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For the Birds

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     Gods, what is he even doing?

     Weathered hands scrub anxiously against a stubbled face. This is stupid. Qrow Branwen is pacing, pacing over this. Red eyes hazard a glance down at his discarded cape, bunched up peculiarly on the ground. Fuck. He needs help. But who could he call over this?

    Tai? No. Tai doesn’t need to be disturbed right now, and besides doesn’t even want to picture that conversation. One of his co-workers at Signal? No, he couldn’t explain it to them and he wouldn’t want to. That also rules out any of his huntsman buddies. Who else? Oz? He groans.

    Dragging his boss into this now, huh. Does he really want to bother him? The guy sort of has running an academy on top of trying to keep the world safe from unseen dangers to deal with. It doesn’t seem like a ‘prudent’ enough use of time, as Glynda would say.

   Of course, Ozpin’s also the guy indirectly responsible for a lot of this, so Qrow pulls out his scroll. Why not? He’s an eccentric with ‘years’ of experience too; he’ll have some idea of what to fucking do.

   “Qrow?”

   “Yeeeah. Listen, this is going to sound really stupid-”

“I’m fascinated already.” The huntsman can hear some ungodly mix of both kindness and smugness in the other’s voice, and he regrets this immediately.

“Uh-hunh, Screw you too. Are you free right now?”

“Yes. Is something the matter?”

“Sort of...? Look, it’s nothing urgent or world ending, but I could really use a hand. I can explain more if you get here but-”

“Alright.”

“Huh?”

“I’ll leave now; could you send me your coordinates?”

“...Yeah. Thanks.”

“It’s no trouble.”

    Sure. Qrow rolls his eyes. Like Oz would ever admit it if it was interrupting something. He sighs, before suddenly remembering something. 

“Hey, also-”

“Hm?”

“Could you bring, I dunno, some sort of basket?”

---

     Honestly, Ozpin isn’t sure what he expected after agreeing to meet Qrow on what appeared to be the the border between a small park in Vale and the wooded area beyond. He just knows that’s it rare for the man to ask for aid at all in any capacity, stubborn minded as he is about ‘dealing with his own shit and not dragging others into it’ (Qrow’s own words, not his). Personally, that’s enough reason on its own to put anything not particularly pressing aside- the council will get their meeting eventually, just not tonight- to try and help. That and how it immediately piques that incessant curiosity of his that the wizard just can’t help but indulge.

     Regardless, almost tripping over his friend’s small avian form after failing to notice his position guarding something on the ground certainly defied any imagined scenarios- as does the slightly humorous chewing out he receives from said bird hopping around. After regaining his footing, he steps back giving the other plenty clearance to change, which he does in a flurry of feathers.

    “Gods, Oz. You almost gave me a heart attack,” Qrow complains, dusting a stray feather off his shoulder. The headmaster merely shrugs.

     “My apologies, I was looking for something usually taller or at least higher up, not a crow squatting on the ground,” his head tilts slightly to lay eyes on the tripping point in question, “What were you doing down there anyway-” Aha.

     The question answers itself, brown eyes jumping from the small nest back to his friend’s face in time to see Qrow slightly pale at Oz’s discovery. It’s quiet for a moment. The tips of the huntsman’s ears start turning pink, and he covers his eyes.

“Don’t look at me like that, Oz.”

“Like what?”

“Like ‘oh gods, the bird magic’s affecting your brain now, I’m so sorry’.”

It’s getting very hard not to smile; in fact, Ozpin’s not even sure his admittedly very poor attempts at stemming it are working at all. Still, he manages to contain it to something more reserved and polite, to try and save the poor man’s pride.

“I am wondering how you became the guardian of a nest, I’ll admit.”

     Qrow sighs, rubbing the back of the neck. “It’s a long story involving some brat with a slingshot and the same old, same old.” He suddenly looks uncomfortable, not really meeting the other’s eyes anymore. The silence born of concern that he receives in turn, eventually spurs more words out of him. “Look. He took a shot. Missed me, but nailed the bird who was sitting on this nest up there.” A jerk of Qrow’s head directs Ozpin’s gaze back towards a tall oak behind him, and what looks like freshly moved soil at the base. “Chased the kid off, noticed she wasn’t getting up, and I waited a while, but if there was a partner it hasn’t shown up. So...”

“So you want to try and save the eggs.”

“Yeah, something like that.”

     Oz mentally shakes his head. This man continues to be kindhearted as always , as much as he tries to bury it under prickly demeanor and coarse language. There’s likely something else at work here, however, and that’s what concerns him most.

“You do realize these things happen, don’t you?”

“What? Kids being assholes? Yeah I know.”

“Well yes, that too, but several nests get abandoned for one reason or another. You just happened to witness one of them.” This isn’t your fault.

“Look,” Qrow hunches his shoulders up, a defensive bristle the headmaster knows too well by now, “If you don’t wanna help just say so.” Oz gives him a withering look.

“That’s not what I said. I’m more than willing to lend a hand, but trying to raise wild eggs rarely turns out well, and more importantly you don’t have to-”

Yes I do.”

No you don’t. Qrow, you’re not responsible for this, or them.”

“I don’t care.”

“Qrow-”

    “Oz.” The huntsman’s tone stops him immediately. He looks pained. Genuine distress etches into his face and voice, trying desperately to convey something unsaid. “I watched their mom die.” Oh. “I don’t want to just leave them alone. There’s no one else- they can’t take care of themselves yet. I can’t- I can’t just abandon them like this.” A hand reaches out to gently squeeze his shoulder.

“You haven’t, Qrow,” Ozpin insists softly, “You won’t.” 

     Red eyes search brown while the silence lingers between them for a few moments. Finally, Qrow just gives a shallow nod, eyes falling back down to the nest beside their feet. “Now then, I assume the basket was for the nest?”

“Yeah. Didn’t really wanna risk just carrying it in my hands.. for obvious reasons.”

    “Fair enough,” Oz stoops down to carefully pick up the nest and the cape to blanket it in the basket, “I suppose we’ll have to do a little research on these little fellows when we get back to Beacon. See how long you’ll have to sit-”

“Wait-”

“Well, I mean I imagine it’d be much easier and natural to do it the old fashion way, don’t you? Improve their chances,” Oz replies just a tad too brightly, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Qrow blinks once before rolling his own.

“Uh-huh sure.”

“We’ll have to figure out food too-”

“Okay, stop. I’m drawing the line right there-”

“But Qrow-”

“They’re gonna be mostly blind at first; they won’t notice shit over if it’s a beak or a pair of fingers. End of discussion.”

“That’s not really in the spirit of things, don’t you think-”

“‘The spirit of things’, really? Now who’s taking this whole bird deal too seriously.”

----

     When Glynda walks into Ozpin’s office the next day, it takes all of her self-control not to comment on the sleeping Qrow on what seems to be a nest on top of his desk. Even with the multiple, terrible bird puns her boss uses to try and prompt it. 

“By the way, appros of nothing at all really, is there anyway you could find me a source of little meal worms?” He asks, beaming with all the innocence and light in the world, “It’s very important.” Green eyes narrow in response.

    “Of course sir,” she adjusts her glasses with a polite smile, “Just don’t eat them all at once.” The blonde takes her victory in how quickly that smug grin of him falters and in retreating to the elevator before he gets to explain himself.

    Honestly, men.