They were a unit. Adam and Blake. Never one without the other.
They grew up together, at the front of the White Fang, at the front of the protests. It was almost their revolution more than it was one for Faunus everywhere.
And to him, it was their revolution, his only concern for Blake more than himself. He worked up the chain of command, with her by his side. He helped teach her how to fight. She was his partner, his childhood friend, and in that, he fell in love with her. He loved her enough that it made him hate humans more, how they could dare to scorn her when she walked among them.
He never could say it, those three little words.
Their relationship never went far, though he was painfully transparent about it. It existed in casual touches, in their synchronization in fights, in the occasional nicknames when he was feeling bold. He would add a 'my darling' at the end of his statements, his hand would linger too long on hers.
And she knew, of course, and she responded in turn, a teasing but affectionate lilt to her words.
He hated it when she started wearing that bow.
He didn't notice the hatred at first, writing it off as disappointment when his favorite part of her disappeared in the folds of the black ribbon. He told himself he understood--it wasn't safe to walk around brazenly, when the humans know that at the head of the White Fang is a black cat Faunus with golden eyes.
He told himself he'd win this revolution for her. To see her be able to be fully herself again.
He hated humans even more after that. Became a little more careless, remained less conspicuous, let humans see him just so that he'd have an excuse to kill them.
He didn't talk for several days after she left. His companions asked questions, but he refused to answer.
Even when he started speaking again, he refused to talk about her and what happened. Eventually, they stopped asking questions altogether, writing it off as she was lost in action on what should have been an easy mission for them. Hardly anyone mentioned her name to him now--they knew better--and new recruits only knew her as his partner, lost on a dust run, the Blake. She became a ghost around camp, an enigma, a shadow.
He started to hate her, when he'd hear her name whispered among the underlings. When he'd turn to ask her something or make a snarky comment but to find her not there.
Eventually the disappointment at her absence turned to anger. He just wanted to know why. Why she left. Why she left with only a goodbye and no further explanation.
He tried to channel that anger as best he could. He didn't want to hate her--it was the humans' fault.
He hated the woman and her ilk the most. Cinder. She smiled at him, teasing and curved like a blade, and knowing exactly what strings to pull to get him to do what she wanted. Her eyes were gold, but too brown. Her hair was black, but too short, fading to white at the tips. Their alliance was one at gun and knife point. But it gave him an excuse. To kill humans, to usurp the structures that so vehemently held him down. That made Blake don the bow he so dearly despised.
That made her leave.
The revolution was his alone to carry out now, but he knew he was still doing it for her. He awaited for the end of it when she could come out of hiding and smile at him again.
He stopped thinking about Blake as much. That is, not every moment.
No, his time was spent in Mistral, operating the White Fang's operation as new worldwide dust thieves.
He hated to leave the Vale branch of it to that human, that twit with the orange hair and cheap cigars.
Don't concern yourself, Adam, Cinder had said.
The gorgeous lady is right, Torchwick had said, his smirk sickly and crooked around the end of the cigar. I'll take good care of your little operation.
Adam wanted to run him through with wilt right there.
His hatred only increased when the report made it too him of the compromise of the latest shipment. Thwarted by a black cat Faunus with golden eyes.
The bullhead ship had a cheap camera mounted inside it, catching grainy glances of what was going on outside on the loading dock. Figures moved in and out of the frame, there and gone in the same instant. Torchwick. White Fang members. Blake.
That brought her name back to his lips. Blake.
He still wasn't able to leave Mistral. Not yet. As much as he wanted to.
But he escaped her name here, hardly anyone knew her, no one whispered her name behind their hands so he wouldn't hear. She wasn't a ghost here, not when he knew she was still out there. Somewhere he could find.
But what the hell was she doing?
She wasn't on his side anymore. He realized that now.
He'd always known, in the back of his mind. She hasn't been on his side since she cut the train coupling. But he didn't want to admit it. His Blake wasn't his anymore. She'd given up the revolution.
The report came to him in a matter of hours. A black cat Faunus had sabotaged a faction meeting, had destroyed the prototype Atlesian Paladin. But she wasn't alone. She was accompanied to the meeting by a monkey Faunus, then later on a team with three other girls. Human girls.
He understood the message well enough. She'd moved on. She had new partner, a new team. If he had to guess, she hated the White Fang now, crashing a faction meeting like a party.
That thought alone was enough to send him into a rage.
If she hated the White Fang now, she hated him now. The thought made him sick, but with a heavy heart, he accepted it.
She wasn't his Blake anymore. He almost didn't feel bad for hating her.
Cinder had told him that it was time to move onto the next phase.
Time to return to Vale.
Time to see Blake again.
That last part wasn't apart of her plan, but he tacked it on himself. Because he was determined to find her again.
He wasn't sure what he was planning on doing once he found her. The thought of it blinded him with strong emotion, but he knew not what.
He was stationed at the usual encampment at Forever Fall. Rally the ranks, Cinder told him. He was beginning to despise her less as he realized just how common their goals were. Once the train at Mountain Glenn reaches Vale, it will be almost time.
The train reached Vale weeks ahead of schedule, once again with her name tacked onto it. A team of girls with a black cat Faunus. He was beginning to familiarize himself with the descriptions of each of them. Red hood, blonde hair, and Schnee. Why she was able to stomach being on a team with a Schnee, he’ll never know.
If he ever saw them, he was sure he'd be able to recognize and destroy them.
He knew she attended Beacon now. She was apart of the system she so much before despised. That fact alone drove home how much she'd changed, if being on a team with a Schnee didn’t.
He arrived in Beacon just as the fighting ended. Chunks of asphalt were flying through the air as he watched, petals of darkness disappearing into the air as Grimm after Grimm corpse dissolved.
He ducked into an alleyway and climbed onto a roof as if it were second nature.
The White Fang will never listen to us now.
There. He had it. His way out. He just had to get off the roof before they saw him. He could disappear right now and never see them again.
This was the closest the White Fang had ever gotten--the closest he had gotten. And Blake...
He looked down into the streets--the town square repairing itself right before his eyes as the witch waved her wand to fix it. His masked eyes scanned the crowd of students and teachers and officers.
And he saw her.
She looked just as he remembered. Lithe limbs, long black hair, Gambol Shroud sheathed on her back. She was smiling her reserved smile. Laughing. Standing to a muscular blonde girl that he recognized immediately.
No, he said, voice not his own. But they'll listen to me.
He was committed now. Cinder had told him the plan. Stay low until the single rounds of the tournament. Once they orchestrate the final matches, release the Grimm as the audience panics. It sounded so painfully simple.
He kept seeing her. Feeds of the tournament kept looping between battles. But he only cared about one. Team RWBY vs Team ABRN.
She'd grown in skill since he last saw her fight, but there was a synchronization her and her team lacked. One which he knew he and her once had.
He kept her sections of the fight recorded on his scroll.
Seeing her face, her calm expression and her air of determination, a mess of emotions stirred in him at once. Envy, betrayal, hatred, love.
That traitorous feeling of love. He knew it was still there. It emerged from the scar tissue on his chest whenever he saw her. Thought of her.
But it only lasted a moment before it mixed with the others to create something much, much worse than the sum of their parts. Something poisonous.
He awaited their first meeting.
Bring them to their knees.
The voice couldn't be his own, but it was. He watched the Grimm pour down into the city, jumping down himself once the bullhead was empty. With his mask on his face and wilt and blush in his hands, the feeling of triumphant anger coursing through him, he felt barely any different than the monsters.
A monster. The realization struck him as he took down a line of Atlesian Knights with a flick of his sword. That's what he was now. A monster.
Maybe that's what Blake saw in him when she left.
The revelation didn't hurt as much as he thought he might. After all, she made him this way. She left him. He was her monster as much as he had been her partner.
Her monster. Her beast.
He made a line for the school, determined. Her new solace. He wanted to see it burn.
He found himself in the library without much recollection of walking there. He took a look around, registering to himself that she probably loved it here, as many books as there were. She always loved reading and there were times he'd find her sneaking books after missions to the cities.
It was all too easy to smash the windows and overturn bookcases.
Atlesian guards came by the time he lit the fires. He smashed their helmets and threw them to the ground.
As that happened, time seem to slow.
His face turned towards the window, her golden eyes meeting the slats of his mask.
There they were again. Adam and Blake. A unit. Heads of the revolution. Friends. Lovers. Together once more.
"Adam." She looked at him with fear as she said his name, but her voice sounded the same.
She had snuck out of camp for a midnight run to the village not far from their encampment.
He was the only one who noticed she’d left.
She was sneaking back in with two books in her arms.
He leaned against a tree, mouth pulling up in a smirk.
Their eyes met. Her mouth gaped.
"Hello, my darling."