Qrow didn’t think much when he accepted Clover’s offer to take a walk in the esteem gardens of the academy. Apparently botany is top tier profession in Atlas, not that Qrow will understand.
It’s just, um well, Qrow can’t help but note the shattered moon is very much in the sky, dazzling stars providing a light the surrounding lanterns can’t produce. Right now as they sit by a luscious fountain where flowers and lily pads float around nicely, mirroring the galaxy above.
A few night birds are singing at this hour, filling the still air with nature and a homely feeling inside of Qrow. It’s not too freezing but enough for Clover to actually wear something with sleeves. Qrow on the other hand was unfortunate and forgot to bring a thicker cloak and has to press up to Clover’s side for warmth.
Sometime throughout their conversation, Clover had his arm wrapping around Qrow’s back to place a hand on his hip.
Look, he doesn’t want to assume incorrectly but this feels very romantic.
And honestly Qrow doesn’t have the guts to outright ask if that’s the intended atmosphere Clover is going for.
Sure they’ve hanged outside of missions before, played card games or had lunch but moonlight outings in a fancy garden is a step above what Qrow usually calls dates.
Then again his usual ‘dates’ are drunken messes in bars or rental rooms or someone’s car.
Qrow should be out of his element.
Yeah, key word being should but he’s not.
He feels relaxed and happy and content because Clover is here with him.
“Do you treat all your teammates like this?” Qrow asks, half joking and half panicking at whatever Clover will say and that’s justified.
Clover chuckles, a pleasant noise, and his eyes are glinting with the stars, “No, just my partners.”
That particular title steals Qrow’s breath because partners always mean so many different things.
It represents trust and equal footing or respect and well, a general feeling of worth and importance that Qrow can’t see how any of that is associated with him.
“Huh,” he manages to get out, still a little frozen and shocked, “I um, you see me as a partner?”
The Ace Op’s face softens, as it always does when Qrow is unsure, “Of course I do. I see you as the best partner. I’m lucky to have met you.”
“Ha you mean lucky to arrest me,” he rolled his eyes.
That first meeting really was something, getting tied up, falling in front of Clover and had to literally peer up to see Clover highlighted with Mantle’s streetlights and a cocky attitude.
“You’re never going to let that go,” Clover huffed, the hand on Qrow’s hip squeezing gently, “I was just following protocol.”
“Uh huh, and protocol includes swinging around a horseshoe and ignoring my advice on checking my licenses.”
It’s almost rare for Qrow to pull a blush and a sheepish smile from Clover. His cheeks become a cute red that’s emphasized from the frame of his smile.
“Alright, maybe I wasn’t doing a perfect job,” he admitted, “but will it be excused if I said you look good in cuffs?”
Now that sends heat down Qrow’s face (and other places in his body that he will not pay attention to). Also while the squeak he so totally didn’t make was tiny, his trained ears picked up muffled gagging and coughing from the bushes.
Ever so subtlety, Qrow sees from the corner of his eyes four heads hiding in the leaves and flowers. Clover too sends a small laugh to that direction.
“Please tell me you’re also ignoring my kids spying on us.”
“That goes without saying.”
“Ugh,” he groans, lowering his head into his hands, “I think this is revenge for always hovering over them.”
“They just want to express their love and gratitude, I’m sure.”
“They just want an excuse to not go to bed early.”
Qrow feels the hand leave his hip, sliding up to his side and heating up Qrow’s inside. Clover stares right into him, “It is kind of late though. Maybe we should set up a good example and head back to,” Qrow’s eyes target on the pink tongue sliding over Clover’s bottom lip, “the rooms.”
Right now the huntsman’s brain is mush while the rest of his body is red. He’s pretty sure his ears are on fire.
He doesn’t know how long he stares (Clover must have a lot of patience) but by the time he’s ready to ask, ‘My room or yours?’ bad luck strikes like a Taiyang finding his daughter’s (it’s obvious which one) online dating profile.
A scroll buzzes, it’s Clover because Qrow can feel it from how close they’re pressed together, their faces almost touching. The cold air takes up Qrow’s back as Clover regrettably pulls away to check the device.
Frowning, Clover reads off, “Apparently I’m needed, like right now.” He pockets the phone with great distain, “I am so sorry Qrow.”
“No worries,” he said, perfectly assuring despite the sadness flooding through him, “You should get going.”
Clover huffs but ultimately decides to stand up with a casual shrug, “Maybe we could continue this some other time?”
“If we’re lucky,” Qrow jokes but it doesn’t sound like a joke. An old mocking feeling is currently residing into his belly as Clover inches away.
Lucky, as if Qrow will ever be lucky.
Something in his face or voice must have tipped off his inner turmoil because suddenly there’s lips pressed against his cheek. It’s warm and stunning and sweet and impossible yet it’s happening right before Qrow’s eyes.
“No if’s,” Clover declares with a wink, “I will treat you to another night like this.”
Finally Clover walks away, perhaps taking Qrow’s ability to think with him.
The moment the Ace Operative Leader is out of sight, his posture goes poor as he curls over his knees. His hot face resting in his cold hands.
Only Qrow Branwen will have a crisis over a simple kiss.
Because only Clover would have the confidence to what, pursue Qrow? No one has much this much level of grounding or comfort to get into his life. Well no, the combined force of Summer and Tai was an impact that Qrow never saw coming.
Yet their tragedies are something Qrow felt was inevitable due to his bad luck and general presence.
He can’t do that to Clover, he can’t risk his bad luck no matter what argument that walking good luck charm has.
Those thoughts are the loudest one in his head, all speaking from experience and an ever present pessimistic gloom.
A minuscule voice, one of hope that has been kicked around for years, wonders if maybe, just maybe, he should trust Clover. Trust that no matter what, Clover would stay by his side.
There was only one way to respond to that.
“If there’s a prize for rotten judgement,” Qrow sings out, uncoiling his body stare at the sky, “I guess I’ve already won that.”
His lonely lyrics were stringed with his history of failures and mistakes caused by his poor decisions and cursed semblance.
Qrow stood up, bent up shame and regrets bubbling into irritation, “No man is worth the aggravation. That’s ancient history, been there done that!”
To no one’s surprise, his nieces burst out of their hiding spots, twigs and leaves in their hair, to run over to uncle.
As if prepared, they are absolutely ready to counter Qrow’s self-loathing attitude.
“Who d’you think you’re kidding?” They shouted rather than sang, “He’s the earth and heaven to you!”
So maybe they don’t have the most professional singing. It doesn’t really matter though, seeing how his nieces light up with the urge to sing about how wrong he is.
Meanwhile the actual professional is out of the bushes, carrying her heavy skirt to avoid dirtying her clothes, and marches up to them, “Try to keep it hidden, uncle we can see right through you.”
Qrow nearly blinked and missed how Weiss called him uncle. Alright, apparently he has more than two nieces now.
That’s when Blake is out from shadows, already standing with the girls, crossing her arms, “Qrow you can’t conceal it.” Yang bumps hips with her. “We know how you’re feeling.”
All together, they sang, “Who you thinking of!”
“No chance no way,” Qrow laughed, either at their excessive excitement or the idea of him in love with someone he doesn’t deserve, “I won’t say it, no no.”
The huntsman walks away, choosing to hop onto the fountain’s flat edge, swinging a foot into the water to splash at the lily pads.
Behind him the girls follow like ducklings, “You swoon, you sigh, why deny it? Oh oh!”
He has been denying his feelings and suppressing his emotions for a long time now. Before Qrow had justified it as a need for his job, to protect himself. Later on he decided it was safer this way, to be isolated from his love ones.
Sad to say, he’s a bad luck charm.
“It’s too cliché,” he decides, “I won’t say I’m in love.”
He can’t imagine what would happen if he lets himself love Clover. His bad luck will always be setting Qrow up for failure. Every bad thing will be his fault.
Qrow continues to walk through the garden, this section of wooden arches with rose vines weaved throughout.
“I thought my heart had learned its lesson,” he reminisced of his past heartaches, two in particular, “It feels so good when you start out.”
Summer and James are both strong and resilient in their own rite, a strength and sheer willpower that convinced Qrow that maybe his luck won’t ruin this good thing going on.
He was never more wrong as one beloved was scattered to the winds and the other was torn in half.
Glaring at his shoes, he stomped pass the roses and the smell of pine, his fists clenched tight, “My head is screaming ‘get a grip bird’ unless you’re dying to cry you heart out!”
His voice rang out for a long high note as team RWBY make their voices heard.
It’s a cry of rapture, of misery and fear, of the truth that he’s scared of loving something only for it to blow up in his face.
Ruby speed through the arches and sent countless of red petals to the tornado around Qrow.
She clasps their hands together, peering up to her uncle with familiar silver eyes, “Qrow you can’t deny it.”
“Who you are and how you’re feeling,” Weiss dances like the ballerina she is, across the grassy meadow to reach them as lingering petals twirl around her.
Yang with the simple approach just walks over to punch his arm, “Uncle we’re not buying. Hon we saw you hit the ceiling.”
It almost pains him to see how blunt she is, so much as her mother but Qrow refuses to think about Raven at this time.
Blake stares right into his soul, really calling him out for his mistakes by singing, “Face it like a grown-up. When you gonna own that you-“
“Got-“ Yang latched onto his left arm.
“Got-“ Ruby latched onto his right arm.
“Got it bad!” Weiss with the big vocals does another spin and poses with her gloved hand pointing at him.
Welp, there’s only one way to escape.
Qrow flings up high in the air with a smooth transition to his feathery form. He knows his nieces will get super mad if he really does fly off so he settles down to a gazebo’s roof.
Its wooden dome doesn’t bend under his newly summoned human feet as he bellows out to the world, “No chance no way, I won’t say it! No no…”
“Give up, give in,” the girls chorused.
Yang winked, “Check the grin you’re in love.”
He still waves it off, dramatically moving his arms about, “This scene won’t play, I won’t say I’m in love.”
“You’re doing flips, read out lips,” Yang even pointed at her lips, practically poking her cheeks, “you’re in love!”
“You’re way off base, I won’t say it,” he denies.
They echo, “He won’t say it no!”
“Get off my case, I won’t say it!” He turns his back on them, sitting his ass down and grumpily hugging his knees.
Only one huntress makes her way up. More rose petals are fluttering about as Ruby takes a seat next to him.
“Uncle Qrow don’t be proud,” she sings softly and she scoots closer to give him a reassuring hug, “It’s okay you’re in love.”
That giant voice inside of him, telling him that his bad luck will win, it crumbles under the weight of love Ruby sends him. Her mother once looked at him with those eyes, a deep care for him no matter the hardships.
He finds that same look in Clover and it scares how fast this rush of emotions is circling between them.
Clover with his ever present kindness and charm and earnest attitude he has for Qrow. Maybe this won’t be a disaster. Qrow has been trying to improve himself and perhaps this will be different because Qrow is making an effort to earn this change in his life.
At the same time, it is all so overwhelming and new and hard for Qrow to swallow it all down.
“At least out loud,” he sings quietly, for only for Ruby to hear, “I won't say I'm in love…”
Qrow wraps an arm over his niece’s shoulders, letting their heads support against each other.
“But someday,” she whispers with hope and pride, “you’ll say it out loud. That you love yourself.”
His voice is raw from all the emotions he gave to the night sky but for Ruby, he tells her, “It’ll take time but yeah, someday.”