Olivia rolled out of bed with a groan and stretched, arching her back with her arms high above. She let out a little squeak of pleasure as a rippling series of pops came from her spine. She slowly got dressed in her little room at the top of the stairs and stepped out, walking downstairs with blurry eyes into the kitchen.
"G'morning, July," Olivia gave the older woman a sleepy wave as she opened up one of the cupboards and reached into it to grab a box of cereal. July had taught her the basics of sowing in her free time over the last month or so. Many of the members that stayed there had also taught her some of the necessary skills she was missing out on. It was truly telling how many of them were professionals in something other than being terrorists. 'Normal people driven to the brink.'
They had all adopted her into the fold with open arms, and Olivia had started to see them as a sort of family. A few of them had shared their stories with her when she had gotten to know them. July's son had been killed in a hit and run right in front of her eyes. When she identified the man as an elected official, the police had quietly swept it all under the rug.
The woman gave her a small wave and a smile back, though, in the middle of making her own breakfast as well. Olivia looked down at all the patched tears and seams in her hoodie. She hated to accept it and was putting it off, but she would need to get other clothes soon. Olivia had firmly decided to at least keep the hoodie as a memento, like Copper's weapon. She'd tried practicing with it, but every time she held it the memories just came surging back. It wasn't meant for her. It wasn't meant for killing. It had been created by her brother so that he could protect her and their family. The idea of using it in her grisly acts made her more sick to her stomach than the actual killing did.
Olivia's missions had continued along with Jace's training sessions. They had waited two weeks for the police presence to die down after killing the Council member. All officers had been on high alert, so they had just waited it all out. After that, Crim brought her along on smaller missions to not stir up too much fuss. Stealing from Schnee warehouses, robbing stores that refused to serve faunus. She had killed a few more people over the last month, two guards and a police officer that she had spotted beating a faunus. The last had been a simple act of aggression. Killing the guards had been… 'pragmatic', as Crim called it.
Olivia had come to terms with her lot in life, 'A fighter for equality.' She smirked to herself between bites, 'I'm a weapon, and a damn good one.' Olivia had become one of their primary ways of entry into warehouses, when Widow was off on one of her away missions, anyway. A cute face on a small girl with no visible weapons, arms held up to cover her face, as if in tears, while stumbling towards you? Olivia had felt sorry for them after they showed her concern. When she brought it up to Crim, he had just told her to try it once without her hoodie. One look at her arms to see she was a faunus had swiftly swung that pity to pure disgust.
Her guilt had vanished along with their pity.
Olivia was both surprised, and thankful that the nightmares hadn't ever returned. Perhaps it was the confidence she felt in herself that kept them at bay now. Olivia smiled at the few people that had also woken up this early. Perhaps... it was because she had reclaimed some of what was lost. Olivia grinned as the front door opened and Jace stepped inside. She quickly washed her bowl out and placed it back on the rack, then ran across the room to where he was setting down some large bags.
"So, what's the surprise~?" Olivia cooed. Jace had been taunting her for a week straight now, telling her that they were going to do something special today.
"Patience, Olly," Jace smirked at the flash of annoyance she showed, "What, that nickname doesn't work either?"
"Why are you so insistent on giving me some pet name?" Olivia grinded her teeth.
"Widow gets to call you 'little spider' all the time and you don't seem to mind that," Jace turned back to what he had been doing, "Besides, don't you need a code name or something? Are you just going to go by Olivia on missions. Won't that give away your secret identity?"
Olivia rolled her eyes, "Do I even need a secret identity? What do I do besides live here at the base, or go on missions?"
Jace glanced back at her, "Are you really expecting to spend your entire life doing this? What about when you retire? What if you get what you want? Are you going to try and integrate back into society with the same name as a known White Fang member?"
Olivia paused before speaking again, 'I hadn't even thought of what comes after.' Instead she stammered out, "Crim doesn't bother changing his name, either!"
Jace stopped what he was doing and turned around with the flattest look she'd ever seen on him, "Do you really think 'Crim' is his actual name?" he rolled his eyes, "C'mon, Olivia. It's a shortened version of his code name."
'This is the first time I'm hearing about this,' Olivia chastised herself. An entire month and she hadn't bothered to learn some of the simplest things, "So what's it short for?"
Jace grimaced and turned away a little, "The Crimson Terror." At Olivia's snort he turned back quickly, "Don't tell him I told you that. He didn't actually choose it for himself. A news van caught him on camera killing a bunch of police a few years ago and the video got leaked to the public somehow. They started calling him that. It kind of just stuck afterwards when new recruits kept calling him it, so he embraced it and shortened it down to just 'Crim'."
Olivia shivered, 'If I get stuck with some ridiculous name like that…' she turned back to Jace, a series expression on her face now, "Okay, come up with something good," a panicked thought struck her, 'What if they already came up with a name for me in their investigations!?' What would they call her, 'Little Black Riding Hood!? Spider Child!? Oh Oum, noooo!'
Jace chuckled and finished up what he had been doing, standing up to regard Olivia, "Alright. Are you ready for your surprise?"
All thought on code names was swept out of Olivia's head, "I've been ready since the first time you mentioned it. What are we doing?"
Jace opened the bags, and her eyes went wide, "We're going on a picnic."
"Come on! Not much further!" Jace called from ahead of her.
Olivia huffed in exhaustion as she pulled herself up the steep slope. They had been walking for hours since getting dropped off at the edge of the city. Up and down forested hills into the depths of the wilderness for their little 'picnic'. Olivia had started guessing he had different intentions in mind after the fifteen minute mark. After an hour, she was ready to kill him. Now? She just wanted to go home and take a cold shower, "How much further!?"
"Almost there!" Jace yelled back for the thousandth time. Olivia could feel the smile on his face, even if he was turned away from her. Olivia shrugged the two packs he had made her carry the entire time further up her shoulders, trying to secure them so they wouldn't jostle around so much! Olivia settled for silently cursing Jace's ancestors.
Jace stopped at the crest of the hill and looked back down on her, a smug look across his face that elicited a growl from Olivia. 'I might not be a wolf faunus, but I'll still tear your stupid face off.' Jace has also refused to let her use her semblance to make the trip easier, 'Then what's the point?' he had asked.
Olivia collapsed the last ten feet and dragged herself across the ground to his feet, punctuating each word as she pulled herself forward, "No more… Can't take it... Gonna die… Will haunt you…"
"We're here!" Jace cheered, ignoring her and holding his arms wide. Olivia gave him a cold stare, this looked like every single hillside they had crossed over on the way here. Tall, steep, and surrounded by trees on all sides. Regardless, she hefted the packs off her back and rolled over, staring up into the blue sky above. 'If it could just rain…", but there wasn't a cloud in sight.
"Now, I bet you're wondering why it is that I brought you out here," Jace looked at Olivia for confirmation, 'Do you even need to bother?' He coughed, recovering from the flat stare she had leveled at him, "And if you could spare a moment, I'll show you exactly what this is all about."
Olivia watched with curiosity as he unzipped one of the packs. He'd shown their contents to her before they left. There really was food inside. Jace pulled something out that he kept hidden from her, fiddling with it for a few seconds before finally turning back, object held behind him, "Now, my uncle was kind enough to point out to me that you're next mission is going to involve robbing a shipment of Dust off a train. It will be your first mission outside of the city, so… I realized you would need training of a… different sort."
"What do you-" Olivia froze as Jace pulled his hand back in front of himself, and upended a bottle of syrup across Olivia's chest.
Neither spoke. Olivia was too shocked, and Jace was waiting for her reaction.
"You…. you…." Olivia's face twisted in fury, "You bastard!" Deep furrows were plunged into the ground as she heaved herself to her feet and in his direction, propelling herself with all four legs at once into a vicious tackle that knocked him flat on his back, "If this stuff doesn't come out Jace, I'm going to tear you to pieces and use your skin to make a new hoodie!"
A howl from the treeline below stopped Olivia dead in her tracks, fist raised above Jace as he held his hands up to protect himself. She rolled off and shakily to her feet, looking down the hill in the direction of the noise.
"Right on schedule," Jace said happily from his place on the ground. He sat back up and began rummaging through the packs again, pulling out a plate and some containers of food, "Be a dear and take care of them while I have lunch, okay?"
"Did I hit your head too hard or something!? There's Grimm out there you idiot!" Olivia eyes darted between him and the forest beneath. None had yet appeared, but as she waited, a second howl echoed the first, then a third, and a fourth.
"Mhm," Jace mumbled between a mouthful of food before swallowing, "This is your chance to finally get some training against them. Humans aren't the only enemy the faunus have, and if you have missions outside the city, you'll run into Grimm eventually."
Olivia's eyes widened in fear as the first beowolf stepped out of the treeline, head held high as it sniffed the air, then locked eyes on her from a distance. It's head shot back up, another howl punctuating the air, a dozen answering the call. The creature's fur was black, with bone white protrusions coming off of its face and back. It began to charge up the hill at them at full speed.
"Are you just going to sit there!?"
"Uh huh. They're being drawn to you, both because of your emotions, and because that syrup I poured on you attracts them. Sweets, who knew?" Jace's expression grew serious, "They're more frightening than some human opponents, but they're also a lot dumber. Better you get over your fear here under my supervision with no human enemies in sight, than to wait until you're stuck between a gun and a beowolf."
Olivia's semblance unfurled as she turned back to the Grimm, standing her ground near the top of the hill. It's progress was slowed at least, due to the incline, but that made it no less terrifying. Olivia's mind flashed to images of those claws tearing her to pieces, those jaws closing over her body and biting her in half. Her resolution firmed, 'I won't die here!'
"That's the spirit!"
Olivia was too busy staring down the beowolf to realize she'd yelled that last thought out loud. It finished crossing the distance between them, head low in a snarl that shook Olivia to her bones. She flinched her head away and brought her appendages in front of herself to block without looking. When a few moments had passed and she didn't feel anything hit her, she hesitantly turned her eyes back to the creature in front of her.
It was suspended on two appendages, black blood leaking out of its body in gushing waves that covered the invisible limbs. Its body was already starting to turn to black ash and fade away. 'That was… easier than I thought it would be…' Jace smirked as Olivia turned to face the next beowolf that had just begun charging up the hill on the other side. It arrived sooner than the other had. Olivia didn't take her eyes off it this time, she waited until it was within range and struck, appendages spearing through it with even more ease than they had for some of the humans she had fought.
More blood leaked out over her invisible limbs, making them now much more visible as the black ichor covered them. Olivia turned back to Jace in confusion. He seemed to interpret her expression and laughed lightheartedly, "Grimm don't have aura, so it's as easy to stab them as it is a regular person, like that big guy that was in your old house. Their best defenses are the bones on their body. Try striking some of those to feel the difference."
A third beowolf was already upon them as he finished speaking. Olivia jumped into action and swug one appendage between them right as the beowolf was swinging its claws towards her chest. The arm was battered to the side with ease, knocking the beowolf off balance. Olivia struck this time, intentionally going for its face right where the bone mask rested. There was a cracking sound as her appendage pierced through still, but she had noticed the difference. The black fur was comparable to a regular person. The bone was more like trying to pierce through a metal door. Both of which Olivia was still extremely capable of.
Jace let out a low whistle as she stepped back and withdrew her appendage from the Grimm's head, letting it tumble down the hill as it turned to black ash. They kept coming, and Olivia stopped them dead in their tracks every single time. Jace would yell advice here and there, tell her to try things out instead of just ending the fights in one blow, "You never know when you might get swarmed and won't have the chance to just calmly take on one at a time." The bastard just sat with his food the entire time, keeping an eye on her, like someone enjoying a show while they ate.
Olivia collapsed on her back next to him, breathing heavily as her adrenaline had worn off. The two dozen or so beowolves that eventually made their way up the hill had been a challenge against her stamina, more than anything. After the long trek here, followed by the fight, she didn't even have the energy to let put away her extra legs, and just laid down on them, letting them curl around her sides. 'Ugh, I'm glad they don't get stained for good.' Each one was entirely soaked in black Grimm blood.
Jace's eyebrows shot up in surprise at something. He quickly pulled out his scroll and stood above Olivia before snapping a picture. The sound and flash drew Olivia's attention, "What was that?"
"You'll see later. Hungry?"
A loud rumble from her stomach as she noticed the smell of the food was all the response Jace needed. He piled a plate with it and handed the plate to her as she sat up. Olivia used her semblance legs to prop herself up as if she had an actual chair rest and sighed in contentment. 'Ah, the perks of being me.'
"Did it work?" Jace asked after she had been left to eat for a few minutes. The breeze rolling across the top of the hill was nice, and the food he had brought was delicious.
"Did what work?" she asked past a mouthful, keeping enough of her decency to at least cover her mouth as she spoke.
"My master plan, of course. Feel like you could take on any Grimm that came your way right about now, eh?" Jace grinned smugly.
Olivia nodded, "That was a lot easier than I would have expected. We're always told that they're so powerful…"
"Well most people don't have four additional limbs that are each over ten feet long and have the strength of a Goliath behind them," Jace laughed as he said it.
Olivia shrugged, "I guess. Almost a shame I don't intend on dedicating my life to killing the things. I could probably make a lot of lien protecting towns or going on kill quests."
Jace shuffled awkwardly for a few moments before looking back up at her, "Actually… I wanted to talk to you about that." When Olivia was silent, he pressed on, "Like I was saying earlier, you're not going to be in the White Fang forever. Or at least… you shouldn't let it consume your entire life. You're twelve for Oum's sake! You have so much time ahead of you, do you really want to spend it all killing humans?"
When Olivia's breath caught, Jace glanced back up at her, expression darkening, "Oh yeah. I overheard some of the others talking about some of your exploits. I know you were all trying to keep me in the dark… I kept training you, though, even after I found out. If I stopped now, you would just end up an easier target for some human out there to take their revenge on! I don't want that to happen to you… You're like…"
"Like what?" Olivia asked quietly. Jace had stopped speaking completely after that. His eyes turned towards hers, and her heart dropped at the sadness behind them. His eyes clouded over as he began his story.
"On my sixth birthday, my mother and father asked me what I wanted to do for my special day. There was a movie that I really wanted to see. They promised me we would go later, after dinner, but I didn't want to wait that long. So they changed their plans, and we headed to the theater for the matinee. I don't even remember what movie it was we were going to see… We never got the chance to watch it," Jace paused to collect himself, a hitch in his throat, "We were crossing the street when a Schnee Transport vehicle popped a tire. It lost control and overturned on the street, headed right for us. My father had been holding my hand when we crossed… He had time to push me out of the way… The truck was already there, already about to hit them, but he still went back for my mother. The explosion… all three of them died…"
"All three?" Olivia placed a hand on Jace's back, trying to comfort him. She knew he didn't even feel it though. Tears rolled down his face as he looked at Olivia.
"My father… my mother… and my baby sister she was carrying…"
Olivia froze, horrified at the implication.
"...When I saw you getting taken away by those police… you're... you're about how old she would have been, ya know?"
Olivia sat back on her heels, dumbstruck by the admittance.
"I…", Olivia placed her hand back on his shoulder to get his attention, to make sure he would see the truth she was about to speak, "No one could ever replace my brother. Copper was kind. He was gentle. Yet he was also strong and resilient. We spent hours reading over comics together, or playing dumb games… Hearing that he was going to apply at Haven was the happiest I'd ever been for him, but at the time… It was also the saddest I'd ever been for myself. He would be gone for months at a time. I wouldn't be able to see him. It would just be me reading comics, me playing those dumb games… It was the loneliest I had ever felt, and he wasn't even gone yet. I think he noticed. He knew me well enough that he could tell I was sad. So he played with me more, bought me more comics to keep my company, promised that he would be back after every semester so that we could spend that time together again… I think it… It made it easier, when he died. I didn't feel guilty. I didn't feel like there was time we had wasted, like there was more time we could have spent together…"
Jace had shifted to staring at the ground in front of him, Olivia lightly tipped his chin back up to look at her.
"So when I met you, I can't say I felt the same as you did… You were this punk at the arcade that was getting in the way of the best day I'd had in a long time. Then I got captured… and your uncle saved me, because of you. And after that, you kept helping me. Kept spending time with me. It wasn't reading comics, it wasn't playing dumb games… but I was still loving every minute of it," Olivia let out a light laugh, "All the people there have treated me so well. They've taught me new things, taken care of me…" She bumped her shoulder into his and wrapped an arm around him, "Especially you. I'm glad to say that I see them all as my new family… and I would be honored to be your sister, Jace."
Jace turned to look her in the eyes. His lips quivered into a smile, and slowly, they drew each other into a tight hug. Olivia draped her extra legs around them both like a cage, wanting to protect this moment from anything that might disturb it.
After a few minutes, Jace finally sat back with a small laugh, "I guess that makes the arcade incident our first sibling fight. I'm glad I won."
Olivia punched him on the shoulder lightly, "Only because I let you."
"You keep telling yourself that, champ," Jace grinned and wiped the tear stains off his face, his face regained some of its composure, "I want you to think about applying for Sanctum next year. You're almost thirteen, right? You should get out of this life while you still can."
"But, the others…"
"Do you really think they wouldn't be happy for you? Do you think July wants to see another kid die? The last half an hour should be proof enough," he gestured around at where all the Grimm's bodies had long since vanished, "You have so much potential for helping people. You aren't a weapon, Olivia. You're a person that deserves to get what's best for them, just like anyone else."
Olivia was startled by how closely Jace's words echoed the ones she had been thinking earlier. 'Not a weapon?' She turned to gaze out across what had so recently been a battlefield, "I'll… I'll think about it. I don't know yet. I… I did want to go to Sanctum. That feels like a lifetime ago..."
"It isn't. It's this life. It's always been this life," he stared into her eyes seriously and sighed, "I'm... okay with just a 'maybe' for now, though."
They shared a smile and both looked around.
"You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?"
"Yeah, let's get the hell out of here. I'm using my semblance on the way back, though, and you can carry the bags."
They made the two hour trip back to the city, chatting along the way. Jace shared more information about the Grimm. Their names, what they looked like, what attacks they preferred, as well as weaknesses and habits they all seemed to share. It was with great relief that they finally opened the door to the hideout and stumbled over to the couches. They ignored Crim's attempts to get their attention and collapsed on to the deliciously comfortable foam pads.
"Where have you two been?" Crim asked, following along to stand behind them at the couches.
"Bonding," Olivia replied simply, head burying itself into the softness beneath her.
"Figuring out Olivia's code name," Jace replied after her, flipping over to pull his scroll from his pocket. Crim looked down on him with some curiosity while he messed around with it for a minute, pulling up a couple different pictures to put them side by side. Jace finally held it up for them both to see. The first image was of Olivia, spider legs blackened with Grimm blood to the point where not a single spot on them was invisible. She was lying on her back in the grass, arms and legs outstretched, with the spider legs filling the gaps and curled up towards the middle. The only color aside from black were her eyes, two spots of brilliant pink in the depths of it all. The second picture was a black flower, petals bent up like Olivia's blackened limbs, and in the center of it, a pink glow from the nectar within.
"The Black Lotus. A beautiful flower with black petals that can be ground up to create one of the most dangerous poisons known to man. Yet in its purest form, contains a nectar that will cure almost any other poison," Jace finished reading the description beneath the image and looked up at Olivia along with his uncle.
She shrugged in defeat, "Better than 'The Crimson Terror', I guess."
Jace stared at her in horror as his uncle's head whipped back around to stare at him.
"Why would you do this!?" Jace whispered in shock.
Olivia gave him one last smirk before rolling back over into the softness of her couch, "What else are little sisters for?"
The tongue lashing that followed was all the revenge Olivia needed for the syrup staining her hoodie.