The grave, as always, stood alone, upon the cliff where it made its home. Sometimes family would come by, on birthdays, Mother’s Day, and the anniversary of it’s installment, but other than that, nobody ever came. When approached, the dirt would scratch and compact on the trail back to the road nearby, and then soft footsteps would become softer as they walked across the grass to the grave.
Instead of all that, the air hummed and groaned as a slash of energy crossed it, cutting the breeze perpendicularly to create a portal. Through that portal, stained as ever a bloody red, stepped a woman. Her mask was at her hip, and her sword was already sheathed once more. She sighed as she saw the grave, glad that it wasn’t raining in Vale. She had chosen today specifically, knowing that nobody else would be here. The weather didn’t matter, she’d been here in two foot deep snow and pouring rain, but it was nice to be here on a clear day as the sun went down.
She unhooked her scabbard, placing it lightly on the ground next to the grave, and took a seat with a small grunt. Crimson eyes raked across the name on the grave, the words beneath it that were as familiar to her now as her own name. It took a moment for her to speak, and for just a second it was almost like she didn’t remember how. But she found the words, somehow. She always found the words.
“Hey Summer,” Raven said softly, a voice that would’ve seen her mocked back in camp, even if no one would dare to do so openly. “Bet you didn’t expect to see me today.” That was stupid to say, and Raven knew it. Summer wasn’t here, not even her body was here. Still, it felt nice. It was almost like walking into their dorm back in Beacon, surprising Summer while she poured over team strategies and tactics. That had been Team STRQ’s favorite game, ‘Startle Summer’. It was easier than their team leader had wanted to admit. “I guess you want to know how I’m doing.”
So Raven explained what was happening with the tribe, their newest raids in light of the loss of international communication and how wealthy they had become. She talked about Vernal, how much she missed her these days. Raven admitted a lot of things to Summer, things that she never would’ve admitted to anyone else, perhaps not even to herself. She talked about Cinder Fall, if only briefly.
“You would’ve squashed this bitch, back in the day,” Raven said with a dry laugh, “Too confident and cocky for her own good, relying on her Maiden powers too much. But don’t worry, she didn’t make it out of the fight with me.” She paused for a moment, picturing Summer’s face as she put together the words, picked out the truth that Raven refused to say in front of her. “It was me or her, Summer,” Raven said, protesting the small, disapproving frown that she saw in her mind’s eye, “She killed Vernal. She would’ve killed Yang.”
At that Raven paused again, looking away towards the sun. Golden light spilled forth from it, wreathing the grave in a beautiful sunset of purples and reds, white clouds drifting by to welcome the night.
“You’d be proud of her, Summer. Yang, I mean. She’s everything you wanted me to be.” Raven sighed and clenched her fist before letting the tension go with a heavy breath. “Gods, how did she come out of that family so strong? She talked to me, in the vault. She took the relic, Summer. She said that she was going to face down Salem, didn’t care that she might die for Ozpin’s stupid punishment. She just wanted to protect the people she cared about. She wanted to protect me , Summer. Gods, it was just like the day you left.” Raven choked back a sob and her hands were fists again as she choked out, “I hate her. I hate you. I hate how-how good you two are. Why couldn’t you just run away with me? We’d both still be alive, we could have everyone in the tribe. You, me, Tai, Qrow, Yang, Ruby-”
She cut herself off before she got too far into her own words, into the impossible fantasy that she dared to dream when she was especially sad or especially drunk. She’d been dreaming it more often these days. Even if Summer had survived her last mission, she would never have abandoned her family, she would never have betrayed Ozpin. Neither would the rest of their family. Raven sometimes thought herself a poor fit for such noble people. Noble, stupid people, all of them.
“If you think that Yang’s like you, then you should see Ruby,” Raven found herself saying, “It’s like someone just remade you when they were making her. Same eyes, same energy,” Raven snorted with laughter and muttered, “Same annoying voice. Gods alive, Summer. I’m glad that they took after you, instead of me.”
That, Raven knew, was her call to leave. When she started to doubt herself before her imagined Summer’s imperious gaze, she knew it was time to head back to the tribe, to bury herself in the life she knew best. Life was easier when she didn’t have to face down the ghosts of her past, especially when they stared her in the face like today.
“I should go,” Raven said, standing and snatching up Omen, “the tribe will fall apart without me.” She swiped the air with her sword, creating a portal back to camp and turned to leave. Something held her there for a moment, the words that she always said, that she couldn't help but say whenever she was here, the words that kept calling her back. Raven glanced over her shoulder, her eyes just barely visible as she beheld Summer’s grave. “I miss you, Summer. I miss you so fucking much.” With that, she turned back to the portal and was gone.
Silence returned to the cliffside. Birds fluttered by overhead, the waves below crashed on the cliff face. Life carried on, regardless of what had been said, perhaps even in spite of it. And the grave, as always, stood alone.