, uh, I should uh, introduce myself and stuff first right? Sorry, still not used to being around living people, uh, Hi! I’m Scarlet Rose! Im… kind of a huntress? More or less? I kill things and people pay me so like. Pretty much.” She rambled, and Tai finally got a look at her face.

                It was owed only to his life as a huntsmen, living amongst and alongside other huntsmen that he didn’t flinch at the spiderweb of scar tissue that crept out from the black ‘eyepatch’ that replaced her left eye, or the deep bag beneath her right.

                He took her extended hand in a firm handshake. Her grip was firm, almost ironclad, really. “Tai-Yang.” He introduced himself.

                “Hello, I am Summer Rose. I was… unaware that I had any relatives.” She said with a guarded tone. He knew that her family was a complicated thing, but he knew nothing about them. Not really.

                “Yeah, me to. I found you by poking around on the net. My family uh… died.” She trailed off.

                “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Mine uhm… too.”  Summer tried to console her.

                “Heh, sorry to have interrupted your day… I forgot that I’m kinda…” She gave the ‘iffy’ motion with her right hand.

                “It’s not your fault, its just worth being careful… especially with family. I uh, don’t mean to be rude but why… why now?”

                “No, no, not rude at all… I uh… I just got here a day ago, I’ve been heading this way for a while now… My old life, I was in Atlas, my old life kinda… died. My friends, my enemies, my lovers… they all… its all gone.” Her eye momentarily floated into the middle distance before refocusing. “So I figured I’d meet some family, maybe try and start a life in Vale!”

                “Oh, well…” Summer thought for a moment. “Would you like to come in for some hot cocao?”

                “Oh! Uh… sure! I’d love that!”

                “So, this is kind of an awkward question.” Tai looked to Scarlet as they walked inside. “But what were you going to do if we weren’t here? Or weren’t friendly?”

                “Hmm…” She tapped her chin. “I guess I’d probably just wander around and kill grimm? Theres a big ol’ nest of nope ropes that has a bounty on it, so I was thinking about hitting it tomorrow. Maybe make some guns and sell them?”

                “… Nope ropes?”

                “Yeah. You know. Danger noodles, but big?”

                “Do you mean King Taijitu?”

                “Yeah! The snek ones!”

                Summer snickered in front as she opened the door.

                “You fight them alone?”

                “… Yeah?”

                “Okay.” Tai nodded inside. Yeah, definitely related to Summer.

                “The one with the guns held weirdly in his arms is Qrow Branwen.” Summer gestured to Qrow, who was trying to look somewhat cool while cradling their weapons awkwardly in his arms.

                “Hi Qrow! The babies are adorable!” Scarlet smiled brightly and pranced over to him. It was odd seeing someone a good five inches taller than him prance, but honestly Tai was very confused by pretty much every thing in the past five minutes, so this was nothing new.

                “Oh, uh, their names are Yang and… You are talking about the weapons aren’t you? Also who exactly are you?” Qrow struggled to readjust the weapons he was holding while trying to extend a shakable hand.

                “I’m Scarlet! Scarlet Rose!” She took his hand and shook it. Hard. Qrow was barely able to keep all the weapons in his arms. “You can call me Scar! Everyone can!”

                “That’s a… useful conjunction of your name?” Summer awkwardly pondered.

                “Also my face is like, super fucked up.”

                “Oh.”

                “HI SCAR IM YANG! IM GONNA BE A HUNTRESS!” Tiny little Yang said, popping up from behind the couch.

                “Awesome! Best job ever!” Scar held out a hand for a hi five, which Yang happily smacked with all her little might.

 

                Yang and Ruby quickly started to love their weird drunk aunt. Scarlet fell into their lives quickly and easily, being friendly and helpful while keeping to the outskirts and being all around somewhat mysterious.

                And then one night Summer came home with a frown, and declared she was going to go on one last huntress mission, something short and easy. It paid well and was close by, so Tai and Qrow decided to stay home, lots of grading to do, what with the extra classes they had been hired on for in the last semester.

                Scarlet decided to join her, and none of them commented on the odd glint in her eye as she rattled of some excuse about ‘not ever doing anything fun with her cousin’.

 

Chapter Text

 

                The first time she met her mother, truly met her, was both unsurprising and soul crushing. She was wonderful, and kind. Kinder than anyone Scarlet had ever met. After the initial somewhat awkward meeting, she had taken Scar inside and tried to help her settle in, get comfortable. They insisted she stay, which she had wanted to of course, but she had expected some off the cuff subterfuge. Perhaps she shouldn’t have, Yang and Tai had always described Summer as kind and wonderful and she was.

                In the end Ruby had expected someone more like herself.

                The kids were wonderful. Unspeakably wonderful. The moments when she considered all the pain and loss they would go through if she failed shook her like nothing else. It brought her little comfort to know that Yang would only experience half the aweful events that could occur should nothing change. Qrow was also sober, which was it’s own kind of tragedy.

                So she planned the best that she could. It was quick, she didn’t know a lot and had forgotten even more, but what she did know, she prepared. At some point after Ruby’s third birthday Summer would leave on a mission that she wouldn’t return from. At some point between the ages of five and fourteen Blake Belladonna would go to a protest in Vale that would go sour due to police interference. At some point in the year before Ruby would turn fifteen Cinder Fall would attack and kill the Autumn Maiden, taking her power.

                Scarlet was fairly sure that Cinder would not take control of Adam until after she had the Fall powers. The problem with all of the information she had of course, was that if Salem failed to kill Summer… everything could be different. And Scarlet had no idea who the Fall Maiden was.

                Actually… on the subject of Blake… Illia Amitola. Her family would die in a huge dust mining incident, and she would be orphaned and alone. Scarlet didn’t know when that would be, or what mining accident would… Illia would have been around fifteen when her parents died, or at least that old when she decided to join the Fang. Would she have had a Scroll by then? Would she be on Social Media?

                Would Cinder?

                As it turned out, Cinder did not have a Scrollbook page, and it would be years before Illia would be old enough to. And of course her parents didn’t either because that would be too easy. So… Scarlet would check occasionally and keep an eye on incidents closer to time. If she couldn’t prevent it… She would have to find Illia before the Fang.

                An image of a young Illia, crying without her parents… being mocked for changing colors with grief… Scarlets heart felt constricted. Weiss was out of her reach, for now at least, which hurt just as much. Yang and Ruby would be fine, as long as she protected Summer, Blake would be a complicated thing that she didn’t know how to handle yet… Fuck, had Kuroyuri fallen yet?

                It shouldn’t fall until Ren and Nora were… Seven? Eight? So, in theory, if Scarlet stayed with Summer until the assassination attempt, then immediately went to Kuroyuri and stayed there until the wacky inflatable tube grimm attacked, killed it, made sure that Nora was taken in by the Rens… That was probably going to happen originally if she remembered right… If not she might have to pick up a hammer daughter, in addition to a potential rainbow daughter. Then, she’d have some time to decide how to protect the Fall Maiden. That was workable. A workable plan.

                Next… She should write down all of Salems Minions that she could remember.

                Cinder Fall

                Hazel… Something.

                Doctor Merlot

                Mer… Merc… Mercenary? Mercenary Grey. Probably.

                Mint.

                Doctor Watt.

                She audibly cursed when she remembered that the head of the Mistralan Academy was a traitor. So. She’d have to deal with that at some point. Maybe she could kill him first? Or… threaten him, would probably be a better… idea.

                If anyone had decided to tell her what the fuck was going on at any given time it would have made this all so much easier. Instead of ‘hey go shoot the monster Ruby’ ‘hey Ruby we aren’t going to do anything so you have to take yourself and three other teenagers across continents to do anything.’

                Of course then again, at the time she hadn’t really asked. It was always moving forward, there was so little reason to look back.

                So, save Summer, save Kuroyuri, kill Cinder, kill Adam, convince or kill Lionheart, and try to make the lives of Illia and Weiss better. It felt almost videogame like, really. Maybe she should teach Yang to shoot a high powered squirt gun at every crow she can? That would be fucking incredible.

 

 

                “Hey guys.” Summer said one day, joining Qrow and Tai at the table where they were grading papers. Scarlet was pouring chocolate liquer into a flask of hot chocolate and peppermint Schnapps. “I just got a job offer. Like, a really damn good job offer. It’s just a pack of beowolves, but they have an alpha and a den near a house.”

                Scarlets blood ran cold.

                “You guys wanna come?” Summer finished as she sat down.

                “So many papers…” Qrow groaned into the table. Tai gave a similar distressed grown from his spot.

                “Ill come.” Scarlet said. “Its been awhile since I hunted with people, and we don’t ever do anything fun together!” She said with a smile and unusual glint in her eye.

                “Awesome!” Summer clapped as she peppily started to explain the job. “This job is paying so well because it needs to be done ASAP! Not because it’s a dangerous or hard, but I still don’t like solo hunting. Anyway, we’re going to take off tonight, if that’s alright?”

                “I can be ready in like, ten minutes!” Scarlet gave a thumbs up. Qrow and Tai always found it astounding how similar the two were, at least in things like their voices, despite the difference in size they sounded a lot alike. Summer was peppy and kind, and always spoke a little softly, while Scarlet was perpetually chipper and grinning and loud. “Im gonna bring my baby this time! She’s been cooped up recently.”

                “That might be overkill, but alright.”

                Scarlet shrugged. “No kill like overkill.”

                “Fair enough. Alright, let’s have a quick dinner and we’ll head out tonight. What are you, uh, making?”

                “Peppermint Patty! Its so damn good! Want some?” Summer shook her head, and Scarlet shrugged and tossed back half of the concoction. “So any more information on the job? Just a bite boy den or is it gonna be a whole thing?”

                “… As far as I know its just a Beowulf den.” Summer sighed. They had long ago gotten used to Scarlet calling creatures weird names, but it still took a moment to parse a lot of what came out of her mouth.

                After a quick but tasty dinner of noodles the pair of silver eyed Roses set off on the hunt. Summers mind was running a mile a minute, trying to put the brief flashes of her cousin’s combat style that she had seen into a workable battle plan. What she had seen could be best described as ‘hit hard quickly’, but that had only been against small groups of weak grimm that would die in a single shot from her revolver.

                Scarlet was practicing deep breathing, incredibly aware that this was most likely the encounter that would have ended Summers life in the last timeline.

                Scarlet knew without a doubt that whatever foe lay at the end of this path, she would strike without mercy. Crescent Rose was heavy on her back. It was too long of a walk to contemplate the incredible violence she was about to unleash, so… small talk.

                Small talk had never been Scarlets forte.

                “So uh. Read any cool guns lately? Books. I meant books.” Amazing, she had gotten worse since she became Scarlet.

                “Huh? Oh, there was a really interesting treatise on human and faunas relations in Vale and how they differ between civilians and huntsman! It was really insightful! The author even interviewed Ghira Belladonna!”

                “Oh, wow. Uh. What did Ghira have to say?” Scarlet was pretty sure the last five books she read were all either smut or weapons schematics portfolios. Or that one dust chemistry book she’d used to brush up on high explosives before… helping Dr. Polendina make the first Dust Bomb. One of these days something would remind her of a good memory.

                She happily listened as Summer went over the important points of the book. In fact, the information she was relaying actually helped center Scarlet a little more, even in Vale tensions between faunas and humans were still high. It was pretty sad, actually, as a kid she had thought that discrimination like that was over in Vale, and only came back because of Salem’s meddling.

                Ghira was a good man. Actually, maybe apart from Jaune he was probably the best man Scarlet had ever met. Possibly the best person. He deserved better than what he got, last time. But then again, everyone deserved better. Everyone died frustrated and sad, and it was terribly beautiful, in a way.

                Tragedy to fairy tale in six easy steps!

                It really sucked that Red Like Roses Pt.1 wouldn’t be released for another ten years. Holy shit if Ruby is two then Coco must be like, seven. What would team CFVY even be doing? Aaaand she zoned out, but Summer was still talking so maybe she hadn’t noticed.

                Scarlet scrambled to tune back in, and just barely managed to hold up her end of the conversation along the way. Night fell as they drew close to their target.

                And then Scarlet was hit with a wave of utter despair, fear, doubt. Grief. She almost fell, but she planted her feet wide and stayed standing, fists clenched to the extent of their range, breathing heavily. Her right eye was beginning to leak silver light, blinding it, but to her left she could see that Summer had fallen to her knees, and grand silver wings were emerging from her own silver eyes. Scarlet was surprised that she had yet to awaken to the silver curse, but she supposed it tracked. With a scream she let loose the blast of anti-magic and fell back to the earth.

                Scarlet grit her teeth, and looked up to see a large man approaching, one arm outstretched.

                Hazel.

                “Bastard.” Scarlet growled.

                “I’m sorry. You know. Neither of you should have ever been enrolled in this little proxy war.” He said, his tone penitent as usual. “I see you are still standing. That’s… not what I was told would happen.”

                “Yeah well, the world is full of surprises.” Scarlet hissed, blinking away the burning light and standing a little taller, hand on the hilt of Crescent Rose.

                “Indeed. I am-”

                “Hazel, yeah. I don’t fucking care.” Scarlet growled. And then laughed, breathy and rueful. “I don’t know what you did to us, but… I appreciate it. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hate you when I killed you, but… all these emotions… So raw and real. I haven’t felt like this in a long time.”

                “Its… It causes an intense emotional reaction.” Hazel admitted, off balance. He held what she could now see was a small round stone, midnight black but for a few bright asymmetrical lines glowing across it.

                “So… She wanted you to trigger her awakening… Leaving Summer utterly vulnerable. Dick move, bro.”    

                “I, uh.” Hazel stammered, reaching for his dust crystals.

                “Hey, Hazel?” Scarlet rasped.

                “What do you want?” He frowns, finally finding footing in the situation.

                “Im going to rip out your fucking throat.” Scarlets growl was punctuated by the metallic snap of Crescent Rose opening to its full length, the massive scythe resting easily on her shoulders. Hazel knows fear as Scarlet lets silver let erupt from her eye and leaps forward in a cloud of rose petals.

 

                Qrow’s intent had not been to eavesdrop. He had just come to check on Summer who had been laying unconscious for three long days at this point. He had no idea that the uncharacteristically quiet and elusive Scarlet would be kneeling at her bedside, hands clasped around the smaller womans unconscious fingers.

                “Our curse nearly became your damnation.” Her tone was… different, ominous, quiet, it carried a weight that the tall woman had a tendency to brush aside. “Ill do everything I can to keep you from fulfilling our destiny, you deserve more than to be a weapon for Ozpin to point at some distant enemy. You always deserved more.”

 

                Summers eyes opened slowly, blinking away the burning of her exhaustion. She was back in her bedroom.

                “Summer?” Qrow’s voice pierced through the haze that seemed to cover her world.

                “Hm?” she groaned, trying to sit up.

                “No, no, lay down. Oh I was… we… fuck, we didn’t know if you would ever wake up. Scar said you’d be alright but… Yang and Ruby visited every day. Me and Tai too of course.”

                “Scar… Where is she? What… What happened?”

                Qrow went quiet. “Salem.” He said, lowly. “She sent an assassin, according to Scar. She came back carrying you, she had so much blood on her… But you weren’t injured and neither was she so... They used some kind of relic to cause an emotional reaction that awakened your silver eyes. We… I want to take you and Scar to talk to Ozpin… soon. You deserve answers for this, and Ozpin needs to meet Scar. She knew about the Silver Eyes, apparently she awakened them almost fifteen years ago. And she knows about Salem and…”

                Silence fell, long and empty. Summer felt lost.

                “I agree.” Summer whispered. “I do deserve some answers.”

 

                “I WONT BE A GODDAMN KNIGHT TO SIT BEHIND THE LINES IN YOUR STUPID FUCKING CHESS GAME OZPIN! I HAVE POWERS, AND I’LL USE THEM TO HELP PEOPLE!” Amber screamed and promptly stormed out the door, pushing past a confused but placating Qrow with a brunette in tow and into the lobby. She slammed the door behind her, and leaned back against it, releasing an angry breath. Her eyes were scrunched closed as she held back tears, angry and sad. After a shuddering breath she opened her eyes…

                To see a woman in a red cape standing atop a tall structure of chairs with a marker, drawing something on the wall behind where a massive painting had been pushed crookedly aside. She was stock still, looking back at Amber with one silver eye.

                “Hi.” She said, stoically.

                “Hello.” Amber responded, her anger at Ozpin being melted away by the pure incomprehensibility of the situation. “What… What exactly are you doing up there?”

                “I’m drawing cartoon dicks on every surface that is hidden by something in this room.”

                “Wh… Why?”

                “Because I am an agent of chaos and have just, a whole lot of pent emotions revolving around Ozpin and his regime, and because I was bored and Qrow and Summer are going to be in their own meeting for awhile.. I am feeling very honest today.”

                “Oh. Would… You like to ditch Ozpin and go hit up a café in town?”

                 

 

 

Chapter Text

The streets they decided to walk down were filled with protesting faunas, and while Amber is completely in favor of Faunas rights she is currently trying to navigate to a café that she liked with a very attractive, if a bit older than herself, woman. Or maybe that was just the rather intense scarring, that gave her a veteran appearance. Scar had an aura about her, no doubt. Not just a literal Aura, she walked with a level of relaxed confidence that no other would dare to walk, especially in Vale. It was a little different now, her silver eye turned to the police suspiciously, and she was walking so as to keep her body between the faunas and whatever police were closest. More than that her aura was flared, not in a way that any normal citizen or huntsman could tell, but she was a maiden and a huntress, her senses were sharp.

There was an uproar at the head of the crowd. Scar pushed toward it, suddenly distracted, face hard. Amber was more than happy to follow. Maybe they could do some good here. There was a gap in the crowd where police were pushing them back with riot shields, in the center of the circle a tiger faunas was stoically tight jawed while being held back by two officers.  Amber felt a pit in her stomach. Likely “an example to be made.” She could step in, but… Ozpin would be pissed if she did something and got on the news.

Amber couldn’t see Scar’s eye, but she was scowling. Another officer approached the faunas woman, a baton in his hand. He was shouting something about ‘disturbing the peace’ and he makes to swing the baton at her stomach.

Scarlet turns into rose petals and reappears on the inside of the police wall. “Excuse me.” She growls. “This seems to be a particularly violent response to a peaceful protest.”

The officer smirks, baton still raised. “It's exactly what these animals deserve, keeping up traffic on a busy day like this.” And he swings down. The baton falls lamely aside, sliced off at the handle. A light breeze ruffled the gathering nearby, blowing in the opposite direction the buildings should have been funneling it in.

A non-huntsman couldn’t have caught it, but Ambers sharp eyes picked up on the extreme speed at which Scar lashed out. Even she couldn’t see what the massive blur of silver was in her hand for that brief portion of a second.

Scar smirked. “I hear it happens to plenty of guys.”

“You…” He whipped out his pistol, leveling it at Scars head. She didn’t seem to care.

“Wait! Damn it, don’t hurt anyone else! This… It’s my fault right?” The faunas woman suddenly spoke up. The officer started to turn toward her, but Scar snapped forward, grabbing the handgun by the barrel and holding it to her head.

“I’m fairly sure that this fellow is responsible for attempting to attack people during a protest.” Scar looked him in the eye. “Well? You seemed pretty mad at me. You gonna shoot me? Gonna pull the trigger, in front of those camera’s up there?” She stepped closer. “I’m sure the media would make a much bigger stink if you hurt someone who wasn’t a Faunas, huh?” She let go of the pistol, and grinned wide. “Of course as a huntress, someone shooting at me would be a suitable reason to draw a weapon…”

Amber watched as two more officers broke from the barricade to run back and reinforce their commander, batons drawn. The moment he lowered his pistol the two officers swung down with their batons. Amber wondered to herself what they expected. Had they never encountered a huntress, were they not paying attention? Scar didn’t even acknowledge them when their batons bounced uselessly off her shoulders.

“Huntsmen are not supposed to interfere with police business!” the commander growled, even as he put away his pistol.

“Do I look like I care about that sort of thing?” Scar asks, magnificently flaring her cloak out and raising her arms to the sky, black gloves sparkling in the sun. Amber recognized the tell-tale signs of dustcraft when she saw them, and the geometric patterns woven subtly into the fabric of both her gloves and capes told her a lot. “Get your minions out of here and let these people protest their oppression, or Ill either have the lot of you fired, or Ill break you myself. I haven’t decided yet.”

With a grumble he retreated, dropping the faunas woman and roughly making his way through the crowd. Scar offered a hand to the tiger, who took with little hesitation. “I’m sorry if I interrupted a gambit.”

“No, no gambit, just your standard police brutality. Who are you? Not that I’m not grateful.”

“The name’s Scarlet, but I have people call me Scar because its shorter and like,” She points at the heavy scars that make up most of her face. “Easy to remember.”

“A pleasure. My nam-” She started to say.

“Sienna! Sienna are you okay??” A massive cat faunas man came rushing through the crowd.

Scarlet moved like spirit to Ambers side. “Let’s leave, I’m hungry.”

Neither noticed the awestruck eyes of a young kitten as they slunk off through the crowd.



Later, after a pleasant afternoon at a café, Scarlet Rose met with one Professor Ozpin. She was coy, smug, and more than a little tipsy, so after an hour of talking in circles she found herself laying across a few seats in an airship, idly swiping through her scroll. Kuroyuri local news network, which she had been checking regularly since deciding on her plan, had finally updated with something she could use. A huntsman team had gone missing on patrol. She grinned. She scheduled a flight.

The wacky waving inflatable tube grimm was so much weaker than it had been in her time. It's not even a contest, it falls to a single Silver Bullet from her revolver, the petal wreathed shell turning the creature that would have slaughtered scores of huntsmen and an entire village into a black splatter across a cave wall.

She doesn’t really feel anything about it, if she’s being honest.

She stops back in town for a day. It sunny, she smiles at the townsfolk. And then out of the corner of her eye she catches sight of a flash of pink, and when she turns her head her heart

. Her silver eye meets the hardened eyes of an orphan. Scar chokes.

Objectively she should let it play out, let Nora grow close to Ren, and let history fall as it may. And yet.

She can’t leave her here. It doesn’t matter if it changes the future, if… If she and Ren don’t have the kind of relationship they did in the past. She can’t just allow her friends to suffer. Not like this. Never like this.

Scar buys a house in the outskirts of Kuroyuri. It’s a small mansion, in all honesty. She orders a few hundred thousand lien worth of forging machines. And a large TV. She wanders about the town, looking for a dirty pink head. She sees them one day shortly after, Ren handing her a piece of bread. She waits, till Ren leaves. Nora is left sitting alone on the pavement, quietly licking the last traces of food from her fingers.  Scar approaches, each step quiet like a ghost, until she stands before Nora, who looks up with a start.

“Hello, little one.” Scar almost whispered. Nora looked up at her, distrust in her eyes. “I was alone, not too long ago.” She pulled off her dust woven gloves and extended a metal hand to her. “I’m a huntress, I just moved here recently, I probably won’t be the best parent, but I’ll try.”

The look that replaced distrust broke her heart even more.

Team ST_Q + Scar Parents of the Year Chat

 

Scarface: So

Scarface: I MAY have made an impulse decision.

Rose Mom: Oh? How much of an impulse decision?

Scarface: I moved to anima and adopted an orphan

TaiBANG: dust you don’t do anything by halves do you?

CawCawMotherfuckers: Holy shit

Rose Mom: Is there anything we can do to help?

Scarface: Fuck y’all are so wholesome

Scarface: Can you teach me how to parent because holy shit I don’t know what I’m doing

Scarface: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

 

Soon enough she’d have to go and find Illia Amitola as well. She had tried to figure out literally anything about that incident ahead of time, but… there was no information. Too many mines, too many faunas without proper records. Another year passed in a heartbeat, a year of correspondence with Amber over text, a year of protecting Kuroyuri, and talking to the Ren family and introducing Nora to little Yang and little Ruby and waiting.

And then one day it happens. She checks the news and there is a mining accident, Schnee, as most are, and of a scale that would line up with the disaster that took Illia’s parents. So, Ruby flew to Atlas, and she quickly found the one faunas girl in the Orphanage, all alone in a corner. Apparently, her parents had actually some rank, in the mine, and she was sent to a higher end orphanage for huntsmen and wealthy citizens. Now, how should she play this?

“Hello, you are Illia right?” she smiled as softly as she could to the child. “A long time ago I promised your parents a favor for helping me with something. How would you like to come with me?”

She returned home with a chameleon on her arm and some blueprints she stole from Ironwood. Illia was a shy child. Hiding behind Scars leg as they made their way through the terminal. Perhaps it wasn't that she was shy, Scar thought as she caught a distrusting glance towards some business type people, maybe she was traumatised.

 

Time kept slipping away, the house in Kuroyuri became a home, and a frequent place for the members of team ST_Q to vacation. Yang and Illia were fast friends, and Ruby and Nora just as much. Illia was opening up more, the Rens had become close friends of the family, and the forests surrounding Kuroyuri were empty of Grimm.

Amber was like family before long, even if she was slightly estranged from Qrow and Summer, what with her refusal to obey Ozpin. Tai liked her though, and their revelry in snackfood packed a few pounds on to her, not that she minded. She was mostly around Scar, and most were surprised when told that Amber did not partake in any form of soporific, if only because Scar partook in every form.

 

It was a cold december day when the bandits came to the gates. Scarlet walked out from the crowd of cowering villages, sighing in disappointment when she saw the white mask of their leader. Raven looked haughtily over the crowd and then Scarlet, whose cloak was wrapped around her, concealing her completely.

“Hand over all your food and valuables, and your lives will be spared!” Raven shouted, her bandits grinning and brandishing weapons behind her.

“Hello Raven. You are a lucky woman you know.” Scarlet scowled at the younger woman, who was taken aback by the recognition. “You have people who love you, who would mourn you. Even though your cowardice hurts them.”

That pissed Raven off. She put a hand on her blade, the clear threat falling flat on Scarlet, even as the townsfolk backed up. “How dare you call me a coward! Who the hell do you think you are!”

“My name is Scarlet. And I will not make my family mourn you.” She set her head back, looking down on Raven in disdain. “I have no such qualms about your little bandit clan.”

“One huntsman against my entire bandit clan? You are a joke.” Raven sneered.

Scarlet pulled back her hood. Her mane of red tinted hair exploded out, and the silver in her eye shone with the light of damnation. She pushed her aura into the ice dust woven through her gloves, and with a thunderous crack flicked out to her sides, the empowered dust making walls of ice between the bandits and her home.

“My name is Scarlet Rose, by the way.” She announced to the stunned bandits. “What? I’m not even good at Dustcraft.”

“I guess I’ll have to deal with you myself.” Raven growled suddenly running forward. To the villagers it would look like Raven had struck in an instant. Scarlet held the blade a centimeter from her throat, in two fingers. She snapped in half and tossed it aside. Raven hopped back loading another blade but Scar was on her, moving far to fast, and suddenly Ravens face was covered by Scarlets hand, grabbed firmly.

“Sorry Rae! But I’ve gotta teach you a lesson now!” Scarlet said chipperly, before flooding Ravens aura with her own, dominating the bandits weaker soul with her titanic strength, even overwhelming the maiden power in a moment. With the sound of shattering Scar let go and Raven fell back, aura decimated and empty, exhaustion filling her to the brim. Scar sighed. “I don't know what they see in you, but Tai and Summer still love you. Your brother too. Yet, you choose to live in the woods and prey on people you think can't defend themselves with your little clan of degenerates and idiots. Not only are you a coward, but you are an idiot. I have half a mind to tie you up and send you back to them on a silver platter.”

Raven only groaned, and her clan rushed forward, attempting to protect their matron. A few did at least, they were bandits after all, so only a few rushed forward. Scarlet pulled a long barreled silver revolver from her side, and slowly took aim.

“STOP!” Raven screamed, her voice ragged and pained. “What do you want from me? All I care about is survival, of myself and my clan.”

“Thats a shame.” Scar shrugged, as the few who ignored Ravens order to wait fell in rumble of a revolver firing far too quickly, with impossible accuracy. “As a huntress, I really should kill you and your clan.”

“Please...” Was Raven crying? “ALL OF YOU RUN!” She screamed again, and unsurprisingly they obeyed.

Scar looked down in horror. She was crying. Scar had no idea how to deal with this. “Uh, I...”

“Have mercy...” She had never heard Raven sound so small.

“Okay, wow, now I just feel kinda bad. I mean, not really, you attacked a small village so its not like you are a victim here, but I thought you at least had class. Like, just a little bit of that stoic, stare death in the face and laugh type thing.” So Yang got all her looks from her mom, and all her personality from her dad. Weird. Scarlet had no idea what to do about crying people in general, much less... RAVEN FUCKING BRANWEN. She had never known the woman well, nor had she ever liked her. And now she was laying in the snow at her feet, years younger and speaking with a voice full of terrible fear. “Uhm. I... jeez... what the fuck am I supposed to do about this...”

In the end she awkwardly walked away, leaving Raven to stand shakily to her feet, worldview shattered and weakness enfeebling her, and limp back to her camp.