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House Blend

Chapter Text

The evening rain drummed against the window, mixing with the soft chatter around the café. Coco’s Café was well known amongst the student body for having the only affordable coffee within walking distance of Beacon Campus, as well as being one of the best bars in town after dark. As such, it was frequently packed with students of every kind, from carefree undergrads bonding with new friends, to stressed grad students looking for a quick respite before heading back to the lab. Today, there were slightly less patrons than usual, owing to the weather outside. Even so, the café was bustling with people enjoying the relative warmth inside the building.

Not that Weiss noticed any of this.

Headphones in, eyes intently fixed upon her laptop screen – she was the picture of productive concentration to any passerby, at least at a glance. However, if one looked closer, they might see a slight wrinkle of frustration crease her brow, along with the occasional rapping of her fingers softly against the table. And if one paid attention for any significant amount of time, they might notice that she didn’t seem to touch her keyboard or her mouse at all.

Truthfully, Weiss wasn’t paying attention to her laptop at all. She was thinking about a conversation she’d had a few weeks prior…

“Weiss, I am your father, and it is my duty to ensure that you do not throw away your future! Why are you so insistent on pursuing an education, if it can even be called that, at that worthless institution!”

“Father, I will be attending university on my own merit. I’ve kept my grades up through my studies, and I will not choose Atlas Academy just because it is what you and mother desire! This is my decision!”

“While that may be, that does not mean that you are not making a mistake! Your mother and I have worked tirelessly to ensure that you would have the option to attend the best university possible! Countless hours of effort have gone into providing the social network you would need to flourish at Atlas Academy!”

“That doesn’t mean you get to decide my future for me! I’m going to Beacon, and that’s final!”

“If that is the case, you will be attending on your own! Neither I nor your mother will be supporting you in your move, and your funds will be cut off!”

“So be it! I’ll do just fine on my own…”

Weiss was so lost in thought she almost didn’t notice the finger tapping her shoulder.

“Oh, sorry, can I help…” Weiss looked up from her laptop to find a young girl staring intently at her. The girl had shorter cropped hair, dark brown, with the fringes dyed scarlet. Her skin was quite pale, and she was rather short, although she did appear to be slightly taller than Weiss. However, Weiss’s focus was drawn to the girl’s striking eyes, which were the color of polished steel. It was almost as if she was staring into pools of silver…

Weiss then noticed the girl seemed to be waiting for something, and hurriedly took out her headphones, turning her eyes towards the brunette expectantly.

“Would you like to order something? You’ve been here for quite a while, and my manager is getting kind of antsy…” The girl gave an apologetic smile, followed by a sidelong glance towards the counter. Weiss followed her eyes, only to be met with an intense glare from a dark-haired girl wearing a beret, gazing over a pair of sunglasses. She quickly averted her eyes back towards the waitress.

“Oh, I’ll…”

Weiss fidgeted nervously in her seat, her eyes glancing downwards briefly. While she had secured a scholarship to attend Beacon, the funding was only enough to cover the essentials. This was not a result of her application having any notable weaknesses to speak of – rather, she’d been too late to apply for any of the more prestigious scholarships, as a result of needing to convince her father to let her attend. Unfortunately, she was still 17 at the time that she was applying, and as a result couldn’t send in an application on her own. She’d been quite lucky to end up with a scholarship at all, but her daily life had become much more frugal than she was used to.

“…have a small coffee.”

“Right away, miss!” The young girl nodded energetically and dashed off towards the counter, weaving through the tables and customers effortlessly, flashing Weiss a blinding smile as she went. Weiss watched her go before returning her gaze to the blank document on her computer, her eyes staring far past the dimly lit screen.

She let out a small sigh, her thoughts returning to her parents. She didn’t hate them – after all, they only wanted what they thought was best for her. However, she’d felt smothered all her life, and simply couldn’t stand the idea of staying with them in Atlas for another year, much less the quartet that it would take to complete her degree. Although she’d gotten her wish, it hadn’t been without frustrations – she’d reconciled with her parents, but they hadn’t offered to restore her finances, and she didn’t ask them to – her dignity wouldn’t allow it.

Weiss noticed another waitress walking towards her, approximately her age with long brown hair and matching eyes. She stopped beside her table and placed a steaming mug of coffee, with a polite “Here you go, miss.” Weiss softly thanked her and reached for her purse, already mentally calculating what kind of impact this would have on her monthly finances – she was already somewhat tight on Lien this month. However, when she looked up, the waitress didn’t appear to have any sort of checkbook with her.

“No worries miss, it’s covered. Enjoy the coffee.” The waitress gestured to a small, folded up napkin tucked underneath the base of the cup before leaving. Glancing towards the bar, she carefully extracted the napkin from beneath the mug, and gently opened it up, eyes skimming the text written inside.

“You seemed to be having a rough day, so I upgraded your small to a medium and covered it. Enjoy the coffee! It’s the house blend – I’m sure you’ll love it. I wanted to give this to you myself, but I had to leave early…stupid design project :( Hope your day gets better!  --Ruby”

Weiss felt a faint warmth blossom in her chest and had to consciously stop herself from smiling. It hadn’t just been a rough day; the whole week hadn’t exactly gone her way. Freshman orientation hadn’t been a pleasant experience, as Weiss appeared to be the only student from Atlas in her entire year, and most of the Vale students had formed small groups almost immediately, presumably with friends from high school. Not exactly wanting to go out alone, she’d abstained from going out to any of the welcome week events, instead staying in her dorm room. She hadn’t seen her roommate yet; according to the housing office, she was from Menagerie, and would be arriving in a couple of days due to extenuating circumstances. In all honesty, Weiss wasn’t a big fan of “extenuating circumstances” – right now, she just wanted to meet someone that would be her friend without too much trouble. Which is why the napkin made her so happy.

Ruby…Weiss silently mouthed the name to herself, trying it out. It suited her. Not just in terms of color, but also with regard to her actions…shining like a gemstone, her gesture had served to brighten Weiss’s day considerably. With her vigor to be productive renewed, she turned back to her computer screen with a fiery resolve. Her economics case study wasn’t due until the end of the month, but Weiss would finish it by the end of the day – something about the cup of coffee had motivated her to be extra productive. While the house blend was quite good, as Ruby had promised, Weiss was relatively sure that it didn’t really have all that much to do with the coffee.

Chapter Text

“The Valean economy is primarily centered on natural resources. With our large number of forests, we can provide large amounts of fresh water, minerals, and lumber. Why, I once remember I managed to chop down a tree with a trunk as thick as three grown men! I was out on one of my grand hunting exhibitions…”

Weiss shook her head in disbelief as her economics professor, Professor Port, managed to make himself the subject of yet another class topic. Classes had been in session for just over two weeks, and she was quickly finding out just how different her many professors were. Her business mathematics professor, Professor Oobleck, was extremely scatterbrained. He tended to zip around the classroom, often springing questions on students and moving on if they didn’t answer immediately. In contrast, her human resources professor, Professor Goodwitch, was extremely measured in every action she took.

…then there was Port.

“…importance of practical training can not be overstated! As I always say, a pencil and paper may be useful in a classroom, but it won’t save you in the wild! True wisdom, that – I’d write it down if I were you! Or better yet, repeat it to yourself until you’ve memorized it! When I was a wee lad, I’d repeat my lectures word for word until I knew them backwards and forwards! I was the envy of…”

“I have no clue how he comes up with this stuff,” Weiss thought to herself. In Port’s first lecture, she had given unwavering attention to the professor’s words, even writing down his ridiculous account of how he’d once hunted an Ursa. She’d been quite proud of herself. However, her pride was soured when she received a summary sheet of “examinable material covered” at the end of the week, with a list of topics that had barely been touched. Later research had shown these topics were on the syllabus, but Port had only covered each topic briefly before taking a tangent, typically to tell a story about himself. Weiss had since begun to make detailed notes based on the class textbook for each lecture. As a result of this, she didn’t really have a need to go to the lectures. However, she still attended every day – she was far too diligent to skip class. After all, she hadn’t missed a class since Grade 2.  

Weiss momentarily let her wandering thoughts settle on her plans for later today. Her new roommate, Blake, was supposed to have arrived today, and Weiss had arranged to meet her after this class. Weiss was looking forward to it. In chatting with her over the phone, her new flatmate seemed nice, if a bit quiet. Apparently, her delays in arriving had been tied to some issues with her student visa – the Valean government had repeatedly asked for extra validation of her acceptance to Beacon, and they had only relented after receiving a direct call from the headmaster himself, Professor Ozpin, assuring them that Blake had indeed been accepted to Beacon. Weiss’s application hadn’t had any issues of the sort; due to the close relationship between Atlas and Vale, travel and immigration between the two kingdoms were quite common. She’d only had to fill out a single-page form to be granted a visa.

Seeing Professor Port make a rather animated gesture towards the map he had projected at the front of the room, Weiss decided to refocus her attention on the fervent man.

“…an excursion to Forever Fall, a shining example of Vale’s abundant natural treasures, in four weeks’ time. In particular, we’ll be focusing on the red sap produced by the trees in the area! The sap has a large number of uses in industry, one of which includes attracting and capturing dangerous Rapier Wasps. I once fought off an entire horde of Rapier Wasps with nothing but my hunting axe! There must have been ten, no twenty…”

Weiss heard a student off to her left whisper, “This lecture is sapping my energy.” She spared a quick glance towards the source of the sound, gaze landing on a pair of students sitting in the row behind her, off to the side of the classroom. One of the students sported bright blonde hair and an even brighter grin. She seemed to have just made the joke to the classmate, whose jet-black hair hardly moved as her amber eyes remained fixed on the blackboard. Weiss thought she saw a hint of a smirk appear on her face, but it was gone as quickly as it had appeared.

Must be nice to have friends to sit with”, Weiss thought to herself as she refocused her attention on her notebook. Today, she’d been splitting her attention between Port’s class and her monthly finances. She wasn’t too concerned – she’d been rather frugal with her spending so far. It seemed like she would even have a little extra cash left over at the end of the month. Perhaps she could splurge something nice for herself. Just a little.

“…of course, this will require a fee of 500 Lien for each student participating, separate from your tuition. Lien is quite an important thing in life…”

The lead on Weiss’ mechanical pencil suddenly snapped against her notebook as Port’s words registered. 500 Lien? Where in Remnant was she supposed to find that sort of cash? According to the calculations she’d just completed, she would only have 75 Lien left in her account at the end of the month. Perhaps, if she really clamped down, she’d be able to scrape 125 Lien from next month’s installment, but her scholarship only paid 200 Lien a month, so she would still be 300 Lien short.

Ignoring Port’s ramblings about how he’d almost invested in the company the built the CCT, Weiss considered her options. Perhaps she’d be able to find some sort of work nearby. Since she hadn’t met too many people on campus, she hadn’t gotten involved in any club activities yet, and her schedule was relatively open. She’d never held a job before, but she figured she shouldn’t have a problem with being able to complete her duties. However, she’d need to find one, and with no friends in the city, she wasn’t even sure where to begin. The thought of asking her parents for Lien flitted across her mind, but she squashed it immediately – she had come to Beacon to gain independence, and she’d wouldn’t be able to accept just running back home at the first sign of adversity.

Hearing the class bell ring, Weiss quickly packed up her supplies and quickly headed for the classroom door. She was meeting Blake by the fountain outside of the clock tower, and she didn’t want to make a bad impression by being late. As she walked down the stairs, she spotted a cup of coffee a fellow student was holding, and her mind jumped unbidden to the waitress she’d met two weeks before, Ruby. Weiss had gone back to the coffee shop multiple times following that day, intending to thank her and hopefully make a new friend, but she hadn’t seen the brunette there even once. It almost seemed like she had quit, or she was just filling in for someone temporarily when Weiss had met her. Perhaps Ruby would be kind enough to help her with her predicament, if Weiss ever ran into her. However, she didn’t consider her odds very high – Vale was a city with hundreds of thousands of people, and she could be anywhere. What were the chances of Weiss meeting her again?

Chapter Text

“I understand the feeling. My scholarship isn’t very sizable – most of the higher-end ones are restricted to students from the Four Kingdoms. I actually proofread essays for students online to make ends meet – I do think I’ll be able to make enough to cover the trip, though I’ll have to take a few more jobs than usual.

Weiss listened intently as her roommate, Blake, detailed her plans for affording the school trip. Although she’d been quite nervous about meeting her new cotenant, she’d felt much better when it ended up being the raven-haired girl from her economics class. They’d immediately bonded over their distaste for Port’s class and had moved on to discussing classes in general. Blake was an English major and was taking Economics as a social science elective. Apparently, it was the only option that fit with both her schedule and her friend Yang’s, the girl she’d been sitting with in class.

Currently, they’d been discussing the topic of finances. Weiss had found that they were kindred spirits in this case – neither of them had much money, and both tended to be quite diligent about tracking their spending. She’d just told Blake about her predicament regarding the trip to Forever Fall.

“Seems like your best bet would be to find a retail or service job in the city - I’ll keep my eyes out. However, it would be good for you to take your mind off it for now, you seem really stressed. Yang is hosting a small get together at her place tonight – she has one every Friday. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you came. She also happens to know a ton of people – maybe she’ll know someone that can get you a job.”

Weiss nodded, cautiously optimistic about the prospect of getting to make some friends. “I’ve been meaning to ask – how do the two of you know each other? Is she from Menagerie as well?”

A fond smile graced Blake’s face as she responded. “No, Yang is from here in Vale. Me and her are pen pals. We’ve been sending emails to each other for about ten years, and we’ve even visited each other a couple of times. She’s a big part of the reason I was able to attend here – she drove to the admissions office just to talk to them in person for me. “

“I can see the two of you care about each other,” Weiss replied. “You seem surprisingly close for just being pen pals.”

Blake’s smile faded ever so slightly as her eyes looked downwards. “Yeah, we are.  I’m very happy we chose to attend the same university – having your best friend live halfway across the world isn’t easy.” She leaned over to grab her single suitcase.  “I hope you don’t mind, but I haven’t even unpacked yet - do you think you’d be able to show me where our room is?”

Yang’s apartment wasn’t too far from campus. She lived on the second floor of a older building, above a Mistralian restaurant. The crowd she’d invited over wasn’t large, as Blake had promised. Weiss had found herself getting along with everyone she’d met surprisingly well.

She was currently talking to a very interesting pair of students, Ren and Nora. The pair seemed to be glued at the hip…or rather, Nora appeared to be glued to Ren at the hip and Ren had accepted it. Currently, Nora was talking at a million miles a minute about how her and Ren had signed up for a rec league, playing mixed doubles tennis. Ren, for his part, had remained mostly silent, occasionally nodding in response to something Nora had said. Weiss had been enjoying chatting with the two of them and was about to ask Ren a direct question about the rec league, if only to get him talking more, when she noticed Blake chatting with Yang in the corner of the room. Noticing Weiss out of the corner of her eye, Blake extended a hand and waved her over. Promising Nora she would tell her about what sports were like in Atlas later, Weiss extricated herself from the conversation and walked over to where Blake was.

Yang extended a hand towards Weiss, accompanied by a warm smile that extended to her lilac eyes as she spoke. “You must be Weiss, it’s nice to meet you. My name’s Yang – it’s good to put a face to a name.”

Weiss took the proffered hand, noticing the controlled strength in Yang’s grip. “Nice to meet you, Yang. I haven’t heard too much about you, other than the fact that you’re from the area – what are you studying?”

Yang’s eyes seemed to sparkle as she responded. “I’m from Patch, it’s an island off the Valean coast. My dad runs a gym there, and I was a personal trainer for other students all through high school. I loved training, but I also started taking more of an interest in the business side of things as I got older – if I didn’t have any clients on a specific day, I’d help Dad out with the finances. I know I don’t look like it, but I’m actually pretty good with numbers. My major is in sports management - I want to open my own gym someday. Yourself?”

“I’m a business student, with a focus in sustainability,” Weiss replied. “My family runs an energy company in Atlas, and I’ve always wanted to work there. Currently, the company mostly produces energy from fossil fuels, but I want to push the company towards cleaner energy sources. My dad promised that if I kept my grades up and successfully completed a business degree, he’d let me take over that wing of the company. I’m not sure if that’s still happening, though…he isn’t very happy with my decision to attend Beacon over Atlas.”

Yang frowned in concern. “Yeah, Blake mentioned the situation with the Forever Fall trip. I’ve been trying to think about who I know whose workplace is hiring, but I’ve been drawing a blank.” She ran her hand through her hair, before suddenly snapping her fingers. “You should chat with my sister! She works part-time at a café near here, and I think they’re hiring. Maybe she’d be able to get you an interview. Usually she’s at these things, but she’s been working on a big group project for a couple of weeks now, so she’s been spending all her time at the college these days.”

Weiss’s mind immediately jumped to Coco’s Café, where she’d met Ruby. She quickly dismissed the thought – Ruby looked absolutely nothing like Yang, so the odds of them being sisters was basically zero. She was about to ask which café Yang’s sister worked when a loud crash drew their attention. Weiss turned to see a blonde boy panicking over a spilled pool of juice, while a red-haired woman frantically picked up pieces of the now shattered glass that had presumably held the drink. Yang sighed as she grabbed a washcloth from a drawer, turning to Weiss with a strangely familiar apologetic smile.

“I should go get that…it was great meeting you! I’ll chat with Sis about that café – she knows a latte people there.”

Grinning at the pun, she quickly dashed over to help the redhead with the spill. Weiss stared after the blonde, wondering why her smile just now had looked so familiar. She could have sworn she’d seen that exact same smile before, even though she’d never met Yang in her life. Weiss was so distracted, she hardly noticed Blake speaking to her, and only registered the sound when she wove a hand in front of Weiss’s face.

“She would even put puns in the letters she would write me. So, what did you think of…hey, are you there? You look a little out of it.”

Weiss shook her head quickly, clearing her thoughts. “Nope, everything’s fine. Yang seemed quite nice, it’s awfully kind of her to talk to her sister about getting me a job.”

Blake smiled, seemingly accepting her answer. “That’s just the sort of person she is. I hope it works out. Come on, I’ll introduce you to Sun – he’s a bit of a goofball, but he’s a kind person at heart, I promise. He’s from the same town in Menagerie as me.”

As she followed Blake towards a open-shirted blond and his blue-haired compatriot, Weiss quickly glanced over her shoulder towards Yang, who was now helping the redhead clean up the spilled juice. She was sure she’d seen that smile before…

Chapter Text

Weiss sat on the couch in Yang’s living room, nervously rapping her fingers against the armrest. She would be meeting Yang’s sister today to talk about a job, and she couldn’t stop fidgeting. She knew she didn’t really have anything to be worried about; this was just a casual meeting about a potential job. However, that didn’t do anything to stop the anxiety she was feeling – she had no idea why she was so worried.

Maybe I’m just really nervous about potentially getting this job? After all, I do really need a job so that I can pay for the Forever Fall trip. But this isn’t even an interview! It’s just meeting someone to chat about the café she works at! I don’t even know her! Why am I so-

Her further thoughts were interrupted as the door to the apartment slammed open. Weiss heard two shoes quickly clatter against the floor, followed by the sound of feet against the floor. She took a deep breath as the footsteps came closer.

“Sorry I’m late! I had to run back to get my-oh wait, I remember you! You’re the girl who came to the shop a few weeks ago. It’s so nice to see you again!”

Weiss’s eyes went wide as she processed what she was seeing in front of her. The girl who had just walked into the room, presumably Yang’s sister, with short cropped brown hair and striking silver eyes...was Ruby. She dropped her bag to the floor and sat in the chair beside the sofa. 

Feeling her anxiety jump tenfold, Weiss quickly composed herself. “The pleasure is all mine. It’s very nice to see you again as well. I actually came by the cafe many times after to try to thank you for what you did. Your gesture made my day.”

Ruby looked down bashfully. “Hehe, yeah, I always like to help out people when it seems like they aren’t doing too great.”

Weiss felt a strange pang in her chest. So it didn’t have anything to do with me in particular. She’s just that nice to everyone. She didn’t know why it bothered her so much - after all, she barely knew this girl.

Oblivious to Weiss’s reaction, Ruby continued speaking. “Also, sorry about not being able to find me. I had to take a couple of weeks off work to do this design project for school. It’s pretty much done though – we just have to do our presentation for it tomorrow.”

“I can imagine it’s time-consuming,” Weiss replied, trying to fight off the mysterious sinking feeling in her stomach. “What are you studying?”

“Computer Engineering!” Ruby replied cheerfully. “I’ve been interested in computers ever since I was a little kid. Me, Yang, Dad, and my Uncle Qrow would always play video games together on our old computer, and I wanted to know how it worked. So my uncle showed me how to put one together – he’s an IT consultant. I built my first computer on my own when I was 9, and I’ve been learning about them ever since! I could talk about computers all day, but that’s not why you’re here – you’re looking for a job, right?”

Weiss had been so engrossed in Ruby’s story that she hadn’t even noticed the girl had asked her a question. “Huh? Oh, yes, I’m looking for a job. Is the café you work at hiring?”

Ruby nodded enthusiastically. “Yep! We get a lot more customers during the school year, since we have such a good reputation with the students, so we always hire more people during the year. Or so I hear – I’ve only been working there for a couple of months. I can talk to the owner for you, I’m sure she’d be happy to interview you. Can I get your phone number?”

Weiss felt a surge of excitement, but she quickly tamped it down. Calm down Weiss, it’s just for work – wait, why do I even care if it’s for work? She took Ruby’s phone and began typing in her number. “That’s extremely kind of you, thank you,” Weiss replied gratefully. “Being new here, I don’t know a lot of people, or much about the city itself, so your help means a lot to me.” She finished entering her contact info and placed the phone on the table, as opposed to handing it back to Ruby – she didn’t know if she could handle physical contact right now.

Ruby tilted her head thoughtfully. “Well, if you don’t know anything about the city, why don’t I show you around sometime? I could explain how the transit system works – it’s a little complicated – and maybe afterwards we could go grab a coff-“

A loud ringing jolted Weiss from her thoughts of a tour from Ruby. The girl in question frantically grabbed the phone off the table.

“Is that my phone? Sorry, I need to get that – Hello? Oh, hi Penny, what’s – wait, it what? What do you mean it caught fire? We have to present that tomorrow! This isn’t good! It’s probably the power supply. I’ll be right over. Are you at school?  Ok, I’ll be over in like ten minutes. Try to keep things under – well, I don’t know! Try to protect the other parts! And don’t pour water on it – the TA won’t care if it’s burnt, as long as it works. I’ll be there right away! Bye!”

Ruby threw her phone in her bag, quickly scrambling to get her things together. “I’m so sorry Weiss, I really have to go. Apparently, the design project I’ve been working on just – well, you heard the phone call. It was super nice to see you again though! I’ll be sure to introduce you to Coco later. And I’ll text you later so we can set up a time for me to give you that tour! See you later! “

Ruby dashed out of the room, leaving Weiss in a confused state. Chatting with Ruby had elicited a strange mix of emotions in her – sadness when she’d learnt of her desire to help everyone, fascination when she’d talked about her passion for computers, and excitement when she’d mentioned the possibility of showing Weiss around the city. One question stood out in her mind-

Why on earth am I feeling so nervous around her?

Chapter Text

“Weiss! Over here!”

The white-haired girl turned her attention to the sound, seeing Ruby sitting the same table she had sat at when she’d first come to the café. Beside Ruby was another waitress the Weiss recognized as the girl who had been working the day Weiss met Ruby.

As Weiss approached the table, both Ruby and her coworker stood up. Ruby stepped to the side, gesturing between the two of them. “Weiss, this is Velvet. She runs front-of-house for the café.”

Velvet reached a hand forward. “Ah, I remember you. You were the girl that Ruby covered coffee for. You know, she didn’t even tell me where you were sitting, she just told me to look for the “pretty girl with white hair.”

What? Weiss froze, mind racing. What does she mean, “pretty”? Her thoughts paused momentarily as she saw Ruby swat Velvet across the arm playfully, an adorable pout on her face. Wait, adorable?

“Velvet, I told you, I don’t want you to set me up with anyone! You don’t need to make up stories to get me a date!”

Velvet chuckled, shaking her head. “Sorry Ruby, you’re just way too much fun to tease. Plus, Yang asked me to. I couldn’t just say no…”

Weiss exhales softly, hoping no one had noticed her little panic attack. For some reason, the thought that Ruby considered her pretty, combined with the knowledge that Ruby was single and interested in women, had really improved her mood. However, it seemed like Ruby’s interest in her had just been a fabrication for teasing her. Noticing Velvet turning towards her, Weiss focused her attention on the manager.

“Thanks to Ruby’s recommendation, we skipped a few steps in our normal application process for you. I read over your resume, and I’m happy with it. Coco likes to interview every applicant personally, so provided she’s satisfied, you’ll be able to start next week. You seem very capable, so I don’t think there should be any problems. However, you never know. Coco can be a bit…”

“Straightforward?” Ruby supplied.

Velvet smiled, softly laughing. “Yes, straightforward. Please don’t let her intimidate you, I promise she’s a big softy at heart, her words can be a bit brusque though.”

“I’m sure you’ll do great!” Ruby encouraged. “Just be honest with her. Plus, I really like your earrings, so maybe they will get you some bonus points with her! She really cares about fashion.”

Weiss smiled, appreciating the compliment. The earrings had been a gift from her sister, Winter, before she left for the military. They happened to be Weiss’s favorite accessory.

Velvet stood up, glancing at her phone. “Looks like Coco’s free now, Weiss. Ready for your interview?”

Weiss nodded. Chatting with Velvet had been easy, so if Coco was anything like her, this interview should be easy.

“Good luck Weiss! Just don’t take things personally!” Ruby called to Weiss as she followed Velvet towards the back of the café.

Velvet took Weiss into an office behind the counter. Inside, a large desk occupied a significant portion of the room, but Weiss’s eyes were drawn to the woman sitting behind it – the same woman that had told Ruby to make Weiss order a drink on her first day here, complete with sunglasses. Weiss sat in the chair in front of the desk as Velvet spoke to the mysterious woman.

“Hi, Coco, this is the applicant from earlier. She’s actually been to the café before, not sure if-

“Yeah, I remember her. She came in and used my wifi for three hours without even ordering a drink. I’ll let you know when I’m finished with her, Velv. See you later.”

Weiss gulped nervously as Velvet left the room. It seemed like Coco wasn’t a fan of hers.

Coco twirled a pencil effortlessly between her fingers. “So, Miss…Schnee, what’s your opinion of loiters in restaurants?

“…and your dress is a stupid choice for this climate. White during Valean fall?”

Weiss sighed internally, frustrated with the situation. After a number of questions, most of them passive-aggressively attacking Weiss for her reluctance to order something the first time she’d come to the café, Coco had then proceeded to insult Weiss’s clothing choices. While she was puzzled by the

“And wearing earrings like that? Ugh. What a trash sense of style.”

Weiss felt something break inside her. She’d been able to take Coco’s rudeness up to this point, but something about the way that she insulted that particular fashion choice got to her. After all, Ruby had complimented those earrings! Before she could stop herself, she rose out of the chair, and stepped forward.

“Excuse me miss, I’ve tolerated your insults for long enough! I understand that you have opinions about my choices of clothing, and you are not pleased with my earlier patronage. However, that does not give you the right to berate me!”

Finally catching herself, Weiss stepped back and sat down in her chair, regretting her actions, although she kept a stoic exterior. Coco’s expression was unreadable behind her sunglasses.

Great job, Schnee. Ruby was kind enough to put her reputation on the line for you to get this interview, and now you’ve screwed it up. All because you couldn’t handle a little jab at your fashion sense. Well, I guess it was less about that and more about Ru-

“You’re hired. Your first shift’s on Monday.”

Weiss blinked twice, unable to believe what she’d just heard. “You mean I got the job after all that?”

Coco had already gotten up out of her chair and had begun to walk back towards the front of the café. She looked back over her shoulder at Weiss. “Yep. Because of it, in fact. Standard test I put any applicant through. I want employees that aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves. You can’t run a good business if you’ll just let the first jerk of a customer that shows up walk all over you. Also can’t be giving a free drink to every entitled brat that thinks their latte is too foamy. Bonus points for keeping your tone civil.”

She reached up and tipped her sunglasses down on to her nose, eyes gazing at Weiss intently, before flicking to her earrings. “Plus, I like the fact that you own your style. I still think it’s trash, but at least it’s yours.” She turned back towards the door and walked out.

Still in slight shock, Weiss got up to leave the room. She walked outside to see Velvet and Coco quickly chatting, with Coco handing Velvet a page before returning to the office. Velvet then approached Weiss, handing Weiss the page. Weiss quickly scrawled down her signature as Velvet spoke.

“Congratulations! Here’s your contract. We were able to give you the availability you asked for, Monday through Thursday from 5-9pm. Looks like your schedule will line up perfectly with Ruby’s. Isn’t that wonderful?” Velvet collected the contract and headed for the backroom. “Well, I’ll see you on Monday at 5 o’clock for your first shift. Don’t be late!”

Weiss raised her hand in parting, only for it to be snapped to her side by a hug from Ruby, who had wrapped her arms around Weiss from behind. “Did you hear that? We have the same schedule. This. Is. Awesome! We’re going to have so much fun working together!”

Weiss felt heat rising in her face. How am I going to survive working with this girl?

Chapter Text

Weiss looked at her reflection in the store window, nervously brushing her hair. It was her first day of work, and she was feeling a little bit anxious. It didn’t really have much to do with what she would be doing today – Velvet had explained that she wouldn’t have to assist with any food preparation over the course of her first week. Rather, it had to do with who she would be spending the day with…


…Ruby. She was the source of Weiss’s anxiety. Ever since her interview two days ago, thoughts of her energetic coworker had flitted in and out of Weiss’s mind. She’d been so distracted with thoughts of the girl that while writing her lecture notes for economics, she’d copied down the same section three times in a row. Turning towards the door, she saw Ruby running in, skittering to a stop just in front of Weiss. She couldn’t look away from Ruby’s eyes as the girl excitedly began chatting.

“It’s your first day of work! Are you excited? Wow, the uniform looks amazing on you! It matches your eyes and your hair! I wish I looked that good in it…”

Weiss smoothed the non-existent ruffles in her skirt, directing her gaze towards the ground so Ruby couldn’t see the blush on her cheeks. The uniform consisted of a simple blouse and skirt, mostly dark brown and white, with the café name lettered in light blue. Another brazen compliment? This girl is so forward! She even noticed my eye colour. Nothing caused Weiss to lose focus more than thinking about how Ruby had flattered her. She’d never had anyone be so open with her about praising her; frankly, she didn’t get much support at all when she was younger.

Even knowing that the compliments were just a by-product of Ruby’s bubbly personality, Weiss couldn’t help but feel a rush of fondness towards the girl. Nevertheless, she’d had come up with a plan to deal with it; every time that Ruby complimented her, she was going to reply with one of her own. Thinking quickly, Weiss replied, “I think it looks really good on you too!”

Yes, perfect. All you have to do is repeat her compliments back to her, and you’ll be totally fine…wait, why is she looking at me like that?

 “Um, Weiss…thanks, but I’m not wearing my uniform right now. I haven’t changed yet.”

Weiss glanced towards Ruby’s outfit. Caught between Ruby’s eyes and the café floor, she’d apparently entirely missed the fact that Ruby, having just come in to work, was still wearing her day clothes. Oh no, this isn’t good. Can she tell I’m nervous? Think fast. What was plan B…act cold towards her?

“Oh, I…obviously meant when you were wearing it earlier, dolt!”

Ruby paused for a second, then smiled brightly. “Oh, in that case, thank you! I’ll be out in a sec.” She sent Weiss a quick smile as she walked towards the change room at the back of the café.

Well, it seems like that worked. Okay, whenever she compliments you, just be standoffish about it. Weiss made a mental note of her new strategy, figuring it would do the job while she tried to unpack her complicated feelings towards Ruby. With that in mind, she walked towards the café bar, where Velvet was currently working. Maybe she’d be able to learn a thing or two before Ruby came back and she lost her concentration entirely...

Weiss gazed at the cars passing by as she wiped down the table she’d originally sat at. It was 9pm, and the café was just closing for the day. Her first day on the job had been relatively enjoyable – she’d spent her time either cleaning the tables or learning about how to make the various drinks the café served. Velvet and Ruby had both proved to be good teachers; Weiss found herself learning more from the former, as she had a hard time focusing on the coffee when Ruby was teaching her. Stupid brain, why is it so hard to stay attentive when I’m around her?

Currently, the silver-eyed girl in question was assisting Weiss with cleaning the tables. Weiss figured now was as good a time as any to learn more about Ruby, so she decided to ask something she’d been wondering about.

“So, Ruby…Coco said that she tried to get everyone to their breaking point during their interviews. Is that true? I know I’ve only known you a short time, but I can’t imagine you getting angry about anything.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised!” Ruby replied with a laugh. “She makes sure she gets a rise out of everyone. Mine was when she insulted my baby, Crescent Rose.”

Wait, what? “I’m sorry, your…baby?”

Ruby nodded enthusiastically. “I take her with me everywhere I go! As a matter of fact, she’s in my locker right now!”

If she’d been drinking the coffee in the cup she’d just picked up, Weiss would have done a spit take. Her locker? I must be misunderstanding her. Trying to maintain her composure, she forced out a clarifying question. “You…bring her to work?”

“Yeah, I like to work on school assignments during my breaks; I can’t do any work without my laptop. I was showing her to Coco, and explaining how I’d built her from scratch, and how I’d set up a dual boot OS…then she told me that the colour scheme looked stupid! I don’t get angry very often, and she’d even said the same thing about my hair earlier, but I couldn’t let her diss my baby like that! I put a lot of time into her paint, it’s all custom and done by hand. Not my fault is she thinks the red stripes look like I spilt blood on a briefcase’…"

Ah…a laptop. I should have figured, Weiss thought to herself as Ruby continued to mutter about Coco. Before she could stop herself, she heard herself say, “Well, I think its rather impressive that you did that yourself. I’ve never heard of anyone building and painting a whole laptop on their own before.”

Ruby’s face lit up. “You really think so Weiss? Thank you! I haven’t ever had anyone compliment me for doing all of that myself. Even Yang! It’s so nice of you to say that!”

Weiss could feel her face heating up as Ruby talked. Sensing another compliment coming, she sprung into action, following her new plan. “I mean…well, doesn’t every computer engineering student build their own laptop from scratch? You should already know how to do this, right?”

Ruby was entirely undeterred. “No, we don’t learn anything about building portable devices at all, I did this all by myself. And you remembered my major!” As she ran towards Weiss for another hug, the white-haired girl considered that she might need yet another strategy for distracting her cute, overtly affectionate new friend. Hold on, cute?!?!

Chapter Text

“Your studies have been going well?”

“Yes Winter.”

“I trust that you have been covering your lecture material outside of class regularly.”

“I have, Winter.”

Weiss was chatting with her sister Winter on her scroll while in her dorm room. The sisters had been quite close when they were younger, and even when Winter left their hometown to join the Atlasian military, her and Weiss would still talk regularly. Winter had risen meteorically through the ranks on the back of her strict sense of discipline, which she had always worked to instill in Weiss…even to this day.

“How is your current living situation?”

Weiss spared a glance towards Blake, who was lounging on the opposite bed. She was reading a book called Ninjas of Love; when Weiss had asked what it was about, she’d had the rare pleasure of watching her roommate blush, stutter, fumble her words, and finally choke out that it was about “katana wielders”. Weiss wasn’t quite sure why Blake was so nervous about that – what was wrong with a book about medieval Japanese warriors?

“It’s marvelous. My roommate and I share a multitude of common values.”

“Wonderful. Have you been participating in extracurricular activities outside of school? What about socializing? Have you made any friends?”

Weiss thought about mentioning her job, but she decided not to. If she talked about her job, Winter might ask about her coworkers, and that might lead Weiss towards a topic, more specifically a person, that she did not want to discuss with her sister.

“I’ve been focusing on my studies as of late. However, I have made a few new friends, and I do partake in their company weekly.”

“I am glad to hear it.” Weiss heard a ringing noise on the other end of the line. “Sister, it has been rather pleasurable conversing with you, but I am afraid I must be off. I have a vast number of pressing matters to attend to.”

“Ah. What nature of task- “


Weiss sighed internally. She loved her sister and admired her diligence, but sometimes Winter took the whole “military” thing just a bit too seriously.

“Of course. Well, I hope that we will have a chance to speak soon.”

“I assure you we will. Do take care of yourself.”

Weiss smiled to herself as she clicked the small red phone icon. Even through Winter’s cold demeanour, she never doubted that her sister cared deeply for her. Glancing up from her scroll, Weiss caught Blake staring at her inquisitively. “What was that?” Blake asked. Weiss stared at her friend, puzzled. “What was what?”

“Was that your sister or your great-grandmother? For five minutes you turned into the most pretentious sounding person I’ve ever heard. It sounded like something out of a Victorian Atlas textbook. Although now it seems like you’re back to normal.”

A grimace crossed Weiss’s face. With her family’s standing in Atlas, she’d been raised from a young age to have excellent manners. Unfortunately, the circles that her parents moved in tended to be somewhat antiquated in their formalities. In her teen years, she’d done her best to develop a more modern style of speaking, but her old habits still crept in from time to time, especially when she talked with Winter; her sister’s military tone tended to make Weiss act much more formally.

To answer Blake’s question, she replied, “It’s the way we used to talk back home. Our parents are very…traditional.”

“Ah.” A long pause. “You didn’t tell her about work.” Shoot. Blake was too observant for her own good.

Weiss pursed her lips before responding. “I didn’t feel a need to. Winter is more concerned with my overall well-being than my daily activities.”

“If you say so.” Another pause. “How are things there? At the café.”

“Work at the café is nice. Velvet is a great teacher, and Coco is kind in her own way. I’m enjoying working there.”

She was hoping that Blake wouldn’t notice the conspicuous absence of a certain coworker from Weiss’s list. However, the twinkle in her roommate’s eyes told Weiss everything she needed to know about what was coming next. “How about Ruby?”

Damn it.

“Ruby is wonderful to work with. She’s kind, caring, and adora-admirable.” Oh no. There’s no way she caught that, right? She examined Blake’s expression and found it unreadable. “Why do you ask?”

For a fraction of a second, Weiss saw the smallest hint of what she now considered Blake’s trademark smirk. “Nothing, just curious,” she replied. “It seems like you’re working really hard. Your work ethic is adora-admirable.” Her smirk morphed into a fully-fledged grin.

Weiss buried her face in her hands as Blake chuckled to herself. “Don’t worry Weiss, I won’t tell anyone.” She moved from her bed to sit beside Weiss, who was now sporting a blush the color of her crush’s name. “So, do you want to talk about it?”


“How about you talk to yourself about it and pretend I’m not here?”

“…I can’t get anything done around her. I’m genuinely worried that I’ll lose my job because I won’t be able to focus. She’s just too…cute! Arggh!”

Blake smiled. “Oh boy, you’ve got it bad. Have you messed up at work already?”

Weiss thought through the shifts she’d had so far. “Only once.” She cringed at the memory as she recounted the story to Blake…

Velvet clapped her hands together in joy. “You’re doing great, Weiss! I’ve never seen anyone learn how to make our signature latte this quickly!”

  Weiss smirked. She’d watched Klein make lattes for her mother countless times back home, and she’d even tried a couple of times herself. Naturally, the CFVY latte at Coco’s was a piece of cake.

She noticed Ruby bounding up to the counter with her typical enthusiasm. “Hey Velvet! I’ve got an order for two CVFY lattes! Both mediums – wow Weiss, did you make that one? It’s looks great!

Weiss felt her cheeks heat up hotter than the lattes as Velvet answered Ruby’s question.

Ruby then leaned over the counter towards Weiss. “Hey Weiss, why don’t you make another latte, then I can serve them to the customers!  Plus, this way I get to watch you make it!”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea!” Velvet replied. “This should be easy for you, right Weiss?”

“Yes, I should be able to,” Weiss replied nervously. “Calm down,” she thought to herself. “It’s just making a latte. Nothing is different, other than Ruby being here.” She looked up and briefly caught Ruby’s gaze as she set about making the second drink…

“…after I messed up for the third time, I said I wasn’t feeling well and Velvet made the second drink,” Weiss stated dejectedly.

Blake suppressed her laughter as she put a hand on Weiss’s shoulder. “It’s alright. I’ll help you get through this.” She resisted the urge to crack a joke about her friend’s ruby-red cheeks.

Chapter Text

“Okay, ready to try it again?”
“Yes. Let’s do it.”
Blake held up her scroll in front of Weiss. A picture of Ruby smiling while holding her dog, named Zwei according to Blake, was front and center. In Blake’s other hand, she held a stopwatch. Weiss steeled herself and focused all her attention on the ingredients laid out in front of her.
Weiss began preparing a CFVY Latte. The recipe wasn’t too difficult overall but making the latte art at the end was difficult, requiring a steady hand. As she poured the frothed milk into the cup, she couldn’t resist the urge to quickly glance at the picture of Ruby. As she did, her hand bumped against the rim of the glass, and the liquid spilled out of the cup.
"Argh! Blake, reset the timer. We’re going again.”
“Whatever you say, Weiss.”
This time, Weiss was able to successfully make the entire latte, although she did get slightly distracted in the middle by the picture. As she finished, she finally gave in to the lingering temptation to look at the picture of Ruby while she talked to Blake.
“What was my time?”
“1 minute and 23 seconds.”
“And how long did it take me to do this without the Ruby picture there?”
Blake fidgeted slightly with the stopwatch as she responded. “…56 seconds.”
“Unacceptable! We’re doing this again until I get under a minute! I will not let that dolt’s adorable face distract me again. Get me more milk!”
“I hope you know that once you finally take over your company, you owe me like a million Lien for this.”

Chapter Text

“…and then you top it off with some whipped cream. Typically, the customers that order this one can be real picky, but they also tip well because it’s one of our more expensive drinks. You’ve officially been working here for a week as of today, so you get to start making it. Got all that?”

Weiss nodded towards Coco, although this was a silent lie. Unfortunately, she hadn’t gotten all of it. In fact, she had barely gotten any of it, mostly due to the fact that she’d been staring across the café for the past two minutes instead of at the seasonal drink that Coco was teaching her how to make. How could she be expected to pay attention to a pumpkin spice latte when Ruby was chatting with a customer like they were…together?!

The girl that Ruby was talking to had orange hair the same shade as Nora’s, although it was styled differently. She wore a cream blouse with a green overall skirt, plus black stockings. It was a rather strange outfit, all things considered. However, the only thought going through Weiss’s head was that Ruby seemed extremely comfortable with her. As in, they hugged when she’d walked through the door. Sure, Ruby hugged everyone, but that didn’t make Weiss any less nervous about this new visitor.

Coco followed Weiss’s eyes and caught sight of Ruby. Smirking, she snapped her fingers as if she’d remembered something. “Ah, Weiss, could you send Ruby over here for me? I need to talk to her about this Thursday.”

Broken out of her trance, Weiss quickly acknowledged Coco’s request and stepped around the bar and walked towards the two girls. As she approached them, Weiss heard Ruby say, “I swear, the two of us have spent so many nights together in the past few weeks I think I’ve lost count.”

Weiss felt her eyebrow twitch. That could mean a lot of things. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a couple.

“Yes, Friend Ruby. I have enjoyed our time together.”

Lots of people say those sorts of things to each other. Friends, coworkers, classmates…

“It’s been pretty crazy so far, yeah? I still have burn marks from last night!”

Unfortunately, Weiss arrived at the table at the exact moment Ruby made this statement, and as such was caught off guard, unable to form a sentence. It wasn’t until she noticed both Ruby and her friend staring at her that she composed herself and made her reason for arriving known. “…Ruby, Coco wants to see you. Something about this Thursday?”

Ruby quickly stood up. “Oh, I’d asked if I could get an extra shift! I’m saving up to buy some extra RAM for Crescent Rose next week.” She turned to the mysterious girl she was chatting with. “Back in a sec, Penny!”

Weiss watched Ruby dash off towards the counter, blushing as she caught a hint of Ruby’s rose-scented perfume. She was about to follow her when she felt a finger tap her shoulder. Turning around, she noticed Ruby’s friend greeting her, an inquisitive look in her green eyes as she spoke. “Sal-u-tations, miss! What is your name, if I may ask?”

Weiss was taken aback by the girl’s manner of speech. It reminded her of her parents, although much more…structured. “My name’s Weiss. I’m a friend of Ruby’s. You are?”

“It is very nice to meet you, Friend Weiss. Any friend of Ruby’s is a friend of mine. My name is Penny. I am also a friend of Ruby’s.”

Weiss hesitated before answering, thoughts whirring through her head. Most people wouldn’t just introduce themselves as Ruby’s friend if they were something more to her. However, what could the two of them possibly be doing together at night?  “It’s nice to meet you. How do you know Ruby?”

“We are in school together. My parents are doctors from Atlas that work on neural interfaces. I wanted to work with them, so I came to school here for computer engineering. Me and Friend Ruby are partners in all our classes! We work together quite well, although our projects have a propensity for overheating. Friend Ruby and I have both sustained many injuries from our devices malfunctioning. “

“I’m from Atlas as well, it’s nice to meet someone else from there,” Weiss replied in relief, noting that Penny appeared to be referring to Ruby like a close coworker, as opposed to a significant other. She then recalled where she had heard Penny’s name before – she was on the phone with Ruby when they had first met, discussing their school project. That must be why they spend so much time together. Good, she probably isn’t her girlfriend then. She noticed Penny staring at her closely. “Is something the matter?”

“Friend Weiss, your pupils appeared to dilate when you look at Friend Ruby. And your skin appeared somewhat flushed when she walked past you. I believe that those are signs of…”

Oh no – she said her parents are doctors, so she probably knows those are signs of attraction. She must have figured out that I like Ruby-

“…using methamphetamine. I believe that is illegal here in Vale?”


Weiss hastily cleared her throat, thinking of a possible reason for her current Ruby-induced state. “No, I’ve never used any drugs of the sort. As for my condition, I’m…feeling somewhat under the weather today, perhaps that could cause what you’re seeing?”

Penny paused for a second before her face lit up, as if she’d solved a complicated puzzle. “Yes! That must be it. Redness of skin can be caused by an allergic reaction, and the medications typically prescribed to treat allergies, antihistamines, can cause pupil dilatation. In this fall season, it is not uncommon to have allergies. The fact that you are not breaking the law is simply sen-sational!” She pumped her fist in delight.

Weiss exhaled as she watched the girl in front of her celebrate her deduction. Penny had an awfully…unique way of thinking – maybe it had to do with growing up in a medical family. Hearing footsteps behind her, she turned to see Ruby dashing past her with a bright smile, holding up her hand to Penny, who promptly hi-fived it. She held her other hand up to Weiss, who followed suit tentatively.

“I got my shift on Thursday! Since it’ll be short-staffed, it pays extra, so I’ll be able to upgrade Crescent Rose this weekend instead! Oh, Weiss, Coco wants to see you. She says you’ll be working on Thursday with me. It’s gonna be so much fun!”

Weiss reviewed her schedule mentally. That’s strange, I don’t remember getting a shift on Thursday. Turning to Coco, she saw the owner waving her over. As she arrived at the counter, Coco grinned. “I take it Ruby told you about your newly scheduled shift?”

“Yes, when was this posted? I must have missed it.”

Coco’s grin got even wider. “Just now. It seems like you’ve been spacing out a bit while I’ve been teaching you, so I assume you don’t find making any of the drinks difficult. As such, I figured that you would be ready to handle a short-staffed shift. After all, I think the rest of the team could use a Thursday night off, including me and Velvet.”

“It just so happens that Ruby wanted to work on Thursday, so I put the two of you the same shift. During short-staffed shifts, there’s only two people covering the whole café, so you’ll be spending all shift together. Since you keep staring at her, I take it you two get along well?” She smirked at Weiss, who was fighting to keep the blush off her cheeks at the thought of spending a whole evening working with just Ruby. “That’s what I thought. Aren’t I a great boss?” Chuckling to herself, she turned and walked towards the back office.

Weiss fought to keep down her internal panic. She had no clue how she was going to handle a whole night alone with Ruby. Well, there will be other customers here, so we won’t be totally alone. Her musing was interrupted by Coco, who had turned around while holding the door to her office open. “I also forgot to mention – there’s a big sporting event at Beacon on Thursday, and some students have early midterms, so I don’t think we’ll get much business that day. The two of you will probably be alone the whole time. Have fun!” She let the door swing closed, with the last sight Weiss had of her being her teasing grin.

Chapter Text


“Yes, Ruby?”

“You’ve been cleaning that table for the past 5 minutes.”

“There’s a particularly stubborn stain I’m trying to get out.”

Weiss mentally scanned the table she was cleaning for a stain of suitable merit to be considered ‘stubborn’. She was already three hours into her six-hour short-staffed shift with Ruby, and she could count the number of customers they’d had on one hand. It seemed like Coco was right when she said that she didn’t expect much traffic today. Weiss had taken to cleaning the tables to gain some space from Ruby; she appeared to be wearing her signature rose scent, which was certainly not helping Weiss focus on anything other than her cheerful coworker.

Feeling the table shift beneath her hand, she looked to her left to see Ruby slapping her own cleaning rag down on the table. “Well,” she said, “if the two of us work together, it’ll be clean in no time!” She flashed Weiss a blinding smile. “Now, where’s this stain?”

Weiss quickly looked back to the table, her eyes alighting on a brown spot on the table. “Um, that one,” she stated timidly as she pointed, hopeful it would prove difficult to remove. Her faith shattered as Ruby removed the spot in question with one hard scrub. Darn stain, I trusted you!

Ruby wiped her hand across her forehead in mock fatigue. “Whew, that was a tough one. But nothing is a match for that good old Rose Xiao-Long might!” She flexed her arm jokingly as she inspected the spot where the stain had been, sitting down in one of the chairs. “It was probably a dark roast, they stain more. I don’t know how anyone can drink that.”

“I guess I’ve never asked,” Weiss questioned, “but how do you take your coffee, Ruby?”

“Cream and 5 sugars.”

“That sounds incredibly sweet.”

“Not as sweet as you.”

Weiss’s face went blank as her mind went into overdrive. What? Huh? Did I just hear that? OhmygodIamfreakingoutrightnow – oh. Her heartrate slowed considerably as she noticed her friend’s teasing grin, before Ruby burst out in laughter, nearly falling out of her seat.

“Oh, I am so sorry about that!” she wheezed through her laughter as she wiped tears from her eyes. “It’s just – you should have seen your face! You looked like you’d seen a ghost!”

“Haha…yes…” Weiss replied, calming her senses. Just a joke. I swear, this girl will be the death of me. Noticing that Ruby had bumped the table slightly out of place, she got up to move it back.

As she braced with both hands to lift the table, Ruby stepped forward. “Here, let me get that!” She then proceeded to lift the table with one arm and reposition it. Weiss averted her eyes and tried to not stare at Ruby’s tensed upper arm as she placed the table back down. “Wow, you’re quite strong,” she said. “Did you help Yang and your father run the gym back home?”

“Aw, thank you!” Ruby replied, beaming. “I kind of did, I built our website and the member tracking system,” Ruby said. “I didn’t help with the actual gym stuff though – that was all Yang and Dad. I actually ended up being a member for a while!”

Spotting an opportunity to learn more about Ruby, Weiss immediately took her chance. “How so?”

Ruby sat back down at the table and leaned one arm on it as she began talking. “Okay, so I was just turning 10, and Yang was just getting into nutrition at the time. She’d been on this whole calorie-counting craze, and she would track every meal that she ate. It was ridiculous! She even stopped eating cookies. Cookies, Weiss!” Her eyes were wide with terror –mock or genuine, Weiss honestly couldn’t tell. “How can someone stop eating cookies!” She grabbed Weiss’s shoulders and started shaking her. Weiss, for her part, was simply focused on staying in her seat.

After a few seconds, Ruby let her go and continued. “So anyways, she convinces Dad to stop buying cookies from the store. And I just can’t handle this! I need cookies, Weiss! They’re my energy! My solace in dark times! My fuel for life! Luckily, my Uncle Qrow was on my side – don’t tell anyone, but he actually loves cookies as much as I do! – so he started sneaking cookies into my room. But Yang found them, and – get this – she found out how many calories were in a packet and forced me to run it off, all in one day! I swear, I was on that treadmill for hours…but that’s how I found out I was a really good runner! So Yang started making me enter the track meets at our school…”

Weiss mulled over her thoughts as she listened to Ruby’s story. She’d realized over the past few days that her fascination with Ruby wasn’t just due to her cute looks or her kindness. Ruby was so incredibly different from everything Weiss had ever been exposed to – spontaneous, scatterbrained, and always willing to push the envelope. Something about her just made Weiss want to know more.

Her thoughts returned to the present as Ruby’s story came to an end. Weiss noticed that Ruby seemed to be staring quite intently at her.

“What’s the matter, Ruby?”

“Oh, nothing,” Ruby replied. “It’s just really nice talking to you. I’m actually happy coming to work when you’re here.”

Weiss felt a blush coming on. Scrambling, she got out of her chair and mentioned something to Ruby about needing some fresh air as she walked out the front of the café, not turning around. As she passed the window of the café on a walk around the block, she pulled out her phone and started on a text to Blake, hoping for some sort of distraction.

Blake and Yang sat side by side at the tennis courts, watching Ren and Nora compete in the mixed-doubles rec finals. “Go Nora, kick their butts!” Yang yelled as she reached into Blake’s bag of popcorn. At this point, Yang had eaten more than Blake had, so she simply decided to place the bag in Yang’s lap. Feeling a vibration, Blake pulled out her phone to see a text from Weiss. As she read it, Yang looked over from the match. “What’s up?”

“Oh, nothing. Weiss was just a bit nervous about work.” Realizing that Yang didn’t know how Weiss felt about Ruby, she quickly improvised. “She said that she was working a short-staffed shift today, so it’s probably that.”

Yang frowned slightly before lobbing a single piece of popcorn into her mouth. “That’s kinda weird,” she replied. “Ruby was nervous about her shift today too, but she’s worked short-staffed shifts before. She’s been weirdly anxious about work in general over the past little while.”

Blake’s grip on her phone tightened. “Huh. Hey Yang…have you noticed anything different about Ruby lately?”

Chapter Text

Weiss walked back into the café with a determined expression on her face. She’d had a quick chat with Blake, and after a quick pep talk from her roommate, she had a plan; she was going to tell Ruby how she felt, today. As she walked in, saw Ruby turn towards her. The hurt in her eyes was evident.

“Weiss, Is everything okay? You ran off so quickly, I was worried I’d said something wrong…”

It occurred to Weiss that in her hurry to leave before, she’d probably given Ruby the wrong impression. She quickly sought to correct it. “No Ruby, you didn’t do anything wrong. I just...wanted to go for a walk.”

Ruby’s eyes shifted downwards. “Oh…was I talking too much? Yang says that sometimes I do that…”

Weiss’s eyes went wide. “No!” she said, much louder than she intended. Lowering her voice, she stepped towards her friend. “Ruby, just seeing you makes my day. You always have so much energy, and you always have a smile on your face. I don’t think you could ever talk too much…in fact, I don’t think you talk enough.”

Realizing how much she had just said, she blushed slightly and looked down at the table. However, she felt a sense of resolve in her chest, and decided to take the opportunity before her. Thinking back to her talk with Blake, she looked back up towards Ruby.

“Ruby, I…”

Oh no, I’m freezing up. This isn’t good. It’s just a few more words…  

“…want to let you know…”

You told Blake you would do this. You can do this.


…I can’t do this.  

“…I’m really glad that you’re my friend.”

Weiss refused to meet Ruby’s eyes. After talking with Blake, she’d felt like she might be able to tell Ruby about how she felt today. Unfortunately, her nerves had failed her at the last possible moment. She was scared…scared of what might happen if Ruby didn’t return her feelings. She’d never had a friend that she enjoyed talking to as much as Ruby, and she didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize the friendship between them.

Finally looking up, she caught sight of Ruby’s trademark smile. However, she couldn’t help but notice that it seemed…softer, somehow.

“Thanks, Weiss. That means a lot to me. I enjoy talking with you, you’re such a good listener. You also inspire me to be better, just seeing you make a latte; it makes me want to improve! I’ve even found myself trying harder in my classes since I met you. I’ve been putting more effort into my clothes recently too, because I want you to li– I want to look more professional, like you!

What I mean to say is, I’m…I’m really glad we’re friends too!”

Although she was somewhat distracted by her own thoughts, Weiss thought she saw hesitation in Ruby’s eyes at the word friends. However, it disappeared immediately, and she chalked it up to her imagination. I must be projecting my own feelings…I am such a wreck right now.

She opened her mouth to reply when she heard the door alarm ring. Turning, she saw a young couple with a toddler enter the shop. Giving Ruby and apologetic smile, she walked back to the counter, preparing to take the couple’s order. While she was able to keep composed on the surface, she couldn’t keep her thoughts off Ruby’s last comment.

I swore I saw her hesitate during that last sentence. What could she have been trying to say? As she put the couple’s order for two CFVY lattes into the register, she turned over the possibilities in her head. Maybe…she doesn’t want to be my friend? A rush of sadness. Or maybe…maybe, she wants to be more? She felt her heart leap at the thought. As she frothed the milk for one of the lattes, Weiss glanced over towards Ruby. She looked back, giving Weiss one of her signature smiles – but this one seemed even more happy than usual.

Weiss returned the smile with a beam of her own. She didn’t notice her hands tip over the currently unfinished latte she was working on…all of the practice in the world wouldn’t have helped her.

Ruby opened the door to her apartment, tossing her bag to the side before unceremoniously faceplanting on the living room couch. Yang looked up from her seat at the kitchen table and spotted her sister’s comatose form. With a guess forming in her mind of how Ruby’s day had gone, she smirked. “How was work, Rubes?”

“I couldn’t do it, Yang. I got soooooo close to telling her! It was just a couple more words!”

Yang got up from the table and walked over to her sister. Sitting down on the couch, she patted Ruby’s shoulder consolingly. “There, there. Tell your big sis all about it.”

“It was going so well! There was barely anyone there all day, so we spent the whole time talking. I made a few jokes and helped her with her work, just like you suggested. I told her all about the gym back home too! But then I told her that I really liked coming to work when she was there, and she suddenly got up and left! She did come back, and told me she really liked being my friend, and I almost told her I liked her, but I didn’t, and then she smiled at me, but then she spilled a latte on her uniform, and, and…”

Yang struggled to keep up with her sister’s torrent of words. “Woah, woah. It’s alright, sis. You’ll be able to tell her one day, I’m sure of it.” Thinking of ways to help Ruby feel better, she grinned as she remembered something she’d done earlier in the day. “Hey…I made you some cookies, they’re in the kitchen.”

A smile burst across Ruby’s face. “Really? Thanks, Yang, you’re the best big sister ever!” She leaned over and gave Yang a tight hug.

Yang laughed as she watched her sister bolt into the kitchen. Being the protective big sister she was, Yang always worried about anything that might end up with Ruby getting hurt. But after talking with Blake, she felt a lot better about her sister’s little crush…

Chapter Text

“Weiss, I’m confused, isn’t Mistral was supposed to be hot? Cause that glare you’re giving me is Weiss-cold.” In response, the frosty girl in question decided to put a little more intensity into the look she was sending in Yang’s direction.

Yang had decided to organize a board game night for her weekly hang out, playing Remnant: The Game. Remnant’s objective was to have your kingdom take over Remnant by warring with the other Kingdoms. The group had split into teams of two. Weiss was paired up with Blake on Team Mistral, with Yang and Ruby on Team Atlas, Pyrrha and Nora on Team Vale, and Ren with Jaune on Team Vacuo. The team members had individual turns but couldn’t see what their teammates had done until it was their turn. The turn order was Vale, Atlas, Mistral, then Vacuo, as Jaune had somehow managed to roll his dice down the AC vent of the building, which Yang declared counted as “rolling a 0”.

At the moment, Weiss was particularly frustrated with the team representing her home kingdom. Her and Blake had been meticulously planning a covert strike in Vale. Blake should have placed their insurgent forces in Vale during her turn the round before, and Weiss was already relishing being able to see the look of defeat on Nora and Pyrrha’s faces…until Yang decided to use the Atlesian Air Fleet to bomb the Emerald Forest, where their forces happened to be stationed.

Yang’s grin became even wider as she saw Weiss’s expression. However, Weiss softened her gaze when her eyes moved to Ruby, who appeared to be on the verge of tears. Her voice wavered as she spoke.

“Weiss, did we do something wrong? I’m sorry about that, it’s just part of the game. I really hope that this doesn’t come between us.”

It seemed like Ruby was going to say something else, but she was cut off by an enthusiastic hug from Yang. “Yes, baby sis! Use your adorable charms to thaw the Ice Queen! Once her defences are down, we’ll assault Mistral with our Crown Jewel, the Atlesian Air Fleet, and take the whole Kingdom for oursel…wait, Blake, what happened?” Yang looked down at the massive swath of her troops that had just been taken off the board by her best friend.

Blake smirked. “Yang, you’re getting predictable. I knew you would go for our forces if they were in the Emerald Forest, so instead of moving our forces there, I set up anti-aircraft guns on a Mistralian Navy ship nearby. Say goodbye to your “crown jewel.” She made a point of flicking the last figure off the board in Yang’s direction for extra effect.

Seeing Yang’s grin falter, Weiss leapt at the chance for payback. “You’d think that you should know where our troops are located, seeing that you’re playing as Atlas.” Rather proud of herself, she looked around the table. Unfortunately, it seemed like no one had noticed her pun, save for Ren, who gave her one of his rare smiles in response as he moved his team’s army slightly closer to Vacuo.

“Well, I suppose that means that it’s us next. Nora, I believe that it’s your…” Pyrrha’s words faltered as she saw the glint in her teammate’s eyes. Ren, spotting potential danger, pre-emptively moved Nora’s glass of water away from her.

“Well, well, well…yes, Pyrrha, it looks like it’s my turn. And since the Atlesian Army just attacked in Vale, that means their Kingdom’s seat of power is undefended! HA HA HA!” Nora’s maniacal laughter echoed through the room. Her hand swept through the air in a grand gesture, passing directly through the spot where her glass would have been, had Ren not moved it. “Oh, and what’s this?” She picked up the crown that signified Atlas’s seat of power. Placing it daintily atop her head, she began singing. “I’m queen of the castle! I’m queen of the castle!”

Weiss heard Ren whisper to Jaune, “After we won the tennis championship, she spent the entire walk home singing this song while holding the trophy. We got a fair number of stares from other students.” She stifled a laugh at the thought of Nora singing in the middle of the night, dragging an expressionless Ren along with her.

Weiss caught Ruby frown ever so slightly as she watched Nora dance around the room with the Atlesian crown; losing a kingdom’s seat of power eliminated that kingdom from the game. Seeing the hint of sadness in Ruby’s eyes spurred Weiss into action. Realizing it was her turn, she publicly moved the entire Mistralian Army towards Vale, ignoring the questioning look she received from Blake.

“Nora, Mistral declares open war on Vale! Prepare your troops for battle!”

Ten minutes of constant dice rolling later, Weiss sullenly packed the game board away with Ruby. While she had managed to rope Blake into starting an all-out war between their Mistral and Vale, Ren and Jaune had steadily conquered the entire board while the two other kingdoms battled. Mistral hadn’t even lasted a single turn after beating Vale. Feeling a tap on her shoulder, she turned to see Ruby with her head down, eyes looking up at her.

“Hey, Weiss…I noticed that you attacked Nora right after she beat us. I wanted to ask…was that because of me?” To Weiss, her tone seemed hopeful for some reason. Without thinking, she answered honestly. “Well, she attacked something I really care about. So, I wanted to make her pay for it.”

About a second later, she noticed Jaune and Pyrrha had paused their conversation to look at her. Next to them, Blake and Yang glanced at each other. Realizing how her comment must have looked to everyone else, she improvised hastily. “…because I’m from Atlas! Yes, she showed no respect for my homeland.” A few seconds later, she remembered that Nora was also from Atlas. Dammit. “Blake, let’s go. We need to work on that Economics assignment. Bye, everyone.” She grabbed Blake’s hand and dragged her out the front door, ignoring Yang’s cry of “Wait, we have Econ homework?”