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My Sister's Keeper

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Frontier – Ansel

Fire raged around him. Ash drifted slowly to the ground like bits of black and gray snow. The village, his home of Ansel, was engulfed in flames as each building burned as brightly as a roman candle. Jaune coughed and hacked, the smoke he'd inhaled as he pulled himself from the burning refuse of his home choking his lungs as he struggled to breath in unpolluted air. His eyes burned from the smoke and heat, watering profusely as his body reacted to the foreign substance. Before long he managed to struggle to his feet, gazing at the bonfire that had once been his home. Looking around he saw a similar sight as he gazed upon the fire that had spread to engulf the whole village. Panic filled his chest as he cried out, hoping someone else had survived.

"Mom! Dad! Saphron! Juniper! Sapphire! Rose! Anyone!"

His cries received no answer except for the sound of muffled coughing and crying. Feeling a surge of hopefulness, Jaune pushed himself to his feet and raced towards the sound. It didn't take him long to see the source of the noise as his eyes zeroed in on a young wolf Faunus girl barely four years old. She was laying on the ground just outside her home, her clothes singed from the flames and black soot marks on her skin. As far as he could tell she was relatively unharmed but she wouldn't remain that way for long. Struggling to her feet, the young girl looked towards her house, fear and panic painted across her features.

"MOMMY!" she cried out, stumbling towards her house.

"Jade, no!" Jaune yelled, rushing in to scoop her up in his arms and pull her away from the burning wreckage.

"Mommy!" she cried, struggling against Jaune's grip as she gazed back at her home.

"Jade, no, it's too dangerous," Jaune told her.

As if to accentuate his point, the roof of the house caved in, fanning the flames and confirming that no other survivors would be crawling out from the death trap. Jade's struggles began to weaken as she fell into a fit of crying. Jaune held her close, comforting her as best he could. They stayed there for most of the night, watching as the fires slowly burned out as the sun rose slowly over the horizon of the village of Ansel. No one else would be found come the morning. They were the only survivors.

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Jaune pushed the rubble and charred wood aside, using a large branch he'd found broken off from a nearby tree. Jade sat a few feet back, sniffling occasionally as she clutched a small stuffed bunny Jaune had managed to save from the ruins of another building. She starred at the ground, completely oblivious to the world around her. It may have been for the best. From the multitude of charred corpses he managed to unearth, it was certain that no one had survived. It was clear his family had all been killed in the fire and Jaune struggled to keep his stomach from expelling its contents at the sight of their burned bodies. He couldn't hold back his tears, however, and as much as he would have liked to take the time to give them all a proper burial, he knew that with the Grimm in the area and a lack of tools like a shovel, it would take him several days just to see to his family put to rest at all.

With a great shove he pushed aside enough of the rubble to expose a small trap door his father had built into their home for emergencies. Throwing aside his stick he pried open the door and was glad to see all of its contents were unharmed. Inside he found several backpacks prepacked with food, clothing, and other essentials needed during emergencies. He also found a good amount of lien, vital for two orphans who now had to make their way through Remnant on their own. Scoping his father's pack up as well as his own and a couple of his younger sisters, he threw them over his shoulder and began making his way out of the wreckage. With how unstable everything was, it was difficult for him to find his footing and he tripped once or twice, only to land on something hard. Looking down he found the morning sun reflecting off something in the rubble. Curious, he showed the charred wood aside and was astonished to find Crocea Mors, his family's ancestral sword, lying there, completely untouched by the fire. The steal felt cool in his hands and he hesitated for a moment, wondering if he had any right to take it.

It had always been his dream to one day leave his home to start his education as a huntsman. His father had been one and his father before him, going back generations to the time before the Great War. While he had no prior training nor any idea of what it took to become a huntsman, he nevertheless aspired to be one, even to the point of planning to run away to Vale to start his career. As he clutched the sword and sheath in his hands, his hesitation gave way to determination. He would become a huntsman that much hadn't changed. However, the circumstances had and, with only a year left before his seventeenth birthday, he would have a great deal of time to prepare himself for the road ahead. He strapped the sword to his hip, feeling its weight on him, as he made his way back out of the rubble.

"Jade, it's time to go," he said gently.

"But my mommy," she said, her lips quivering as fresh tears welled up in her eyes.

"I'm sorry Jade," he said, pulling her into an embrace as he stroked her hair. "They're gone. There's nothing left that we can do for them, but I can promise you I won't ever abandon you. We'll survive, together, and I'll make sure you grow up to have a life filled with happiness."

The little girl stifled her sobs, burying her face in his hoodie as he gently picked her up in his arms. Despite the weight of four fully packed backpacks and a large sword on his hip as well as a young child in his arms, Jaune didn't notice their weight pulling him down. Instead, he focused his sights on the forest ahead and marched forward, ready to face the world and carve out a life for himself and his little sister.

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Vale – 1 Year Later…

Jaune sat straight backed in his seat as the bullhead jostled from the turbulence. He hated flying more than anything. Why couldn't Beacon had been built on the ground where it was safe rather than up on a hill? Granted, he knew why it had been built that way. With the high elevation and the Emerald forest at their back, it ensured they would have a good view of any invading forces as well as Grimm incursions into the city and be able to respond immediately. That said, he could think of several other preferable moods of transportation that he would gladly take from a bus to riding a freaking donkey up a hill rather than a bullhead.

What made the trip even worse was his almost five year old little sister Jade who was completely unfazed by the turbulence to the point that she was standing on her seat, gazing out her window excitedly as the city of Vale drew further away and Beacon came into view. Her eyes widened as she took it in, looking up at the building like it was a castle growing out of the clouds, just like the ones in the various picture books Jaune had managed to get for her along their journey. While the whole thing made him feel uncomfortable, he couldn't bring himself to feel annoyed. On the contrary, seeing her face light up made him feel just as happy and he quickly began to forget his airsickness until another jolt from the airship jostled him back to reality.

"Jaune, Jaune, look," she said excitedly, jumping on her seat.

"I'm fine, Jade," he said, struggling to keep his composure. "Why don't you sit down? I think we'll be landing soon."

"Okay," she said, plopping down in her seat and bucking in.

To his relief he could feel the bullhead beginning to slow its descent and the tension that had been building inside of him quickly faded as he was comforted by the fact that he would soon be back on solid ground. The bullhead landed, giving Jaune one last jolt as it settled. He sighed in relief and quickly opened the side door before stepping out onto the landing pad just outside Beacon Academy. Breathing a lungful of air, he felt his nausea dissipate completely before turning back to his little sister. The young Faunus jumped happily from the bullhead, holding tightly to a small stuffed bunny in her arms as she quickly moved to stand next to her brother and guardian. The old bunny from their village had long since passed, the fabric and stuffing unable to withstand the hardships of their journey to Vale. Once they'd arrived, however, Jaune had quickly purchased her a new one, considering it an early birthday present as well as a way of celebrating getting into Beacon.

Well, that is to say he was asked to come to speak with the Headmaster after sending him his transcripts and a letter describing their situation. Their family situation was unique, one he hoped to work out with the Headmaster so that he and Jade might be able to stick together. They'd come this far and he was willing to fight just a bit longer if it meant carving out a stable life for her. All he needed to do was graduate from Beacon and he would be a full-fledged huntsman and with that came the ability to rent themselves a decent apartment and perhaps even look into sending Jade to school and possibly a prep school should she decide to take the huntress route.

As he gathered their bags from the bullhead, Jaune heard the distinct sound of heals clicking against the pavement. He looked up in time to see a woman with blond hair and glasses, wearing a white blouse with a black pencil skirt and nylons heading in their direction. She was quite a sight to behold and one of the most attractive women Jaune had ever seen. That said, the stern gaze she gave him said she was all business and he quickly prepared himself for such.

"Mr. Arc, I presume," she said, adjusting her glasses as she looked him over.

"Jaune Arc, yes, and this is my little sister, Jade," he said. The child in question peaked out from behind her brother's legs, having hidden herself behind him when she noticed the woman approach.

"Hello, my name is Glynda," the blond woman said, kneeling down to look at the young girl. Her stern face gave way to a warm smile as she held out a hand to Jade.

"H-hi," the girl said, tentatively reaching a small hand out to shack hers.

"I'm sorry, Jade gets very shy around strangers," Jaune apologized.

"That's understandable. She is only four, after all."

"Five," Jaune corrected. "Her birthday is in a few weeks."

"Really? That's wonderful," she said, flashing her a brilliant smile that helped to put the child at ease.

"Um, not to be rude but when will I be able to meet with the headmaster? I received a letter from him asking me to stop by and discuss our current family situation."

"Of course. I'm the deputy Headmistress of Beacon, and one of the people who helps keep it running in spite of Ozpin," she said. Jaune wondered it that was a joke of some kind but, from the look of annoyance that flashed across her face, he realized it was anything but. "If you'll follow me I'll show you to his office."

Jaune nodded, scooping up their bags and Jade into his arms before following after Glynda. Despite having his hands full Jaune kept pace with the woman as she walked with a sense of purpose through the empty halls of Beacon. The building itself was massive, certainly bigger inside than the exterior gave away. They could hear their footsteps echoing down the hall and Jade would occasionally look around, her eyes wide with wonder as she took in the entirety of the school. Jaune couldn't help the smile that spread across his face. It had been a while since he'd last seen her this lively. With any luck their time at Beacon would be secured and he'd be able to give her moment happy moments like this one. Until then, he would need to consider his moves carefully. While he'd heard quite a few good things about Beacon's headmaster, that didn't guarantee the man would make an exception for them. They're fate was up in the air.

Glynda lead them to the end of a long hall before stepping into an elevator. Jaune followed, watching as Glynda pressed the ascend button and noticing the peculiar absence of any other floors on the wall. It was several moments before they reached their destination and the doors opened up into the headmaster's office.

Jaune was instantly taken in by the look and feel of the room. A majority of it was devoid of walls, having windows in their stead that looked out on the campus and Vale itself. Overhead large cogs clicked by as the clock turned and below them a similar sight could be seen, albeit with a thick sheet of glass between them. The headmaster's desk was a half circle design behind which he could see a custom made chair and two seats opposite it, probably for himself and Jade respectfully. The headmaster himself stood near one of the windows, gazing out onto the scenery below with a steaming mug stamped with the symbol of Vale in his hand. Glynda cleared her throat, probably to garner the man's attention, before she spoke.

"Jaune Arc and his younger sister Jade are here to see you sir," she said.

The headmaster turned, green eyes set behind a pair of glasses regarding him. "Wonderful. Do have a seat, Mr. Arc, there's much I wish to speak with you about."

Jaune nodded his affirmation, setting their things down on either side of his chair before lowering Jade into hers. He took his seat as well, starring straight at the headmaster as he took his seat before them. Jade sat silent, occasionally fidgeting but otherwise doing her best to be polite. She was a smart girl and knew how important this meeting was for her and her brother. She didn't want to do anything that might make things difficult for them.

"Are you thirsty?" Glynda asked, catching Jade off guard as she kneeled down to eye level.

"Um," Jade considered the question and glanced over to Jaune. He nodded, giving her a warm smile that told her it was alright. "Y-yes please," she said.

"I'll be right back," Glynda said, smiling warmly before patting her lightly on the head and disappearing into the elevator.

"So, Mr. Arc, I take it this little angel is your sister Jade," Ozpin said, smiling fondly at the young girl.

"She is," Jaune replied.

"Any relation?"

"I'm afraid not. Ever since the fire that destroyed our village, I've acted as her guardian. We have no other surviving relatives, at least as far as I'm aware of."

"I see. Did you ever consider the option of placing her in an orphanage?" Ozpin enquired.

"Once," Jaune said curtly, his tone implying that it was a subject he had no interest is broaching again.

Jade remembered what had happened. Shortly after leaving their village, Jaune had taken them to the next town over. Compared to where they had come from, it was much larger and more densely populated than their previous home. The wall that surround them was even made of stone rather than timber and had gates that could be shut and locked to prevent Grimm from entering inside. Jaune had managed to find work there, renting them a room at a small inn as he performed odd jobs to keep the lien flowing. He had a large stash he'd brought with them from his home but he'd decided to save that for emergencies and had instructed Jade to keep that between them. There were people who wouldn't bat an eye at jumping a couple of kids and robbing them if they knew they were holding something of value.

Between work, Jaune had also met a local huntsman who helped him to unlock his aura. Hearing of the plight they'd just come from, he'd offered to train Jaune, showing how to properly wield his sword and even use his aura. They'd stayed there for a few weeks, working and building a life for themselves, when the Matron of the local orphanage came to their room. She told Jaune it would be better both for her and himself if Jade was left at the orphanage. She promised to take care of her and find her a nice family and Jaune would be free to pursue his dream of becoming a huntsman. Jaune had thanked her for her time and promised to think it over and for the rest of the night he was silent. Jade had hardly slept, wondering if Jaune would leave her at the orphanage before going off to Beacon. She understood and had promised herself that she wouldn't cry if he did but when morning came, Jaune never set foot in the orphanage. Instead, he'd sat Jade down and talked with her.

"Jade, I want to ask you something. That lady who came here, she runs the orphanage here in town. She watches over all of the kids who don't have parents and finds them new parents. Do you understand?"

Jade nodded her affirmation, preparing herself for what was coming. Jaune was leaving her.

"She offered to take care of you but I want that to be your decision. Do you want to stay with me or go with her?"

Jade was stunned by the question. She hadn't considered what she wanted. Back in Ansel, she'd lived with her mother and all she wanted was to stay with her forever and live a happy life together. Now, she was with Jaune. Things weren't like they used to be but she liked Jaune. He had always been kind to her. He cared about her and kept her safe.

"Jaune," she'd found herself saying without realizing it. "I want to stay with Jaune."

Jaune had smiled after that, embracing her and promising that they would always be together. It had brought a flood of relief to Jade, something she didn't know she needed. Confident in the belief that her big brother Jaune would protect her, she slept soundly that night. The next morning, Jaune had spoken with the Matron to inform her of his decision. The woman hadn't taken it well, getting cross of Jaune and arguing with him for a good while. Shortly after that, she had Jaune had left the village and moved on with their lives.

They would move from place to place, sometimes staying for a while where Jaune would train and fight Grimm, other times staying only for a short time. Things weren't always easy for them. Occasionally, people would give them strange looks or kick them out of places simply because she had animal ears. She didn't always understand why but Jaune would always smile and assure her everything was alright. She believed him but that didn't stop her from wondering why people didn't like her wolf ears. She would subconsciously touch them on occasion, wondering why she was born with them when her mother hadn't. Her mother had said her father had them and they reminded her of him which made them her favorite part of Jade. She liked that. It always made her mother happy and that made her happy.

"Here you go," Glynda said, bringing Jade back to reality.

She snapped to attention, her eyes wide with surprise as she took in the blonde woman as she held a small cup in her hands. Jade accepted in with a silent thank you before taking a tentative sip. Her taste buds were soon assaulted by the fruity beverage, causing her to gasp in excitement. She gazed up at Glynda whose smile had broadened at her reaction, obviously pleased to see she was enjoying her drink.

"Thank you," she said, louder this time.

"You very welcome Jade," she replied.

"So, legally you're her guardian?" Ozpin asked.

"Yes, we made it official just a few weeks ago" Jaune replied.

"I see," Ozpin said, looking through some of the papers he had set on his desk. "I also see you have extensive experience working outside the kingdom, helping eradicate Grimm in several small villages. While you don't have any background at a prep school, this is more than enough to qualify you to attend Beacon."

"Excellent," Jaune replied.

"That said, there is the matter of you sister Jade," Ozpin said.

Jade immediately looked up, hearing her name. She looked to Ozpin and then to her brother Jaune, curious as to why she had been mentioned. Jaune looked serious, more so than usual, and she knew that now was the time to be as polite as possible. Being with Jaune would make it difficult for her brother to get into Beacon and she knew she had to do everything she could to make it easier.

"I understand the situation, sir. It's also my understanding that Beacon allows for extenuating circumstances like this one."

"We do but that comes with certain expectations. Namely that you maintain moderate grades and refrain from causing any destruction to the school, its property or breaking of the rules. In short, you must uphold the schools rules and policies to the fullest. There are no exceptions to this whatsoever."

Behind Jaune where only Ozpin could see Glynda dramatically rolled her eyes, mouthing the words "team STRQ" as she did so. Ozpin simply ignored that and proceeded on with the interview.

"I completely understand Sir. You have my word that I will do everything I can to follow the rules and be a model student," Jaune said.

Jade nodded along with him, eager to help out her brother in whatever way she could.

"I don't doubt that, Mr. Arc. That is, of course, assuming you'll be able to pass initiation in the next couple of days. Until then, we have a room set aside for you and your sister to stay in. Once the rest of our students begin arriving you'll be expected to follow the initiation process which will include you sleeping in the main hall tomorrow night."

"I understand sir. I do have one question."

"Of course."

"Assuming I pass initiation, how do I go about setting my sister up with the on campus daycare you have?"

"That will all be taken care once you've been accepted," Glynda chimed in. "I'll handle all the details myself so you won't have to worry about anything."

"Thank you," Jaune said, visibly relieved.

"Well then, now that's all taken care of, let me be the first to welcome you to Beacon and I look forward to having you as one of my students" Ozpin said, rising from his seat extending his hand.

"Thank you sir. I look forward to it as well," Jaune said, rising and shaking his hand.

"Well, if there's nothing else, I'll have Glynda show you to your room."

"I'll show you two where the cafeteria is so you'll know where to get dinner tonight," she said.

"Thank you very much."

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"Wow," Jade said, looking around at the spacious room set aside for visiting dignitaries and other people of note.

Jaune couldn't hold back his own astonishment as well. He'd been expecting something more humble, given the fact that they hadn't exactly had a great many opportunities to enjoy a bed and running water with all the traveling they'd done in the past year. On more than one occasion they'd had to rough it with Jade using Jaune as a pillow while the older boy slept with his sword close at his side in case any Grimm stumbled upon their camp. This room, however, was much more lavish than they'd expected to enjoy, especially considering Jaune hadn't officially been accepted into Beacon just yet.

The room they'd walked into was the living room, adjacent to the bedroom. Two couches set opposite one another had a small coffee table set in the middle. Various paintings and lamps of exquisite craftsmanship were set throughout, all of which looked expensive as hell. Following Miss Goodwitch into the bedroom he found two large beds already made for them with several sets of throw pillows set on top. Jade took one look at them, kicked off her shoes, and clambered onto the nearest one before beginning to bounce up and down.

"Jade, be careful or you'll fall and break your neck," or something expensive he quietly thought to himself.

His warning went unheard by his sister who continued to bounce, giggling excitedly as she flopped down onto the soft mattress.

"Sorry about that," he apologized to Glynda.

"Don't worry about it. I'm glad to see you're sister's enjoying herself."

"Yea, though I'll make sure she doesn't break anything. Most of the furnishings here look pretty expensive," he commented.

"You might say that," Glynda replied, giving Jaune the impression that he wasn't wrong. "Dinner will be at 6:00 pm and will last about two hours. I trust you'll have no problem getting yourselves there."

"No, the map you gave us will be very useful," he said, holding up his scroll, "and thank you for the scroll, by the way. We've managed without one for some time but is it alright to be giving me this when I still haven't become an official student?"

"It should be fine. We always have some extras set aside should a student damage or lose theirs," she said.

"That's good to know," he said. "Speaking of which, could I make a small request?"

"Of course."

"Should I pass the entrance exam, could I get a scroll for Jade? Just something with the basic features on it, nothing too fancy. With how busy our lives are going to become, I figured it would be a good idea for her to have a scroll of her own for emergencies."

"That's a wonderful idea. I'll have one made for her as soon as possible," Glynda said, smiling at Jade before leaving the room.

"Jaune, catch me!" Jade yelled.

Jaune turned around just in time to catch Jade in his arms as she bounced off the bed towards him. She giggled loudly, completely missing the startled look on her brother's face as he gently set her down.

"Having fun?" he asked.

"Yea, lots of fun," she said.

"That's good," he said, picking her up and setting her on the edge of the bed. "Jade, we need to set some ground rules, okay?"

"Okay," she said, recognizing his tone and adopting a serious expression of her own that was more adorable than serious.

"Now, we're guests here at Beacon. That means we have to be very careful not to break any of the rules or any of the expensive things they have here. That means no jumping on the beds, alright?"

"Okay," she said, disappointed.

"That doesn't mean we can't have some fun, though. After initiation tomorrow, if I pass, we'll be able to stay here officially for the next four years. That's a long time. That means we'll be able to go to Vale together and do some fun things that we weren't able to before. That said, I'll be a student here so I won't always be able to play with you. Sometimes I'll have to study or train."

"Can I train with you?" she asked eagerly.

"I'll see if we can do some training. I might be able to get you a small sword of your own to practice with," he said, eliciting an excited smile from Jade. "I'll need you to be a good girl during that time, okay? Things won't always be easy but we'll at least be able to stay together and have a roof over our heads, beds to sleep in, and hot food to eat. Can you do that for me?"

"Yea," she said, nodding her head.

"Pinky promise?"

"Pinky promise," she said, wrapping her small pinky around her brother's notably thicker finger.

"Alright, I love you Jade," he said, embracing here warmly.

"I love you too," she said, hugging him back.

"And I promise we'll be together, always," he said softly. "Now, why don't we go get something to eat?"

"Okay," she said, jumping down from the bed and putting her shoes back on before following her brother out the door.

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Jade lay in the comfy bed, her breathing even as she slumbered next to her brother. Jaune lay beside her, stroking her hair as he hummed her a lullaby. The night have been fairly eventful for the two orphans. Walking into the cafeteria, Jade had been amazed just by how massive it was and nearly dove into the mountain of food she found set out for the Beacon staff and guests. Jaune had patiently walked her down the line, watching as the staff smiled and laughed good naturedly as the young girl marveled at the large assortment of food provided to them by the school. Jaune had been careful to choose foods that wouldn't be too much for her to handle and selected an assortment that would provide her with a balanced meal. He'd even allowed her to take a dessert, just one. That, perhaps, had been the hardest decision of her life. Looking over the wide assortment of cakes, cookies, pastries, and other sugary goodies, he knew that she wanted to try all of them and would no doubt be sick halfway through. She'd settled for a bowl of chocolate ice cream, something she hadn't had in a long time, and he'd managed to convince to save it for last.

He'd of course run into some difficulty when trying to get her to eat her vegetables. Jade was nothing if not stubborn when it came to eating her greens. Jaune figured it might have something to do with her being a wolf Faunus. She really loved eating steak and the bloodier the better. That said, he'd insisted she eat them and when she refused he'd countered with a well-intentioned threat to send her to bed without a bedtime story. That had done the trick, as it usually did, but not without some grumbling on her part. He didn't care. So long as she ate her vegetables he was satisfied. After a hot bath in a tub big enough for her to swim in (which she attempted to do, if the numerous towels he'd used to clean up the mess were any indication) he'd read he a quick bedtime story before she'd drifted off. Looking at her now, he couldn't help but feel some euphoria at having seen her in such a good mood. The two of them had been through a lot since their families were taken in the fire. She'd done her best to be strong and he had done what he could to provide for her. Now, they were on the cusp of reaching their goal that would eventually help him to provide her with a more stable home and life. As he considered this, he found himself softly singing the words to the lullaby as they came to the surface of his mind.

"Let me sing a lullaby as you close your eyes.

And as you're drifting off to sleep how I hope that the dreams that you find are bright.

Love, can we meet again soon in the bluest of skies where a tomorrow waits for you and I?

So hold me tight one more time but don't kiss me goodbye cause I know that I'll see you on the other side.

I will think of our song when the nights are too long.

I'll dream of you for that's where I belong.

Love, can we meet again soon in the bluest of skies?

Only in my dreams do we meet again."

Kissing her lightly on the forehead, and watching as her little ears twitched from the moment of affection, he laid down himself, ready for sleep to take him.

"Sleep tight my little wolf cub," he whispered.

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"Wow," Jade said, gazing out from the window onto the campus below.

Her gaze was on the massive commercial airship that had just arrived, bringing with it Beacon's students, most of whom already knew their way around while others, like Jaune, would make their way to the main hall where they would receive a speech from the Headmaster as well as instructions on what to expect from their initiation the following day. Jaune had already been up long before Jade, taking advantage of the time to get in some exercise and some light sparring practice before taking a shower and taking her down to breakfast. Their meal that morning had a bit of a repeat from the night before, albeit without the hassle of attempting to coax Jade into eating some vegetables. After that they'd wandered around the school, waiting until the prescribed time when the students would begin arriving and Jaune would have to hand Jade over to Glynda to watch her for him while he completed his initiation.

"There's so many," she remarked.

"Indeed. Every year Beacon receives hundreds of applicants, all of whom want to join and learn to become Huntsmen," Glynda said.

"Huh?" Jade asked, a little confused by Glynda's manner of speaking.

"She means lots of people come here to learn to fight Grimm," Jaune translated, giving Glynda comforting smirk.

"Oh, like big brother?" she asked.

"Yes, just like Jaune. They'll be tested tomorrow to see if they have what it takes but not everyone will pass."

"Why not?"

"Well, it takes real skill to become a huntsman and not everyone has what it takes. That's why we can only accept so many people each year because you need to be able to handle anything the Grimm throw at you, among other things," Glynda said, tailoring hers explanation a bit to help Jade understand.

"Big brother will pass," Jade said triumphantly. "He's very strong."

Both Jaune and Glynda shared a laugh while Jade looked at them with a confused look. Glynda bent down to stroke her hair and said, "I'm sure he is. Now, why don't you come with me? Your big brother has to prepare for initiation with the other students."

"Okay," Jade said, taking the woman's hand. "Bye Jaune," she called back as she waved to him.

"Be good, Jade," he said, a smirk easily forming on his face.

He watched them until they disappeared down the hall and he turned to look out at the students once more. Checking to make sure Crocea Mors was strapped securely to his side he took in a deep breath before letting it out.

"Alright, time to start my first day as a huntsman," he said.

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An explosion ripped through the air, drawing the attention of everyone around including Jaune. Off in the distance he could make out a cloud of smoke that was spewing fire, lightening, and ice for some reason. As the dust cleared two small figures could be seen, a girl in red and black and another girl this time dressed in white with white hair to match. They were coughing loudly, obviously from the explosion, before the white haired girl began yelling and pointing at her partner. Jaune couldn't exactly tell what was going on, though from the looks of things the situation was escalating and fast. Fortunately, a girl with long black hair wearing a large bow on her head intervened. From the looks of things she'd said a few things, obviously something that was enough to upset the white haired girl who immediately stormed off, leaving her red and black companion to walk away disheartened. Certainly, things were going to be rather interesting here at Beacon.

Watching the young girl walk off, Jaune decided to follow. He didn't know what to expect but he figured she could use a friend or at least someone to give her some advice after the fiasco that had just occurred. Sure enough she didn't wander off too far before collapsing in a depressed heap on the grass, grumbling something to herself that he didn't quite catch.

"Hey," he said, gaining the girl's attention, "you alright?"

"Um yes, no, I don't know?" she said, grumbling some more.

"Here, let me help you up," he said, extending a hand and pulling her to her feet. "The names Jaune Arc, nice to meet you."

"I'm Ruby Rose," she replied.

"Nice to meet you Ruby. So, not to be rude but, what happened back there. All I heard was an explosion and then a dust cloud before you and that other girl were bickering."

"Uge, that wasn't even my fault!" Ruby cried, going off on a tangent as she recalled the events that had lead up to the explosion. "It's all Yang's fault."

"That's your older sister, right?" Jaune said, attempting to get all the facts straight.

"Yea, I know she means well but I wish she hadn't just up and left me like that."

"I know what you mean," Jaune remarked, thinking back to some of the antics his older sisters would get up to when he was younger. "I'm sure she means well."

"Yea, but I'm not really great at making friends and having her abandon me doesn't make it any easier."

"Well, you have at least one friend now," he pointed out.

"Wait, what?" she asked, surprised.

"Yea, consider me your first friend at Beacon," he said.

"Oh, that is so cool," she said, leaping for joy before realizing what she was doing, her social awkwardness kicking in as she cleared her throat and said, "I'm happy to call you my friend, Jaune Arc."

"Alright, alright, no need to be so formal," he laughed. "Why don't we start heading to the main hall. The headmaster is supposed to be giving a speech soon."

"Oh, good, you know the way there. I was so worried I was going to get lost here and miss initiation, especially after Yang left me behind."

"No worries, Ruby. I got here a day early so I've had time to learn where everything is."

"Wait, you got here a whole day early?" she asked, surprised.

"Yea, I had some details I needed to work out with the headmaster before he was ready to accept me."

"Oh, so everything got taken care?"

"Mostly," he replied. "Things won't be set in stone until I pass initiation. After that, though, it'll be smooth sailing."

"Oh," Ruby said, curious about what he meant decided not to ask, thinking it might be rude of her to pry.

/-/

Despite the dust explosion outside the school (which was totally not her fault!) Ruby followed Jaune inside and down the winding halls towards the main hall. She couldn't believe her luck that on her first day at Beacon she would somehow make a friend and someone who already knew Beacon's layout. It was tough enough having been accepted to Beacon two years early and with that having to leave all her friends at Signal behind. She'd hoped her big sister Yang would have been around to guide but NOPE!, the blonde brawler had bailed on her the moment they landed and run off with her friends instead. Speaking of Yang, as they entered the main hall and saw all the students there waiting for the headmaster to arrive, she spotted her sister amongst the crowd instantly. Waving goodbye to Jaune, she rushed over to Yang to give her a good thorough chewing out.

"Hey sis, how's you first day going?' Yang asked cheerfully.

"Terrible!" Ruby squawked, causing her sister to flinch as she pelted her with the details that had transpired just moments after her older sister had abandoned her.

"Ouch, sounds like you've had a rough go at it," Yang remarked.

"Yea, no thanks to you. The only silver lining was Jaune."

"The guy who got here a whole day early, right?"

"Yea, though I'm not quite sure why," Ruby mussed, having thought it rude of her to try and ask the details of Jaune's reasons for arriving early.

"You!" a shrill voice cried.

"Oh gods, it's her," Ruby cried, leaping into her sister's arms.

"You're the bumbling dolt who blew us up!" Weiss accused, pointing a finger at her face.

"Holy crap, that actually happened?" Yang asked, not quite sure if she should be surprised or just laugh.

"Quiet please," a woman called from the front.

The fight Weiss and Ruby had been conducting was quickly put on hold as their attention was drawn to the stage. Standing at the microphone was a blond haired woman who Ruby immediately recognized as Glynda Goodwitch. She had meet the intimidating Huntress and Deputy Headmistress of Beacon academy the night she had thwarted a dust robbery being conducted by Roman Torchwick. She was dressed in the same outfit she'd seen her in before, albeit clean and freshly pressed. Even from this distance the woman cut a striking persona, ensuring that every eye was her and that no one dared to interrupt her while she spoke.

"Welcome, all of you, to Beacon Academy. As I'm sure you're all eager to get on with your day and find out what you'll be doing for initiation, let me inform you of the schedule you will be following for the next couple of days. Shortly after the Headmaster gives you his speech you will all be escorted to the cafeteria where you will be fed before returning here. For now you will all sleep here tonight before beginning initiation tomorrow and being split into your teams. Be sure to take the time to rest, stow away any equipment you have in your locker, and freshen up before tomorrow. Now, without further ado, Headmaster Ozpin."

Glynda sauntered off to the sound of applause, though whether it was necessary no one was willing to find out. Ruby watched as she took a seat with the rest of the facility sitting down between a portly man with an extravagant mustache and a slim man with disheveled green hair and an untucked shirt. What stuck out to her, though, was the little Faunus girl she had sitting in her lap. The girl couldn't have been more than four or five years old and was incredibly adorable. Glynda smiled warmly as she stroked the girl's hair, making her think she might be the girl's mother. The girl herself was gazing out towards the sea of students, her eyes wide with surprise at the sheer number before them. At some point she caught sight of something as she quickly broke into a smile and began waving frantically. Ruby looked around, hoping to see what she'd found, and saw Jaune standing not too far from them, smiling and waving back.

"Huh."

"What's up Rubes?" Yang asked.

"That girl sitting with Miss Goodwitch," she said.

"Yea, she's really cute. Kind of reminds me of you when you were that age. Think that's her daughter?"

"I don't know but she's waving at Jaune," she said, pointing him out in the crowd.

"Huh, maybe their siblings or something. You think she's there mother?"

"I don't think so. Jaune's last name is Arc not Goodwitch."

"Maybe she got divorced or something," Yang suggested.

"If she did, she has my admiration," Weiss commented.

Ruby didn't understand what Weiss meant by that comment but she ignored it regardless. By now the Headmaster had finished with his speech, which Ruby had completely missed, and the students began making their way towards the exits to the cafeteria. Thinking on it, Ruby decided she'd look for Jaune later and ask him about the little girl. Maybe she had something to do with his reasoning for coming to Beacon early? Regardless, she was cute and obviously liked Jaune enough to look for him in the crowd so he had to be a good guy, that much she knew for a fact. No way a kid wouldn't like someone who was already her first friend at Beacon.

/-/

Ruby lay in her sleepwear, starring at a blank piece of paper as she chewed on the pen in her hand. She'd been trying to think of what to write to her friends back at Signal but was coming up short. It was difficult, skipping two whole years of school to start attending Beacon and leave all of her friends behind in the process. Granted, she had her sister Yang with her and had made a friend but that still didn't make it easy for her being the youngest student to be attending. Not to mention they had initiation tomorrow and she was already worried about whether she would be good enough to pass or not. It wasn't long before her sister Yang flopped down next to her, her blond hair freshly combed as was her ritual each night.

"Hey sis, what you're doing?"

"Writing to my friends at Signal. I couldn't bring any of them with me," Ruby grumbled.

"Well, you have Jaune so that's one new friend."

"Yea, but with that fiasco that happened between Weiss and myself this morning I'd say she counts as negative one friend."

"You can't have a negative one friend. You usually call people like that enemies."

"That's even worse," Ruby moaned, burying her face in her pillow.

"Cheer up, things will get better. You've only been here a day," Yang pointed out. "You have a whole four years to make new friends."

"Yea, great," Ruby mumbled, not at all feeling bolstered by her sister's encouragement.

She instead turned her attention to the rest of the room. Looking around she could see both boys and girls in varying states of dress. Most of the guys were flexing their muscles and showing off, causing Ruby to roll her eyes. She wasn't at all interested in boys at the moment. Her only love in life was Crescent Rose, her scythe/sniper rifle. Looking around she caught sign of her friend Jaune, sitting in a corner with his weapon out. He had his sword in hand and was polishing the blade, obviously making sure it was in good shape for tomorrow. She chalked that up as a plus for her friend. Seeing how much care he put into his weapon, even if it was a relic by today's standards, was something she admired. Her attention was quickly drawn away as she heard a commission and turned to see what it was.

Ruby's silver eyes widened in surprise as the tiny Faunus girl from earlier, dressed in an oversized t-shirt with the pumpkin peat mascot emblazoned on the front and clutching a matching stuffed rabbit, picked her way through the crowd of teenagers. Most of them stopped to stare, with some of the girls cooing at how cute she was, or stepped out of her way. The little girl looked very timid, obviously intimidated by all the older kids, as she cautiously made her way through.

"Yang, look," she said, drawing her sister's attention.

"Hey, it's that little Faunus girl Miss Goodwitch had with her. She looks so cute," Yang said, joining with the other congregation of females who "oohed" and "awed" at the little girl.

"She looks lost. Think she's looking for someone?"

"Possibly. Maybe she went to the bathroom and forgot her way back to her room?"

Ruby figured she might be right but before she could answer, a familiar figure stepped into the little girl's path. Ruby's heart plummeted as she recognized the stark white hair of Weiss Schnee. Standing in her powder blue nightgown, she towered over the little girl. While her back was to Ruby, it wasn't difficult for her to imagine the icy glare she was shooting down her nose at the little Faunus. The girl herself look terrified, clutching her bunny a little tighter as she gazed up at the towering teenager before her.

"What are you doing?" Weiss asked.

"Um," the girl said, quivering slightly.

"You shouldn't be here. This is where students preparing for tomorrows initiation are sleeping. You need to go back to your room," Weiss said, crossing her arms over her chest.

"But I…" the girl said quietly, shrinking slightly at Weiss' gaze.

Various teenagers shot fierce glares of their own at Weiss, obviously unimpressed with how she was treating a child. However, no one rose to the girl's defense and as time ticked by, Ruby started to think no one would. Well, she had come to Beacon to become a Huntress, hadn't she, and Huntress' helped people in need, right? Stealing herself, Ruby rose in preparation to confront Weiss for what would be the third time today. Thankfully, and to her perpetual relief, someone else came to the girl's defense, appropriately enough a knight in, well, gym shorts really.

"Jade?" Jaune's voice called across the room.

Jade, the little Faunus girl, immediately recognized his voice, her little ears perking up at the sound. She looked out in his direction, a smile spreading across her face as she quickly scooted around Weiss and bounded across to room into his waiting arms.

"Big brother," she cried as he lifted her up into his arms.

"Big brother?" Ruby and Yang said, exchanging glances.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I couldn't sleep," she said.

"Jade, you know you shouldn't be here," Jaune chided her softly.

"I know," she said, her ears drooping slightly, "but it's dark and scary and I didn't know where you were."

Jaune sighed, obviously realizing there was no arguing with her at this point.

"Alright, you can sleep here with me, but just for tonight, alright?"

"Okay," she said, instantly perking up.

"How you can have night vision and still be afraid of the dark, I shall never know," he muttered to himself.

"Now wait just one minute," Weiss snarled, stalking towards the blonde knight and his little sister. "You can't just let her sleep here. Only those of use attending tomorrow's initiation should be down here. She needs to go back to her room, now."

"I understand what you mean but I don't think she's bothering anyone. Honestly, I had no idea she was here until I heard you talking down to her," he said.

Mumbling could be heard from all around them as students gave their opinions in agreement with Jaune. The sudden lack of support had Weiss deflating slightly, especially as Jade clutched tightly to her brother's shirt, giving credence to the guardian-esc persona he gave off as he held her. It didn't take long for Weiss to regain her fire, though, and she quickly rounded on Jaune once more.

"Fine, but I'm holding you responsible should I lose any sleep due to any interruptions caused by your little sister," she said, pointing an accusatory finger at the little girl.

"I understand," he said, patting Jade's back protectively, "I can guarantee she won't cause any problems tonight. You have my word."

"Humph, very well then," she said before stalking off back to her sleeping area.

"She's a meanie," Jade grumbled to her brother.

"She's just grumpy," he replied though, from his tone, he didn't sound all that convinced.

Jaune let out a relieved sigh, taking himself and Jade back to his sleeping bag before settling down. True to his word the little girl didn't make so much as a peep, instead snuggling up to her older brother and using his chest as a makeshift pillow before quickly falling asleep. All around, Ruby could hear some of the girls silently voicing their admiration, obviously impressed with how he'd handled the situation and liking what they had seen from him as an older brother figure and potential father. One thing was for sure, Jaune's reputation amongst the female body had certainly gone up, save for Weiss of course.

"Wow, have to say I'm rather impressed. He didn't so much as flinch against her."

"I know. He looked pretty cool," Ruby remarked.

"But not as cool as me, right?" Yang asked.

"Sure. As far as big sister's go, you're alright," Ruby muttered.

Yang answered by throwing a pillow in her face, causing the two girls to fall into silent giggling before they both slowly drifted off to sleep.

Three weeks in a row. In three weeks I've posted three new fanfictions which I know must have some of you wondering if I'm either A) insane, B) desperately trying to gain as much traction and reputation as possible, C) running short on ideas and am now just trying to find something that might stick, or D) all of the above.

So, firstly I can say that all of the new fanfics I've posted including the ones I'm already currently working one will continue to be staples on my profile. I don't ever post something that I don't already have plans for with "Shattered Minds and Mended Hearts" being an exception (I honestly left that one alone for too long and lost an inspiration traction I might have had for it. It's been shelved until further notice). This is something I was inspired to pen after watching the first episode of "If it's for my daughter, I would even defeat a Demon Lord." That anime had my "cutesy" gears turning and TA DA! "My Sister's Keeper" was born.

Firstly, I'm really excited to be writing this. It's a different dynamic that I haven't explored before and opens up a lot of possibilities and potential for the story moving forward. It'll mostly follow the same teams at Beacon and the same episodes, albeit with moments of Jaune doing his best to be a guardian to his little sister while also juggling being a student.

Jaune in this fanfic will be different from how we normally see him. Think less of a flirtiest goof ball and more of a concerned older sibling and focused student. He's less focused on romance and more focused on becoming a huntsman so he can provide Jade with a better life. Yes, there will be some romance, especially when we get into the Mistral and Atlas Arcs, but for now he'll be doing his best to be a good older brother for his sister and keeping his grades up while at Beacon. That also means he'll be more skilled with his sword given the year he and Jade spent out on the frontier. Not exceptional but good enough to hold his own. This story will also be interchanged with "Maidens and Demons" which means on week I'll update "Maidens" and the next week I'll update this one. It's mostly to keep myself from becoming overwhelmed.

So, let me know if you reviews what you think of the story. Personally, I can't wait to share some of the more cutesy moments that have planned between Jaune and Jade. I'm sure many of you will see a part of yourself either in the way he acts around her or how she acts around him. Personally, as an older sibling myself, this is coming from a special place for me and I hope you all enjoy the first chapter.

Chapter Text

The morning dawned bright and early. It took a little for Jaune to rouse Jade who was less than willing to wake up, especially at this hour. However, with initiation in just a few hours, Jaune didn't have the ability to let her sleep in and picked up a drowsy little wolf cub so he could carry her back to their guest room and get her ready for the day. After changing her into some fresh clothes and brushing her hair, he took the opportunity to hop into the shower and blasted the cold water, shivering slightly as he found himself suddenly awake and aware. Once his morning routine was finished, he put on a fresh pair of clothes and walked out into the room, only to find Jade asleep once more on the bed. Somehow that didn't surprise him and he gently nudged her awake.

"Jade," he said softly.

"Hmm," she groaned.

"Jade, you need to get up."

"Don't wanna," she grumbled.

"I know but you need to. Miss Goodwitch is waiting to take you so I can get ready for initiation."

"Hmm," she grumbled again, this time at least sitting up to rub the sleep from her eyes.

Jaune smirked, looking at her hair splayed out in all directions from static electricity. He quickly smoothed it out as best he could, ultimately compromising when some of it proved more rebellious, and quickly scooped her into his arms to drag her back to the main hall. He wasn't surprised to see Miss Goodwitch already waiting, taking charge as she roused the other initiates from their sleep and ushered them towards the bathrooms to start getting ready for the day. No one argued with the woman. For one, it was too damn early for them to even put up a decent fight and for another no one was willing to challenge the stern look Glynda gave the more rebellious students. The moment Jaune approached, however, her stern expression softened and she readily transferred the groggy Jade from his arms to hers.

"Looks like someone's having a difficult time adjusting to the new time schedule," she said, gently stroking Jades hair.

"She's going to have to adjust at some point. Our schedule isn't going to be very merciful for the next four years, assuming I make it through initiation."

"I'm sure you will, Jaune," she said. "I doubt someone who pulled themselves this far while caring for their younger sibling would be unable to overcome the challenges that lay ahead."

"Thank you, Miss Goodwitch that means a lot. Though, is it alright for a teacher to be showing favoritism to one of her potential students?"

"It's not favoritism, its encouragement," she corrected.

"Whatever you say," he mumbled, glancing at some of the other initiates who were giving them strange looks.

"Just go out there and do your best. Let your skills do the talking for you. As for this little one, perhaps some breakfast will perk up her spirits."

"Food!" Jade said, waking from her nap almost instantly to stare at Glynda.

"Seems like you found the magic word," Jaune commented.

"Apparently so," Glynda agreed.

/-/

Jaune shut the door to his locker, checking to make sure his armor was strapped on tight and Crocea Mors was secured to his hip. He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he attempted to calm his nerves. This was it, this was the moment he'd been training and working towards. Today would be the day when his and Jade's future was decided. Granted if he didn't pass initiation this year then he could always try again the following year but Jaune wasn't willing to wait that long. He was on the cusp of securing a stable home for Jade and himself, one that wasn't defined by constant travel, various odd jobs, cheap hotel rooms, and odd or sometimes vicious looks and words people would throw at them simply for the fact Jade had been born a Faunus. No, today would ensure he and Jade had a life they could be proud of and a home they could return to at the end of the day.

He took a moment to look around, taking in the other initiates there with him and gauging the competition. The first thing that stuck out to Jaune was the number of mecha-shift weapons everyone was carrying. They were a popular tool being used by Huntsman today, weapons that could change forms to accommodate the huntsman's fighting style or shift from a melee weapon into a gun depending on the situation and Grimm involved. Simply commissioning one cost a pretty lien, certainly more than Jaune had on hand, and even crafting one yourself, while cheaper in the long run, required you had the money to purchase the materials needed for it. Jaune had money. He had plenty, enough to have his current weapon upgraded into something more impressive. He'd shot the notion down, however, as he had something special in mind for the money he'd salvaged from his home and had instead saved up to purchase the white and gold armor he wore over his clothing.

That was another thing that came to mind, everyone's choice in fashion. While he didn't stand out much in a simply hoodie, blue jeans and tennis shoes, he at least thought himself smart in wearing something he could maneuver in and felt comfortable. Everyone here looked like they were headed for an Anime convention. None of it looked suited for outdoor excursions, let alone fighting Grimm. Maybe it was simply the Huntsman culture, wearing outfits that were outlandish and stood out. It was something he didn't understand and, honestly, he could care less. He had better things to worry about.

As he made his way out of the locker room he caught sight of a familiar face. Stopping to check, he confirmed that it was indeed Ruby, the friend he'd made the other day after her little explosion incident. She was standing near her locker, holding her collapsed weapon and speaking with a young woman with long blonde hair about a foot taller than her. Figuring she might be another friend Ruby had made, he decided to go over and introduce himself.

"Morning Ruby," he greeted.

"Jaune," she said excitedly. "See, I told you he's real."

Confused, Jaune looked between Ruby and the blonde girl, wondering what conversation he had missed that somehow revolved around him.

"Jaune, this is my older sister Yang," Ruby said, gesturing to the other girl.

"Yang Xio Long, Ruby's older sister. Nice to meet you," she said, taking his hand and giving it a firm squeeze. Jaune thanked his stars he had aura because her grip was strong.

"Jaune Arc, nice to meet you. So, you're the legendary sister who abandoned Ruby right out of the gate."

"Abandoned?" she said, stunned as she glanced down at her sister.

"Well you did," Ruby replied.

"I didn't abandon you. It was a learning experience," Yang said.

"Yea, one where I learned I can't count on my older sister to be there when I need her," Ruby shot back.

The two girls devolved into sibling bickering, completely forgetting Jaune in the process. Jaune could only smile and laugh to himself. It reminded him a little of the relationship he had with his sisters. His nostalgia trip was quickly interrupted, though, by a shrill voice from behind him.

"You!"

Jaune groaned, feeling a headache coming on and it wasn't even noon yet. He turned slowly, hoping he was hearing things but finding that fate wasn't so kind this early in the morning. Standing behind him was a short girl with long White hair set in a ponytail coming out the side of her head and held there by what appeared to be a tiara. She wore a long white skirt with a matching coat and what appeared to be heals, yet another questionable fashion choice in his opinion. She was glaring daggers up at him with her hands on her hips, somehow appearing more cute than intimidating, but he decided it would be better for his health in the long run if he kept that to himself. It was obvious she was mad at him for something but try as he might he couldn't recall anything he might have said or done to annoy her so early.

"It's Jaune, actually, Jaune Arc."

"Whatever," she said, waving a hand dismissively. "You're the one in charge of watching over that little Faunus girl, correct?"

"If you mean my little sister, then yes I am her legal guardian."

"Good, then I believe an apology is owed," she said.

"An apology?" he asked.

"Correct," she stated.

"You know what, you're exactly right," he said, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning back on his heal.

The girl was silent for a few moments before she became visibly irritated as she said, "well?"

"Well what?"

"The apology," she stated.

"I'm waiting," he replied.

"Excuse me?"

"You know what, actually, it should really be Jade you apologize to seeing as how you were incredibly rude to her last night."

"How dare you," she snapped. "You should be apologizing to us for disturbing our sleep."

"She disturbed your sleep?" he asked.

"Indeed she did."

"How?"

"Well, her presence- "

"Did she make any noise of any kind," Jaune interrupted.

"Well, no," she said, a bit taken aback by the interruption.

"Did she walk up and bother you or rouse you from your sleep?"

"No," she said, her tone still somewhat confused.

"Did she perform any action in any capacity that was intended to disturb anyone's sleep last night?"

"No."

"Has anyone, aside from you, brought up the subject of Jade having disturbed their ability to sleep last night?"

"No, though I'm sure I speak for everyone by saying- "

"Then, it seems to me that the only person who took offense to her presence was you," he said, completely ignoring her comment and instead stepping into her guard, causing her to take a step back in response. "Which, from my perspective and the perspective of all our fellow initiates, you were the one accosting her and therefore owe her an apology," he concluded.

"Excuse me?" she blurted out.

"He has a point," Ruby said.

"Yea, I didn't have a problem. I thought she was cute but the way you acted was completely out of line," Yang added.

"How dare you," she started.

"They do have a point Weiss," a redheaded girl in bronze armor and crimson fabric spoke up from behind. "Your behavior really was out of line."

"So, seeing as how we're all in agreement, I'd like you to give my sister a sincere apology within the next week," Jaune said, emphasizing the word.

"Whoa? Do you have any idea who I am?" She snarled.

Jaune looked her up and down before saying, "A very small, very rude snow pixie?"

Ruby and Yang stifled a laugh from behind. Even the redhead girl did her best but failed to hide her own giggling.

"No! I am Weiss Schnee, heiress of the Schnee dust company."

"Schnee Dust Company?" he asked.

"Indeed. We are the largest manufacturers and distributors of dust and dust based products on Remnant."

"So it stands to reason your family makes a lot of lien."

"I can't go into specifics but it is substantial," Weiss said in a proud tone.

"Huh," Jaune mussed, "all that lien and yet your family still couldn't afford to teach you some manners."

Ruby and Yang weren't able to hold themselves back any longer and the locker room erupted with their laughter. Weiss' face went through a myriad of emotions before going through a whole spectrum of pink to red as her temper reached its apex. "How dare you!" Weiss roared, taking out her weapon and pointing it at Jaune's throat.

"Careful there, Snow Angel. You're liable to poke someone's eye out with that silver toothpick of yours," he goaded her with a smirk.

"Perhaps it would be best if we started making our way to the cliffs," the redhead said, stepping in before things could get any uglier. "I'm Pyrrha Nikos, nice to meet you.

"Jaune Arc. My apologies if my sister disturbed your sleep last night," he said, shooting Weiss another smirk as he made the comment.

"Not at all. Honestly, I thought she was adorable and the way you handled the situation last night was very mature."

"Thank you. I've had a lot of practice, unfortunately," he said, mumbling the last bit to himself.

"You at least know who she is, don't you?" Weiss asked.

"Yea, she's Pyrrha," Jaune remarked, "or did you not hear her introduce herself from all the way down there?"

"Why you- you- "Weiss couldn't find the words and instead took a deep breath to calm herself down. "She's considered a huntress prodigy."

"Oh?"

"She's won the Mistral Reginal tournament four times in a row."

"Really?"

"She's on the front of the Pumpkin Peete's cereal box," Weiss practically blurted out, having lost all patience with him.

"Oh, I thought I recognized your face," Jaune said, causing Pyrrha to blush slightly. "Jade loves that cereal."

"Yes, though it's not very healthy, unfortunately," she remarked.

"Yea, I try to get her to eat a balanced meal but once she spies Pumpkin Peete's she pounces," Jaune said with a chuckle.

"All initiates, please begin making your way to the cliffs to prepare for the initiation exam," Miss Goodwitch's voice sounded over the intercom.

"Guess it's time. Good luck out there," he said.

"You as well," Pyrrha replied.

"Ha, we don't need luck. People like Pyrrha and myself have skill," Weiss remarked.

"Is that what your parents got you instead of manners?" Jaune asked, eliciting another slew of laughter from Ruby and Yang while Weiss simmered.

/-/

Jaune took his position on the launch pad, gazing out onto the canopy of the Emerald forest below. It was a nice enough view but it didn't answer the question of how he was supposed to make his way down. He listened to the Headmaster's instructions, hoping he might allude to something. He heard something about relics, making your way back, and something that didn't sound quite right.

"Are there any questions?"

"Yea, um, how are we supposed to make our way down?' he asked.

"You will be launched into the forest," Ozpin replied calmly.

"Launched? Is that legal?"

"Oh yes, it's quite legal, I can assure you."

"What's the matter, getting cold feet?' Yang asked, putting on a pair of aviator glasses.

"No, I just don't do very well with flying," he admitted.

"No need to worry, Mr. Arc. You won't be flying so much as falling, with style" Ozpin remarked.

"Great," Jaune muttered, obviously not convinced.

"Good luck big brother," he heard Jade yell.

Jaune glanced over to see his little sister, standing just a little above Glynda's knee, waving franticly to him with a huge smile on her face. Jaune felt all his apprehension melt away as he waved back and bent his knees in preparation for the launch. He could do this. He had very good motivation to succeed, to ensure he had a place here at Beacon. He had aura. He had training. More than that, he had ample reason not to fail. He heard each launch pad eject their student out over the forest, each sound coming closer as it neared him. His muscles tensed in preparation before his launch pad sprang forward and he was airborne.

The first thing he noticed was the feeling of weightlessness that came with the flight. He next realized that the momentum wasn't doing anything to irritate his airsickness, a definite plus in his books. The next thing he noticed was the tree line getting increasingly closer, at an alarming rate. Realizing he was about to come in for a rough landing, he deployed his shield and braced for impact. Twigs and branches smashed against his shield as he collided with them, thankful for his aura preventing his arms from snapping like the tress. As the ground came into view he prepared himself and rolled just as he hit dirt, dispersing his momentum and allowing himself to stop momentarily unharmed. He dusted himself, checking to make sure nothing was broken. Satisfied he'd make it in one piece, he drew his sword and start heading in the direction the Headmaster had pointed to for the relics.

He'd barely taken two steps into the forest when he heard a low growling sound coming from some nearby bushes. Jaune's instincts kicked in as he fell into a defensive stance and waited for his opponent to emerge. Sure enough not one but two Beowulves emerged from the bushes, their red eyes glowing from beneath their bone masks as they regarded Jaune in what he imagined was a hungry stare. He couldn't imagine too many people got lost in the Emerald forest, given that it was on the edge of a huntsman academy, and figured they simply noticed him drop in and decided he would be an easy snack. Unfortunately for them, Jaune had dealt with Beowulves before.

He backed up as they emerged, making sure to keep both of them within view and ensuring neither of them was able to loop around and take him from behind. Being as mindless as one could expect, the closet one took a swipe at his head. Jaune deflected it with his shield, smacking it away and thrusting his sword into the opening he'd created. His sword went straight through its skull, cracking the bone mask and killing it instantly. Using the natural momentum of its fall to remove his sword, he turned his attention to its partner. Its friend, having gotten wise from the mistakes of the other, hit Jaune with a barrage of swipes, preventing him getting into its guard. In retaliation, Jaune rolled to the side, swinging out with his sword and clipping the tendons in its leg. The creature dropped to one knee and Jaune quickly followed up by swiping at its neck, decapitating it in one swing.

Satisfied, Jaune turned to continue on his journey, only to come face to face with a third Beowulf. Caught by surprise, he didn't have time to raise his shield and took a clawed paw to the chest for his incompetence. He was thrown back, hitting a tree and taking the brunt of the force with his aura. The Beowulf stalked forward, looking to follow up its attack and finish him off. It raised its paw in preparation before it stopped abruptly and fell to the ground, a long javelin protruding from its back. Jaune starred at the dissipating corpse, wondering who the weapon belonged to, when Pyrrha came into view. With a warm smile plastered across her face, she extracted her weapon from the Grimm's corpse.

"Hello again," she said, reaching out a hand to help Jaune to his feet. "It would seem we're partners."

"Indeed it does," he agreed. "Glad to have you along Pyrrha."

"You as well. I hope you don't mind. I noticed you take down the other two and figured I'd join in. I hope I wasn't interfering."

"Not at all. You timing is impeccable," he said, eliciting a smile from his new partner. "Shall we get going?"

"Lead the way," she said.

/-/

"Jaune Arc. Nora Valkyrie. Pyrrha Nikos. Lie Ren. You four collected the rock pieces. You shall be known as team JNPR with Jaune Arc as your leader," Ozpin announced.

Jaune stood stunned on the spot, not so much that he had accomplished his goal and been officially accepted as student but also that he'd been made the leader of his team. Pyrrha nudged him gently with her elbow, shooting him a warm smile that was supportive and helped to take the edge off. Jaune grinned back, proud and a little nervous. Off to the side Glynda stood on the sidelines with Headmaster Ozpin and Jade in her arms. Jade wiggled a little, wanting to get down to the ground which Glynda accommodated. No sooner had the girl's feet touched the floor when she took off running across the stage, surprising both him and the audience. Grinning from ear to ear, Jade leapt towards her brother who managed to catch her in his arms and pull her up. She gave him a big huge, eliciting a pleased cue from the audience. Even Glynda seemed pleased despite having been too surprised to stop the little girl before she could run off.

Ozpin simply chuckled to himself before saying, "Correction, team JNPR plus one."

A small chuckle sounded from everyone and Jaune couldn't bring himself to be annoyed at Jade for her little outburst. This had all been for her, after all. Every sacrifice, every lien saved so they could come to Vale, to Beacon, and start a new life. Now that initiation was out of the way he had something else to worry about. As per his agreement with Ozpin he would need to maintain good grades to ensure his and Jades place at Beacon. It would take some doing, as well as little sacrifice on Jades part, but he knew they would see it through. It was only four years, after all. How hard could it be?

/-/

"Here we are," Jaune said, flashing his scroll across the keypad and unlocking the dorm room door.

Jaune led the charge, Jade cradled in his arms, as the rest of his team followed his lead. Their dorm room was rather spacious, big enough to accommodate four twin size beds, a desk and chair, a dresser, a bookshelf, and two doors that led into a walk-in closet and the bathroom respectfully. The rest of his team which consisted of Pyrrha Nikos, his partner, and his teammates Nora Valkyrie and her partner Lie Ren. The four of them pilled in, dragging their suitcases behind them and gazing in wonder at the place that would effectively be their home for the next four years.

"Wow, Renny, this is so cool. It's like one big slumber party but all the time," Nora said excitedly.

"I see four beds but where's Jade going to sleep?" Pyrrha asked.

"Miss Goodwitch told me they're getting a bed for Jade to sleep in. It should be here by the end of the week. Until then she'll sleep with me," Jaune answered. "Well, I guess the only thing to do now is claim our beds."

That part didn't take long. Jaune himself took the bed furthest to the wall, just shy of the closet. Considering he'd have Jade with him, it made sense as her new bed would fit securely at the foot of his, ensuring it was out of everyone's way and eliminating the possibility of them tripping over it. Nora took the one completely opposite with Ren and Pyrrha taking the beds securely in the middle. Once everyone was settled (well, if one could count Nora practically vibrating on her bed settled) Jaune cleared his throat to grab their attention.

"Well, seeing as how we'll be together for the next four years, why don't we take a moment to introduce ourselves. I'm Jaune Arc and this is my little sister Jade. Jade, can you introduce yourself?"

Jade, who was sitting snuggly next to her elder brother, gazed at each person before issuing a near silent, "Hi." She was just short enough that she came up to his arm, with sandy tan skin, emerald green eyes, and gray wolf ears set firmly in a mess of long chocolate brown hair.

"Hello," Pyrrha replied cheerfully.

"Nice to meet you," Ren replied.

"Oooohhhhh," Nora said, her energy levels building before she zipped across the room and into Jade's personal space. "She's so cute," she squealed.

Jade reacted by receding back behind her brother, looking out from behind him with half her face visible.

"Please excuse Nora," Ren said, grabbing the girl by the collar of her shirt and dragging her backwards. "She's not exactly great when it comes to respecting people's personal space."

"That's alright. Jade isn't great around strangers but she'll open up in time."

"Jade, how old are you?" Pyrrha asked.

"I'm five," she said, poking out from her brother and holding up five fingers.

"Renny, I want one!" Nora coed.

"No Nora," Ren replied.

"She's actually four but she'll be turning five in a few weeks. I was planning on having a small birthday party for her," Jaune corrected.

"A birthday!" Nora all but yelled. "With cake? And presents? Renny, we have to get Jade a present," she said, shaking the young boy violently.

Jaune cringed at her reaction, watching as the boy took the abuse in stride. "I don't see why not," Ren somehow managed to reply.

"Now hold on," Jaune started but no one heard him.

"That sounds wonderful. We can hold a party for her here," Pyrrha chimed in.

"A birthday party?" Jade asked, looking up at her brother with bright hopeful eyes.

Jaune sighed, relenting to her gaze as he said, "Well, you've never had a birthday party before, have you? I suppose we should have one. After all, we're celebrating getting into Beacon," he said.

Jade beamed, showing her excitement as she bounced up and down on the bed. Jaune chuckled and Pyrrha couldn't help but giggle at the little girl's reaction.

"Oh, oh, Renny, we'll need to get some balloons and streamers and those cone shaped party favors that you blow and they make noise," Nora said.

"Great," Ren replied, cringing at the thought of Nora somehow making even more noise.

/-/

"Good morning sister team," Ruby greeted as Jaune and his team plus Jade took their seats opposite them.

Jaune had two trays in his hands, one for himself and a second for Jade. He set them down on the table, looking to his sister who was attempting to climb up onto the cafeteria seat.

"Need help?" he asked.

"I got it," she replied, giving an "umpf" as she pushed herself onto the seat before sitting on her knees to allow her to reach her food.

As usual Jaune had helped the young Faunus pick out her food. She had a small stack of pancakes consisting of about two to three with syrup and butter, a tall glass of orange juice, and a bowl of mixed fruit to balance it all out. Jaune's meal was similar though he had a bagel with cream cheese, some sausage, mixed fruit, and two glasses with orange juice and milk. While a bit more, no one's compared to Nora's ensemble which consisted of a literal tower of pancakes, drenched in syrup, and somehow managing to stay balanced despite their height. Jaune wasn't sure how the girl was going to put away all that but with the gusto with which she ate them his disbelief soon dissipated and turned to morbid surprise.

"Hey Jaune, let me introduce you to my team. This is Yang, my sister."

"We've met," Yang cut in. "Hi Jade."

"Hi," the girl replied quietly.

"Oh, she's so cute. She's like a little Ruby except with green eyes and wolf ears," Yang coed.

"Aheam," Ruby said, clearing her throat and drawing attention back to her, "next to her is my sister's partner Blake Belladonna."

"Good morning," she said, looking up from her book to smile at Jaune and nod her affirmation. Jaune nodded in turn, trying to ignore the girl sitting next to her but knowing he couldn't forever.

"And lastly is my partner, Weiss Schnee."

"Good morning Pyrrha," Weiss said, glaring at Jaune momentarily before returning to her breakfast.

"Morning Weiss. Isn't there something you'd like to say to Jade?" Jaune asked, fixing her with a hard look. The heiress looked up, glancing at Jade who was peeking out from behind his shoulder before saying, "Good morning."

"Morning," Jade replied shyly.

"Don't you owe her something," Jaune added, an edge to his tone that had Ruby looking rather nervous.

"Not that I can recall," Weiss said dismissively.

"Alright then," Jaune said, dropping the subject but letting the awkward atmosphere remain.

"So," Ruby began, attempting to think of a way to clear the air. "How are things with you guys?"

"We're doing just great. We've already taken some time to introduce ourselves to one another," Pyrrha replied.

"Hey, did you guys know its Jade's birthday in a few weeks?" Nora blurted out.

"Really?' Ruby asked, catching onto Nora's excitement.

"Yea, tell them how old you're going to be Jade."

The little girl looked up from her food, surprised by Nora's comment before turning to her brother and back to the audience. She tried to speak but her words were muffled by the mouthful of pancake.

"Jade, no talking with your mouth fool," Jaune chided.

Jade quickly swallowed her food before uttering an "Excuse me" and turning back to the group. "I'm going to be five," she said, holding up five fingers to showcase.

Yang's sparkled as she gazed at the little girl. "Are you going to have a birthday party?"

Jade nodded excitedly, recalling the maelstrom that was Nora as she planned a party for Jade which seemed to get more outlandish and extravagant with every minute. As Jaune had recalled, he'd somehow managed to calm her down somewhere around hiring a circus to perform for her using trained Grimm. How'd they'd managed that he would never know but the look he'd seen on Ren's face told him it was just the tip of the Nora iceberg that was her exaggerated imagination.

"Can we join you?" Ruby asked excitedly.

"Of course. I'd love for Jade to have more people she can be comfortable around," Jaune replied.

"Oh, we have to get her presents," Ruby realized.

"No, no, you guys don't need to- "he began but was interrupted by Yang before he could finish.

"Nonsense, big bro. What's a birthday party without presents? We'll each get her something this weekend."

"Excuse me? I don't recall agreeing to this," Weiss snapped.

"Don't worry, Weiss, you don't need to get her anything," Jaune replied.

"And be the only one there who showed up without a present? What kind of person do you take me for?"

"Shall I be kind or would you rather an honest opinion?" he asked, earning some giggling from Ruby and Yang.

Weiss snarled, starring daggers at him from across the tables when Ruby interjected, "so when's her birthday?"

"In a few weeks."

"Excellent. Plenty of time to find Jade the perfect gift," Yang replied.

As much as Jaune wanted to tell them they didn't need to go to such lengths, he surprisingly found himself unable to muster the strength. Maybe it was the excitement centered around his little sister or the look of glee plastered on Jade's face. Either way, it was the happiest he'd ever seen her and, considering it centered around her birthday, who was he to deny her that sentiment? Instead, he dug into his food, cleaning his plate and excusing himself and Jade early to drop her off at the Beacon daycare service. It would become the routine throughout their days at Beacon and something she would need to get used to.

With the little girl toddling along at his side, he followed the map provided to him on his scroll. It wasn't long before he found the daycare though he heard it long before it came into view. Nearing the door Jaune could see children of varying ages along with some of the assistants who helped to run the daycare service. Jade hugged his leg, uncertain of this new place. He sighed, sensing a moment where he would have to pull her off him and abandon her at the daycare, a moment full of tears and promises that he would return later, all the while feeling his heart break in the act.

His thoughts were quickly interrupted when a portly woman stepped into his view. Well, to say she was portly was stretching the truth. In reality, she was pregnant, very much so, and about ready to burst from the looks of it. She was also a Faunus, if the white feathers that lined her arms were any indication, and she greeted them with a warm smile and friendly demeanor.

"Good morning. I'm Lexi, the head caregiver," she said.

"M-morning," he replied, having difficulty making his brain work. "I'm Jaune Arc. I'm here to drop off my sister Jade for daycare," he said, picking Jade up into his arms.

"Oh, I remember you. You're the little scamp who ran across the stage when the Headmaster was announcing the new teams," she said, earning a nervous chuckle from Jaune.

"Yea, that was her. Um, I hope it's not rude me to ask but how far along are you?" he asked.

"Oh, about eight and a half months or so," she said cheerfully.

"Eight!" he blurted.

"Yep, these will be our third and fourth."

"Come again?"

"Oh, I'm having twins."

Jaune glanced down at the woman's large stomach then back into the room where he could see her two assistants being run ragged by five or so rambunctious children. Add Jade into the mix with a VERY pregnant woman and Jaune started wondering if he could pass his sister off as a really small student.

"Shouldn't you be sitting down or at the hospital," he said, doing nothing to hide the concern in his voice.

"Oh, no need to worry about me, dear. I have two little tikes of my own already. I'm more than capable of handling one more."

"I-if you're sure," he said, gingerly handing Jade over.

Jade slide over without a fuse, surprisingly, and starred down at Lexi's large womb. "Baby?" she asked.

"Yes, sweaty, I have two babies in my tummy," she said, gently stroking her stomach. "We're going to have so much fun together. We'll have a snack time and story time and lots of games to play."

Jade's face lite up, any anxiety she might have had completely washed away by the promise of snacks and stories. "Bye Jaune," she said, waving as she disappeared inside with Lexi.

"Yea, bye Jade. See you later," he said weekly, suddenly feeling like it was he who had been abandoned and not the other way around.

His journey to his first class, Grimm studies, was a blur as he made his way to his seat next to his team. It was only after some nudging from his partner Pyrrha that he was brought back to reality.

"What?"

"I asked how it went, dropping Jade off at daycare."

"Surprisingly easy. I was a little apprehensive at first but she all but abandoned me at the door to the promise of snacks and story time."

Pyrrha giggled, obviously amused by the whole affair. "Sounds to me like you're the one having a difficult time adjusting to a day without Jade around."

"Yea, I guess you're right," he chuckled. "For the past year it's been just Jade and I. It's hard to imagine a day without her at my side. Now that I have to spend four years where we barely see each other throughout the day, it's difficult for me to wrap my head around it. I honestly expected to have to walk away with her crying her eyes out."

"I'm sure she'll be fine. She has a wonderful big brother to look up to," Pyrrha commented.

"Thanks Pyrrha," he said, preening a little at the praise.

Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of the bell followed by a portly man with an extravagant mustache walking up to the stage. Jaune recognized him instantly, mostly due to the fact that he had seen him seated next to Glynda on stage when Jade had begun waving franticly at him. The man walked out proudly and posed before the class. Jaune leaned back, expecting quite a show as the man, Professor Port as he would later learn, began his speech.

"Grimm. Monsters. Creatures of Darkness. I, on the other hand, simply call them prey."

Things started out well enough but before long it became apparent that the man had quickly devolved into a story revolving squarely around him and an exaggerated account of an encounter with a Beowulf which Jaune was quickly becoming convinced happened very differently from how what he claimed. He looked around, taking in the number of people who were actually listening to the story. Out of everyone one present, he counted two, those being his partner Pyrrha who was, somehow, taking notes from a story which had no precedence at all to the subject material and Weiss Schnee. The other students were in various states of awareness with Blake having receded into a book, Ninjas of Love from what he could see of the title, while others had succumbed various states of sleep with even Nora sporting a snore bubble just a couple seats down from him.

Jaune considered for a moment the prospect of taking a quick nap like the rest of the class. However, he had a promise to keep and, while sleep sounded nice, maintaining a place here at Beacon sounded even better. Seeing as how he wasn't going to learn much in regards to Grimm from their resident professor, Jaune cracked open his Grimm studies book and began looking over the various Grimm inside. He instantly recognized the Beowulves and Ursa, several of which he'd taken down during his training days. Flipping through he found a page on a Death Stalker and instantly had flashbacks to their time during initiation. How they had managed to defeat it, he still wasn't sure. Granted, he'd watched Nora ride in on the back of an Ursa which promptly died and Weiss and Ruby had come flying in on the back of a Nevermore which the younger huntress had promptly decapitated.

He'd never expected such things to happen to him during his time at Beacon. If nothing else it had been a crazy ride and one that he wouldn't have traded for the world. Add in the fact that he had an awesome team who were ecstatic about his little sister and were even planning to throw a party for her and things were nearly perfect. The only downside he could find came in the form a small, white haired pixie sitting on the other side of the classroom, starring daggers into her partner. He'd never realized that someone's face could turn that particular shade of red but, hey, this was a school and he was here to learn. Ruby, on the other hand, was busy drawing pictures of their professor and showing them off to Yang with varying results. Watching it all unfold, Jaune was taking guesses as to how long it would take Weiss to completely blow up. Turns out, not very long.

"Would anyone care to showcase their skills against this wild Grimm I've captured?" Professor Port asked.

"I volunteer sir," she said, nearly leaping out of her seat.

"Excellent Miss Schnee. Please change into your combat outfit and prepare to face this mighty creature."

It took somewhere around ten minutes for Weiss to change into the white skirt Jaune had seen her in the day prior. During that time he'd looked through his Grimm studies text book, attempting to match the Grimm in the book with the size of the cage. He figured it had to be something small, not a juvenile, but still something which posed a challenge. Weiss got into position, her teammates cheering for her. Once she was ready Port unleashed the creature, smacking the cage to allow the door to fall open and let the Grimm entered the room. Jaune recognized instantly the small warthog like creature known as a Boarbatusk. They were nasty creatures and difficult for people to handle if you didn't have a great deal of experience fighting them. The main problem came from the combination of their hides covered in boney armor and their knack for curling into a ball and rolling like a steam roller towards their targets. It made them rather difficult to handle, especially in groups, but there were some tricks to fighting them. The most obvious came in the form of their attack. While fast, their rolling attack meant they could only move in one direction, allowing you to dodge and prepare for a counterattack. It also meant that, if you could somehow trip them up, they'd be thrown off balance and left completely open to your assault.

From the way the battle was panning out Weiss hadn't realized that fact. Time and time again she slashed her rapier against the creature's boney hide to no avail. Off to the side her teammates cheered for her with Ruby being the loudest. While it was meant to be encouraging, it was obvious from the expression on Weiss' face that she found the noise distracting. It became increasingly evident when Ruby cried out for her to aim for its soft underbelly, the Grimm's main weakness, only for Weiss to snap back at her with a scathing comment. The moment cost her as the creature rolled past, knocking her out of the way and nearly flattening her as a result. Weiss had obviously had enough as with its next attack she activated some gravity glyphs, tripping the creature up and leaving her an opening which she took without hesitation. She skewered the pig through its gut, the Grimm letting out a shrill squeal of pain before it died, its body dissolving as a result.

The class applauded, with Jaune joining in simply as a curtesy, and Professor Port congratulating her on her victory. She obviously didn't feel victorious as she was panting heavily and, as she got up to leave with the rest of the class once the bell rang, Ruby's attempts to congratulate her on a hard won victory was meet with bluster from the girl. Whatever she'd said obviously struck the girl hard as her optimistic smile quickly faded while Weiss stomped out of the room. Jaune cocked an eyebrow, unimpressed with the girl's actions and wondering if he should say something to Ruby to cheer her up. Fortunately her sister and other teammate Blake were quick to come to her aid, offering their own words of comfort as they left the room. That still left Weiss, who was still fuming, walking down the hall in the opposite direction. He knew he shouldn't interfere but the blatantly rude manner in which she'd not only treated her team leader but his friend didn't sit well with Jaune. Telling his team to go on without him, he turned to follow Weiss, intent on giving her a piece of his mind. His mood was already soured from the less than courteous way she'd treated his sister and Ruby was simply icing on the cake. However, when he finally caught up with her, he noticed she was already speaking with Professor Port and he quickly ducked into a nearby alcove, listening in on their conversation.

"So you would agree that I should be the team leader?" he heard her say. He frowned, somehow not surprised to find she was trying to usurp Ruby's position on their team.

"Absolutely not," he heard Port say, surprising both him and Weiss.

"Excuse me?"

"While I did witness a Huntress who is quite skilled, I also saw a young woman who is entitled, who has had everything she's ever wanted handed to her and never been told no."

"That's not completely true," Weiss attempted to argue but the wind had quickly died from her sails.

"The manner in which you spoke to your partner and team leader was very unbecoming of a young lady such as yourself and certainly not a characteristic one would want in a team leader. I know that Ozpin placed Ruby as your leader for a reason and your job right now is to be the best teammate you can be. While she may lead, that will also mean she'll need you to help her to know when her actions are out of line or when she needs advice."

Jaune silently nodded along, honestly impressed with how Port was handling the situation. He was greatly surprised with how good his advice was, especially with his first impressions of the man being mainly boisterous and exaggerated. His words had obviously struck a chord with Weiss as she walked away to her next class in a daze, completely oblivious to Jaune's presence. He waited a while until she was out of view before heading off to his own class. If nothing else he would speak with Ruby later on if he had the chance. Weiss had been given a thorough chewing out already, ensuring she would, hopefully, learn from her mistakes. Regardless, Ruby obviously needed a friend and he would gladly fill that role should she need him to.

/-/

"So, did you enjoy your first day at daycare?" Pyrrha asked, gently combing Jade's hair still wet from her bath.

"Yea, it was so much fun," the little girl said excitedly.

She sat on the bed in her oversized t-shirt pajamas while the Redhead sat behind, gently running a comb through her hair. The five year old had become surprisingly accommodating when Pyrrha asked if she would like her to comb her hair. While Jaune usually performed the task, Jade had welcomed the gesture without any hint of hesitation. This had completely surprised Jaune as he'd expected her to be a little apprehensive, choosing instead for her brother to handle the task. He honestly didn't expect her to open up for a few days, slowly growing used to the three other teenagers until she felt she could trust them enough to let them do such things. He figured it must have something to do with her day at daycare. He could still recall how she'd acted, all but abandoning him for the promise of snacks and stories. The difficult part had come when he'd arrived to pick her up for the day. Time had slipped by so fast she wasn't ready to leave but, with the promise that she would be able to return tomorrow, Jade had reluctantly gone along with her brother.

Dinner had been a silent affair as well. Ruby and Weiss had sat at opposite ends with the wall of Xio Long and Belladonna wedged between them. Jaune knew why and from the looks on both girl's faces it was obvious neither of them had spoken to one another about the incident. Yang had obviously taken Ruby's side, offering silent encouragement to the girl while Blake remained more aloof as she quietly ate and read her book. Even Weiss had been strangely silent and devoid of any hostilities towards himself or his sister. He figured he'd take the blessings where he could and opted to leave the girl alone rather than rattle the hornet's nest. He could just imagine how that would end, with all her negative and hostile feelings she'd been harboring throughout the day finding a perfect outlet in the form of Jaune Arc. Once dinner was over he'd gotten Jade to take a quick bath before getting ready for bed and found her strangely comfortable with his team. He decided to take advantage of the peace and walk across the hall to see how Ruby was holding up.

"I'm going to take a quick walk. Be right back," he said.

"Alright," Pyrrha had answered.

"Bye bye brother," Jade replied, waving at him.

"I'll only be gone a few minutes," he said before exiting the room.

He immediately felt something bump against him and tumble to the floor. Glancing down he winced as he realized he'd just knocked Ruby to the floor, sprawled out in her sleeping gear.

"Oops, sorry about that," he said, offering her his hand to help her back to her feet.

"It's alright, I've honestly been standing outside for ten minutes debating whether I should knock or not," she admitted.

Jaune chuckled, amused at how similarly they'd been thinking.

"What's so funny?" Ruby asked, annoyed.

"Nothing, I was actually coming to see how you were doing. I saw how down you were after Weiss yelled at you during Port's class."

"Oh, you saw that," she said, embarrassed.

"Yea, it was hard not to. You want to talk about it?" he asked.

Ruby silently nodded, sliding down the wall into a sitting position with Jaune sliding down next to her. She was silent for a long while and Jaune knew better than to interrupt her thoughts.

"Jaune, do you think Ozpin made the right decision when he made me team leader?" she asked.

The question surprised him and he had to take a moment to think about it before he answered. "I don't know. I honestly can't say. We've only been at Beacon for a day so I don't have much to go on," he replied honestly. "Does this have anything to do with what Weiss said to you?"

Ruby silently nodded, looking very glum as she spoke. "She said I was acting foolish and that I needed to do better and work harder, to set an example as team leader. I can't say she's wrong. It's not like I'm trying to be a bad leader it's just that Port was so boring with his stories and I just wanted to make her laugh and maybe like me. We're supposed to be partners and I hope even friends but it feels like I'm failing at that."

"I think you're being too hard on yourself, Ruby. It's only been a day. Sure, you may have started things off on the wrong foot but that doesn't mean you can't improve and become better," he offered.

"I wish I was more like you," she said.

"What?"

"During Port's class, when he was telling his story, even when other people were either goofing off or sleeping, you were studying instead. You were working hard to be a good student and leader for your team while I was messing around, trying to impress Weiss but failing miserably," she moaned.

"Ruby," he said, taking a moment to collect his thoughts, "you don't want to be like me. My place here at Beacon is nothing short of a charity case."

"What do you mean?"

"My position here at Beacon is based on my performance. In order for me to stay at Beacon with Jade I have to keep up my grades and act like a model student. One slip up and we'd be gone, end of story."

"What!?" Ruby yelped. "But-but- there's no way they'd be that cruel."

"Probably note," he admitted, "but I'm not in a position to take that chance. I have to study hard to make sure Jade and I can stay and ensure we have something to look forward to after we leave Beacon."

"That still makes you a way better sibling and leader than I am," she pointed out. "You're at least working hard to make sure Jade has a better life."

"That doesn't mean I don't wonder sometimes if she would have been better off with someone else," he said.

"What do you mean?" Ruby asked.

"Not long after our village burned down and Jade and I began traveling, we were approached by the Matron of a local orphanage at the town we were staying in. She offered to take Jade, care for her, and find her a new family and I would be free to go onto Vale and apply to Beacon."

"Well you obviously didn't agree to it," Ruby pointed out.

"Not at first though," he corrected. "No, for a good while I thought about it, weighing the options, before ultimately leaving the decision to Jade. When she said she wanted to stay with me I swore I would do everything in my power to give her a better life than we had. Doesn't mean I don't wonder sometimes if I made the wrong decision. What if things would have been better for her? What if she would have found a nice family who could give her everything I can't and probably won't be able to for some time? I'm constantly plagued by the demon of "what if," always wondering if things couldn't have been better."

"So how do you fight that?" Ruby asked.

"I work to be better today than I was yesterday and better tomorrow than I was today," he said. "I work to constantly improve myself, to make myself into someone I can be proud of and who Jade can be proud of. I can't change the past and neither can you but we can work to be better. You can learn from your mistakes and strive to be a better Ruby tomorrow than you were today."

"Yes, I guess you're right," Ruby said, a smile forming across her face. "Thanks for the advice."

"Any time," he said, rising to his feet and helping Ruby to her own.

Without warning Ruby gave him a huge, surprising him before he gave her one in return. She quickly left to go back to her dorm, leaving Jaune alone in the hall. For a moment he wondered if he should have said things differently but, considering that she seemed to be in better spirits he figured something he'd said had hit the right mark. Walking back into his dorm Jaune instantly knew something was off. Jade and Pyrrha were smiling at him but a strange feeling hung in the air.

"Hi," he said cautiously.

"Jaune, were thinking, since we've taken the time to make Jade all pretty we should do you as well," Pyrrha said.

Jaune felt a chill run down his spin. He instantly knew what was coming, backing towards the door only to find his escape cut off by Nora.

"I've got his legs," she announced, pouncing before he could run.

"Ren, help!" he cried, attempting and failing to crawl away.

"Don't fight it, Jaune. You'll have to suffer like the rest of us," Ren said, his hair splayed out in various bows and short pony tails.

"Jade, quick, get the bows," Nora instructed.

"I've got the camera ready," Pyrrha announced in a sing song voice.

"Jade, honey, you wouldn't do this to your loving elder brother, would you?" he asked, attempting to appeal to her sisterly nature.

The vicious smile he received from the five year old sent his heart plummeting into his stomach. I'm surrounded by traitors he thought to himself as he struggled in vain to free himself.


So, due to the increasing demand for an update (which seemed to be the subject of every other review I opened when I checked my email) I've gone ahead and hashed out more fluff for you all to enjoy.

I decided to gloss over the events that took place during the Emerald forest. Some people may grip about it but, honestly, Rooster Teeth already did a great job and I'm certain most, if not all, of you know what happened. I simply changed how Jaune meet Pyrrha and add a few extra fluff things here and there.

It's subtle so I know not a lot of people will notice it but Lexi is actually a goose Faunus making her an allusion to "Mother Goose." Even her name means "caretaker" so it was perfect for her role in the story. I also thought some people would enjoy the subversion of expectations with Jaune feeling like he had been abandoned rather than Jade.

More examples of Jaune doing his best to be a good student. I figure it would show real maturity for him to study the Grimm during Grimm studies instead of sleeping, showing how hard he's working to make his goal a reality. Looking forward to the next few chapters. I'll be introducing Cardin soon and there'll be some interesting interactions there.

Hope you all enjoyed this as much as I did writing it. I'll try to update it soon.

Chapter Text

Downtown Vale – Two Weeks Later

"So, how exactly are you and Jade related again?" Ren asked.

Jaune and his team were in Vale for the weekend, their sister team RWBY having agreed to watch after his sister Jade while they went out to shop for supplies and gifts for her birthday. Jaune's gift for her had already come in, having been delivered to their dorm once it was finished. He'd quickly hidden it within their closet, keeping it out of view of everyone (especially Nora) so as to keep it a secret. He'd also received the scroll from Miss Goodwitch and was planning to use it as a secondary gift alongside his own. His teammates had already figured out what they wanted to get her as well with most of their shopping done and the preparations for the birthday being their main concern.

"We're not actually related. Jade and her mom lived in our village. Her father was a Faunus and a huntsman, I think. I never actually met him, only her mother. Jade would occasionally play with some of my younger sisters who were around her age so we knew her for quite some time. After the fire, once we made our way to Vale, I registered myself as her legal guardian."

"So the fact that she considers you her older brother is mostly due to having spent so much time around you and your family back home," Pyrrha concluded.

"Exactly. We're not actually siblings but we're close enough that such small details don't really matter."

"That makes sense," Ren replied.

"Yea, like how Renny and I are together but not really together-together," Nora commented.

"Sure, something like that," Jaune agreed despite having no idea what Nora was going on about.

"You two do seem to be very close," Pyrrha pointed out.

"Well, spending a year on the road ensured we would always be around one another. Jade didn't have anyone else she could rely on."

"You mentioned that she had a father. What about him?" Ren asked.

"He's dead, unfortunately. He apparently went on a mission and was killed during the operation. I remember when it happened, my mother spent a great deal of time over at their house, helping to console her. Jade even spent some time over at our place. I don't think she really understood what was going on at the time."

"And then she lost her mother as well," Pyrrha mussed in a depressed tone.

"Yea," Jaune agreed, not sure of what he could say to lighten the mood.

"So, what else do we need for the party?" Nora asked, expertly shifting gears without realizing it.

"I'd say we have everything we need. Why don't we head back so we can wrap these gifts and get everything ready for next week?" Ren suggested.

"Sounds good to me," Jaune agreed as they began making their way back to Beacon.

/-/

"How was your day out with Team RWBY?" Jaune asked his sister.

After returning to Beacon, Jaune and his team took the time to wrap up Jade's presents and hide them in their closet. Stowing them inside their luggage, they were certain she wouldn't notice them unless she actively looked for something and, given that there were four of them in the room plus her, it would be difficult for her to sneak it by them. With everything prepped and ready for her birthday, including a chocolate cake that Miss Goodwitch had chilling in the schools fridge for them, they were set to throw Jade her first ever birthday party. It was obvious the little munchkin was excited for the event. She was seated between Ruby and Yang today, the two girls having taken her under their wing while watching her. Yang, already experienced as an older sibling, had easily slide into the role of a caring older sister while Ruby took to the role as well, reveling in the fact that she could act as a sort of mentor figure to a younger girl, a role she'd never had given that she was the youngest of two in their family.

Blake, who was usually engrossed in one of her books, showed surprising interest in Jade's conversation with her teammates. While she still had a book with her, it had long been forgotten as she listened to the girl talk excitedly about her upcoming birthday. Weiss was, as always, the exception though to be honest Jaune's opinion of her had risen from hostile to neutral, a fair bit better than it was the previous week. After his talk with Ruby she'd later told him how Weiss had begun making strides to be a better partner and teammate. He'd even noticed her mood around Jade improve with her even acknowledging the girl at meals and being downright pleasant. It was a nice change and, while she'd never made a formal apology to Jade regarding her attitude during initiation, he'd decided to let it go. She was already showing signs of improvement and that was enough for him to believe that the girl wasn't as bad as his first impressions had led him to believe.

"It was really fun," she said adamantly. "We went to the comic book store and had ice-cream."

"It was Weiss' treat," Ruby commented.

"Really? Did you thank her for treating you?" he asked.

"She did," Weiss replied. "She was very polite."

Jade preened under the girl's praise and even Jaune couldn't help but smile. It was a small thing but one that showed how much their relationship was improving. Hopefully, in time they might even consider each other friends. It was something that would make their time here easier, giving Jaune more and more people he could trust Jade around when they entered into the upper years and found themselves taking on missions in preparation for their lives after.

"What did you get?" he asked.

"Chocolate ice-cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles," she said proudly.

Jaune starred at her for a moment, considering just how much sugar that was.

"In her defense, she had a small bowl," Yang said. "She likes chocolate almost as much as Ruby. If I didn't know any better, I would think they were sisters."

"What? Chocolate is the best," Ruby argued.

"Yea," Jade replied, the two girls high fiving one another before giggling.

"Well, with all that sugar you should have plenty of room for the rest of your vegetables," he replied, scooting her plate closer to her where only carrots and broccoli remained.

"Hmmm," she whined, glaring down at the greens like they were a hated enemy.

"Come on, you need to eat everything," he chided.

"Don't wanna," she replied, crossing her arms over her chest in an act of defiance.

"Don't fight me on this. You need to eat everything to grow up strong," he said, ignoring the feeling of embarrassment at realizing just how much he sounded like his parents.

"But Jaune, you haven't finished your vegetables either," Pyrrha pointed out.

Jaune glanced down at his plate, noticing the offending subject sitting there, before shooting an annoyed glare over at his partner. Ruby and Yang giggled alongside Jade, taking some enjoyment out of the debacle, while Pyrrha smiled at him sheepishly and mouthed "sorry" to him silently. Taking his plate, he lifted it up to his mouth, quickly scrapping the last remnants inside, before chewing them down quickly and swallowing.

"There," he said triumphantly, "now it's your turn."

Jade's smirk quickly disappeared, replaced with a defiant frown. Jaune's eyes narrowed, suggesting he was about to do something drastic. Ruby recognized the gaze, knowing all too well what was coming.

"Jade, if you don't eat your vegetables, then you won't get dessert either."

The young girl's gaze quickly shot up to him with shock painted across her features. Yang whistled, obviously impressed while Ruby cringed, recalling similar situations she'd been in with her sister Yang when they were younger. What was worse was that Jaune's expression and tone suggested he was done playing around and was serious about seeing his threat come to fruition.

"But that's not fair," she argued.

"You want to lose story time tonight as well?" he threatened.

The young girl's face paled, realizing just how serious the situation was becoming. With a thoroughly disgusted look on her face, Jade stabbed a piece of broccoli with her fork and brought it to her mouth. She chewed it, twisting her face in discomfort, before swallowing. She did the same for the other offending vegetables, taking a long swig of her milk when it was all done to wash down the after taste. One she was done, Jaune nodded his head in satisfaction, content with the end result.

"May I have a dessert?" she asked, her voice full of hope.

"Just one dessert," her brother replied, holding his finger with for emphasis.

Jade beamed, quickly dismounting from her seat before rushing over to the dessert table to pick out her treat.

"Nicely done there big bro'," Yang commented.

"Not my first rodeo," he replied.

"I'm curious Arc, even if Jade had continued to refuse, would you have made good on your threat?" Weiss asked.

"It wasn't a threat Weiss, it was a promise," he replied, "and I keep my promises."

Weiss smirked, obviously amused with his comment. It was the first real genuine look of amusement he'd seen the heiress show and, if he was being honest with himself, looked rather nice. Their smiles quickly soured, however, when they heard of cry of protest a few tables over.

"Stop it!"

Their attention was drawn to a table across the cafeteria. Four boys, all members of the notorious team CRDL, were gathered around a young girl with long bunny ears. Their leader, Cardin, had a firm grasp of one of them and was tugging on it with a satisfied smirk despite the obvious distress the girl was under. His teammates goaded him on, laughing at the girl's plight while he made the comment that he was surprised to find they were real. He continued to harass her, her pleas for him to stop and leave her alone going ignored while most of the other bystanders either gave her sympathetic looks or glared daggers at the offenders.

"How disgusting," Weiss snarled.

"Someone needs to go over there and teach those boys some manners," Yang commented.

"Can I? I'd be more than willing to break their legs," Nora chirped excitedly.

"Nora, don't," Jaune said, surprising everyone, including Ren as he was typically the one to rein in the energetic girl. "We should leave. It's getting late."

While his teammates wanted to protest, they held their tongues. The look plastered on their leaders face was unusual, showing distress and even pain. Considering that his younger sister was a Faunus, it wasn't difficult to assume he'd been in similar situations choosing instead to leave rather than confront the offenders. Given their position outside the walled Kingdoms it wasn't difficult to understand how little support the might have had.

"Let me just grab Jade and- "he stopped short, looking over towards the dessert table only to notice no little girl toddling back with a chocolatey decadence in hand.

"Where's Jade?" he asked, glancing around.

Everyone glanced around, suddenly brought to the reality that their table was now one member short and had been for some time. Jaune quickly looked at each of the food stations, wondering if she had gone back for seconds, before turning his gaze towards the other tables. The moment his eyes fell back on Cardin and his teammates his eyes grew wide in panic.

"Jade!" he yelped, moving quickly to try and intercept her.

/-/

Several minutes earlier…

Jade skipped happily over to the dessert table, her eyes roving over the various treats laid out for students like her older brother and his friends. Her disgust at having to swallow some horrible tasting vegetables had been quickly forgotten, as well as her brother's well-meaning threat to deny her a dessert as well as a bedtime story if she didn't eat them. She knew better than to let him make good on his threats. She'd done that once when they were traveling and it was something she'd come to regret. She'd refused once to eat the vegetables on her plate with Jaune threatening not to read her a story that night. She'd refused, standing her ground, expecting him to relent. Unfortunately, her brother had not, letting her ignore the vegetables but, after her bath, he took them to bed early. She'd begged and pleaded for him to read her a story but soon stopped when he threatened to do the same thing tomorrow night.

From then on she tried not to argue or complain about eating her vegetables. She did on occasion but, once Jaune made the threat to take away her bedtime story, she would quickly fold. Her sleep seemed to be much less restful to her if she didn't have one of her brother's patented stories to help her along. He was very good with them, even to the point of acting out certain scenes and giving each person their own voice. She really liked it. It was very entertaining.

As she gazed up at the desserts laid out on the table, ranging from pudding to pie to even cake, she found herself having a hard time deciding on just one. She wanted to take at least two or three but, knowing her brother, he might just take it away as well as her bedtime story. She was still undecided when she heard someone crying out. Jade turned to see a Faunus girl with ears on her head just like her except they were rabbit ears instead of wolf. Four large boys were standing around her with the largest one yanking on her ears. It was obvious from the girl's cries that she was in pain but the boy didn't let up.

She knew what that was like. More than once when they were in one of the small towns outside of Vale someone would make a face when looking at her ears and make a comment. They always seemed to anger her older brother, especially the ones who smelled like too much alcohol. On a few occasions he'd gotten into fights and when she asked him why he'd always say "I couldn't sit back and let them hurt you. It wouldn't be right." Her mother had even done the same, telling her there was nothing wrong with her ears, that her father had the same ones and he was a huntsman, a hero fighting to protect people like her.

Well, her brother was studying to be a huntsman and she wanted to be a huntress when she got older. The girl was obviously in distress and those boys were hurting her. They were bigger though, much bigger than her and mean looking. Still, she couldn't just stand by while someone was in trouble. No one else was helping her. Someone needed to do something. Someone like her.

Jade was shaking as she made her way over. She was afraid, that much was for certain, but it was okay to be afraid. Her brother always told her that he was afraid when he went out to face the Grimm but he did it anyway because choosing to fight, even when you were afraid, was an act of courage. As she drew closer the boys seemed to get larger and she realized just how much taller they all were than her. Still, they hadn't noticed her yet so, taking a firm stance, she raised her voice as loud as she could.

"Hey!" she said, her voice squeaking slightly.

She must have gotten their attention as the boys stopped what they were doing, looking around with confused expressions. It was a while before they glanced down, their expressions neutral as they gazed down at her.

"What do you want kid?" the bigger teen with his hand grasping the girl's ear asked.

"Leave her alone," she said.

"Who's going to make us? You?" He asked, his snarky grin returning to his face as his friends laughed at his question.

"Leave her alone you big meanie," she said, giving him a swift kick to the shine. She cringed, her attempt to attack him doing her more harm than him.

"Buzz off kid, this is none of your business," he said, leaning down before flicking her sharply in the head.

Jade toppled to the ground, his finger, boosted with aura, hitting her hard and forcing her to the ground. Her forehead throbbed, the pain already causing tears to form in the corners of her eyes. She stifled her sobs, doing her best to keep herself calm. She wasn't going to cry. Huntresses didn't cry. Despite her attempts, the other boys noticed, laughing at her expense.

"Look at the little Faunus crybaby," the older teen laughed. It quickly died in his throat as a familiar voice, angrier than she'd ever heard it, roared out his name across the cafeteria.

"Cardin!"

/-/

Jaune had watched the scene unfold before his eyes. Even as he attempted to close the distance and intervene before Jade did something stupid, he wasn't quick enough. He watched as her attempt to help the Faunus girl worked against her, her swift kick to his shine doing next to nothing with his aura active. He would have been fine with that, knowing there was nothing Jade could do, until Cardin flicked her in the forehead so hard she fell to the ground. Seeing his sister being bullied, especially by someone who was supposed to be a huntsman, enraged him. No one hurt his sister. No one.

Throwing caution to the wind, Jaune charged forward. With a snarl escaping his lips he roared the boy's name.

"Cardin!"

The boy had just enough time to look up and register Jaune's fast approach before an aura charged fist connected with his face, echoing with a satisfying crack! that told Jaune he'd broken his nose. Unprepared for the assault, he flew back across the floor, his grip on the Faunus girl's ear having loosened as a result. His teammates starred at him in shock, glancing back towards Cardin on the ground and then back to Jaune. At some point their brains caught up with them as the boy with the Mohawk, Russell if he remembered correctly, attempted to avenge his fallen leader.

"Hey!" he yelled and that was all he got out.

Jaune saw his attack coming, giving the boy a swift kick in the gut before he had a chance to assault him. The air was force from his lungs as he flew back, skidding across the ground and into one of the other tables. By now the other boys had regained their composure and decided to gang up on Jaune two to one. Unfortunately, they'd taken too much time figuring out what had happened. Already, his teammates as well as the members of their sister team had them surrounded and loomed over them.

"Go ahead, see what happens," Yang said, eyeing Dove as she cracked her knuckles loudly.

"Hey, he started it. He attacked Cardin," he tried to argue.

"Yes, after he attacked Jade and was harassing Velvet," Weiss piped in, hands on her hips in a disapproving manner.

"What do you think, fearless leader," Nora asked, eyeing the two boys.

"I don't know," Jaune said, purposely taking his time to think things over before asking, "Nora, didn't you mention something earlier about breaking their legs?"

"YES," she said, her smile broadening to such a degree that both boys seemed to shrink from her gaze.

"Arc!" they heard someone yell, interrupting their discussion.

Everyone turned their gaze to see Cardin, already on his feet but with his nose looking slightly crooked. He was seething as he stomped his way over, his hands clenched into tight fists as he eyed his opponent.

"You're dead."

Jaune took a defensive stance, as did most of his friends. Cardin, ignoring the large group of people opposing him, charged forward, ready to pummel Jaune's face into paste. He didn't make it far before his joints seized up, stopping him mid stride while somehow managing to stay upright. It soon became apparent why.

"And you, Mr. Winchester, have a weeks' worth of detention, along with your team," Miss Goodwitch said, holding her riding crop out as she kept him firmly in place with her semblance. "I should think someone of your caliber would know better than to attack a civilian, a child no less, who doesn't even have her aura unlocked. I shall endeavor to impart that knowledge to all of you while you spent an hour each day after classes in my office."

Whatever fire Cardin had quickly died under her gaze. Without waiting for an answer or releasing him from her semblance, she marched out of the cafeteria, Cardin floating after her with his team in tow. Satisfied with the end result Jaune turned his attention back to Jade. She was back on her feet, starring at the ground while occasionally sniffing as she attempted to hold back her tears. Jaune slowly lowered himself to one knee, ensuring he was level with his sister as he fixed her with a firm look.

"Jade," he said calmly.

The girl didn't move, her gaze firmly on the ground.

"I need you to look at me," he said.

Slowly, she brought her eyes up to his, her irises glistening due to the moisture still present there.

"I need you to understand something. What you did, attacking Cardin like that, was very stupid."

"What!?" Yang snapped, her irises shifting from violet to crimson in an instant.

Jaune ignored her outburst, keeping his gaze firmly on his sister.

"I understand you were trying to help but you can't fight someone of Cardin's caliber like that. He's bigger than you, stronger too. You should have asked for our help instead. We could have done something without you getting hurt."

"I know," she said softly, her gaze shifting to the ground. "But they were hurting her and, and I had to help. They were being mean and you say Huntsman are supposed to help people not hurt them," she said fervently.

"I did say that, didn't I," he said, chuckling to himself. "You're absolutely right. I'll need to do better from now on. And next time, when something like this happens, I want you to go get our help, alright?"

"Okay," she agreed.

Jaune pulled her into a hug, earning some "awws" from the bystanders. Picking her up, her turned look at Velvet who was looking at them with a mixture of admiration and affection.

"You're names Jade, right?" she asked.

"Yep, I'm Jade Arc," she said proudly.

"Thank you Jade," she said, rubbing the girl's head affectionately. "And thank you Jaune."

"I should actually be apologizing to you," he said, earning a confused look from the girl. "I didn't actually interfere until Jade decided to pick a fight with Cardin."

"Well, you at least finished the fight and it looks like Cardin and his team won't be bothering me for quite some time," she said, giving him a quick peck on the check before quickly exiting the cafeteria.

"Whoa, Jaune the ladies' man," Yang joked, causing the already blushing blonde to blush harder.

/-/

Time slipped by quickly with the weekend just on the horizon as well as Jade's birthday. Everyone had already gotten their presents for her and were eagerly waiting to throw the girl her party. They'd decided to hold it in team RWBY's dorm as it would be easier to hide everything there and set things up, making it more of a surprise for the five year old. Jaune was surprised to find he was just as excited to celebrate it as Jade. The girl's excitement was contagious and, even while doing his best to pay attention to Prof. Oobleck' s lecture, he couldn't help finding his thoughts drifting to Jade's ever nearing birthday. He was quickly roused from him thoughts when a well-aimed paper wade was thrown at his head. Jaune turned to see who had thrown it and was unsurprised to see Cardin leering down at him.

Since his debacle in the cafeteria, Cardin hadn't found many opportunities to exact his revenge against Jaune. Of course, combat class was something altogether another matter. Miss Goodwitch often paired him in bouts with Cardin using it as an excuse take out his frustrations on him. While Jaune wasn't as skilled as the rest of his classmates, especially considering he'd never been to a prep school, he'd still spent a year working alongside Professional Huntsmen, honing his skills and perfecting his abilities. He was good, and improving, but not as good as some others. Still, it enabled him to know better than to try and go toe to toe with Cardin, batting him around with his shield and taking swipes at his exposed legs when he had an opening. He worked the long game, choosing to exhaust Cardin rather than tank his hits, and often came out on top. This of course only helped to further anger the teen.

Picking up the paper wade, he unfolded it to find a message written within. He wasn't at all surprised to find a threat scrawled within and he quickly crumpled it up before dropping it to the floor. He then turned to Cardin, making sure he could see his hand and not Oobleck, as he scratched his eye using his middle finger. The gesture did not go unnoticed by the large teen who snarled and slammed his hands on his desk angrily. It was a poor move on Cardin's part as he quickly drew the attention of Oobleck.

"Mr. Winchester, so good of you to join us," he said, singling him out. "Would you care to answer my question regarding the Faunus Rights Revolution?"

"Why the hell would I care about a bunch of dumb animals?" he asked in retort.

"That is quite enough," Oobleck said, quickly silencing some of the chuckles. "I'll not have such blatant racist remarks in my classroom. You're already on thin ice as it is, Mr. Winchester. Don't think I won't add on my own detention alongside the time you owe to Miss Goodwitch."

Cardin sneered, leaning back in seat but otherwise staying quiet.

"Mr. Arc, would you care to answer my question regarding the battle of Ft. Castle?"

"You mean about the failed sneak attack?" Jaune asked, having actually paid attention to what was being discussed.

"Exactly. Your thoughts," Oobleck prompted.

"It was a colossal military disaster. Gen. Lagune foolishly believed he could take the Faunus forces by surprise through a sneak attack at night. It might have worked, had they been human, but Faunus have perfect eyesight in the dark, ensuring they saw his forces approaching despite their attempts. It ended in an ambush that left his forces in disarray."

"Excellent. Preciously what happened. Now, Mr. Arc, if you were in the General's position, what would you have done differently?"

"I would have used flashbangs or, considering the times, flares. The bright light would have turned the Faunus' strength into a weakness, turning the tide and presenting them with an opportunity to either retreat and come up with a new plan or continue the attack, using the opportunity to gain a victory over my foes."

"Interesting, very interesting," Oobleck said, taking a sip of his coffee. "I am correct in saying that you're relationship with your younger sister Jade has enabled you to gain greater insight into the Faunus and our relationship with them currently?"

"More than you know," Jaune admitted, "though, how a little girl with night vision can still be afraid of the dark still puzzles me."

The off handed, good natured joke caused quite a few people to chuckle, Oobleck included. The rest of class went by smoothly, with Cardin's threat becoming more of an afterthought. As soon as it was over, however, the burly teen reminded Jaune of his natural disgust for him in a much more personable fashion. As they were making their way out of class, Cardin forcibly shoved Jaune aside, the blonde catching himself shortly after as the teen made his way down the hall with a satisfied smirk on his face.

"What a jerk," Yang commented, snarling after him.

"Indeed," Weiss agreed.

"Should I go after him and break his legs?" Nora asked excitedly.

"No, Nora, leave Cardin alone," Jaune replied.

"Aww," she said in a disappointed tone.

"We have bigger things to worry about like Jade's party tomorrow. Seeing as we have some time before I have to pick her up why don't we head back to the dorms to set everything up?"

"I'm game," Yang said, leading the charge back to their dorm room.

/-/

The weekend dawned bright and early and would have included a welcome couple extra hours of sleep had Jade not woken up at the crack of dawn, jumping excitedly on his bed while shouting "it's my birthday, it's my birthday." As cute as the sight might have been, Jaune wasn't at all eager to get out of bed, instead managing to talk her down to allow him to sleep another hour before dragging himself out of bed. Getting himself dressed and cleaned up, he sent a quick text to Team RWBY letting them know Jade was awake and keen to start opening presents. He figured it would be better for him in the long run if he warned them now rather than knocking on their dorm door, being greeted by the sight of four half-awake girls scowling at him in their sleepwear. Taking her to breakfast he got her a large stack of pancakes, opting to let her go a little nuts for her birthday. By the time they were finished and arriving back at their dorm, his team were already dressed and ready to begin.

"Alright, we just have to make a quick stop at RWBY's dorm and then we'll have your party," he said.

"Okay," Jade replied excitedly, completely missing the knowing glances Jaune and his teammates shot each other before knocking on the door.

The moment it swung open Yang and Ruby jumped out yelling "SURPRISE" with Weiss and Blake giving more subdued reactions in the back. It took a moment for Jade to realize what was going on but once she noticed the HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner strung from one bed to the other with a large chocolate cake with a big 5 candle sitting on top amongst a pile of presents, her brain quickly caught up with her as she began to jump up and down excitedly. Her mood was contagious as everyone quickly ushered themselves into the room and began singing "Happy Birthday" to her before she blew out her candle. Soon after they began opening presents beginning with Ruby's team and working their way towards his.

Ruby went first, giving Jade a thin box wrapped in colorful wrapping paper. The newly turned five year old tore into the paper with gusto, opening the box to reveal an X-Ray and Vav comic. While Jade had seen their like in some of the bookstores they'd visited, she'd never had the chance to read one, let alone own a copy, and she excitedly thanked Ruby and hugged her, begging Jaune to read it to her tonight as a bedtime story.

Yang went next, handing her a large bag with colorful tissue paper stuffed in the top. As soon as Jade pulled that aside she extracted a large leather jacket, complete with the stoic image of a wolf on the back. Yang winked at her, letting her know she bought her something large enough for her to grow into and keep around for a while. It would also come in handy during the colder months making it a definite plus both in practicality and fashion.

"It'll look really cool if we get you a helmet to wear when I have my bike Bumblebee here to ride around on," she casually threw out.

"Cool," Jade said excitedly, looking to Jaune for his reassurance.

"We'll talk about it," was all he said, shooting Yang a glance that said her suggestion was not appreciated.

Blake went next, handing her a package that was in the shape of a book. Sure enough it was exactly how it looked although this was noticeably less thick than the other volumes precariously holding up her partner's bed. Blake explained it was a starter book, one meant to help Jade learn to read and open her up to the world of literature. It was part of a series of adventure novels, something which, should Jade take an interest in, would encourage her to increase her reading skills so she could finish it on her own.

"And here I thought she was going to give her some of her smut," Yang joked.

"It's not smut!" Blake snapped, her cheeks taking on a particularly rosy hue to them.

"What's smut?" Jade asked, turning to her brother for answers.

"Why don't we see what Weiss got for you?" he said, completely dodging the question while shooting a nasty glare once more at Yang.

As it was quickly becoming apparent with the girl, everything she did and owned came in something that looked incredibly expensive and pristine. The same could be said of her gift which came in shiny wrapping paper adorned with her family's seal on it and wrapped up in the most professional manner Jaune had ever seen. Even Jade seemed to have taken notice as, instead of tearing into the gift like she had the others, she instead took great care in unwrapping it, attempting to not tear any of the paper as best she could. She eventually uncovered the large white box hidden within and opened it to reveal Weiss' gift. A second later Jaune's jaw hit the floor.

Inside was a beautiful green dress with gold trimming and a matching tiara that had several emeralds set into it (all of which were fake, or so Jaune hoped). Jade starred at it in wonder and all the other girls gasped at the sight of the beautiful gift. Jaune, with his mouth still hanging open, attempted to calculate the cost of such a thing in his head but only managed to cause his brain to Blue screen instead.

"It's an evening dress," Weiss explained. "It's mostly meant for formal events and special occasions."

"And dry clean only, I assume," Jaune muttered.

"Pretty," Jade said, running her hand across the fabric.

"Jade, um, be sure to thank Weiss for the, uh, gift," he said, his mind still working to regain his composure.

Jade did just that, walking over to Weiss and motioning for her to kneel down. Weiss did so, cocking an eyebrow in confusion as she lowered herself to her knees. It was quickly replaced by a look of shock and surprise as Jade quickly wrapped her hands around her neck in a hug.

"Thank you Weiss for the pretty dress. I love it," she said.

"Um, y-you're welcome Jade," Weiss said, giving the girl a light pat on the back before she was released from her hug.

She rose back to her feet, her cheeks a slight shade of pink as she attempted to ignore the shit eating grins her teammates were shooting her. Jaune quickly boxed the gift back up, carefully setting it aside while Jade unwrapped the other gifts from his teammates. Pyrrha had given her a couple sets of casual clothes, something Jaune was grateful for considering the girl's humble wardrobe throughout their travels, not to mention the favor she'd done him in taking Jade to the girl's section to pick out some cute underwear for her to use. While Jaune wasn't above getting Jade the necessities, it was still difficult for him to not feel at all creepy about purchasing little girl panties at age Seventeen.

Nora had gotten Jade a pretty pink skirt with a matching jacket, something which he figured aligned with the girl's own personal tastes, while Ren had gotten her an assortment of bubble baths and flowery scented bath bombs for her to use during bath time. Jaune could already see how things would pan out, with him exiting from a steamy bathroom oozing with the scent of lavender. By the end only two gifts remained, both of which were from Jaune.

"This is a gift from Miss Goodwitch," he said, handing Jade a small box.

The girl pulled off the top and gasped when she saw what was inside. A scroll sat within, tucked neatly into its case and ready for use.

"You got her a scroll?" Yang gasped.

"It's more simplistic than ours. I asked Miss Goodwitch to remove all the other features yours and mine might have. It's essentially made only to send and receive calls," he explained. "Now Jade, this is for emergencies only. I've already put my number into it along with everyone else's. This is so if we're not around or you're lost and need help you can call us or the police, understand?"

"Mm hmm," she said, nodding her head excitedly. "Thank you!" she said, enveloping him in a tight huge.

"You're welcome," he said, hugging her back. "We'll have to make sure and thank Miss Goodwitch later. Now, this gift is from me."

He held out a long white box, reminiscent of Weiss' gift in a way. As he handed it off it became apparent of just how heavy it was as Jade hefted it to the floor. Slowly taking off the wrapping and opening it up, her eyes widened in surprise at what she saw inside. Tucked inside, set snuggly into its leather sheath, was a short sword reminiscent of Crocea Mors.

Jade picked it up gingerly, pulling the sword from its sheath and listening to the Dust infused metal sing as it was released. Light from the open window reflected off the blade as she gazed at her new weapon, looking at it with a sense of aww and wonder that left her questioning whether this was reality or a dream. She looked to her brother for confirmation and he nodded his affirmation.

"This is yours. It doesn't have a name yet, something you can come up with later, but it's what I'll start training you on in my spare time," he explained. "Understand Jade, this is a real sword. It's a tool, not a toy. That means, outside of training, it stays in its sheath, understand?"

"Yes Jaune," she said, quickly putting the blade back in its leather sheath.

"Very good, now that's just one part of the gift. This is the other," he said placing his hand on her head.

Jaune closed his eyes and Jade, sensing the seriousness of the situation, followed his lead. In a solemn tone he began reciting an oath, the same one spoken to him when his aura was unlocked. A white hue enveloped him, shining brightly as he spoke the words from memory. Before long a grey hue began to envelope Jade as well until it sparked as Jaune finished the oath and wavered for a moment before fading. Jaune smiled, seeing how Jade was standing a little bit taller and her smile somehow more serious for the experience.

"Who wants cake?" Nora yelled, completely dispelling the seriousness of the situation.

/-/

The all sat in a circle in team RWBY's dorm with Weiss and Ruby on their bed, Yang and Blake sharing her bed, Ren, Nora, and Pyrrha in chairs near the door and Jade sitting with her elder brother on the window sill. It was, in Jaune's opinion, the safest place to sit, all things considered. Yesterday, before entering the room, Ruby had warned them that they had turned their beds into bunkbeds and that it might be slightly messy. Jaune had tried to imagine how'd they accomplished such a task and, upon entering the room, felt his heart plummet to his feet.

To say that they had "tried" to make bunkbeds was an understatement. Ruby's bed hung precariously above Weiss', held to the ceiling through a series of ropes, while Yang's bed balanced atop four stacks of Blake's books, wobbling slightly every time she ventured up to it. Jaune's first reaction was to move the party back to their dorm for safety reasons. His protests went unheard by the girls, with Ruby insisting that everything was fine, but considering they were standing between a guillotine and an avalanche, he felt he had a much stronger argument in his court. As a compromise he'd kept them as closely situated to the door as possible, occasionally shooting glances towards the beds every time something moved or swayed. Sitting where they were now Jaune was confident he could grab Jade and roll backwards out the window should anything decide to fall in their general direction.

"Hey Jaune, I'm curious about something?" Yang asked out of the blue.

"What about?" he asked, completely missing the smirk on her face as well as Ruby's attempts to silently ward him away.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" she ask.

Across the room Pyrrha choked on her drink with Nora quickly coming to her rescue with a napkin and softly patting her back.

"Girlfriend?" he asked, completely oblivious to Pyrrha's reaction.

"Yep," she replied, a predatory grin forming on her face.

"Nope," he replied matter-of-factly before returning to his cake.

"No one waiting for you in one of the towns you passed through?" she asked, her smile slipping slightly from the bluntness of his response.

"Not as far as I'm aware," he admitted. "I didn't really socialize much. Aside from taking on a few missions and some odd jobs, Jade and I kept mostly to ourselves."

"Alright, anyone at Beacon catch your eye then?" she asked, cocking her head a little as she came back around for another attack.

"Not really, no," he answered.

"Are you sure? No one's caught your eye at all?" she asked.

"No one in particular," he said. "Why, are you asking me out?" he replied.

Weiss seemed to choke on air, her face scrunching into a disgusted expression while Ruby glanced worriedly between Yang and Pyrrha. Even Pyrrha's completion had seemed to pale while Blake looked up from her book with a curious expression.

"And if I was?" Yang asked, her smile broadening.

"Then I'd say 'thanks but no thanks,'" he said before returning to his cake.

"What? Why not?' Yang asked, sounding almost hurt by his answer.

"I'm honestly not looking to start a relationship or date anyone for that matter. Right now, my priorities are school and Jade. With how much is riding on me graduating from Beacon, I don't want any outside distractions to keep me from accomplishing my goal."

"Oh," Yang said, both surprised and impressed by his answer.

Weiss nodded her approval, finding his drive and reasons for being here acceptable and even admirable. Pyrrha regained some color in her cheeks but her expression didn't change from the neutral stance it had taken. Jaune didn't seem to notice though whether that was due to him being completely oblivious or simply being focused on his overall goal was anyone's guess.

"So no one's really caught your eye?" Yang asked, content with his previous answer but still somewhat curious.

"I'm not completely oblivious to the women that roam Beacon's halls. I'd have to be blind not to notice how attractive they all are," he admitted.

"Keep talking," Yang said, a smirk forming on her lips as he leaned back in her seat.

"That said, I have to keep my focus on the end goal. Everything else would just be a distraction otherwise. That doesn't mean I'm completely against having a relationship at some point. Honestly, it would be nice to have a mother figure for Jade to look up to and hangout with, especially when she starts coming into her teenage years."

"Why? What happens then?"

Jaune gave Yang a deadpan look, one that said he didn't appreciate how blatant her question was or the overall nature of it.

"Some very awkward conversations that I don't want to be saddled with," he said.

"Such as," Yang asked, goading him on.

"You know what I mean, I don't have to explain it," he said, completely ignoring her shit eating grin.

"Don't sweat it, big bro. Even if you don't find yourself a girlfriend you still have six other women here who can more than help her figure things out once she reaches that point," Yang said. "Well, five women, considering some of us are currently lacking in the 'womanly' department," Yang added, glancing over at Ruby and Weiss respectfully.

"Yang Xio Long!" Weiss snarled, her face turning bright red.

"Hey, I'm still growing," Ruby pouted. "I drink milk, after all."

"You're going to have to drink a hell of a lot more if you want to catch up," Yang said, bouncing her assets for emphasis.

The two sisters quickly fell into an age old argument as the party waned on and Jade, tuckered out from all the excitement and gross mounts of sugar, fell asleep on her brother's lap.


So, have to say that the reception I've received for this story has been monumental. I had over 2,690 views for the last chapter alone and I'm looking to break the 3k marker sometime soon. This has honestly become one of my most popular fanfics, overtaking Archangel which was my number one for quite some time.

Just so you're aware I always enjoy reading your reviews and I do take into account any questions you have for me. One of which was regarding Jade's last name an whether or not she goes by that or Arc. As I've shown in this chapter, due to Jaune becoming her legal guardian, she calls herself Jade Arc. Her parentage, including her original last name and some of her parent's history, is something I plan on exploring in later chapters. There will be some interesting reveals coming up so stay tuned.

As always, I try to keep things fresh and introduce story points that many people, parents and older siblings alike, have dealt with. I'm an older brother to two younger siblings so some of this is based off my own experiences but I also take inspiration from "If It's For My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord." The most current episode, episode 4, dealt with some HEAVY issues regarding race and identity and boy was it powerful. It certainly gave me somethings to think about and some plot points I'll want to explore moving forward.

Chapter Text

So, just a quick Author's Note before the actual story begins to answer a couple pressing questions that I've had people comment about. Firstly, while this Fanfic is based off the Anime and Light Novel "If It's For My Daughter, I Would Even Defeat a Demon Lord" I'm not going to mirror every plot point that happens in them. An example, which will NOT be seen in this fanfic, is the main protagonist going on to marry the young demon girl he rescued and adopted. Jaune and Jade are BROTHER and SISTER, adopted or otherwise, and therefore will have only familial feelings towards one another, NOT ROMANTIC. Granted, I may have some instances where Jaune and his romantic interest interact act on their feelings for one another and Jade lashes out in a protective manner that younger siblings tend to do, but nothing more than that. I know this may seem like I'm going on a rant but I felt it was best to discuss this early on so there's no confusion.

Second, while I do have this fanfic tagged as "Romance" in the genre section, keep in mind that I'm not going to outright state who will end up with whom until much later. While I know some of you won't like this, I'd prefer to keep the pairings a mystery more so you can theorize for yourselves who Jaune might end up with and for what reasons. While I do have a pairing in mind that I'm working towards, I don't want to outright say it so you won't instantly assume every moment between the characters should be interpreted as a romantic one. Some of these relationships will be platonic, nothing more. Some will develop into something more and I, as the author, will do all that I can to make that build up to their relationship a believable one and not something that makes the character look like they were a prize to be won or that they suddenly developed feelings for one another out of the blue.

Long rant, I apologize, but I wanted to address those issues because I had a lot of people commenting on them. Hopefully this explains things and, should you have any more questions, feel free to let me know in your reviews or PM me.


Beacon Training Room

"Just a few more, Jade, you're doing well," Jaune said as he watched Jade going through her routine.

It had been a few weeks since Jade's birthday and already the child had taken to her training. Jaune was currently putting her through a more downgraded version of his own workout routine, alternating between having her run laps to build up stamina and practicing her sword swings to build muscle and breed familiarity with how she would wield her weapon. As she would grow older her abilities would improve and one day her sword would become something of a backup, a spare to use alongside her more permanent weapon once she either commissioned one or built it herself.

"Alright Jade, that's enough. Come take a break," he said, handing her a towel and a bottle of water.

Securing her sword in its sheath she tootled on over, accepting the water and drinking it eagerly. Already she was panting heavily and her workout shirt was drenched in sweat. Once she'd cooled down he would see to it she took a shower before taking her with his team and team RWBY out on the town.

"I think that's enough for today," he said, packing their things and getting ready to head out.

"I can still go," she said, eager to prove she could be just as skilled as he was.

"No, you need to rest. You can barely hold you sword up as it is," he replied, having watched her attentively and noticed when her energy was beginning to wane.

"But Jaune," she whined, only ever using his name when she wanted something.

"Don't Jaune me. You need to rest. If you don't you could end up collapsing from exhaustion or hurting yourself and that would make your training even harder. We'll stop for today and pick up on it tomorrow."

"Okay," she said in a defeated tone.

He smiled, giving her a light hug before picking up their bags and leading the way back to their dorm. Jade was lucky. The training she was putting in now would go a long way to helping her prepare for the life of a huntress. While she was still unskilled and lacking in certain areas, she was only five. She had time enough and room to grow, ensuring that by the time she was old enough to enroll into a prep school she'd have built up enough muscle and honed her skills to the point that she'd be able to hold her own. It was more than Jaune had started out with when he took up the huntsman's life.

Granted, he had no one to blame but himself for being ill prepared to become a huntsman. Having come from a long line of huntsman, he'd always wanted to be one but was just never willing to put in the commitment when he was younger. When he was Jade's age he'd been out playing in the woods or reading comics while his friends such as Ruby and Yang had been training, honing their skills in preparation to one day attend Signal and then Beacon. He'd always planned to runaway to Beacon, taking his family's ancestral sword and hoping that by some twist of fate he'd be accepted.

Thinking back on it now he realized just how stupid and naive he'd been. He had no prior skills to fall back on and simply thinking he would have been able to get by on sheer dumb luck would have undoubtedly been his undoing. Granted, the year he'd spent on the road to Vale, working alongside actual huntsman and honing his skills in preparation for coming here had helped him a great deal, but he was still sorely lacking. At best he'd be spending his years working harder than anyone else just to close the gap between himself and his friends. He was skilled but not as skilled as they were and they would only continue to press forward during their time here. He couldn't allow himself to falter if he wanted to have a ghost of a chance of being able to hold his own alongside them.

That said, he could at least give Jade a better chance of excelling than he'd given himself. The short sword he'd had commissioned for her, along with unlocking her aura were all meant to prepare her for the long road ahead. Part of him felt guilty for having done it. There was no reason Jade couldn't have chosen to grow up, living a good life as a civilian here in Vale. His actions might very well have thrown any chance she had at leading a normal life to the curb. That said, he also couldn't ignore the fact that such thoughts at having a "normal life" were probably the furthest thing from the five year old's mind. With the deaths of their families only a year ago and Jaune dragging Jade along with him to Beacon, he'd put her squarely in the middle of a life where everywhere she looked there were examples of people working hard to prepare for a life as a Huntsman or Huntress. If nothing else, "normal" didn't amply to anyone at this school. Period.

/-/

"We're back," Jaune said as he and Jade entered their dorm room.

"How did training go?" Pyrrha asked as Jaune grabbed some fresh cloths on his way to take a shower.

"Rather well. Jade is learning pretty quickly. Stamina is still a bit low but that'll improve as she gets older."

"Indeed. It would be too much to expect her to be able to last as long as we can, even with her aura unlocked."

"Hey Jade, did you have fun during training?" Nora asked in her usual chipper tone.

"Humph," Jade said, pouting in a manner that looked less annoyed and more cute as the little five year old made her way over to her bed, taking out the box she'd retrieved her sword from before setting it inside and sliding it back under her bed.

In response to the girl's reaction, Nora pouted as well, clutching Jaune's arm as she cried fake tears to her team leader.

"Jaune, help me," she whined.

"Nora, we've been over this, there's nothing I can do."

"But Jade still hasn't forgiven me," she said.

"Yes, and while I admit that's childish, she is still a child. You'll just need to apologize to her."

"But I did and she still gives me the cold shoulder."

"Well then maybe next time you won't drink all of the tree sap we were going to use as syrup on our pancakes," he chided, slipping his arm out of Nora's grasp before slipping into the bathroom.

Nora's predicament had actually begun a week earlier when the class had been taken to Forever Fall by Professor Goodwitch to collect tree sap samples for Professor Peach. While they seldom saw hide nor hair of the reclusive Professor, even during her lessons. Prior to going Ren had talked about how the sap from the trees had a reputation for its sweet flavor which made it a popular condiment on pancakes. His talk of pancakes had intrigued both Nora and Jade, the two girls asking excitedly if they could have pancakes to go along with the sap they collected. Ren, being as patient as ever (even when adding someone as excitable as Nora into the mix) promised he'd make some of his homemade pancakes which they would enjoy along with the sap. It soon became the only thing Jade would talk about, even to the point on her making Jaune promise he would come to collect her as soon as they returned so she could enjoy the pancakes as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, it ended in failure due to Nora's inability to keep her hands, or more appropriately her lips, away from the jars of sap they'd filled. With each one they filled to the brim, a processes that took several minutes, Nora had them drained in seconds. It had taken the remaining three members of JNPR to keep the girl at bay while they filled their jars, ensuring they would be able to turn something into Miss Goodwitch by the end of the day. To top things off, Cardin along with his teammates had attempted to exact their revenge against Jaune using a jar of sap they'd collected along with some rather nasty rapier wasps. Thankfully, they didn't do too much damage. Their initial attack failed when Jaune, hearing the whistling of the jar as it flew through the air, deployed his shield in an instinctual defensive fashion. Broken glass and sap had coated the exterior of his shield but he was otherwise unharmed. This, of course, still attracted the wasps but they were quickly dealt with thanks to the aid of team RWBY.

Of course, karma quickly followed as the all-boys team were assailed by an Ursa not long after. Most likely drawn to Cardin's negative emotions as he was still sour about Jaune breaking his nose and causing him to end up with a weeks' worth of detention (despite that being entirely his own fault). He was completely caught off guard when the massive Grimm bear targeted him, making quick work of his teammates who abandoned him without a second thought and leaving him completely unarmed when it easily swatted away his massive mace. Jaune, despite what his friends felt was against his better judgment, had come to the boy's rescue, fighting off the Grimm and, with some aid from Pyrrha's semblance, promptly decapitated the beast. While most would have assumed the incident would have led to the two teams finally putting aside their differences, it only seemed to bruise Cardin's pride a little more and sour the faith he had in his teammates as well.

Shortly after they were all pleased to find out they would indeed be allowed to keep at least one of the jars of sap to use as syrup for their pancakes. With this in hand they'd made their way to their dorm, dropping it off while Jaune went to go pick up Jade and the others went to the kitchens to start on the pancakes. Jade was a bundle of energy, eager to have a taste of the legendary syrup and quickly bounded down the halls on their way to the kitchens. When they'd arrived, however, they were surprised to see only Pyrrha and Ren in attendance, with Nora missing and unaccounted for. It was only after Pyrrha made the comment that the orange haired girl had slipped out to use the bathroom that they start to wonder if she'd made a detour back to their dorm and quickly ran off to check. Sure enough their suspicions proved true as they found Nora with an empty jar in her hands and a pink sticky substance around her mouth and lips. The moment Jade saw her, all of her excitement quickly evaporated as she burst into tears, subsequently draining Nora's energy as well as she realized what she had done.

Despite her attempts to apologize and receive her forgiveness, Nora was underestimating two key factors; one, that Jade was a girl and two that she was a child, both of which were notorious when it came to holding grudges and Jade was no exception. For the past week she'd given Nora the cold shoulder, ignoring her at every turn and refusing to acknowledge her presence. What's more she'd found herself an ally in Weiss, an odd turn of events, as the two started to bond over Nora's betrayal with the other girl recounting moments when her partner Ruby had crossed her, albeit their fights ended fairly quickly once both sides had compromised and apologized. Jaune had actually imagined her bonding more with Ruby who acted more like an older sister to her and, above all, Blake. While he couldn't be certain, Jaune suspected the girl was hiding a pair of ears under her bow. Whatever her reasons for hiding her faunus heritage, he thought it best not to question it. Then again he could be wrong and it really was just a bow but the way he sometimes noticed it shifting in the most peculiar of fashions, especially when Cardin was around, had left him fairly certain he knew the truth.

"Ren," Jaune could hear Nora whine to her partners, knowing she'd get no support from him, "help me."

"You dug yourself a hole, Nora, now you have to get yourself out of it."

Jaune chuckled softly to himself, listening to the girl bemoan her fate as he turned on the water. Jade would get over it, at least he hoped she would, and things would gradually return to normal. Until then Nora would simply have to suffer, learning a valuable lesson of not making promises you couldn't keep or in crossing Jade for that matter. All things considered, though, he felt the girl had suffered enough at his little sister's hands. Perhaps a trip to Vale where Nora could purchase some similar tasting syrup for Jade as a way of appeasing the five year old might help?

/-/

Vale – Port

"I must admit, Arc, this was a surprisingly good idea," Weiss commented as their two teams walked alongside one another through Vale.

"I figured some fresh air could do us all some good," he commented, looking back to Nora and Ren before leaning in to say, "now is a perfect chance to slip off and buy Jade some of that syrup."

"Are you sure it will work?" Nora asked with hope filled eyes.

"It's either this or you can wait out Jade's temper, whichever one you prefer," he replied.

"Come one Ren, we've got some shopping to do," Nora said, taking the hint before latching onto her partner's arm and dragging him off towards the shopping district.

Jaune chuckled, feeling slightly guilty for the fact that Ren would have to spend their entire trip not only babysitting the orange haired girl but also preventing her from drinking all of the syrup before they returned and give it to Jade as a peace offering. If Nora could manage to exert some semblance of self-control, she might be able to get herself back into his sister's good graces otherwise she'd have to suffer it out until Jade grew tired of ignoring her. Speaking of the little terror, Jaune looked ahead to were his sister was, held between Yang and Ruby as they walked down the street.

Peels of excited laughter traveled back his way as the two sisters swung Jade back and forth, using their arms as a makeshift swing. She giggled happily, with the two girls joining in, as she swung forwards and then backwards. It was a wonderful sight, one which Jaune greatly appreciated. When he'd set out for Beacon he'd done so with the goal of providing a stable life for himself and his little sister. He'd known it would take some sacrifices on both his and her part as four years in a combat school wasn't a simple affair. The moment he'd made friends with Ruby Rose, however, and found their teams meshing together in a very familial role, any doubts he'd had about providing Jade with happy moments such as this one quickly faded from his mind. That's not to say he didn't want to provide her with some. Vale had many places where families could spend time with one another, having fun and making memoirs. Jaune intended to take Jade to them as time permitted, but simple pleasures such as this one weren't moments he could plan. They happened of their own accord and were pleasantly unexpected.

Before long both girls grew tired of swinging Jade, her boundless energy outlasting their stamina it seemed, and his sister quickly retreated to his side. With a bright smile on her face she looked up her brother, jumping up and down while reaching up as far as she could.

"Jaune, lift me up," she demanded.

"Is that how we ask for piggyback rides?" he asked, placing his hands on hips in a mock portrayal of Weiss, albeit lesson snippy in his tone.

"Lift me up please," she said sweetly.

"Alright, up you go," he said, putting his hands under her shoulders.

He lifted her up, tossing her in the air and earning an excited squeal, before catching her on the way down, spinning her around and placing her legs on his shoulders. Her tiny hands warped around his head to keep her steady while he grasped onto her legs to keep her from slipping off. Before long their journey took them towards the docks. It wouldn't have been too suspicious were it not for the Vytal Festival banners overhead and the fact that Weiss had taken the lead, talking none stop about how wonderful the festivities were. It might have been sweet were it not so creepy and out of character for the heiress.

"Isn't it all so wonderful? The festivities, the banners, the atmosphere," she said.

"Weiss, you're starting to creep me out," Yang remarked.

"Not to mention the perfect opportunity to see the arrivals from the other academies and scope out the competition in advance," she said with a sinister grin.

"Ah, there it is," Yang added.

"Eww, it smells stinky," Jade complained.

"What do you mean? I think it smells fine," Blake replied.

"I don't think Jade shares the same appreciation for fish that you do, Blakey," Yang pointed out.

"I'm guessing you grew up near a fishing port," Jaune replied.

"You might say that," she said. "Fish were a major commodity where I'm from. You just sort of got used to seeing it being brought in from the ports as well as on your plate."

"Would explain your strange obsession with tuna," Yang mumbled.

"It's not an obsession," Blake snapped.

"When you have fish at nearly every meal, it's an obsession," Yang pointed out, earning a snarl in return.

"Hey guys, look at that," Ruby interrupted, pointing to a large crowd that had gathered near a dust shop cordoned off by police tap.

They drew closer, looking out over the remnants of what appeared to have been a rather nasty robbery. An older gentleman with a horseshoe haircut of gray hair stood outside, giving a statement to the two police officers inspecting the scene. Several people gathered round whispering to one another, commenting on what happened and the frequency of the attacks. Nearby they could make out a news crew where a familiar feminine news reporter stood in front of the camera, giving her piece on yet another dust robbery that had been performed within the last couple of weeks.

"What happened?" Pyrrha asked.

"Looks like a robbery. There've been more and more as of late," Yang commented.

"I bet it was Roman Torchwick," Ruby commented.

Thinking back on it, her guess made sense. Having hung around the young team leader, Jaune had naturally come to learn how she'd ended up at Beacon two years early. As it turned out, the young huntress to be had been at a Dust shop when Roman waltzed in with a gang of thugs looking to rob the place. She'd naturally intervened, easily taking down most of his goons before squaring off against Roman himself. While his hired help had been easily dealt with, Roman was a former huntsman, having been trained at Beacon in his youth, and his skills hadn't rusted at all since he'd wandered off the huntsman's path. He'd managed to escape Ruby's grasp before making his way to a nearby roof and boarding an airship. He would have escaped and left Ruby in the dust too had it not been for some intervention on Miss Goodwitch's part, coming to Ruby's aid as they fought to apprehend Roman. They'd unfortunately failed but the whole escapade had impressed Ozpin enough that he offered to enroll her early alongside her sister.

Since his botched attempt on the store, Roman hadn't slowed his work ethic at all. Several more stores were hit, all of them suppliers of Dust, Crystals, and ammo. Roman's face was all over the news, the man's notoriety quickly skyrocketing despite having kept a mostly low profile for a number of years. It was rather odd, all things considered. While Dust was a lucrative business, selling it on the black market was no easy task. It was actually much simpler, and cheaper for that matter, to have a mule act as the middle man between suppliers, purchasing the Dust for you through legal means without anyone asking questions as to what its purpose was for. So long as people got paid, they were happy to be kept in the dark regarding its intended purpose.

"Or it could be the White Fang," Weiss added with a snarl.

"What makes you say that?" Blake asked in a tense tone that was rather foreign for the girl.

"The White Fang have targeted my family for years. Everything from Dust shipments to members of our staff. It wouldn't surprise me if they had stooped to assaulting businesses simply to land a blow against the SDC."

"That's a lot to assume given the lack of evidence," Blake pointed out, crossing her arms under her chest.

"They're terrorists, Blake. It wouldn't surprise me if they resorted to such tactics."

"They're not terrorists, they're simply protesting the unfair treatment of Faunus throughout the kingdoms."

"Why don't we just keep walking? I'm sure some of the students from the other academies have already started to arrive," Yang interjected.

"She's right. There's nothing we can do here. We'd simply get in the way," Jaune replied.

Both girls gave their silent acknowledgement but maintained a noticeable distance from one another. The conversation itself had Jaune's mind working furiously as he glanced over at Blake. During their argument, he'd noticed the girl's bow perform some interesting movements. While he'd only been suspicious before, he was all but certain now that Blake was indeed a Faunus, though one who was keeping her heritage secret. It was also apparent that she might have held some sympathy for the White Fang as well. Having spent most of his life outside the major Kingdoms, Jaune had seldom heard about the White Fang at all. They'd hear the occasional rumor, of course, but they were so far off the beaten path that none of it ever felt important given that it wouldn't affect them anyways. Now, however, having brought himself and his sister to Vale, he was starting to have a major reality check as he realized just how much of the world's problems intersected their small patch of happiness.

"Stowaway!"

"Stop him!"

His thoughts were quickly interrupted by the shouts of some men from the docks. Glancing over, Jaune took note of a couple of sailors chasing a young boy wearing an unbuttoned white shirt, jeans that were rolled up to his knees, and a pair of sneakers. From the distance it wasn't difficult to make out his blond hair contrasting against his tan skin as well as the long monkey tail he sported. He watched, impressed, as the boy flipped and summersaulted over and around his pursuers, jumping from the ship to the docks where he clambered up a nearby light pole, hanging from it using his tale and peeling a banana that he'd kept on him before munching on the snack.

"Way to not play into stereotypes," he grumbled, watching the teen as the men closed in on him.

"Get down from there, you no good stowaway," one of the sailors yelled at him.

"I'm not a good stowaway, I'm a great stowaway," the boy remarked.

"What's the difference?" one of the men asked, much to his partner's annoyance.

"A great stowaway doesn't get caught," he said, throwing his used banana peel on the ground at their feet before leaping down and taking off in a sprint.

The members of teams RWBY and JNPR moved out of the way as the Faunus tore past them with the sailors in hot pursuit, albeit quickly running out of steam as their target, who clearly had huntsman training, had yet to break a sweat. As he passed by he saw the boys eyes rove up towards him, taking note of Jade sitting on his shoulders before moving on to Blake. The girl's eyes watched as the boy passed and for a moment Jaune thought he saw him wink at her before disappearing around a corner. Needless to say it was one of the oddest events to happen to them during their day and it would prove to be the beginning of many soon enough.

"After him!" Weiss bellowed, taking off in a sprint of her own as she charged after the boy.

"I swear, how that girl can managed to get anywhere fast in heels, I'll never know," he grumbled as he pulled Jade down into his arms to hold onto her better as he ran after the Schnee

They followed closely, Weiss somehow managing to cover a hell of a lot of ground despite her footwear (seriously, how did any huntress fight in those things, let alone walk?) with her team close behind. Unfortunately, the faunus must have been more slippery than they'd anticipated as the boy had managed to disappear the moment he rounded a corner. Before long they were in Vales shopping district which was filled with crowds perfect for blending into. This minor detail did little to dissuade the heiress as she rounded a corner before falling back abruptly, the sound of something hard smashing against the ground echoing alongside her.

"Oof!" she cried.

"Weiss, are you okay?" Ruby asked, rushing to her partner's side.

"Yea, I just hit something."

"More like someone," Yang remarked.

True to her words Weiss had indeed run into someone. Looking over, Jaune could see a young girl in peculiar clothing with orange hair, lying flat on the ground. While most people would have looked a little disheveled, especially after having a huntress run head long into them, this girl looked completely fine, laying on the ground like she was resting or getting a suntan. What's more her hair was completely unaffected with not a single strand out of place. Her expression was also strangely chipper, like there was nothing in the world that could sour her mood. Frankly speaking, the girl was starting to creep him out and he didn't even know her name yet.

"Are you alright?" Ruby asked as she went to help the girl.

"I am perfectly functional, thank you for asking," the girl replied.

"Functional?"

"Healthy. I said healthy," the girl corrected.

"S 'not what I heard," Jaune mumbled.

"Hi, I'm Ruby Rose," Ruby introduced herself.

"Salutations. I am Penny Polendina," the girl replied.

"Wonderful to meet you Miss Polendina. By any chance have you seen a young faunus ruffian running this way?" Weiss interjected.

"Excuse me?" Blake snapped.

"Why no, I haven't seen any apart from the two with you," Penny replied.

The comment left everyone perplexed as they looked around for another Faunus. Jade was obvious from the start but the mention of a second one had everyone confused. Well, everyone apart from Jaune that is. As soon as Penny had mentioned another his eyes had quickly shot over to Blake and caught a nervous look on her face which she had quickly dissolved as she looked around at the crowds. At this point he was all but certain that his suspicions were correct and the fact that she looked so distraught at being called out raised its own plethora of questions. He decided to save it for later, focusing instead on the other peculiar girl standing before them.

"Drat, I can't believe that criminal got away," Weiss complained.

"He's not a criminal. Why do you keep making such baseless accusations?" Blake complained.

"He was caught stowing away aboard that ship, how does that not make him a criminal? Besides, the way he headed straight for us was rather suspicious. He could have been a White Fang member looking to target us next."

"Not all Faunus are part of the White Fang! What is with you and your ignorant assumptions about the Faunus?"

The pair quickly devolved into an argument with everyone, the crowds included, quickly forgotten by the girls. Jaune could only watch with obvious disappointment, wondering how two people could act so childish despite their age. Speaking of children, it wasn't at all difficult for him to pick out a familiar pair of people making their way over to them, one of them being noticeably dragged by his orange haired counterpart. Nora bounded over to their team, a heavily laden grocery bag in her arms that swung back and forth like a pendulum, the plastic bag straining to maintain its hold on its rather large contents.

"Hey guys, fancy meeting you here. Anything exciting happen while we were gone?" Nora asked cheerily.

Jaune glanced over at Weiss and Blake whose argument had now devolved into a shouting match of sorts with people noticeably moving to the other side of the street simply to avoid them.

"Depends on your perspective," he replied. "What's in the bag there Nora? Looks heavy."

"It sure is. Well, at least not for me because I'm crazy strong but whatever. Jade, I think you'll like this. Ta Da!"

Reaching into the bag Nora extracted what had to have been the largest container of Forever Fall brand pancake syrup Jaune had ever seen. His jaw dropped at the size of it, the container looking less like a bottle and more like a kegger of syrup in the girl's small hands. He glanced over at Ren, his eyes silently asking just where she had managed to find such a monstrosity, let alone purchase it.

"We found a superstore that sold everything in bulk. Believe it or not that was the smallest size they had. I had to concede to Nora buying that one because I was afraid she'd try to purchase their barrel size," he replied.

"Ren, don't be silly, I'd never buy something that big. Where would we put it?"

"Fair point," Jaune conceded, finally finding his voice.

"Guess we won't have to worry about syrup for a while," Pyrrha chimed in helpfully.

"Jade, will you forgive me if I make Ren make us some pancakes for us to use this on?" Nora asked.

"Excuse me?" Ren butted in.

Jade simply looked at the bottle, her eyes wide as plates, before a broad smile flashed across her face to match. She energetically shook her head, the early signs of a sugar rush already evident in her gestures.

"Can we have pancakes for dinner?" she excitedly asked.

"No," Jaune and Ren said simultaneously.

"Of course," Nora chimed.

"Yay!" Jade celebrated.

"Uge," Jaune and Ren replied, facing palming themselves as they realized all too late that they had been ignored completely.

/-/

Beacon – JNPR Dorm

Jaune sat on his bed, reviewing some of his notes from Dr. Oobleck's class. The man spoke a mile a minute, making it increasingly difficult for him to catch even a small percentage of what he'd said throughout his lectures. He'd compared notes with Pyrrha and Ren, adding to his own as each of them had managed to catch something the others had missed. Still, there was a great deal he wasn't sure on. He was currently considering going next door to team RWBY and asking Weiss if she might share her notes with him. The girl was meticulous when it came to her school work and would no doubt have caught a great deal of the man's speech. While he was considering this he noticed Jade get up from her bed, holding the book she'd received from Blake for her birthday as she made her way towards the door.

"Headed over to RWBY's room?" he asked, catching her attention.

"Uh huh, I'm going to read with Blake," she replied.

It had become something of a nightly ritual for Jade at this point. Due to his school work, most notably the assignments he received from Oobleck, it was becoming increasing difficult for him to spare time to read with Jade before bed. Thankfully he had an idea, knowing that Blake was an avid reader and, at the time, suspecting she was a Faunus. He figured he might be able to take out two Nevermore with one bullet, giving Jade the chance to learn to read and Blake the opportunity to bond with another Faunus and possibly begin to feel comfortable enough to reveal her heritage. Children had an uncanny way of making people feel better and lowering their defenses. Not only that but considering the increasingly heated fight she'd had with Weiss which had continued to rage all the way back to their dorms, he figured having Jade come over to read might be a welcome change of pace.

Before he had a chance to get up, however, they heard a door open and suddenly slam home, echoing in the mostly deserted halls. Jade glanced to her brother with a worried expression and Jaune quickly rose to check to see what had happened. Of course, by the time he opened their door and checked the halls they were empty. Whoever had left had done so in a hurry. He suspected it must have been a member of team RWBY judging from the shouting he could hear even through the thick door and figured either Blake or Weiss had left in a huff, the other having said something that drove them over the edge. With Jade sticking close to him Jaune ventured over before knocking loud enough that he was certain they'd hear him over the shouting. There was a momentary pause where everything was quiet before the door creaked open, revealing Ruby peeking out from the doorway.

"Oh, hey Jaune, what's up?" she asked, opening the door just enough to see her sister and Weiss, both of whom were glaring at one another, and Blake strangely absent.

"Jade was just coming over to read with Blake and I was going to ask a favor of Weiss but it appears Blake is absent."

"Yea, uh, she just left."

"I figured as much. We heard the door slam and the shouting. Everything alright?"

"Everything is most certainly NOT alright," Weiss replied.

"Well if you had just given her a chance to explain," Yang shot back.

"She's a terrorist!"

"Allegedly!"

"Guys, guys, can we please not fight?" Ruby attempted to intercede.

Her attempt failed, with Yang and Weiss returning to their earlier tirade, completely ignoring the other occupants in the room. Ruby looked helpless as they bickered and Jaune massaged his temple, already feeling a headache coming on. He'd had some experience when it came to his sister's arguing, an event that could typically last hours and usually revolved around something completely trivial that had simply been blown out of proportion. Patting Jade's head as she sequestered herself behind him, he gave her a comforting look before turning on the remaining girls and grabbing their attention the best way he could.

"ENOUGH!" he roared, catching all of them off guard, causing Jade to jump in surprise, and silencing them instantly.

"Look," he continued, "obviously something happened that has you all at each other's throats and while I'd like to know what happened and possibly help if I can, I can't figure it out with all your shouting. So, I'm going to ask for the full story but not from you two," he said, pointing to Yang and Weiss.

"What?"

"Why the hell not?" Yang asked.

"Because aside from Ruby, you two are emotionally compromised at the moment."

"Excuse me?" Weiss balked.

"Tell me I'm wrong," he challenged in an authoritative tone, causing both girls to cringe as they were forced to admit he was right. "Alright then, Ruby, if you would please start from the beginning?"

With each of the girls taking a seat either on their bed or the window sill and keeping a sizable distance from one another, Jaune settled himself on a chair with Jade sitting comfortably in his lap. It was then that Ruby recounted the argument Weiss and Blake had gotten into earlier that day. Jaune had recalled that, with the point of contention being the Monkey Faunus who had apparently stowed away on the ship that had just arrived in Vale. Weiss' continued reference to the boy as a "degenerate" had rubbed Blake the wrong way, thus causing the argument itself.

When they'd returned to their dorms the fight hadn't petered out as Ruby had hoped but had seemed to gain more fuel and drive as it progressed. It was at that point that Weiss had revealed the source for her contention when it came to the White Fang and Faunus in general. Being the heiress to the SDC, her father's actions had garnered the unwanted attention of the humanitarian group early on. He'd obviously ignored them in the beginning, finding them nothing more than an annoyance, before the Fang took an abrupt change when they started attacking stores refusing to do business with Faunus and targeting SDC shipments. Their actions continued to become more destructive with some of their executives either being kidnapped or flat out disappearing. Needless to say, it had made things very tense for Weiss as a child, something which Jaune could understand.

It had been at that point that Blake had shouted back that they had been tired of being pushed around. While not a flat out confession, it was enough to catch everyone off guard and begin putting two and two together. Blake certainly hadn't done anything to argue against the assumption. On the contrary, the horrified look they'd seen on her face screamed "I've said too much" and before anyone could stop her she'd bolted from the room. As soon as she left a fresh argument ensued, this time between Weiss and Yang, the heiress having assumed her life had been in danger for the past several weeks and Yang arguing in favor of her partner, wanting to at least give her a chance to explain herself before passing judgment. Needless to say, Ruby had felt lost at that point and was grateful for Jaune's interruption when it came.

"Huh," he said, considering everything Ruby had just told her. "So she was a Faunus. I always suspected but never really thought it polite to ask."

His sudden epiphany was meet with stares as the remaining members of the team looked at him. All of them were surprised and, for the first time in a long time, Jaune felt rather awkward.

"I'm guessing none of you knew that."

"You knew she was a Faunus?" Weiss snapped.

"No, I suspected but I didn't know for certain," he corrected.

"And you didn't tell us this before because?" Yang asked, her own eyes turning crimson from frustration.

"I didn't think it would have been polite for me to flat out accuse her. I figured she was keeping her heritage secret for a reason. Honestly, with the way Cardin treated Velvet and Jade, I wouldn't be at all surprised if she was afraid she might become one more victim amongst the bunch."

"Well, the only person who needed to worry about being a victim is me," Weiss replied. "This entire time I've been living with a White Fang member and she could have killed me at any point."

"I'm honestly surprised she didn't," he muttered.

"Excuse me!" Weiss snapped.

"Well, think about it," he replied, realizing she'd heard his offhand comment and quickly attempted to save himself some pain. "Assuming she is White Fang, why didn't she? She's had plenty of opportunities."

"Perhaps she was just looking for the perfect opportunity," Weiss pointed out.

"She's had plenty all throughout our stay here," he countered. "Assuming her mission was to assassinate you, she had several opportunities to get you alone from initiation to moments where it was just you two here in the dorm. She could have even invited you to the library or for a cup of tea in the cafeteria and have been gone with you without leaving much evidence. So, barring that, she either has a different mission or, most likely, we don't know enough to assume anything."

Having a sound argument, Weiss scowled before turning away. Ruby looked pleased, glad to have someone there who wasn't completely against her teammate. Even Yang seemed to have calmed down, having nodded along with the conversation as he pointed out the holes in the heriess' argument.

"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go find her," Yang suggested, rising from her seat.

"We can't," Jaune replied, catching her off guard as her mood quickly turned.

"What? Why?" she snapped.

"Unless you've noticed, it's gotten pretty late out. The last bullhead will be leaving shortly which would no doubt leave us stranded in Vale for the night and I doubt any of you wants to pay for a cheap motel," he said, glancing over at Weiss to see she was still pouting.

"But Blake is out there, all alone. We can't just abandon her," Yang argued.

"I never said we were abandoning her," he snapped, "I'm simply suggesting we get some rest and go out fresh tomorrow to start looking for her. It's doubtful any of us are going to make any headway especially with how dark it is and unless any of you are secretly Faunus as well, we'd being stumbling around out there, perfect prey for some of Vale's less than savory citizenry," he pointed out.

It was now Yang's turn to pout, no doubt eager to go after her partner and save her from a night out on the streets. It was an endearing quality, Yang's loyalty, and was honestly one of her better traits in Jaune's opinion, but her actions were short sighted. She often acted before thinking, believing that it was better to apologize rather than ask permission. Not the greatest philosophy in his opinion.

"Alright, now that's settled, I'll go inform my team and we'll start preparing for tomorrow. With any luck, if we get an early start, we should be able to make some headway," he said, rising from his seat.

"I don't understand why any of you are on her side," Weiss snipped. "The innocent never run."

Jaune stopped, his hand hovering over the doorknob. Weiss' comment had struck him in a rather unnerving way and the young leader turned to regard her with a questioning look.

"Excuse me?" he asked.

"I said the innocent never run," she replied.

"You're sure about that?"

"Of course I am."

"Enough to bet your life on it," he prodded.

Weiss gave him a quizzical look, not quite certain what he was getting at. "What do you mean, Arc?"

In reply Jaune started to chuckle, softly and in a manner that was quite unsettling for everyone there. "You know, I have to admit Weiss, my opinion of you had been improving as of late," he said, the girl in question cocking an eyebrow in response, "but I never took you as someone who would believe in something so very flawed."

Before Weiss could ask what he meant, he returned to his dorm with Jade in tow.


While I know this may have been a short chapter, at least in my opinion (I usually aim for at least 18-24 pages in my Word document) I felt it best to split this little story into two parts. Obviously there'll be some changes in the next one and I'll be sure to add some interesting dialogue. Honestly, I'm looking to add more original chapters and not just ones that are remakes of the actual show. Unfortunately, the first volume was a little lacking story wise. At least the next two have more meat which gives me more to work with.

I decided to skip over the Forever Fall storyline, something I'm sure many of you will appreciate, mostly because, with Jaune being in Beacon legitimately, he's no longer a target for Cardin's blackmail. Of course, I decided to maintain him as a jerk for storyline reasons later down the line. While I do see him improving later on, I can also see him becoming more embittered as his attempts to seek revenge against Jaune fall flat.

Weiss' line of "The Innocent never run" always interested me and it's a shame no one ever looked into it more. Obviously, it's a rather flawed statement as history has shown that the innocent do indeed run, especially when it's from the corrupt who would silence them. We'll explore it more as it'll present some backstory for Jaune and Jade's time outside Vale.

Hope you all enjoy this update. Looking to finish up a chapter I've been working on for World War Remnant pretty soon so expect some more updates. Always appreciate your reviews. They help me to fill in certain holes I often overlook or push back until later in my stories.

Chapter Text

Vale – Downtown

"Blaaaake."

"Blaaaake."

"Blakeeey."

Teams RWBY and JNPR called out as they walked down the street, shouting the girl's name as they searched desperately for her. Occasionally they'd stop to ask passerby's or shops owners if they'd seen her recently, showing a picture of her that Yang had managed to take without her realizing during their first week together. They'd been going at it for a good two hours with noon closely approaching and still they'd made no headway as to where the Faunus girl had rushed off to. To make matters worse Weiss, while agreeing to come out and look with them, did little besides standing there with a sour look on her face, refusing to call out her teammate's name. It was a small detail that honestly annoyed Jaune more than he let on. His initial opinion of the heiress had been low from the start and while it had improved somewhat as the weeks had passed and their teams spent time together, she'd all but shattered it with her reaction to Blake's past, putting her squarely back where she'd began when they first met and doing little to improve his overall opinion of her.

Another stressor had been Jade. The young girl was all too eager to come along and help look for Blake, even going so far as to strap her sword to her hip in mimicry of her brother. While he appreciated the gesture and her willingness to go looking for a friend and someone he hoped she would come to see as a potential role model, in more ways than one, he'd had to make the difficult decision to leave her behind. That had not ended well. Jade flat out rebelled against his insistence that she stay behind, pleading with him to let her come. Jaune had been insistent, citing that they would probably be gone for hours with only short breaks in-between to rest or eat. With how much endurance and stamina she currently had she would no doubt become too tired halfway through, requesting she be carried by one of them before becoming cranky as she got tired and in desperate need of a nap.

He'd put his foot down and stated that she would be staying at Beacon at the daycare while they went out. At this point Jade had resorted to her final tactic, throwing herself on the ground as she threw a tantrum. She wailed and screamed, crying out that she wanted to help find Blake but it was to no avail. Even with Pyrrha's assistance in attempting to calm the girl and supporting Jaune in his decision, it had been like trying to handle a rabid dog as they struggled to pick her up, removing her sword, before dragging her down to the daycare. He'd been met there by one of Lexi's assistants, the woman having gone into labor a week or two back and currently on maternity leave with her two new additions. He gave the poor girl an apologetic look as she grimaced, taking hold of Jade and struggling to keep the young Faunus from escaping her grasp and running down the hall after him. He'd no doubt have hell to pay later on when he returned but, for now, he needed to focus his attention to more important matters.

"Excuse me, have you seen this girl around?" Yang asked, walking up to an elderly shop owner who was outside sweeping the entryway of his store.

The man shook his head, causing Yang to wilt slightly but nonetheless thanked the man for his help before returning to her search. While no one said anything, it was obvious they were beginning to lose hope. Vale was a large city which meant there was a lot of ground to cover. Even if they split the city into sections with each of them checking their own area (Weiss excluded for obvious reasons) they'd still have a lot of ground to cover individually with no guarantee that they'd find any trace of Blake at all. Even if they were to somehow find the girl, there was also the problem of convincing her to return. Jaune had brought his team up to speed on the events that had led to the Faunus girl's departure from Beacon the previous night so no one would be surprised to hear her mention she had been prior White Fang. It was really a matter of how she felt or what she expected to happen upon her return. If anything he wouldn't blame the girl if she assumed there were a couple of police officers waiting with a pair of handcuffs and a jail cell with her name on it. Regardless, they couldn't give up. More than anything she needed to know her team hadn't abandoned her yet and that they were willing to hear her out. Well, most of them anyway. He just hoped she was somewhere safe and not in some kind of trouble.

/-/

Vale – A Small Café

"So, you want to talk about what happened or are you just going to sit there, sipping your tea and glaring at me like you did all of yesterday?" Sun asked, sitting across from Blake at the small café while he sipped his own drink.

"I'm not sure I should trust a man who only recently was caught hitching a ride across the ocean and nearly caught," she replied.

"Finally, she speaks. Truth be told, I wasn't technically stowing away. I go to Haven Academy and would have come along with the rest of my team but I decided to hitch an early ride over."

"Sure," she drawled, her tone making it obvious she didn't exactly believe what he claimed.

"So, you going to explain what happened?" he asked again.

"Nothing happened," she replied flatly.

"Sure because it's a natural occurrence for someone to come racing out of their school, eyes red with tears, mere hours after having a rather public dispute with their teammate," he replied sarcastically. "It wasn't nothing, Blake. Obviously you guys had a fight, a really nasty one judging by how quickly you fled the scene. I'm not here to judge, I just want to know what happened and see if I can offer some sort of support."

"Why, because you a Faunus too?" she asked.

"No, because I'm a friend," he replied, folding his arms over his chest and leaning back in his chair.

Blake wasn't sure how much of that statement she believed but it was obvious from how he was acting that she wasn't going to shake his presence anytime soon. She'd attempted to do that earlier, going through several alleys and back tracking a few times in an effort to either tire him out or lose him altogether. Unfortunately for her, he had the stamina and endurance of a Huntsman which meant he'd allowed him to follow her ceaselessly without tiring at all. That and he was so damn persistent. It had only been after they sat down at this café that he'd started asking her questions, introducing himself as Sun Wukong, originally born in Vacuo before moving to Mistral to attend Haven Academy to get away from the oppressive sun and sand of the desert.

"Have you ever heard of the White Fang?" she asked, deciding to take a chance on him.

"Who hasn't?" Sun replied easily. "Bunch of 'holier than thou' Faunus who claim their actions are meant to target Humans and liberate their fellow Faunus when all it does is cause more problems for all of us. Bunch of freaks if you ask me."

"I used to be one of them," Blake said easily, suppressing a laugh as she watched Sun sputter, spilling his drink all over the table and his exposed chest.

"You what?" he asked in surprise, though maintaining a low volume on his voice to not draw unwanted attention.

Blake waited until Sun had calmed down before she started to explain everything from the beginning. She watched his expression settled into a serious tone, something she appreciated given the nature of the subject they were discussing. She talked about how she was practically born into the White Fang (there being more truth to that statement than she was willing to go into), having been an active part of it from the beginning. She spoke how their methods and protests had gone unheard or ignored with the Faunus continuing to be mistreated by the Kingdoms despite their actions during the Rebellion some years back and the establishment of the Academies. Then their previous leader decided to step down and his replacement brought with them new methods, new ideas, and a completely new White Fang.

The changes had been small at first, subtle. Their actions were more aggressive with their members no longer sitting by while they were pelted with rocks and people shouted obscenities at them. Instead, if they were attacked they rose to defend themselves, catching many people by surprise as they'd expected them to either cower in fear or run away. They started training new recruits in self-defense, ensuring they could fight to defend themselves as well as their fellow Faunus. It was a step in the right direction, one which would start to get them noticed and their voices heard. Blake had been a major proponent for it in the beginning until things took a drastic change.

They started by attacking stores and businesses that refused to cater to Faunus customers. It was a message, one that reverberated throughout the Kingdoms. Refuse to treat the Faunus fairly and there would be dire consequences. After some time they managed to get a hold of weapons and with them they began performing raids, most notably on the SDC. There attacks began getting bigger and more violent. As a result the Faunus were starting to see changes as they were finally given the respect they deserved, although one born out of fear rather than admiration. After a while Blake found herself unable to ignore the atrocities they were committing. Sure, in the beginning it had all been for a purpose, but the more they fought the more she began to see how their actions were not only targeting innocent civilians but their fellow Faunus as well. In the end she made her decision, cutting ties with them altogether and started over by enrolling at Beacon to become a Huntress.

"Now I wear this bow to keep my heritage and identity hidden," she finished, flexing her ears beneath the fabric to emphasize her point.

"I see," Sun said, having remained silent throughout her explanation and giving each word careful thought. "I do have one question."

"What's that?"

"Your combat uniform, was it something you wore while in the White Fang?"

"Yes," she said, wondering where he was going with this.

"And the only change you made to it was the bow," he replied, his eyes drifting up the subject on her head.

It didn't take long for Blake to put two and two together, averting her eyes as she pouted and said, "It's enough, alright?"

"If you say so," he replied, obviously unconvinced. "So, what now?"

"What do you mean?"

"What do you what do I mean? Blake, you ran out on your team and have been gone for nearly twenty four hours. You haven't called or sent them any messages telling them you're alright and don't lie because I've watched you and you haven't once touched your scroll," he said, causing a pang of guilt spark through her. "They have a right to know that you're alright and not dead or dying in some back ally somewhere at the very least."

"I know, I know," she said, glancing to her pocket where the offending piece of technology lay tucked away.

"And what about going back?"

"I can't," she snapped.

"Why not? You owe them an explanation at the very least."

"I know but… I just can't right now," she said, her ears flattening the bow on her head.

"What if you had a mediator?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"You know, a go-between, someone to act as a negotiator for you, someone you can trust," he explained.

"Is this your way of volunteering?" she asked, quirking an eyebrow.

"Hey, I'd volunteer to help in a heartbeat but I don't think your friends will accept me, not without some proof," he said, earning an agreeing nod from Blake. "What about that tall blond guy I saw you with yesterday? The one with the little girl Faunus riding on his shoulders."

"You mean Jaune?" she asked, Sun nodding in return. "I don't know. He's the leader of our sister team but he isn't someone I know all that well."

"He at least doesn't have any problems with Faunus if that little girl with him is anything to go by. What's their connection anyway?"

"Her name's Jade and she's Jaune's adopted sister," Blake replied, earning a pleased nod from Sun. "He's technically her legal guardian. I don't know all the details but their families were killed in a fire about a year back. He'd been watching out for her ever since, adopting her and even coming to Beacon to help give her a stable life."

"Sounds like a standout guy in my books," Sun replied, "and certainly someone you can trust to act on your behalf," he pointed out.

Blake wanted to argue but decided to take a moment to reconsider. Jaune was, by all accounts, a decent person. From the few interactions she'd had with him he'd always been polite with her, never once treating her any less than the others. Granted he wasn't aware that she was a Faunus at the time but he even went out of his way to treat other Faunus with the same decency and respect he showed the rest of them. His actions against Cardin and his team after they hurt Jade were certainly proof of that. He was also very loving when it came to Jade. He made sure she was a major part of his life and even got the rest of them involved with Jade having spent the last few nights with her learning how to read. Thinking back on it now, she actually missed those times. It was nice and even fun to watch as Jade slowly but surely got a hold of reading and understanding what was read. She especially loved how excited she became when she managed to read a whole sentence by herself without any help.

Blake sighed, "Alright, I'll call him but we're doing things on my terms," she said.

"Sounds good to me," Sun replied with a smirk.

/-/

Jaune felt his scroll vibrate in his pocket, catching his attention as he paused to take it out. His eyes nearly shot out of their sockets as he read that he'd received a message from Blake. Quickly unlocking his scroll, he was about to yell out to the others when he noticed the contents.

Don't tell anyone. Are you alone?

It was strange and rather suspicious. Looking towards the group, he saw there was a fair bit of distance between them and him. He quickly tapped out a message saying that he was and waited for her reply. It didn't take her very long to respond.

Find somewhere for us to speak alone. I have a favor to ask of you.

"Jaune, is something wrong?"

Jaune nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw Pyrrha was gazing at him with a look of concern. No doubt she'd seen his confused and concerned expression as he read Blake's messages.

"Uh, nothing much, just a message from the daycare," he lied, keeping his scroll's screen out of her view.

"Oh, is everything alright? Jade was pretty upset when we left her behind," Pyrrha recalled.

That's one way of putting it he thought as he stowed away his scroll. "Yea, they were just messaging me to keep me updated. She'd still upset so I'm going to call her, hopefully talk her down."

"That sounds like a good idea. I'll let the others know so you can have some time to yourself," she offered.

"Thanks Pyr, you're the best," he said, waiting until the girl, who was now sporting a rather large smile, was out of earshot before ducking around the corner.

He quickly tapped out another message, letting Blake know he was alone and that they were free to talk. It was a moment before her number flashed across his screen along with the photo Yang had snagged of her. Pressing the Accept button he watched as the screen flashed before Blake's face appeared on it.

"Hey Jaune," she said.

"Where the hell are you!" he snapped, causing her to jump in surprise and earning some looks from the people passing by. "Do you have any idea what kind of state your team is in? Yang is in a panic, Ruby is struggling to keep herself as well as everyone else together and Weiss is- "he stopped, taking a moment to consider his words before saying, "Weiss is a couple snippy comments away from finding me stabbing her with her own weapon."

"You know what, I take it back, maybe he wasn't the best idea to act as a mediator," a new voice spoke through the speakers.

"Who was that?"

Blake tilted her scroll to show a boy with blonde hair, tan skin, and an unbuttoned white shirt waving in the background.

"Isn't that the stowaway we saw yesterday?"

"Yes," Blake replied with a guilty look.

"Name's Sun Wukong, nice to meet you," he replied cheerily.

"Blake," Jaune moaned, "I'm doing my best here to help you out but you're literally giving Weiss as much ammo as possible to argue otherwise."

"I know, I know," she replied.

"If you know then why did you run?" he snapped, earning a surprised look from the girl. "Never mind, just tell me where you are so we can come get you and start fixing this messed up situation."

"I can't," she replied sheepishly.

"What do you mean you can't?" he all but snarled.

"I have to prove to Weiss that she's wrong about the White Fang. I have to show her all her preconceptions about the Faunus are ill-conceived."

"So you're basically saying this is a matter of pride," he concluded.

"Jaune- "she started.

"Fuck your pride!" he snapped, earning a surprised look from both Blake and Sun. "You want to show up Weiss, be the bigger person by coming back to Beacon, apologizing to your team, and explaining your reasoning for hiding your heritage or I swear to the Gods I will hunt you down and drag you back to Beacon by your ears, all four of them."

There was a moment's pause as the two Faunus let his words sink in. Jaune's little tirade had also caused his face to turn a deep shade of red and, coupled with his little outburst, he'd caught the two off guard with how uncharacteristically he'd acted.

"Jaune, are you alright?" she asked in a soft, concerned tone.

He let out a long, deep sigh before replying, "No Blake, I am most certainly not alright. Your team has been in full panic mode since you bailed. We've been worried sick about your whereabouts, not to mention whether or not you were alright or hurt or worse, and to top it all off I had a hell of a time attempting to drop Jade off at daycare while we went out looking for you."

"I take it from your tone Jade didn't take too kindly to being left behind," Sun replied.

"That's one way of putting it," he sighed. "I love her but that child still managed to get in a few good blows despite my aura and that was after we managed to take her sword away."

The two Faunus cringed, obviously imagining the hell he'd gone through that morning. "Ow, so she punched and kicked?" Sun asked.

"No, she used her teeth," he said, earning a horrified look from the pair. "Say what you will about her being a Faunus having nothing to do with animals but that girl is more wolf than you realize and I have the bit marks to prove it."

"Ouch," Sun cringed.

"Jaune, I'm so sorry, for everything," Blake apologized.

"You can save your apologies for your team when you get back. Now, when can we expect you?"

"After we've proven the White Fang had nothing to do with the Dust robberies," she replied.

"Blake," he said in a warning tone usually reserved for Jade.

"Jaune, please, I know you won't understand but this is something I have to do. Maybe it's a matter of pride but I can't simply sit by while my people are falsely accused of crimes they didn't commit."

"Allegedly," Sun added, earning a sharp glare from Blake.

"Hah, alright, fine, have it your way."

"Thank you," she said.

"However," he continued, fixing the girl with a mean glare of his own that she could feel through the scroll, "I want you to keep me appraised of where you are. If something goes wrong, I want to be able to help you out in any way possible, that includes your team, got it?"

"Yea, sure," she conceded, her ears drooping as a result.

"Here, I'll send you my scroll number so you can keep in contact," Sun replied. "Don't worry, I'll make sure she doesn't get into too much trouble."

"No offense Sun but your less than stellar track record doesn't give me much confidence," Jaune replied.

"In my defense, I tried to get her to contact her team and succeeded in convincing her to contact you at the very least," he replied as Blake rolled her eyes next to him.

"Thank you," he replied, willing to give him that one, at least. "And Blake, just so you know I will be informing your teammates about this. Gods know Yang would murder me if she found out I kept this conversation from her."

"I understand Jaune and thank you. And give Jade my love as well. I promise to read with her when this is all over," she replied.

"I'm holding you to it," he said.

Blake nodded her affirmation before ending the call, leaving him gazing down at his reflection on his scroll. A moment later a message appeared from Sun which included his contact info along with a promise to keep Blake safe and let them know of their whereabouts.

Jaune sighed, saving the contact information before heading back to his team. The easy part was over. Now he had to inform her teammates of what just happened and hopefully convince them not to go gallivanting off after Blake. He massaged his temple, frustrated by the events that had barely encompassed a single day. Why did things have to be so damn complicated?

/-/

"I don't understand why we can't just go out and look for here," Yang argued.

"We can't because once she tells us where she is, we could find ourselves walking in the opposite direction altogether. It'll be better for us to use Beacon as a staging point until we know exactly where to go," Jaune explained.

Shortly after his conversation with Blake, Jaune had returned to the group to inform them of what had happened. He'd wondered why no one had come looking for him given how long they'd talked but soon found the reason why in the form of the peculiar girl known as Penny who'd they'd run into (quite literally) the other day. The girl was apparently more observant than they had been as, when they'd mentioned Blake, she'd immediately replied by calling her the "Faunus girl." That statement alone made them all feel stupid but she quickly remedied the situation by promising to help them look for her, a suggestion which Jaune quickly jumped on as he informed them of what happened.

"I still think we should inform Headmaster Ozpin and Miss Goodwitch. They'll at least be able to inform the proper authorities," Weiss added.

"We're not calling the cops on Blake. She hasn't done anything," Yang snapped.

Jaune began massaging his temples once more, feeling a fresh headache returning as Yang and Weiss ignited their argument once more.

"As much as I hate to admit it, our resident Ice Queen has a point," he said.

"What!?" Yang said, turning on him with crimson eyes.

"Thank you," Weiss replied, before taking a moment to think about he'd just said and added, "Hey!"

"I'm not suggesting we call the cops on her," Jaune said, ignoring Weiss altogether as he held his hands up defensively towards Yang. "What I'm saying is that it would be a good idea to inform the Headmaster of what's happened so far. He'll, at the very least, be able to help us in finding Blake and possibly getting her out of any bad situation she runs into. Not only that, but it'll be easier to have him on our side rather than trying to explain our logic should this all blow up in our faces."

"Jaune has a point," Ruby piped in, "we spent all morning and afternoon looking for Blake with no results. The fact that she contacted Jaune shows she's willing to talk. The least we can do is trust her to tell us where she is and go to her with Ozpin's help."

"But won't Blake be mad we got the headmaster involved?" Yang asked.

"Maybe but I'm willing to deal with Blake being angry with us so long as she's safe," Ruby pointed out.

Just as Ruby made her point, Jaune's scroll buzzed, alerting him to a message he'd just received. Pulling it out he wasn't surprised to see it was from Sun, not Blake, letting him know they were at the docks, waiting for signs of the White Fang to show up. Apparently they'd heard of a shipment of Dust being brought in by sea, something which they figured might attract the people responsible for the recent Dust heists plaguing Vale.

"They're at the docks. We should get going," he said, looking to their teams.

"Alright, let's go get out teammate back," Ruby cheered.

"You can go, I'm staying here," Weiss replied.

"Seriously Weiss. Why do you have to be such a colossal bitch?" Yang asked.

"How dare you," Weiss snapped.

"Perhaps it would be better if she did stay," Jaune cut in, drawing their attention. "We need someone to inform Professor Ozpin of where we'll be going anyway and having her here in case Blake returns would be more preferable than her coming along with us. Besides, I need someone to watch Jade while we're out. Gods know she'd try and sneak out to follow us if she could."

"I'll message Penny. She said she wanted to help us anyway," Ruby replied.

They all nodded in agreement, shuffling their way towards the door one at a time. Jaune hung back, waiting for everyone to leave before he would follow.

"Jaune, aren't you coming?" Pyrrha asked as she stood in the doorway.

"In a minute. I need to get Jade and I have to speak with Weiss about something."

"Oh, alright, we'll hold the bullhead for you as long as we can."

"Thanks Pyr," he replied, giving her as good a smile as he could manage.

The redhead smiled and nodded back, slipping out the door and closing it behind.

"You said we needed to talk?" Weiss asked.

"Yea," Jaune said, turning his attention to her and fixing the heiress with a serious expression that immediately caught her attention. "You and your team need to have a serious talk when we get back."

"Excuse me?"

"I don't know what your problem is but you need to fix it and soon," he continued, ignoring her outburst. "From day one you've had a problem with your teammates. First it was Ruby not only being your partner but being made the team leader and now it's Blake having a sketchy past."

"She's a terrorist," Weiss argued.

"Former terrorist," he countered.

"Like that exonerates her of the things she's done."

"I'm not saying it does and I'm not saying it doesn't. What I am saying is that your stupid ego and pride are once again tearing your team apart."

"How dare you blame this on me," she snapped.

"Who else do I have to blame!" he shot back, causing her to flinch. "Aside from Cardin and his team, 90% percent of the problems I've experienced so far have originated from you. Every fight, every dispute, every misstep that someone has taken can be traced back you because no one can live up to your standards, no one treats you the way you expect them to, and your team, for all their virtues, is somehow failing you."

"How can you say that? I'm the victim."

"Of what conspiracy?" he cried. "All the affronts made against you, as far as I can tell, are largely due to your perception of things and your inability to forgive someone unless they're groveling at your feet."

"How is that my fault? In Atlas, I was raised to expect a certain standard of conduct."

"Well, newsflash princess, this isn't Atlas. This is Beacon. This is Vale and no one cares if they're not meeting Atlas' standards of conduct because they're not the ones in charge."

"You think I don't know that? I understand that perfectly, not that I would expect you to know anything about me," she huffed.

"You're right, I don't know anything about you," he admitted, catching Weiss off guard. "And the same could be said of you. The moment it was revealed that Blake is a Faunus and former White Fang, it's all you've been focused on. You've zeroed in on those two small details but I wonder just how much do you know about Blake, aside from the fact that she's quiet, likes to read, and is Yang's partner?"

Weiss opened her mouth to speak but quickly snapped it shut. Jaune simply stood there, arms crossed over his chest, waiting for an answer. Knowing she couldn't say anything to argue against him she huffed, crossing her arms over her chest and averting her gaze. Accepting that as her admittance of defeat, Jaune took a calming breath before starting again.

"I admit I don't know anything about you but the fact of the matter is you do have things that other people don't. You have a home and a family to return to. Not all of us have that luxury anymore," he said, his words digging into Weiss as she recalled Jaune's own family situation. "For some people this is the end of the line, their last ditch effort to regain some semblance of what they've lost. I can't speak for Blake but she may be in that situation and having a teammate actively trying to tear that away from her would certainly give her a good reason to stay away out of fear of that happening.

Look, I'm going to go get Jade, explain the situation to her, and bring her here. I'm trusting you to watch her and keep her out of trouble," he said, his tone implying there would be consequences should she fail to do so. "I need to leave before the airship pilot loses his patience. Once I'm gone you're free to go speak with Ozpin. We'll be back as soon as we can."

Assuming their conversation was over, Jaune turned to leave. Weiss watched him go, feeling guilt beginning to pool in her stomach, and wanting to say something, anything to alleviate it but as she opened her mouth she found her words failed her. And then the door closed and he was gone.

/-/

Vale – The Docks

Blake lay flat against the roof, looking out towards the empty docks below. Despite it being dark out with only the lights from the warehouses and those placed along the docks to illuminated the ground below, Blake had no problem seeing everything perfectly. Thanks to her Faunus heritage she had the ability to see in the dark, giving her a stark advantage over most. Still, she'd been here for at least an hour or so and had seen nothing. The shipment had arrived earlier, left out on the docks for its pickup probably within the next morning or so. That left plenty of time for someone, preferably Torchwick, to swoop in and attempt to take the Dust. Once that happened she'd contact the police, proving to Weiss that it was in fact Torchwick and not the White Fang who were to blame for the robberies.

"Anything?" Sun asked as he popped up next to her.

"Nothing yet," she replied before glancing over and seeing an armful of apples. "First you stowaway on a ship and now you start stealing food? You're making it harder for me to argue against Weiss' accusations of you being a criminal."

"Okay, first off, I already explained my reasoning for hoping that ship and second I didn't steal these. I left some lien on the counter, more than enough to pay for them all."

Blake rolled her eyes. "Semantics," she mumbled.

"Eh, I say it depends on your perspective," he said, taking a bite out of one of the apples. "Have you contacted your team yet?"

"Not yet," she admitted, keeping her eyes squarely on the area below.

"Are you going to?" he asked.

"I will just not right now," he said.

"Will that be before or after the White Fang show up?" he asked, earning a nasty glare from Blake in return. "Look, I'm only saying, you promised your friend you'd keep him appraised of where you are and since that call you haven't once taken out your scroll."

"It's complicated, alright?" she said. "I don't want to get my team involved. It's better if they stay as far away from this as possible, at least until it's over."

"Yea, about that," Sun said, giving her a guilty smile, "I already sent Jaune a message telling him where we are. He said they're headed here."

"You what!?" she snapped.

"Hey, don't get mad at me. You promised and I don't know about you but I have a feeling that whoever this Yang person is, she's not someone I want to piss off either. I'd rather have some good points in my court before something bad happens."

As if on cue, their conversation was interrupted by the droning of a bullhead as it flew overhead. Sun and Blake instinctually ducked down, watching as a second and third bullhead arrived and set down on the docks. As the doors opened, a large group of people dressed in black and white, wearing masks over their faces, hopped out and began making a perimeter. Blake's ears fell flat as she instantly recognized them as White Fang. So much for proving Weiss wrong. From the third bullhead emerged another figure, one who had red flags raised in her mind as he stepped out.

"So much for your theory. Looks like the White Fang and Torchwick are working together," Sun commented.

"That's impossible," she breathed, no longer registering Sun's presence. "The White Fang would never work with a human. Something's wrong."

"Maybe now would be a good time to call the police? Blake?"

Before he could stop her, Blake had risen from her hiding spot and dropped to the ground below. Letting out a sigh of frustration, Sun sent Jaune a message, letting him know what was happening and that they should hurry before dropping down to assist Blake. One thing was for sure, Vale was certainly more interesting than Vacuo had ever been.

/-/

Beacon – Ozpin's Office

"I see," Ozpin said, gazing at Weiss from across his desk. "So you choose to stay behind while the rest of your team went out to retrieve Miss Belladonna."

"Yes sir," she replied, sitting prim and proper in her seat. "Jade needed someone to keep an eye on her and, honestly, I'm not sure how much I can trust Blake at the moment."

"I understand," the Headmaster replied.

Despite the ease with which he'd said it, Weiss somehow felt Ozpin really did understand how she felt. None of her other teammates did or really could. Growing up in her house, living with a father like hers, it was all an experience that was completely foreign to them. Then, to suddenly find out that one of your teammates was a Faunus, and a White Fang member (formerly, or so she claimed), was more of a shock to her system than she'd wanted or needed. She'd felt justified in her reaction. She was, after all, in fear for her life. The White Fang hated the members of the SDC and being the heiress to the company made her a prime target. It had been one of the reasons that had convinced her father to let her attend Beacon, believing that she would be too far out of their reach to even attempt harming her.

Unfortunately, none of her teammates knew this and, in hindsight, it might have helped had she explained the situation beforehand. Her interaction with Jaune just prior to him leaving had been especially jarring. While previous fights with him had always had the boy acting polite or poking fun at her, mostly as a means of making her look like a fool, this recent interaction had been much more brutal. She knew, or at least suspected, that he had hit upon some very personal notes, especially when he'd mentioned some of them didn't have anyone or anything to return to. She was certain he was referencing himself and Jade in that moment.

Speaking of Jade, she glanced over to see the little girl, standing at one of the windows which acted as a wall and gazing out onto the Vale, most likely in an attempt to find her brother. The moment Jaune had returned with his little sister in tow, the dour mood she was in only seemed to get worse. Where the girl had been a ball of energy this morning, actively fighting her brother's attempts to leave her at the daycare despite her protests that she wanted to come help look for Blake, this time she was oddly quite. She had a distant look in her eyes, something that seemed completely foreign to her, as Jaune explained Weiss would be looking after her while they retrieved Blake. She could only silently nod, taking hold of Weiss' hand and barely registering her brother's kiss goodbye before he headed for the airships.

Even her own attempts to garner a reaction from her had failed. All while they walked to the elevator that led to Ozpin's office, she'd done her best to lift her spirits and engage the five year old in conversation. She'd mostly stayed silent, barely answering aside from a mumbled word here and there. As soon as they reached the office, she went straight to the window and stayed there. While she didn't want to admit it, Jade seemed like she was in a state of defeat, like her brother's goodbye had been the last thing she heard and that she expected it would be the last time they saw one another. She'd pushed this from her mind, however. Jade was only five, she certainly wouldn't have such thoughts. Then again, Jade's life had been distinctly different from her own and she'd been forced to endure more hardships than she cared to imagine.

"It just surprises me that a member of the White Fang could have managed to forge their way into Beacon," Weiss continued.

"Oh, she didn't forge her way in. I offered her a place here," Ozpin said lightly.

"I-I'm sorry professor, I'm not sure I heard you correctly," Weiss replied, startled.

"No, you heard me well enough. I offered Miss Belladonna a place here at my school."

"So you knew all along?" she asked.

"That she was a former member of the White Fang? Of course," he confirmed, taking a sip from his mug. "It would be rather irresponsible of me to not have known."

"But sir, I don't understand, if you knew then why did you let her attend Beacon?"

"Its quite simple, Miss Schnee, she wanted to make a change in her life and I was willing to help her accomplish that."

Weiss looked at the man, confused by what he'd just told her. Ozpin must have sensed it as his expression took on a more fatherly role as he spoke.

"Miss Schnee, may I ask you why you came here to attend Beacon rather than stay in Atlas and attend the academy there?" he inquired.

"Uh, well, its was more of a personal preference," she replied, shifting her gaze to the desk.

"I see. Well, as you might have realized, the same could said of all my students. Everyone who attends Beacon does so with their own reason, ambition, and goals in mind. Some are selfish such as achieving fame and glory as a great Huntsman. Others are more humble such as following a family tradition. Still there are those who seek to attend for more personal reasons," he said, glancing over to Jade.

Weiss followed his gaze, recalling exactly why Jaune had come to attend Beacon. He'd done it with Jade's future in mind, shoving all of his personal goals to the side simply to focus on giving her a better life.

"Sir, if I may ask, what were Blake's reasons for attending?" Weiss asked.

Ozpin looked at her, his gaze somehow feelings as if it was looking beyond her eyes to the soul that dwelt within. "While I'd usually withhold such information due to it being a personal matter for my students, I believe that I can trust you to respect them."

"Of course," she replied.

"Miss Belladonna came here to atone," he said simply.

"Pardon?"

"Simply put, she wishes to atone for everything she's done as a member of the White Fang by becoming a Huntress who puts of the needs of the people before her own.

It is not my duty to judge my students for their past actions, though many would argue otherwise. Rather, it's my duty as both a Professor and the Headmaster of this school to provide my students with every opportunity to grow, mature, and succeed. We may train young men and women here to one day go out into the world as protectors of the people and slayers of Grimm, but I believe that it is vitally important that we not overlook the deeper issues that lie beneath the surface. If I can discover even one of my student's personal reasons for joining my school and help them in our own way to achieve that goal, then I will have done more for that one student than I have accomplished on my own in a lifetime.

Unfortunately, nothing is perfect. Despite my best efforts society's vain perceptions and callus standards still find a way to worm their way into the hearts of men and even into the very halls of Beacon. While we welcome anyone who would seek to become a Huntsman here, be they Human or Faunus, I'm afraid the prejudices of the world still find a way into these hallowed halls. No doubt you've seen for yourself just how ill-prepared some of the students here are for the prospect of becoming a Huntsman who fights for the people rather than themselves."

Weiss did indeed know what he meant. Her gaze drifted to the floor, her heart heavy with guilt. On more than one occasion she'd seen team CRDL accosting some poor Faunus. She was always vocal with her disgust of such treatment, but she'd never done anything to stop or hinder it. Jaune was the only exception, though he'd done so only after his sister Jade had fallen victim to Cardin's bullying. Even so, he'd stood up for those who were being molested by others who flaunted themselves as future Huntsman.

What was worse, she had acted like a complete hypocrite the last couple of days. First with the young Faunus whom she'd seen running from the sailors after he'd been discovered as a stowaway and then to Blake after she'd revealed herself to be a Faunus. She'd never given it a second thought as she insulted her people, thinking she was in the right as she claimed the White Fang to be murderers and terrorists simply because they'd been waging a war with her family, a war that, by all accounts, they'd spilled just as much blood in as the White Fang.

"Sir, may I make a selfish request?" she asked.

"That depends Miss Schnee. What is your request?"

"Whatever punishment you have lined up for Blake, could you reconsider it or at least allow me to perform it with her?"

"That is a very noble request," he replied. "In all honesty, I hadn't had anything in mind. While she has been absent from her team, I don't see why Miss Belladonna should be punished for spending some time alone, so long as she hasn't broken any laws or school rules."

"Then I'd like to request that I be allowed to go with you to retrieve her from the docks," she pressed.

"I was under the impression that your teammates were already on their way to retrieve her," he pointed out. "That said, why don't we go wait for their return. I'm sure they'll appreciate a familiar face as well as an apology," he said, giving the young heiress a warm smile.

"You're right," she said, standing and giving the professor a curt nod. "Jade, it's time to go. Let's go wait for Jaune to return. We can read while we wait," she offered.

Despite the offer, Jade remained silent, her gaze glued to the view of Vale in the distance and the light of the setting sun.

"Jade? Come on, it's time to go," Weiss said, kneeling down to look at the girls face. "Jade?"

"Fire," she replied softly.

Confused by her odd statement, Weiss looked out the window, attempting to see what she was so fixated on. Her eyes were quickly drawn to a soft glow in the distance, one she'd mistakenly took for the setting sun despite it having set at least an hour or two ago. Panic quickly rushed through her system as her instincts immediately told her something was wrong and that it had her teams' name written all over it.

"Professor, don't tell me that's- "

"The Vale Docks," Ozpin finished, pressing a button on his desk, "Glynda, prep an airship immediately. There's a situation at the docks that could possibly place the lives of several of our students in danger."

"Understood Sir, I'll have one ready in five minutes," the deputy replied.

At that moment Weiss' scroll began to buzz. Pulling it from the pouch she kept on her hip, she looked to see Ruby's face as a call came through. She pressed the accept button and was greeted by a distraught looking Ruby running down the street with the others in tow.

"Ruby?"

"Weiss, thank goodness. We're on our way to the docks. Somethings happened, an explosion. We're not quite sure but we think Blake's in trouble. We tried calling her but she's not picking up."

"We saw. I'm with Professor Ozpin. We can see the fire and we're on our way right now. Just hang on," she said before the call cut out.

Without another word Weiss scooped Jade up into her arms, following after Professor Ozpin as they made their way to the elevator. While the girl was silent, Weiss could feel her anxiety as she clutched the hem of her jacket and a momentary glance showed worry and fear mixed into the little girl's features. She could only imagine what was going through her head, none of it good she would assume. Practically running through the halls, they made their way out onto the courtyard where Miss Goodwitch stood, speaking to the pilot of the airship as it was preparing to leave.

"Glynda, is everything in order?" Ozpin asked.

"Yes sir. The authorities have been contacted and we can be there within ten minutes."

"Very good," Ozpin said, stepping on the aircraft.

"Miss Goodwitch, I need a favor," Weiss said, gaining the woman's attention with a stern look of her own. "I need you to take Jade. You're the only one I can trust her with."

"You say that as if you'll be going along," Miss Goodwitch stated.

"That's because I am," Weiss replied.

"Out of the question," Glynda said in retort.

"Miss Goodwitch please," she pleaded.

"Glynda, we don't have much time," Ozpin pitched in.

"I can't consciously let one of my students walk into a battle zone. It's suicide," she argued.

"Miss Goodwitch, please! My teammates are out there, one of whom may be seriously hurt. I can't very well stay here wondering if they're alright or not. I need to go there. I have to be there for my team."

Standing her ground, Weiss couldn't believe she was arguing with the Deputy Headmistress of all people. Winter would be livid with her if she ever knew but she couldn't simply stand by while one of her teammates was in danger and the others were running headlong into it. Looking to Ozpin, the man gave a nod of consent, causing Glynda to let out a frustrated sigh as she took Jade from her arms.

"Follow Ozpin's orders to the letter and don't you dare try any heroics or I'll have something far worse than detention lined up for you when you return," she threatened, her words somehow causing greater fear in Weiss than the danger she was willingly walking into.

"I will, thank you," she said, hoping aboard the airship just as it began to ascend.

/-/

Vale – The Docks

Jaune ran as fast as he could, pushing his legs harder and harder. On their way down to the docks they'd seen the explosion and heard the sound, alerting them that something had gone terribly wrong. As they ran Ruby called Weiss, letting her know what was going on. Apparently her partner already knew, having a view from Ozpin's office. They were on their way but how long would it take to reach them? It was something Jaune couldn't let himself dwell on as they neared the docks and saw the flames and smoke rising over the roof tops. Gun fire could be heard from within along with shouts from various people.

"What's going on?" Pyrrha asked.

"Sounds like a warzone," Yang pointed out.

"Stick with melee attacks. Avoid using your guns as much as possible. We don't want to ignite any of the dust," Jaune directed as he drew Crocea Mors.

"Aww, but I like causing explosions," Nora whined as she held her hammer aloft.

"Nora, no," Ren chided the girl before turning back to their leader, "you do realize that will leave us severally limited."

"I know but if a stray bullet hits any one of those containers and ignites the Dust, we'll be worrying about more than our lack of fire power," he stated.

"Penny's on her way as well as Ozpin. Ten minutes at best," Ruby called out.

Ten minutes? That was a lot of time for something to go wrong. Jaune turned his focus to the task at hand, that of helping their friend Blake. Their top priority was in making sure she was safe as well as Sun. Once that was accomplished they could focus on their adversaries and keeping them at bay until reinforcements arrived. As they rounded the corner onto the docks, the heat hit them like a wall. Jaune had to blink a few times just to get the moisture back into his irises before he could take a good look at the battle field.

To put it simply, it looked like a warzone that had been pelted with artillery. The Dust kept in the containers had ignited, leading to an assortment of outcomes. Aside from the usual fire Dust, Jaune could see pools of water from both water and ice Dust having melted and saw sparks from bits of lightening Dust, all of which threatened to ignite the other containers. To add to the chaos was the numerous White Fang members they saw scattered around. Some were knocked out on the ground, no doubt due to Blake and Sun's intervention, but others were hiding amongst the containers, taking shots at Blake as she battled with Torchwick while Sun lay unconscious nearby.

"Pyrrha, Yang, go give Blake some support. Ruby, Ren, take out the White Fang acting as snipers. Nora," he said, seeing the redhead turn to look at him, "go break some legs."

"With pleasure," she said, giving him a smile that sent chills down his spin.

To the White Fang's credit they had anticipated the arrival of reinforcements. None of them were foolish enough to think that the explosion they'd caused, or Torchwick, it was hard to say, would go unnoticed by the greater population of Vale. What they probably hadn't anticipated was the arrival of half a dozen students from Beacon, all of whom were more than anxious to start breaking some skulls. While Nora tore into her opponents, sending many sprawling as she knocked them aside like human bowling pins, Jaune targeted the nearest operative, bringing his sword down on their rifle and cleaving it in half. The man had barely enough time to register what had happened to his weapon before Jaune drove the pommel of his sword into his face, sending him to the ground and knocking him out cold.

"Nice trick kid. Here's one of mine," he heard a voice say.

Jaune turned just in time to see Roman Torchwick aiming his cane his way, the bottom popping open before a flash erupted from the end. Jaune had just enough time to dodge out of the way, flaring his aura in anticipation for the explosion. It was larger than he'd anticipated, probably having hit one of the crates of Dust. He was flung across the concrete, his vision swimming and his ears ringing as he lay on the ground. He groaned, fighting past the pain as his aura worked to heal the damage he'd received in the attack. Smoke choked his eyes and nostrils, filling them with the acidic smell given off by the mineral. There was something else there too, something horribly foul smelling.

"What is that? It smells like meat but it's putrid," he thought to himself.

As his vision returned to him he noticed a figure lying next to him. It took him a moment but slowly their features came into view. A moment later he registered the long blond hair tied into a long braid. His breath hitched, uncertain of what he was seeing but unable to recall anyone else who looked that way. Not far from her were more figures, all with blond hair with the only exception being a woman with tan skin and black hair lying next to her. None of them were breathing.

"Sapphire?" he said, shaking the girl on the ground. "Sapphire, come on, wake up, this isn't funny."

The woman remained motionless, no signs at all that she was still breathing.

"Saphron? Terra?" he cried, neither of them moving. "No, where's Adrian? Adrian!"

His lungs burned as the smoke and fire consuming their home burned without resistance. The heat alone burned his skin and eyes as he desperately tried and failed to rouse his family. What's worse, the putrid smell of meat, of burning human flesh, clogged his nose. It was more than he could take and he fell to his knees, desperately shaking his sister's unconscious form in the hope of saving her from this nightmare.

/-/

Pyrrha smashed her shield into the White Fang member, dropping them into a heap on the ground as they lost consciousness. While she and Yang had run to support their friend Blake, Torchwick had noticed them immediately, firing several shots from his cane to keep them at bay while he retreated. They'd managed to get to Blake just in time though the girl was in pretty bad shape and her blond Faunus friend, Sun if she recalled what Jaune had told her, wasn't doing any better. Thankfully it wouldn't be long before reinforcements from Beacon arrived. They just had to hold out until then.

Another explosion, this time closer, and she had to raise her shield to protect herself from the blast of hot air. From the sound it must have been Roman's doing, the criminal targeting Dust crates in an effort to cause as much mayhem and confusion as possible to allow himself time to escape. The worst part was that his attacks had no real target in mind. So long as one of them was nearby or caught in the explosion, even if White Fang members were numbered amongst the casualties, they were expendable so long as he got away. It was disgusting to think that such a man had once been a Huntsman. To think he'd have stooped so low made her blood boil.

"Pyrrha, have you seen Jaune?" Yang called.

"No, where is he?"

"I don't know. I saw him fighting some White Fang members nearby but lost him after that explosion."

Yang's words had her worried, hoping Jaune hadn't gotten himself caught up in the mayhem. Glancing around the battle field, she managed to make out his form, kneeling on the ground over an unconscious White Fang member. At first she thought he was checking to make sure they weren't dead but the way he was hunched over them, shaking them as if to wake them, had her running over to make sure he was alright.

"Jaune?"

"Come on, wake up," she heard him say.

"Jaune," she called again.

"Don't do this to me Saphron. Don't leave," he pleaded.

"Jaune!" she said grabbing hold of his shoulder.

He lashed out, not letting anyone stop him from attempting to wake this Saphron girl. The whole thing had her worried and she forcibly turned him around to face her.

"Jaune!" she yelled.

"Wha- Pyrrha?" he said, blinking a few times as if to bring his eyes back into focus.

"Jaune what are you doing?" she asked.

"Wha- I- "he turned back to the White Fang member, gazing down at them with a look of confusion. "But she was here. I saw her," he muttered.

"Jaune, what's going on? What's happening?"

"I- I don't know," he said. "There was an explosion and then the fire and…" he trailed off, gazing around him, perplexed by what he was seeing.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

"Y-yea, yea I think I am," he said, taking a deep breath before forcing himself to his feet. "Where's Torchwick?"

"He's trying to make his escape. Blake is safe as well as Sun but they're in bad shape," she said.

At that moment a bullhead flew overhead. There were no markings on the side but from the way to was moving it didn't look friendly.

"Looks like things just got worse," he said.

Before anything else could go wrong, however, a blast of green light tore out across the sky. A second bullhead that had been making its way towards them and had opened fire was split in two, the halves crashing into the ocean while its partner set down, opening a hatch on the side to admit Torchwick entrance.

"What in the name of the Gods was that?" Pyrrha asked.

Jaune didn't have an answer for her. Whatever it was, it was on their side and had Torchwick running for his life. Shortly after that the sound of a bullhead cut across the sky accompanied by the sound of sirens. Jaune looked up, pleased to see the Beacon symbol painted on the side of this airship. Reinforcements had come and just in the nick of time.

"Ruby!" they heard Weiss cry out.

"Weiss, you came," Ruby shouted, running over to hug her partner.

"Where is Miss Belladonna?" Professor Ozpin enquired as he stepped from the bullhead.

"She's alive but she and Sun are in bad shape," Yang replied.

"Then it's a good thing we brought along a medical team," he said, glancing over to see the medics disembarking with gurneys ready to take the injured team members. "Is anyone else hurt?"

"Just a few scratches and bruises," Jaune said.

"Jaune was caught in an explosion courtesy of Torchwick. His aura protected him but I'm worried there's more damage than he realizes," Pyrrha said in a worried tone.

"Given the state of things I'll want you all to check into the medical wing at Beacon. I'll want to speak with each of you regarding what happened but that can wait until you've been treated," he said.

"Yes Professor," Jaune said before turning to Weiss. "Where's Jade?"

"She's with Miss Goodwitch. I think you'd agree she can be trusted to watch her."

Jaune nodded, content to know his sister was in good hands. Allowing Pyrrha to help him aboard and settle in, more so to assuage her own worries, he sat back and finally relaxed. As the bullhead took off, he found himself too tired to be affected by his motion sickness. Instead his mind was preoccupied with what had occurred and the illusion or vision he'd seen. It bothered him, reliving that traumatic experience but he couldn't help but wonder what had caused it. As sleep overtook him, he pushed it to the back of his mind. There was time enough later for him to deal with it.


Longer chapter than I anticipated. Honestly, I had something else in mind, possibly 15 pages or so, and it ended up being a lot longer. I just kept adding stuff on and, by the end, I had something far different than I'd initially walked in with but nonetheless satisfied with the results.

So, not long after posting the last chapter, I received a review stating that they felt I had written Jaune to be too perfect and I honestly have to agree with that statement. Looking back on the chapters I've posted so far, every conflict or problem I've presented him with have been things he's managed to breeze by. Therefore, with that in mind, I set about to give Jaune some faults but not to make it too obvious or have it coming out of left field.

Long story short, the problem Jaune experienced with living his family trauma will become something paramount to the story and not something that just "cropped up." I'll be using proceeding chapters to help show how this was a prevalent problem that has always existed but was largely ignored by him for the most part. I won't spoil too much so I'll just say that he'd been ignoring a lot of stress brought about through a combination of losing his family, adopting Jade, and being made team leader.

As for Weiss, while I've had some people how they wanted Jaune to tear the heiress a new one, I decided to show a softer side of her this chapter. I honestly believe that, given the chance to reflect on her actions, Weiss would actively work to correct some of the problems she's caused. After all, she changes a great deal in the show and it's important to show some of the ground work being laid out as she begins to become a better person.

Hope you all enjoyed this chapter. Looking forward to working on the next one, especially because I'm coming up with more and more unique situations that will diverge from the main story of the show while also remaining true to it in some aspects. Let me know your thoughts in your reviews.

Chapter Text

Beacon – Medical Wing

News of the events that had transpired at the docks quickly spread throughout the student population. Few if any people weren't in the know of the sighting of Roman Torchwick working alongside the White Fang in an attempt to steal a large shipment of Dust. They also knew that several of their own students, consisting of at least two teams, had intervened in the attempted robbery, successfully foiling the criminal's plans but at the cost of some of their own. While a few of them were pretty banged up, everyone was thrilled to know there were no casualties on their side. Well, at least, not until Glynda Goodwitch got a hold of them.

"Good morning Tsune," Professor Ozpin said as he and Glynda strode into the medical wing.

"Good morning Headmaster, Glynda," Tsune, the resident medical practitioner replied.

Glynda nodded back, looking over the unconscious forms of three of their students as they lay in bed. Tsune was, by all intents and purposes, one of the best medical practitioners in Vale. Despite the fact she was a Faunus, as she sported a long fox like tail, she'd proved herself more than capable of overcoming stereotypes and discrimination in her pursuit of accomplishing her studies and becoming a doctor. Glynda suspected it was due to something else entirely, however. The woman was a well-known sadist, taking great pleasure in inflicting pain, something which her profession afforded her a great opportunity to satiate. While unconfirmed, prior to her joining the Beacon staff rumors had persisted of several of her fellow students who'd attempted to dissuade her from becoming a doctor, targeting her due to her Faunus heritage. Shortly after they were admitted to the hospital with strange bruises and cuts all over their bodies and, as soon as they were healed, they left school immediately. While they refused to name names, Glynda felt she had a fairly good idea who was responsible. In all honesty, she didn't know if she should feel proud or disgusted by the woman's supposed actions.

"How are our patients doing today?" Ozpin asked.

"Well, Mr. Wukong is healing nicely. He had taken the brunt of the damage but his aura protected him against most of it. I gave him an aura booster and he's showing promising results. Miss Belladonna was in a much worse state. Most of the damage she'd received came after her aura broke. She'll be sore for a few weeks but she's past the worst of it."

"And Mr. Arc?"

"Mr. Arc was completely fine. Exhausted more so than anything. Despite having been caught in a Dust container explosion, his aura protected him against the brunt force and he still had quite a bit left in reserve."

"Thank you, Tsune, but I wasn't enquiring as to his physical state," the headmaster said.

"I understand Headmaster, but I'm a Doctor not a therapist. My interests lie in the body and only the body," she said with a coy smile that sent an uneasy shiver through Glynda's frame.

"How long has Jade been with him?" Glynda asked, looking over to the small girl curled up next to her brother on the bed.

"Since yesterday evening. I thought of having his team take her with them back to their dorm but I thought better of it once I saw she'd fallen asleep. She seemed quite distraught when he arrived back."

"They've both lost their families and had only each other to rely on for the past year. It would make sense she might be worried she'd lose him as well," Ozpin said, taking a thoughtful sip of his drink as he eyed his student. "Keep me posted of his condition and, once he'd awake, inform him that I'd like to see him in my office as soon as he has time."

"Of course headmaster," Tsune replied.

/-/

Blake felt terrible. Despite her aura working to alleviate the major damage caused by her fight with Torchwick, she could still feel the tightness in her muscles brought on from over exertion as well as being batted around like a damn rag doll. She tried to lay as flat as possible, not moving in the least, but even the act of breathing hurt her chest, something which was quite unpleasant. Cracking her eyes open, she was accosted by the sun glaring at her through the nearby window. The white washed walls did little to alleviate its intensity and she had to take a moment to adjust to the brightness.

Glancing around she could see a few nearby machines monitoring her heartrate amongst other vitals. A few I.V. drips set nearby dispensed a clear liquid into her body curtsy of some needles stuck into her arm. Reaching around to the side of the bed, Blake quickly found the bed controls and used them to prop herself up. Her stomach ached from the change in position but Blake wanted to see her surroundings and make sure that Sun had survived at least. She was surprised to instead see Jaune asleep in the bed opposite hers with Jade curled up in his arms. Her little ears twitched whenever her brother breathed on them through his nose but it was a heartwarming sight to see.

Glancing over to her right, Blake felt her heart settle as she saw the sleeping form of Sun in the bed adjacent to her own. Now devoid of his shirt (which didn't cover much to begin with) he had a few bandages wrapped around his waist along with a few I.V.s stuck into his arms as well. His heart monitor showed a consistent beat, however, and that at least gave her reason to calm down a bit. Content to know that everyone was safe, she closed her eyes in the hopes of catching another nap. No doubt her team would be arriving at some point with everyone eager to give her an earful for doing what she did, Weiss especially.

The one thing she could count on, though, were the instincts she'd honed while in the White Fang alerting her to movement in the room. While she suspected it was the resident doctor, the masculine sounds they made told her it was Jaune. Recalling the conversation they'd had yesterday via scroll, she wasn't at all eager to speak with him. She instead kept her breathing steady, hoping he'd assume she was still asleep. Unfortunately, she had no such luck as she heard the young man making his way across the linoleum floor, sitting himself rather nosily on the metal stool next to her bed. She kept up her façade despite feeling his eyes boring holes into the back of her head. To make matters worse he began poking her in the back, just between her shoulder blades, as a means of gaining her undivided attention.

"Come one Blake, I know you're awake. You can either keep pretending by trying to outlast my attacks or you can face the music, up to you," he said.

Blake decided on the former, believing herself more than capable of withstanding his onslaught.

"Alright, you've left me no choice," he said, making a loud wet sound as he put a finger in his mouth before extracting it. "Jade always hates this one," he said.

Blake was puzzled by what he meant until she sensed his finger moving dangerously close to her ear. Her Faunus ear. On instinct Blake countered, snatching his hand before it could draw any closer and eliciting a string of protests from her muscles from the quick movements as she crumpled back into the bed. All the while Jaune maintained the same unapologetic, deadpan expression. He held no sympathy for the girl's plight that much was obvious.

Alright, alright, I'm awake," she groaned as her muscles began to settle.

"You're an idiot," he said with no remorse.

"I know," she replied, glancing away.

"Do you?" he asked, giving her a stern expression that would make Miss Goodwitch proud. "Do you have any idea just how stupid, selfish, and self-destructive your actions were?"

"I- "she began but was quickly interrupted by Jaune.

"Do you realize just how worried your teammates were? All of them?" he asked, causing her ears to flatten against her skull. "You made me a promise, one in which you'd stay safe and your team would be kept out of the line of fire."

"Jaune –"

"You lied to me, Blake," he snapped. "I placed my trust in you to the right thing, the mature thing, and you lied to me. I don't trust people who do things like that."

"I'm sorry," she said in a quiet voice.

"Words are cheap. You want us to trust you again, you need to show us with your actions. Show us you can be trusted by trusting us. Had you done that from the start this whole fiasco might have been avoided."

"I know," she replied, feeling her guilt stab her in the heart with each point he made. "I bet Weiss can't wait to rub this in my face. She was right, you know, the White Fang were involved in the robberies."

"I wouldn't count on Weiss lording this over you," Jaune replied.

"What do you mean?" she asked turning to face him with a quizzical look.

"Believe it or not, that girl hasn't left your side since you were brought in. The medical team had to work around her, she was so intent to stay at your side. Ruby and Yang had to practically drag her away to meals and lessons."

Blake starred at him, waiting for him to break into a smile and tell her it was all a joke. His deadpan expression hammered the point home, however, leaving her uncertain about how she should feel regarding the heiress' uncharacteristic show of affection for her teammate.

"Oh," was all she could manage.

"Yea," Jaune replied, "needless to say she's owed an apology, from you and I both."

"Why? What did you do?"

"It's nothing I did, more along the lines of something I said," he admitted, blushing slightly out of shame.

"You two get into another argument?" Blake asked, recalling how they had both been at odds with one another, beginning with the night before initiation and the following morning in the locker room.

"Yea, I might have lost my patience with her. Again," he admitted.

"You seem to do that a lot," Blake said with a smirk.

"It's something I need to work on, yes," he replied.

"It's not completely bad. I've heard it said that arguments are simply another form in which people show how much they care for one another," Blake replied coyly.

Jaune's gaze shot to her, bewilderment etched across his features. The Faunus couldn't help but smile, suddenly realizing why Yang liked teasing people so much. His expression quickly soured, however, as his eyes narrowed at her.

"That's not funny," he growled.

"Depends on your perspective," she replied.

Their conversation was quickly interrupted by the sound of rustling sheets. Blake instinctually glanced over to Sun, thinking he was awake, but saw he was still asleep. She then glanced over to the bed Jaune had previously occupied and saw that Jade had awoken. The little girl rubbed the sleep from her eyes and, after noticing her brother was missing, glanced around the room looking for him. As soon as her eyes meet Blake's they widened, her ears shooting up along with them.

"Blake," she said.

Before she could reply, Jade was scrambling to the edge of the bed. In her attempts to get down she unfortunately managed to entangle herself in the sheets and plummeted the two feet to the hard ground and kissed it hard. She cringed along with Jaune, thankful the girl's aura had been unlocked and would have dampened the blow. Disentangling herself from the bedsheets, Jade showed no signs of having been hurt as she raced over, climbing her brother like a tree, before making her way onto the bed. She stopped just short of Blake, her expression wary as she looked at the girl before her. Realizing that she was waiting for permission, Blake smiled as she held her hands out to her. Jade didn't come to her immediately, her emotions quickly rising to the surface as her face scrunched up and tears began pouring from her eyes.

"Blake," she wailed and threw herself against her chest.

Blake groaned, the impact causing her sore muscles to flare in protest, but she weathered the pain. The small girl in her arms sobbed into her chest, dampening it with her tears. It was difficult for her to not join in as she gently stroked the girl's head while she cried.

"You owe her an apology, first and foremost," Jaune commented.

"Yea, you're right about that," she said, continuing to stroke the girl's hair as her sobs slowly began to die.

"What's with all the noise? I have patients here in need of rest. Oh, Mr. Arc, you're awake," Tsune said, charging into the room.

"Sorry, Jade got a little emotional when she saw Blake was awake," he replied, motioning to the tiny girl in Blake's arms.

"Well, that's understandable. Miss Belladonna did suffer some very unfortunate injuries," she said, eyeing the girl before turning her gaze back to Jaune. "Seeing as how you're awake, I was asked to inform you that the Headmaster would like to see you once you were up."

"Professor Ozpin?" he asked, surprised. "What for?"

"No doubt to interview you regarding the events surrounding the incident at the docks. I'm sure he'll ask the same of Miss Belladonna and Mr. Wukong once they're well enough."

"I see. Did he want to see me now?"

"He asked you to come once you had some time. If you're not feeling well enough, we could run a few tests first?" the woman said, a devilish grin spreading across her face as she eyed him dangerously.

"I'll go right now," Jaune said, rising to his feet and standing stiff as a board.

"Oh, if you're sure?" she said, noticeably deflating. "Miss Belladonna, I'll be back later to check up on your progress," she said, turning on her heal to exit the room, her tail sashaying behind her.

"Looking forward to it," Blake grumbled as she cringed.

"I'd better get going. The longer I stay here the more I feel my overall health will be in danger," he said, doing nothing to hide his eagerness to abandon her. "I'll leave Jade with you. I know she was worried sick about her reading buddy."

"I'll keep an eye on her," Blake replied.

"Jade," he said, garnering the little girl's attention. "I have to go see Professor Ozpin. I'll be back later. Keep an eye on Blake for me, make sure she doesn't get into any more trouble," he said, earning an eye roll from the Faunus.

Jade quickly wiped the tears from her face, her eyes already bloodshot from the excessive crying, before giving Jaune a curt nod. She then turned her attention to Blake, giving her a stern glare that was less intimidating and more adorable, mostly due to how young and cute she was. Blake could only chuckle in amusement before waving goodbye as Jaune exited the room, only later regretting having not asked him to drop by her dorm to pick up some reading material for her.

/-/

Professor Ozpin sat at his desk, presumably doing paperwork when Jaune arrived. The telltale sound of the elevator dinging as he arrived at the top floor alerted the man to his presence. Whether he'd been expecting him or someone else, he couldn't quite say. The man had always been a mystery, even to those who worked under him. Regardless, he had a warm smile plastered on his face, like a grandfather when he saw one of his beloved grandchildren making their way towards him.

"Good morning, Mr. Arc, I'm pleased to see you're doing well after your excursion to the docks last night," he said.

"Yes sir," he said, taking a seat before. "I was told you wished to speak with me?"

"Indeed," he replied, taking a thoughtful sip from his mug before starting. "I've spoken to each of your teammates in turn regarding the incident. I was pleased to hear of you efforts to quickly take control of the situation and prioritize the safety of Mr. Wukong's and Miss Belladonna's lives."

"I simply did what I felt was the right course of action," he replied humbly. "We were there to help them anyway. I wasn't planning on fighting."

"Such is the life of a Huntsman. We often find ourselves walking into situations, assuming one thing only to find the mission priorities and objectives have changed significantly," he replied. "For the most part, your teammate's accounts align with those of team RWBY. Naturally, I'd simply file a report and send it the proper authorities for their investigation but there was something Miss Nikos told me that had garnered my interest, a small detail that would have been overlooked by anyone else."

"What detail was that?" Jaune asked out of curiosity.

Ozpin's expression took on a noticeably serious tone with the man interlocking his fingers together as he gazed across the desk at him. Jaune could immediately sense the shift in tone, wondering just what Pyrrha had said that would cause this change.

"Jaune, I feel prompted to ask something that may be very personal for you. I want you to understand that I am by no means judging you as being incapable of being a huntsman nor of performing your duties as a team leader. I merely wish to offer whatever services our school can provide in helping to remedy this situation."

"Professor, what exactly did Pyrrha tell you?" Jaune asked, both puzzled and a little unnerved by the man's response.

Ozpin fixed with his gaze before asking, "when you and Jade departed your village after its destruction, did you at any point take the time to properly grieve and mourn the passing of your families?"

The question hit Jaune like an Ursa paw to the face with how unexpected it was. His surprise must have shown on his face as Ozpin's expression relaxed into something much more sympathetic. While that was the man's intention, to Jaune's eyes it had shifted into something much worse, something he hated with a passion; pity.

Jaune hated that sentiment more than anything. Having spent a year on his own, caring for a child more than half his age, he couldn't afford to appear weak or incapable of providing her with the necessities to live and flourish. When he took on jobs with other Huntsman as a way of honing his skills and earning a few extra lien, he'd thrown himself into his tasks, learning everything quickly and efficiently so as to an asset, not a hindrance, to them. He'd held his ground against racists and aggressors, weathering their harsh words and even harsher fists, all to protect Jade from their ire. Even when he'd made his way to Beacon, an orphan with little more than a year's training and the will to succeed, he'd known he was greatly underprepared compared to his fellow initiates, many of whom had the benefit of prep schools prior to joining not to mention some, such as his friend Ruby, having Huntsman parents to mentor them from a young age.

Pity was a sentiment he couldn't afford. Not now, not ever. To be pitied was to be considered weak, incapable of handling the tasks laid out before him. Jaune couldn't allow himself to fail. He had to succeed, for Jade's sake. That's why he threw himself into his duties, into his studies, so that he could guarantee a future worth living where she wouldn't have to worry about having food to eat or a roof over her head. It's why his lack of opportunities to mourn his family's passing, to grieve for the loss of people he'd loved more than life itself, had to be put aside to focus on the task at hand.

"Jade and I mourn in our own way and grieve when appropriate," he replied, keeping his tone and expression neutral. Ozpin, unfortunately, wasn't buying it.

"Jaune, as the Headmaster of this school and a man who cares deeply for the lives of each and every one of his students, I must warn you that the life of a Huntsman is one that will be fraught with danger. Not every person can be saved and the loss of those lives has a tendency to weigh heavily on our conscience. It is important that we take the time to grieve for their loss, to come to terms with the absence left by them, and process those emotions least they weigh heavily upon us in the future. More than a few Huntsman who ignored their emotions, brushing them aside, more often than not turn to other less healthy means of dealing with the pain and emotions involved such as excessive drinking, drug use, or sex. It is not uncommon for them to develop depression as a result, often leading to them being distracted during a mission and becoming compromised as a result."

"So, what, are you saying that I'm broken?" Jaune snapped, surprising himself with how unapologetic he sounded. "I'm sorry professor, I didn't mean to- "

Ozpin held up his hand, offering him a patient smile. "I understand Jaune. Believe it or not I've been in your shoes before. It's not easy to acknowledge these feelings. The unfortunate thing is that society has labeled such actions as making young men and women appear weak as a result, instead advising that you keep them to yourself and ignore them altogether. I, on the other hand, know better than to encourage such behavior and Beacon has taken steps to ensure all our students are afforded the ability to speak with a qualified therapist or councilor in an effort to help you heal."

"I see," Jaune sitting back in his seat and feeling somewhat defeated. "Is this something that I'm free to choose or is it required?" he asked.

"I will require you attend at least one session, to get a feel for it and gain an understanding of what future sessions will entail. It will be up to you whether you continue with the sessions or not. I would, however, ask that you keep an open mind. While you may believe otherwise, these sessions are meant to help not harm you. I'd also like to recommend Jade start attending her own sessions with a qualified child therapist. Considering she's experienced a situation similar to your own, I would feel better if she had someone who can help her to understand the events that transpired and process the emotions associated with it."

"And who exactly would I have to speak with regarding these sessions?" he asked.

"For you, Mr. Arc, you need only inquire with Dr. Oobleck," he said, earning a raised eyebrow from the young man. He chuckled, understanding his reaction completely, "I know, I know, but rest assured Dr. Oobleck is more than qualified and has offered his services to many students both past and present who've walked these halls. As for Jade, well, it'll be a few weeks before she can begin her own sessions."

"Why is that?"

"The woman in question is currently on maternity leave with her twins," he replied.

It took a moment for Jaune to realize, the wording Ozpin used sounding vaguely familiar before he reacted in surprise by saying, "Lizzy?"

"Indeed," Ozpin said, taking a sip from his mug. "As surprising as it may sound, she is the best qualified child therapist in Vale. Having her as our head caregiver at the daycare center was simply a convenient bonus."

"I'll say. With how bubbly she acts, I never would have guessed," Jaune admitted.

"I would have thought quite the opposite," Ozpin replied. "As you may well know, most of the children who attend the day have a parent or two that's a professional Huntsman. Having someone like Lizzy, who's very approachable and quite endearing, as their therapist makes it infinitely easier when helping the children deal with changes in their lives such as a parent's absence due to a mission or, in more unfortunate circumstances, the death of a parent. As I've said before, the Huntsman profession is not without its risks."

"I'll say," Jaune agreed. "Alright, I'll speak with Lizzy as soon as she returns. I'll make sure to tell Jade ahead of time. Wouldn't want to spring this on her."

"Agreed," Ozpin replied.

"As for myself, will I need to speak with Dr. Oobleck about setting up our first session?"

"No need. I'll send Bart a message letting him know. He should contact you shortly."

"I see," Jaune said, cringing a little inside.

"Mr. Arc, I want you to know that this isn't some sort of punishment. These are merely meant to help you, to heal a wound that modern medicine cannot hope to alleviate before it becomes something far worse."

"I understand Professor," he replied. He did but that didn't mean he liked it.

After being dismissed Jaune rode the elevator down to the bottom floor before making his way… well, somewhere. It was difficult for him to really think of anywhere he'd like to be. He'd been excused from his lessons for the day, thanks to his efforts at the docks and the superficial injuries he'd received as a result. Right now he was just having difficulty processing his thoughts. He'd never found himself in this kind of situation before. On the one hand he knew why Professor Ozpin was doing this. In any other situation, for any other student, he might have respected it. Unfortunately, therein lay the problem. He was that student and all he could manage to feel was angry and frustrated. The whole damned situation made him feel weak and helpless, two things he couldn't afford to be, especially considering the profession he was working towards.

Before he realized it his feet had brought him back to his dorm room. He wasn't quite sure how he'd gotten there. To be honest, he wasn't at all eager to go inside. While he hoped that his team was currently at dinner, he also suspected the possibility that one of them might be in the room, possibly waiting for him. Knowing he couldn't stay out in the hall forever, Jaune took a deep breath before swiping his scroll over the keypad, unlocking the door and letting himself inside.

"Oh, Jaune, you're back," the cheerful voice of his partner, Pyrrha Nikos sounded.

Jaune looked over to his partner, the girl having changed out of her school uniform and into some more casual attire. Rather than feel glad to see her, Jaune instead felt a flare of anger surge its way upwards. Pyrrha had been the one to point out his little episode at the docks, the one to inform Ozpin of his problem and require he receive therapy. He quickly stamped down the emotion, feeling guilty for having felt so negatively about his partner. She had only been doing what she felt was best. Had he been in a similar situation he might have done the same.

"Jaune, is something wrong?" his partner asked, the concerned expression on her face showing she hadn't missed him grappling with his emotions.

"I'm fine, Pyr, just a bit tired," he said, his excuse not so much a lie as he did indeed feel a little exhausted from recent events. All things considered he might turn in early after he'd eaten and showered.

"We stopped by the medical wing after classes but found you were already gone. Blake told us you went to see Professor Ozpin."

"Yea, he asked I speak with him about the incident at the docks," he said. "Is Jade still with her?"

"Yes, she hasn't left her side," Pyrrha admitted with a smile.

"That's good. I'm thinking of stopping by team RWBY's room, maybe get her something to read. Gods know she must be losing her mind without a book handy."

"Indeed," Pyrrha agreed with a laugh. As he turned to leave quickly added, "um, Jaune?"

"Yes?"

"I-if you ever need someone to talk to, about anything, I'm always willing to listen," she said.

"I know," he said, putting the best smile he could muster, all the while hoping she didn't notice how fake it was.

Walking across the hall, he took a deep breath, expecting something similar to the awkward situation he'd had with Pyrrha just moments ago. Before he could manage to knock, however, the door swung open and Ruby Rose nearly bowled into him on her way out the door.

"Wha, Jaune!" she said excitedly.

"Ruby, how many times do I have to warn you, don't just rush out the door? You nearly knocked down Jaune," Weiss chided. "Jaune, good to see you're doing alright," the heiress replied.

"Uh, thanks," he said, somewhat surprised to find Weiss using his first name for once and not simply referring to him as "Arc." "I just came by to pick up a book for Blake. She seemed pretty board with nothing to read."

"I'm sure she'll appreciate that," Weiss agreed. "Ruby was just on her way to get her some food from the cafeteria."

"Yea, not sure if she's had anything to eat yet," Ruby said.

"Do you mind if I walk with you?" Weiss asked, taking a book from Blake's collection to bring her teammate. "I need to speak with Blake anyways. More than anything, I believe I owe her an apology for the way I reacted."

"Uh, yea, sure," he said, tacking on yet another peculiar incident to occur today.

They began making their way towards Beacon's medical wing, Jaune slowing his pace to match Weiss' so she wouldn't have to all but run just to keep with his longer strides. He would occasionally glance at the heiress, wondering if he should say something. Not long after their little "conversation" yesterday, Jaune found he felt somewhat guilty about the things he'd said. He'd purposely highlighted details from his own life in an attempt to one up the heiress and, while it had managed to get her on board with helping Blake, the tactic had been a bit underhanded. The problem was what he said. Did he just say "I'm sorry" or should it be something more heartfelt? Ultimately, it was Weiss who made the first move.

"Jaune, I've been thinking about our talk yesterday and I wanted to apologize for how I acted," she said.

"Huh?"

"You were right. The way I had treated Blake, not to mention the fact that I simply focused on my own selfish reasons and projected my own pain onto her, was unfair of me. I acted like a stubborn brat when I should have been more concerned with her safety. I'm sorry."

"Don't be," he said, surprising her. "While I'll agree that Blake does deserve an apology, the way I reacted was… less than stellar. I'm just glad Jade wasn't around to see me acting like a colossal jerk."

"Indeed," Weiss agreed, laughing lightly at his expense. "Which reminds me, I need to apologize to Jade as well. I've been decidedly cold to her ever since initiation and she's been nothing but heaven sent since she's been here."

"I know she'll appreciate it," he agreed.

They continued on in relative silence though Jaune now felt a bit lighter after their short conversation. To no one's surprise, once they reached Blake, they found Jade asleep in her arms. Jaune could only laugh and Weiss soon joined him as Blake recounted how the young girl had tried to keep her eyes focused on her, all the while fighting off sleep before finally succumbing to it, snuggling up to her for the warmth she provided. Jaune quickly scooped her into his arms, bidding them farewell so Weiss and Blake would have some privacy to talk and clear the air.

With his sister in his arms, he was unable to ignore the ever present fact that he would have to inform her of the child therapy sessions she would be attending, not to mention his own. While he wasn't at all thrilled by it, he knew it had to be done. Considering they had Oobleck tomorrow afternoon, he would find a time after class to speak with the Doctor, getting the session out of the way and then moving on. He didn't plan on scheduling further sessions nor did he want to. He'd simply make an excuse to his team, get it over with, and move on with his life. He was perfectly fine. He'd managed to go a little over a year caring for Jade with only this recent event to cause any sort of reaction. The odds of that happening again were fairly low in his opinion. If it was going to affect it would have happened sooner not later, that much he was certain of.

/-/

"That's all for today students. Remember, your assignment is due at the end of the week," Dr. Oobleck announced as the bell signaled for the end of class. "Mr. Arc, if I could speak with you for a moment?"

At the mention of his name, Pyrrha gave her partner a quizzical look. Unlike her, Jaune knew exactly what it was about. He gave her a comforting smile, waving her on despite her desire to stick around.

"I'll catch up later," he assured her, waiting until she'd left before meeting the professor at his desk. "You wanted to see me sir," he said, his tone implying it wasn't so much a question as it was an expectation.

"Yes, no doubt you've been informed by Headmaster Ozpin that I am in charge of acting as Beacon's resident therapist and seeing to our student's mental health."

"Yes sir, he did," he replied.

"Before we discuss your appointment, I wanted to let you know that this is not a negative judgment of your abilities or capabilities of being a Huntsman. This merely to ensure you will be in top form to finish school and go out into the world to defend the Kingdoms from Grimm. While it is often overlooked, your mental health is a vital part of your ability to function and for us to ignore it would be negligent on our part, especially being your instructors and mentors."

"I understand sir," he replied, Oobleck's words falling on deaf ears. "When do you wish to see me?"

"We can meet after class at any time. Taking your assignments into consideration, why not this Friday? That way it won't interfere with any homework you might have and free you up for the weekend."

"I'll be sure to remember it," Jaune replied, all too eager to leave the classroom which had somehow started to feel a bit too stuffy for his liking.

As expected his team was waiting for him the moment he returned. Pyrrha, as expected, wore a look of concern on her face as he entered the dorm. He knew that she was only trying to look out for him, doing her duty as his partner, but he couldn't help the fact that it annoyed him. He felt like the expression held some lack of confidence in his skills or his ability to handle himself. He'd managed to raise a four year old for a year while also training to be a Huntsman and making their way to Beacon, thank you very much. However, he quickly reigned in his feelings, knowing Pyrrha didn't mean anything negative by it.

"What did Dr. Oobleck want to speak to you about?" she asked, not at all surprising Jaune who had a perfect excuse lined up.

"He wanted to discuss with me about setting up an appointment for Jade. When I spoke with the Headmaster, we'd discussed having her put through some child therapy sessions due to the events we've been put through."

"That doesn't sound surprising. Given everything Jade's lost, I'm glad to see she's done so well," Ren replied.

Jaune couldn't agree more. After his discussion with the Headmaster, he'd started paying closer attention to his younger sister. While subtle, he did notice certain character traits she exuded that seemed rather foreign for a child her age. She also acted more mature and was always eager to train alongside him. While he'd initially chalked it up to her wanting to follow his example, he couldn't help but question if that behavior was somehow tied to the experience of losing her mother as well as their home. It was a little depressing, knowing that there were somethings he couldn't protect her from despite his best intentions. That said, he knew it would be irresponsible of him not to have her see Lizzy. If it helped Jade to process these feelings before they became a problem then he'd do whatever he could to aid her.

"I see, that's good," Pyrrha said, her expression relaxing a bit.

Admittedly, Jaune did feel a bit guilty. He hadn't exactly lied to his partner but he hadn't been completely forthcoming either. He'd essentially used Jade as a scapegoat to avoid talking about something that revolved around him. He knew it was childish but he didn't want to reveal the Headmaster's request that he seek therapy from Oobleck. He knew it would only worry his team, Pyrrha especially, leading to unnecessary questions and worried expressions whenever he did something that made him appear even remotely depressed. Things would have been easier had she not mentioned the incident at the docks then this whole thing… no, no he couldn't allow himself to think such things. She'd done exactly what she believe was necessary to protect her team and partner. He couldn't be mad at her. He'd just focus on getting through the week, get the session over with, and move on with his life.

/-/

Friday approached quicker than Jaune had anticipated. With the end of classes for the day Jaune gave an excuse to his team about an errand he needed to run that would take about an hour. Satisfied with his answer, none of his teammates questioned him as he made his way to Oobleck's office. While he expected the session to be quick and painless, he was surprised to find how nervous he felt. Standing outside the man's office door he was hesitant to enter but forced his nerves down and pressed forward.

Many of his expectations upon entering had been shattered almost immediately. He'd expected the room to be quite spacious with a long, leather couch upon which he'd recline while Dr. Oobleck sat in a nearby chair, occasionally humming before asking "and how does that make you feel?" Of course, with how the man usually acted during his lectures he couldn't quite picture him sitting patiently at all. Rather, he much more expected the man to vibrate, talking as quickly as he did when speaking to them during his lessons.

Instead Jaune was greeted by an unusual sight. The room set aside for his office was indeed spacious, though surprisingly devoid of clutter as he'd seen piled high on his classroom desk. Half the room was set aside as a sort of office with a large desk surrounded by several tall bookshelves filled to the brim with history books, architecture volumes, and psychology manuals. The desk itself was surprisingly neat which made him wonder how his desk in the classroom had become such a disaster area. In stark contrast the other area had been set out as a sort of lounge with two large couches set opposite from one another and divided down the middle by a long table. Oobleck himself was busy in the kitchenette area just beyond it, tending to a kettle he had heating on the stove.

"Good evening, Mr. Arc, you've made it right on schedule," the man said.

As if on cue the kettle began to whistle loudly, signaling that the water within had reached boiling point. Oobleck picked it up along with two cups and brought them over to the table. Jaune watched him place a couple teabags inside before taking a seat on one of the couches. Next to him he picked up a large pad of paper along with a pen before turning his gaze to him.

"Please, have a seat," he said, gesturing to the other couch.

Jaune did so, his surprise at seeing how clean and clutter free the room was shifting to Oobleck who was, for the first time ever, speaking in a normal tone and pace. It was mindboggling to Jaune, something he figured the rest of his team would find just as surprising before quickly remembering that this was something he was going to keep to himself. As he took a seat Oobleck took the kettle and gently poured some tea into each cup, taking one for himself before sliding its companion over to him.

"I find herbal tea helps me to relax and calm my nerves after a long day," Oobleck replied, obviously thinking Jaune's quizzical look was in regards to the tea.

"You don't say," Jaune replied, silently wondering why then the man drank immense amounts of coffee throughout his lectures but wisely choose not to ask.

"Before we begin, I'd like to make you aware that everything spoken here will be kept between us. No one outside this room will know of what's spoken unless you personally divulged it to them," Oobleck stated.

"Not even the Headmaster?" Jaune asked, rather surprised that the head of the school would be kept in the dark as well.

"Jaune, when I became a licensed therapist, I took an oath to take everything my patients tell me seriously and not to speak of anything they've said unless they choose to relay that information themselves. If I were to go prattling on about every little detail people have confided in me, I'd not only lose their trust but my license as well as the respect of my peers. I can assure you this will all be said in confidence."

"I see," Jaune replied, feeling somewhat relaxed to know that fact.

"Now, I'd like to start from the beginning. Could you tell a little about your family and your life in Ansel?"

Jaune did just that, summarizing his childhood spent in the small village, the son of a fairly well known and respected family of Huntsman. Oobleck listened with surprising patience, never once interrupting Jaune as he spoke and occasionally scribbling something down on his notepad. He talked of his sisters, how he and Jade first meet, their life together in the village and so on. As soon as he reached the point of the fire he stopped, figuring the man would ask about that and bracing himself for the question.

"Now, after you and Jade left Ansel you traveled for a while to other villages. Could you describe your experiences during this time?"

Jaune was surprised and a bit suspicious as to why Oobleck hadn't forged on into the events that took his family but he did as he was asked, recounting their journey and the actions Jaune had taken to ensure their survival. It had been a hard life, sure, but one he didn't regret.

"You mentioned that at one of the villages the matron of the orphanage offered to take Jade for you. You, of course declined. Why is that?"

"I'm not sure what you mean," Jaune replied.

"Well, consider it from my point of view. A seventeen-year-old boy traveling from one village to the next with a young child in tow is certainly not the ideal situation. No doubt the matron believed she was doing both of you a service, offering to provide a stable environment for Jade and enabling you to continue on your journey without the need to worry for the life of another. Yet, you declined. Why did you? What prompted you to choose to continue to care for Jade in spite of the offer?"

Jaune took a moment to consider the man's question. Thinking on it now, he realized what he was getting at. Surely anyone else would have eagerly agreed, knowing that both parties would benefit. Still, he'd left the choice up to Jade and had even felt elated when she said she wanted to stay with him.

"I suppose it was because I didn't want her to think I had abandoned her. She'd just lost her mother, the only family she had. Somehow, leaving her at that orphanage seemed somehow heartless, even if it would have been well intentioned."

"I see," Oobleck said, smiling as he scribbled something down. "Do you also suppose it was because you yourself would have felt lonely?"

"I'm sorry?"

"To my knowledge, Jade wasn't the only one who had lost someone important to them. You yourself lost your family during the fire, leaving you orphaned alongside her. Do you suppose part of your reason for taking Jade into your care was to help you cope with what happened by giving yourself some responsibility, something to work towards and focus on?"

Jaune was surprised by the man's logic but strangely couldn't say he thought he was wrong. In fact, looking back on it, most of his thoughts had been focused around ensuring he and Jade survived, had a roof over their head, food to eat, and were generally able to make their way to Vale to attend Beacon. He'd spent so much time focusing on her needs, on building a stable future for her, that he hardly ever found himself dwelling on his family or the loss of them.

He was also made aware of the fact that Oobleck had inadvertently brought the subject around to his family and the fact that they'd perished in the fire as well. It annoyed Jaune that the man could be so sneaky, not tackling the issue head on but instead using some other means as a way of transitioning into it. It was clever, he'd give him that, but he'd much rather the man was upfront with him. The sooner they tackled the issue the sooner this would be over and he could return to his life. He didn't want to spend multiple sessions beating around the bush. He didn't even want to be here now.

"Doctor, may I ask you something?"

"Of course," Oobleck said cheerfully.

"I know that it's no secret you're aware of the events which took our families from us. I also know its part of the reason Professor Ozpin requested I start these sessions. What I don't understand is, if that's what we're here to talk about then why aren't we? Why ask about my life there, my childhood, my time with Jade and beat around the issue? Why not just come out and ask?"

While he hadn't meant to, Jaune's temper and tone had risen as he spoke. His annoyance and frustration with how Oobleck was handling this had barred it fangs and he was honestly embarrassed that he'd reacted in such a fashion. To add to his bewilderment, Oobleck seemed unfazed by his reaction. On the contrary, he seemed almost pleased. Instead of answering him immediately, however, the man set down his pad and pen, revealing several lines of meticulous notes which the man had taken, something which surprised Jaune greatly.

"Jaune, while you might not understand my methods, rest assured every question I've asked you has been for a purpose. My reasoning for not tackling the issue head on is because I do not believe you're ready to open up about it," he admitted, causing Jaune's jaw to go slack.

"The loss of one's family, or anyone close for that matter, can be an extremely difficult subject to broach. Were I to simply dive right in, you'd no doubt react in a defensive matter, viewing my attempts to take a stab at the heart of the issue as threatening. I'd be doing more harm than good. That's why I'm slowly working towards it, tackling other issues that, while minor in comparison, are still quite informative with how they relate to the greater issue plaguing you and will be very enlightening, allowing me to garner information and insight which will be greatly beneficial in the long run once we've made the difficult journey towards closing this wound in your heart.

You see, the thing about therapy is that, while it is a medical practice, the manner in which one administers treatment to their patients is fundamentally different from those practiced by doctors and nurses in clinics and hospitals. While a doctor at a hospital is able to identify symptoms that tell them the root cause of the issue and prescribe the treatment, therapy is a little different.

Often times we don't know the root cause. Most of these sessions are spent conversing with our patients, carefully identifying the symptoms that will eventually lead us to the root cause and thus give us a general idea on how we are to proceed. Other times, like now, we already know the root cause but must be cautious when working our way towards it. Even if our methods are well intentioned, if we act too aggressively in our approach we risk causing more harm than help, making the situation worse. That's why we are taking our time, in order to better help you I'm working to discover the other symptoms so together we can help make you better."

The analogy, while helpful, didn't exactly leave Jaune in shock and awe. He knew that his mental state wasn't something that could be fixed with some over the counter medication. Even so, he didn't see any problems arising from what was going on. He'd had one bad episode caused by a criminal's attempts to leave him as a smear on the pavement. So he'd freaked out a little, hallucinating his family's deaths again, that didn't mean he couldn't still fight or that it was going to occur once more. Still, Ozpin and Oobleck were acting like this was something serious that could possibly blow up in his face one day. Considering that, there was something he needed to know.

"So what's your diagnosis?" he asked.

"Sorry?"

"You already know the root cause. No doubt you already know some of my history. Even the answers to your questions earlier were probably all information you already had at your disposal. I just want to know what your current thoughts on my mental state are," he clarified.

"Mr. Arc, while your general history is indeed known to me, that doesn't mean it's a road map from which I can determine everything about you. The process and these questions are all vitally important in establishing a foundation for us to work from," Oobleck explained.

"I want to know, Doctor. I have a right to know what my mental state is, how fucked up I am," he said.

Silence pervaded the room. It was enough that only the ticking of a nearby clock as the seconds passed could be heard. Oobleck let out a tired sigh, raising his glasses to rub the exhaustion from his eyes before looking back at Jaune. The young man in question remained firm, giving Oobleck a stern glance that showed how serious he was. He needed to know. Just how badly did these people view him?

"While I wouldn't have used such a harsh term to describe your current state, I can say that many would consider it troubling," Oobleck admitted. "The trauma you've been put through by witnessing the deaths of your family, not to mention the increased stress brought about by placing the burden of caring for another individual on your shoulders, not to mention being made the leader of your own team, are sure to have negative effects later down the line. While your experience at the docks could be considered an isolated incident, it could simply be a precursor to other episodes created by increased stress, fatigue, irritability, and even depression.

I would highly recommend further sessions to help you in stemming this tide by learning ways to alleviate stressors from your life as well begin to understand and process the trauma you experienced at your village."

"So in other words I'm broken," Jaune concluded.

"Again, Mr. Arc, that isn't the exact terminology that I would use. To be more precise, you are simply sick and I merely wish to help you return to health."

"But you said that this would have greater effects later down the line, as in there's a greater chance that it'll affect me much later rather than sooner," Jaune pointed out. "Knowing that, considering that the events at the docks was a one-time thing, unless I'm put under a great deal of stress, I shouldn't expect another episode to occur."

"Theoretically, Mr. Arc that is the most preferable outcome. However, life is seldom as predictable as to enable us to know if and when events in our life will result in injury or increased stress and trauma. Just because the event at the docks was an isolated incident, that doesn't mean something similar won't occur at a later date nor that a series of smaller but similar events to the one experienced won't lead to greater stress being placed upon you. It would be more beneficial to you in the long run to continue these sessions to help you start the healing process and, should anything I've described occur in the future, you'll be more capable of overcoming it and processing it mentally than you would without."

"Of course, the decision to continue these sessions is all mine," Jaune pointed out.

"Indeed it is," Oobleck replied.

"I see," Jaune said, glancing at the clock to see how much time had passed. "Looks like our session is done."

"It would appear so," Oobleck said, collecting his things as he rose from the couch. "Just so you know, Jaune, my door is always open should you need to talk."

"I'll keep that in mind," Jaune said as he made his way to the door. "Have a good weekend sir."

"You as well."

/-/

"So, how was your errand?" Pyrrha asked the moment he returned to the dorm.

"It went well, no problems," he said.

"Everyone ready for the weekend? I've got big plans in the works," Nor announced earning a groan from her partner Ren who no doubt had some sort of idea of what the energetic girl meant.

After slipping into their sleepwear and seeing to Jade, their team finally settled down for some well-deserved rest. Despite the exhaustion his body felt, Jaune found it difficult to sleep. His conversation with Oobleck was bothering him, the details they'd gone over reverberating in his head. While he was confident that nothing would occur and that he wouldn't need to speak with the Doctor anytime soon, he couldn't help but feel a little nervous that, the moment he closed his eyes, his dreams would be filled with fire and smoke. He tried to push the notion from his mind, instead focusing on letting his mind rest, but all night long the paranoia whispered at him from the back of his mind. When sleep finally did take hold, he was greeted with dreamless sleep but for long?


So, while I realize this update is happening before any of my other stories, I'd pretty much already finished it and really wanted to start this arc for Jaune Arc (I'm puny today) and really start to show more sides to his personality.

Tsune is, of course, not an original character of mine. She's actually the creation of Coeur Al'Aran (stop by and check out his fan fictions. He's actually the one who inspired me to start making improvements to my overall story telling and depth). I actually like her as a character, especially the simple fact that, despite being a practitioner of medicine who's meant to help heal people she often likes to cause them pain instead.

As for the therapy sessions Jaune is currently taking, this will be something that we see more of throughout the story. Not only for Jade but I want to include more moments where Jaune's stress limits are pushed to their breaking point as he struggles to manage it. Also, I'm more or less basing his overall experience with how I used to view therapy until I actually took a couple sessions and found them to be very helpful, especially with simply having someone who you could talk to and get everything that's been bothering most of my life off my chest. I'm not in any way attempting to make fun of anyone who is currently or is considering taking therapy. I'm simply showcasing how I once viewed it and attempting to show how helpful it can be when taken seriously.

As always, thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts and look forward to updates to my other stories soon. Archangel is nearing the end of its current arc before I start on the Mistral portion so that's exciting.