"You're doing it wrong again."
"What do you mean 'again'?" Yang asked, giving Weiss a puzzled look. "This is the first time I've tried it!"
Bristling at the response, Weiss checked her memory and then unfurrowed her brow.
"Oh. l guess I just assumed you'd already done it wrong."
"Well now you're right," Yang replied, pulling the piece of paper back to her side of the table and scratching out the homework problem she'd spent the past fifteen minutes trying to solve.
If there was one good thing about having Weiss on their team, it was that they had someone to check all their assignments. There might be some other good things too, but that was the only one Yang had found so far. Well, that and Weiss had lots of money - but that one was obvious.
"Read this first." Weiss slid a notebook over to Yang, who looked at it and found notes on this particular subject. "It might help."
Again, Weiss bristled at the gratitude, but it was a much softer bristle than when they'd started school. It was almost as if she was...becoming a nicer person. Don't tell her that though. She'll freeze your heart and take it right out of your chest.
Before reading the notes, however, a set of soft voices pulled Yang's attention to the side - where Blake and Ruby appeared from one of the library's many aisles. The two whispered to each other about something - Ruby waving her singular book through the air while Blake smiled and used both arms to hold her stack of hand-selected novels.
The two looked so cute and happy Yang couldn't help but smile. She loved that two of her favorite people in the world got along so well. She loved that Ruby had a friend, and she loved that Blake had a friend. That equation included Weiss somewhere, but sometimes it was hard to tell if Weiss wanted to be friends or not. At least, that's how Yang felt.
The two of them had learned how to cohabitate and cooperate, but something kept them from getting on the same page with each other. Weiss was great with Ruby and Blake - and Yang was great with Ruby and Blake. Mix Weiss and Yang together though and either they got on each other's nerves, or nothing really happened.
Oh well. That's what all the practice and training was for. Eventually, they'd figure it out!
At Weiss' soft word, Yang spotted the disturbance before it happened. Beacon's resident asshole - a certain douchebag by the name of Cardin Winchester - had just walked into the library with two of his ever-present sidekicks. Russel and Sky were shoving each other over something while Cardin led the way to the far side of the room.
Their path would lead them directly past Ruby and Blake and, from the way Cardin quickly scanned the room to locate Yang, she knew she wasn't going to like what was about to happen.
Her pulse preemptively skyrocketed as Cardin approached her teammates and pretended to stumble. His acting was horrible, but he accomplished what he wanted to do - reaching out and knocking the stack of books from Blake's hands. They fell to the ground in a loud clatter, and Yang heard two chairs screech across the floor as she and Weiss shot to their feet.
"Hey!" Ruby shouted while Blake glared daggers. "That wasn't very nice!"
"Shove it, pipsqueak. No one cares about you anyway," Cardin said before laughing, catching Yang's eye and smirking as he walked away.
Her blood boiled as she slammed a fist down on the chair beside her - breaking the wooden back in two. But that was the least of her concerns as she stepped away from the table, ready to throttle the boy within an inch of his life.
She'd had enough of Cardin picking on her teammates. And for him to have the balls to do it right in front of her? That was the last mistake he'd ever make.
At least, that was her intent. Instead, her feet froze and her revenge was put on hold with the library door opened again and someone else walked into the room.
Professor Goodwitch had just arrived, whether because she was supposed to meet someone or because she had impeccable timing to find trouble before it happened, Yang didn't know. All she knew was that Cardin must have known Professor Goodwitch would walk in right after him, otherwise he would never be so bold.
Burning holes into his back, Yang ground her teeth in anger when he actually looked over his shoulder and smirked at her - knowing that he'd gotten away with it again. Yang couldn't retaliate now, not with Professor Goodwitch around. If she did anything, it would look completely unprovoked - and then she'd get detention for the next year or worse, kicked out of school.
Clenching her fist in anger, she hurried over to her teammates instead, with Weiss right on her heels. When Weiss gently touched Ruby's elbow in a show of support, Yang knelt down and helped Blake scoop the books off the ground.
Meanwhile, she seethed - red bleeding into her vision as she imagined teaching Cardin lesson after lesson - each more painful than the last.
"It's ok, Yang," Blake whispered.
"What?" Yang asked, blinking the red away. "Yeah. I mean, I'm fine."
Chuckling at the lie, Blake picked up the last book and stood up.
"I can feel you steaming," she said, reaching out to take the two books from Yang's hands. "He's a jerk, but we already knew that. He'll never change."
Furrowing her brow at the words, Yang glanced at Ruby - who Weiss already had smiling again - before turning back to Blake.
"Right," she said, forcing a smile she didn't really feel. But Blake accepted the response with a slight smile of her own before walking over to their study table as if nothing had happened. Ruby immediately hopped after her - ready to resume whatever conversation they'd been having before they were so rudely interrupted.
Left standing there with Weiss, Yang ground her jaw together and squeezed her fist even tighter.
There was no such thing as 'harmless' bullying. Bullying was bullying, and the intent behind it was cruel. Cardin wanted to show that he was above them - that he could get away with it because he was more powerful than them. He picked moments when there could be no retaliation, constantly breaking down those who were weaker than him.
Yang would love to tear his arm off and punch him with it.
Ruby was the best fighter in their year, if not the school. Blake had been through horrors they couldn't even have nightmares about.
So of course Yang was steaming. That privileged asshole thought he was better than them? That was her partner and her little sister. And they should be able to walk across the library without being bullied. They should be able to eat lunch in the cafeteria without having jeers thrown their way.
But, for as big of an idiot as Cardin was, Yang had to hand it to him for being smart when it came to getting away with this bullshit. What she wouldn't give for the chance to teach him one big, permanent lesson...
"I'm going to speak with Professor Goodwitch," Weiss said, keeping her voice low so they weren't overheard. When Yang started to protest telling a teacher, she was met with a stern look.
"You have five minutes."
With nothing more, Weiss spun on her heel and walked over to Professor Goodwitch. As Yang watched, Weiss turned on her Schnee-infused charm and directed their professor's attention away from the library by gesturing towards the door.
Quickly understanding what Weiss was doing, Yang grinned and turned around. No way she wasted a golden opportunity like this.
Pinpointing Cardin - sitting at one of the far tables with his two cronies - Yang stalked across the library while her palms heated up. The idiot had his back to her, which showed just how arrogant he was. He thought he got away with it. He thought he was safe.
Well, he had another think coming.
Russel saw her first, and his eyes widened in surprise. He opened his mouth to warn his teammate, but it was too late. Reaching the table, Yang grabbed Cardin by the neck and knocked his forehead into the textbook sitting in front of him before yanking him out of his seat. He yelped in surprise and grabbed his forehead in pain, but she quickly shoved him down the nearest aisle before turning him around and slamming him into the bookshelf. It rocked but remained standing as she wrapped her left hand around his throat and squeezed - not enough to hurt him, but enough that he wouldn't want to move.
"Hi Cardin," she said, smiling at the fear in his eyes as she jerked his face down to eye-level. "Bet you didn't expect this to happen, did you?"
"Let - go," he wheezed. He tried to remove her hand, but when her grip tightened, he immediately gave up. His teammates appeared at the end of the aisle - ready to help - but Yang pointed to them with her free hand.
"I'd stop right there if I were you," she warned. And they stopped on cue - because they really were nothing more than lap dogs.
With all three frozen and waiting for her to speak, she was the one who smirked this time.
Who had the power now?
"Now Cardin, I'll ask you nicely -" she began, squeezed just a bit at the word. "To leave my teammates alone. And by alone, I mean you don't even look at them, let alone speak to them again - got it?"
When he stared at her, she gave him a little shake that made him grimace in discomfort.
"I need to hear you say it," she said, easing her grip on his throat so he could speak. Instead of responding, he decided to be stubborn and stare at her for a long time, scowling in anger.
Quickly losing her patience, Yang brought his face closer to hers - focusing on the heat rushing through her veins as her vision tinted red and her skin started to burn.
"I don't have all day," she growled, watching alarm grow in his eyes.
By now, most of Beacon knew not to mess with her when her semblance overheated. What they didn't know was that she had far greater control over it than she'd had in the past - definitely due to Blake's help and influence. But Weiss thought that they should just let everyone continue to believe Yang was a loose cannon. Something about a 'competitive advantage.'
Well, it was certainly coming in handy right now.
"Cardin -" she seethed, drawing her free hand in a fist.
"Got it!" he said, raising his arms to block the blow that was never to come.
"Perfect." Smiling - as if this was a nice conversation between friends - she jerked him forward to whisper in his ear. "But if you do...I'll make sure you never speak again."
Still smiling, she released him, and he staggered back while rubbing his throat.
"Glad we could come to an agreement," she said. "Now leave."
He scowled and, for a moment, looked like he wanted to say something. Instead, he scampered off with his teammates - the three of them collecting their belongings before hurrying towards the exit.
Satisfied with how that had gone, Yang walked back to her team and sat next to Blake right as Professor Goodwitch and Weiss walked back into the library.
"Thank you very much, Professor," Weiss said before disengaging and strolling over to the table. There was no way to tell what she'd just done - at least, not until she sent Yang a questioning look. When Yang gave a thumbs up, Weiss nodded in content as she sat down and reached over to check Ruby's homework.
"Feel better?" Blake asked, keeping her voice library-soft while looking at Yang. Feeling a huge weight off her shoulders, Yang let out a big sigh and then smiled.
"But if he ever does something like that to you again..."
"You'll make sure he never speaks again," Blake finished for her. When Yang's mouth dropped open, Blake twitched one ear. "l heard you."
Yang expected there to be more than that - a scolding of some sort for stooping to Cardin's level. Instead, Blake went back to reading, but not before reaching over and holding Yang's hand underneath the table.
The feeling instantly calmed Yang to the point of becoming a pacifist. Well...almost to the point of becoming a pacifist. If a little violence was needed to protect the people she loved, she was always willing to do it. Family first.
"How did Ruby do this right on the first attempt, but Yang keeps doing it wrong?"
Her smile dropping, Yang looked across the table at Weiss.
"I did it wrong one time," she pointed out. "And you probably gave Ruby your notes forever ago!"
"You totally did," Ruby said before giggling, not at all perturbed by spilling the beans on her partner.
Yang gave Weiss a triumphant look while she tried to piece together a way out of the conversation. But, instead of coming up with an excuse, she caught Yang's eye and smiled.
"Then you'd better start reading," she said, nodding towards her notebook before turning back to Ruby with a flip of her hair.
Surprised by the lack of rebuttal, Yang smiled while pulling the notes closer.
It was weird to owe Weiss thanks, but that's how Yang felt right now. If it hadn't been for Weiss' ability to distract Professor Goodwitch, she never would've been able to have a 'chat' with Cardin. Which meant that he'd continue to bully Ruby and Blake while Yang was forced to sit and watch. Instead, Weiss got rid of the teacher, and Yang handled the...more forceful persuasion.
Wait. Had they actually just worked together on something? And it turned out perfectly? Better than perfect - Cardin ran off with his tail between his legs, and Professor Goodwitch was none-the-wiser?
Huh...Yang wouldn't have thought Cardin would be the one to bring out their similarities. But apparently, they both had people they would break the rules for - they just had a different way of going about it. And their varying methods actually meshed together pretty dang well.
Maybe the two of them would be great teammates, after all.