It was way, way too cold to be wearing what Yang was wearing- sheer, off-shoulder, and thin. Admittedly, the weather should have been expected because it was always cold in Atlas, but Yang was much more used to the sunny days of Patch. The four vanity mirrors gave off a soft glow in the dimly lit dressing room, illuminating the faces of three members of team RWBY.
Ruby and Blake sat at their stations, facing the center of the room in nervous silence. Weiss was nowhere to be found, she had been the first to be finished (as the stylists undoubtedly knew her face better) and had run off to double-check all the preparations, as the ball was being hosted in her home, and, being Weiss, she had to make sure everything was running smoothly. Now, it had been half an hour since she left the room, and everybody was finished.
Yang’s eyes drifted over to Blake, and quite frankly she could hardly look away. The cat faunus was decked in shimmering gold and seemed to give off an ethereal glow. Atop her head sat a new bow, because while she was respected among their little traveling group, the people of Atlas, especially the wealthy business folk, would definitely not share the same views. Just the thought of those racist, bigoted scum was making Yang bristle slightly.
Everybody was nervous and on edge. The entire journey had been a mess from start to finish- and now with the threat of war hanging over the heads of everybody in Atlas, people were more high-strung than usual. Even Ruby, who was always so sweet and energetic, was more snappish and irritated than ever.
Salem was still out there. And Cinder, and a huge horde of Grimm that could do gods know what to the feeble military force that Ironwood had hovering above them at all times, a small knife against a bomb. Now that they were in Atlas, everybody was hovering over Blake and Weiss, making sure neither of them got hurt. Times were bad.
The door slammed open, and- speak of the devil and she will appear- Weiss burst in, frantically shutting the door behind her and leaning against it with a heaving chest. This got her multiple concerned looks from her teammates.
“My father,” she explained, stepping away from the door. “I was just checking on JNR and Oscar, I was coming back and I saw him at the end of the hall.” The former heiress took a large, shaky breath. “I didn’t stop speedwalking until I got here.”
“Sit down, Weiss,” Ruby immediately said, jumping up and ushering her to a chair, where Weiss sat, smiling gratefully.
Yang glanced up at the clock on the wall. “We had five minutes. Should we go grab the gang or be fashionably late?”
Weiss looked appalled at the idea of not being perfectly on time. “If we’re all ready, let’s go.”
There was a chorus of agreement, and they filed out of the room, settling into pairs as they walked down the hall: Weiss squabbling lightly with Ruby in the front, and Blake sharing awkward silence with Yang behind.
Ever since Adam, or even just Mistral, something had shifted between them. Yang was unsure of her standings now, but she couldn’t deny her feelings for the elegant woman, whether they be one-sided or not. And honestly, she was hoping they weren’t. They kept playing the infuriating game of one-looks-at-the-other-then-gets-caught-and-looks-away, and it was driving Yang crazy.
But all she did was slip her right hand into Blake’s and squeeze lightly, hoping that the blood she felt rushing to her face wasn’t all too visible.
Blake was in chaos.
Everything that was happening, the events of the past few weeks, of the past two years, it had all been an exhausting emotional rollercoaster. Having to keep the bow on and maintain a human appearance had only been the cherry on top of all this madness.
She saw Adam in every shadow, every partially hidden figure. He was everywhere, in her nightmares, all around her, and though she knew he was dead, it didn’t scare her any less. The only thing that kept her grounded was Yang.
Yang, who helped her kill Adam. Yang, who always made sure she was alright. Yang, who she crawled to at night when the nightmares woke her up. Yang, who was holding her hand right now. Yang, Yang, Yang. The woman who took up so much of her thoughts. All Blake wanted to do was curl into Yang’s warmth and sleep forever, safe and protected.
But still, she couldn’t bring herself to say anything. All she could do was show it, with little hugs and smiles and holding hands, and hope that Yang might understand.
Tonight was one of absolute dread, a small stone had formed in her stomach at the thought of being surrounded by people who would be disgusted by her, and possibly hurt her if they knew who she was. What she was. Swallowing hard, Blake squeeze Yang’s hand tighter, leaning into the other woman’s shoulder. When the pair were separated Blake felt unsafe, as if dangling off the edge of a precarious cliff.
They soon came across Jaune, Nora, Ren, Oscar, and a surprisingly sober-looking Around, who all silently joined the little parade. All of them gather in a group, with Weiss and Blake in the center, shielded from harmful eyes.
The hallway before them opened up into a cavernous room with a large door at the end, and some innate reflex inside Blake was telling her not to pass through that door, to run away and not look back. But she resisted. She had to.
Yang looked down at her, concerned, and Blake's heart fluttered against her will. "Don't worry, sweetheart, nobody's going to hurt you with me around."
Blake sighed quietly. "I know."
"Hey," said Yang. "Look at me. " It was hard to fixate on those lilac eyes without becoming a tomato. "You're safe with me. I'm not letting anybody touch you. Hell, if they're looking at you weird I'll KO 'em at your signal."
The cheery tone made Blake smile a little, and a flurry of tumultuous and treacherous emotion flooded her heart. This whole business was a mess.
Yang glowed at Blake's (absolutely gorgeous) smile. God, she was beautiful. As always. You're getting carried away, Xiao Long.
The doors open and the group dissolved into the ballroom, still tense and careful. An event like this would be a perfect strike location, so they needed to be on the lookout for all kinds of things. Yang noted with a kind of glee that Blake refused to let go of her arm. And so, the night began.
After a few dances and many (strictly virgin) drinks later, Blake was even more exhausted than before. Despite her tired limbs, however, Yang's energy seemed infectious, and kept her dancing over and over again, reminiscing of another time, easier. Deja vu was everywhere.
Blake was relaxing in one corner, leaning against the wall and quietly waiting for Yang to return with more drinks and perhaps a snack. It was easier to be at the edges of the room, where it was quieter and more calm.
Suddenly her heart jumped. A familiar tall figure, stark red hair- he was here. He was here. He was here. All warning sirens flashed through Blake's mind, setting aside all logical reasoning as she scrabbled for a handhold on sanity. Pushing out onto a balcony, she leaned against the railing, desperately plotting the fastest way out. If she was quiet, he wouldn't see her. She just had to stay-
The sound of Yang's voice startled her, and instantly words began to spill from her lips, mindless and overflowing.
"He's here Adam is here I need to leave I don't know what to do," Blake blustered, finally collapsing to her knees with a sob.
"Woah, Blakey, it's okay. You're here now. Adam is not here. Adam is dead," Yang said, wrapping her warm arms around Blake's shaking figure. "Can you hear me? You're safe now. It's alright. Do you want to go back to the rooms?"
"N-n-no," Blake instantly replied, pulling back slightly to look Yang in the eye. "I don't want to ruin your night."
Yang shook her head with a shit-eating grin. "My night could never be ruined if I get to spend it with you."
There was a long pause where Blake's head was still running too slow to comprehend the statement. Yang misinterpreted this silence. "I'm sorry, that was wildly inappropriate."
"That's alright," Blake replied, smiling slightly. "And yeah, I'd like to leave."
The walk back to the rooms was quiet, but there was so much to be said. Yang, unusually silent, was considering her next words. I think I'm in love with you. No, too up front. I really like you. What if saying it ruins everything?
Yang held the door open for her partner, gaze lingering a bit too long on Blake's bare back, admiring the muscles that tensed and relaxed with Blake's every step. Yang didn't think she'd ever get over how beautiful Blake was.
"I have to ask," Yang finally said, in a tentative, halting voice. "What is this? Like, what are we dancing around?"
Blake instantly blushed profusely, opening her mouth and then closing it. "I don't know. More than friends?"
Something was choking Yang, words swallowed then spit back up. "Yeah. Yeah."
"Definitely," Blake whispered, coming closer and grabbing Yang's hands. "More. But- but I just want to be right now, right? I don't know. I don't know what this is. So let's just. Just be first."
Yang nodded, pulling Blake closer. "Yeah."