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Second Chance

Chapter Text

Beacon was a small town in Southwest Ohio, near the border of Indiana. The place had been founded in the late 1800's and had stuck around since then. It had a population of only about 3,000 people but the number was always fluctuating from year to year. Beacon was close enough to a decent college and a few public schools. Those who lived in Beacon were comfortable with where they lived.

The unique thing about Beacon was the people who lived there. It was who the town attracted that made it what it was. Beacon always seemed to be a magnet for strays and outcasts. People who were running or hiding settled in the town. The locals didn't ask too many questions because they had their own stories. People didn't just come there to raise a family or wind up there for no reason. People wound up in Beacon for a reason. It was like the town was drawing people there.

Beacon was where Yang and Ruby ended up late one afternoon in early August. The heat was unrelenting. There was no breeze to give a reprieve to the stifling, muggy air. Most people were still finishing up work and anyone who wasn't were hiding at home in the safety of the air conditioning. Some of the kids were braving the heat for backyard pools and the water park at the edge of town. Yang and Ruby came racing down the road, turning into the gas station. They were on Yang's motorcycle Bumblebee with their meager belongings strapped to the back. Yang pulled up to the pump and the sisters got off.

"Damn, and here I thought fucking Texas was hot." Yang yanked off her helmet. Sweat was pouring down her forehead and her hair stuck, damp, to her head.

"It's so hot." Ruby whined, yanking off her own helmet. She wasn't in any better condition than her sister, strands of her hair sticking to her forehead. Yang moved to the pump and started pumping gas into the bike. She surveyed the town and the gas station as she did.

"Where the fuck are we?" Yang huffed, running a tired hand through her hair. Ruby bounced on her heels to get blood circulating in her legs again. She pulled out her phone to check maps.

"Beacon, Ohio?" Ruby said, a quizzical look on her face. "It was the only place we could make it on how little gas we had."

"I'm glad we stopped. All Ohio has is corn fields for fucking miles." Yang grunted in annoyance. They'd been driving for hours and all they'd seen was corn fields. She thought she was going to go stir crazy. Sighing heavily she reached into her pocket and pulled out her wallet, tossing it to Ruby. "Go in and see what they have. Get what you want but bring me back the biggest water you can find. And ask if there's somewhere to stay around here. No way in hell we're going to keep going in this heat."

"You got it, Yang." Ruby mock saluted before skipping off towards the actual building. It wasn't the nicest place in the world. The building looked clean but not the most well kept. When she entered a bell rang over the door. Inside looked small, but nice. The AC was a welcome relief at least. A muscled dark skinned guy with green hair, who looked like he was her sister's age, manned the counter. He was sitting on a chair and leaning back while reading a magazine. The bell had apparently caught his attention though and instead of looking at the magazine was looking at Ruby.

"Hey, let me know if you need anything." The guy commented dryly before turning back to his magazine. Ruby shrugged it off and started perusing the place. She got Yang her water bottle and found milk for herself before making her way to the counter. She opened Yang's wallet to pull out a few bills. They were running low on money, even if Yang wouldn't admit it.

"Hey, um, I'm done." Ruby placed the two bottles on the counter. The guy, who's name tag read Sage, put down his magazine and started ringing up her purchases.

"Find everything okay?" Sage asked, raising an eyebrow at Ruby.

"Um, yeah. But hey is there anywhere to stay for the night around here?" Ruby asked awkwardly. Sage paused a moment in thought before nodding.

"Yeah, other side of town there's a motel. Nice enough place run by nice enough people. Inexpensive too." Sage said as he finished ringing her up. "That's $3.88.”

"You think you could give me some directions?" Ruby asked sheepishly, handing him the money. He plugged it into the register. The door chimed as someone else entered and Ruby instinctively looked to watch a blonde guy with his shirt completely unbuttoned walk in.

"Hey, Sage! Look, I'm wearing a shirt." The new guy grinned, gesturing to his open shirt.

"Wow, Sun. It's impressive how you manage to barely meet the minimum dress code." Sage replied, voice laden with sarcasm, before turning back to Ruby and handing her the change. "This road we're on, it's called Vytal. It runs through the middle of the entire town. Keep going straight until you see a road on the left called Magnolia. Turn there and the motel's right there. Hard to miss."

"Ooh, someone new." Sun had walked over to the counter and leaned on it next to Ruby. Sage sighed heavily and rolled his eyes.

"Hi there, I'm Ruby!" Ruby beamed brightly. Oops, Yang had told her to stop introducing herself everywhere they went. She was going to make 'the face' again and Ruby hated 'the face'.

"Well hello, Ruby. I'm Sun aka the best thing to ever happen to this place." Sun held out a hand for Ruby to shake. She did and couldn't help but giggle.

"Quit flirting, Sun. I will tell Neptune and don't doubt I won't." Sage warned and Sun went wide eyed.

"I'm not flirting! She's a kid, Sage." Sun cried out indignantly. Sage snorted giving Ruby the impression he didn't believe Sun at all.

"I'm 16 okay, I'm hardly a kid." Ruby protested. It was Sun's turn to snort which only served to miff Ruby. The bell chimed and a familiar blonde head poked their head in.

"Rubes! How long does it take to get directions and a drink?" Yang was annoyed and Ruby smiled at her sheepishly. Whoops. Yang shook her head at her sister. How did she manage to make friends everywhere?

"Sorry, Yang." Ruby grabbed her drinks off the counter and started towards her sister.

"Well hello, gorgeous." Sun winked.

"Sun!" Sage looked astonished and Yang's face twisted into even more annoyance. Ruby picked up her pace and walked out the door.

"You wish, pretty boy." Yang shot back before leaving as well. Ruby gave her the water once they reached the bike. Yang immediately opened it and drank half of it.

"The green haired guy gave me directions to a motel." Ruby spoke once Yang finally took a breath.

"Good, I need out of this heat." Yang flexed her right arm, the prosthetic one. Even if it was covered in a leather jacket and glove, Ruby knew. She smiled at her sister in sympathy. She repeated the directions and they hopped back on the bike, speeding out of the parking lot. Finding the place was just as easy as Sage had said. It didn't look like any of the motels they'd stayed in before, more like an old apartment building. The place was brick and had three stories to it, fitting in with the surrounding buildings pretty well. Yang parked her bike and they got off. After unstrapping their things they entered the building, the cool air rushing onto their faces.

"This town is super weird." Ruby whispered.

"Oh, Beacon is just unique." A voice startled both of them. Sitting at what they assumed was where you checked in was an older gentleman with grey hair and a grey mustache. "This town holds a lot of history."

"Ruby thinks everywhere is weird." Yang shrugged, setting the bags down. She leaned forward on the counter. "We're looking for a place to stay the night and apparently this place is it?"

"Yes you have come to the right place! I'm Peter Port and I run this fine establishment." The man said cheerfully. Yang raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. He didn't strike her as creepy so there was that. He did however seem eccentric.

"We just need one room. Cheapest you got. Ruby and I can share anything." Yang blew out a puff of air. They didn't have a lot of money left and they'd need to settle down for a little somewhere so Yang could make some money. Port nodded and then pulled out an old school binder. He opened it up and looked at the page before writing a few things down. He turned to the back where many keys were hanging and produced one. He handed it to Yang.

"Names?" Port asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yang Xiao Long and my sister Ruby Rose." Yang replied, tossing her hair back out of her face. Port made a few more notes in his binder.

"Room 113, free of charge." Port announced. Yang eyed this man skeptically and he chuckled. "You young ladies look like you could use a break."

"Thank you." Ruby said quickly before Yang could say anything else. They couldn't afford to say no to a free room. Eating was still important too. Yang shot Ruby a look before shrugging. She picked up her things and they headed for the room.

The room itself wasn't exciting. There were two beds, a luxury the sisters hadn't had in some time. After sleeping in an alley in a city in Nebraska, Ruby would take anything with a roof. Yang sat down her things on one bed and Ruby followed suit with the other. A TV sat on a small, squat, wooden, dresser in front of the two beds and a nightstand separated the two beds, a lamp perched on top. The bathroom was right by the front door. A microwave, coffee maker, and mini fridge were housed in a shelving unit next to the dresser. One window was curtained on the far side of the room nearest Ruby's bed.

"This is pretty nice." Yang hummed, flopping onto her bed. Ruby giggled as she did the same. She looked over at Yang and smiled brightly. Yang looked at her sister's smile and smiled right back. It was a reminder why they were doing this and that she was doing something right after all. With some of their lower moments she could use the reminder.

"I love you, Yang." Ruby said, knowing her sister needed to hear it sometimes. She made sure to say it at their best and worst times.

"Love you too, Rubes." Yang chuckled. She turned so she was looking at the ceiling and closed her eyes. She was going to savor this just in case something went horribly wrong, just like it always did.

"Should I go ask Mr. Port if there's somewhere to eat nearby?" Ruby offered. Yang shook her head and sat up.

"Nah, I got it. See if you can find anything on TV. I'll ask about wifi too."  Yang stood up and walked out the door, leaving Ruby to fiddle with the TV. Port was exactly where he had been before, though he was reading a book Yang hadn't noticed before.

"Well hello, Miss. Xiao Long. How can I help you?" Port looked at her expectantly.

"Just wondering if this place had wifi and if there's somewhere nearby to eat?" Yang asked. Hopefully it wasn't too far away and they'd be able to walk. Gas was precious with how little money they actually had.

"Oh yes, the password is Beacon with a 3 instead of an E and a # symbol." Port nodded, pulling out a sticky note to write it down for Yang. "The Salt N' Pepper Diner is within walking distance of here. Most things around here are."

"Thanks, that's great." Yang couldn't help the sigh of relief. Walking was good for her gas tank and Ruby who needed to get her energy out when she could.

"The diner is just up Vytal and very easy to spot." Port added, so it would be easier to find. Beacon was a little confusing to those who didn't know it. Things were rather scattered about the town among houses.

"Thanks again, Mr. Port. We both really appreciate it." Yang smiled before waving and returning to their room, sticky note in hand. Port turned in his chair and dialed the familiar number of the diner. He'd have to let Glynda know they were coming and not to charge them for their food. Those poor girls didn't have the money to spend and Port saw it all over the older girl's face. It was such a shame, but Ozpin had a special fund set aside for a reason.

"Got the wifi password and directions to a diner." Yang announced, closing the door behind her. Ruby was sitting crosslegged on her bed watching some cartoon she'd found on TV. Yang put the sticky note on the table and pulled out her phone. She had a text from Qrow she needed to answer.

Qrow: u 2 ok?
Yang: we're fine
Qrow: where r u?
Yang: y do u keep asking when u kno im not gonna tell u?
Qrow: always worth a shot

Yang huffed and closed her messages. She'd blocked several numbers on Ruby's phone but Yang wasn't heartless. She would tell them just enough not to call the police and that was it.

"You alright, Yang?" Ruby asked worriedly, noting her sister's change in mood.

"I'm good, Ruby." Yang smiled in an attempt to be reassuring.

"Uncle Qrow?" Ruby asked, but her expression told Yang she already knew.

"Who else?" Yang muttered. She rubbed at her eyes tiredly. She was exhausted and it had been a long day of driving. She hoped it would be an early night for her but she doubted it. Her body was still out of whack from working third shift in Texas. Ruby had hated Texas and Yang hadn't liked it all that much either, but the money she made had gotten them this far.

"I'm hungry." Ruby commented, her eyes flicking to the clock. Yang nodded and got up. She grabbed her wallet, keys, and her phone so they could leave. Ruby skipped out the door excitedly. Yang couldn't help but chuckle.

The Salt N' Pepper Diner looked like it came straight out of the 50's. It reminded Yang and Ruby of the old school diners in older movies. Entering just made it feel even more like they'd traveled in time. The workers were wearing ugly, yellow, old school uniforms and the interior looked outdated. There was even a juke box in one corner.

"This is nice." Ruby chirped, sitting down at one of the booths. Yang took the seat on the other side and glanced out the window. She wasn't wrong.

"Hello there, I'm Pyrrha. I'll be your waitress today." A tall redhead with green eyes had appeared at their table, clad in the ugly uniform. She set down a menu for each girl and pulled out a pad of paper. "Can I start you out with drinks?"

"Milk!" Ruby said immediately. Pyrrha laughed warmly before writing it down. She turned to look at Yang.

"Coffee please." Yang said. She needed some to get through the afternoon and do some job hunting after Ruby had gone to bed. That would decide where they went in the morning.

"Alrighty then, I'll be right back with your drinks." Pyrrha nodded before walking off. Yang glanced around curiously and Ruby followed suit. The place wasn't very busy at all. There was a shaggy haired, blonde, male worker behind the bar and a few people eating there. At the booths was just two other people. A guy and a girl were sitting at the back, farthest from the front door. The guy had black hair with a pink streak and the girl was a chattering redhead.

"Our waitress is cute." Ruby noted, teasingly. She had opened her menu and was looking over it carefully.

"Very funny, sis." Yang rolled her eyes and looked at her own menu.

"C'mon! I know it's been a little while. Flirt!" Ruby attempted to wiggle her eyebrows suggestively but it didn't go over well. Yang laughed at her sister being a dork as usual.

"You're ridiculous. I'll flirt if we need something but I don't have the energy to flirt willy nilly." Yang shook her head in amusement.

"You're boring." Ruby pouted.

"Here you go ladies!" Pyrrha smiled brightly as she set down their drinks. There was a stain on her skirt that hadn't been there before. Experience told Yang that she'd spilled coffee on herself.

"Thanks." Yang nodded and lifted the cup to her lips, savoring the taste of the coffee.

"Pyrrha is it? Do you live here in Beacon?" Ruby asked curiously. Maybe she could convince Yang to get out and do some fun things before they left. It wouldn't kill them to have some fun.

"Yes, that's right." Pyrrha tapped a finger on her name tag. "I do! Not that far away from here actually."

"So you know Beacon pretty well?" Ruby prodded, a little overeager. Yang shot her sister a look.

"I suppose I do. I've only been here a little less than a year." Pyrrha nodded. She was so patient with Ruby and Yang was grateful.

"So what's fun to do around here?! My sister and I want to see the sights." Ruby bounced in her seat. Yang's eyebrows shot up at that. Since when were they sight seeing in small town Ohio? Pyrrha seemed surprised but paused for a moment in thought.

"Well, there is a library and a very small waterpark. My friends and I like to go to the tavern on weekends. We have a park, various businesses and shops, and an arcade. We don't have a lot but fun can be found." Pyrrha rattled off. Ruby listened with rapt attention and Yang had to suppress a sigh.

"Thank you, Pyrrha!" Ruby beamed.

"No problem, I'm happy to help. Would you like to order now?" Pyrrha pulled out her pad of paper again.

"Can I get a plain cheeseburger with fries please?" Ruby said, closing her menu. She looked to Yang expectantly.

"I'm good, not really hungry." Yang shook her head. Ruby fixed Yang with a hard look.

"Yang, c'mon. You didn't eat at lunch or this morning either." Ruby hissed, trying to show her sister she was worried.

"Don't worry about it, Rubes." Yang flashed Ruby her signature smile and handed Pyrrha her menu. Pyrrha looked a little saddened but took Ruby's menu and left. Yang sipped at her coffee and Ruby glared at Yang.

"I am disappointed in you, Yang." Ruby crossed her arms, pouting.

"Yeah, yeah. You do that, kiddo." Yang chuckled.

"Who're you calling kid?" Ruby's eyebrows scrunched together. Yang snorted her laughter, shaking her head. Ruby was so dramatic.

"Drink your milk." Yang pointed to the untouched glass of milk. Ruby very maturely stuck her tongue out at Yang before taking a drink from her milk. "Now tell me about those sketches of yours."

Ruby spent the next fifteen minutes while they waited chattering on about her sketches on things she wanted to build. Yang listened, making appropriate noises here and there to prove that. At some point Pyrrha dropped a tray and started apologizing profusely. The two people at the other booth were still talking, the redhead most of all while she devoured a stack of pancakes. Eventually Pyrrha appeared once again with two plates.

"I didn't order anything." Yang reminded her when she put a plate in front of her. Ruby looked surprised but happy.

"Blame my boss. She said since your entire meal is on the house anyway then you might as well get the most of it." Pyrrha explained awkwardly. She was still smiling though. She put down a bottle of ketchup and one of mustard before hurrying off.

"This has to be the weirdest place ever." Yang blew out a puff of air. Ruby waited and lit up when Yang took a bite of the burger. Ruby began to eat her own meal and they continued on with light talk, both more interested in their food. Pyrrha had come by for dessert orders and then left when a man entered the diner. He had glasses, silver hair, and a cane. Yang and Ruby didn't pay him much mind until he appeared at their table.

"Hello ladies." The man greeted politely. "I'm Ozpin."

"I'm Ruby! This is my sister Yang." Ruby said, a little wave from Yang in her own greeting.

"We don't get a lot of newcomers here in Beacon and I like to introduce myself when we do." Ozpin explained, leaning on his cane. Ruby thought he seemed really nice and Yang hoped he wasn't a creepy old dude. People were friendlier in Beacon than they were everywhere else they'd been combined.

"We're just passing through." Yang shrugged casually.

"You two are quite young to be traveling by yourselves." Ozpin commented. Yang bristled and even Ruby tensed, her gaze dropping

"Just visiting family nearby. Not going far." Yang let the well practiced lie fall from her lips easily. She had any number of lies to tell nosy adults masked as concern. After the incident in Arizona, Yang was wary.

"Oh is that so?" Ozpin's lips turned up into a small smile and it told Yang he didn't believe her for a second. Yang's mood immediately shifted, left hand clenched in a fist.

"What do you want?" Yang said, her tone expressing her distrust and anger at this man. Ruby was still just looking at the table.

"Ozpin don't frighten the girls!" A sharp woman's voice startled the two girls, but Ozpin just looked in the direction of the voice. A blonde woman in glasses had come to the bar and was looking at Ozpin with narrowed eyes.

"Don't worry, Glynda. I'm not trying to frighten them." Ozpin assured the woman. Glynda only scoffed at him. Ozpin turned back to the girls and chuckled. "I don't mean to frighten you. I'm the mayor of Beacon and I am just expressing concern. Beacon is a place where anyone is safe to stay for as long as they need. I just wanted to extend the courtesy we offer. Peter will let you stay without charge as long as you need and Glynda will make sure you're fed. That way you can get up on your feet."

"Really?" Ruby had looked up excitedly and her body language had changed entirely. Even Yang seemed to relax a little, but she still looked uneasy.

"Of course. Miss. Nikos can tell you we did the same for her." Ozpin gestured to Pyrrha who was talking to the two in the booth.

"Us too!" The other redhead added cheerfully. The guy nodded a little in agreement.

"Many people have come here without a leg to stand on." Ozpin said. He was still smiling slightly at them like he was trying to be assuring. Ruby couldn't believe it. Right here, this is what they needed.

"Yang! This is what we've been looking for. You know it is! I know we said East Coast but this would be good too!" Ruby was bouncing and Yang rubbed at her neck with her left hand.

"I don't know, Rubes." Yang sighed. It made her nervous. After so much time where things were hard it just seemed a little too easy.

"School starts soon too. I know you've been worrying about that." Ruby added. She needed to convince Yang this was a good idea. Beacon was what they had been searching for since they left Hawaii. This was what they needed.

"There's a high school not far from here." Ozpin commented, eyebrow raised. Yang huffed a little in annoyance. She was being ganged up on. Still, the offer was tempting. Ruby needed more stability and Yang needed to make some money. After a moment of Ruby staring at her hopefully she sighed heavily.

"Fine." Yang frowned. Ruby was out of her seat and on top of Yang in record time, squeezing her older sister in a hug.

"Thanks Yang, you're the best big sister ever!" Ruby squealed. Yang couldn't help but smile as she hugged Ruby back.

"Yeah I know I am." Yang chuckled. Ozpin looked a little relieved as he stepped away to speak with Glynda. The redhead in the back clapped loudly. At least staying in Beacon would be interesting. They didn't have to stay forever either, but she'd give it a chance for Ruby's sake.

After finishing dessert the two sisters went back to Port's. Ruby watched cartoons until she passed out and Yang sat on her laptop, researching. She was still pretty unsure about Beacon. She didn't know if the town had some dark secret that involved luring unsuspecting teenagers to the town. However, everything she found on Beacon was good. Mayor Ozpin was well known for giving to charities and helping people. Apparently Beacon had been helping those down on their luck for years.

With a sigh Yang switched the focus of her research. She needed a job. There were plenty of cities nearby that needed unskilled laborers. Eventually she would try to get a job in Beacon if they eventually planned on staying, but before that Yang preferred city work. She'd done enough of it and it didn't matter the state, it was all pretty much the same. Bars needed bouncers, factories needed people who could lift and move things, businesses needed janitors, and cities needed plenty of people like Yang to do the dirty work. Sure the work was hard but it was worth it for Ruby. Just because Beacon was helping them didn't mean Yang wanted to rely on that for long. She wasn't above accepting help. She just wanted to get them on their own two feet sooner rather than later. They would owe the town a lot less that way.

By 1 AM Yang had found several places to try in a city only fifteen minutes away. She had no doubt one of them would hire her. She'd check them all the next day and let Ruby do the sight seeing she wanted to do without Yang. Yang would be more comfortable having fun when she could work. Glancing over at Ruby sleeping, Yang closed her laptop and smiled. She set it off to the side and took in a deep breath as she looked at the now muted TV. The screen flashed whatever Ruby had left it on and illuminated Yang's face. Getting up quietly she padded to the bathroom, quietly shutting the door behind her. She leaned up against the door and slid down, pulling her knees to her chest and folding her arms on top. She buried her face in her arms and allowed the tears to come. The sobs were muffled in her arms so she wouldn't wake Ruby, but at least she could get it out. When she had finished she would wash her face and go to bed, plastering on her smile for Ruby in the morning. Until then she would get it out.

Ruby stared at the wall, knowing her sister had just gone into the bathroom to cry. She let tears stream down her own face. She took a deep, shuddering breath. It would be okay. Maybe they could make Beacon their new home. Sure, they'd been shooting for the East Coast but Midwest worked just as well. It seemed far enough away from Hawaii. It was their chance for something new. Beacon was their second chance.

Yang left early the next morning. She didn't want to wake Ruby so she left a note and some money for her when she woke up. Ruby needed some sleep anyway. Motorcycles weren't exactly conducive to sleeping. Ruby woke a couple hours after Yang left. She spotted the note attached to the TV right away and got up to read it.

-Gone into the city to get a job and then I'll get you registered in school, be back later. Left some money if you need it. Text me when you leave and try to be back home before dark. Be good, be safe, and have fun. Try to make some friends I guess. Love you!

Ruby put the note down and got ready before pulling on her red hoodie. She didn't care if it was hot outside. She grabbed her things before shooting off a text to Yang and leaving the room. Port wasn't at the front desk, instead there was a redhead guy sleeping in the chair, feet kicked up onto the desk. He had on a name tag that read 'Scarlet'. Ruby just walked past him and out onto the street. She didn't really know where anything was but finding it would be half the fun. Sage had said Vytal ran through the entire town and Pyrrha had mentioned a few places to look for.

While walking Ruby took time to take in the town. It seemed so quaint and not all that big really. The buildings were nice looking and houses rather cute. Even the apartment complexes were homey. The town looked nothing like where Ruby and Yang were from.  When they started traveling it was quite the culture shock. Hawaii was so diverse and some places just weren't. There was different weather too. Ohio was a lot of corn fields from what she'd seen. Beacon was nice though.

The first place Ruby found was the library. It was large building compared to everything else and it looked like what Ruby expected a library to look like. Pushing open the door she found it was very cozy inside. It looked like a library back home. Having a familiar sight made her feel a lot better about things.

"Welcome to Beacon Library, here for all your book related needs." A girl standing at the checkout desk spoke, her tone rather bored sounding. She was very pretty and that was the first thing Ruby noticed. She seemed like the kind of girl who wouldn't give Ruby the time of day though. The second thing Ruby noticed was a long scar on her abdomen since her shirt was a crop top. Her skin tone was light brown and the scar stood out pretty starkly. She had long black hair topped with a black, cat eared beanie and yellow eyes. She was observing Ruby with a look the younger girl believed was disdain.

"Um hi, is it hard to get a library card?" Ruby asked hesitantly, approaching the counter.

"No, I can help you get one." The girl bent down to pull open a drawer. She pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. She laid them down in front of Ruby to fill out.

"Thanks!" Ruby grimaced. She picked up the pen and started filling out the form.

"No problem. You over 18?" The girl asked. Ruby couldn't believe how scary this girl was despite not having done anything scary at all. Then again Yang always did say Ruby would be scared of a toddler if it looked at her.

"No." Ruby stopped to look up at the girl. The girl just looked back and shrugged.

"Alright, we'll get everything filled out but I need a parent or guardian to come in and sign the form for me to give you the card." The girl reached up and moved a strand of hair out of her face. Ruby nodded and went back to filling out the form. She was struggling with the address part though. She didn't have a clue what the address for Port's Motel was. Her teeth came up to chew on her lip and she looked up at the girl.

"I-I don't know the address for where we're staying." Ruby admitted shyly. The girl raised an eyebrow in surprise.

"You don't know your address?" The girl seemed confused and Ruby could understand why. "Where are you staying?"

"Um my sister and I have a room at Port's Motel." Ruby said. The girl's expression softened noticeably. She pulled the form to her and jotted down the address for the Motel before she handed it back to Ruby.

"Ruby is it? I'm Blake. That's the address. If you guys find someplace else you just have to let us know and we can change it in the system." The girl, Blake, gave Ruby a small smile. It made her a lot less scary and it made Ruby smile too.

"Thanks. I know we won't be there forever but I don't want to go without books until we find another place." Ruby explained, shrugging.

"I get it, I was the same way when I got here." Blake chuckled very softly. Once Ruby had finished the form she entered the information into the computer and filed the form away so when Ruby brought Yang in she could sign it.

"Do you have a map of Beacon?" Ruby cocked her head, curious. Blake had to think about it before digging in some drawers. Eventually she produced a recent enough map for Ruby.

"This place doesn't really change so that map should be fine." Blake nodded to the map Ruby held in her hands.

"Thanks Blake, you're the best. Do you like working here at the library?" Ruby wanted to know more. The library seemed like a fun place to work.

"Yeah, it's cool. I love books so the library is the best place for me. Plus it pays the bills." Blake shrugged casually.

"Awesome. I'll bring my sister in tomorrow to sign the thing. I'll see you around Blake!" Ruby flipped her hair out of her face and waved at Blake. Blake gave Ruby another small smile.

"Bye Ruby." Blake said. Ruby walked out the door and opened up the map, ready to face another adventure ahead. Studying the map told her the arcade was the next closest thing and that's where she headed next. Yang had left her some money and while she didn't want to spend too much of it, a game or two wouldn't hurt.

However as she entered the place, she slammed right into something big and fluffy.

"Watch where you're going!" A shrill, angry voice sounded in her ears as she looked down at startled and annoyed blue eyes. She had managed to fall right on top of whoever she'd hit as well as a giant stuffed bear the girl was holding.

"Oh no, I'm sorry." Ruby scrambled up, holding out a hand for the girl to take. The girl ignored her hand and stood, hefting up the bear as she did. Upon getting a good look at this girl Ruby had the wind knocked out of her lungs. This girl was gorgeous. She had long white hair that sparkled in the arcade light and the clearest blue eyes Ruby had ever seen. She was clad in a uniform, a blue polo and a black skirt, with a logo on the shirt pocket for the arcade.

"Don't you pay attention, you dolt?" The girl shrieked. Ruby's mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water.

"I-I was..... I-I j-just...... Sorry!" Ruby stuttered. There was no doubt her face was as red as her hoodie. She really hadn't meant to run into the girl.

"Next time be more careful." The girl huffed angrily, shifting the giant bear in her arms. It was probably one of the prizes for the games and she was carrying it to wherever.

"I didn't see you." Ruby admitted. Her face felt like it was on fire and her gaze had fallen to the ground. Her shoes were really interesting all of a sudden.

"Weiss, stop terrorizing a customer." A red haired guy with completely white eyes and rusty red skin appeared, arms crossed across his chest.

"I'm not terrorizing anyone!" The girl who's name was apparently Weiss cried out indignantly.

"She looks like a tomato." The guy raised an eyebrow.

"How is that my fault? And how do you even know that, you're blind!?" Weiss snapped. The guy shot her another look before walking off. Ruby was surprised to hear that the guy was blind because it didn't seem like it. Weiss sighed heavily before reluctantly holding out a hand for Ruby to shake.

"I'm Weiss Schnee." Weiss said.

"Ruby Rose." Ruby squeaked, shaking her hand.

"Welcome to Lazer Arcade! The best arcade this side of Ohio." Weiss recited, sounding very unenthused.

"Is there a change machine or....?" Ruby trailed off. She didn't want to ask a stupid question. Weiss sighed before motioning for Ruby to follow her as she walked off. Ruby had to take several deep breaths to get her heart rate back to normal. Weiss led her to the actual counter of the place where you could get prizes and apparently where you got change.

"We use tokens. Ten tokens for a dollar." Weiss had placed the bear up on a shelf and then took her place behind the register. Ruby handed Weiss a dollar and Weiss handed her ten little gold coins.

"Thanks." Ruby smiled sheepishly.

"Enjoy." Weiss deadpanned. Ruby walked off to play some games. Most were rather old school but some were newer. It was fun regardless and Ruby discovered she had a knack for some of them. She'd gone to an arcade before. Arcades just weren't someplace she spent a lot of her time. They'd gone to a few when they were in California and there'd been a really good one in Colorado. Eventually though she had used all of her tokens and found herself hungry. It hadn't occurred to her until then that she hadn't eaten breakfast. She had gotten so used to going to breakfast with Yang that she forgot. With a heavy sigh she left the arcade for the diner.

Ruby took a seat at the bar and glanced around for familiar faces. The place was even more empty than when she'd come with Yang. There was just two brunette girls sitting together in a booth near the front door. She didn't see Pyrrha but the blonde boy was behind the bar again. He came up to her and set down a menu.

"Hey, I'm Jaune. What can I get you to drink?" The blonde boy asked, not even getting out a pad of paper.

"A glass of milk please." Ruby smiled.

"Comin' right up." Jaune smiled back before turning to get her the glass of milk. Pyrrha appeared from the back, carrying a tray of food. She took it out to the two brunettes who thanked her. One of the brunettes spoke with an Australian accent and one was wearing sunglasses indoors. How odd. Ruby's thought process was interrupted by Jaune setting down her milk.

"Thanks." Ruby picked up the milk and took a sip.

"You ready to order?" Jaune asked, leaning forward on the bar.

"Can I just have pancakes please?" Ruby shrugged. She didn't feel like being picky. Jaune nodded and left, leaving Ruby with her thoughts once again. Beacon was an interesting place. She hadn't seen a ton of people around but they were there at the various places she'd been visiting. Except of course the diner which looked like a ghost town. She wasn't doing a great job of making friends though. She hadn't really talked to anyone her age and hadn't talked much to the people more her sister's age she had met. Yang would probably like them. She hoped Yang made friends. The two had just had each other for the last few months and all their friends had been left in Hawaii.

"So, new girl, where are you from?" Jaune set the pancakes in front of Ruby and flashed another smile. "We get people from all sorts of places here. Of course you don't have to share anything you don't want to though."

"Oh, Hawaii." Ruby said after a moment. There wasn't really any harm in sharing.

"Hawaii? That's exciting. I'm from Maine myself. A lot less exciting there." Jaune had leaned forward on the bar again and chuckled.

"I've never been to Maine."

"Neither has Pyrrha but she tells me I talk about it enough she feels like she has." Jaune shrugged.

"I do say that." Pyrrha had come up beside Jaune and smiled. Ruby immediately picked up on the way Pyrrha looked at Jaune. There was something weird about it, almost wistful. She swore she'd seen it before but couldn't place it.

"Oh that reminds me!" Jaune's face suddenly lit up and he grinned at Ruby. "We know you're new here so Pyrrha suggested we invite you and your sister to the barbecue this weekend."

"Barbecue?" Ruby raised a quizzical eyebrow.

"Ozpin puts it on every year in the park. End of the summer deal. Everyone is always welcome but you obviously wouldn't know about it." Jaune explained.

"I'd hate for you and your sister to miss out. It would be an excellent chance for you to get to know some people around here." Pyrrha added. Ruby thought about it for a moment.

"I have to ask Yang." Ruby decided that was her best answer. She wasn't sure if that was something Yang was comfortable with and she didn't want to go without Yang.

"That's alright." Pyrrha placed a reassuring hand on Ruby's.

"Yeah, and hey you'll know us. Plus Ozpin and Port." Jaune commented.

"Oh, and here." Pyrrha let go of Ruby's hand and looked over her shoulder. "Velvet, Coco! Come meet Ruby please."

"Who?" The brunette with an Australian accent asked. They both got up and walked to the bar.

"Aww, an absolute cutie." The brunette in sunglasses smiled at Ruby, chuckling.

"Velvet, Coco, this is Ruby. Ruby this is Velvet and Coco." Jaune introduced. The Australian one was Velvet and the sunglasses one was Coco. Coco offered a hand for Ruby to shake.

"It's a pleasure." Coco smirked as Ruby shook her hand.

"Don't flirt, Coco." Velvet scolded and then smiled brightly at Ruby. "It's nice to meet you, Ruby. Always nice to see new faces around here."

"Nice to meet you guys too." Ruby was blushing and both Pyrrha and Jaune were laughing.

"Don't mind Coco, she enjoys giving people a hard time." Pyrrha shook her head in amusement. Ruby chuckled awkwardly along.

"We were just telling Ruby about the barbecue." Jaune said.

"You should come! The more the merrier." Velvet said, reaching up and squeezing Ruby's shoulder. It was a little comforting because Velvet just seemed like such a warm person.

"If it's anything like last year it's bound to be wild." Coco wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. Velvet hit her on the arm playfully.

"That's because Fox spiked the punch!" Velvet reminded her. Ruby was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. She had never been good with large groups of people and four people had crowded around her. Pyrrha seemed to notice this and shooed Velvet and Coco back to their breakfast.

"You don't have to, Ruby. It's just an option." Pyrrha smiled in sympathy.

"It's not for everyone." Jaune agreed.

"I'll ask Yang." Ruby repeated, attempting a smile in response.

"Okay then! I've got to get back to work." Pyrrha bustled off to the back once again. Jaune flashed Ruby another smile before going back to his own work. Ruby was glad to have some peace once again and finally started her pancakes. After she finished eating she would have to go back to the room for a break.

As she chewed on her pancakes she thought about the barbecue. She wasn't sure if Yang would be interested. She wasn't even sure if she was interested herself. Still, it would be a good opportunity to meet people. Maybe make friends. They'd just been on their own a while and she wasn't used to people again yet. Not that she'd been very good with people before.

After she finished her pancakes and milk Ruby did go back to her room. She doubted Yang would be back yet but she needed a breather. There were probably cartoons on that she could watch. Once she got to the room she flopped onto her bed and started flipping through the channels. Maybe Yang would be home before it got too late and they could eat a late lunch together. Even dinner if she was home a little later.

She picked up her phone to see if she'd been texted. No one really texted her and Yang had blocked the only numbers that might. Even Yang hadn't texted back yet. With a sigh she fell back into the pillows and frowned. If Beacon was really going to be their second chance they needed to go to the barbecue. Ruby just had to convince Yang of that.

Easier said than done.

Chapter Text

Yang returned to the motel a few minutes past two in the afternoon. She was carrying a bag of takeout which she placed on the dresser, and her messenger bag was slung over her shoulder. Ruby was sprawled on her bed reading one of her comics. She'd already read it a dozen times over, but she didn't have many to choose from.

"Hey, kiddo. Didn't expect to see you." Yang shrugged off her leather jacket and peeled off her gloves. She even took off her prosthetic and sat it on the bed, rubbing at the stump of her right arm.

"I got bored and came back here." Ruby said as if it was obvious. It was a lie, but she liked it better when Yang didn't worry.

"I brought some food, even if it's a little late for lunch." Yang gestured to the bag on the dresser. She lifted her messenger bag off her shoulder and dumped it on the bed. A decent sized stack of papers slid out into a messy pile.

"What's that?" Ruby sat up, legs crossed. Yang plopped onto the bed and started straightening the stack of papers.

"Paperwork for my job and for your school registration." Yang blew out a puff of air. A few strands of hair that had fallen in her face moved with the air. "Not a lot of people wanna hire a chick with one arm, prosthetic or not."

"Hasn't that always been the problem?" Ruby raised an eyebrow. It's part of why they had struggled in the past. Yang ignored Ruby and picked up a manila folder.

"Not to mention the fact I'm not technically your legal guardian, which makes things difficult. Plus, we don't have your transcripts from Hawaii. We can't get those either, one: without revealing where we are and two: without a legal guardian." Yang was rambling in the way she always did when she was stressed out. Ruby didn't like when Yang rambled because it meant something was wrong. She hadn’t done it often in their travels but it had happened enough to worry Ruby.

"You always figure it out, Yang." Ruby beamed, cutting off her sister's ramblings. It was better not to let it get out of hand. Yang looked over at her sister and smiled. They could both see how they'd changed since leaving home. Yang looked tired and Ruby looked wiser.

"Yeah, I guess I do. Anyway! How was your day?" Yang leaned back, stretching her one and a half arms.

"Good, I explored and met some people. It was fun. I need you to come back to the library to sign a form for my library card though." Ruby said. She didn't want to lie, but she also didn't want Yang worrying she wasn't settling in or something.

"Yeah? Alright. We can do that after we eat if you're hungry. I'm starved." Yang broke into a grin and got up to get the food.

"Definitely! I had a late breakfast so I haven't eaten lunch yet." Ruby bounced on the bed excitedly. Yang got out the food and distributed it appropriately between the two, before settling on the bed with her legs stretched out in front of her. She'd long gotten used to eating with her left hand. Ruby sat still cross-legged, shoveling food into her mouth.

"Make any friends?" Yang asked curiously. She was a little less animalistic when eating her food than Ruby.

"Definitely. I saw Pyrrha again and she introduced me to a boy named Jaune. Then they introduced me to Velvet and Coco." Ruby's words were a little garbled around the food she still had in her mouth. She swallowed before continuing. "They invited us to this barbecue thing Ozpin is putting on. I guess he does it every year."

"A barbecue?" Yang's eyebrows shot up in a mix of surprise and confusion.

"In the park with all the people from Beacon." Ruby nodded. She tried to screw her features into the most casual expression she could. There would be no spooking that way.

"You want to go?" Yang asked but it wasn't much of a question. She knew her sister better than anyone.

"Yes?" Ruby smiled. Yang chuckled and shrugged.

"I don't care, we can go. I don't see the harm in it. Have to meet the people here, don't we." Yang knew it was big that Ruby was asking to go to an event with a lot of people. Who was she to say no?

"Thanks Yang!” Ruby lit up, barely managing to contain herself and stop from tackling Yang, nearly knocking the blonde’s food over. Yang expertly moved it to avoid a mess.

"Oh you know me, Rubes. Can't say no to you." Yang joked, grinning. Ruby couldn't help but giggle before going back to her food.

"Hey Yang, why did you take off your arm?" Ruby asked curiously, worry lacing her tone. Yang frowned a little, reaching over to rub her stump.

"The prosthetic was making it sore," Yang only half lied. She didn't like to talk about the phantom pain that liked to seize her sometimes.

"Oh, okay. Did you find a job?" Ruby accepted Yang's explanation and moved onto her next question, shoving a fork full of food into her face.

"Yeah. I have to work third shift again, but it'll be worth it. I'll be off in time to take you to school in the morning!" Yang wanted to make it sound like a great opportunity. Ruby knew Yang disliked third shift. The truth was she hated it, but there wasn't anything she wouldn't do for her little sister.

"What kind of job?" Ruby didn't sound like she was believing Yang this time. She was looking at Yang with a raised eyebrow and more worry.

"Some factory work, ya know? Moving boxes and doing inventory." Yang shrugged. She was downplaying the physical labor involved a little.

"Are you sure that's a good idea? I remember last time..." she trailed off. Yang always worked herself too hard and she'd injured herself before. Ruby didn't want that to happen again.

"Don't worry, sis. I'll be fine. You don't have to worry about me." Yang said reassuringly. When Ruby gave her a look of disbelief she decided to change the subject. Ruby was always worrying about everything and Yang didn't want to be another thing she worried about. "After we're done eating, we can get you that library card."

"Do you want to wait till tomorrow? You said your arm was sore." Ruby asked in surprise.

"Nah, I'm fine. We can go today. Better to get it done today anyway or I might accidentally forget." Yang laughed.

"Okay!" Ruby beamed. They went back to their food and eventually finished. Yang put the leftovers in the fridge before moving to put her arm back on.

"We need to unpack when we get back. We're gonna be here at least for a little while and living out of suitcases is okay for a day or two, but not for much longer." Yang commented, tugging on her leather jacket. She flexed the fingers on her prosthetic a moment before pulling on her glove.

"Okay, Yang!" Ruby chirped, pulling on her shoes. Once they were ready, they headed for the library. Blake was still there, this time sitting down and bent over a book. Yang leaned over to whisper to her sister.

"She's pretty." Yang teased and Ruby punched her arm.

"Yang, that's Blake. Shut up!" Ruby hissed.

"Hello, I think you two already met each other." Yang was pulling Ruby to the desk. Blake looked up with a raised eyebrow.

"Hi, Ruby." Blake greeted.

"Hi, Blake, I brought my sister Yang to sign the paper." Ruby waved sheepishly. Yang could be so embarrassing.

"Glad to know Ruby at least tried to make friends." Yang offered her a hand to shake and Ruby noted it was her left.

"It's nice to meet you." Blake said dryly, shaking Yang's hand. Yang pulled her arm back and ran it through her hair.

"Pleasure is all mine. Blake, right?" Yang chuckled in amusement over how absolutely dry this girl seemed. She was surprised Ruby had befriended her. Then again her sister made friends with everyone.

"Correct, and you're Yang. I need your signature." Blake ruffled through the drawer before producing Ruby's form from earlier. "I didn't expect you until tomorrow."

"I got home earlier than expected." Yang responded. She took the form and signed it with her left hand. Ruby wasn't surprised; the prosthetic didn't have the best fine motor skills, but she was using her right less than usual.

"I'd introduce you to Weiss, but she's scary. Jaune, Velvet, and Coco are nice though." Ruby explained. "And Blake's nice too. She helped with the address."

"Oh, so you met Weiss." Blake smirked. "She's better once you get to know her. We didn't get along at first either. I think she's still getting used to this place. She's only been here a few months."

"How long have you been here?" Yang asked.

"Not even a year," Blake admitted.

"Are you going to the barbecue?" Ruby asked excitedly. She hoped so. If she knew more people it would make it easier. Maybe Blake and Yang could be friends! They were about the same age. Even if Blake seemed Yang's complete opposite, they could still get along.

"Under duress," Blake groaned.

"Sounds like a story." Yang raised an eyebrow. Blake shook her head, pinching at the bridge of her nose.

"My roommates are forcing me to go," Blake said.

"We're going too!" Ruby chirped, bouncing on her heels.

"I guess we'll see you there then." Blake nodded. Ruby was grinning ear to ear and Yang chuckled. Blake then went about getting Ruby her library card.

"Congrats, sis." Yang said as Blake handed Ruby the card. Ruby immediately put in her pocket for safekeeping.

"Now we can go unpack." Ruby announced. The sisters said their goodbyes to Blake and returned to the motel. Unpacking their meager possessions didn't take long. There wasn't a lot you could fit on a motorcycle, so they'd only really been carrying the bare essentials.

"We need to get you more clothes," Yang breathed once they were done. Between the two of them they barely took up three drawers.

"I guess, but it can wait." Ruby shrugged.

"First paycheck we'll go back to school shopping." Yang decided, making note in her head. She didn't mind only having a few outfits. Yang didn't have anyone to impress. Ruby was a teenage girl in high school, which was entirely different.

"Okay." Ruby shrugged again. She started messing with the three picture frames they'd set out on the dresser. She liked seeing them sitting there and reminding her of what was. They couldn't take much besides essentials, but Ruby made sure she had room for a few things she couldn't bare to part with.

"You look more and more like her everyday." Yang had come up behind her and picked up one of the frames. It was a picture of Summer Rose and the two girls, taken many years before.

"Dad used to say that," Ruby mentioned.

"Yeah, he did." Yang sighed before setting the picture down and turning away. Ruby continued looking at the other two picture frames. One was the two sisters with Summer and Taiyang and the other of the girls with Qrow. Ruby made sure they were straight and then flopped onto her bed.

"Let's watch a movie," Ruby suggested. It would be like their old movie nights. Yang nodded and went about hooking her laptop up the the TV. The sisters spent the rest of their day in the room watching silly movies. It wasn't until that night that anything of consequence happened.

Yang stirred, eyes blinking awake. A glance at the clock told her it was barely 2 AM. A noise had awoken her and she looked around to find out what it might be. Almost immediately her eyes fell on her sister. Ruby was tangled in the blankets and curled up in a ball. She was twitching and whimpering, a bad sign. Yang got up and walked over to Ruby.

"Rubes, it's okay," Yang said gently, placing a gentle hand on Ruby's shoulder. Tears were streaming down Ruby's face. "Ruby..." Yang sighed, gently rubbing her sister's arm. She crawled into bed and pulled Ruby into her arms, rubbing soothing circles into her back and stroking her hair.

"Yang?" Teary eyes looked up at her, wide and fearful. Yang smiled soothingly down at her and kissed her forehead.

"You're okay, I've got you. I've always got you and I will always keep you safe." Yang murmured. Ruby buried her face in Yang's shoulder and cried. Yang stopped rubbing her back and instead rocked the two of them back and forth. Ruby gasped for breaths as she cried. "Breathe, sis. You're okay."

"'M sorry." Ruby mumbled. Yang shook her head, tightening her hold. She continued stroking her sister's hair.

"Nothing to be sorry for. It was just a bad dream and big sister Yang will always chase away the bad dreams," Yang whispered. Ruby's fingers had twisted into the fabric of Yang's nightshirt.

"Mom..." Ruby whimpered. Yang couldn't help the sigh that escaped her lips.

"I know, I know." Yang said, shushing as she went. She started humming quietly. The tune mixed with Ruby's crying before eventually the crying stopped. After a couple hours of Yang holding her then Ruby relaxed in her arms and it was obvious she'd fallen back asleep. Yang pressed a kiss to her head. "I won't let anything bad happen to you ever again. I promise."

They stayed like that the rest of the night, but Yang couldn't go back to sleep. Not when behind every corner there was something waiting to hurt her baby sister. She wasn't going to let that happen though. Not again.

The next couple days were uneventful and they didn't leave the room a whole lot. At one point, they spent an entire day in the city and seeing what Ohio had to offer. By the time Saturday had rolled around, they'd almost forgotten about the barbecue.


"Ruby, you look fine." Yang sighed, repeating the same line she'd been saying for ten minutes. Ruby was having anxiety and was using worrying about her clothes as a coping mechanism.

"You said that about the last outfit," Ruby huffed, examining herself in the bathroom mirror. She was still wearing her hoodie, but had changed skirts several times. She didn't even have that many skirts either.

"They're not gonna care. If you don't hurry up, we're gonna be even later." Yang rolled her eyes. She herself had debated on keeping the leather jacket on. It was a nicer day and not nearly as hot as when they arrived, but it was still warm. In the end, she'd decided they'd have to find out about her arm someday and decided to forgo it. A tank top and jean shorts made her look just as hot without the added hot temperature.

"Fine, we can go now," Ruby said. She was frowning still, but she decided she'd just go in what she had on. She didn't like being late to things. Yang stood up grinning, pleased they were finally leaving. With one final check that they had everything, the two left.

They'd seen the park in passing before. It was big and right in the center of town, but usual;y wasn't anything extra exciting. For the barbecue, it was done up though. There were small bouncy castles for kids, country music playing, grills cooking, decorations, a few activities, tables of seemingly never-ending food, and so many people. If Yang hazarded a guess, she'd say the entire town was there.

"Oh." Ruby had stopped in her tracks, wringing her hands nervously. This was a lot of people. She'd expected a lot, but this was A LOT. Yang sensed Ruby's distress and slung an arm around her shoulder.

"You can do this. We can do this. And if you don't want to, we can go back." Yang put on her assuring big sister face. Even if getting out of bed that morning had taken everything she had for more reasons than one, she knew Ruby needed this. They both did.

"Thanks, Yang." Ruby smiled brightly. She had definitely perked up at her sister's encouragement.

"Ruby! Yang!" Jaune's voice caught their attention. He had appeared from the crowd, followed by Pyrrha and the black haired guy and redhead from the diner their first day. It was weird seeing Jaune and Pyrrha out of uniform. Jaune had opted for jeans and t-shirt, and Pyrrha had gone for an orangey red dress.  All four of them were making a point not to look at Yang's arm.

"Hi, Jaune!" Ruby chirped, bouncing on her heels. Yang nodded her own greeting.

"This is Ren and Nora," Pyrrha introduced, gesturing to the other two. Nora bounced forward and yanked Ruby into a hug. Ren only smiled a little, shaking his head at Nora.

"It's so nice to get new faces around here. Isn't it, Ren? I mean, we did get Weiss, but she's a fuddy duddy. I'd be surprised if she even came. But I'm glad you two came because now we can be friends!" Nora rambled so quickly Ruby had difficulty keeping up. Not to mention she was squeezing so tightly Ruby couldn’t breathe.

"Yes, Nora. Now let go before she passes out from lack of oxygen." Ren replied, his voice rather flat. Nora released Ruby and then turned to Yang. Her eyes fell to Yang's arm and she grinned.

"That arm is so cool! How'd you get it?" Nora asked. Jaune coughed uncomfortably and Pyrrha smiled in sympathy. Ren’s tired expression suggested he was used to Nora.

"A shark ate my arm," Yang shrugged, laughing a little. Ruby's eyebrows went up, but she noted Yang's explanation.

"That is so cool!" Nora shrieked.

"I'm sorry about Nora. She gets overexcited," Pyrrha commented.

"It's fine. I'm used to people staring and stuff." Yang assured her. Sure, it made her uncomfortable and insecure when people looked, but she'd gotten used to it.

"Don't worry about the people here though. Ironwood is here all the time and no one stares at him anymore. People get used to it." Jaune said.

"Ironwood?" Ruby spoke up, not recognizing the name. Then again, she didn't know most people around.

"An old friend of Ozpin's. He doesn't live in Beacon, but he's here enough. The air force base isn't far. He works with Winter, Weiss' sister." Pyrrha explained.

"Do a lot of people not from Beacon come?" Yang asked.

"Only a handful. Beacon's pretty tight knit." Ren spoke up this time to offer information. Ruby didn't think he showed a lot of emotion. He kind of seemed stoic to her, but she didn't really know him that well either.

"Speaking of people, we'll take you to the rest of the gang," Jaune suggested. Everyone followed him to one of the various tables occupied by a few familiar and a few new faces. Blake and Weiss were waiting there, both standing to the side, but on opposite ends. Weiss had her arms crossed and looked angry, while Blake leaned on the table looking amused. Sun was there too, sitting on one of the benches with Sage and the red haired guy from Port's and a blue haired guy. They were all chatting casually until the others appeared.

"Look, it's the chicks we met at the gas station." Sun grinned, nudging Sage with his elbow. Sage rolled his eyes and sighed.

"This is Yang and Ruby." Pyrrha said. "Ladies, this is Blake, Weiss, Sun, Sage, Scarlet, and Neptune. I'm sure you've met a few of them."

"Wow, what happened to your arm?" Sun's eyed widened. Neptune elbowed Sun hard and gave him an incredulous look.

"Shark attack when I was surfing," Yang chuckled.

"You surf? That's awesome. Where are you from? I loved to surf before I moved out here from Cali," Sun said, excited about a common interest. Yang found it somewhat endearing.

"We're from Hawaii. I used to surf everyday," Yang said. Ruby had mentioned it and there wasn't any harm in sharing where they were from. They were so far from home it didn't matter.

"Hi, Weiss!" Ruby greeted, her face turning as red as her hoodie. Weiss raised an eyebrow at Ruby.

"Hello, Ruby," Weiss replied. Disdain laced her voice, but it went completely over Ruby's head.

"I found them!" A familiar voice yelled, catching everyone's attention. Velvet was walking towards them, one hand wrapped around Coco's wrist and the other wrapped around the wrist of the guy she'd met at the arcade. Following behind them was a giant guy who looked like he could break someone in half.

"Hi, guys," Jaune laughed as they got to the table. Coco was pouting and the blind guy looked unfazed. The giant nodded curtly at Jaune as Velvet released her captives.

"Sorry, we're late! Coco took two hours to get ready," Velvet huffed.

"And while dragging us here, Velvet pulled me face first into a pole," the blind guy deadpanned.

"I said I was sorry!" Velvet squeaked apologetically. Coco snickered at how red Velvet's face turned.

"Coco, Velvet, you guys have already met Ruby, but this is her older sister Yang." Pyrrha changed the subject to more introductions. "This is Velvet, Coco, Fox, and Yatsuhashi."

"Everyone calls me Yatsu." The giant spoke, but it sounded more like a rumble than actual words. Ruby just smiled up at him. The blind guy, Fox, chuckled and patted Yatsu on the arm.

"Remember when you hated that nickname?" Fox said, smirking.

"I have come to accept it," Yatsu shrugged.

"Now the gang's all here!" Jaune announced, looking pleased. He turned to Pyrrha and whispered in her ear. Pyrrha giggled, but nodded. He then looked to everyone. "Alright, let the tradition commence." He reached down into a cooler sitting by the table and opened it.

"Yang and Ruby are new, so I'll explain," Pyrrha addressed the sisters' puzzled looks. "It's a lot more fun when you're at least a little buzzed at the start. So we all do Jell-O shots. We also pair off for partner events and the last dance of the night."

"Here we go." Jaune came up with a pile of variously colored Jell-O shots in plastic shot glasses which he sat on the table. The tops were saran wrapped.

"It's a lot of fun!" Nora grinned, picking up one of the shots. Ren followed suit and shrugged.

"We have new people this year though, so it makes splitting up different. Thankfully, it's not an odd number," Ren said.

"Ren and I always partner up though," Nora added. Ren nodded as he peeled the saran wrap off.

"Who's picking this year?" Neptune asked. Jaune thought for a moment and shrugged.

"I won the bet last year, so it's me." Pyrrha smiled, looking rather mischievous.

"She looks evil. I don't like when Pyrrha looks evil. It's really unsettling," Coco cringed, looking at Pyrrha in horror.

"Sometimes I forget Pyrrha can be evil," Scarlet, the red haired guy on the bench, commented. Oh, he had a British accent. Interesting. He also had a tattoo right by his eye and Ruby wanted to flinch at even the thought of how much that hurt.

"I don't, not after last year." Sage looked slightly shellshocked. Ruby remembered Coco and Velvet had mentioned the previous year's barbecue had been wild. She wondered what happened.

"Alright Pyrrha, seal our fates," Blake sighed heavily. Pyrrha laughed, shaking her head in amusement.

"Well, how about I start with the easy ones. Ren and Nora, Sun and Neptune, and Sage and Scarlet," Pyrrha said. The reactions were pretty immediate.

"Ren!" Nora jumped on Ren's back and Yang couldn't help but be impressed he didn't go down. She got the feeling that happened a lot.

"What a surprise," Ren said it dryly, but a small smile played at his lips. Scarlet let himself fall back onto Sage.

"Oh, thank god," Scarlet sighed in relief.

"Why do I always get stuck with you?" Sage frowned. Scarlet looked positively offended and the two started into a heated argument. Neptune and Sun high fived each other, grinning like idiots.

"I knew Pyrrha would see it our way." Sun slung an arm around Neptune's shoulder, kissing him sloppily on the cheek. Yang and Ruby both stared in surprise.

"We're dating, Sun. I don't know who else you expected her to pair us with," Neptune chuckled. He leaned into Sun's arm and his face turned red.

"You two are dating?!" Ruby squeaked. Everyone turned to look at her, surprised and confused.

"Surprising, I know," Sage muttered.

"Yeah, it hasn't been that long, but it's been long enough." Neptune shrugged.

"You were such a flirt at the gas station though," Yang reminded Sun, who chuckled awkwardly.

"I flirt with everyone. Bad habit." Sun rubbed at his neck sheepishly. Neptune rolled his eyes. Yang leaned over to whisper to Ruby.

"I was not expecting that from small town Ohio." Yang couldn't help but be surprised. They hadn't been in Ohio long, but it seemed similar enough to some other places they'd been.

"Right," Ruby hissed back. The whispered conversation was ignored and Pyrrha decided to continue on.

"Then I'll say Fox and Yatsu, and Velvet and Coco," Pyrrha announced. Fox held up a hand for Yatsu, but Yatsu ignored it. Coco and Velvet shared a loaded look both sisters caught. Neither was going to say anything, but they were curious. "Then finally, Jaune and myself, Blake and Yang, and Weiss and Ruby." That's when things got out of hand.

"Pyrrha!" Blake hissed, her eyes darting to Yang worriedly.

"You can't be serious!" Weiss shrieked, face turning an amusing shade of red. Jaune was laughing. Ruby got the feeling he had been on in helping her decide that.

"I'm actually a little offended," Yang commented, putting a hand to her chest like it physically hurt her. Ruby couldn't help but agree with Yang.

"Ouch! Me too. I feel like the kid that no one wants on their team," Ruby pouted.

"I do think you two are being rather dramatic and rude to our new arrivals." Pyrrha frowned, causing Blake and Weiss to look guilty. "They both need someone who's been in Beacon longer than they have. Besides, would you rather be paired up with each other?"

"No!" They both answered suddenly, and at exactly the same time.

"Great, that's settled. Everyone get their Jell-O shots." Pyrrha smiled. Everyone followed her orders and grabbed one, except Ruby. Yang handed hers to Ruby who looked surprised.

"Really?" Ruby asked, cocking her head.

"Go for it, kiddo. You know how I am with alcohol and it's not like it's gonna kill you," Yang shrugged, before explaining to Ruby how to do a Jell-O shot. Everyone did their shots, except Yang which thankfully went unnoticed, and Pyrrha rounded up the trash to throw away. Jaune proceeded to shoo everyone, yelling something about a meet up. Everyone scattered in various directions of the barbecue. He shoved Blake and Weiss over to the sisters.

"Have fun ladies!" Jaune called before disappearing with Pyrrha.

"Be good, Rubes. Have some fun and don't do anything I wouldn't do." Yang pressed a kiss to Ruby's head. Then she grabbed Blake's arm and started dragging her off. "C'mon Blake!

"Bye, Yang!" Ruby was officially left alone with Weiss. Her cheeks felt warm from the alcohol and she couldn't help but smile dopily.

"Well, let's go. My sister told me I had to have fun and I'd rather not find out what she has planned if I don't," Weiss huffed, starting off in the opposite direction of Yang and Blake. Ruby trotted behind her.

"So what was Jaune saying about a meet up?" Yang asked. Blake was walking along beside her, arms crossed. She didn't look too put off, which seemed like a good sign to the blonde.

"We'll meet up to eat later. We hang out a bit before the last dance of the night," Blake explained dryly. She reminded Yang a little of of herself when her sister was around. It had been a while since she’d taken it easy. Ruby wasn’t around so maybe this was her chance. Even if she had to force herself to have a good time. Fake it till you make it, right?

"Sounds awesome!" Yang grinned. She glanced around at the goings on of the park. There seemed to be so much, which meant there was a lot of potential. "So what should we do first?"

"I don't care," Blake shrugged.

"Okay then, I'll pick." Yang's grin turned into a smirk. She pulled one of Blake's arms free and pulled her in a very specific direction. Blake saw what was coming and her eyes widened.

"Yang, no!" Blake insisted.

"You said you didn't care!" Yang said. She just continued pulling the struggling girl forward. It didn't take long before they reached Yang's destination.

The bouncy castles.

"We're too old," Blake deadpanned.

"No way! These things can handle a lot and they're bigger than you realize," Yang said. She was already kicking off her tennis shoes. Blake sighed, but sat down so she could unlace her own converse.

"This is going to be dumb," Blake said. Yang rolled her eyes and then after a moment, tugged off her prosthetic. She didn't want it to pop anything. She didn't think it would, but it would be better if she was safe. Blake's eyes widened marginally. It wasn't much in the grand scheme of Blake reacting. Yang still noticed.

"Need a hand?" Yang held out the prosthetic grinning. Blake just looked at Yang in annoyance.

"Look, I'm trying to be disarming. I took my arm off for you. You better feel pretty lucky," Yang teased. Blake rolled her eyes and stood up.

"Luckiest girl in the world," Blake deadpanned again. Yang laughed, shaking her head. Then she walked up to one of the larger bouncy castles. The attendant was smirking and motioned for her to go ahead in. Yang climbed in, disappearing into bright, rainbow canvas and netting.

"C'mon!" Yang's voice carried out.

"Maybe Weiss would have been better," Blake muttered but climbed in as well. She stumbled trying to get to her feet, but Yang caught her.

"Easy there, dude." Yang looked like the cat that ate the canary.

"Don't call me dude," Blake frowned. Yang ignored her and started bouncing. They were surrounded by half a dozen children who were giggling and having the time of their lives.

"Live a little!" Yang laughed, nearly falling as she bounced a little hard. Blake looked like she was having enough trouble just standing. She hesitated but offered a steadying hand for Blake. Thankfully Blake grabbed it and managed to keep her balance despite how Yang's own bouncing sent Blake up into the air.

"Yang!" Blake squeaked. Her feet had left the ground and when she'd come back down they'd both almost fallen. "We're going to fall!"

"You're fine," Yang assured her. She continued bouncing to send them both flying. Blake was adorable with how unsteady she was and it made Yang laugh like crazy. Eventually they did fall, a tangle of arms and limbs fallen into a heap.

"I told you so!" Blake was laughing though, her smile taking up her entire face. It was magical.

"Falling is the best part." Yang shrugged. One of the small children came over and smacked Yang's shoulder.

"You're it!" The child shrieked, running off.

"Looks like I'm it, dude," Yang announced.

"Don't call me dude." Blake rolled her eyes. The two managed to get to their feet, a feat in and of itself.

"I should buy a bouncy castle in case I lose my job. It'll give me something to fall back on," Yang smirked.

"Oh my god, no," Blake groaned. Yang laughed maniacally before tackling Blake to the ground of the bouncy castle again. Then she scrambled up, leaving Blake stunned.

"You're it!" Yang yelled, bouncing over to the other side of the bouncy castle.

"This is on!" Blake yelled back, stumbling to her feet.

"This music is awful." Weiss' lip was curled up in disgust.

"Country music’s not my favorite either, but it's not that bad," Ruby shrugged. Weiss was super cute, but she was also scary and didn't seem to like anything. She wasn't sure how much fun they were going to have if Weiss kept acting like she was.

"It's simply a reminder we're in redneck central," Weiss said, annoyance obvious in her tone.

"You just have to give it a chance," Ruby suggested. Weiss gave her a look of confusion. Ruby smiled and grabbed her hand. "C'mon! I see some games."

"Fine," Weiss huffed, blushing. She didn't make Ruby let go of her hand though, so there was that. They wandered over to where several games were waiting. Ruby didn't recognize some of them, especially not the one where people were throwing beanbags.

"What's that?" Ruby asked. She pointed at the painted, wooden, ramp-like things with the hole in the center that people were throwing beanbags at.

"Corn hole. A staple in Ohio, apparently. Have you never played?" Weiss asked, looking surprised.

"No, we never played that in Hawaii." Ruby shook her head. Weiss straightened her shoulders.

"I guess I'll have to teach you then," Weiss said. They made their way to the game and Weiss instructed her to stand by one of the wooden things. Weiss stood on the other side with the other wooden ramp. Ruby held red bean bags and Weiss had silver. The game seemed to have an Ohio State theme. Then again, the whole state of Ohio seemed to have an Ohio State theme.

"So what do I do?" Ruby asked.

"We take turns throwing all our bean bags. The hole is three points and landing it on the platform is one point. We play to 21," Weiss explained. Oh, that seemed simple enough. "I'll go first to demonstrate." She tossed the beanbag and it landed in the grass just to the side. Then she threw her other three, one managing to land just on the platform.

"Okay!" Ruby chirped. She threw her beanbags as well, one at a time, and all four landed in the hole. Weiss stood open mouthed and shocked.

"How....?" Weiss trailed off. Ruby giggled at her expression. She thought it was funny how surprised Weiss looked. Maybe she should have mentioned she had a knack for the sort of games like corn hole. She'd been great at horseshoes.

"Ow! That fucking hurt Fox!" Coco's voice pulled both of their attention to another game. Her and Velvet were standing next to a set of PVC pipes that looked sort of like a ladder. They were holding what looked like ping pong balls attacked by string. Yatsu and Fox were on the other side doing the same. Coco was rubbing at her shin.

"I told you this game would be a bad idea!" Fox frowned.

"What's that?" Ruby asked.

"Hillbilly golf. Yet another one of the weird games played here. They're infinitely more dangerous when everyone is drunk." Weiss talked as if she knew from experience. That sounded like a story Ruby wanted to hear more of.

"Oh. Seems like I've got a lot to learn still," Ruby said. The prospect of learning more about Ohio and Beacon was exciting. Then again Ruby had always loved new places.

"I'm still learning myself, but we played a lot of these dumb games this summer. Ohio has a lot of quirks though," Weiss sighed.

"I don't think they're dumb," Ruby protested. Weiss' lips turned upward into the semblance of a smile.

"Of course you wouldn't. Now come on, I've got a game to win." Weiss sounded amused and it was the nicest Ruby had heard her been since they met.

"You're on!" Ruby giggled.

Chapter Text

"Are you sure no one's going to notice?" Nora asked, reaching back to clip her bra. Her and Ren were sitting on their bed, only half dressed. Ren was pulling on his pants and stood to look around for his shirt.

"Yes. Most of them are most likely busy getting drunk," Ren reassured her.

"I trust you, Ren." Nora giggled. Where had her skirt and shirt gone? They had to have been thrown somewhere. Maybe they'd been a little overzealous when undressing.

"Nora." Ren's voice caught her attention. She looked over to see he'd found the rest of her clothes. He tossed them to her and she grinned.

"I can always count on you!" Nora winked. Ren smiled, shaking his head. She knew he just made sure to watch where they threw their clothes. Especially after the time he'd had to go all day without underwear.

"Hurry up. The longer we stick around the more we're at risk of getting caught," Ren said. He picked up his shirt and tugged it over his head. Nora put on her remaining clothes and then wandered out of Ren's bedroom to put on her shoes. Technically, they had their own bedrooms, but Nora rarely used hers anymore.

"You're the slow one. Like a sloth!" Nora chirped loudly. However, away from Ren's gaze, her expression was decidedly less cheery. Sleeping with Ren always felt amazing, but afterwards she just felt empty.

"A sloth?" Ren finished getting dressed and padded out to their living room. Nora was smiling brightly once again and jumped on his back.

"I'm a sloth. I can make sloth noises," Nora giggled.

"I don't think sloths make much noise," Ren commented, but smiled a little regardless . He slipped on his shoes, grabbing his keys from the bowl by the front door. They left the apartment, Nora still on his back.

"I'm sure they make noises--it sounds like this." Nora then proceeded to make various noises she believed were sloth noises. She knew it made Ren smile when she was silly. She loved his smile. He didn't smile nearly as often as she wished he would. It made her feel less empty.

"If you say so," Ren nodded. He glanced down at his watch as they walked. They didn't live far away from the park at least. Fortunately, they hadn't been gone long.

"We still have time to play some games before we meet up with the others," Nora chirped.

"I wonder if Coco and Velvet have been drinking," Ren said, wondering aloud. Nora had to think about it. They liked to take any excuse to get drunk, but after the last few times, she wondered if they had learned.

"Probably." Nora shrugged, her tone making it known that she was pretty sure they hadn't learned anything.

"Maybe we should keep an eye on them," Ren suggested.

"Yatsu and Fox always try that and it never works," Nora frowned. They reached the park and slipped into the fray unnoticed. Neptune and Sun were too busy making out against one of the trees to notice them coming in. Glancing around, Nora looked for any of their friends. Ren looked as well just in case.

"I don't see anyone around here. I assume they're all busy elsewhere," Ren said.

"How do you think the new girls are faring?" Nora asked curiously.

"With Blake and Weiss? I wish them good luck," Ren murmured, smirking a little.

"Oh look, there's Jaune and Pyrrha!" Nora pointed, hopping off Ren's back. Jaune and Pyrrha were standing by the long line of food tables. Jaune was red faced and Pyrrha looked like she was laughing.

"The pie eating contest is about to start," Ren commented. Nora squeaked in excitement.

"Yes, we get to watch Sun barf!" Nora was way too excited at the idea of getting to see Sun throw up the pie. Ren just shook his head and followed Nora who started skipping off.

"Velvet?" Yatsu's voice pulled Velvet out of her thoughts. They had given up on the games after Fox nearly hit Glynda. They'd decided to take a break and get some drinks, Coco’s idea, of course. So that's where they were, sitting at one of the picnic tables, drinking. Well, Coco and Fox were having a chugging competition and Yatsu didn't drink. Velvet for her part was nursing her drink, staring off into space.

"You okay, bun?" Coco's attention had been pulled from her competition to address Velvet. Fox was still chugging his beer. Yatsu seemed slightly concerned about that fact.

"I'm fine," Velvet mumbled. She could feel her cheeks and ears turn red. Thankfully, her darker complexion hid it a little better than it might on someone paler. Coco had really latched on to the bunny nicknames and it never failed to make Velvet blush.

"You sure? You have been quiet," Fox commented.

"Yeah, just thinking," Velvet assured them. Coco leaned over and slung her arm around Velvet's shoulders. Velvet suddenly felt a fluttering sensation in her stomach and her chest constricted.

"You think too much," Coco said, squeezing Velvet's shoulder.

"Speaking of thinking, does anyone else think Ozpin needs to quit with the redneck aesthetic? I know this is Ohio, but still. He's playing the part a little too well with this music," Fox huffed in annoyance.

"I like it," Yatsu said. The other three gave him an incredulous look.

"That's because you're secretly a cowboy at heart, Yatsu." Fox patted his giant friend's shoulder. Yatsu shook his head, but looked amused.

"Just wait until football season," Coco grinned.

"I don't think anyone wants to be reminded of football season," Velvet giggled.

"Otherwise known as The War on Michigan," Fox said, frowning.

"As a whole, this state is batshit crazy," Coco nodded.

"The buckeyes are good though." Velvet preferred to point out the more positive aspects of Ohio.

"That's because you can't go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter," Coco waved her off.

"Even the weather here is bullshit," Fox laughed, gesturing to who knows what. "We have entire seasons in a week."

"It can be rather unpredictable," Yatsu agreed.

"But it's charming and Beacon is our home," Velvet reminded them, nose scrunching up. Coco squeezed her shoulders again.

"Right, Velvet, which is why we can make fun of it all we want," Coco chuckled before leaning in to whisper to Velvet. "You sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine, Coco." Velvet plastered on a smile she hoped screamed fine.

"I've known you a long time, bun. Can't lie to me." Coco raised her eyebrows as if daring Velvet to lie again. She pushed her sunglasses down her nose so they were eye to eye.

"I'm serious. You were right about me thinking too much." Velvet once again tried to brush off the concerns. Her heart felt like it was in her throat. Breathing felt like the most difficult thing in the world and she really needed Coco to let go.

"You need to lighten up," Coco said, brushing a strand of hair behind Velvet's ear. Velvet could smell the alcohol on her breath and it killed the butterflies, causing her stomach to churn instead.

"Yes, as you keep reminding me." Velvet giggled automatically, trying to seem more cheerful.

"You're just not as much fun sober," Coco tutted. Velvet had to try really hard not to roll her eyes.

"I don't need to get drunk all the time," Velvet retorted. Coco shrugged it off, releasing Velvet's shoulders so her and Fox could return to their competition. Yatsu gave her a sympathetic look. She'd hoped that they would have gotten distracted from the competition, but they hadn't. Drunk Coco it was. With a heavy sigh, she brought her drink to her lips and finished it. Yatsu gave her a look of surprise, but she ignored him. Velvet learned the hard way that things were significantly better if she was drunk with Coco too. Sober Velvet and Drunk Coco were not a good idea.

"I'm going to get another drink," Velvet said.

"How do you think things are going with the others?" Pyrrha asked worriedly. She hoped she hadn't ruined things with her choice in pairings. Maybe she could apologize to them later. Jaune placing a hand on her shoulder snapped her out of her reverie.

"I'm sure they're having a great time," Jaune assured her. Pyrrha smiled a little. He always did know how to make her feel better. One of her hands drifted subconsciously to her wrist and she had to remind herself to stop doing that. Thankfully, Jaune didn't seem to notice. A quick glance told her the concealer was doing its job.

"I certainly hope so. I'd hate for their first barbecue to go poorly," Pyrrha admitted.

"Hey, my first barbecue was last year's fiasco. I don't think anything can top that." Jaune laughed, which caused Pyrrha to laugh as well. The previous year had been an experience she would never forget.

"I wish to forget the noodle incident." Pyrrha shuddered just thinking about it. Jaune only laughed harder.

"I don't wanna forget a minute of it. That was the most fun I've had in my entire life and I have 7 sisters," Jaune said. Pyrrha had to admit it had been fun in spite of some of the shenanigans that had ensued. There were some pictures that needed to stay buried though.

"Speaking of, have you called home yet?" Pyrrha asked. The look on Jaune's face told her he hadn't. "Jaune!"

"Can we not talk about it right now? Let's have fun. It's the barbecue!" Jaune grinned, arms spread out wide. She shook her head, but laughed.

"What would you like to do?" Pyrrha decided to allow him to change the subject if he liked. They would talk about it another day.

"We can see how things are going at the grill. Say hi to Port. We could get something to eat too," Jaune suggested. He held out his hand and Pyrrha turned slightly red as she took it.

"I am rather hungry." Pyrrha nodded. They walked to the grills which were situated next to the long tables of food. Ozpin was there speaking with Glynda. Port and Oobleck were both manning grills and chatting themselves.

"Well hello, Mr. Arc, Miss. Nikos," Port greeted them, flipping a burger on the grill.

"Hey, Mr. Port," Jaune smiled. He still hadn't let go of her hand and Pyrrha felt the butterflies fluttering around in her stomach.

"Come to give the grill a try?" Oobleck asked. Pyrrha's eyes widened when she remembered how well it had gone the year before. Jaune did okay at the diner grill, but he could burn water anyplace else.

"I don't think so." Pyrrha smiled politely, but Jaune was already taking Oobleck's spatula.

"I've picked up some tricks Pyrrha," Jaune said, flipping one of the burgers. She got the feeling he wanted to show off. He had a habit of doing that sometimes and it never really went well. It often ended in disaster. Still, she wanted to have faith in him.

"I'd love for you to show me, Jaune," Pyrrha encouraged, doing her best to look excited at the prospect. She didn't want to break his confidence. Maybe he had picked up some new skills. He'd almost burned down their apartment the previous week, but perhaps he'd learned.

Pyrrha made it a point to be supportive of her friends. She was a big believer anyone could do anything they put their mind to. However, after ten minutes, Jaune had charcoaled two burgers and his t-shirt wasn't far from actually getting set on fire.

"Alright, my boy. Maybe next year." Port patted Jaune on the back and gently led him away from the grill. Pyrrha couldn't help but giggle.

"We should get going anyway. I'd like to participate in the three legged race," Pyrrha suggested in hopes of distracting him. Jaune broke into a large grin.

"Awesome! I bet we'll leave everyone in the dust," Jaune said. Pyrrha smiled at him fondly, the fluttering picking up.

"I'm sure we will, Jaune."

The sun was beginning to set, painting the sky in soft purples, blues, and pinks as well as fiery reds and oranges. Beacon's barbecue hummed with energy as people got more and more tipsy. The twang of the country music played on, causing more and more people to dance. Smells from the food, especially the popcorn, filled the air. The group of teenagers who had split before, converged once again at the long picnic table.

Everyone had gotten plates of food and crowded onto the benches. Despite it being one of the bigger tables there were still over a dozen teenagers trying to squeeze in together. They were at close quarters, but no one seemed to mind. Neptune had even decided to sit on Sun's lap to save room so Blake wouldn't be so squished. Ren and Nora were practically on top of each other, which wasn't uncommon, sharing a healthy plate. Coco and Velvet were also all over each other and giggling, each trying to feed the other. Next to Blake was Yang, followed by Ruby and Weiss. Ruby was sandwiched between her sister and Weiss, who was almost falling off the bench. Pyrrha and Jaune were pressed against each other.

There was something about the whole thing that made Ruby feel warm inside, despite a lot of people being in a small space usually made her anxious. This though, this already seemed different.

"I can't believe Sun barfed." Neptune was laughing like a madman, his boyfriend looking significantly less amused.

"Sun has the weakest stomach of anyone I know," Blake mused and rolled her eyes.

"Blake is right, Sun throws up all the time," Sage agreed.

"I know, but he only got through one pie before barfing. Ozpin said it was the fastest anyone's ever lost before." Neptune looked like he was going to turn as blue as his hair as he continued laughing and not really breathing.

"Are they always like this?" Yang asked. Nora threw a grape and she easily caught it in her mouth.

"Usually." Weiss huffed in annoyance, but Ruby could see a spark of amusement in her expression. She was about to tease Weiss when the loud screeching of a car skidding caught her attention. No one else paid it any mind, but Ruby's eyes immediately fell to her sister. Yang had frozen and in her left hand she was gripping her fork with white knuckles. The look in her eye told Ruby all she needed to know.

"Yang, are you alright?" Nora seemed to have noticed that Yang wasn't moving to catch grapes anymore. This managed to get everyone's attention as well, including Blake who was regarding Yang beside her with confusion and maybe a little worry.

"It's okay, sis." Ruby reached over and wrapped her hand around Yang's hand. Yang's grip loosened and she turned to look at Ruby with the haunted look she knew so well.

"Ruby?" Yang's voice came out barely a whisper. Ruby smiled at her older sister in reassurance and continued holding her hand.

"Ohana," Ruby said firmly. Yang sucked in a deep breath and moved her hand so she and Ruby were linking pinkies instead.

"Ohana," Yang repeated. They both smiled at each other and shared a moment before Yang turned back to Nora. She raised her eyebrows to signal Nora to throw a grape and Nora complied.

"What was that?" Weiss leaned over to whisper to Ruby.

"Nothing." Ruby wanted to brush it off. If Yang wanted to tell them, she could, but considering they hadn't known these people very long, she probably wouldn't. Weiss nodded, seemingly accepting this.

"So Ruby, I saw you were the master of corn hole," Coco spoke up, face flushed red and words slightly slurred. Velvet was nuzzling her neck and had at least one hand up Coco' shirt.

"Just a natural I guess," Ruby laughed.

"Poor Weiss couldn't keep up," Velvet giggled, high pitched.

"I let her win." Weiss went to cross her arms and almost fell off. She opted for holding onto the table and using her expression to show her annoyance. However, a faint pink dusted her cheeks.

"Blake almost broke my good arm," Yang grinned, throwing an arm around Blake. Blake rolled her eyes.

"I did not. You're exaggerating the fall," Blake frowned. Yang wasn't deterred at all by Blake's statement.

"She knocked me out of the bounce house and then fell on me," Yang explained. "It was fucking hilarious. The kids were laughing and Blake kept apologizing. It was cute and you're catastic."

"I thought you were hurt and please stop with the cat puns," Blake said, shaking her head in amusement.

"Well, you have officially earned the title of friend with your ability to handle spicy food. Ruby's a giant baby about it. She thinks pepperoni is spicy." Yang nudged her sister's side.

"Not everyone has killed their tastebuds, Yang." Ruby loved seeing her sister happy. She could tell some of it was an act, but she could also see the beginnings of genuine happiness. It had been a while since Ruby had seen her sister like this. It made her smile brightly too.

"I'm just glad you all had fun," Pyrrha beamed. She was smiling in the way that made Ruby feel warm inside.

"See, told you they would. You're a genius when it comes to things. You picked the perfect partners." Jaune squeezed her shoulder.

"How do you set water on fire?" Weiss asked, distracted from the other conversation around her. Nora had a cup of supposedly water sitting in front of her, lit on fire.

"Nora, this is a fire hazard. That's a plastic cup and this is a wooden picnic table," Ren sighed heavily.

"Don't be a party pooper, Ren. It's awesome!" Nora announced.

"I don't think it's even possible that's water based on the laws of science," Scarlet commented.

"Who needs science when you have Nora?" Fox shrugged. Yatsu nodded beside him and at some point had acquired a cowboy hat. Ruby felt it better not to question it.

"Looking hot, Nora," Yang winked.

"Please, stop with the puns. I have had to hear them all day and I swear my ears are bleeding," Blake groaned.

"Nora, I don't think that's very safe," Weiss said, worriedly.

"Did you guys hear about the circus fire? It was in tents." Yang only just barely dodged the elbow Ruby sent her way.

"Um, Weiss does she do this a lot?" Ruby was looking at Nora’s burning cup and hoped it didn't start melting the plastic. It looked like it was trying to. Ren picked up his own cup and dumped it on Nora's, extinguishing the fire. Nora tried to throw a grape at him and hit Fox instead when Ren ducked. Fox picked up a French fry and chuckled it in Nora's direction, except since he was blind it hit the other side of the table instead. The food throwing eventually escalated into a full on food fight.

Everyone had begun throwing food at each other. Yang had a cupcake on her shirt and pulled Weiss into a hug to smear it on hers. Blake had thrown a hamburger at Sun only to miss and it land in Ruby's hair. Coco, Velvet, Yatsu, and Fox were just squirting condiments at each other. Pyrrha and Jaune were in direct competition with Ren and Nora who were definitely winning. Ruby was being used as a human shield by Neptune who had her up in the air so her feet weren't touching the ground. She really couldn't figure out how she'd gotten to that point. Not to mention Yang continued making really awful food puns.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I see we're having fun." Ozpin's voice froze everyone where they were. He was looking at them and seemed faintly amused, but also scolding.

"Oh hey, Mayor Ozpin," Nora chuckled nervously. Ozpin tapped his foot on the ground and shook his head.

"As much fun as I'm sure you're having, I suggest you draw it to a close. Some of the other guests would rather not have food flung at them," Ozpin said.

"Of course, Mayor Ozpin." Pyrrha smiled, pretty sheepish. Mayor Ozpin nodded and walked off, leaving the teens to their own devices. Everyone cracked up laughing once he was far enough away.

"Wow, okay, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time." Yang wiped tears from her eyes, still laughing.

"Did you guys see his face?" Nora giggled. It sent a fresh wave of laughter through the group.

"We should probably go clean up before the end of the night," Ren suggested, picking a French fry out of his hair.

"We can all meet back here in like twenty?" Jaune suggested.

"Good idea," Pyrrha smiled. Everyone nodded their agreement. Ruby was grinning ear to ear on the walk back to the hotel. She couldn't remember the last time they'd had that much fun. It was definitely nice to see how genuinely happy her sister was. It was weird how genuinely happy she felt herself. She'd had such a nice time, especially with Weiss. Sure Weiss could be difficult, but she could see the budding of friendship. She just had to be optimistic.

Everyone was back at the barbecue in closer to 30 minutes, Sage, Scarlet, Sun, Neptune, and Blake the last ones to show up. Sun claimed it was because they had five people. Blake claimed it's because he tried to have a quickie with Neptune. Nevertheless, everyone sat back down at a different table, still crowded and squished with new drinks.

"Alright, we've got some time to kill before last dance," Sun commented.

"Let's play a drinking game!" Coco suggested. Her and Velvet had seemed to sober up a tad, but not by much. Not to mention, it probably wouldn't last long based on their drinks.

"Which one?" Weiss looked wary of any drinking game.

"How about Never Have I Ever? I think it makes a good ice breaker without too much risk," Pyrrha offered. "Not to mention we can use fingers instead of alcohol since not everyone wants to drink."

"I'm game," Yang grinned.

"Does everyone know how to play?" Jaune asked. Ruby was interested to see that everyone did seem to know how to play. She'd only played tame games with some friends before. Nothing this group did ever seemed to be tame. Everyone put up their five fingers to start the game.

"Awesome! Who's going first?" Sun fist pumped the air and nearly smacked Neptune in the face.

"Since you're so eager, why don't you go?" Blake rolled her eyes. Sun shrugged and stopped to think for a moment.

“Never have I ever slept in a stranger's bed!" Sun finally announced after a moment of thought. Neptune shot him a wounded look before dropping a finger. Fox, Blake, Yang, Ruby, and Jaune also all put down a finger.

“Never have I ever mooned someone.” Neptune looked pointedly at Sun who stuck out his tongue. Sun, Yang, Fox, and most surprisingly, Ren put a finger down.

“Ren!” Nora gasped with mock incredulity.

“You’re the one who dared me to do it,” Ren shook his head in amusement. Nora grinned and laid her head on Ren’s shoulder.

“But you didn’t have to.” Nora wiggled her eyebrows.

“I have a question, are you two like a thing?” Yang asked, eyes flitting between the two. Nora turned red, but Ren didn’t really react.

“We’re not together -together. We’re just together as friends.” Nora said. Yang shrugged and looked at Velvet and Coco waiting for one of them to go.

“Never have I ever fallen in love with my best friend.” Coco smirked, turning to look at Neptune and Sun.

Ruby was the only one who seemed to notice how many fingers went down. Velvet dropped hers and shot Coco a pained look. Blake’s went down and she looked away from everything. Ren and Nora simultaneously stopped playing to argue the mooning incident. Yatsu and Fox both dropped a finger, Yatsu looking surprised. Pyrrha turned bright red as she put a finger down and then she looked hurt when Jaune didn’t put one down. Jaune didn’t even notice since he was too busy laughing at Sun and Neptune. Weiss dropped a finger and looked angry for some reason. Ruby sighed as she lowered one of her fingers as well. Yang rolled her eyes as she dropped a finger, but sent Ruby a smile.

“Cheap shot!” Sun pouted.

“All’s fair in love and war and drinking games,” Coco shrugged. Neptune was about to respond, but was interrupted.

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I please have your attention?" Ozpin's voice came over the speakers to interrupt the music. Everyone stopped what they were doing to listen. "It has come time for the night to end. Which means it's also time for our last dance. Everyone grab your partners and make your way out to the middle of the grounds. Enjoy and goodnight."

“He’s ending early tonight,” Sage commented.

"C'mon Ren!" Nora pulled Ren out of his seat and dragged him away quickly. Velvet and Coco got up to stumble away, leaving Ruby confused.

"What's the last dance?" Ruby asked.

"The last song of the night where everyone's supposed to dance with someone to end the night on a good note," Weiss sighed.

"You have to dance with Weiss, Ruby. She was your partner today," Pyrrha added in hopes of clarifying a little.

"Oh, okay." Ruby felt her cheeks heat up. The rest of the guys aside from Jaune left the table to go dance. Yang offered her hand to Blake.

"Shall we?" Yang winked, causing Blake to roll her eyes. However, she took her hand so they could go dance.

"Have fun, ladies." Jaune grinned. He pulled Pyrrha away quickly as a slow country song started playing. Ruby stood up with Weiss and shifted awkwardly.

"Come along, dolt. Try not to step on my feet," Weiss huffed. She took Ruby's hand and they walked out to dance. Ruby could see her sister slow dancing with Blake who look flustered already. Yang was grinning. Weiss put her arms around Ruby's neck and Ruby remembered her sister's dancing lessons well enough to remember to put her hands on Weiss' hips.

"This is nice," Ruby said. They swayed back and forth to the song. Ruby felt like the butterflies would burst out of her stomach at any moment.

"I suppose," Weiss sighed. Ruby counted that as a win and smiled at her dance partner. The music set an air of warmth in the area. All the partners were dancing and if made Ruby's smile widen. The night had set in and the stars twinkled above them. A soft, cool breeze blew, sending shivers through both girls. Weiss instinctively moved closer for warmth.

It was the perfect end to the perfect day. Something she hadn't known in a long time. Maybe she had a giant stupid crush on Weiss. Maybe Beacon wasn't perfect. Maybe school was going to be a struggle. In that moment though, dancing with Weiss, it all drifted away. Her only focus was then and there. Weiss was all that mattered.

"You're a good dancer," Ruby acknowledged. Weiss cracked a small smile and rolled her eyes.

"You're not so bad yourself," Weiss said. She leaned forward and kissed Weiss' cheek, causing her to tense noticeably.

"Thank you for the good day." Ruby whispered. Weiss' cheeks turned faintly pink and Ruby couldn't help but feel triumphant.

"Well, you didn't make the day too difficult so it wasn't hard," Weiss replied, turning her face away.

"Still, thanks." Ruby said, a starry eyed expression. The music continued playing, the night coming to a close. She glanced over and spotted her newly found friends and it only made her happier.

Sun and Neptune were too busy making out to really be dancing.

Velvet and Coco were as close as they could get, Velvet's face buried in Coco's neck as they danced.

Ren and Nora danced forehead to forehead, smiling like no one else in the world existed except each other.

Jaune was showing off, the two red faced and laughing as he tried to spin Pyrrha and kept tripping over his feet.

Then there was Yang shining brighter than the sun with Blake, both beaming as they danced, Yang guiding her with practiced ease. There was barely any space between them though they didn't seem to notice or mind.

Ruby looked back to Weiss and had to blink to stop tears from forming in her eyes. Had they finally found a home?


Chapter Text

"Nora! Hurry up," Ren's voice was muffled through the door of the bathroom. The shower was running but Nora wasn't in it. Instead she knelt in front of the toilet. With one hand she shoved her hair out of her eyes and the other she shoved her fingers farther down her throat. "Nora we're going to be late for school! Mrs. Shapiro will lose it if we're late again."

"I'll be out in a minute!" Nora yelled, wiping her mouth with her hand. She shut off the shower but not before wetting her hair to make it seem like she actually showered. Once she'd brushed her teeth and was confident nothing would draw suspicion, she opened the door.

"About time," Ren shook his head in annoyance, flipping his totally emo hair out of his face. He was such a gangly thirteen year old but compared to Nora herself, he was good looking. She was too short, too fat. However, when Ren looked down at his best friend he saw nothing but how beautiful she was.

And how much weight she was losing.

"So impatient," Nora teased, walking out past him. Ren followed and they grabbed their bags on the way out the door. The house was filled with yelling and crying from children of various ages. There were fifteen kids in total who lived in the group home and it was always a madhouse. The noise died down as the screen door slammed shut, the two friends headed for school.

"The others have already left," Ren shrugged. He didn't understand why she always took so long in the morning. He of course had a bad feeling about it, but he didn't know for sure.

"I don't like walking with them anyway. They're mean to you," Nora huffed. Ren rolled his eyes in response. Nora hated how the older kids picked on Ren. They picked on both of them but Ren seemed to get the brunt of it. He also got a lot of it at school like Nora. He seemed to handle it well though. Better than Nora at least.

"But we're going to be late," Ren reminded her.

"Last week I had to literally drag you out of bed," Nora pointed out. Ren didn't look at her but sped up his walking.

"Let's just walk to school," He said.

Several years later and Nora was in recovery, having not relapsed in a while. That didn't mean her insecurities had left her. Not that Ren didn't have his own skeletons either.

"It's just sex," Nora frowned. She was sitting on the couch with Ren watching a movie. The thought had occurred to her suddenly.

"Yes, Nora," Ren was only paying half attention to Nora at this point. She'd taken to randomly bringing up their relationship. She was the one who didn't want to tell people they were sleeping together. Wasn't his fault everyone drew their own conclusions.

"We're not together-together."

"Yes, Nora."

"Then why do people always think we're dating," Nora turned in her seat to look at him. She hoped during these conversations he would profess his undying love for her. Unfortunately that had never happened. It just continued to kill her inside instead.

"Because our friends don't understand the meaning of ‘just friends,’” Ren deadpanned. Nora frowned but turned back to the movie they were watching. He just shook his head and continued watching as well. Just another day in the Ren and Nora apartment. Glancing at the time he realized they wouldn't be able to finish the movie before their shift at Storybook Cafe. Especially if they were going to not be late like they tended to be.

"I'm going to get ready." Nora announced, standing from her seat. Ren looked at her in surprise.

"Oh okay." Ren nodded but Nora was already walking off towards her own room. She was starting to feel the feelings eating away at her again. Ren was good at figuring out when something was wrong so she had to get out of the room. Thankfully Nora developed a decent poker face over the years. Ren picked up his cellphone and texted a familiar number.

Ren and Nora made it to work on time, much to their boss' surprise. They both put on their brown aprons and were already clad in the green Storybook Cafe uniform. Storbybook Cafe was a pretty quaint place. Soft music played in the background and bookshelves lined the walls. It was the kind of place you came with a good book for a coffee and the surprisingly comfortable chairs. It was cozy.

Ren ran the register while Nora made the drinks and cleaned the tables. It was a good way for her to use up her extra energy she always seemed to have. Storybook Cafe was only ever busy in the morning and it was already noon. The place was practically empty save Pyrrha sitting in the corner typing a paper for college.

"I'm bored." Nora complained, leaning against the counter. Ren was sitting down playing on his phone. Being at work was always a struggle when it wasn't a morning shift.

"We just got here." Ren shook his head in amusement. He didn't look up from his phone though. She was always like this. Always had been. It wasn't her fault but she was fidgety, easily distracted, and easily bored.

"Reeeeeeeen." Nora whined. Why wouldn't he pay attention to her?

"Nora." Ren looked up from his phone. It was better to just give in instead of listening to her call his name for like twenty minutes. Her record was a half an hour.

"What should we do this weekend?" Nora asked, picking up a coffee stirrer. She started bending it into shapes. One of the things she'd learned in their years of being friends was planning in advance. Ren wasn't one to make spontaneous plans like Nora liked to.

"You're on your own this weekend. I've got piano lessons." Ren reminded her. Every other weekend Ren spent most of his weekend teaching kids of all ages how to play piano. Or at least trying.

"Ew." Nora made a face of disgust, flopping backwards onto the counter.

"You could invite the new girls to hang out. Or see if any of the others are busy?" Ren suggested, having gone to back to the game on his phone. He was stuck on a level he really wanted to beat.

"The new girls are skittish. Well the small one is, the tall one seems like she'd be more fun,” Nora said, contemplating these options. "Maybe I can ask Neptune if he wants to hang out. He's usually fun."

"Whatever you want, Nora,” Ren said.

"You're so boring." Nora stuck her tongue out at him. She could tell he was distracted and she wasn't going to get much of a conversation out of him anymore. With a sigh she locked eyes on her next target. Pyrrha. She could distract her fellow redhead for a little while. Her plans were interrupted however when the bell above the door chimed.

"Wow, this place is cool,” Ruby commented. Yang trailed behind her giving the place a once over.

"I'm not surprised Blake recommended this place." Yang chuckled. They came to the counter and both looked over the menu.

"Hi Nora! Hi Ren!" Ruby greeted them cheerfully.

"Hey ladies." Nora grinned, moving to the side so Ren could take his place at the register.

"Can I get a small hot chocolate and a cookie please?" Ruby said after glancing over the menu.

"And I'll just have a large black coffee." Yang smiled. Nora noticed she looked pretty tired but it wasn't her place to say anything. She just went about making their orders.

"Is that all?" Ren punched their order into the register.

"Yup." Yang nodded. Ren rang up their order and Yang paid as Nora put everything together.

"So you two work here? That's super cool. Everyone seems to have really cool jobs." Ruby said. Ren couldn't help but smile at the younger girl. There was such a wide eyed innocence in her you didn't usually get in Beacon.

"Yeah, we've been working here for forever,” Nora said, exaggerating. They had been at Storybook a while though. She placed the hot chocolate and coffee down so she could get out a cookie.

"You guys from around here?" Yang asked.

"No, but we've definitely been here the longest. We're from New York." Ren shook his head. Ruby's eyes widened considerably.

"New York? That's crazy. I've heard so much about New York! Yang and I were going to visit there but we stopped here. We went to a lot of places but New York is New York,” Ruby rambled, practically starry eyed.

"I like Beacon better." Nora admitted, sharing a look with Ren. They'd left a lot of history in New York.

"C'mon, Rubes. Let's stop bugging these two and find a seat." Yang ruffled Ruby's hair. Ruby grabbed her drink and cookie before almost running over to a seat by one of the large windows.

"Thanks." Yang said as she took her own drink and followed her sister. Nora turned to Ren and lowered her volume.

"They belong here." Nora whispered, her eyes on the two sisters.

"You think so?" Ren whispered back. They were both pretty good at reading people and he couldn't help but agree. He was just curious about her justification.

"It's all over Yang's face and it's hidden in Ruby, but it's there." Nora nodded.

"I think you're right." Ren took his seat again. It brought back memories of when he and Nora had come to Beacon. It felt like just yesterday they'd arrived in their new home with their own skeletons. He knew how many people came to Beacon with a haunted look in their eye or weariness in their features.

"I'm going to practice my lip reading." Nora smirked, focusing her attention on the new girls. She'd gotten decent enough with the skill and it would be more fun than just bugging Ren or Pyrrha. The two girls had seemed happy when they arrived but now they looked to be having a mild disagreement.

The rest of their shift was uneventful. Yang and Ruby left after about fifteen minutes and Pyrrha left not long after that. They had a few customers but for the most part it was boring. Nora was super happy when they were finally free to go home and finish their movie. Or not, there were other things they could do with their time.

"Well what do you two think?" Ozpin smiled, getting out of the car. Ren and Nora climbed out of the back and looked around. The town was very different from what they were used to. It was nothing like the city they'd called home for their entire lives.

"It's quiet,” Nora commented. She was practically attached to Ren's side. Ren was silent as he took in the small town. They were parked in front of Port's Motel.

"Small towns often are. It's certainly not the city. Far less hustle and bustle around here." Ozpin nodded. He shut his car door and motioned for the two teens to follow him.

"Where are we?" Nora asked. She wanted to know everything. Ozpin had assured them they'd go somewhere safe, somewhere they couldn't be separated, but hadn't said more than that.

"Welcome to Beacon, Ohio,” Ozpin announced. They walked into the lobby of the motel where Port sat at the reception area. On the ground next to the front desk sat a tiny looking kid who was playing a video game.

"Ozpin! It's nice to see you, good man. I see we have guests. Scarlet, my boy, get up and get some refreshments for our guests,” Port spoke quickly, smiling jovially at Ozpin. The boy scrambled up and nearly tripped as he ran off to the fetch what Port had sent him to do.

"Hello, Peter. This is Lie Ren and Nora Valkyrie. They've just come from New York to stay here with us." Ozpin placed a comforting hand on each of the teen's shoulders.

"Well welcome, it's always nice to see new faces. Especially young ones. I know Scarlet could use some new friends,” Port said. He stood up from his seat and came around to stand in front of them.

"Here, Mr. Port." The boy, who spoke in a British accent, appeared with a tray of lemonade and cookies. Port took it from him and held it in front of Nora and Ren.

"Help yourselves," Port offered. Nora and Ren shared a look before looking to Ozpin.

"Go on,” Ozpin smiled. Both teens hesitantly took a cookie and a glass of lemonade. Nora immediately shoved the cookie in her mouth. Ren nibbled on it a lot slower.

"This is Scarlet. His mother lives next door and I watch him while she works." Port reached over and ruffled the boy's hair.

"Hello," Scarlet greeted. While he was apparently their age he was small but he didn't seem awkward like Ren was. Nora liked him already. His accent was cool and reminded her of some of the people she met back in New York. Ren just wanted to be anywhere but there. He wanted to lay down and get some sleep.

"I was wondering if I could put the two of them in one of your rooms. They're very self sufficient. I'll be keeping an eye on them of course, but they've been on their own for some time now,” Ozpin explained. Nora hugged Ren's arm. Everything was so new and weird. She wasn't sure she liked it.

"Shouldn't be a problem at all," Port said, smoothing out his mustache with his fingers. He walked over and produced a key, handing it to Ozpin.

"Alright, you two. I'll show you to your new home and we can bring your bags in. Hopefully you enjoy your time in Beacon. I've found it's a good place for lost souls," Ozpin said. Ren wasn't sure he trusted the man entirely. However, he did like the sound of home.

"Home," Nora breathed.

"Home," Ren echoed.

Fast forward a few days after their chat on the couch and Ren and Nora sat at a table at the tavern. Grimm Tavern wasn't the nicest place in the world, but it was clean. The whole place had a rustic aesthetic. Everything seemed to be made of wood. The place was pretty crowded that night. Coco was behind the bar and Yatsuhashi was winding around the filled tables with drink orders. Music played in the background of the chatter. They were hanging out with Jaune and Pyrrha for the weekly trivia night. Ren however was preoccupied with his phone, something that was driving Nora crazy. She didn't even know who he was texting. Ren's entire focus was on his phone and he didn't even notice Nora watching him. 

[Ren: I don't know what to do.
May<3: i told u renny boy, u have 2 call it off
Ren: I told you, I can't.
May<3: then u r going 2 keep being sad, hun
Ren: I don't think me being sad is because Nora and I are sleeping together.

May<3: it's not helping tho, u kno that! c'mon renny boy, i know u r smarter than this
Ren: I just don't know.
May<3: this isn't good 4 either of u
Ren: She seems to be enjoying it.

May<3: hun, it doesn't matter, this isn't healthy. bsides ur feelings will only make it 10x more complicated, esp if she doesn't feel the same
Ren: I hate this. How do I even tell her?
May<3: listen renny boy, be honest. she'll understand.
Ren: I don't want her to worry.

May<3: doesn't she already kno u've got depression
Ren: Yeah, but she thinks I'm better.
May<3: *rolls eyes* i think ur communication skills r worse than the drunkies. maybe worse than blakes
Ren: I'm actually offended
May<3: it's tru tho
Ren: Alright fine, I'll call it off.
May<3: good, u can do this renny boy i believe in u :* <3
Ren: Whatever
May<3: sometimes u have to put urself 1st hun]

"Ren! It's your turn." Nora poked him in the side a little harder than probably necessary. He wasn't paying attention to her and seemed to be texting some random girl. Plus he’d been smiling at his phone a lot the last few days, or frowning deeply like he was at the moment. He always seemed more focused on it than Nora. It made a pit grow in her stomach.

"Right." Ren tucked his phone away. He listened to the question being read, but his mind was elsewhere. May wasn't wrong about anything she said. The friends with benefits thing was making him worse. He just couldn't get past his romantic feelings. He had to call it off.

"Where's your head tonight, Ren?" Jaune asked worriedly. Pyrrha had gone off to get drinks for the table.

"Nowhere, just tired,” Ren partially lied. He was tired but he wasn't willing to admit there was something else on his mind. Nora looked at him suspiciously. His phone buzzed again and he opened it.

[May<3: let me kno if u need to stay over, im here for you hun
Ren: Thanks, May. What would I do without you?
May<3: b super lost
Ren: Your head is so big]

"If you say so." Jaune took him at his word and turned to look for Pyrrha, who was coming back with drinks. Ren set his phone down to help Pyrrha who nearly tripped. Nora glanced over at it as the screen lit up with a notification.

[May<3: that's not the only thing that's big ;)]

Nora felt sick inside at the idea that Ren had found someone else. She had expected it someday, but she hadn't prepared herself. He'd finally realized he could do better.

"Nora here's your drink." Ren held out her bright pink drink for her to take. Nora plastered on her smile as she took it, taking a small sip. Ren smiled back before turning to discuss the trivia with Pyrrha. He needed to get his head out of the clouds. Maybe putting a little distance between him and Nora would help him get his head on straight. He just wouldn't make it obvious so she didn't suspect.

"I'm afraid I'll have to leave soon. I have a rather large paper due tomorrow and I haven't edited it," Pyrrha said, sipping at her water.

"But you’re our best player!" Jaune whined, leaning his head on her shoulder. Nora noticed the blush spread across Pyrrha's cheeks. She also noticed the subconscious way she held her wrists whenever Jaune got affectionate. She didn't know why but it seemed weird.

"We're losing anyway, it's not like it matters." Nora shrugged. She grinned to make it clear she was teasing.

"I guess, but still. It's not as fun without the whole team,” Jaune insisted.

"That's not what you said when Nora got the stomach flu," Ren commented, one eyebrow arched. He knew Jaune just wanted an excuse to spend time with Pyrrha.

"Don't tease Jaune, I think it's sweet." Pyrrha smiled warmly. They all laughed good-naturedly and got back to the game. They talked and laughed for a while about nothing in particular.

"Hey guys, I was thinking." Jaune started, tapping his chin in thought. "What if we convinced Ruby and Yang to join a trivia team with Blake and Weiss. I mean Blake never plays unless one of Sun's team can't make it, and Weiss just shows up to make fun of us. Ruby and Yang would make a four person team."

"Don't you think we're pushing them into things a little quickly? They've not been here that long,” Pyrrha cautioned.

"Pyrrha's right, if we throw too much at them they're going to close up,” Ren had to agree. He knew how overwhelming it could be to be new to Beacon. He also knew how pushy their friends could be. They had nearly given Weiss a nervous breakdown just days after her arrival.

"We could start out small? The barbecue was a nice start but they need to get out of their shell! Have some fun!" Nora said. "It seems like it's been just them for awhile. I remember what that was like."

"You guys have got a point," Jaune shrugged. His phone went off and he pulled it out, pulling a face. "They need me at the diner. I guess I'm off. I'll see you guys tomorrow." He bid them all farewell and left, leaving the last three on their own. Ren picked up his phone to continue texting.

"Let's head home, Nora. We've got an early shift,” Ren suggested.

"Okay! Bye, Pyrrha!” Nora chirped, hugging Pyrrha tightly.

The two friends left for home, Nora still stuck in her head while Ren texted. When they got home they changed and got ready for bed. Nora was tired and really wanted to just go to sleep, but Ren stopped her at his doorway.

"Hey, can we talk?" Ren asked. He tried not to let it show he was nervous. A clean break was what they needed.

"Uh, sure." Nora shrugged. She pushed her hair out of her face, wet from the shower she just took. Ren gestured for her to take a seat on his bed.

"I don't think we should do what we're doing anymore," Ren admitted after the silence got to be too much.

"And what's that?" Nora was good at playing dumb. She didn't want this to happen. Her stomach flipped.

"Having sex, sleeping together. Whatever you wanna call it," Ren clarified. He tried to keep Nora's gaze. She didn't seem fazed.

"Okay, sure. It's just sex anyway!" Nora smiled. Everything in her was screaming to tell him something, anything to make him reconsider. She just couldn't.

"Oh um, good." Ren glanced away.

"Is that all?" Nora asked.

"Yeah." Ren nodded.

Nora nodded back and got up, heading to her room. As soon as her door closed the tears started falling. Ren had trouble falling asleep and spent most of the night staring up at the ceiling.

Chapter Text

"Coco, hurry up! We're leaving now," Velvet's accented voice carried through the shared apartment and into Coco's room. Coco was standing in front of her vanity and just staring at her reflection. The sun was just starting to set and the dying light of the evening filtered through the curtains, casting the room in a soft glow. She had finished up her makeup and was just standing there looking. A thought occurred to her that Velvet would like the light. The thought was immediately drowned by every other thought in her head.

"You look like an absolute mess, Coco! Are you really going to go out looking like that?!"


"Do not but me, you know very well we have appearances to keep up. Are you trying to bring shame to the family? Do you like being a disappointment?"


"Then stop acting like it. The Adel name means something. I will not have you tarnish it. Now get back in your room and don't come back out until you're presentable."

"Yes, Mother."

"Coco!" Velvet's voice startled her out of her reverie. The shorter girl had appeared at the doorway and was looking at her expectantly. "Are you ready?"

"Yes, I'm ready." Coco flashed her signature smile. She grabbed her purse and left the room, trying to leave her thoughts behind as well.

"Took you long enough," Fox muttered, impatience clear in his tone. He was standing outside their apartment door with Yatsu.

"As if I was going to Dew's birthday party looking anything but my best." Coco flipped her hair.

"Let's go, Dew lives on the other side of town and I want to be on time." Velvet pointed out as she started walking towards the sidewalk. She just wanted to get the party over with. There would be drinking and a bunch of reckless young adults. It wasn't exactly her scene but Dew was her friend. Yatsu followed behind, the large red cooler tucked under his arm.

"Fox?" Coco placed her hand on his arm in a silent question.

"As long as you don't pull me into a pole." Fox said. Coco laughed and took his arm, the two making their way down the sidewalk. She couldn't help but let her eyes drift to Velvet's legs ahead of her. She loved when her friend wore skirts. Velvet was so self conscious of her dark skin getting her into anything even modestly revealing was practically impossible.

"I can feel you staring." Fox whispered, grinning. Coco bumped into his side a little harder than necessary.

"Shut up." Coco muttered.

"You're so fucking gay, Coco." Fox snickered.

"You're one to talk." Coco arched an eyebrow. Fox rolled his eyes and just shook his head. Score one point for, Coco. The group continued walking in the summer sun. At least the day was nice.

"Yatsu, can I ask you something?" Velvet asked quietly as they drew nearer to the house. Dew and her friends were one of the few groups of roommates who actually lived in a house. Then again she did have an insane trust fund and rich parents she still spoke to.

"Velvet you're going to have to learn to say no someday." Yatsu said. Velvet frowned because he was right.

"Hey guys! Wondering when you'd show up." Sun yelled exuberantly. He was on the porch leaning against the railing passing a blunt back and forth with Neptune.

"Never thought I'd see the day we got here before you four." Neptune said, inhaling deeply on the blunt.

"You do know Nebula's dad is a cop right." Coco let her sunglasses drop down her nose so she could look at them.

"So? Nebula's also a giant butch lesbian and her dad's a conservative douchebag." Sun shrugged.

"Touché." Coco pushed her sunglasses back up.

"Just remember weed is illegal in Ohio. It might not have been in Cali, but it is here." Velvet decided to back up her best friend.

"Underage drinking is also illegal." Neptune commented. Velvet's nose scrunched up and Fox started laughing.

"Oh wow, he got you good." Fox pretended to wipe away tears. Then he patted Yatsu. "C'mon big man, let's leave the goody goodies to their lecturing. I'm itching for one of Nora's jaeger bombs."

"I'm not holding your hair back when you puke." Yatsu said as he took Fox's arm with his free one.

"Sure thing, buddy." Fox patted his arm again and they went inside, leaving the two girls with Sun and Neptune.

"Why don't you two join them? You're so much more fun when you're drunk." Sun said and the look on his face was absolutely lecherous. Neptune punched Sun in the arm but laughed.

"Ugh, you're disgusting. Where's your other half? She usually keeps you in line." Coco rolled her eyes.

"Blake is brooding in the corner somewhere making goo goo eyes at the hot new girl." Sun took a hit from the blunt. "I tried to make a bet on who could bang her but Neptune frowns on cheating, Sage is ace, Scarlet is a flaming homo, and Blake's no fun."

"Please tell me you mean the blonde." Velvet's lip curled in the disgust at the idea of Sun going after Ruby. Yang was at least their age and seemed a lot more mature than her sister.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm not a told perv. The other's like 12." Sun said.

"Didn't you try to flirt with her when she first got here?" Neptune asked, taking the blunt.

"No I didn't, Sage just seems to be under the impression I flirt with anything that moves." Sun flipped his hair. "He's homophobic."

"What?" Coco was honestly at a loss. Neptune rolled his eyes so hard Coco was sure they'd fall right out of his head.

"He thinks because I'm pan I’ll bang anything. He's wrong, I have standards." Sun smirked.

"Let’s go inside, Coco." Velvet grabbed Coco's hand and dragged her inside. She was going against her every instinct but she could only handle Sun for so long.

"I think I lose IQ points every time I talk to him." Coco pinched the bridge of her nose. She was about to say more but the atmosphere of the party hit her at once. Music blared through the house so loud the bass shook the walls. Thankfully it wasn't country. The place reeked of beer and weed and sweat which wasn't unusual for any party in Beacon. Everyone was crowded into the house doing everything you'd expect people in their late teens to early 20's to be doing.

"These parties never cease to surprise me." Velvet said. Her stomach was in her throat at the prospect of yet another party with enough alcohol to give everyone in Beacon alcohol poisoning.

"Look who finally decided to grace us with their presence! I saw your boys already." Nora seemed to appear from nowhere, shoving red solo cups into their hands.

"I'm not drinking jaeger, Nora." Velvet had to yell over the music, sniffing suspiciously at the cup.

"Don't worry, I only give jaeger to people I can trust with alcohol." Nora winked.

"What is it then?" Coco voiced Velvet's own thoughts as she looked at the liquid in the cup. It was a vibrant green color which didn't bode well at all. Coco knew why Nora was always enlisted to 'bartend' at parties. She'd gotten used to it but she still knew to be cautious.

"A surprise, drink up." Nora chirped before skipping off elsewhere. Coco frowned a little at the lack of Ren anywhere near her. Weird.

"YOLO." Coco shrugged, downing half the cup. It burned, holy shit did it burn. Her eyes started to water.

"Coco are you alright?" Velvet's eyed widened in worry.

"I'm fine, Velv. But that shit's strong." Coco said, taking a much smaller sip from her cup. "Wanna go find beer pong?"

"You go ahead, I'm going to say hi to everyone." Velvet smiled warmly. Coco shrugged and walked off. Velvet sucked in a deep breath. She didn't know what to do. Things never ended well when she drank at these parties but things also didn't go well when she was sober. She decided to sip a little at her drink to at least make things bearable but avoid Drunk!Velvet. However as she sipped, someone smacked into her from behind nearly spilling her cup’s contents down her front.

"Oh shit I'm sorry." Yang said quickly. She seemed genuinely apologetic as she looked at Velvet.

"No harm done," Velvet reassured her.

"You're....Velvet, right?" Yang asked unsure.

"That's me. And you're Yang? I know learning everyone's names can be hard but no one takes it to heart if you forget," Velvet said.

"That's good. My sister Ruby's a whiz with this shit, but not me. I barely remember my own name some days." Yang laughed. Velvet laughed along with her, pleased to see the blonde coming out of her shell a little. She'd been pretty reserved at the barbecue, putting on an act for her sister.

"It took me weeks to get everyone's names when I first moved here. It doesn't help new people are always showing up." Velvet giggled. "Speaking of your sister though, did she come?"

"This isn't her scene. Plus while I would never stop her from coming she is a little young for this kind of party," Yang explained.

"I understand," Velvet said.

"Oh hey, I don't suppose you know where the bathroom is. I've been looking for 10 minutes," Yang said sheepishly, rubbing at her neck with her good arm.

"Yeah I'll take you there, just follow me." Velvet nodded and started in the direction of where she knew a bathroom to be. She felt eyes on them and figured Blake had spotted them from wherever she was hiding. She was good at being a wallflower.

"This place is a maze." Yang frowned as they reached the bathroom.

"Tell me about it," Velvet agreed, knocking on the door. It almost immediately swung open revealing Weiss, her mascara smudged and her eyes red rimmed.

"Hello, excuse me." Weiss pushed past both of them hurriedly.

"It was nice seeing you again, Yang. I'm going to see if I can figure out what that’s about." Velvet waved as she practically ran off, trying to catch a glimpse of white hair.

"Whoa, where's the fire?" Coco caught Velvet's arm, surprising her.

"Coco! I thought you were finding beer pong. I was going after Weiss. She's upset about something," Velvet attempted to explain quickly.

"You know I was wondering why ice princess shot through here like her life depended on it. Looks like Pyrrha's got her though." Coco pointed over the crowd. Velvet's eyes moved to where she was pointing and sure enough she was right. Pyrrha had somehow captured Weiss and was hugging her while gently leading her elsewhere. "As for beer pong, Ren and May were playing and I don't like losing."

"I'm glad Weiss is with Pyrrha." Velvet's lips turned up into a smile she tried to suppress. "You're scared of Ren and May beating you?"

"We both know they would," Coco huffed. It wasn't her fault they were so good at beer pong. Then again she was pretty sure Ren was actually secretly a ninja and May had some sort of weird gun fetish.

"Well maybe you can find something else to do." Velvet suggested. Coco slung an arm over Velvet's shoulders. Velvet's face immediately turned red and she found herself reflexively drinking from her cup.

"Why don't we find something to do together?" Coco offered, smirking. She rubbed Velvet's arm which told Velvet she was already getting tipsy. However the rubbing motion struck a weird cord in her.

"C'mon babe, don't be like that."

"I said no. I've got to study and I don't have time to party."

"I said c'mon, don't make me do something I'll regret V."

"Ouch, let go of my arm. You're hurting me!"

"Why do you make me do this? Don't you love me? Don't you want to spend time with me. I just want to be with you because I love you."

“I’m sorry, I can't. I do love you. Please let go of my wrist, it hurts.”

“Why do you have to be so difficult?!”


"Velvet are you okay?" Coco asked worriedly. Her friend's eyes had seemed to glaze over. She gently shook Velvet's shoulder which seemed to snap her out of it.

"I'm good, let's go see what we can find that's interesting." Velvet said. She wanted to get that memory out of her head.

"Sounds like a plan." Coco agreed.

"Owww, my head." Velvet groaned. Sunlight was streaming through the curtains into the room and she had to squint against it. Her head throbbed painfully. It felt like someone was stabbing an ice pick into her temple. She was only partially clothed which wasn't super unusual. 

"Shh." A voice startled her and her head whipped around to find a naked Coco still sleeping beside her. Then she realized she wasn't in her own room. Oh no, not again.

"Oh," Velvet gasped quietly, hazy images filtering into her hangover addled brain.

Kissing, soft lips on hers and hands tangled in brown locks. Hers or...?

Velvet quietly crawled out of bed, careful not to disturb Coco as she moved.

Moaning, music pounding in the background.

She padded down the hall to her room, shutting the door with a click behind her.

"You're so beautiful Velvet."

The bathroom she shared with Yatsu beckoned to her and Velvet practically ran into it, shutting that door as well.

"God I love this, you're so soft."

"Kiss me harder."

The taste of vodka and rum still lingered in her mouth as she looked in the bathroom mirror. Her lips looked bitten and there were dark splotches across the skin of her neck. The world tilted and she couldn't figure out if it was just her hangover or something else.

More kissing, hands exploring, and dirty talk being whispered seductively into her ear.

She sank to her knees at the toilet and emptied the contents of her stomach. The tears sprung in her eyes as she remembered more. She'd sworn it would never happen again. She was tired of torturing herself.

"I love you, Coco."

"Too much talking, not enough clothes off."

A soft pair of hands pulled her hair back, startling Velvet out of her revelry. She turned to look up into the eyes of her best friend.

"I can't believe we still can't hold our alcohol. You remember last night? I can't remember anything after us chatting about Weiss." Coco chuckled. Velvet leaned forward and vomited, unaware Coco was lying through her teeth.

"No, nothing." Velvet mumbled miserably.

"Poor, bunny. You'll feel better after puking though," Coco smiled warmly. She could never bring herself to admit that she remembered their drunken behavior. It wasn't easy to admit that drunken Coco could do everything sober Coco wanted. Especially when Velvet always brushed it off or couldn't remember.

"Yeah, I guess," Velvet sighed. Her stomach churned but she wasn't sure how much was the alcohol not agreeing with her, and how much of it was her feelings rebelling.

"I feel like I've been hit by a train," Coco grumbled. She grabbed a ponytail holder out of the drawer and pulled Velvet's hair through it.

"You and me both," Velvet said. She already wanted to crawl back into bed and hide beneath the covers.

"I'm going to get some water and meds. I'll be back. Then once we're both cleaned up we can curl up in my bed and watch cheesy movies." Coco stood from where she was crouching beside Velvet. Then she left the bathroom, leaving Velvet with her thoughts. Truthfully Coco just needed a moment to breathe.

"Okay." Velvet answered belatedly after Coco had left. She laid her cheek on her arm that rested on the toilet seat. Her lip quivered as she fought the urge to cry. Why couldn't she ever say no to getting drunk with Coco? It always led to her feeling awful the next day. Then again there was a part of her that would take anything as long as she kept Coco as her best friend. It only ever happened when they were drunk.

She took a deep breath and stood up, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. Looking in the mirror she steeled herself. She would carry on just like she always did. It was all she could do.

"Velv! You have got to see Yatsu and Fox! It's hysterical."

Velvet leaned on the counter waiting for customers, watching a family of five spill popcorn all over the carpeted floor of the theater. Popcorn she would have to clean up later. The joys of working at the small family owned Beacon Cinema.

"So how was your weekend?" Nolan asked, appearing out of the theater room with a trash can. Velvet didn't really know him well, he hadn't been working with her long. All she knew was he was May's stepbrother or something.

"It was fine." Velvet shrugged. It had been rather uneventful after the party thankfully.

"I caught a glimpse of you at Dew's party but didn't see much of you." Nolan rolled the trash can to next to the counter and hopped it so he was standing on the other side with Velvet. It was a Monday night and she couldn't bring herself to scold him.

"There were a lot of people there." Velvet said by way of explanation. Truthfully she'd hid with Coco in one of the closets at some point to make out. A fitting metaphor for her life.

"True. Did you see Nora do that keg stand? It was wicked. Then she spent 20 minutes convincing that one blonde girl into doing one. Talk about epic." Nolan grinned.

"Which blonde girl?" Velvet asked confused.

"That new one with the cool robo arm." Nolan said.

"Really?" Velvet was surprised. She thought she remembered Yang not even wanting to a single Jell-O shot at the barbecue.

"Oh yeah. Didn't realize Nora was so persuasive." Nolan snorted, pulling out his phone. He unlocked it and pulled up a few pictures he took, showing them to Velvet. Sure enough there was Nora doing a keg stand, and then Yang.

"Sounds like it was interesting." Velvet said.

"Nora was pretty fucked up once that kicked in but blondie acted like it was nothing. Might as well have been water." Nolan continued. Now that caught Velvet's attention. She must be able to really hold her alcohol.

"Fuck no, I'm out." Nolan said suddenly, fear all over his face. He walked out the back to the employee room quickly. Velvet looked over to the doors to see why he'd left and couldn't help but laugh at the sight.

"What did you do to Nolan?" Velvet asked.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Coco walked up to the counter. She didn't even bother to hide the smug smirk.

"He's scared of you. Hightailed it as soon as he saw you coming." Velvet arched an eyebrow. Things already seemed normal again, a fact she prided herself on.

"He made the mistake of smacking my ass once." Coco admitted. She enjoyed the terror on Nolan's face when he realized Coco was not going to let that slide, drunk or not.

"You realize you have a reputation, right? Half this town is scared of you." Velvet shook her head in amusement.

"Good, I like it that way." Coco shrugged.

"What are you even doing here? Don't you have a shift tonight?" Velvet was slightly confused but delighted by Coco's appearance.

"Arslan and I switched shifts. She has something tomorrow night and I offered to cover the shift tomorrow if she took mine tonight," Coco explained.

"That doesn't explain why you're here," Velvet said.

"I promised I'd treat Blake to that dumb ninja movie playing tonight." Coco leaned forward on the counter with Velvet, pushing her sunglasses up on her head.

"Why?" Velvet cocked her head, surprised.

"She did me a favor with Sun." Coco answered vaguely, not wanting to go into details. Truthfully she'd had to bribe Blake into convincing Sun to delete a risqué picture of her with Velvet off his phone. It was only because Sun didn't respond to Coco's threats anymore but he did to Blake's. Velvet didn't need to know all that though.

"I get it. Well I hope you guys enjoy. You want any concessions to go with your tickets?" Velvet stood up to ring up two tickets to the movie.

"Just the tickets for now. When Blake gets here we can both get what we want." Coco handed Velvet the 5 bucks for the tickets. She got Coco the change and they chatted a little longer about nothing in particular until Blake walked through the door.

"Oh hey, Blake!" Velvet greeted. They'd been friends a while and had quite a bit in common so Velvet liked seeing the younger girl.

"Hola, Velvet. ¿Cómo estas?" Blake greeted. (Hello, Velvet. How's it going?)

"Hola, Blake. ¡Me siento bien!" Velvet replied enthusiastically. (Hello, Blake. I'm doing fine.)

"Tú acento está mejorado." Blake nodded in approval. (Your accent is getting better.)

"I can't believe you're actually teaching her Spanish. It's bad enough when she Skypes her mom and I can't understand a word she's saying." Coco frowned, rolling her eyes.

"I told her I'd teach her Spanish if she taught me Māori. It's a trade Coco, that way we can talk about people behind their backs and they won't know," Blake said. "She's actually good at it. Sun tries to teach me Mandarin and it's a mess."

"As if you could get Velvet to talk about someone behind their back. She's too nice," Coco scoffed.

"Hey! I can be not nice." Velvet pouted.

"Nice try, bun. You don't have a mean bone in your entire body." Coco leaned over to pat Velvet's hand, causing her to blush. She always took advantage of excuses to be affectionate with her best friend.

"Coco has a point. You're like a Saint in an angel’s body," Blake chuckled a little.

"You guys are mean. What do you want so you can leave me alone?" Velvet huffed, pulling away from Coco so she could ring up their order. Coco and Blake both laughed but ordered before heading into the theater. As they disappeared inside Velvet heard a whistle.

"Man, you are, like, hella gay for her," Nolan commented.

"What?! I am not not!" Velvet protested. What was he talking about? She wasn't obvious or anything. She hid things well.

"My gaydar is never wrong, dude. Just ask May. You're crushing hard on scary-chick, Adel," Nolan said. Velvet's face fell and she leaned back on the counter.

"Am I obvious?" Velvet asked worriedly.

"To anyone but her." Nolan laughed, but stopped laughing when Velvet frowned at him.

"Great, just great." Velvet sighed.

"Good luck with that." Nolan awkwardly patted her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her. Velvet just slumped forward pathetically.

"I need all I can get," Velvet muttered.

Chapter Text

Two weeks had passed since Yang and Ruby arrived in Beacon. Ruby seemed to settle in well, something Yang was extremely thankful for. But there were problems, and they were growing increasingly urgent. First there was the matter of Ruby starting school. She was meant to start at Vale High School the following Tuesday and she had Ruby all signed up but the office continued to insist they get her transcript. Yang didn't have Ruby's transcript. The other urgent problem was Ruby's birthday was on the Wednesday after she started school. It would be her little sister's first birthday in Beacon, and the first one away from home.

The first one without their dad.

"Ughhhhhhhhh." Yang groaned loudly, slamming her head into the table just below her laptop. She was sitting at a table at the library to avoid Ruby seeing that anything was wrong.

"I don't believe that's going to help you, Miss. Xiao Long." Ozpin's smug voice rang in her ears. She lifted her head to look at him through narrowed eyes.

"What?" Yang snapped, harsher than she actually intended. She was tired. She had finally started her third shift job, she was trying to keep up with Ruby, and still making an attempt to do the things her sister kept insisting she do, like being social. For some reason, her little sister wanted her to make friends and hang out with people. Yang wasn't really wanting to put down roots here, but there was little she wouldn't do for Ruby. Including going to a party where she made bad decisions, based on pressure from people she knew Ruby wanted her to befriend. It had been a setback so needless to say she was cranky.


Yang hadn’t even been able to go back to the motel after the party and face her sister. She couldn’t see the look on her face she knew would come. So she’d spent a few buzzed hours hiding at the diner.

"I just noticed you seemed distressed and decided to offer any assistance I could give." Ozpin smiled.

"I'm trying to get Ruby set up at Vale High School," Yang admitted begrudgingly.

"And I imagine the problem has something to do with her transcripts?" Ozpin said.

"You psychic or something?" Yang raised an eyebrow. Ozpin chuckled and shook his head.

"No, it's simply a problem I've seen quite a lot of here in my time as mayor. Not many runaways come with transcripts," He explained. Yang's body tensed up and her tired demeanor became guarded.

"What makes you think we're runaways?" Yang asked. She knew better than to trust anyone with any kind of authority. They could report them and get Ruby taken away from her. She wouldn't let that happen.

"I've seen many runaways in my time, Miss Xiao Long. I mean nothing by it. You can rest assured I have no intention of turning you into the authorities," Ozpin said, "I can help you. I have many connections at the high school."

"Why would you do that for us?" Yang asked, suspicion very clear in her body language and tone.

"I want to help. I want to see you and your sister succeed in life. I'm an altruistic man," Ozpin said.

"Tell me, what do you really do all those good deeds for?" Yang challenged. No one did anything out of the goodness of her heart, except maybe her sister. Nothing in life was free.

"I assure you, there are no ulterior motives behind it. Other than spreading goodness and joy," Ozpin said. There was nothing about him that seemed untrustworthy, but she still didn't trust him.

Her sister needed to go to school though.

"What's the catch? If you get Ruby into the school." Yang would do anything for her sister. School was important and Ruby deserved a better life than Yang had.

"No catch. I imagine she'll have to take a placement test or two, but your sister strikes me as a bright young girl," Ozpin said.

"She is, much smarter than me. She was in all kinds of smart kid classes at her school." Yang actually cracked a smile.

"Let me make those calls then." Ozpin smiled back.

"Thank you, if there's anything I can do in return...." Yang said, trepidation in her voice.

"I don't ask for anything in return, Miss. Xiao Long," Ozpin said. "However, there is a matter I was hoping to discuss with you. I was wondering if you were interested in a job here in Beacon."

"No." Yang answered flatly.

"No?" Ozpin seemed surprised at the abrupt answer.

"Look I don't know what your deal is, but I don't trust you. I appreciate what you're doing for my sister. I really do. But I'd rather have a job outside town until I trust people here. I'd rather not be in debt to the town anymore than we already are. I'm looking out for my sister and that's what matters. She may trust this place, but I don't," Yang said.

There was no way she was going to let Beacon, and consequently Ozpin, own her. If they needed to hightail it, then having a job not connected to Beacon was their best chance. Yang wasn't naïve. Ruby trusted far easier and she'd even been burnt for it. Yang knew better. If something seemed too good to be true, it probably was.

"I agree, trust is earned. Hopefully we can earn your trust." Ozpin nodded.

"Yeah." Yang wouldn't say more than that.

"I'll leave you to it then. I'll have one of the others contact you once I've dealt with Ruby's schooling," Ozpin said before walking over to the checkout counter. Yang turned her attention back to her laptop. While one of her problems had been taken care of, there was still the matter of Ruby's birthday. In the past she'd always saved up for her birthday, and they had the party at the beach. Some years were better than others, but Yang always did her best.

After about 10 minutes of struggling, she was surprised by a cup being placed down beside her. She looked up to see Blake standing beside her with a mug of what Yang knew was tea.

"You look more tired than usual," Blake commented.

"I'm stressed out," Yang sighed. She picked up the coffee and took a sip, savoring the hot liquid. "Thanks for the coffee."

"No problem. I'd hate to see you keel over." Blake smiled. Well, the small smile that you could barely call a smile. Yang liked it though.

She'd been seeing Blake around town the last couple weeks and she'd even glimpsed the girl at the party. They'd talked whenever Yang had come into the library with Ruby or by herself. Blake wasn't super talkative, but they got on.

"I'm getting there," Yang groaned. Blake glanced at the screen and cocked her head.

"Party ideas?" Blake raised an eyebrow.

"Ruby's birthday is next week. I'm not really sure what to do. We haven't been here that long and I know she hasn't made a bunch of friends. She's always bugging Weiss at the arcade but other than that I don't know if she hangs out with the people from the barbecue," Yang said.

"Why don't you ask Pyrrha? She's always been good at parties, and she could invite everyone. Give Ruby another shot at getting out of her shell. Plus, Pyrrha could keep it age appropriate," Blake suggested, adding a shrug on the end.

"Really?" Yang said. It wasn't a bad idea. If Ruby wanted to stick around, she needed to make friends.

"Yeah, she might know some kids Ruby's age who go to the high school too." Blake nodded.

"That would be great. We used to just throw a small thing on the beach for Ruby's friends, but I always saved up. I don't exactly have a lot right now." Yang ran her good hand through her hair, letting her prosthetic drop to her side.

"Want me to text her?" Blake offered.

"Yeah, thanks. I don't even know if I have Pyrrha's number." Yang frowned. She wasn't sure she had anyone's number, actually. Sure, she'd been chatting with people, but she hadn't actually gotten any numbers.

"Give me your phone." Blake held out her hand. Yang placed her phone, old and screen cracked, in the girl's hand. Blake typed on it for about about 5 minutes before returning it. She'd added about a dozen contacts.

"Shit, that's a lot of people." Yang's eyes widened in surprise.

"I figured a group of contacts would help. I'll add you to the group chat too. Having friends around here is important." Blake explained. "Ozpin's a good guy and he helps out a lot, but we help each other too. You're one of us now."

"Already?" Yang looked at her incredulously.

"Yes." Blake rolled her eyes. "I don't make the rules, it's just how it works."

"Damn, okay." Yang frowned a little. Blake took the seat across from her.

"I know it's hard to trust people. I know Ozpin's hard to trust. But as time goes on you'll see how much we're all alike." Blake leaned forward on her elbows. "I'm still getting used to it myself."

"Yeah well, I'm not like my sister okay? She believes in people and shit. Don't expect trust any time soon," Yang said, her tone harsh. She wasn't interested in Blake trying to get her to open up. All this 'one of us' crap wasn't something Yang was going to buy into just yet. She would look out for herself and her sister, this touchy feely bullshit would only get in the way.

"You're all bark and no bite." Blake leaned back with a roll of her eyes and a sip of her tea. "All bluster. You think you're tough but you're not."

"Maybe, you're one to talk though. All dark, broody, and mysterious, who're you trying to fool?" Yang leaned forward, practically challenging her. Blake smirked behind her mug.

"You know, Yang Xiao Long, you're an interesting character," Blake commented.

"If you say so." Yang shrugged and leaned back in her seat, picking up the coffee. She downed half of it in one go. "You're pretty interesting yourself."

"I've been told that before." Blake shrugged. She set down her mug and pulled out her phone, typing on it a moment before looking up at Yang. "Pyrrha said she'd love to help. Is next weekend okay?"

"Yeah that's fine." Yang nodded. Blake typed for a minute or two before shoving her phone back into her pocket. Yang's phone buzzed and she glanced at it. "Fuck, how do I already have 37 texts?!"

"The joys of the group chat," Blake deadpanned.

"Never been in one before." Yang laughed, shaking her head.

"I'm in more than one. My roommates and I have a group chat, and it's even worse than that one but with less people." Blake sipped at her mug.

"You're kidding?!" Yang's eyebrow shot up in disbelief.

"Unfortunately not," Blake muttered. Yang took a drink from her coffee and just looked at Blake. She was pretty, probably the kind of girl Yang would have gone for back home. Broody though and Yang never had the patience to wait, so it probably wouldn't ever go far.

"I don't think I ever asked, where you from?" Yang asked.

"California," Blake said. "Southern California to be more specific."

"Cool, I visited California a couple times. Never really my thing." Yang finally closed her laptop, figuring Pyrrha would help her figure stuff out. She really just wanted Ruby to be happy.

"Can't imagine anything more exotic than Hawaii." Blake pulled her legs up so she was sitting with them pulled to her chest.

"It isn't what it's cracked up to be." Yang admitted. "There are highs and lows like any other place."

"Fair enough, I get that." Blake nodded. "So what's your sister up to?"

"Last I checked she was in the room tinkering with our microwave. It broke I guess. Usually she seems to spend her time hanging out at the arcade," Yang answered.

"I see her in here all the time, obviously when she comes with you, and even when you're elsewhere," Blake commented.

"She's a chatterbox isn't she? She'll make friends anywhere." Yang chuckled. Blake smiled a little. She didn't know how Ruby did it. Yang hated making connections if she knew they were just going to leave. That's probably why Ruby was encouraging her to make them. It seemed they were going to be stuck in Beacon, at least for a while.

It struck Yang how much things had changed in the last few months. She didn't feel like herself most days. Then again, her priorities were a little different than they once were.

"It's nice. She brings something we don't get a lot of here in Beacon," Blake admitted.

"I get the feeling this is the kind of place where everyone has skeletons in their closet." Yang pushed her hair back with her hand, watching Blake for signs she was right.

"Something like that," Blake answered vaguely. Yang had hit the nail on the head, which explained a lot about Beacon and the mayor. She was about to inquire further when a bell rang from the library desk.

"What?" Yang was pretty confused.

"Closing time, I've got to finish up my work and kick you out. I'm sure we'll talk another time." Blake stood up finished the last dregs from her mug. Yang glanced at the time on her phone. Had she really been here that long?

"See ya, Blake." Yang got up to stretch and gather her things before leaving. She needed to get a nap in before she left for work. One cup of coffee wasn't going to do enough for her. As she walked home though she contemplated Beacon and her interactions so far. Compared to other places they stayed it wasn't bad. In fact it was a little too good and that's what left Yang on edge. Hell, compared to home Beacon was as good as it got.

Her phone buzzed, startling her. She assumed it was the group chat, but pulled it out anyway. Her heart constricted as she saw it wasn't from the new numbers, but from an old one. Yang stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk. She stared at the text for a good five minutes:

[Donor: pls vcoem homr
Yang: ur drunk, go the fuck 2 sleep
Donor: mis u]

"Yeah, right." Yang angrily shoved her phone in her pocket. She practically sprinted the rest of the way back to the motel. She made sure she was quiet in case Ruby had decided to call it an early night. Yang always teased Ruby that she was already old because she usually was asleep before 9. Sure enough, Ruby was curled up sleeping surrounded by a mess of parts and pieces. Yang walked over to clean them up and tuck her little sister in, kissing her head as she did.

"If this place, if Beacon, makes you happy, then I guess we're sticking around." She sighed heavily. Then she proceeded to change into comfortable clothes to get some sleep in, at least until her alarm woke her for her shift.

Yang scrubbed at her eyes with her hands. She'd just gotten off her shift and was meant to meet Pyrrha to discuss Ruby's birthday. Unfortunately though, she had to change because she was filthy and sweaty.

"Hey Yang!" Ruby greeted when Yang came into the motel room. She'd finished fixing their microwave and was playing a game on her scroll, laying on her stomach with her legs in the air, kicking back and forth.

"Hey, kiddo." Yang waved, plopping down on the bed to yank off her boots.

"How was work?" Ruby asked.

"It was fine." Yang shrugged, pulling off her prosthetic and laying it on the bed. Ruby sat up and crossed her legs, eyes staring at the scroll in her lap. Yang's alarm bells immediately started going off in her head. She stopped to look at her sister expectantly.

"Dad called me," Ruby whispered, so quietly Yang almost didn't hear.

"He did what?!" Yang shot up. Her prosthetic nearly fell off the bed.

"He got someone else's phone and called. I didn't really think when I answered. I was waiting for Jaune to call me when he got off work, so we could hang." Ruby refused to look up. Yang ran her hand through her hair, blowing out a puff of air.

"Well? What did he say?" Yang didn't know what to do. Ruby wasn't like her. This wasn't something she could just brush off and deal with.

"He said he missed me. Missed us both." Ruby mumbled. Yang took a deep breath and moved to sit next to her sister. She could see Ruby was starting to tense up.

"Ruby...." Yang sighed. Ruby's head shot up and she lunged forward to grab Yang's arm.

"I didn't tell him where we were! I swear he has no idea. Please don't make us leave, I don't wanna leave Yang," Ruby pled, tears welling in her eyes. Yang felt her heart sink and realized this was her doing.

"Hey now, it's okay." Yang pulled Ruby into her arm. "We're not going to leave. Why would we? I just got you registered at school."

"Really?" Ruby's voice wavered. Yang squeezed her sister tight and fought back her own tears. Ruby needed her to be strong.

"Of course, Rubes. I can see you're happy here. Happier than you ever were at home or anywhere else and we've only been here a couple weeks." Yang nodded.

"I love you, Yang," Ruby whispered, burying her face in her sister's shoulder.

"I love you too. Now, do you want to talk about him calling?" Yang asked. She didn't want Ruby to let it eat her upside.

"He didn't say much more than that. It was late and I was tired. He was drunk." Ruby mumbled into Yang's shoulder. She wasn't even surprised. It made her so fucking angry she had to take a deep breath to keep from clenching her fist.

"Okay, I'll talk to Qrow. Make sure it doesn't happen again," Yang assured her. After a moment Ruby pulled away and smiled at Yang.

"Ohana," Ruby said, holding up her pinky.

"Ohana," Yang repeated, taking Ruby’s pinky in hers. Just then, Ruby's scroll started playing the theme to some nerdy show and she picked it up.

"It's Jaune," Ruby said before answering.

Yang got up to finish getting ready for the shower. It was nice to know Ruby was spending time with people. Jaune seemed like a nice guy too. He didn't seem as haunted as some of the other people who lived in Beacon. Pyrrha on the other hand.....

"Yang! I'm going out with Jaune. I'll be back later!" Ruby yelled, almost bolting out of the room. Yang laughed as she climbed into the hot spray of the water.

Half an hour later, a freshly clean Yang was knocking on an apartment door. She hoped it was the right one. She had followed Pyrrha's directions, but Beacon was a little confusing. Her fears were assuaged when Pyrrha opened the door, smiling.

"Hello!" Pyrrha greeted, beckoning Yang inside.

"Hey, sorry it took so long." Yang stepped through the doorway.

"Don't worry about it. I needed to get some cleaning done anyway," Pyrrha assured her, leading her into the living room. Yang could definitely tell it had been decorated by Pyrrha. The place was immaculate and felt like a home.

"You have a nice place," Yang complimented.

"That's only because Jaune is out. He doesn't share my inclination towards cleanliness." Pyrrha laughed.

"Still bet it's cleaner than our motel room." Yang laughed too. She took in Pyrrha for a moment, looking amazing even though she was just at home. Yang had always been good at observing and reading people. Beacon was not an easy place to read people at all, but she still picked up on some things. Pyrrha was as hard to read as any of the others. Still, there was something there Yang recognized. She just couldn't place it.

"I imagine it would be a little messy. Motel rooms weren't exactly designed with long stays in mind." Pyrrha walked into the kitchen. "Can I get you anything to eat or drink?"

"Just some water, thanks," Yang said. Pyrrha got out two glasses and filled both with water.  She placed one across the breakfast bar at one of the stools. Yang sat down and Pyrrha took a seat across from her.

"So Blake told me Ruby's birthday is next week." Pyrrha took a sip from her water.

"Yeah, the 23rd. Figured we could do it next weekend." Yang nodded.

"So what is she interested in? That'll help me plan. As for guests, it'll depend on what you're looking for. Everyone is always looking for an excuse to have a party..." Pyrrha explained. "I know a few people who's teens go to the high school so I could invite them."

"Nothing super huge, Ruby doesn't like big crowds. But yeah that'd be cool. I figured if she made friends at school she could invite them. As for what she likes, she's into that anime stuff and cartoons. She's a nerd." Yang chuckled.

"That's good to know." Pyrrha smiled in amusement. Yang could see what Jaune saw in her. Pyrrha was hot, sweet, and nice. Yang probably would have gone for her too, once upon a time.

"And she's a little immature so she likes games and all that stuff most 16 year olds think they're too cool for," Yang added.

"I don't see anything wrong with that. More fun that way." Pyrrha laughed. "Why don't I get my laptop and we can start putting something together? I know the best deals so it won't cost a lot either."

"Sounds great." Yang said.

They spent the next 20 minutes or so just planning Ruby's birthday party. Yang was confident it would make up for how shitty her year had been. Pyrrha was a whiz at party planning too so it wasn't expensive either. Yang was extremely grateful to Pyrrha for helping and Blake for suggesting it.

Even if she did get over a hundred texts from the group in the 20 minutes they planned.

Once they'd finished Pyrrha offered some cake, which Yang definitely couldn't turn down. They sat at the breakfast bar chatting and laughing while eating. It was in that moment it clicked. Yang finally realized what looked so familiar in Pyrrha.

"Damn, Pyrrha. You know, you're a great person. And hot too. I can see why Ruby likes you." Yang grinned, half teasing. She watched as Pyrrha ducked her head at the compliment.

"I just like being a good friend," Pyrrha said. Classic evasion in response to a compliment. Misidentified as humility by most. Yang knew better than that.

"Well, you are. I'm glad Ruby and I ended up here. You're good people," Yang said, a little more insistent. Pyrrha was turning as red as her hair and it was actually kind of amusing.

"We're happy you two found Beacon as well. I know Jaune likes having a new friend he can go to the arcade with." Pyrrha smiled.

"Thank you, again. For helping with Ruby's party." Yang reached forward and took Pyrrha's hand. The tension there was all Yang needed to prove her theory.

"Oh, no need to thank me, I love planning parties." Pyrrha shook her head. Yang released her hand. She knew all she needed to know.

"Well thanks." Yang smiled. There was a feeling of victory in knowing her theories were correct, but it also saddened her to know she was right. Beacon housed a lot of broken and haunted people.

Her and Ruby fit right in.  

Chapter Text

Ruby was uncontrollably excited as she practically bounced around the room getting ready. Yang just watched with amusement, chuckling at her sister's antics. She'd done nothing but talk about starting school the last two days.

Ruby felt like she had as a kid when she'd started school for the first time ever. The Monday before they'd gone for her to take the placement tests and sure she'd been excited, but this was a different excitement. She was slightly nervous too since it was a brand new school. The nervousness didn't bother her though because she was starting school, which meant they were sticking around. Plus Ruby had always liked school.

"I'm ready!" Ruby chirped, standing in front of her sister.

"Alright, let's get going." Yang picked up her helmet and tossed Ruby hers. She'd just gotten off work and Ruby could tell she was tired. Still she was taking Ruby to school and Ruby was grateful.

"Yay!" Ruby yelled. She pretty much ran out the door and down the hall. She passed Port who waved. Yang followed behind walking and chuckling.

"Someone is very excited," Port commented.

"Yeah," Yang smiled. She waved to Port and left the motel, ready to drive Ruby to school. It wasn't a long drive thankfully. The school was on the outskirts of the city and stood towering in its design. It was a big brick building with big windows and lots of kids milling about. The motorcycle got some curious looks as Yang parked, hopping off the bike.

"This place is like way bigger than our old high school!" Ruby stared, wide eyed.

"It sure is. A lot more kids too. You going to be okay?" Yang asked worriedly. Ruby took in her surroundings. There were dozens of teenagers around and the school was huge. She felt anxiety grip her chest but she straightened up in determination.

"Yeah! I can do this. I'm Ruby Rose!" Ruby nodded. Yang shook her head in amusement before gesturing for Ruby to start walking.

"C'mon then, Ruby Rose. I have to check you in or whatever but then you're free of me," Yang said as they started walking. Ruby didn't want Yang to leave her, but she knew she didn't have a choice. Once they entered the office her chest ached more.

"Hello, can I help you?" An older man with white hair peered at them.

"Hey, I'm Yang Xiao Long. This is my sister Ruby Rose reporting for her first day," Yang explained.

"Oh yes, just one moment." The man typed a few things on his computer before producing a piece of paper from the printer. He handed it to Ruby. "That is your schedule. A student ambassador will help you through it. Penny! Your transfer is here!"

"Thanks." Ruby took the paper and turned to look where the man was shouting. A short haired redhead in a corduroy overall dress and hair bow was chatting with one of the other office attendants, but her attention was grabbed by the man in front of them.

"Oh how exciting!" The girl hurried over and smiled brightly at Ruby. "Salutations, Ruby Rose! My name is Penny Polendina. I am your school appointed student ambassador for your first day at Vale High School," she spoke cheerfully and as if reading from a script.

"Hi, nice to meet you," Ruby greeted awkwardly.

"Penny go ahead and take Ruby to her locker while I finish sorting things out with her sister," the man suggested. Ruby looked at her sister in panic but Yang took her hands.

"You can do this, Rubes. I love you and I hope you have a great day." Yang smiled in assurance, "Ohana."

"Ohana," Ruby repeated back, linking their pinkies. "Love you too."

"Be good." Yang ruffled her hair and kissed her head. Penny opened the office door and Ruby walked out, forcing herself to take a deep breath.

"Follow me, Ruby Rose! I have a copy of your schedule and locker number," Penny announced, pulling a folded piece of paper out of the front pocket of her dress.

"Oh okay." Ruby followed, wringing her hands in her sweatshirt. It was an old habit she never could break. It brought her comfort when everything was starting to get bad.

"Your locker is just down this hall and near mine," Penny explained, leading Ruby through throngs of people. Some people seemed to be watching with interest but most everyone was just going about their business. Penny finally stopped in front of a locker and pointed.

"Oh okay, cool..." Ruby mumbled. She glanced at her schedule for the combination. She opened the locker and put some of her excess school supplies inside. When she was done she looked to Penny.

"Your first class is in the math wing. I'll show you there. I'm not in that math but I'll meet you there after class is over to go to study hall." Penny started walking again. "We do have that together! I'm in all your classes except for math and science."

"That's cool, at least I'll know someone," Ruby said. She was more and more terrified with every passing second. This wasn't like her old school. She didn't know people. Everything was new and there were so many people. Her feet suddenly stopped moving as her eyes froze on the ground, her breath coming in short ragged gasps.

"Ruby Rose? Why are you stopping?" Penny asked, turning around to face Ruby. Ruby just stood there desperately trying to get her breathing under control.

"Hey there, are you okay?" An unfamiliar hand was placed on her arm. A younger freckled boy had appeared and looked worried. "Just breathe, it's okay."

"I should go get her sister?" Penny looked unsure of what to do.

"No, it's alright. I know how to handle a panic attack," the boy assured her. He then began talking Ruby down, allowing the her to eventually calm down and breathe normally.

"Thank you," Ruby whispered, wrapping her arms around herself.

"It's alright, these kinds of things happen. I'm Oscar." The boy shifted his backpack on his shoulder and smiled.

"Ruby." Ruby smiled back. It was nice to know there were some nice kids at her school. Having a panic attack in the hallway was rather embarrassing.

"I'm Penny Polendina, Ruby Rose's student ambassador." Penny saluted.

"It's nice to meet both of you," Oscar said. A bell rang and Ruby looked up at it in confusion. Why was it ringing? Was class starting already.

"That's the warning bell. It warns that there are 5 minutes remaining until the beginning of classes. I need to get you to your class," Penny explained quickly.

"Oh okay, well I'll see you around Oscar." Ruby waved. Then she and Penny walked off to her class, her cheeks still red from having a panic attack. Why couldn't she just be normal?!

"I will return here precisely at the end of class. Good luck!" Penny bid her farewell and left for her own math class. Ruby went in and found her seat in AP Calculus, her chest still aching. She couldn't wait for the day to be over. All her excitement had completely drained out of her.

The class was uneventful. They got the syllabus, books, and even homework to review the material they were supposed to know already. Penny was waiting for her at the door when the bell rang and they headed to study hall. Penny didn't talk much except to share important tidbits of information. Study Hall was spent working on her homework while sitting in the cafeteria. Penny sat relatively close based on her last name but they didn't talk.

They went to English together and things seemed to look up. The teacher let them choose their seats and Penny asked Ruby to sit by her. They were soon joined by a dark haired girl who sat by Penny.

"Hello, Penny," The girl greeted.

"Salutations, Ciel!" Penny saluted, smiling brightly.

"Did you make a new friend?" Ciel raised an eyebrow, looking over at Ruby.

"Do you consider me a friend, Ruby Rose?" Penny cocked her head.

"Yeah?" Ruby answered awkwardly. Penny was nice and would make a good friend. This seemed to be the right answer because Penny practically beamed.

"Oh, so this is the girl you're showing around? Well, welcome to Vale High School," Ciel said, before leaning over to straighten Penny's bow. "You're crooked again, curly."

"Thank you, Ciel. I know I can always count on you to make sure I look my best," Penny chirped. She turned to Ruby. "Ciel has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so she is very particular about things. I like that because I am also very particular about things."

"Penny, we talked about appropriate things to tell people about me," Ciel sighed.

"Oh no, I’m sorry. I just thought it would make my new friend Ruby feel better about having a panic attack in the hall," Penny explained. Ruby's eyes widened and Ciel shook her head.

"Penny, that's not an appropriate thing to share about someone without their permission," Ciel reminded her.

"Oh no, I’m sorry." Penny frowned.

"It's okay." Ruby rubbed at the back of her neck. Penny didn't really have a filter did she? Ruby had known people like that before. Ciel seemed to be used to it and Penny seemed genuinely upset.

"I'm on the Autism spectrum so sometimes I say things I'm not supposed to," Penny said. Ruby was about to continue to assure it was fine but the teacher called for attention so she could start going over things. It was another period of things being uneventful. Ruby kind of tuned out while the teacher spoke of the books they'd be reading.

After Language Arts Ruby headed for Spanish with Penny. She was surprised to see Oscar there as well. The class was predominantly freshmen so she wasn't too surprised. She wasn't sure why Penny was only in Spanish I but she was thankful for more than one person she knew.

"Oh hey, didn't expect to see you two in my classes," Oscar greeted. The three of them were sitting by each other based on their last names.

"I took Hawaiian at my old school and obviously they don't have that here but two years of a language is required," Ruby explained, leaning forward to rest her chin on her arms.

"I didn't take a language my first two years." Penny shrugged. Ruby figured there was a reason for it but didn't want to push. Maybe she just didn't want to. At her old school they had Spanish as an offered language but Hawaiian was more practical.

"I'm happy you're here anyway." Oscar grinned. A teacher came in and took a seat at the desk. He announced that he was a substitute and their actual teacher had a family emergency come up. Their teacher would be back the next day so they had the period to talk or do homework.

"I've never had a substitute on the first day of school," Penny commented.

"Me neither," Oscar said.

"I'm tired of listening to teachers read their syllabus. I'm not going to complain." Ruby shrugged.

"So, are you from Hawaii?" Oscar asked, turning around in his seat to talk better.

"Yup," Ruby popped the p on the end.

"That's cool. I've never even left Ohio," Oscar sighed.

"My father and I moved here from Idaho when I was young, but I haven't left Ohio much since," Penny admitted.

"My sister and I just moved here. We were traveling before that. We visited a bunch of places." Ruby didn't want to give too much away. She didn't imagine it was a good idea to tell them she and her sister were runaways.

"So where do you live?" Penny asked curiously. "My father and I live here in the city."

"This town called Beacon." Ruby said. Oscar's eyebrows shot up and Penny broke into a huge smile.

"Oh I love Beacon!" Penny flapped her hands excitedly. "Mr. Jimmy takes me there to visit sometimes. Bolin let's me play with his dog and Pyrrha takes me to the movies sometimes. She's my mentor!"

"I live in Beacon. Sorta. Our farm is on the edge of Beacon but my aunt is friends with Mayor Ozpin so we go there all the time." Oscar smiled. Ruby was really surprised but then again she hadn't been around long to see them.

"Really? That's cool. I haven't met a lot of people my age. Just people my sister's age. I like Pyrrha though, she's nice." Ruby sat up, definitely even more interested than she was.

"You have a sister? I'm jealous. I don't have any brothers or sisters." Oscar frowned.

"Yeah her name is Yang, she's really cool. She definitely does a lot." Ruby smiled fondly. She could brag for hours about her sister.

"I saw her. She has very pretty hair and was carrying a motorcycle helmet. Did you know motorcycles are really dangerous? It's good she had a helmet though. Helmets cut down on motorcycle crash fatalities," Penny rambled.

"Uh yeah, she's careful." Ruby shifted uncomfortably. She didn't like where this conversation was going. She didn't know how to express that though and the anxiety that had started to die down, flared again.

"So Penny how often do you come to Beacon? Maybe the three of us can hang out somewhere," Oscar suggested, changing the subject.

"Oh a few times a month or so, sometimes more. I can ask Papa to take me too though. I'd like that very much." Penny bobbed her head, grinning. "I have a cellphone and I can give you my number."

"That's not a bad idea, Penny." Ruby smiled. She pulled out her phone so the three could exchange numbers. The rest of class was spent talking about what they liked about Beacon and making plans. Ruby even invited them both to her birthday party that weekend. Penny was excited to hear that Ruby's birthday was the next day. Oscar was excited to be invited to a party.

After Spanish they headed to the P.E. class they found out they shared. Ciel was there too, standing next to the teacher in gym clothes already.

"Salutations, Ciel." Penny saluted.

"Hey, curly. I see you picked up another one." Ciel jerked her head in Oscar's direction.

"Hi, Ciel. Didn't expect you." Ruby greeted.

"I am a teacher’s aid in gym class. It's usually an excuse to get some extra time on the track to run," Ciel said. "I'm on the soccer team."

"Ladies and gentlemen, line up!" The gym teacher yelled. "If one more person asks when we're eating lunch everyone is going to run five laps. Gym class always eats C lunch."

"C lunch?" Ruby quirked an eyebrow in confusion.

"Lunch is divided up in three parts and different classes eat during different parts. C lunch is the last part from 12:35 to 1:05," Oscar explained.

"I said, line up!" the gym teacher barked again. Everyone ran to form a line before he got even angrier.


After class she ate lunch with Penny, Oscar, and Ciel. Penny helped her with the lunch line and they all took a seat at a table in the cafeteria. A brawl broke out while they were eating.

"That's just Mercury Black, he's always fighting someone," Penny said, taking a bite of her jelly sandwich. She'd informed Ruby she didn't like peanut butter because it felt weird in her mouth and stuck to her pallet.

"The grey haired boy?" Ruby asked.

"Yeah, and the green haired girl watching is Emerald Sustrai. She's a thief. Be careful of them." Ciel added, pointing out the two people in question. "I'm surprised they're here. They skip school more than they attend. It's why they're juniors instead of seniors."

The rest of lunch passed and Ruby continued on with her day. It was only when she went to the last class of her day without Penny that the anxiety she'd been feeling bubbled up again. She felt safe with her new friends. Going into a class where she didn't know anyone was terrifying. She did surprisingly see Emerald and Mercury sitting in the back, but she was going to heed Ciel's warning.

When the final bell rang Ruby practically sprinted out to the front. She couldn't stop the grin spreading across her face as she saw her sister and her motorcycle.

"Yang!" Ruby yelled, launching herself into Yang's arms. Yang nearly fell as Ruby hung from her neck. Yang couldn't help but laugh though and spin around a few times.

"Hey, Rubes. You're happy to see me. How'd your day go?" Yang placed Ruby back on the ground.

"It was okay." Ruby shrugged noncommittally.

"You make friends?" Yang tossed Ruby her helmet and got on the bike.

"Yeah. Penny, Oscar, and Ciel. They're all really cool and I invited them to my party." Ruby climbed on the bike behind Yang.

"Good, I was worried." Yang nodded. They took off on the bike towards Beacon. Ruby had been beyond excited that morning for school but she found herself more excited to go home.

Home, she liked the sound of that.

While her first couple days at Vale High School weren't awful, Ruby was still ready when the weekend hit. Her actual birthday had just been going to dinner in the city with Yang since the proper celebration was Saturday. Being 17 didn't feel any different from 16. She was equal parts excited for and anxious about the party. So there she was standing in at the park waiting for everyone to arrive. 

The place had been decorated to a degree, the decorations themed to various things Ruby really liked. Yang was grilling food while Pyrrha set out party favors and games.

"They'll be here soon, Rubes." Yang chuckled, flipping a burger.

"I knooooooow," Ruby whined. She was bouncing on her heels excitedly. It was like she was teetering on the edge between full blown panic attack and bursting with excitement.

"Penny called to tell me she was on her way with Ciel." Pyrrha giggled. "And Ozpin said he was going to get Oscar about 10 minutes ago. As for everyone else, they're usually late."

"Look, our first party guest!" Yang called out as Weiss came walking down the sidewalk, a wrapped gift in her hands. Ruby had to contain herself so she didn't tackle her new friend. Well, she used friend loosely. Ruby loved hanging out at the arcade and with Weiss but it seemed most days Weiss just tolerated her.

"Weiss!" Ruby squealed.

"Hello, Ruby." Weiss rolled her eyes. "Happy Birthday."

"You didn't have to get me a present." Ruby blushed. Yang chuckled as she set another round of burgers on a plate already stacked so high it threatened to fall over. She put some hotdogs on the grill next, just watching her sister in amusement.

"It's your birthday, of course I had to get you a present. What kind of person do you take me for?" Weiss scoffed.

"Hello, Weiss. Good to know we can always count on you for punctuality." Pyrrha teased.

"If I'm not on time no one will be," Weiss sighed. Ruby had only been in Beacon a short time but she knew how true that was. No one was ever on time for anything. Nora joked that the town even ran its clocks five minutes ahead of the actual time in hopes of curtailing how late everyone was.

"Ah, Ciel and Penny are here," Pyrrha said as a nice looking black convertible parked in front of the park. Penny whose hair looked windblown waved at Ruby. Ciel took off a scarf that was covering her hair and climbed out, grabbing two wrapped packages from the backseat.

"Salutations, Ruby! Ciel got us here precisely on time." Penny saluted.

"I'm always on time." Ciel walked forward to join them.

"I was unaware your new friends were good influences." Weiss raised an eyebrow in surprise.

"Pyrrha!" Penny was distracted and ran over to throw herself into Pyrrha's arms. Ciel chuckled.

"Don't take it personally, Pyrrha is like her favorite person ever." Ciel pushed her sunglasses up on her head.

"Pyrrha is pretty great," Ruby laughed.

"Welcome ladies! Food will be ready in like twenty," Yang announced, grinning. Penny returned dragging Pyrrha along with her.

"I got you a present, Ruby!" Penny held out a perfectly wrapped present. Based on the one Ciel was carrying she'd wrapped both of them.

"Why don't we take all the presents to the table I set up for presents," Pyrrha suggested, chuckling. Pyrrha led Penny, Weiss, and Ciel to the present table. Ruby skipped over to hug Yang around her waist.

"Thank you, Yang. You're the best big sister ever" Ruby said.

"You say that now but wait until the others show up. You'll be begging me to make them go home," Yang teased, placing a hand on Ruby's back.

"Ruby, why don't you join us in playing a game?" Pyrrha called. Ruby skipped over and Yang went back to grilling.

It was weird how normal everything seemed. Ruby was grateful for some normalcy after how abnormal things had been. She wasn't complaining, but it was weird. Maybe Yang's paranoia was rubbing off on her. She knew her sister had a habit of expecting the worst. Ruby had always wanted to look at the bright side of things. She preferred being optimistic. That's why she saw Beacon as the perfect chance to start over. The fact she could invite people to her party and be so happy was proof of that. She was comfortable around these people.

Not everyone would be able to make it to the party, but the whole group from the barbecue had been invited. Ruby was excited to see Nora arrive, but surprised to see Jaune at her side and not Ren. She ran to greet them.

"Hi, Ruby, sorry Ren can't make it but you got me!" Nora practically crushed Ruby into a hug.

"And me!" Jaune added indignantly. Nora just rolled her eyes and waved him off.

"We all know I'm the exciting one." Nora grinned.

" I'm the one who actually got her a present," Jaune reminded her.

"Well, that's usually Ren's job okay!" Nora shrugged. Ruby saw a flash of something in her expression but it was gone too quickly for her to pinpoint it. Jaune for his part looked on edge.

"I'm happy you two could come." Ruby laughed. "Yang put the food out already if you guys are hungry. We were just playing some games Pyrrha set up."

"Sounds like fun. Can't say I'm surprised this is who actually showed up on time. Jaune and I are fashionably late." Nora giggled.

"I would have been here sooner but you know my roommates," Blake spoke and Ruby nearly had a heart attack. She hadn't noticed Blake come up behind her and her voice startled her. She must of come from the other side of the park.

"Blake! You scared me." Ruby clutched at her chest.

"Sorry, Ruby." Blake chuckled. Ruby was surprised her face seemed sort of flushed. Looking over Blake's shoulder she could spot the probable reason though. Yang stood watching the others play. Yang had never been one for dressing appropriately. Ruby's birthday was no exception with booty shorts and a skimpy tank top Ruby hesitated to even call a tank top.

"It's okay. I'm glad you came though!" Ruby said.

"I'm here, despite Ice Princess also being here." Blake glanced over at Weiss who was losing at corn hole with Pyrrha against Penny and Ciel.

"Weiss isn't so bad. She's just uptight," Nora scoffed. "Between her and Debby Downer here I'm sure you'll have a great party, Ruby."

"Nora!" Jaune nudged Nora with his elbow.

"Debby Downer is super creative, Strawberry Shortcake." Blake rolled her eyes.

"I've got a million more. I could get way more creative, Doom Kitty," Nora offered, the challenge glinting in her eyes.

"Bring it on, Peanut." Blake’s eyes narrowed. Wait. Did Blake and Nora not get along? Had she missed something!

"Whoa, whoa, looks like a cat fight." Yang walked up, laughing. "None of that here though. It's party thyme." She held up a sprig of thyme she'd been using to grill.

"I will leave right now," Blake groaned.

"I'm going to go say hi to everyone." Jaune shook his head and walked off. Ruby decided to go with him and let Yang deal with Nora and Blake.

"Jaune, what was that about?" Ruby asked, confused.

"Those two are more complicated than Ohio's weather," Jaune sighed, setting down his present on the correct table.

"Do they not get along?" Ruby pushed for more details.

"I don't know. Some days they get along fine. I think they hit it off badly when Blake first showed up but I don't know why. I've asked Ren and even he doesn't know," Jaune explained.

"There's still so much I don't know about this place. Like I knew Weiss and Blake don't like each other but not about this," Ruby frowned.

"Weiss and Blake at least make sense," Jaune said, trying to be helpful.

"Ruby come back and play!" Penny flapped her hands excitedly.

"We're tired of kicking Weiss and Pyrrha's butts," Ciel added.

"C'mon Jaune, let's go play." Ruby grabbed his hand and dragged him over.

Eventually Yang seemed to diffuse the tension and everyone joined to play some of the games Pyrrha had brought. Fox showed up shortly after claiming he'd gotten lost because none of his roommates could be bothered to help him since they were all so busy. He couldn't stay but he wanted to drop off the present they'd gotten Ruby. Things went pretty smoothly after that and Ruby was having fun. She did notice some things she wasn't sure about but she'd already gotten used to the odd behaviors of the residents of Beacon.

"So are you enjoying your party?" Pyrrha asked. The two were sitting at one of the picnic tables drinking pop while Yang led the group in a game of freeze tag.

"I love it." Ruby answered genuinely. "Thank you for helping Yang plan it."

"It was no trouble. I've always quite liked planning parties." Pyrrha smiled.

"Really? You know, I don't think I know very much about you, Pyrrha. Then again, I guess I don't know much about most people. Everyone's very secretive..." Ruby commented, leaning her elbows on the table.

"There's not much to tell on my end. I'm from Chicago, but I'm not an exciting person." Pyrrha took a sip from her can. "You're not wrong though. I'd say everyone around here hides from their pasts. You would know all about that wouldn't you?"

"I guess you're right." Ruby admitted.

"People in Beacon take a while to open up. I don't even know everything about everyone and I've been here a lot longer than you." Pyrrha said.

"I don't mind." Ruby shrugged.

"You've made some great friends. Penny, Ciel, and Oscar are really good kids," Pyrrha smiled. Ruby went to say something but her eyes caught something. She reached forward and grabbed Pyrrha's hand.

"Pyrrha what happened to your arm?" Ruby looked at her wrist. There was a nasty looking scar she didn't remember being there before.

"What? Oh nothing, just something that happened at work a long time ago." Pyrrha pulled her arm back, cradling it to her chest. Ruby didn't really understand why she looked so pale. "I'm going to the bathroom. I'll be right back."

"Okay..." Ruby frowned. Pyrrha snatched up her purse and hurried off towards the bathrooms. She wanted to go after her but a piercing scream got her attention instead. Ruby ran over to her friends.

"I'm sorry," Jaune apologized, stepping back. The group had suddenly stopped playing and Penny was on the ground crying, rocking back and forth.

"She told you not to touch her," Ciel snapped, knelt down next to Penny.

"What happened?" Ruby asked.

"Parties are a little much for Penny sometimes and Jaune touching her kind of set her off. She just needs some time," Ciel said.

"Why don't we all clean up the games and get ready for presents and cake while Penny has her time?" Yang suggested.

"Good idea." Blake nodded. Nora wordlessly pulled Jaune away and over to the food table where she handed him a water. They talked quietly while the others started setting out plates for the cake and cleaned up the games.

Pyrrha returned, only to go directly to Penny who was still sitting on the ground next to a kneeling Ciel. She could just sort of overhear what was being said.

“Hello, Penny. I see everything’s gotten pretty overwhelming. I know that happens sometimes.” Pyrrha smiled softly, just lightly resting her hand on Penny’s back. Penny seemed to respond but Ruby couldn’t make it out.

“You didn’t ruin Ruby’s birthday, curly. Just take a deep breath,” Ciel assured her.

“Let’s see here. I’m going to attempt to sing the Elements Song, but you and Ciel will have to help me if I get something wrong.” Pyrrha said, settling in the grass. Ruby turned back to the job she was doing and smiled. She was glad Penny had Pyrrha and Ciel.

Eventually Penny calmed down enough that everyone could sit and watch Ruby unwrap presents. This was Ruby's least favorite part of her birthday. Getting presents made her anxious. She always worried she wouldn't seem grateful enough. Everyone was smiling at her, waiting. Yang stood next to her and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. It helped.

After presents was cake. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and Yang sat the cake with 17 lit candles in front of Ruby.

"Make a wish." Yang held up her phone to snap a picture.

"I will," Ruby said and blew out the candles. Yang teared up a little but Ruby could tell she was trying to hide it.

"Cake time!" Pyrrha announced. Everyone ate cake and Yang made a bunch of jokes and puns. Ruby smiled and laughed more in that time than she had in the last three months. Everything was great. She was able to forget all of her worries. She made sure to let everyone know how much fun her day had been, that way Penny didn’t worry. It was great.

By the time the party finally ended and it was just Yang and Ruby left sitting together as the sun set, Ruby's cheeks hurt from smiling.

"Did you have a fun birthday?" Yang asked, leaning back with her legs stretched out in front of her.

"I did." Ruby sighed in contentment. “There was nothing wrong with the ones I’ve had before, but this one felt different. Better somehow.”

“I’m just glad you’re happy, Rubes.” Yang smiled, ruffling her hair.

“I’m very happy, you’re the bestest big sister in the entire world.” Ruby giggled. She didn’t tell Yang enough how much she appreciated all she did.

"Eh, I am pretty great. So, what did you wish for? To be as awesome as me?" Yang asked, flipping her hair dramatically and laughing.

"I can't tell you or it won't come true! But no, that’s not what I wished for," Ruby reminded her.

"Fine, fine." Yang chuckled. Ruby leaned on her sister's shoulder and looked up at the sky.

"I love you," Ruby whispered.

"Love you too, sis." Yang turned to drop a kiss on Ruby's head.

Ruby had wished for this, for her and her sister to remain happy in Beacon. For Beacon to be their new home.

Chapter Text

The month of September brought the start of slightly cooler weather on a good day but for the most part was still unbearably hot.Nothing of interest really happened during the beginning of September. The Xiao Long-Rose sisters went to school or work and continued making a life in Beacon. Everything was fine.

Until the incessant phone calls started.

Ruby remained blissfully unaware; Yang spent quite a bit of time ignoring phone calls or picking up and hiding in the bathroom to argue. She didn't tell Ruby anything and they both just went about their daily lives. Ruby started talking about the festival that everyone else was also apparently talking about. She was really excited, and roped her older sister into agreeing to accompany her.

That's how the two sisters found themselves standing on the sidewalk, watching dozens of people run around the streets that had been shut down. It was still decently light outside, though it probably wouldn't stay that way for long.

"What is this again?" Yang asked. She wasn't sure what she'd actually agreed to, but there were a few rides set up and lots of booths.

"Jaune called it the Toll Road Festival,” Ruby shrugged. All she knew was that Jaune had seemed excited. He'd mentioned there were some rides and a lot of alcohol, like so much alcohol everyone was drunk from Friday night until Sunday morning.

"Oh?" Yang was still confused. The entirety of both Vytal and Magnolia were shut down.. Most  of Vytal was covered in rides like the swings and teacups and Magnolia had been set up with a  stage for music and the beer stand. Both streets were lined with  booths for crafts and food trucks. The whole thing was so surreal for both of them.

“It’s going to be so much fun Yang. Promise me you’ll have fun. I know you’re tired and stuff but c’mon, you’re still only 19. You’re supposed to have fun!” Ruby grabbed her sister’s hand and put on her best puppy dog face, complete with pout and everything.

“Hey I do have fun!” Yang protested. “Excuse me, little miss, who is the adult here? Isn’t it my job to tell you to have fun.” She ruffled Ruby’s hair and laughed.

“You barely leave the motel except for work.” Ruby said. It was true. Yang never seemed to go out with the new friends they had made. She was always holed up in their room. Ruby didn’t get it because Yang wasn’t the kind of person to do that. That was Ruby’s job.

“I go see Blake at the library sometimes.” Yang pointed out. Okay, that sounded a little sad.

“Yaaaaaang, pleeeeeaseeeee.” Ruby begged. Yang rolled her eyes and poked her sister in the side, causing her to giggle.

“Fine, fine. I’ll lighten up. You know I’m just trying to look out for you and shit. Are you sure you’re actually my sister? You never used to like going out.” Yang made a show about checking her sister’s head for a temperature. It always used to be the opposite with Yang pushing Ruby to leave her comfort zone. She didn't know when the roles had reversed. Oh god, Yang was turning into an old person.

“I like it here and you suck. I just like going out with people I’m comfortable with.” Ruby smacked Yang’s hand away, only for her sister to bring it down to tickle her. They both laughed as Ruby squirmed. As big as she seemed to be getting Yang was glad to see her little sister was still her little sister, even if she was growing up too fast.

"Look there's Weiss!" Ruby pulled away so she could point down the road where Weiss was talking to a taller woman who looked a lot like Weiss. "Weiss!"

"Who's the hot chick?" Yang chuckled. Weiss turned to look at them, arms crossed. Ruby waved frantically and Yang couldn't see Weiss' face but she had the feeling she was rolling her eyes. Weiss said something to the woman and they walked up to the sisters.

"You're such a dolt. Why didn't you just walk down the street?" Weiss frowned.

"Weiss don't be rude, introduce me to your new friends." The woman smirked.

"This is Ruby and her sister Yang. Yang, Ruby, this is my older sister Winter." Weiss introduced.

"I've heard a little bit about you. You and Weiss look so much alike." Ruby grinned, bouncing on her heels.

"Weiss has talked about the two of you as well. Apologies for my rudeness. I've been meaning to properly welcome you two to Beacon but I've been busy at work." Winter said, reaching out to shake Ruby and Yang's hands.

"I get that, we've had plenty keeping us busy." Yang shoved her hands in the pockets of her shorts.

"Well it was a pleasure meeting you two. I've got to go find James." Winter placed a hand on Weiss' shoulder and squeezed. "Try to have fun."

"Bye Winter." Weiss rolled her eyes. Winter shook her head and walked off leaving the other three behind.

"Your sister is really cool." Ruby gushed.

"And hot." Yang smirked, wiggling her eyebrows. She wasn't looking to sleep with someone but the look on Weiss' face only encouraged her. Flirting was a great weapon after all.

"Sun and Coco already tried to sleep with her, get in line," Weiss huffed.

"You know Weiss I didn't expect to see you around here. This doesn't seem like your kind of place," Ruby commented. Weiss had mentioned her dislike of parties and events where people were drinking and acting like idiots.

"It's really not, but Winter insists it's a time for bonding. Besides, if Nora suspects someone isn't coming to something, she sends Pyrrha to guilt them into it," Weiss explained.

"I've got Ruby for that,” Yang joked.

"Hey! It'll be fun. Jaune said Beacon has a bunch of great events that happen throughout the year," Ruby said.

"I know, Ruby," Yang ruffled her younger sister’s hair.

"I don't know much about this festival. I asked Velvet, and she only told me a little bit. I guess there's a football game tomorrow and everyone gets drunk," Weiss sounded anything but excited. Ruby smiled and had to suppress her urge to laugh.

"Is there anything you guys do that doesn't involve drinking?" Yang raised an eyebrow.

"No. Everyone is a budding alcoholic. The joys of a small town." Weiss shook her head.

"Is anyone even old enough?" Yang asked.

"I don't think so. I don't think Ozpin cares enough to stop anyone though. Underage drinking is by far the least of Beacon's problems," Weiss said.

"So, where is everyone?" Yang wondered, glancing around for anyone else.

"I don't know, probably the beer stand," Weiss suggested. "We can head over to check."

"Sounds like a plan," Yang shrugged.

"C'mon, Weiss!" Ruby grabbed Weiss' hand and started tugging her towards where the beer stand was, where she thought she could see some familiar heads of hair. Yang noticed as a faint pink appeared on Weiss' cheeks. Ruby didn't notice, however.

"Slow down, Rubes. We're not in a hurry and we don't want you to break Weiss,” Yang chuckled as she followed along. The group was indeed hanging out at the beer stand, the majority already holding cups. Yatsu, Sage, and Coco were the exceptions. Yang was surprised, wasn't Coco one of the biggest drinkers? Based on her extremely dour expression, and the absence of Velvet, she wasn't going to ask.

Ruby was pleased to see Ren and Nora by each other's side again, standing with Pyrrha and Jaune, chatting. They'd been spending more time apart than she was led to believe was normal.

"The sisters have finally decided to grace us with their presence!" Sun announced, throwing out his arm and nearly spilling beer all over Scarlet.

"Sun started early," Scarlet batted away Sun's hand.

"That reminds me, happy belated birthday, Scarlet. You too Yatsu." Weiss said.

"You two had birthdays!?" Ruby asked in shock.

"Yes, mine is on the 9th and Scarlet's the 6th. We save the celebration for the festival,” Yatsu explained before nodding his thanks at Weiss.

"I am not one for parties." Scarlet sighed, eyeing Sun with distaste. Neptune snorted and Sage just shook his head.

"Your problem is Sun, not parties,” Sage said.

"Listen! I'm the life of the party," Sun protested. Neptune grabbed his chin and turned him so they could kiss, laughing.

"Yes you are, babe,” Neptune agreed.

"Sun has a point though. We weren't sure if you two would come,” Blake spoke up. Ruby couldn't help but notice her sister and Blake share a look, but she couldn't really place it. That was new. What surprised her though, was Yang slinging her arm around Blake's shoulder.

"Come on, Blakey. I told you I'd be here. Plus Ruby loves rides, so we wouldn't have missed it for the world," Yang grinned. Had they become friends when Ruby wasn't looking? It seemed like they had.

"You were late," Blake rolled her eyes, but made no effort to shrug off Yang's arm. Truthfully, Yang herself was surprised. Blake usually brushed off Yang's casual affection. Lately, she hadn't though.

"Yeah, yeah, but we're here now. That's what matters," Yang waved her hand.

"Where's Velvet?" Weiss asked, her brow furrowed. Ruby was glad she'd asked; she wasn't comfortable enough to ask herself.

"Ask Coco," Fox's voice came out sharper than either of the girls had ever heard before. Coco crossed her arms over her chest and huffed, not saying anything.

"Velvet may join us later," Yatsu said.

"Oh hey guys, look who's here!" Jaune said, apparently having only now noticed the sisters and Weiss joining the group.

"I'm so glad you two could make it," Pyrrha smiled, her cheeks flushed. Yang could tell Sun wasn't the only one who'd already started drinking. In fact, Jaune looked rather tipsy as well. Scandalous.

"Yang!" Nora greeted enthusiastically. "I was wondering when my fellow heavyweight drinker would get here."

"Oh, uh, hey Nora," Yang responded awkwardly. She could feel Ruby's eyes immediately on her. She hadn't actually told her about the incident at the party. In her pocket, her phone buzzed.

"Nora," Ren sighed.

"No drinking competitions this year, I promise," Nora frowned, seemingly displeased. Ruby got the impression that there had been some in the past, and Ren's attitude suggested they had not gone well.

"So Rubes, you gonna be okay on your own for a bit? I promised Blake some rides," Yang winked, squeezing Blake's shoulder. Blake rolled her eyes again but nodded.

"Sure, I'll be good. I'm sure someone else will want to hang out. What about you, Weiss?" Ruby turned to look at the other girl hopefully.

"I suppose," Weiss rolled her eyes as well. Guess the sisters had that effect on people.

Sun leaned over and whispered something in Blake's ear. She frowned and pulled away from Yang.

"Let's go, Yang," Blake suggested, finishing off the drink in her hand.

"Sure thing, see ya Rubes," Yang kissed Ruby on the head and the two left together.

"Here, Ruby,” Nora pressed her drink into Ruby's hands, surprising her. Ren didn't even react or try to stop her.

"Nora!" Weiss' eyes widened considerably.

"What's the harm? Yang just walked off, and she's 17, plenty of us started drinking younger," Nora shrugged.

"Nora's right!" Sun announced. He took Neptune's drink and shoved it into Weiss' hands. "Live a little, Weiss!"

"I don't know if we should be doing this without Yang's permission..." Pyrrha was the sensible one.

"It's up to Ruby. If she wants to drink, I don't see Yang stopping her," Jaune commented, taking a swig from his cup. Ruby just kind of stood there, holding the drink. On one hand, curiosity made her wonder, but on the other hand, Ruby wasn't a fan of alcohol's effect on people. She looked to Weiss desperately.

"Don't look at me, this is your decision," Weiss huffed.

"I think we're going to take our leave," Fox said. "I want plausible deniability when Yang wants to know who got her little sister shit-faced. Moody Coco, are you coming? Or would you rather pout some more about Velvet being mad at you?"

"Why is Velvet mad at her?" Sage asked. Ruby was getting whiplash with how many different people were in such a small space.

"That is not our information to share,” Yatsu said, even though Fox looked like he was about to share. Fox shrugged, and Coco looked like she was going to kill him. Yatsu ushered them both off.

"I have to agree with Fox. I don't know Yang very well, but I don't doubt she would kill us,” Scarlet nodded. He shared a look with Sage, and they left.

"Listen, Ruby, you only live once," Neptune grinned. Ruby had never been one to last against peer pressure. It had been a rather big problem in the past. So, with one last glance towards Weiss, she took a drink from the cup. Neptune and Sun both high fived and Nora squealed.

"Hell yeah! Drunk Ruby plan is in action," Nora grabbed Ren's arm in her excitement. Ren shook his head but it seemed to be in amusement.

"You all are terrible influences! I wish Ozpin would put a stop to this," Weiss said indignantly.

"Drink up, Weiss. You lost the bet." Neptune reached over to push the drink up to Weiss' mouth. Reluctantly, she took a drink. Ruby was confused and looked at everyone, hoping someone would explain.

"Nora bet Weiss that she could get you to drink. If Weiss lost she had to get drunk at the festival,” Jaune explained.

"Haven't I told you about betting on people?" Pyrrha frowned. She fixed both girls with a stern look that looked less stern and more adorable since she was drunk.

"It's boring not to make bets. You already took away drinking competitions,” Nora whined.

"I apologize, Pyrrha,” Weiss muttered. She took another drink and made a face. Ruby took a drink from her cup as well. Beer was gross. She didn't understand how Yang could drink the stuff.

"Why don't we all go get into it? We're all hanging around the beer stand when there's a whole festival waiting!" Jaune suggested. "Weiss, Ruby, you two can hang out with Pyrrha and I, since you're both new."

"I'd like that, Jaune," Ruby smiled.

"I suppose.” Weiss sighed, but she didn't seem thrilled.

"Awesome, let's go!" Jaune fist pumped.

"I promised Nora we would ride the teacups first, so we're going to do that," Ren said. He and Nora walked off which prompted Jaune, Pyrrha, Ruby, and Weiss to take their own leave and explore the festival. Ruby had never been to anything like it before. There were festivals Yang had taken Ruby to in Hawaii, they were just more cultural. This festival reminded Ruby more of the fair her uncle had taken them to when they'd visited California a few years before.

"This place is barbaric," Weiss commented as a couple of drunks ran by yelling loudly and flinging beer at each other.

"It's football season, what do you expect?" Pyrrha raised an eyebrow.

"Is football really that big here?" Ruby asked.

"No one talks about anything else for the entire season. People here take it way too seriously,” Jaune nodded. Ruby didn't know much about football. It had never been something that interested her. Yang had watched it some, but she'd preferred going out and surfing than watching sports.

"Our group gets into it too," Pyrrha reminded him.

"There's nothing else better to do," Jaune shrugged. He threw an arm around her and a faint pink dusted her cheeks. "So where to first? Rides? Crafts? Food?"

"Well-" Pyrrha was interrupted by her phone ringing. She pulled it out to answer, and her expression immediately morphed into a frown. "Penny, sweetie, take a breath. I can't understand what you're saying."

"Why don't you two go ahead, I'll wait with Pyrrha," Jaune suggested.

"No, I don't think Ciel hates you. Breathe, Penny, slow cleansing breaths,” Pyrrha assured gently.

"Alright, come on Weiss,” Ruby took Weiss' arm as they started walking again. It kind of defeated the purpose of going with the two to begin with, but Ruby figured they'd catch up soon. Plus, it wasn't rocket science.

"Haven't we talked about touching?" Weiss pulled her arm free.

"Right, sorry," Ruby rubbed at her neck sheepishly.

"This isn't the kind of place I'm used to," Weiss admitted. "Growing up, I attended more formal events."

"Yang used to take me to festivals, but nothing like this," Ruby said.

"You say things like that a lot. Why was Yang taking you so many places? She doesn't seem like she'd provide the most responsible supervision,” Weiss frowned and Ruby couldn't help but flinch.

"Well our mom died when we were little and well, our Dad was a busy man. So Yang played mom. She's a good big sister," Ruby said, a little defensively.

"Well it's not my place to judge," Weiss huffed. Ruby didn't know what else to say, she didn't want to get more into Yang's role in her life. Instead she spotted the bumper cars.

"Ooooooh, Weiss! Let's go do the bumper cars!" Ruby grabbed Weiss' hand and pulled her towards it.

"They look distasteful," Weiss commented. Ruby just pulled harder and they went to the bumper cars. Ruby finished off her beer, despite the taste, and Weiss reluctantly followed suit.

"Nooo, they're so much fun. Trust me," Ruby assured her. Weiss still looked hesitant, but with some more coaxing, they both ended up strapped into a bumper car, Ruby sporting an evil grin. The ride operator's voice warbled over the speakers explaining the rules and basics.

"So we just crash these vehicles into each other?" Weiss asked as the machinery whirred to life.

"Pretty much!" Ruby called over the music that started playing. It took Weiss a moment to get used to the controls. The first time she found the gas, she launched herself forward and nearly got whiplash. Eventually, she did figure things out and went on the hunt for Ruby. Ruby was having the time of her life, knocking into all kinds of people while waiting for Weiss. Weiss and Ruby were both competitive, the drinks buzzing warmly in their heads. They careened into each other recklessly. Ruby swore she even saw Weiss smile.

"I win,” Weiss declared once the rides came to a halt.

"I think you're right," Ruby laughed, climbing out of the car. She didn't really think there was a winner, but she'd rather humor her friend.

"I don't exactly see the appeal, but it could have been worse," Weiss huffed. She had climbed out as well, and smoothed down her skirt as she walked towards Ruby.

"What next?" Ruby asked. They exited the bumper cars and walked back into the festival. Weiss looked around before turning back to Ruby.

"I will defer to your judgement. Perhaps something less violent?" Weiss said, attempting to sound nonchalant.

"Are you okay with heights? We could do the Ferris wheel. Or check out the teacups if you don't mind spinning. Or the big slide is cool," Ruby rattled off the different attractions she knew.

"Big slide?" Weiss raised an eyebrow in disbelief.

"Yeah it's a big slide where you go down on like burlap sack things. C'mon, I'll show you,” Ruby grabbed Weiss' hand and started pulling her again. Weiss didn't resist as they moved along through the streets, which were getting a little more crowded with people. The slide was at the very end of the street and the line was a little longer than the one for bumper cars. Weiss watched as people came sliding down and her lips pursed.

"That hardly looks safe," Weiss commented.

"It's fine. We can even go down together. That way it won't seem so scary," Ruby reassured her friend. Yang used to sit Ruby in her lap whenever they'd go down the slide. Ruby eventually got old enough to go down by herself, but she figured Weiss would appreciate the comfort.

"Um...alright," Weiss huffed, turning away from Ruby. Ruby could have sworn Weiss looked faintly pink in the cheeks, but it was probably just the alcohol.

"Leave me alone!"

Ruby was startled by a loud shrieking. She turned towards the noise coming from the opposite side of the street. Coco was trying to grab at Velvet's hand but she was having none of it. Fox was leaning up against a telephone pole eating a churro.

"Velv, please calm down," Coco pleaded, pulling her hand back as Velvet slapped it away.

"You lied to me! You're supposed to be my best friend and you've been lying to me! " Velvet was full on screaming, jabbing a finger into Coco's chest. Coco took a step back looking guilty as sin.

"I don't have to tell you everything," Coco countered.

"No, you don't as you constantly point out. That doesn't mean you can lie to my face though!" Velvet seemed to get louder, if that was even possible. Coco huffed and turned her face away from Velvet. She spotted Ruby and Weiss, both watching, and looked down at the ground.

"Velvet, we're making a scene," Coco said.

"You think I care?! You went behind my back. You lied about it. I have every right to be angry!" Velvet screamed. "You know how much I don't like Brawnz and you didn't care. Even worse is you lied about being with him after ditching me !"

"I said I was sorry, and I told you I forgot. I didn't mean to ditch you," Coco frowned, crossing her arms. Ruby thought it seemed like she was going on the defensive finally. This only pissed off Velvet more.

"God, I'm so sick of this! I'm so sick of you thinking about only yourself. I don't know why I bother when you've acted the same for years. You still lied to me! " Velvet took her hands and shoved Coco back, causing the taller brunette to stumble back at the force.

"Hey! That was uncalled for!" Coco snapped. Velvet shoved her again and Coco placed a single hand at Velvet's chest. She didn't use any force but it was obvious she was trying to put some distance between the two. Coco said something too quiet for Ruby to hear, which Fox did hear because he stood up straight. Velvet stepped back, looking horrified before turning on her heel and taking off.

"You better go get her, dumbass. That was uncalled for," Fox spoke. Coco hurried after Velvet and Fox went back to leaning on the light pole. During the argument, the line moved steadily and the two girls had finally reached the front of the line.

"I wonder what that was about," Ruby said. The woman in charge of the slide handed Ruby a sack and motioned for them to start going up.

"I don't know, but Velvet mentioned Brawnz Ni which doesn't bode well," Weiss said as they started the climb up the slide.

"Who's that?" Ruby asked.

"He's friends with Roy who works with me. Roy's not too awful but Brawnz is insufferable. He has something against Velvet too. They've never gotten along and he's been known to be downright cruel. I haven't even been here that long and I know about it," Weiss explained.

"Why would Coco be spending time with someone who's mean to Velvet? They're friends right?" Ruby furrowed her brows in confusion.

"I don't know. You'd have to ask someone who does," Weiss said, just as they reached the top. Ruby set the sack down and beckoned for Weiss to take a seat.

"You sit down and I'll sit behind you." Ruby grinned. Weiss looked unsure but she took a seat on it nonetheless. Ruby sat behind her, her legs sticking out on the sides of Weiss. She felt her face heat up at the contact. It was innocent but she'd never done this with anyone but her sister.

"So now what?" Weiss asked and Ruby laughed.

"We slide,” Ruby used one hand to push them and off they went, Weiss letting out an undignified squeak of surprise. Ruby couldn't help but laugh more. As soon as they hit the bottom Weiss jumped off, fidgeting with her skirt.

"Aww, aren't you two cute?" Nora was leaning on the metal gate surrounding the slide. Ren was leaning on it as well but with his back to them as he did something on his phone. Nora held up the two drinks she was carrying, "I brought these for you two lovebirds."

"Shut up," Weiss hissed and Ruby was surprised how genuinely angry and disgusted she seemed. It made a weird pit form in the middle of her stomach.

"Oh I forgot, Little Miss Homophobe is as straight as an arrow," Nora smirked. Ruby's eyebrows furrowed again, looking to Weiss for confirmation. Weiss seemed to be looking anywhere but at Ruby.

"Nora, stop antagonizing Weiss,” Ren sighed heavily.

"You're no fun," Nora stuck out her tongue at Ren.

"You're usually not this bad with anyone but Blake. Is Weiss your new ‘frenemy’?" Ren said dryly, but Ruby got the feeling he was teasing Nora.

"No, I just love the face she makes," Nora giggled. The woman running the thing yelled at Ruby and Weiss to get out, and they hurried to do so. Nora pressed a cup of possibly beer into each of their hands. "Enjoy, ladies. There'll be more soon!" Then she skipped off, Ren trailing behind.

"I see Nora has plied you with more alcohol," Jaune smiled. He and Pyrrha had both finally found them again and walked up as the other two left.

"Uh, yeah," Ruby nodded, feeling and sounding awkward. The whole Nora and Weiss interaction had left a bad taste in Ruby's mouth. She wasn't sure how to feel anymore. She knew she had a crush on Weiss, and while finding out her newly acquired friend was straight was one thing. Finding out she was homophobic was another.

"So what were you two planning to do next?" Pyrrha asked. Ruby sipped at her drink, fears swimming into her head. She could feel her anxiety build at the fear of what Weiss could say. How would Weiss react should Ruby's feelings come to light?

"Ruby?" Weiss looked at Ruby expectantly.

"I don't know," Ruby shrugged.

"Why don't we go watch the duck races? Those are my favorite," Pyrrha suggested. No one objected and the four headed back towards where they'd started. Ruby took drink after drink of what was definitely beer. She had to stop herself from grabbing Weiss' hand again.

"Where to next, Blakey?" Yang slung her arm around Blake's shoulder. They'd been hanging out for a couple hours and after a run in with Sun, they had both had quite a bit to drink. Yang really hadn't planned on drinking. The insane peer pressure threw her plans out the window though. Especially when after a dozen or so beers they had ended up making out behind one of the food trucks... Yang wasn't going to complain though.

"I hate that nickname," Blake grumbled.

"Hey now, you're gonna hurt my feelings," Yang placed a hand on her chest in mock hurt.

"Aren't we supposed to be looking for your sister?" Blake rolled her eyes. Leave it to Blake to keep them on task. Yang was looking for Ruby to make sure she was doing okay. She'd intended to look for her sooner but had gotten distracted. She had faith Ruby would call if something was wrong though.

"I am looking," Yang protested. It wasn't a per-say but Yang was easily distracted when drunk.

"Where do you think she'd be?" Blake asked, trying to subtlety lean into Yang's side. It wasn't very subtle, and it brought a smirk to Yang's lips.

"I dunno. She could be anywhere. I guess I could call her," Yang started digging in her pocket for her phone.

"You're a great sister," Blake said sarcastically. "They let you be her guardian why?"

"Watch it," Yang snapped, anger flaring in her chest. She pulled away to glare at Blake for suggesting she was a bad big sister.

"I'm just saying maybe you should be keeping a better eye on her. She's a kid surrounded by a bunch of not kids." Blake shrugged.

"Shut up. You're not usually such a giant fucking bitch," Yang pulled her phone out of her pocket only for it to start ringing. The anger in her chest flared even more as Blake narrowed her eyes, obviously not a fan of Yang's comment. "Leave me the fuck alone you piece of shit,” She shoved the phone back into her pocket angrily.

"Oh, do you actually have friends?" Blake said, raising an eyebrow.

"You're one to talk. A bunch of druggy roommates are all you've got. Do the others even like you?" Yang scoffed.

"Listen I'm not so pathetic my baby sister is my only real friend. You're lucky I hang around with you,” Blake chuckled. Yang couldn't tell if she meant what she said or if she was baiting her. She was getting angrier and angrier the more they argued though.

"Shut your fucking mouth. How lucky am I that the town whore wants to hang around with me?" Yang practically growled. Blake's lip curled up in disgust as she slapped Yang. Yang saw red as she reached forward and shoved Blake, easily knocking her to the ground.

"Please stop! This is getting out of hand,” A hand came down on Yang's shoulder and she didn't even think as she reacted. She turned around and hauled off, punching Pyrrha in the jaw.

"Oh my god, Pyrrha!" Jaune yelled, running over. Yang was shaking with anger and she couldn't stop. Then suddenly a pair of arms was wrapping around her neck because Ruby had thrown herself into Yang's arms. Her sister was shaking pretty badly too and smelled like beer.

"Yang..." Ruby whimpered, burying her face in Yang's shoulder. She was crying too, while having her panic attack.

"What the hell happened? Has she been drinking?" Yang asked, the anger at Blake turning into concern for Ruby. At that point Jaune was fussing over Pyrrha who was cradling her jaw. Weiss had helped Blake up and was watching Ruby worriedly. Blake for her part was looking at Yang with a mixture of horror and fear.

"We were walking this way from the swings, just talking. Then all of a sudden she started breathing heavily. Yes she's been drinking." Weiss explained, her words slurring enough Yang knew she was pretty drunk too.

"Okay, breathe with me, Rubes. In through your nose, out through your mouth," Yang rubbed her back soothingly, walking towards Port's. They were done for the night. She didn't even look back at the group. They would deal with things in the morning.

Chapter Text

After calming Ruby down and forcing her to drink water, Yang hopped into the shower. Upon getting out, her sister had greeted her with an accusation.

"I thought you were done drinking," Ruby hiccuped.

"Can we not do this tonight?" Yang rubbed at her eyes in frustration with her one arm. The other was laying on the bed. She couldn't be bothered to put it back on at the moment.

"You reeked like dad," The younger sister frowned frowned.

"Stop! You're far from being one to talk, Ruby Rose. What the hell were you thinking? I'm not gonna be a hypocrite and say you can't drink, but fucking hell. If you're going to drink, then it's my job to keep an eye on you. Alcohol is not good for anxiety," Yang scolded, trying to tamp down any anger she had. It wasn’t working very well

"Yeah well, I know that now," Ruby crossed her arms and pouted, "At least I didn't punch Pyrrha in the face."

"Ruby." Yang warned.

"Be careful, you might turn into Dad." Ruby mumbled. Yang took a deep breath and fixed her sister with a stern look.

"I know you're trying to rile me up. Stop, right now. What the hell is wrong with you?" Yang asked, raising her eyebrows. She wasn't dumb, and she knew her sister. Even drunk, she still had more sense about her than most. Certainly more than their dad ever had.

"Nothing," Ruby refused to look at her sister. Yang walked over and sat down next to her, staring. "Weiss is homophobic and straight and super pretty and she called me cute," Tears welled up in Ruby's eyes.

"You're such a lesbian," Yang pulled Ruby into her chest and started stroking her hair. "If it makes you feel any better, I don't think Weiss is really homophobic. Maybe problematic, but not homophobic."

"That's not what Nora said."

"Well... Nora is Nora," Yang shrugged.

"Weiss is a very touchy feely drunk and my gay heart can't handle it." Ruby admitted.

"We're quite the messy pair." Yang chuckled, kissing Ruby's head.

"Maybe we should leave Beacon. Since we're both having problems," Ruby mumbled quietly.

"No way, you love it here. You're just super emotional because you're drunk. Sleep on it and things will be better in the morning," Yang assured her sister.

"Yaaaaaang," Ruby whined, "Why are you so sensible drunk?"

"Because I burn off alcohol quickly, and I'm twice the person dad will ever be," Yang couldn't help but smile in amusement. Her entire body tensed as her phone began ringing.

"Is it dad? Or Uncle Qrow?" Ruby asked. Yang leaned Ruby off of her and straight onto bed.

"Go to sleep, we've still got plans tomorrow," The blonde stood up from the bed and moved into hers. Ruby pulled the blankets up and snuggled into the bed. Yang picked up her phone and read the caller ID. She walked out into the hallway to to answer.

"Are you two okay?" Pyrrha asked, worriedly.

"Yeah, we're fine," Yang blew out a puff of air. "How about you? How's your jaw? Sorry by the way."

"I'm fine. You have quite the left hook though," Pyrrha assured her. Yang didn't think she sounded mad, but she couldn't be sure over the phone. Yang could feel the guilt curling in her stomach. This is why she had stopped drinking! She wasn't going to turn into her father and yet, here she was, walking down the path she'd tried so hard to get away from. Alcohol had a powerful hold on her, though. Once she started, it was hard to stop. Why was she such an angry drunk?

"I really am sorry," Yang frowned.

"Don't worry, Yang. I hold no ill will towards you. One of the things I do in my free time is mentor kids in the city. I should know better than to touch someone without announcing my presence and asking," Pyrrha was such a kind person.

"Yeah, well, still," Yang muttered, kicking at the carpeted hallway floor.

"Would you like to talk, Yang? I've been told I'm a good listener by more than one. You just seem like you could use it," Pyrrha offered, "I believe we have some things in common as well."

"Misery loves company," Yang chuckled.

"If it would make you feel better, I could share some of myself. I'm not usually one to talk about myself but I don't think you are either," Pyrrha said. Yang could hear the hesitance in her voice.

"Maybe," Yang ran her hand through her hair. "How's Jaune? I can't imagine he's very pleased that I punched you."

"Jaune is making a lot of unnecessary fuss, as is his way." Pyrrha chuckled.

"He wanna kick my ass?" Yang asked, amused.

"Something of the sort." Pyrrha admitted.

"How about the others? Blake looked pretty fucked up," Yang was genuinely worried about the scene she'd caused.

"They're all fine. Almost everyone has been too drunk to care. Or caught up in their own problems. Blake's perfectly fine. She's never been good with violence, but she bounces back fast." Pyrrha explained.

"Cool," Yang nodded even though Pyrrha couldn't see it, "Am I still welcome tomorrow? If you'd rather I just send Ruby....."

"No, we want both of you to join us. If you would like to come early for that talk, you are more than welcome. Jaune can keep Ruby entertained," Pyrrha was smiling, Yang could hear it.

"Alright, we'll be there," Yang sighed, "Just, listen, I don't care if Ruby gets drunk. I'd just rather she have someone keeping an eye on her."

"Of course. I apologize for that myself. I never realized Ruby had anxiety quite so severe, or else I would have been keeping a better eye on her," Pyrrha said.

"It's cool. She hides it pretty well. Hey, what's the deal with Weiss? Ruby's all torn up about shit. Apparently she's homophobic or something?" Yang figured she needed some more details to help her sister.

"Weiss has a lot of her own issues. She was rather ignorant when she first came here, but she's made great strides since her arrival. She's still rather new, like you and your sister. As you can see, some people who have been here much longer still don't have everything together, being new is even worse," Pyrrha was vague, but Yang got the gist of it.  

"Yeah, I get it. Thanks Pyrrha," Yang leaned against the wall, her head back.

"It’s no problem at all. I should get going though. There are many crises I still have to deal with before I can get some sleep," Pyrrha chuckled, "Being the willing ear certainly keeps me busy."

"All that pain, misery, and loneliness... and it just made her kind," Yang commented, quoting a show. Pyrrha was quiet for a very long moment.

"That's a good episode," Pyrrha sighed, "I could say the same about you, Yang."

"Good night, Pyrrha," Yang closed her eyes, head still pressing into the wall.

"Good night, Yang."

Yang pulled the phone away from her ear to end the call and shoved it back into her pocket. Phantom pain suddenly shot up her right arm. She stood there, eyes closed, just breathing. For just a moment, the world melted away as she focused on her breathing. She blocked out the pain to just focus on breathing.

After about five minutes, she walked back into the room. Ruby was passed out in the bed, her sweatshirt clutched in her fists. Yang walked over to cover her up, kissing Ruby's head goodnight.

"Night, sis," Yang whispered. In that moment, she looked 3 again and Yang felt her heart constrict. With a deep breath, she walked back over to her bed and laid down to stare at the ceiling. It had been a long day, maybe her exhaustion would win out against her brain in the fight for sleep.

About 10 am the next morning, the sisters found themselves at the door to Pyrrha and Jaune's apartment. It was the only one with a livingroom big enough and with enough seats to fit everyone. Pyrrha answered the door, beckoning the girls in. Jaune was sleeping on the couch, laying on his stomach and the side of his face pressed into the soft fabric. His arm was hanging limply off the side and it looked like Pyrrha had tossed a blanket over him. 

"He was up for a bit. Even got ready. Then he laid down on the couch and passed out," Pyrrha explained, leading them to the kitchen, "Want anything to drink?"

"I'll drink anything," Yang shrugged.

"I'm going to go wake Jaune up and make him show me Andromeda like he promised!" Ruby exclaimed and left the kitchen to do that. Yang took a seat at the breakfast bar as Pyrrha got in the fridge. She pulled out two bottles of Sprite before sliding one over to Yang. Pyrrha didn't take a seat, but just leaned on the table across from her. Yang felt her gut twist when she finally noticed the ugly, angry looking bruise on Pyrrha’s jaw where she'd been hit.

"How's that feel?" Yang jerked her chin at Pyrrha in a bro nod and twisted off the cap of the Sprite.

"It's sore, but it's nothing I can't handle," Pyrrha smiled, opening her own bottle. Yang hummed and took a drink.

"You're really chill about this," Yang commented.

"Pain and I are old friends," Pyrrha shrugged.

"Self hatred is a powerful thing," The blonde said as she lifted up her Sprite.

"That it is," Pyrrha lifted her own and they tapped them together. Yang took a sip and Pyrrha mirrored the action, the playful sounds of Jaune and Ruby coming from the living room.

"How are you so good at this?!" Jaune asked. They were both playing Halo, and Ruby's tongue was poking out the side of her mouth in concentration. Gunfire, along with other general sounds of the game, blared from the TV.

"I’ve played a lot of games, I’ll have you know. I.. didn't get out much," Ruby shrugged. She didn't have a lot of friends back at home, and barely got to see any of the ones she did have. The world was a scary place, and she preferred hiding out in her room. Yang was the one always going out. Usually with that pink haired girl. Ruby had only really ever gone out with......

"You're always welcome here for games. Ya know, after school and stuff," Jaune offered, "I don't even have to be here. There's an extra key hidden under the welcome mat."

"Thanks Jaune," Ruby grinned.

"No problem. Maybe once you two get settled, I can direct you to Sun. He's got all kinds of crazy connections for finding cheap systems," Jaune smiled back. He was such a sweet guy. Ruby always wondered how he'd ended up in a place like Beacon.

"That sounds cool! I miss my Xbox a lot," Ruby sighed as she finished off a guy on the game.

"I spent one of my first paychecks from the diner on mine. It definitely helped give me a sense of normalcy again," Jaune nodded in understanding. Ruby could faintly hear Yang and Pyrrha talking, something she was grateful for. They’d been talking for a while.

"So uh, how did yesterday go?" Ruby asked, awkwardly rubbing at her neck. She didn't know if she should bring it up or not. Jaune shifted and paused the game, frowning.

"I was pretty upset… and still am, I guess. I don't know how Pyrrha can just let something like that go," Jaune huffed, "But if she says it's fine, then there's nothing more I can do. Blake was pretty shaken up, so Sun took her home. Pyrrha said he texted her later though, and she's fine now. Weiss was super worried about you for half a second, until Winter came around and she turned to stone once again. Everyone else I assume just went about their nights. Pyrrha and I left so she could ice her face."

"Oh, okay," Ruby frowned too. She and Yang had caused quite the commotion with everything. Especially Yang punching Pyrrha.

"Hey now, don't worry about it," Jaune placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, "Most of us aren't the type to get hung up on stuff. Especially not with newbies. Blake and Weiss weren't easy to handle when they showed up either. They're still not easy."

"That makes sense," Ruby said, but she didn't know if she believed him. There was a knock at the door, and Ruby listened as Pyrrha answered it. She recognized the voices as Ren and Nora.

"That's the sign we should wrap this up and get ready to turn on the football game," Jaune said, pausing the game. Ruby placed the controller in her lap and wrung at her skirt with her hands.

"Hey, you know, if you need some quiet time I've got my DS in my room. You can go in there for a breather," He smiled.

"Thanks Jaune," Ruby let herself breathe a sigh of relief.

"No problem! That's what friends are for," Jaune winked and Ruby couldn't help but throw her arms around his neck. They hugged for a long moment, before a cough got their attention.

"Do you want a beer, Jaune?" Pyrrha asked. There was something off about her, aside from the big bruise.

"Yeah sure!" Jaune grinned, shooting Pyrrha a thumbs up.

"Ruby?" Pyrrha was more hesitant asking Ruby, "Your sister said one or two wouldn't hurt if you wanted one."

"No, I'm okay," Ruby smiled. She didn't want a repeat performance of the day before. Pyrrha nodded and left the living room. Ren and Nora came in just after, and Nora practically threw herself across their laps.

"Hi guys!" Nora grinned. Ren took a seat on the loveseat to the left. Yang came in with two armfuls of folding chairs and started setting them up. "Yang! I'm so upset I missed your punch. I heard it was epic."

"Nora." Ren rolled his eyes, in his tone was a definite warning.

"What?! It's not like she punched, oh, I don't know, Ozpin." Nora raised her eyebrows, giving Ren a pointed look. Ren sighed and crossed his arms, falling silent. "It's not like she punched Pyrrha on purpose, either."

"I was drunk and on edge," Yang muttered, still diligently setting up chairs.

"At least it wasn't an actual fight. We've had those before." Nora hummed, stretching across Ruby and Jaune. She had situated her head on Jaune's thigh and her butt on Ruby's lap.

"There haven't been any since I've been here," Jaune commented.

"You've been here like a year. Hey Ren, remember when Scarlet wrecked Brawnz?" Nora turned her head to look at him.

"He deserved it," Ren nodded.

"I think there have been plenty since you've been here though, Jaune. You just haven't seen them," Nora commented, shoving her hand up under her head. Jaune started poking at her stomach. She swatted at his hand with her free hand.

Ruby turned her head to look at her sister. Yang was struggling with a chair that did not want to open. There was frustration on her face, and something else Ruby couldn't place, but as soon as she noticed Ruby looking she shot her sister a megawatt smile.

Yang was not okay.

"I'm going to go help Pyrrha in the kitchen," Ren said, standing up and walking into the kitchen. There was another knock at the door followed by a burst of chatter as Pyrrha let Sun, Sage, Scarlet, and Neptune in. Ruby assumed Blake was with them but she didn't hear her among the bickering of the others.

"Yang! Will you come here please?" Pyrrha called.

Ruby watched as the body language in her sister changed. It had already been uneasy but that quickly morphed into rigid tension. Nevertheless, she headed towards the kitchen. Another knock signaled more arrivals as the boys funneled into the living room. Sun handed Jaune his beer, and passed another to Nora before flopping onto the loveseat. The other three crowded in next to him.

"Hey guys, what's up?" Sun greeted, taking a large swig from his bottle.

Ruby tuned out as everyone started talking. They started discussing the day's plans and how they thought the game would go. Nora got up to make room on the couch for Weiss, which surprised Ruby because she took a seat next to her. Everyone else showed up; Fox and Yatsu placed between Coco and Velvet. Blake and Yang trailed in last, even after Pyrrha.

Ruby was crowded onto the couch with Weiss, Jaune, Pyrrha, Nora, and Ren. Sun and Neptune had claimed the seats on the loveseat and Sage and Scarlet were perched on each arm. Yatsu, Fox, Coco, and Velvet had taken up the folding chairs. The most surprising of all though was Blake and Yang fitting themselves into the recliner, Yang's arm around Blake and Blake's head on her shoulders. What was that about?

"Ruby, would you like some popcorn?" Weiss' voice pulled Ruby out of her thoughts. "A drink?"

"Oh uh, yeah, sure," Ruby nodded. Weiss smiled and got up to get some popcorn and drinks. There was a loud cheer as Ohio State scored a touchdown. Ruby couldn't even pretend to understand football. Weiss returned shortly after and settled a bowl of popcorn on their touching thighs, handing Ruby an off-brand orange pop.

"I forgot to ask what you liked, but I figured you'd like anything with sugar," Weiss smiled and Ruby felt her heart flutter.

"Yeah, this is good," Ruby smiled back.

"I really liked yesterday," Weiss blurted out, surprising Ruby, "The slide was really fun. It was definitely my favorite."

"Really?" Ruby was even more surprised. This was actually really weird. Weiss usually wasn't this nice to her.

"Yes, it was very enjoyable," Weiss coughed uncomfortably.

"I'm glad." Ruby flashed Weiss her brightest smile. Maybe Yang was right. Maybe things with Weiss would be alright after all. Part of her brain told her she was just being delusional but she genuinely wanted to believe it would be okay. Blake and Yang were doing okay weren't they?

"Your puns are awful," Blake shoved jokingly at Yang's side, causing her to laugh loudly.

"You love my puns, Blakey," Yang grinned. She looked genuinely happy in the moment. They had bounced back fast, which seemed weird, but Ruby wasn't going to say anything.

Glancing around, everyone else seemed fine. Coco and Velvet weren't talking but they both had beers so maybe that would change. Nora wasn't practically sitting on top of Ren, which was kind of weird, but it seemed like everyone was okay.

Another cheer went up at something in the game and Ruby settled back into the couch, trying to force herself to relax.

"Does anyone want a beer before they go?" Pyrrha asked of the group as everyone began gathering to leave. The game had been won and it was time to head out for the festival. Yang was standing next to Blake near the back, keeping an eye on her sister. Though Ruby had done okay, Yang still worried. She'd been laughing with Weiss during the game though, so things seemed to have improved.

"You want one?" Blake asked. Yang hesitated, remembering how it had gone the last time. Her and Blake had a talk though, after her talk with Pyrrha. Things were better-ish. "A couple drinks won't hurt."

"Sure," Yang shrugged. Blake nodded and made her way through the crowd to get the drinks. Ruby walked over to Yang, Weiss trailing behind.

"Weiss and I are going to head out to check out some more rides. Weiss said she'll try anything once," Ruby said, a glint of mischief in her eyes.

"Alright have fun, text me if you need me," Yang leaned forward to kiss her head, "Love you!"

"Love you too!" Ruby called, skipping off. Yang caught Weiss' wrist and gave her stern, warning look.

"Keep an eye on her and if you hurt my sister you will regret it," Yang threatened.

"Okay," Weiss nodded before quickly following Ruby. Ren and Nora appeared beside Yang, apparently finally gotten up from the couch. She wondered how Ren had convinced Nora to move from her comfy spot.

"Hey, May's right outside. I'm going to go talk to her real quick and I'll be back," Ren stated. He walked out of the apartment, and Nora huffed.

"May this, May that, " Nora mocked, obviously upset. Wow, jealous much? Yang thought it was kind of funny.

"Hey Nora, come here," Sun poked her shoulder. Nora shrugged and the two walked off somewhere just as Blake returned with beers. She handed Yang hers, the top already off.

"Thanks, Blakey. You're cat-tastic," Yang winked.

"Weak, Xiao Long." Blake rolled her eyes. Ren came back in and looked around, frowning.

"Nora went off with Sun," Yang offered, figuring he was looking for her. A flash of jealousy suddenly washed over his face. Wow, Nora wasn't the only one. Why weren't they together?

"Well, I guess I'll go with May, then," Ren commented dryly, walking away once again. Yang shrugged and gestured for the door.

"Ready to go?" The blonde asked.

"Yeah just a minute, I told Coco she could hang out with us for a bit. She's meeting up with someone, but not for a little while," Blake nodded, looking around for Coco.

"Okay, cool. How's she doing? Her and Velvet are on the rocks about something, aren't they?" Yang asked, curious. Blake leaned over and lowered her voice.

"There's this guy named Brawnz who lived around here. Piece of crap, really. He treats Velvet like shit because he has this weird radar for finding the chink in the armor and I guess upsetting Velvet is easy? I don't know. She hates the guy. Coco and him are friends for some reason. They fuck too, not that Velvet knows that part. The problem is Coco lied about why she was bailing on Velvet and went to hang out with Brawnz. Then, I guess yesterday, she found out about it and they fought," Blake explained.  

"That sounds... complicated." Yang frowned.

"Drama in Beacon always is." Blake shrugged.

"So I've noticed," Yang responded with a small head nod; Blake was right. There was always drama, and it was always super complicated for no reason. Then again, she figured with all the demons running around Beacon, a few were bound to clash.

"Hey, has Ren come back yet?" Nora asked as she reappeared, looking at Yang and completely ignoring Blake. Blake glared daggers at her.

"Yeah, but then he left again with May," Yang answered honestly. Nora's face fell, and Yang suddenly got an intense pang of worry. The look on her face was concerning.

"Fine..." With that, Nora walked off again, back towards Sun. Coco finally appeared, equipped with a big water bottle filled a weird neon pink colored liquid.

"What is that?" Yang raised an eyebrow.

"Pink lemonade," Coco shrugged, and Yang knew that was definitely not pink lemonade. Yang could already smell the vodka on her breath.

"Fuck, Coco. Slow down," Blake wrinkled her nose.

"Where's the fun?" Coco smirked, pointedly taking a drink from the water bottle.

"Let's go," Yang suggested, eager to get out. Pyrrha caught her eye on the way out, and they both exchanged a loaded look before leaving. They would definitely talk again.
The three girls headed out into the hot air, heading for the festival.

"So, when are you and Velvs gonna fuck and make up?" Blake asked.

"Hah! Hopefully never." Coco winked. Yang's expression turned to one of confusion. Why had she winked?

"What does that even mean?" Blake looked just as confused as Yang.

"I fucked Brawnz so she would hate me. If she hates me, we won't sleep together and I can stop feeling like I want to die inside," Coco took a drink from her bottle.

"Oh my god, please tell me you're not serious." Blake looked at Coco incredulously.

"Fox said the exact same thing!" Coco laughed, "But yes, I am very serious."

"You're driving Velvet away because you don't want to sleep with her anymore?" Yang was even more confused than she had been.

"Yeah 'cause I'm in love with her and she's not with me," Coco nodded.

"You two are the worst." Blake sighed, rolling her eyes.

"This doesn't make any sense," Yang muttered. She'd heard about how Coco and Velvet only ever touched each other when drunk.

"She's a straight girl, guys," Coco said. Right, Yang thought, and Weiss is straight too. Some people needed to seriously get a reality check on sexuality.
Yang wasn't going to get into that. Some people weren't comfortable with their sexuality. That being, it was usually pretty obvious they were gay anyway. Maybe being close to someone blinded you from knowing the truth.

"Let's just go do some shit," Yang suggested, earning a nod of agreement from Blake. The three kept walking to go see if they could find anything to do.

About an hour of drinking and playing some of the games the festival had to offer, Coco bid them farewell as she went off with Scarlet and Sage for whatever reason. That left Blake and Yang alone with each other. At Pyrrha and Jaune's apartment, they'd talked a little, but not enough for Yang to be completely confident Blake was over the night before. They had both agreed to let it go though, so there was nothing for Yang to say. Point one thousand for not dealing with your problems.

That certainly didn't stop them from making out in the park bathrooms that had been opened for the festival.

Blake's legs were wrapped around her waist while she sat on one of the sinks. Yang's hands were on Blake's ass, holding her up while her hands were tangled in Yang's hair.

"You're good at this," Blake murmured.

"I'm good with my mouth," Yang smirked. The two kissed fiercely, one of Blake's hands wandering from her hair and towards Yang's shirt, pushing it up. The sound of retching suddenly pulled them both away from their task, and Yang looked towards one of the closed stalls.

"What?" Blake frowned. They both waited a moment as the toilet flushed and out stepped Nora, wiping at her mouth with the back of her hand.

"You alright, Nora?" Yang asked, worry piercing through the lust and alcohol haze in her head.

"Just... too much to drink," Nora shrugged, walking over to one of the sinks to wash up.

"Sure," Blake scoffed.

"Shut up, Blake." Nora warned. Blake didn't say anything as Nora finished up and stormed out.

"What was that about?" Yang asked.

"Nothing," Blake said as she pulled Yang in for a kiss, "Let's go to my place, none of my roommates are home."

"Alright," Yang shrugged. Blake grinned and hopped down from the sink, grabbing Yang’s hand and pulling her out the door. Something caught Yang’s attention, though, “Wait, fuck shit, is that Jaune?”


“I think so,” Blake squinted into the distance.

“Who’s that girl with him?” Yang wondered. Jaune was making out with an orange haired girl Yang didn’t recognize behind one of the rides.


“Neon, probably,” Blake tugged at Yang’s wrist to get her to follow her.


“Weird,” Yang muttered as she turned to go, catching a flash of red in the crowded streets. She really hoped it wasn’t who she thought it was. Putting it out of her mind was best, because she was getting ready to go fuck Blake.


She really hadn’t changed since leaving Hawaii, had she?


“Oh, hi Ren!” Ruby greeted, taking a seat at one of the picnic tables across from him. Weiss sat down next to her. Night had fallen, and it had gotten pretty late. The two girls had gone to the picnic tables to wait for their sisters.


“Hey Ruby, Weiss,” Ren looked up from his phone to smile at them.


“Whatcha doing here?” Ruby asked.


“Waiting for Nora. She left her key at home, so we have to go home together,” Ren explained and, as if on cue, Nora showed up hanging off Sun. Both looked like they were using each other for support.


“Renny!” Nora giggled, practically throwing herself onto his lap. She reached up to tap his nose with her finger, “Boop!”


“Hi, Nora. Ready to go home?” Ren stood up, standing Nora up with him.


“Thanks for hanging out with me!” Nora leaned up to kiss Sun on the cheek.


“No problem, Thora. You’re a hell of chick to hang out with,” Sun winked. Ren sighed as Nora hung off him and batted her eyelashes.


“Let’s go home!” Nora announced.


“Bye, Sun, Ruby, Weiss,” Ren nodded at them all before proceeding to practically drag Nora off, the drunk girl unsteady on her feet. Sun plopped down in the seat Ren had previously been occupying.


“Have fun, ladies?” Sun grinned.


“It was acceptable,” Weiss said, but Ruby knew she’d had a nice time.


“Yeah! It was great,” Ruby grinned back. It had been so much fun. Beacon always seemed to make her so happy. There were low points, but she was having more fun than she ever had before. The festival was almost better than her birthday party.


“Well enjoy it while it lasts,” Sun snorted, leaning his head on his hand.


“What does that mean?” Weiss frowned.


“There’s always a downward spiral after things like this. The barbecue had one too but our crew didn’t get the shit deal for once. This time though? Probs fucked,” Sun was a little hard to understand with his slurring, but Ruby got what he was trying to say, “Beacon has the shittiest luck.”


“Is that so?” Weiss seemed genuine in her question. Sun leaned forward and pointed behind them. The two girls turned around to spot Velvet and Coco hanging off each other, presumably towards their home.


“Yup,” Sun popped the p. “Those two are only the beginning. September sucked especially last year too.”

“Rubes! Sorry I’m late,” Yang came walking up. She was disheveled and smelled like booze.


“Have fun with Blake?” Sun winked. Yang ignored him as she sat down next to Ruby to throw an arm around her shoulders and squeeze.

“It’s been a fun day, but I’m beat. You ready for home?” Yang suggested. There was something off to her happiness that Ruby couldn’t place. Her inability to read her sister well frustrated Ruby to no end. Yet, Yang could read Ruby like an open book.


“Yeah,” Ruby nodded, and they both got up, “Bye Weiss, thanks for hanging out with me.”


“It was my pleasure. Thank you for showing me the joys of the festival,” Weiss smiled. Ruby waved and headed towards Port’s with Yang. In that moment, the world seemed perfect. The night air was cool, but it was pleasant and the stars shone brightly above. Yang walked beside her, smiling. Ruby had her own stupid smile on her face. Everything was pretty great.


A cold shiver ran down her spine. When was the other shoe going to drop?

Chapter Text

The differences between Pyrrha and Jaune were many. This was very evident especially in the morning. It was 6:30 am on a Monday and Pyrrha was sitting at their breakfast bar, sipping a green smoothie. The notes for her test the next day sat in front of her, a highlighter in hand. September was almost over and October fast approaching. Also approaching was Jaune's birthday. Pyrrha was planning meticulously but college always came first, hence why she was studying during breakfast so she could plan later.

Jaune on the other hand was passed out on the couch, the light of his Xbox bathing him in an eery glow. Empty Mountain Dew cans and food wrappers were littered across the ground. He was sleeping upright, head lolled over the back of the couch with a trail of drool hanging from the corner of his mouth. The controller he'd been using had fallen into his lap from limp hands. He was snoring loudly.

Pyrrha's cellphone buzzed violently on the table next to her. A quick glance at it told her that Nora was calling. Picking it up she answered it, despite knowing she really shouldn't.

"Hello!" Pyrrha greeted.

"Hi, Pyrrha!" Nora greeted back, even more cheerful than Pyrrha was. Nora was definitely the superior morning person.

"What prompted a call this early in the morning?" Pyrrha asked. There was a bit of a rule about calling people early in the morning unless there was a serious emergency.

"Ren and I have an early shift and I thought I'd forget to ask later. Penny fixes laptops doesn't she?" Nora said. Pyrrha could hear Ren in the background asking who she was talking to but Nora didn't answer.

"Yes, it's a hobby of hers." Pyrrha tapped her uncapped highlighter on her chin.

"Do you think she could fix mine?" Nora asked.

"What's wrong with it?" Pyrrha frowned, her brows furrowing.

"Neptune dropped it last time we hung out." Nora sighed, but it was more out of fond exasperation.

"Do I want to know?" Pyrrha shook her head in amusement.

"Nope!" Nora popped the p.

"Alright, I'll speak to Penny about it." Pyrrha hesitated for a moment. "How're you doing? I heard-"

"I am great Pyrrha. One hundred percent awesome. No need to worry your pretty little head. I gotta go now, I'll talk to you later, babes." Nora chirped before hanging up. Pyrrha made a strangled noises of frustration. Why couldn't anyone talk about their problems? Then again, she didn't talk much herself.

"Who was that?" Jaune's sleepy voice startled Pyrrha. He yawned as he padded into the kitchen towards the sink for some water.

"Nora." Pyrrha said.

"Gotcha." Jaune nodded, rubbing at his eyes tiredly as he fumbled around in the cupboard for a cup. He really needed to stop pulling all nighters for video games. He'd only slept for like an hour.

"I should probably get going." Pyrrha checked the time on her phone quickly. She should get to class a little early to check something with Flynt. He usually caught things she missed when note taking and vice versa.

"Oh hey, do you mind if I invite Neon to the party?" Jaune asked. He filled a pink plastic Frozen cup (a housewarming gift from Nora) with water and sipped at it slowly. He'd gotten pretty dehydrated and Mountain Dew wasn't exactly the best solution.

"Of course not, invite who you wish." Pyrrha smiled as she gathered her things. Her smile felt fake as she remembered how interested the two had been in each other at the festival. "Are you two dating?" She was happy for him though, she wanted him to be happy.

"No, just good friends." Jaune laughed, leaning forward on the breakfast far. They'd sorta made out at the festival but neither wanted more than that. Jaune was too hung up on Pyrrha and Neon knew that. Still, if he pursued other girls then he could get over it.

"That's nice too. Alright Jaune, have a good day. Please try to clean some of this up. Weiss is coming over later and you know how she is about messes." Pyrrha slid her things into her bag and slung it over her shoulder.

"You too and I will." Jaune waved as Pyrrha left, the door jingling as it shut. They'd put a bell on the door after one their friends started taking the open invitation to come over seriously.

The weather had finally decided to get cool and Pyrrha rubbed at her arms, regretting not bringing a light jacket. Fall had finally decided to make its presence known in Beacon, although it had been teasing its arrival since the beginning of September. Grey clouds blanketed the sky as the wind whipped at the trees, leaves already starting to turn and fall in some places. Rain drops fell lazily as if the sky was unsure if it wanted to rain or not.

Pyrrha got into her car, a busted up soccer mom minivan that had seen better days. The door creaked loudly as she swung it open. She slid inside taking in the nice smell of the mint air freshener Blake had gifted her after Sun had vomited jaeger in the back seat. He had cleaned it for her but the smell of jaeger didn't come out easily. Closing the door she turned the key before reaching over to twist the heat on. The minivan came to life with a sputter. Rock music played softly as Pyrrha buckled in and pulled out of the apartment complex's parking lot.

The drive to the city was one Pyrrha took quite frequently, but she still disliked the route. The highway between Beacon and the city was chock full of people who didn't know how to properly drive. Especially in poor weather. A fifteen minute drive often took twice as long due to traffic. Pyrrha didn't mind the long drive though; it gave her time to think. Sometimes too much time to think.

When she reached her college, a pretty nice community college she had been attending since her arrival in Beacon, the parking garage was fairly empty. And yet, coincidentally enough, she ran into Flynt while walking toward campus. The garage and the buildings were connected by a tunnel domed with glass that went across the street. Pyrrha didn't take it often because it got quite warm in the summer but when it was cooler out it was more pleasant.

"Hey, Pyrrha." Flynt greeted, holding the door to the tunnel for her.

"Hello Flynt, thank you." Pyrrha smiled, stepping inside. She waited for him to come in and they started walking side by side.

"Did you have a good weekend?" Flynt asked, tipping his sunglasses up onto his fedora.

"I did, what about you?" Pyrrha nodded, adjusting the strap of her bag.

"Not too bad. Neon wasn't around much, so I actually got a lot done." Flynt chuckled.

"Do you want to compare notes later for the quiz?" Pyrrha offered. Another student passed on the other side of them, rushing towards the parking garage.

"Sounds like a plan to me." Flynt agreed.

Pyrrha and Flynt walked at a very swift pace so it never took very long for them to get to the building. Pyrrha held the door this time and Flynt tipped his hat in thanks. Inside the building was unfortunately cool and Pyrrha once again found herself regretting not bringing a jacket.

"I know it's only September but could they at least turn off the AC." Pyrrha sighed.

"You cold?" Flynt teased but shrugged off his jacket and offered it to her. Pyrrha took it gratefully.

"Yes, thank you Flynt." Pyrrha smiled.

"Ah it's no problem, what kind of gentleman would I be if I let you go cold." Flynt waved it off. Pyrrha couldn't help but laugh. Flynt was very much into being a gentleman and having manners. It's why he and Pyrrha got along well.

"Flynt, Pyrrha!" Gwen waved, standing outside one of the classrooms they were walking past. Every time Gwen said her name in her southern drawl Pyrrha was reminded she was certainly not straight. "Pyrrha, I have something to show you."

"What's that?" Pyrrha asked, both her and Flynt stopping next to her. Gwen turned to dig around in her bag before pulling out a slightly crumbled looking piece of paper. She handed it to Pyrrha.

"Nebula said her dad had it. Apparently he'd gotten it from the city police." Gwen explained.

"I didn't even know Nebula spoke to her dad." Flynt raised an eyebrow.

"Only when she wants something." Gwen winked, giggling.


Pyrrha held the poster in her hand, fingers gripping the edges tight enough to crumple it more. Her knuckles were white from the grip. The black and white picture staring up at her was all too familiar. She blinked down at the image. Herself smiling, but a deadness in her eyes. The word MISSING in bold type across the top. The world around her warped and twisted as she remembered.


Her hands were shaking and her legs threatened to give out on her. The music pounded in her skull incessantly as she moved, urgency flooding her veins. The leotard and tights were too tight. She felt constricted. The waistband of the tutu bit into her skin, itching. Her pointe shoes hurt but that was far from new. Everything hurting was new though.


“Straighten your legs! Keep your chin up! These are child mistakes, Miss. Nikos.” The heavily accented voice barked at her as she moved around the studio. Her mother stood next to her teacher, disapproval painting her face. Pyrrha corrected herself as she moved, sweat pouring down her face. One of her ankles rolled and she plummeted, hitting the hardwood floor with a loud thump.


“You’re not trying hard enough, Pyrrha!” Her mother snapped. Her teacher walked over to restart the music. “Pick yourself up. How do you expect to get back to dancing if you’re not trying hard enough?”


“I am trying, Mother.” Pyrrha gasped, sucking in deep breaths. She pulled herself to her feet despite her left knee protesting greatly.


“Maybe we need to up your rehab schedule.” Pyrrha’s mother huffed. Pyrrha could feel the burn of her disappointment, the churn of her gut. “You’re going to ruin your future because you’re lazy!”


“I’m trying!” Pyrrha cried, her left leg buckling once again nearly causing her to fall.


“Not hard enough!” Her mother yelled. Her teacher started the music and tapped her cane on the ground hard, signalling that if Pyrrha didn’t get into position immediately, her teacher would make sure she did. Pyrrha struggled to stand up and get into position. Her chest heaved trying to get enough air.


“Miss. Nikos, start from the beginning.” Her teacher instructed, the threat in the air. The world spun around her as Pyrrha tried to do as she was told but her body protested as she hit the ground yet again. “You are weak willed.” The words felt like ice in her bloodstream.


“I’m sorry.” Pyrrha sobbed. Her arms just barely held her up from the floor, shaking with the effort. Everything hurt.


“I cannot believe this is the daughter I raised.” Pyrrha’s mother shook her head. Suddenly Pyrrha surged upward and ran. She ran out the door of the studio, out into the parking lot. In fact Pyrrha didn’t stop running as she got in her mother’s car and took off down the road, pointe shoe pressing into the gas pedal as her entire body ached.


"Pyrrha?" Flynt placed a hand on her shoulder, startling her. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

"Hey hun, don't worry about it too much. Neb runs interference on this sorta thing for a reason. Octavia's got her fair share of posters like that and we don't want those getting out. Heck, I'm sure half of Beacon has 'em. If there were more than just that one she got rid of 'em. No worries!" Gwen assured her. "We just wanted you to see they existed just in case, ya know?"

"Yes, thank you Gwen. I appreciate this more than you know." Pyrrha balled the poster up in her hand and buried it as deep in her bag as she could. She'd throw it away later.

"No sweat, hun. We'd do it anyway but especially for you. I don't know where the four of us would be without you this summer. You're like Beacon's guardian angel." Gwen leaned forward to pinch Pyrrha's cheek, actually earning a smile from the redhead.

"She's not wrong." Flynt nodded.

"Thank you, both of you." Pyrrha blushed brightly. She just liked helping people. They were making it into something more than it was. "I'm far from an angel though."

"I think anyone who lives with Jaune Arc could be considered a saint at the very least." Flynt shrugged.

"Everyone is so hard on him but he's a good roommate and a good friend." Pyrrha protested. Gwen smirked but said nothing which only made Pyrrha blush more.

"I'll take your word on it." Flynt chuckled, shaking his head in amusement.

"You two should get going before you're late to being early." Gwen teased.

"I should... I've got a lot of studying to do before I can take the time to plan Jaune's birthday." Pyrrha shifted her bag on her shoulder, remembering all the things she still needed to sort out.

"Oh yeah that is coming up. Is it still going to be in the parking lot of the diner?" Flynt asked.

"Yes, that's where Jaune decided he wanted it." Pyrrha nodded. She didn't understand his reasoning but he wanted a space large enough for plenty of people. She also knew he wanted a bonfire so at least that explained why he didn't want it in the park. According to Ren, bonfires weren't allowed in the park anymore after an incident several years ago.

"Sounds like a plan, I'll let my ladies know. See ya two around." Gwen wiggled her fingers in a wave. Flynt and Pyrrha said goodbye and headed towards the library where they could work until it was time to go to class. Pyrrha's mind was still on the poster in her bag. She dug her fingers into her hand as she walked, trying to reassure herself that everything was alright.

Beacon would keep her safe.

After Pyrrha left Jaune downed another cup of water before wandering into his room and flopping on his bed, throwing his phone on the nightstand. He slept another six and half hours dead to the world. Eventually his phone woke him with the TARDIS noise. Groaning, he reached over to look at it. He had a text from Pyrrha reminding him to clean up.

"Fuck." Jaune scrambled upwards and nearly bashed his head on his nightstand as he hurried to the living room. He quickly cleaned up the mess he'd left in the living room, throwing all the trash in the garbage. It was overflowing because he really needed to take it out to the dumpster. His solution was to just cram it down until he got a moment.

He was working on doing the dishes when there was a knock on the door.

"Come in!" He yelled, scrubbing at a stubborn spot on one of the plates from last night’s dinner. Weiss came in looking as prim and proper as ever.

"Hello Jaune." Weiss said, entering the kitchen and setting her bag on the bar.

"Hey Weiss, Pyrrha isn't back yet. I'm just finishing up dishes." Jaune explained.

"Oh alright." Weiss accepted that and looked around, probably taking in the place. She was very judgmental about the appearance of people's homes. She wasn't allowed over at Sun, Sage, Scarlet, Neptune, and Blake's place both for their sake and hers.

"And don't worry I've got a shift in a couple hours so I'll be out of your hair." Jaune added.

"Oh is that so?" Weiss raised an eyebrow. Jaune could tell she was trying to hide the relief. She didn't much care for spending a lot of time with Jaune after he'd spent the better part of a month chasing after her. They'd even dated for half a second too but that was in the past. He knew better. Him and Pyrrha were the only ones who knew the things Weiss hid from most people.

"Yup. You and Pyrrha are free to do whatever you two have planned." Jaune rinsed a plate and moved onto a cup.

"She actually asked for assistance with your party." Weiss took a seat at the bar and pulled out her phone, presumably to text Pyrrha.

"That's cool, I know it's in good hands." Jaune grinned. Weiss only nodded and looked at her phone, apparently done with the conversation. He finished up the dishes and went to his room to get ready, leaving Weiss in the kitchen.

As he was getting ready and pondering his upcoming birthday, a stab of pain hit him. His birthday was coming up. He was going to be turning 19 and it would be his second birthday away from home. The year before hadn't had much celebration. He was new and hadn't been forthcoming with his birthday. Sitting down on his bed, shirt half off, he just let it sink in that he'd been in Beacon over a year now.

Jaune had arrived on the day of the barbecue which was a bit of a trial by fire. Pyrrha was also new but had come a couple days earlier so they'd bonded over not knowing anything about Beacon. It just felt so wild that it had been over a year when it felt like just yesterday.

It felt like just yesterday he'd left his family behind in Maine.


The big wooden grandfather clock beat out the standard rhythm loudly in the silent dining room. Eight heads of blonde hair surrounded the large oak table, all of varying sizes and ages. Jaune, the oldest left at home, sat right next to his dad Felix who was eating silently with a cold look on his face. His mom, Giselle, sat on his dad's other side helping his youngest six year old sister cut up her food. Cassandra wore a look mixed between sadness and fear. The entire table was eerily quiet in a way it hadn't been in a long time. All five of his sisters seemed to read the mood.

"Why won't you sign the paper?" Jaune asked after the silence got to be too much. His mom froze and his dad jaw tightened.

"Jaune, now is not the time." Felix snapped.

"When will be the time?" Jaune snapped back. "You're always avoiding the subject and avoiding me. Maman can't even look at me without wanting to burst into tears. Why are you dragging this out?"

"Jaune you have no business joining the military." Felix set down his silverware to look at his son.

"Why not? You did!" Jaune yelled.

"Jaune, please." Giselle had her eyes closed and looked physically pained.

"Stop it Jaune, you're hurting Maman." His second youngest sister at age 10, gave him her best death glare.

"Stay out of this, Andrea."  Jaune rolled his eyes.

"Why can't we just have a normal dinner." Victoria, age 13, muttered. The twins, Charlotte and Claudia, age 15, were not interested in the argument and ate quickly. Leona just watched with big eyes and the innocence of a six year old.

"Let it go." Felix growled. Jaune knew that meant he was done discussing it. Jaune was not done discussing it though. He placed his palms flat on the table and pushed back, scraping the chair as loud as possible. He stood up, furious.

"No. If you won't sign the paper I can find other ways to join," Jaune announced.

"Jaune, please, you're breaking my heart," Giselle spoke. "Felix, please do something about this."

"No, Giselle, if he thinks he's so grown up then he is grown enough to make his own choices. If he wants to throw his life away then that is his choice." Felix went back to eating, not even looking at Jaune. Giselle looked at him pleadingly but Jaune stomped off to his room.

Packing didn't take long, they wouldn't let him have much at boot camp. He was going to have to go with Plan B and forge their signatures. He'd done it plenty of times growing up when forgetting about permission slips. It wouldn't be hard.

"Are you really going to do this?" Charlotte appeared in his doorway, arms crossed. She had always been the sister he was closest to.

"Yes, I am." Jaune hefted the black duffel back over his shoulder. Charlotte eyed him, looking him up and down.

"Alright. Well, if no one else is going to believe in you, then I guess I do." Charlotte shrugged.

"Really?" Jaune was surprised.

"Yeah, if I don't no one will. But if you get killed I'm going to be pretty ticked off," Charlotte warned. "Maman is already acting like you're dead. She's wailing in French and everything. Papa just keeps eating dinner like it's nothing."

"They made their choice," Jaune huffed.

"Whatever. Good luck. Write or call or something." Charlotte rolled her eyes. Jaune walked past her and ruffled her hair. He walked out the door, not even looking back as his mom begged him not to go. He fought back tears even as he walked down the sidewalk.

Jaune couldn't help but laugh bitterly. His dad had been right. They all had been right. He'd washed out of boot camp and hadn't been able to face his family again. He'd just gotten on the first greyhound he could find and hoped that wherever he ended up, it wouldn't suck.

Where would he be if he hadn't run into Pyrrha in the city? Jaune didn't know. She'd listened to him talk without judgement. Then she'd offered that they room together in Beacon. The rest was history.

As the front door of the apartment jingled announcing his roommate’s return, Jaune realized for the first time just how much Pyrrha knew about him, and how little he knew about her. Pulling his shirt the rest of the way over his head, that thought resonated with him.

"Jaune, I'm home!" Pyrrha yelled, her voice distant. Jaune yanked his socks and shoes on before making his way out to the kitchen. Pyrrha was sitting across from Weiss and the two were talking in low voices.

"Hey, how was class?" Jaune took a seat next to Weiss.

"It was good." Pyrrha smiled. She and Weiss had been quietly discussing some issues Weiss was having, which she knew Weiss wanted to keep between them. Jaune already knew a fair amount more than Weiss was really comfortable with.

"Awesome. Well I need to get going. I told Ruby I'd drop by their place to pick up that game I lent her," Jaune explained. "We need anything from the store? I need to pick up some stuff on my way home from work tonight anyway."

"Just some more bread and cereal," Pyrrha said. "But if you see Yang will you send her here? The garbage disposal is broken again and she said she's handy with fixes like that."

"Sure." Jaune stood up straight to walk over and tug on on his hoodie. "Bye Pyrrha, bye Weiss."

"Goodbye, Jaune." Weiss nodded.

Pyrrha waved and he walked out into the cold air. He stopped for a moment, closing his eyes. The weather reminded him of home and for just a moment he was back in Maine. It didn't last long though before he finally started walking towards Port's.

He actually ran into Ruby and Yang leaving. They were locked in a heated argument and didn't seem to notice him as he approached. They were standing next to Yang's bike in the parking lot, Yang's helmet tucked under her arm.

"Why not?!" Ruby whined.

"I said no, Ruby." Yang replied, annoyance evident in her tone.

"Yaaaaaaang! I'm tired of living in the motel. Ozpin said-"

"I don't care what Ozpin said. I told you I don't trust him. I'm not going to argue this with you."

"You just don't want to settle down!" Ruby screamed. "You're afraid!"

"I am not afraid!" Yang yelled back.

"You think Dad will find us and take us back. You are afraid! You're scared of him, you always have been."

"Shut up, I'm not scared of anyone!"

"Liar, liar pants on fire. I'm not saying it's bad to be scared of him but you can't let him run our life. I like it here. I want to stay." Ruby had stopped yelling but she was crying now.

"Um, excuse me. Sorry to interrupt..." Jaune spoke up awkwardly. He was privy to an argument he had no business in and didn't want them to go on not knowing he was there. Both sisters seemed to jump. Ruby wiped furiously at her eyes and smiled at him. Yang smiled as well, but hers didn't seem very genuine.

"Hi, Jaune! I forgot you were coming by, sorry. Let me go get the game." Ruby said before disappearing quickly into the motel.

"Hey, Jaune. Excited for the party?" Yang asked.

"Yeah, I am. It's gonna be fun." Jaune nodded. "Oh, hey. Before I forget, when you get a chance can you stop by our place? Pyrrha needs help with the garbage disposal."

"Sure." Yang nodded. The two stood in awkward silence until Ruby reappeared, game case in hand.

"Here ya go, Jaune." Ruby grinned, handing him the game.

"Thanks. You like it? Did it run okay on your laptop?" Jaune smiled back. Ruby seemed to recover quickly from the argument with her sister.

"Yeah it was great!" Ruby bobbed her head.

"I need to get going to meet Sun, I'll talk to you later, Rubes. See ya, Jaune." Yang put her helmet on and climbed on her bike. Ruby waved as she sped off down the street.

"Sorry about that, just a sister-fight." Ruby laughed, waving it off.

"I get it. I have seven." Jaune chuckled.

"Seriously? That's crazy." Ruby's eyes widened. That was usually the reaction he got from people when he admitted to having so many sisters.

"Yeah it was fun growing up." Jaune could remember all the crazy things that came from having so many sisters. "You wanna walk with me to the diner? I'll tell you some funny stories."

"Yeah!" Ruby chirped.

On the short walk to the diner Jaune talked about camping with his sisters and how ridiculous they had been. When they walked into the diner it was warm and comforting compared to the weather outside. The place was unusually filled, and Jaune spotted Nora near the back with Neptune. Coco, Velvet, Yatsu, and Fox were crammed into one booth in the middle.

"Hi, Jaune!" Nora yelled across the diner, waving frantically. Neptune waved too, laughing at her. Jaune waved as he walked into the back to get his apron. Ruby skipped over to Nora and Neptune.

Yang didn't get around to their house until Thursday as she was being forced to work a double shift to cover a coworker. By that time, Pyrrha had finished planning Jaune's party and the birthday guy himself was out. Instead of party planning Pyrrha was working at the breakfast bar on some homework while Yang worked on the garbage disposal. She was under the sink, shirt off and only in a sports bra in case of any mess. Pyrrha was only a little distracted by Yang's impressive abs. There was a lot on her mind.

"Yang, may I ask you a question?" Pyrrha leaned her chin forward on her palm.

"Yeah, sure. Shoot," Yang grunted, tightening a screw.

"Do you think there are missing posters of you and Ruby?" Pyrrha asked. She waited as Yang froze and everything went silent. After a moment Yang slid out from under the sink to look up at Pyrrha.

"What?" Yang asked, her face completely unreadable.

"Well, when we spoke you told me quite a bit, but it was unclear whether anyone is looking for you two. So I wondered if you had missing persons posters." Pyrrha explained, panic rising up. "I'm sorry if I was forward."

"Nah, it's okay. I was just surprised. Um, I don't think so. I try to keep in touch with my uncle just enough to keep that from being a thing." Yang pulled her knees up so she could lean on them. "Have you got them?"

"Yes, and they've appeared in Beacon." Pyrrha sighed.

"Well you've got a lot of people who have your back Pyrrha. You're safe in Beacon. Besides, you're 18. They can't drag you back," Yang explained, smiling reassuringly at Pyrrha. Pyrrha didn't say anything for a moment. She stood up and moved past the end of the bar.

“Do you remember when we were talking and you asked me how long it had been since I stopped cutting and I wouldn’t answer?” Pyrrha’s voice was barely above a whisper, hands worrying at the hem of her dress.


“Yeah.” Yang raised an eyebrow, obviously waiting for her to continue.


“I never said I stopped...” Pyrrha whispered, tugging the dress up just enough to reveal the fresh cuts on her thighs. Yang was once again unreadable as she stood up.


Suddenly, Pyrrha felt like an over-sharing idiot. Who was she to share her problems or make her friends worry? Who wanted to see this? She let the hem fall back into place in a hurry. “I’m sorry. I wouldn’t say anything, it’s just… I’m worried I could do something I’ll regret since I’m not in the best place with things right now. Jaune asking about my past has only brought back more unwarranted memories. And a number of my friends still need assistance, and I’m trying to give but......”


“It’s okay, Pyrrha.” Yang reached forward and pulled Pyrrha into her arms. “It’s okay to not be okay.”


“Really?” Pyrrha hadn’t meant for it to come out so unsure. She hugged Yang back and suddenly tears were welling in her eyes.


“Yeah, of course. Sometimes you need to not be okay for a while. I usually do that in the bathroom after Ruby’s gone to sleep but you can do it right here with me.” Yang nodded, rubbing soothing circles into Pyrrha’s back. Pyrrha couldn’t help but break down and let Yang hold her. It had been so long since she’d been able to do so. She hadn’t even expected to tell Yang as much as she had when they had their talk but Yang was willing to be open in return, so she’d told her almost everything.


“Thank you.” Pyrrha mumbled.


“Ah no problem, P.” Yang shrugged. “We should have a girls night tonight. We’ll watch some movies and shit. Help get you chill for the party Saturday.”


“I’d like that.” Pyrrha nodded. She pulled away from Yang and wiped at her eyes. Yang smiled warmly and it was contagious enough that Pyrrha smiled back.


“Awesome, why don’t I finish up with the garbage disposal and we’ll go for a ride on my bike to get some supplies?” Yang winked. Pyrrha laughed, her face turning a soft shade of red. Yang plopped down on the ground again and went back to working on the garbage disposal.


It took about another 20 minutes for Yang to finish and Pyrrha worked on her homework. When she was finished they took Yang’s bike to the store to get snacks and boxed wine. Pyrrha really liked boxed wine and Yang did not so it was perfect to keep Yang from drinking. They went back to the apartment afterwards and settled down to watch the dumbest movies they could find on Netflix.


About halfway through their third movie, Pyrrha realized she was drunk. It hadn’t been her intention but she wasn’t exactly monitoring her wine intake. It was also at that time that she decided she really wanted to have sex with Yang. And her hazy mind thought the best way to do this was to take off her own shirt, straddle Yang and kiss her. Which worked for a moment, before Yang’s own sleep addled mind managed to get with the program.


“Um excuse me, this is not happening.” Yang gently pushed Pyrrha back. Pyrrha was still straddling her, sleep shorts riding up. “You are lonely and hurting and all kinds of fucked. This does not need to be happening. Maybe if you weren’t drunk and I was more of those things too.”


“Aww.” Pyrrha pouted. Yang put her hands under Pyrrha’s armpits and physically moved her off to the side.


“I will give you all the fucking cuddles you want, but we are not banging when you’re emotionally compromised and drunk!” Yang shook her head, half in amusement and half in exasperation. Pyrrha accepted this and cuddled into her side like a cat. Yang put an arm around her and threw the blanket over their legs before rewinding the movie. Drunk Pyrrha was disappointed but sober Pyrrha would appreciate Yang’s actions. Drunk Pyrrha was satisfied with cuddling Yang shirtless though. Eventually they both fell asleep, Pyrrha nearly half on top of her friend. Drunk Pyrrha and Yang did not exactly realize how compromising their situation looked.


At least not until they both woke early the next morning to shattering glass.


Yang practically vaulted up at the sound, blinking tiredly and in confusion. Pyrrha also woke suddenly and fell off the couch which was very unlike her usual graceful self. Jaune was standing by the couch, eyes wide. A shattered mug lay at his feet along with a puddle of something.


“Fuck, Jaune!” Yang gasped, clutching her chest. “Way to make an entrance.”


“Are you okay? Don’t step on the glass.” Pyrrha stood, shoving her hair out of her face. Jaune’s mouth dropped open as he stared at the two of them. Pyrrha and Yang exchanged confused looks until Yang glanced down and something obviously clicked because she gestured downward. Pyrrha looked down and realized several things.


One, her shorts had ridden up to practically nonexistent.


Two, her shirt was not on.


Three, it definitely looked like they’d been doing something inappropriate.


Four, the scars on her thighs and stomach were not being concealed at all.


Jaune for his part was shocked. Pyrrha and Yang had sex on their couch. The fact that they’d had sex at all was throwing him for a loop anyway, but his thoughts were also drawn to the scars on Pyrrha’s body. Jaune was not stupid. He knew how you got those kinds of scars.


“What the hell?!” Jaune’s voice came out higher pitched than he wanted.


“Jaune it’s not what it looks like.” Pyrrha waved her hands frantically, desperately looking to Yang for help. Yang looked back seeming at a loss as well.


“It looks like you had sex with Yang! On our couch!” Jaune’s face was beet red. “And those scars? How long have you been hiding those from me? Some of those are new.”


“I mean there’s nothing stopping her from having sex with me,” Yang commented, earning a look from Pyrrha for being unhelpful. Though Pyrrha knew where she was coming from now was not the time.


“Jeez, Pyrrha, I thought you were better than this,” Jaune said, and it came out way worse than he had intended.


“What?” Pyrrha froze, not liking the tone of that statement.


“What the hell?” Yang frowned, shaking her head in disbelief. “Better than what?”


“I didn’t know Pyrrha just slept around like-..... I don’t know....” Jaune spluttered. Wait no, okay he was putting his foot in his mouth. This was coming out super judgey.


“I-I-” Pyrrha was speechless. She couldn’t even clear up the confusion because her entire brain had short circuited. Yang’s face was contorted into various expressions of disbelief. Even she seemed unsure of how to even respond to that.


“Forget that! What about the scars? Have you been hurting yourself?” Jaune accused, trying to change the subject. Pyrrha paled noticeably.


“I don’t think that’s any of your business.” Pyrrha fell into her only defense mechanism. Jaune couldn’t look her in the eye. He couldn’t seem to look at her at all. Instead his eyes found everywhere else far more interesting.


“What do you mean that’s none of my business? It is my business! We’re best friends. I deserve to know about you. I deserve to know if I’m going to come home to you bleeding out on the carpet. Why would you do that to yourself anyway? That’s dangerous. I always thought the people who did something like that had to hate themselves a lot to do something so ugly to themselves.....” Jaune rambled, shoving his hand into his hair.


“I just...” Pyrrha trailed off. She didn’t have a response to that. She really didn’t. How do you explain cutting yourself to someone? How do you explain the mentality of being in that position? Maybe she was crazy.


“You could kill yourself doing that Pyrrha. Do you know how selfish that is?” Jaune asked, practically hysterical. “Do you want to die? Are you crazy? Are you trying to get my attention? Because this is not how you get it.”


“Okay, stop. That’s enough.” Yang put herself between Pyrrha and Jaune. “Pyrrha put your shirt on. Jaune, shut up. You’re obviously upset about a lot of things but you’re digging a very deep hole and I’m not going to let you keep going.”


“I just don’t get-”


“Enough.” Yang warned. Pyrrha picked up her shirt and pulled it on, her hands shaking as she did so. Her mother’s words flooded her senses. She’d had many of the same criticisms when she’d found out. She’d called Pyrrha an attention seeker too. “C’mon Pyrrha, let’s go get some breakfast while Jaune cools off.” Pyrrha just nodded mutely as Yang guided her towards the door, picking up her shoes as she went.


Jaune was left standing there in shock.

Jaune didn’t see Pyrrha after that. Saturday came and the diner parking lot was decorated but Jaune had seen no sign of the girl who had done it. Everyone showed up including Yang. He asked her about where Pyrrha was but Yang had shrugged saying she hadn’t seen her since she left to decorate that morning.


He felt bad as he mingled with everyone, smiling and thanking people. He hadn’t meant to respond the way he had. Obviously he’d done quite a bit of damage. So much so that she hadn’t even come to his birthday party. Something everyone noticed.


“Hey, Jaune,” Ren greeted. Jaune was standing near the edge of the party with a drink and watching. He was hoping Pyrrha would show up. The party wore on though, a large bonfire crackling in the middle of the parking lot. People were sitting at tables and hanging out by the fire just having a nice time.


“Oh hey, Ren, having fun?” Jaune smiled.


“Yeah, it’s good.” Ren nodded, turning to look where Jaune was looking. “Where’s Pyrrha?”

“I don’t know,” Jaune admitted. He wish he knew.


“Did something happen?” Ren asked, sounding worried.


“Something like that.” Jaune brought his hand up to scrub at his face. He’d been so stupid. He’d found the reality that Pyrrha had slept with Yang so shocking he’d been insensitive to the actual problem. Pyrrha was such a great person and she deserved better.


“Nora is worried since she’s not here. She even tried calling her cellphone but it’s off. We both figured something had happened, but we’ve got no idea what could be so bad she wouldn’t show up.” Ren frowned. “I heard a few other people who are worried too.”


“I’ve been hoping she’d show up but no such luck.” Jaune sighed.


“I could call your place? See if she’s there?” Ren offered. “Maybe she’ll pick up for me?”


“I don’t know if she’s even home.” Jaune shrugged. He had no idea where she was but he didn’t think she’d gone back home. It was possible since he was out, and she was avoiding him. Would she risk it?


“Worth a shot.” Ren pulled out his phone and Jaune waited with a bated breath.

Pyrrha’s bare feet pressed into the carpet of their living room floor. Her heels lifted as the soft instrumental music played through the house. As the notes bounced against the walls she started moving. Not just moving, dancing. She danced with the poise and grace of a ballerina.


“Pyrrha? It’s Ren. Pick up. I doubt you’re even there but you’re not answering your cell.... Everyone’s wondering where you are. Especially Jaune....Pyrrha, please. We’re worried-”


Without missing a beat Pyrrha turned the music up louder on the speaker, drowning out the rest of the message on the answering machine.

Chapter Text

"Heyyyy, Blakey!"

Blake was sitting at the desk in the library reading, when the familiar voice drew her attention unconsciously upward. Her eyes glanced upward from the page, peering over the book at Yang. Yang was leaning her elbows on the desk grinning at Blake in the frustratingly adorable way she always seemed to have around Blake.

"Hello, Yang," Blake greeted dryly. Yang always seemed to be hanging around. She'd befriended Blake's roommates so she had an excuse to be over. Plus, the library was a public place so she was always visiting.

It was late October, so it had been over a month since the incident at the festival. Since then, Yang had been drunk again, but it never progressed to that point. She was still an angry drunk, but it more meant rough sex than a fight. Not that they didn't fight at times, drunk or sober. Still, Blake couldn't shake the feeling she was going down a familiar path, but she was willing to give Yang the benefit of the doubt.

Blake seemed to attract a certain type and be attracted to the same type. Maybe that's what she was destined for.

"A little birdy told me your birthday is coming up," Yang smirked.

"Was that little birdy Nora?" Blake raised an eyebrow.

"Yup," Yang confirmed, her expression smug. It irked Blake just a little bit.

"I don't celebrate my birthday," Blake said firmly, looking down at her book again.

"You're no fun," Yang frowned. Blake looked up again and fixed her with a look of annoyance.

"Ruby told me she doesn't even know when your birthday is," Blake commented. Yang's eyes flickered briefly with an unreadable emotion. Blake had noticed it happened more than she realized.

"That was not my fault," Yang shrugged, otherwise unfazed by the accusation. "It's ages away anyways. Yours is on Halloween."

"One of many reasons I don't celebrate my birthday." Blake rolled her eyes. Yang hopped up to sit cross-legged on the desk.

"It doesn't have to be big. Ruby's party was small and shit. We can have one with just us and your closest 14 friends," Yang offered.

"Any party with Sun is going to be a mess, regardless of how many people show up," Blake reminded her.

"I mean any party with any combination of our friends is going to be ridiculous. We have parties all the time anyway." Yang leaned forward and smirked. "Besides, if you agree, Weissicle will have to agree to one of her own."

Blake acquiesced after a moment of consideration. "Fine." If only for forcing Weiss into a party she knew the girl would hate. Yang's face lit up and she fist pumped.

"Hell yeah, it's gonna be awesome!" Yang assured her.

"Yeah, yeah," Blake scoffed before looking at her book again. "So, how's it going with Ruby?"

"You sure are good at changing the subject," Yang snorted.

"It's what I do best." Blake couldn't help a little smirk of her own. She looked back up at Yang, whose entire demeanor had changed. She set down her book.

"She's stubborn, like me. Every time I think I've gotten the idea put out of her head she blindsides me." Yang leaned her head back to look at the ceiling. She looked tired.

"Then why don't you just get an apartment?" Blake asked. She hadn't stayed at Port's any longer than she had to when she arrived. Then again she hadn't had to get a new apartment herself. Living with the guys was a good compromise for her runner instincts.

"It's more complicated than that. Every place we've been since leaving home, something has gone wrong. Plus, home isn't an option." Yang rubbed at her eyes. "I'm worried about Ruby. I'm worried she'll get too attached to this place and something will go horribly wrong. I just want to protect her."

"What's wrong with home?" Blake prodded without really thinking about it. She wasn't the time to pry, but she couldn't help but be curious. Yang moved her hands to give Blake a look she couldn't read. It seemed almost surprised.

"Listen, kitty cat. I don't ask about the needle track marks on your arms, you don't ask about my scars. The same applies here." Yang raised an eyebrow, as if daring Blake to ask more prying questions.

"It was just curiosity. Don't call me kitty cat because you're trying to get me riled up and distracted." Blake narrowed her eyes.

"Aww, but two can play at the game of changing the subject," Yang winked.

"You and your sister make a lot of cryptic comments, I was just wondering," Blake sighed.

"It's mostly her. She's not good about knowing what to share and what not to. Some of it never even gets mentioned and some stuff slips out." Yang shrugged, "I don't sweat it."

"It's not a bad thing she's not as guarded as you," Blake commented.

"Pot calling the kettle black?" Yang raised her eyebrows nearly into her hairline.

"Some people need to be guarded," Blake responded vaguely.

"You're a giant hypocrite," Yang accused with an edge to her tone.

Blake was unfazed. "You're not usually so easily pissed off sober. Ruby really has you bent out of shape."


Yang huffed and dug the heels of her palms into her eyes. "It's not just her. This place is stressful. Pyrrha hasn't talked to Jaune since his blow up and he thinks I've been talking to her. I haven't even seen her in Beacon since she left our room," Yang explained.

"Ren said she's staying in the city with some friends," Blake offered. "He said she hasn't been talking to anyone. I'm not surprised since Jaune went and blabbed their fight to our entire group of friends. I think everyone knows Pyrrha cuts herself now."

"He's such an idiot. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was trying to ruin her life." Yang groaned, flopping back to lay down on the desk.

"At least it's just Jaune. Coco's been driving me crazy. Her and Velvet are playing this weird game of hot and cold." Blake leaned forward to rest her elbows on the desk and her chin on her hands. Yang turned her head to look at her.

"Why is everyone so messed up? Nora and I have been hanging out since Ruby decided I needed to get out even more than I do, and I'm so sick of hubba bubba strawberry gum," Yang whined.

"Um why?" Blake asked, confused.

"She chews it all the damn time. It's supposed to cover up the vomit smell, but I think I'd prefer stomach bile over that shit," Yang explained.

"Beacon is kind of the messed up capital of Ohio," Blake shrugged.

"Probably of the country," Yang snorted.



"At least Ruby seems to be doing okay and Weiss only sometimes puts her foot in her mouth. And I think we're okay," Yang continued. That earned a raised eyebrow of disbelief from Blake.

"We're okay?" Blake asked.

"I mean yeah, comparatively or whatever." Yang waved her off.

"I suppose if you're comparing us to every other hot mess in Beacon, you could say we're okay," Blake agreed. Yang seemed to genuinely believe it, so Blake wasn't going to bring up the drinking. Besides, Blake was far from perfect herself.

"Trust me, this is going to make you feel so much better."

"I'm not sure...."

"Listen, you're the one who keeps telling me how you don't like doing this or that. This will make you like everything."


"Of course, kitten. I wouldn't lead you astray."



"Blake." Yang's voice pulled Blake out of the memory and she had to blink a few times.

"Sorry, I just remembered something." Blake shook her head, trying to clear away the thoughts and images.

"It's cool," Yang shrugged. "I was just asking if you wanted to do anything today. We've been talking about serious shit, figure we could use a break."

"Like what?" Blake asked. Honestly, she hated to admit it at times, but she enjoyed spending time with Yang. They'd become really good friends and she'd never really clicked with anyone so well before. They weren’t polar opposites but they were close. Yang had darkness in her and Blake had light. It just wasn't always obvious.

"I dunno, what's there to do in Ohio? The radio said there's a bunch of like Halloween shit this weekend. But I don't know what good that does us now." Yang turned over on her side and propped herself up on the radio.

"We could get drunk in the park and watch YouTube videos?" Blake offered. Yang seemed to contemplate this.

"Will there be sex involved?" Yang wondered.

"If you're lucky," Blake smirked.

"Oh, I'm always lucky." Yang grinned, and then in a move that was purely Yang, rolled off the desk. Blake wasn't sure what possessed her to do so, but she heard the thump as Yang hit. She immediately sprung up though as if she hadn’t just rolled off a desk at least a couple feet off the ground. "Speaking of Halloween shit, your party is Saturday. But I promised Rubes I'd round everyone up for one of those stupid Halloween Haunts for Friday. There's a maze, a haunted house, a hayride, and a bunch of other weird shit."

"Everyone?" Blake raised an eyebrow at this.

"Aka Ruby, her three whole ass friends, Weissberg, you, The Other Ninja, Miss Hubba-fucking-Bubba, The Town Idiot, and Miss No-One-Has-Seen-Me-In-Literally-Days. The Four Dwarves and the Gay Denial Squad have decided to sit this one out to prepare for our party," Yang listed off, ticking off the numbers in her hands. Blake blinked a few times.

"I have several questions," Blake deadpanned.

"Those are actually their names in my phone right now. Ruby's friends are named Ruby's Orange Friend, Ruby's Farmer Friend, and Ruby's Mom Friend. The dwarves are Weedy, Judgey, Beautiful, and Gay. The Gay Denial Squad are just numbered," Yang laughed.

Blake thought Yang's naming of her contacts sounded suspiciously familiar. "I suspect you got your inspiration from Sun's contacts."

"Oh yeah, his are epic," Yang nodded.

"Back to the original point, when did I agree to come?" Blake said. She didn't even want the party let alone having to go out and celebrate Halloween.

"You think I'm going to wrangle four high schoolers, Jaune, and Nora by myself? Oh hell no, I like the small amount of sanity I have thank you very much," Yang snorted.

"What do I get out of it?" Blake inquired.

"My thanks?" Yang offered. Blake just looked at her, she knew better. "All I can offer is sex and my famous chocolate chip cookies."

"I will concede to sex and cookies," Blake nodded in approval. Yang's cookies were amazing.

"Awesome!" Yang first pumped before leaning over to yank Blake's hat down over her eyes. "See ya, Blakey. I'll be back at closing time with alcohol. I've gotta go pick up the twerp at school."

"Bye, Yang," Blake grumbled, fixing her hat and watching the blonde leave. It was weird, the feeling that bubbled in her chest at that moment. It showed up everyone once in awhile since she'd come to Beacon, but Yang seemed to bring it out more. The feeling was unidentifiable and foreign, but pleasant. She didn't think she'd ever felt it before. Not even back home.

The thought of home sent a sharp pain through her chest. She'd thought so little of it before she'd come to Beacon. It was easier that way after all. In fact, before she came to Beacon, she'd done very little thinking at all. She'd done a lot of what she was told until she couldn't anymore and found the strength to get away. Or being more honest she'd just remembered how good she was at running, it was one of the two.

The sound of the bell alerted Blake that another patron had arrived. Nora skipped up to the front desk.

"What are you doing here?" Blake glared. She didn't hate Nora, but she was hardly a fan of her most days.

"I came to pick up a book Ren reserved," Nora scowled back.

"How's that going?" Blake was baiting her, they both knew it. Nora's expression didn't falter though.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm soooo over Renny," Nora announced with a fake confidence Blake saw right through. "There are so many other boys and girls to spend my time on."

"Sure." Blake rolled her eyes, "And you don't care at all that he's all over May?" May was a lesbian. Blake knew that. Nora did not. Was Blake going to tell Nora? No.

"He can do what he likes," Nora huffed. She held out her hand, presumably for the book. Blake sighed and bent down to rummage around for the book. She handed it to Nora.

"Whatever helps you sleep at night," Blake said.

"Ya know, I don't think two addicts have any business sleeping together, but I haven't said a word," Nora commented.

"You tell him yet?" Blake asked.

"Ren knows about my eating disorder," Nora replied, crossing her arms.

"While we both know he doesn’t know about the relapse, that's not what I was talking about."

"Have a good day, Blake."

Nora left and Blake sat down to read some more of her book. Unfortunately, she only got about 20 minutes of peace before Sun came in, music playing loudly from his headphones.

"You're going to go deaf," Blake said dryly.

"Never stopped me before!" Sun shrugged.

"So what brings you here? I didn't know you could read," Blake teased. He clutched at his chest as if Blake had physically stabbed him.


"I'm wounded, Blake! You know very well I read. Why must you hurt me so?" Sun said, in the most melodramatic way he possibly could. "And what's wrong with a bro visiting another bro?"

"Because it's you," Blake rolled her eyes.

"Harsh." Sun shook his head, still holding his chest.

"What do you want Sun?" Blake sighed. Sun leaned forward and actually looked serious.

"You should stay away from Nolan," Sun said. Blake was really confused. She didn't exactly hang out with Nolan. She saw him on occasion at the movie theater, but not often enough to warrant Sun's warning.

"Um, okay?" Blake agreed hesitantly.

"Brawnz got him hooked on something a lot stronger than weed and the two of them have been propositioning half the town," Sun explained. Blake understood where he was coming from. He was looking out for her because she was far from a veteran of being clean.

"Thanks, Sun. I'll steer clear," Blake nodded. Sun grinned and leaned over to punch her shoulder lightly.

"I believe in you bro," Sun chuckled. "But that wasn't all. I came to ask what kind of booze you want at your party."

"I don't care, I don't even want the party," Blake shrugged.

"Yeah, but it's your birthday. It'll be a blast," Sun assured her grinning.

"Whatever." Blake rolled her eyes.

"Do you know what costume you're going to wear?" Sun leaned forward, his expression curious.

"No," Blake deadpanned.

"Damn, you're no fun at all," Sun frowned.

"Why is wearing a costume necessary? It's my birthday. I don't even like my birthday or Halloween," Blake huffed. Nothing good had ever come from either. This would be the first one she actually celebrated since she was thirteen.

"Fine, you don't have to. But it's good to get in the spirit," Sun shrugged. Blake was about to argue more when Sun's phone blared loudly, playing Under The Sea. "Ah, Neptune's calling. I also came here to come get you. We convinced Ozpin to let you take a long break. The guys, you, and I are gonna go into the city to help Scarlet clothes shop."

"Oh shit, really?" Blake's eyes widened.

"Yeah, he says he needs new winter clothes and he's not in fashion anymore," Sun nodded.

"Alright, well, let's go then. I promised Yang I'd hang out with her when I got off." Blake got her purse from under her desk and put down her book. She followed Sun, locking the library as she went. His truck was waiting outside. Neptune and Sage sat in the bed and Scarlet in the middle of the seats. Blake climbed in next to him and Sun got in to drive.

Clothes shopping for Scarlet was usually an ordeal. He usually got uncomfortable and dysphoric during the process. For someone who loved to shop, that sucked. So they all went with him together. Blake was especially useful for glaring at salespeople who stared at his bindings. Not that she loved the mall, but she never minded going with the guys, especially for Scarlet.

Blake ran up to the familiar head of blonde hair, gasping for breath. She was running late and Sun had dropped her off miles away from where she needed to be. The plan was to meet up with Yang and the others at this little event being hosted for Halloween. Yang was the only one standing there.

"I'm sorry I'm late," Blake said, her hands on her knees as she sucked in air. Yang reached over to pat her on the shoulder.

"Don't sweat it, Blakey. You missed out on the show which is probably for the best, but you haven't missed anything else," Yang laughed.

"The show? What happened? And where's everyone?" Blake asked, standing up straight.

"Ruby and her friends went to the bathroom. Weiss and Pyrrha went to go get snacks. Jaune was dragged off by Nora for being an idiot. Ren and May went to buy the tickets," Yang rattled off. "It wasn't a big deal, but Pyrrha and Jaune haven't seen each other in a while and he tried to talk to her, but it really didn't go well. Plus, Ren brought May, which pissed off Nora. Then Weiss got jealous because Ruby has other friends. So, I sent everyone to different corners."

"I'm only 15 minutes late," Blake frowned, surprised at how things seemed to already be going wrong.

"It's fine, everyone will be just fine once we get inside. There's a haunted house, a corn maze, games, and a bunch of other stuff we're probably too old for," Yang shrugged. Blake admired her ability to take everything in stride. Blake wouldn't have wanted to deal with any of that.

"Sounds like fun," Blake sighed.

"Has your Friday been good?" Yang asked, obviously trying to make some small talk while they waited.

"It's been fine. Sun dragged me out earlier to shop for Halloween costumes." Blake cringed just remembering it.

"I still can't believe Ruby talked you and Weiss into joining our group costume." Yang shook her head, laughing. "You're gonna make a great Belle though."

"I can't believe she talked Weiss into being Snow White." Blake chuckled, picturing Weiss in the costume. "You and her are gonna look great though. Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood."

"This is my fault for reading her fairy tales." Yang looked jokingly disappointed.

"Blake!" Ruby chirped, jumping onto Blake's back. Penny, Ciel, and Oscar were standing there too. Blake noticed Penny and Ciel were holding hands and didn't comment.

"Hey, Ruby, long time no see." Blake smiled. Ruby let go so that she could face Blake grinning.

"I'm so glad you came!" Ruby announced.

"I doubt anyone can say no to you, Rubes." Yang ruffled Ruby's hair.

"Hello, Blake," Pyrrha greeted as her and Weiss appeared with many snacks. Ren and May trailed them.

"Hey, guys," Blake nodded. She was glad to see Pyrrha out. It seemed like since the Jaune incident she'd been avoiding people. She wasn't even staying in Beacon anymore.

"Ruby, why don't you go see if Jaune and Nora are ready," Yang suggested, realizing they were two people short.

"No need, we're here! Sorry for being slowpokes," Nora chirped as they walked up. Jaune's hands were shoved in his pocket and his eyes were downcast. Nora was hiding behind a smile. Seemed normal.

"Alright, in we go then!" Yang led the group into the event, everyone handing in the tickets May and Ren had gotten.

The Halloween event was being held pretty much in the middle of nowhere; it was a long stretch of land tucked between woods. Inside the gate was a big open middle area for milling and a stage playing music. From the middle were several short paths leading to the attractions.

"So, where to first?" Yang asked. Blake noticed several painted wooden signs giving names for attractions, but she didn't know what all it had to offer.

"We should do the maze first!" Ruby announced excitedly.

"We should do teams. See who gets out first," Oscar offered and honestly Blake had forgotten Ruby's friends were there.

"Do we have an even number?" Penny asked, her left hand flapping while the other held Ciel's.

"Fuck, I don't know. Um...." Yang started mouthing numbers as she counted everyone. Weiss huffed and rolled her eyes and Blake got the feeling she already knew the answer. "No......?"

"There's twelve of us," Weiss offered, though she did so annoyed. "So, yes, it's even."

"Okay, so pairs!" Ruby announced. There was some shuffling among the group as people paired up and decided who they wanted to go with. Blake just watched as she stood next to Yang who seemed content with Blake has her partner. Weiss seemed smug when Ruby sidled up to her. Nora did not seem pleased that May and Ren had partnered up and stood next to Jaune frowning. Pyrrha partnered with Oscar who both seemed fine with this and Penny went with Ciel.

"So, this is already off to a great start!" Yang commented as the partners started the maze.

"It could be worse," Blake suggested, but she knew that things were pretty tense. She could see Yang was stressed out. Reading Yang was almost impossible, but Blake had picked up a few cues.

"It could always be worse, Blakey," Yang grinned. Her smile was perfect for wiping away any trace of feelings. It was unnerving sometimes the mask Yang hid behind. Blake had always thought her own mask was impressive, but Yang's....

"Very optimistic," Blake deadpanned. Yang laughed as she pulled Blake into the maze. It was a basic corn maze and didn't seem too bad. There was nothing to stop Yang from immediately making a pun.

"This maize is a maze!" Yang announced and Blake rolled her eyes.

"That was really bad, Yang." Blake shook her head, just barely cracking a smile.

"My puns are awesome!" Yang protested. She was about to say something when she heard yelling.

"Yang!" Ruby's voice was clear above the low hum of talk in the maze. Yang took off running, seemingly able to pinpoint exactly where her sister was. Blake was impressed as she followed Yang. When they got there, Ruby had a hand on Weiss' back and Weiss was hyperventilating.

"Hey, Weissicle, take some deep breaths." Yang pulled Weiss into her arms, "Breathe with me. Deep breath in, deep breath out." She slowed her breathing as she coaxed Weiss into breathing with her.

"She said she would be fine, but I guess she's claustrophobic." Ruby rubbed at the back of her neck, looking at Weiss worriedly. Shit. Blake had forgotten about Weiss' claustrophobia. It had been a problem before. She didn't think the maze would trigger it, but there were a lot of people in the maze.

"It's all good," Yang assured everyone. Weiss seemed to be calming down, matching her breathing with Yang's. "We're gonna go back the way we came and get out of here. Weiss just stay and breathe with me. Ya know when Ruby was little she really liked Halloween and one year she dressed up as a ghost...." She started on a story about Ruby's ghost costume problems, obviously to distract Weiss from thinking about still being in the maze.

"Let's go." Blake beckoned for Ruby to follow her towards the beginning of the maze. Ruby leaned on Blake's shoulder.

"She's done this for me loads of times." Ruby said quietly. Yang's story carried on in the background. A thought occurred to Blake.

"How many times has she done this for herself?" Blake asked. Ruby didn't say anything as they walked. She probably didn't know the answer. Blake had calmed herself down countless times.

"Blake, you have to do this."

"But Adam-"

"You want to eat don't you?"

"Of course!"

"Then get in there and fuck the guy. Jesus, Blake. Stop being such a child. You're thirteen not five."

"Adam? Adam please, I don't want to. Adam!"

"There we go!" Yang announced as they appeared in the open. Surprisingly, Penny and Ciel were there as well. Penny was happily eating a caramel apple.

"Neither of us are a fan of the maze," Ciel explained, a soothing hand on Penny's back. Yang guided Weiss to sit down on a nearby bench.

"There's a petting zoo and pumpkin carving. That might be more your thing, Penny," Ruby offered.

"Ciel doesn't like getting dirty," Penny frowned. Ciel wiped caramel from her face with a napkin.

"I have hand sanitizer," Ciel said.

"There's also games," Blake added, having seen a few signs for games. She didn't know what they had, but anything was better than the haunted house. She felt like that was a bit much for them. Personally, she wasn't even looking forward to the haunted house.

"I'm sure we can find entertainment! Thank you," Penny smiled. Weiss seemed to have calmed down and stood up, smoothing her skirt. Yang seemed unfazed.

"Well, let's wait for the others and split up. I know some of us want to do the haunted house. It's okay for those who don't," Yang shrugged. Oscar and Pyrrha appeared out of the exit of the maze and walked over to them.

"That was fun," Pyrrha smiled. Blake hadn't seen her smile in a while. Then again she had been with Oscar and Pyrrha was good with kids.

"Yeah! I fell into the corn though," Oscar laughed.

"At least you're okay!" Ruby hugged Oscar.

"Oscar is far better at mazes than I am." Pyrrha laughed with him, bringing her hand up to her mouth in a very characteristic Pyrrha move.

Over the next twenty minutes they waited. May and Ren showed up not long after Pyrrha and Oscar. But eventually they had to send Ren in after Jaune and Nora who still weren't out. Another twenty minutes passed before Ren emerged with his friends.

"I am never partnering up with Jaune again!" Nora pouted, arms crossed.

"I thought we were going to right way," Jaune defended himself.

"We somehow went in circles for ten minutes Jaune!" Nora huffed.

"Alright guys, let's make our plans," Yang suggested. Blake was surprised about how parental Yang got in situations like this. It was funny for her because Yang was far from seeming responsible, but she was keeping the group on task.

In the end, they did decide to split up. Yang reluctantly let Ruby go with Weiss to the petting zoo. Yang, Blake, Nora, Ren, Pyrrha, Jaune, and May headed for the haunted house.

The haunted house was what looked like a big abandoned house with a short line in front of it. Blake wasn't a fan. She didn't have problems with horror movies or even scares. She just didn't want to deal with people jumping out at her and getting in her space.

"You scared Jaune?" Nora teased.

"Nora," Ren sighed because it was obvious Jaune was shaking in his boots. Pyrrha seemed conflicted before placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"You don't have to participate, Jaune. And if you're scared you can walk behind me," Pyrrha said in a soft gentle way. Jaune looked at her startled, but moved to walk behind her. Yang shot Blake a thumbs up.


"Yes, Jaune?"

"I'm sorry."

"It's alright, Jaune."

Blake was not surprised that was the end of it. It wasn't like people from Beacon actually talked about their problems. Why would they when they actually solved things? Not that Blake was any better.


"So, Renny boy, you scared?" May leaned on Ren's shoulder grinning. Nora pulled a face at the nickname.

"No," Ren shook his head.

"Ren's only scared of clowns," Nora snickered, earning an unreadable look from Ren. She just laughed harder.

"Clowns are freaky," Yang said, curling her lip in disgust. Blake didn't have anything against clowns per se, she just didn't like being around them.

A speaker crackled loudly above them, static making the announcement hard to hear. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Merlot's Mansion of Massacre. Please make sure all your belongings are secure. We are not responsible for stolen or missing items. Please keep your hands to yourselves our monsters are just doing their job and do not want to be punched."

"There's a story behind that," Blake commented.

"They're talking to you, Yang," Nora punched Yang in the arm.

"Shut up, Nora," Yang stuck out her tongue.

"You gonna protect me? Cause I'm scared as hell of skeletons." May poked Ren in the ribs and he smiled a little. Blake thought that was funny because May could kick ass and it was obvious she thought it was funny too.

"Sure," Ren chuckled. Nora's hand wrapped around Yang's arm. The speaker droned in the background about possible hazards and the types of people who shouldn't go in. The crowd moved forward and they entered the building.

At the very beginning were some mechanical creatures, but only a few people actually got scared by those. Blake was pretty jumpy, so she kept close to Yang. The blonde seemed amused by the zombies and ghosts and dead things jumping out at them. Blake was startled a few times and Yang found that funny too.

Jaune screamed a lot and clung to Pyrrha who tried to soothe him. Nora would taunt the actors and Ren would apologize for everyone. May liked to proclaim loudly and sarcastically until they got to the skeletons and she practically jumped into Yang's arms which got a side eye from Nora.

It was near the end that things got dicey. Blake had been through a lot and there was very little in the haunted house actually scary. She'd experienced scarier. But she knew what it was like to come face to face with a problem and it was terrifying when Yang did.

Part of the house had you out in the backyard with a chainsaw dude chasing you into it. Just behind the wall came a loud revving, squealing tires, and gunshots. That's when Yang froze like a statue. Blake ran into her because the chainsaw dude was still right behind them and Jaune was crying. As if that wasn't bad enough, a figure emerged from the shadows clutching a bloody knife coming for them. Yang stumbled backwards and Blake had to stop her. Yang wasn't there anymore, that much was obvious in her face.

"Nora! Make him fuck off," Blake yelled, shoving herself in front of Yang. Nora laughed and started taunting the guy with the knife. Yang bolted.

By the time the group followed Yang, after explaining their friend was in trouble to the actors and they needed to just leave, Yang was nowhere to be found.

"Where did she go?" Pyrrha asked, concerned.

"Maybe we should split up and look for her. See if the others have seen her?" Ren suggested.

"Yeah, just look where you think she might be. I'll hang around here just in case," Blake nodded. Everyone left separately, leaving Blake there. She approached a woman in a witch mask keeping an eye on the exit.

"Can I help you?" the woman asked, her voice muffled by the rubber mask.

"My friend kind of had a rough time in there. She came running out not long ago. Tall, blonde, wearing flannel and has a prosthetic arm. Do you know where she went?" Blake hoped she'd seen Yang, but was worried there were too many people.

"Oh yeah, one of the scarers hauled her off to the med tent. Said she was running like a bat out of hell and slammed into some prop." The woman pointed to a white tent with a red cross on the top.

"Thank you so much," Blake gasped and hurried over to the tent.

She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Yang there. The blonde was sitting on a cot shaking like a leaf, her real arm bandaged presumably from whatever she'd hit. She was staring down at the ground and not saying anything as one of the medics tried to ask her if she was okay.

"Yang," Blake said, but the blonde didn't look her way. The medic who Blake recognized as Octavia looked up at her.

"Blake, I'm surprised to see you here," Octavia smiled. Blake wasn't that surprised to see her. She knew Octavia was a med student and worked as a volunteer medic at different events nearby.

"Yeah, a bunch of us came," Blake explained. "Is she okay?"

"She's unresponsive, but her arm will be fine," Octavia assured her.

"Do you know what's wrong?" Blake wondered.

"I'm hesitant to say as I don't want to invade her privacy, but these symptoms seem to be in line with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," Octavia explained hesitantly.

"Have you tried snapping her out of it?"

"I nearly got sucker punched while tending to her arm, I'd rather not."

"Okay." Blake sat down next Yang and placed a hesitant hand on Yang's shoulder. Yang's head snapped up and she looked startled.

"Yang, you okay?" Blake asked worriedly. Yang blinked a few times and dug her fingers into her thighs.

"Yeah, sorry," Yang mumbled, closing her eyes for a moment. It seemed like she was trying to ground herself.

"Is everything alright?" Octavia asked worriedly.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Yang nodded, opening her eyes. Octavia stood up and walked off to give them some space.

"What happened?" Blake prodded.

"Just went back to a place I didn't need to be." Yang smiled at her. "But I'm fine, Blakey. No need to worry about me."

"Alright." Blake was not one to pry or push. It just wasn't her. If Yang didn't want to talk about it, she didn't have to. Yang reached up and brushed some hair out of Blake's face, smiling brightly. It was so weird how quickly she changed. What struck Blake was how beautiful her smile was and how her breath caught in her chest. Okay, fuck no. Blake stood up quickly. "The others are looking for you."

"Okay." Yang stood up and ran a hand through her hair. "Let's get back to everyone then."

"Yeah, we should," Blake agreed. What was going on with her? She'd gotten flustered in her worry and had problems breathing while interacting with Yang. She was not going to develop feelings for Yang. She didn't hate herself that much.

Chapter Text

Weiss' hands were folded in her lap, her back was ramrod straight, and her legs were crossed at her ankles. She sat prim and proper between Whitley and her mother. Her mother's dull eyes barely paid attention to the sermon, but her father was paying rapt attention on her other side. Whitley, ever the dutiful son, held the same vigor as he listened. Weiss listened to the pastor preaching loudly, but most of the words simply drifted past her.

Her eyes drifted about two rows from the front to a head of black hair and icy blue eyes. Weiss could stare at Adriane Beaumont for hours if she was allowed. However, her attention was pulled as Whitley pinched her thigh.

"Maybe you should pay special attention to this part of the sermon, sister," Whitley whispered. Weiss looked back up to the pastor and tuned into the sermon, her blood running cold.

"We must fight against the rising tide of homosexuality that is corrupting our good Christian country. We cannot allow these sinners to destroy the great foundation of family. As God intended, marriage is between one man and one woman. Anything else is a perversion-"

Weiss looked to Whitley. What was he trying to imply? What did this sermon have anything to do with her? She didn't stare at Adriane because she was gay, she stared because she admired her.

The sermon ended on a note of damnation for homosexuals and Weiss rose with her family. As she went to follow her mother out, her father placed a hand on her shoulder. He was staring down at her with a look of disappointment.

"Weiss, you will not be returning home with us today. You and Father Chapelle will be taking a trip." His voice was emotionless and cold. Weiss was confused as her wrist was grabbed by one of the altar boys. He dragged her out of the main area of worship and to the back of the church where the pastor's car was waiting.

"Wait, what's going on? Mother!" Weiss yelled, confused and scared as the altar boy shoved her into the back of the car. She thrashed desperately trying to her away.

Weiss woke suddenly and sat up with a start, a cold sweat pouring down her face. Her legs were tangled in her bedspread. The room she shared with Winter was dark and moonlight only just filtered slightly through the curtains. Winter slept peacefully in her bed undisturbed.

It had just been a dream. A memory twisted into a nightmare, but still a dream. She was safe in Beacon with Winter. The clock between them told her Winter's alarm would be going off soon, so she climbed out of bed and padded to the bathroom. After taking a cool rag to her face, she went to the kitchen to make coffee.

By the time she was nursing her first cup on the couch, a freshly showered Winter made an appearance.

"You're up early," Winter commented, pouring herself a cup of coffee.

"Couldn't sleep," Weiss sighed, wrapping her hands around the mug. Winter took a sip of her coffee.

"More nightmares then?" Winter guessed.

"Of course," Weiss nodded.

"I am sorry, Weiss. If I had known...." Winter trailed off. Weiss had heard it before and she understood. Winter hadn't known what their father had planned. Weiss hadn't known either. It was nice to know Winter would have had at least tried to help.

"It's quite alright, Winter. It's in the past," Weiss said. There was nothing to be done about it.

"I can see about getting you in with the psychiatrist on base. He might be able to-"

"No thank you, Winter." Weiss shook her head. She wanted nothing to do with psychiatric help, even if it was professional and genuine. No one else was going to be messing with her head any time soon.

"I understand," Winter said before walking out to go back to her room to get dressed in her uniform. Weiss picked up her phone from where it was charging on the coffee table. Their bedroom had one outlet and the charger went to Winter in there. Weiss didn't really care. She had a few missed texts from Ruby who never went to bed at a reasonable time. There were also a few texts from Pyrrha asking about what dish she was bringing to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving. Weiss hated the holidays. It meant having to dress up and put on a show for her father. Having a senator as a father meant there was always a party or event during the holidays. Pyrrha had insisted though; Ozpin was putting it on at the rec center for everyone, so she should come. Plus Winter was going, so she didn't really have a choice.

Weiss: Winter said we'd be bringing store bought pie as neither of us knows how to cook.

Pyrrha: Lovely! You can never have enough pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.

It was nice that Pyrrha seemed to be in higher spirits. After Blake's birthday, she'd seemed to be in a better place. Jaune and Pyrrha still hadn't properly spoken, but Pyrrha had gone home that night after the party.

A small smile graced her lips as she remembered the party. It had been more fun than Weiss could ever remember having. Ruby had spent the entire night with Weiss and they'd both been safely tipsy. Her cheeks heated up as she remembered Ruby kissing her cheek before she went inside to their room at Port's.

"Ow." Weiss hadn't realized she'd pinched the inside of her wrist until the sharp sensation had registered already. Oh. She was thinking about Ruby as non friendly so she'd instinctively corrected herself. She hated how they were still in her head. She wasn't even gay! She just thought Ruby was a sweet friend and she hadn't had a lot of friends. Weiss just needed to get used to having them.

Ruby: weissssss

Weiss: Yes, Ruby?

Ruby: weiss! :D

Weiss: What is it Ruby?

Ruby: hi hehe

Weiss: Is that it?

Ruby: no! what r u doing? right now!

Weiss: Drinking coffee.

Ruby: ewwwwwwww. but youre not busy? wanna come over and play portal on my laptop

Weiss: Don't you have school?

Ruby: thurs is thanksgiving, ive got the wholeeeee week off!!!

Weiss: Why are you awake then?

Ruby: reasonssssss

Weiss: What about Yang?

Ruby: why? she's sleeping at blakes. but I wanna play with youuuuuuu

Weiss: Alright.

Ruby: YAY :D !!!!!!!!!!!!

Weiss rolled her eyes, but got up to go get dressed. When she came out Winter was sitting on the couch reading a newspaper while sipping at her coffee.

"I'm going over to, Ruby's." Weiss got her jacket off the hook by the front door. Winter looked up and arched an eyebrow.

"Ruby's?" Winter said.

"I told you it's not like that. I don't like girls," Weiss huffed and her cheeks turned red.

"I'm not getting at that, Weiss, I just simply was surprised you had befriended her." Winter shook her head. Weiss could see the concern hidden behind the stony facade. She knew her sister thought she was repressing things after her time at camp, but Weiss wasn't and she found it annoying how insistent Winter was. She hadn't even been interested in girls before she was sent away.

"She's nice and although annoying, she has good qualities as a friend." Weiss rolled her eyes, pulling on her jacket. Winter hummed her response as Weiss left. It wasn't very cold out, but Weiss liked being prepared. The fallen leaves skittered across the ground in the breeze. Their street was bathed in shades of orange, yellow, brown, and red. Weiss' heels crunched loudly on the sidewalk.

Winter lived in a tiny apartment on the side of town closest to the highway. Small was what Winter had needed and Weiss moving in hadn't exactly been part of the plan. Neither really minded very much as it was nothing like the home they'd both left.

Weiss contemplated the coming holidays as she walked, trying to figure out if she missed home. Home had been complicated on a good day. Her mother, drunk more hours of the day than not. Her father's judgmental gaze and impossibly high expectations. The entire country's gaze on her as the daughter of a well known senator. She didn't miss any of that.

"Hello, Weiss," Coco called, stopping Weiss in her tracks. She'd forgotten their house was on the way to Port's. Coco was sitting on the ground outside their apartment, back against the wall. A cigarette was held between her fingers.

"Coco, I haven't seen you in a while. I thought you quit smoking," Weiss greeted, her brow furrowing.

"Hmm, I thought so too," Coco chuckled.

"Is everything alright?" Weiss asked. She walked over so she didn’t have to speak so loudly.

"Of course, why wouldn't it be?" Coco assured her, but Weiss noticed tear tracks poking out from under her sunglasses.

"How's Velvet?" Weiss wondered. "Are you two still fighting?"

"Nah, we worked things out." Coco took a drag from her cigarette.

"So, Brawnz....?" Weiss trailed off.

"Out of the picture. He laid a hand on Velvet and I knocked him out," Coco explained, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear.

"Is that that why you're crying?" Weiss wasn't one to pry, but she was worried. Coco's burst of bitter laughter told her she was right to be.

"A little advice, Weiss. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." Coco stood up and dropped the cigarette, crushing it with her heel. She waved and then went back inside. Weiss stood frozen and confused there for a moment before she started towards Port's.

Scarlet was at the front desk reading when Weiss got there. He just waved her on and she made her way to the room Ruby and Yang shared. She knocked on the door and almost instantly Ruby threw open the door, grinning.

"Weiss!" Ruby yelled, practically tackling Weiss with a hug.

"You're such a dolt." Weiss rolled her eyes, shoving Ruby off. She was unperturbed by Weiss' attitude.

"I'm just excited!" She moved so Weiss could step in. The room was cleaner than she expected, but definitely cluttered. She couldn't blame them, two people living in a room like that. Her eyes caught a glint on the nightstand between the two beds. A shiny red rose and a dragon sat there.

"What are those?" Weiss asked.

"Oh, those are our ornaments for the tree. Pyrrha told us about it! There's a big pine tree Ozpin decorates every year for Christmas and everyone gets their own ornament," Ruby explained, walking over to pick up the rose.

"A rose?" Weiss chuckled. Ruby blushed a little.

"My mom really liked roses. I don't know if it was because of her last name, but it's one of the few things I remember about her," Ruby admitted and Weiss' expression softened.

"I'm sorry, Ruby," Weiss sighed.

"It's okay, it means I really like roses too! Yang picked out a dragon because she likes what they symbolize." Ruby sat the rose ornament down. "She didn't tell me much else though."

"I guess I need to get one too." Weiss wasn't exactly looking forward to picking out an ornament, but she knew she'd be pressured into it. Christmas had hardly been her favorite holiday.

"Yeah! Pyrrha will take you over to Ozpin's. He's got like hundreds in his basement." Ruby bobbed her head excitedly. She plopped down on her bed and gestured to her laptop. "You ready to play though?"

"I suppose." Weiss took a seat next to Ruby. Ruby handed Weiss one of the controllers she'd hooked up to her laptop. Weiss became acutely aware how close they were sitting together. She had to swallow down a lump in her throat and tried to ignore the fluttering in her stomach as Ruby explained how to play.

They had been playing for a while, Ruby giggling whenever Weiss did something wrong, when Ruby suddenly yawned.

"Do I bore you?" Weiss teased.

"Nope, just tired," Ruby laughed.

"You were up pretty early for a girl who goes to sleep late." Weiss commented. Ruby looked away and one of her hands fidgeted with her sweatshirt sleeve.

"My anxiety woke me up and I couldn't get back to sleep," Ruby admitted and Weiss was stunned. Ruby never really talked about problems. She was always so cheerful. Weiss knew she had anxiety, but she never talked about it, at least not to Weiss.

"I'm sorry, Ruby," Weiss frowned.

"Don't be! My brain just works overtime a lot. It's very loud." Ruby tried to joke it off. Weiss wasn't going to push it.

"Well, if you need to get some more sleep, I can go," Weiss offered.

"Nooooo, don't leave meeee," Ruby gasped dramatically. Weiss rolled her eyes in amusement.

"Okay well, how about we break from the game and watch a movie. I can't imagine these games are any good for you," Weiss suggested. Ruby pouted, but pulled up Netflix instead. She hooked her laptop up to the TV and after some debate, which Weiss let her win, they settled on Brother Bear. Ruby insisted they be close because that was the best to watch a movie. Weiss conceded and let Ruby rest her head on her shoulder while they watched.

Ruby was asleep barely fifteen minutes into the movie. Weiss was too caught up in her head to pay much attention to talking bears. This is what friends did right? Ruby was just being friendly. Weiss didn't have any points of comparison, but she knew Ruby and her sister were both affectionate people. A buzzing in her skirt pocket caught her attention and she pulled out her phone.

Her father was calling again.

Ignoring the call, she set her phone on the nightstand. The last time she'd picked up, she'd cried at a party. She wasn't going to subject herself to that again. Schnees did not cry.

"Welcome to our family time, welcome to our happy to be time."

Especially not about singing bears! Why did Disney movies have to have such emotional scenes? She was so engrossed in the movie, she didn't register the shutter of a phone camera.

"Having a nice time?" Yang's voice startled Weiss.

"Yang! Don't startle me like that," Weiss scolded. Yang chuckled and sat down on her own bed.

"Sorry, Weissicle. My bad." Yang grinned, not seeming sorry at all. "I just came to check on Rubes."

"She's asleep," Weiss said.

"I see that," Yang snorted. Weiss gently nudged Ruby off and covered her with a blanket.

"I should go, I have to clean before work." Weiss stood up and smoothed out her outfit.

"I'll let Ruby know," Yang nodded. Weiss was about to say something else when Ruby whimpered.

"Daddy, no." Ruby's voice was soft and scared. Yang shot up and shooed Weiss out the door. Weiss just got a glimpse of Ruby thrashing in bed.

"It's okay..." Yang's voice was muffled through the door. Weiss took a deep breath and headed home. She wasn't the only one who had nightmares apparently.  

It was amazing how the rec center changed. Long tables had been decorated with fall tablecloths and cornucopia centerpieces. Hand turkeys made by the local elementary school kids were hung around the room. One long table at the back of the room was covered in food of all kinds. Weiss was struck by how simple yet beautiful it was. It was nothing like the fancy dinner parties she'd gone to in DC.

Weiss clutched the pies in her arms, Winter having been stopped outside to talk to Ironwood. The room was already filled with people despite Weiss and Winter being early. She was kind of surprised how many people were coming. She knew Ozpin put on this dimmer for those who didn't have family to celebrate with or didn't have the means to have a Thanksgiving dinner. Still, there were a lot of people already here.

"Weiss," Ren greeted, startling her as he came up behind Weiss. Nora and him were both carrying pans of food.

"Oh, hello, Ren," Weiss nodded.

"Nora and I were helping Ozpin bring in food, so we can show you where the pie goes," Ren explained before walking towards the long table of food. Weiss followed and Nora walked with them.

"Ozpin sure got a lot of food," Nora giggled. "But he does every year."

"Right here, Weiss," Ren pointed to the end of the table as he sat down his pans. Nora sat hers down as well.

"Do a lot of people come to this?" Weiss asked, setting the pies down.

"Oh yeah, lots. A lot of people in Beacon don't have family, so this is a really nice thing for them to come to. Because Beacon is a family!" Nora chirped. She seemed to be in a really good mood, which surprised Weiss. She had been weird the last few months. Weiss didn't even remember seeing her at Blake's party.

"This is really important to some people," Ren agreed.

"Especially for people like Ren and I! Being orphans with no home to go back to," Nora added. Weiss would never get over how blunt Nora could be about their past. "Well, Ren's an orphan and my dad is in jail for setting our apartment building on fire with his meth lab, but still! Might as well be an orphan."

"Beacon is our family though." Ren placed a hand on Nora's shoulder. She brushed it off and grinned, earning a confused look from Ren.

"Yes, it is! Now come on, the drinks are still in the van," Nora announced before skipping off. Ren followed still looking confused and concerned. As they left, Pyrrha and Jaune walked in, holding Tupperware.

"Oh, hey, Weiss." Jaune smiled, setting down his containers. Pyrrha followed suit. It looked like containers of dishes Weiss didn't recognize and some French dishes. She assumed Pyrrha's were Greek.

"I expected you and Winter would be early," Pyrrha teased.

"We were raised that ‘on time is half an hour early,’" Weiss explained, but she thought it was a good rule to live by. Punctuality was important.

"Ren and Nora have been here all morning setting up, so I think they beat you to it," Jaune laughed. "Then again, Nora does like the holidays."

"I should see if they need any help," Weiss suggested.

"I think they've got it, but you can help me lay out silverware," Pyrrha offered. Weiss nodded and the two laid out silverware on the tables. Ren and Nora brought in drinks and more food while Jaune directed people arriving.

Ruby and Yang arrived not long after, but something seemed off about both of them. Pyrrha enlisted Yang's help with fixing the hotplate that was meant to keep the turkey warm in the next room. Ruby sat down at one of the tables and played a game on her DS.

"Sometimes, I think you walk me into things on purpose," Fox accused, rubbing at his nose.

"I wasn't paying attention, I'm sorry," Coco said, but was trying to stifle a laugh. Fox glared in her general direction. Yatsu and Velvet came in with them, Yatsu laden down with food.

"Coco, you should be nicer to Fox," Velvet scolded.

"It was totally an accident," Coco chuckled. Velvet looked unconvinced.

"Ruby Rose! You are upset about something." Fox's attention focused in on Ruby, who looked up in bewilderment.

"Are you magic?" Ruby asked, wide eyed.

"Yes." Fox walked over and sat down next to her. Weiss watched, confused and surprised, as the two started having a low quiet conversation.

"She probably misses home," Yatsu said before walking over to set all the food down. Coco and Velvet plopped down across from Ruby. Weiss walked into the next room to see if anyone needed any help, but froze in the doorway. Yang was kneeling on the ground sobbing and Pyrrha was holding her. Weiss slowly backed out so neither noticed her there.

She hated the holidays.

"Weiss," Jaune called from his station at the doorway. Weiss walked over to see what he wanted. He lowered his voice. "They're having some problems at Blake and the guy's place. You think you could go over there and see what's up?"

"I suppose." Weiss glanced around the room. Jaune shot her a thumbs up as she walked out.

The walk to the house was uneventful. She hummed quietly to herself as she walked and complained internally about the wind blowing her hair around. Hopefully, she still looked presentable when she got back to the rec center.

"Weisssss, long time no see," Sage greeted. He was standing outside the house with Nebula. She heard yelling coming from in the house.

"Um..." Weiss trailed off.

"What brings you here, beautiful?" Nebula winked and Weiss felt her cheeks heat up.

"Jaune said there was a problem."

"Yeah, we've got a three way going on in there, and not the good kind. Nebula brought Dew over to try to calm things down," Sage explained.

"What's wrong?" Weiss frowned.

"Neptune and Sun got into a fight after Blake's party. They decided to take a break. Sun slept with Yang and...." Sage held up his phone, a screenshot taken presumably from Sun's phone.

Second Hottest Blonde: i think im pregnant

Hottest Blonde: Fuck

Second Hottest Blonde: Fuck is right

"Oh." Weiss' eyes widened.

"That was last week. Turns out Yang isn't pregnant thankfully, but Blake and Neptune found out today when Sun accidentally sent that screenshot to the house group chat," Sage nodded, shoving his phone in his pocket.

"I can see why they're upset." Weiss flinched as she heard something break inside the house. It seemed a little too close to home.

"But you can still spend some time with us?" Nebula smirked and looked Weiss up and down.

"First of all, aren't you with all of your roommates already. Second of all, I'm not interested in girls," Weiss huffed.

"We're poly and you're in denial," Nebula chuckled. Sage chuckled with her, but he immediately jumped forward and grabbed Weiss' wrist. Weiss hadn't been realized she had started digging her fingernails into her skin.

"Whoa now, Weiss, don't pull a Pyrrha on us." Sage gently pulled her hand away.

"I don't hurt myself," Weiss protested, but the crescent shapes in her arm said otherwise. Why were they still in her head? She shouldn't still be doing this. She didn't need correcting.

"Oh shit, you and Octavia might want to talk. They sent you to camp too?" Nebula's eyebrows shot up. A shiver ran down Weiss' spine.

"Miss, Schnee! We do not look at other girls here. Do you understand me? Correct yourself immediately. Where is your rubber band? Fine, Dr. Magenta will do it for you."

"I don't know what you're talking about." Weiss turned on her heel and left, not even remembering she was supposed to help out. She walked back to the rec center and ignored Jaune when he asked. All of her friends that had arrived (except Jaune) sat at a table and Weiss sat down with them next to Ruby.

"Weiss, you're back!" Ruby threw her arms around Weiss.

"I haven't been gone that long." Weiss rolled her eyes.

"We were just talking about the secret Santa," Velvet said.

"What's that?" Weiss asked.

"It's where everyone draws a name and you get a gift for that person. But you don't tell anyone who you have. That's why it's called a secret Santa," Coco explained. Weiss' brow furrowed. It sounded dumb.

"This way, us poor folks don't have to get a thousand gifts," Fox joked.

"It's a lovely tradition," Pyrrha said. "And everyone gets a gift this way."

"And Ozpin says you always get who you need to get," Nora added excitedly. "It's a lot of fun."

"Fate does seem to play a hand in things," Ren agreed. Pyrrha handed Weiss a small square of white paper.

"Just write your name on that. We'll draw names when everyone gets here." Pyrrha also handed Weiss a pen. Weiss wrote her name and gave the paper to Pyrrha. She folded it up and plopped it in a top hat.

"Jaune said you went to get Blake and the boys, where are they at?" Yang asked, curiosity evident. Weiss couldn't even tell she'd been crying not that long ago.

"They're arguing about your pregnancy scare." Weiss found herself answering without really thinking about it. Yang's eyes widened and Ruby's head snapped in Yang's direction.

"Pregnancy scare?!" Ruby squeaked, drawing attention to their table from others.

"It wasn't that big of a deal," Yang assured her.

"Everyone has a pregnancy scare." Nora reached over to pat Yang on the shoulder. Weiss seemed to be the only one to catch the unreadable look Ren shot her.

"Don't you think we should eat?" Velvet suggested and she looked extremely uncomfortable. Almost like someone had just told her they'd hit her dog. Coco placed a comforting hand on the small of her back.

"Why don't we get food? I'd like not to be starving when Ozpin starts droning on with his speech." Fox got up, using Yatsu to steady himself.

"Ooh, come on, Weiss, I'll show you the cookies I made." Ruby scrambled off the bench, nearly falling. She grabbed Weiss' hand and pulled her towards the table of food. Jaune left his station at the door to join them.

Sage and Scarlet showed up first, taking their seats. Sun, Neptune, and Blake showed up a few minutes after them when people were about midway through their meals. Weiss' attention kept getting pulled to Nora who kept trying to feed people things from her plate she insisted were delicious. Ren kept shooting her weird looks.

"We're so glad you three joined us," Pyrrha smiled, addressing Blake, Sun, and Neptune.

"It was about time," Sun grumbled, shoving turkey into his mouth.

"It's not our fault you're a manwhore," Blake hissed.

"You're fucking her too!" Sun shot back. Neptune was quiet from his spot, not saying anything.

"I think you two need to take a breath and count to ten before saying anything else," Pyrrha suggested, sounding stressed. Yang seemed to be trying to sink under the table. Blake and Sun huffed before going back to their plates.

"I have never seen a group with so much drama." Weiss shook her head. Ruby snickered a little too loud.

"Yang does seem to get into a lot of trouble," Ruby giggled. Yang looked up and narrowed her eyes at her sister.

"One word: Cinder," Yang whispered. All the color drained from Ruby's face and that shut her up quickly. Cinder?

"Weiss!" Winter's voice caught her attention. Weiss got up and walked to the table opposite of theirs. Winter was sitting there with Ironwood.

"Hello, Mr. Ironwood." Weiss nodded her head.

"Weiss, I've told you, please call me James. I'm Winter's boss, not yours. And outside of work, even she calls me James," Ironwood chuckled.

"I was just speaking to James about the psychiatrist in base. He was telling me he's been to see her and she's very good," Winter explained. Weiss felt her face start to burn.

"Yes, the doctor is a lovely woman and she helped me quite a bit after my accident," Ironwood nodded.

"Winter, I told you I wasn't interested in help like that. I'm perfectly fine." Weiss fought the urge to lose her cool.

"Weiss, there's nothing wrong in seeking help-"

"Thank you sir, but I told my sister I don't need help! I don't need anyone else in my head," Weiss snapped. "I don't like girls and I don't need fixed!"

"Weiss?" Ruby's voice caused her to whirl around. The girl was standing there holding one of her cookies. "I-I thought you might want to give Winter a cookie."

"You can give it to her," Weiss huffed before stomping back to her seat. Ruby took her seat a moment later, not looking at Weiss.

"Ladies and gentlemen! I know you're still enjoying your meal and please continue. However, as is tradition, I have a speech." Ozpin spoke from the front of the rec center. "I want to thank you all for attending. I'm very happy Beacon can be the family you may be missing. I have been putting on this dinner for years and it seems to draw more people every year. I believe this meal brings the community closer together and offers a hand to those who need it. When I started this dinner, I never expected it to become as big as it did. A few years ago, when we lost Amber, it seemed our town needed this dinner more than ever." Ozpin's expression was solemn as he spoke. "Since then, our town has grown as well. It saddens me how many take refuge in Beacon, but I am thankful our town can create such a haven of safety for so many. I am also thankful to all of you for making Beacon such a wonderful place to live. Beacon would be nothing without its residents." He held up the wine glass in his hand. Everyone else held up a glass as well. "To Beacon."

"To Beacon,” everyone else echoed.

"Again, thank you all for coming. After you are finished eating, you are free to leave or stick around and help clean up. For those of you who are new, don't forget to hang your ornament on the tree outside before you return home," Ozpin added before going back to his seat.

Weiss pulled her ornament out of her jacket pocket. It was a simple sparkling snowflake. She turned it over in her hand and looked at the bottom. Ozpin had scrawled her name and the date she arrived at Beacon on the bottom. She looked out the window of the rec center and saw the tree, lit up brightly in the growing darkness. Hundreds of ornaments hung all over the tree. She wondered how many had been driven to Beacon, how many had to hide?

"Weiss, we're drawing names now," Pyrrha smiled, getting her attention. Weiss reached in the hat and pulled out her name. Everyone else began drawing as Weiss unfolded the piece of paper.

Ruby Rose.

Chapter Text

Ruby stared at the white ceiling above her. She could hear the steady breathing of her sister in the other bed. She pulled the comforter farther up under her chin to fight the chill. Ohio had been having a rather mild winter until just recently. The temperature dropped, the heater didn't work very well, and Ruby was not used to cool temperatures. She turned on her side to look at Yang.

Unlike most people, Yang never seemed to sleep peacefully. Her face always seemed to be pained. Ruby knew colder weather exacerbated Yang's phantom pain, but it wasn't just that. She knew her sister was stressed now more often than not.

Turning on her other side, Ruby could see through a crack in the curtains. White snow drifted downward, powdering everything. She’d never seen snow before Beacon and she loved it. This year, they would be having a white Christmas.

Yang's phone rang on the bedside table. Ruby closed her eyes and pretended to be sleeping. She heard Yang shift in her bed with a rustling of blankets and a quiet yawn.

"What?" Yang whispered to whoever had decided to call in the middle of the night. She sounded angry.  "It's one o’clock in the fucking morning. What do you want?"


"Yes, now you know what timezone we're in, good luck searching the entire eastern timezone."


"You still haven't told me what you fucking want, Qrow."


"I don't care what Dad or Raven want."




"Dad can kiss my ass. We're not coming home for Christmas. We're not calling. We're not texting. Leave us alone." The phone clattered onto the table, Yang shifted again, and then all was silent.

Until she heard a soft sniffle. Ruby squeezed her eyes shut and willed herself to sleep. She hated when her sister cried because there was little she could do. Eventually though, Ruby did fall asleep, but it was only after the soft noises of Yang’s tears subsided.

"Rubyyyyy!" Yang bounced on the foot of her sister's bed. Ruby groaned and threw an arm over her head.

"Five more minutes," Ruby whined. Yang grinned and launched herself on top of her sister, earning an oomph . "Yang!"

"It's Christmas Eve!" Yang announced. Ruby struggled to sit up, shoving her sister to the side.

"Yes, it is," Ruby giggled, slightly confused as to why her sister was so excited. Especially after last night.

"I have a surprise for you," Yang grinned and Ruby's brows furrowed.

"A surprise?" Ruby asked. "On Christmas Eve?"

"Yes, because everyone's going to be getting presents tomorrow, but this one I wanted to give to you today," Yang nodded, getting off Ruby's bed. Ruby only just noticed Yang was already dressed and in her jacket.

"Okay, okay," Ruby conceded, climbing out of bed and shivering a little as she followed suit and got dressed.

Yang watched excitedly with a glint of mischief in her eyes. As soon as Ruby was dressed properly for the below-freezing temperatures, Yang pulled her out the door.

Outside, everything was covered in white and Ruby had to squint at how bright it was. The snow glittered in the sunlight like it was covered in small crystals. Yang turned to Ruby and held up a bandana.

"I promise I will guide you better than Fox's friends do," Yang assured her.

"Okay..." Ruby was hesitant, but allowed her sister to blindfold her. She was really confused now, but she trusted Yang.

Yang led her down the sidewalk and Ruby tripped a few times because of how uneven it was. Eventually, Yang gave up with steering her and put Ruby on her back for a piggy back ride. She listened to Yang's boots crunching in the snow as they walked.

"We're here!" Yang announced after about ten minutes of walking. She heard the creaking of something metal and then she was sat down on the ground. Yang pulled off her blindfold.

Ruby was standing in a little patch of grass surrounded by a shoulder height (for Ruby) fence. There was a small sidewalk leading up to the door of what looked like a small apartment. Yang stepped forward and unlocked the door, gesturing in. Ruby's eyes widened as she walked inside.

There was a bed set up in a large square area and a bathroom set off to the side. Ruby kept walking and walked down a hallway with a bathroom and small bedroom. Then she got to the kitchen, which jutted off the living room. In the living room was a small tree with some presents underneath it and the front door of the apartment. Ruby turned to look at Yang in shock.

"I know it's not much but I think it's pretty nice and it's ours. I figured you can decide where you want to sleep-" Yang was cut off by Ruby throwing herself into her sister's arms and wrapping her arms around her sister's neck.

"Thank you," Ruby said through tears.

"I know you've been wanting something a little more stable. And I'm pretty sure Ozpin discounts the shit out of these apartments even though I told him not to. But Blake talked me into it and I thought this place would be perfect," Yang admitted, hugging her sister.

"No more staying at Port's?" Ruby asked.

"Nope, this is our home now," Yang said. Ruby tightened her grip on Yang and started crying harder. To most people, it wouldn't seem like much, but this was everything to Ruby. It meant they would be staying for a while at least and they finally had a home to call their own.

"I love it," Ruby whispered. Yang stroked her hair and chuckled.

"I'm glad. I figured you'd want to spend our first Christmas away from home in a new home," Yang explained as Ruby pulled away to look at everything again. Her chest tightened. They were really making a home in Beacon.

"Mom would love it," Ruby announced. Yang threw her arm around her sister's shoulders and nodded.

"I think so too."

By the end of the day, they'd moved all their things from Port's to the apartment. Ruby had chosen the bedroom with a door even though it was smaller. She felt Yang deserved more space anyways. Yang promised in the new year they'd get some more stuff to make their home a real home. Ruby figured some of her Christmas presents would take up some space too.

Six year old Yang crawled out of bed, careful to not disturb Ruby, who slept quietly still, cuddled into their mommy's sweatshirt.

Crouching down, Yang pushed her hair out of her face and winced as she touched her black eye. She reached under the bed and pulled out a shoe box. She took the shoebox and padded down the carpeted hallway to the living room. Her dad was snoring loudly on the couch, beer bottles scattered on the floor next to him.

In the corner was their Christmas tree Yang had managed to get out of the closet. She walked over to the tree and opened the shoebox. Inside were a few crudely wrapped presents. They were things Yang had dug out of the trash, gotten from neighbors, or she bought at the thrift store with Tai's beer money she'd stolen out of his wallet. The black eye was worth it. Yang took the presents and slipped them under the tree, pleased with herself. Then she went into the kitchen.

Dishes were piled high in the sink and flies buzzed around them. Yang ignored that and sat down at the kitchen table. On the table was a piece of buttered bread and a glass of water for Santa. Yang had assured Ruby Santa liked everything. Yang ate the buttered bread and drank the water.

When she was done, she reached into the shoebox one last time and pulled out a piece of chocolate and set it on the plate for Ruby. She'd gotten it from her teacher for the holidays and decided to save it for her sister instead.

Then Yang padded back to the room she and Ruby shared and climbed into the bed they also shared, and she laid down and closed her eyes to wait for Ruby to wake up.

Last year, Mommy had died before Thanksgiving. Come Christmas, Yang had been faced with the awful truth that Santa wasn't real. Thankfully, she’d managed to convince Ruby that Santa just forgot because he had a lot of presents to deliver. This year, Yang was going to make sure Santa didn't forget.

"Yang?" Ruby's voice pulled her from the pool of memories she was drowning under. Yang looked at Ruby, who was holding the new DS game she had just unwrapped. She was dressed in her pajamas and wasn't wearing the sweatshirt. Look how far they'd come.

"Sorry, zoned out," Yang chuckled. The two sisters were sitting cross legged in the middle of the living room so Ruby could unwrap her presents.

"How can I thank you if you're zoning out?" Ruby teased, giggling.

"Why thank me? Thank Santa," Yang joked back, earning a playful eye roll from her sister.

"Thanks, Santa!" Ruby reached over and stuck a bow from one of her gifts on Yang's head. Yang stuck out her tongue playfully.

"Knock, knock," a familiar voice called and Ruby raced to the front door. She threw it open revealing a prim and proper Weiss and a bedraggled Blake. Blake was grinning though as Ruby let them in.

"We bring presents!" Blake announced, holding a tray of what looked like Christmas themed breakfast food. "Neptune sends his love."

"Winter also sent hot chocolate." Weiss held up the can of instant hot chocolate in her hands.

"It's the first Christmas the four of us are spending away from home, so we decided we'd come check in," Blake explained as Yang took the tray.

Yang shared a look with her. They'd resolved the whole debacle with Sun and Neptune... sorta. Neptune and Sun made up as Neptune and Sun always did, but Blake and Yang were on some rocky ground, which usually came to a head when they were drunk. There had been a few fights between the four of them, and none had been pretty. Yang was surprised Neptune was sending over food. She was very pleased to see Blake though. It hopefully meant they were good.

"Even if the party is this afternoon, we both thought it was important," Weiss agreed. She cracked a small smile.

"Weiss come on, I'll show you my room!" Ruby announced, grabbing her hand and dragging her down the hall. Yang caught a soft pink blush color Weiss' cheeks.

"So, how're you holding up?" Blake asked, walking with Yang to put the food on the table.

"I'm good, why?" Yang smiled.

"Pyrrha said you were pretty upset at Thanksgiving," Blake pointed out. Curse Pyrrha and her caring about people's wellbeing.

"We lost Mom not long before Thanksgiving. It's always a rough holiday," Yang explained, though there had been a lot going on in November. Too much if she was being honest.

"I think holidays are overrated," Blake commented, smiling a little. Yang could tell she was only partly joking.

"I like them I guess, but Ruby has always loved the holidays, so I try to make them special." Yang ran a hand through her messy hair. Blake stepped forward and reached into her pocket. She held a sprig of mistletoe over their head.

"Sun sent this with me. He said he's going to be standing at the door of the rec center holding it over people's heads. Apparently, he's playing Christmas Cupid? I don't know. But he said if I brought this and followed through, he wouldn't make us kiss and make up in front of everyone," Blake explained, arching an eyebrow. Yang chuckled and leaned forward to give her a chaste peck on the lips.

"Satisfied?" Yang asked.

"Very." Blake replaced the sprig in her pocket. "I'm sorry I've been shitty."

"Nah, it's cool, I get it. We're not exclusive, but there's a code and I slept with your best friend. And almost got pregnant. Kind of a dick move." Yang rubbed at the back of her neck sheepishly. She did feel bad. They weren’t in a relationship, but she had complicated things.

"I'm over it," Blake shrugged, and Yang could tell she was lying. Blake had been jealous, Yang knew that. She wasn't going comment on it though. There was no way she was venturing down that rabbit hole. Yang didn't do relationships.

"It's cute you and Weiss came over for bonding," Yang teased, wanting to lighten the mood.

"You can thank Pyrrha for that. She gently threatened both of us into coming over. She said since the four of us would be celebrating our first Christmas here, we should spend some of it together." Blake shrugged, laughing. Yang was not surprised Pyrrha had orchestrated it. It didn't seem very Blake and Weiss.

"I don't understand how your room is messy despite you only being here one day," Weiss chastised as the two reappeared. Ruby giggled, looking unaffected by it.

"So why don't the four of us chow down? I'm starving," Yang suggested. "We can complain about how cold it is over warm food and hot chocolate."

"This is not that cold." Weiss rolled her eyes.

"Rubes and I are from Hawaii---it's fucking cold," Yang insisted.

"I'm from California, it's cold," Blake agreed.

"Alaska is colder," Weiss huffed, which froze all the girls.

"You're from Alaska?!" Three voices chorused in various pitches of disbelief. Weiss look surprised. Yang was not expecting that.

"Yes. Our family is originally from Alaska, although I was living in D.C before coming to Beacon," Weiss nodded.

"That's amazing. Oh my god, this means a whole new level of jokes." Yang started cracking up. "Weiss Schnee from Alaska! Alaska. Woooow."

"Yang, be nice," Ruby smacked her sister's arm, but was trying to hold back her own amusement.

"No wonder you're so cold," Blake deadpanned.

That day, Yang and Ruby walked into the rec center for the second time since arriving at Beacon. This time, the room was lit up with an assortment of lights. There were decorations for multiple holidays, too, not just Christmas. There was a paper dreidel on one wall, the Kwanzaa candle holder that neither sister could name on another, and tons of other decorations for different cultures scattered elsewhere in the room.

All their friends were already gathered at the same table they'd shared last time. Everyone was talking and laughing. Ruby felt warmth rise in her chest. Yang was just surprised to see how happy everyone was. It seemed like the holiday had erased any drama that usually stuck around.

"Hi, everyone!" Ruby chirped, plopping down in her seat. Yang sat in her own seat. They each held a gift in their hands.

"Glad you two made it," Pyrrha smiled.

"Looks like we're the late ones this time," Yang joked.

"I told everyone they had to get here early," Sun explained, a mischievous smirk on his face.

"I don't like the sound of that," Fox frowned. Sun reached into his pocket and brandished a sprig of mistletoe, just like the one Blake had earlier. Several people at the table recoiled as if it were a dead animal.

"Oh, no! No, no, no," Jaune shook his head. Sun immediately held the mistletoe over his and Pyrrha's heads.

"Time to kiss your bestie, Jaune!" Sun announced. Jaune and Pyrrha both turned amusing shades of red, and Pyrrha leaned over and pecked Jaune's cheek.

"Aww lame!" Nora complained pouting. Sun took that as a sign to move the mistletoe over her and Ren.

"Show us how it's done, Nora," Sun teased. Nora was about to protest when Ren leaned over and kissed her.

"What? It's a tradition," Ren shrugged. Nora's face scrunched up, but she didn't say anything.

Sun went through all the couples he liked. Coco kissed Velvet's cheek. Yang noticed that Velvet seemed kind of hurt by that.

Fox straight up frenched Yatsu and it was hilarious. "I'll climb you like a tree," Fox had said when asked how he would reach.

Neptune and Sun shared a highly indecent kiss that needed to be broken up by several yells of "Get a room!"

Sage and Scarlet pecked, which was way more than anyone expected.

Blake and Yang were spared with a wink and a dirty comment.

Then he got to Weiss and Ruby.

"Your turn, girls," Sun smirked, dangling the little sprig above their heads.

"Um, okay..." Ruby muttered awkwardly and turned to kiss Weiss' cheek. However, Weiss had already turned hers to kiss Ruby's cheek. This led to an actual, very quick, very awkward peck on the lips. Everyone lost it as Ruby and Weiss turned several shades of colors.

"Oh my god, that was better than the movies!" Sun hollered, bent over laughing. Tears seemed to be coming from his eyes.

"That couldn't have been better," Yang wolf whistled.

"Ruby!" Weiss squeaked.

"It was an accident!" Ruby shrieked back. Blake winced at how high pitched they both got.

"I'm going to actually cry." Sun wiped at his eyes, barely capable of breathing. Yang's head was on the table as she wheezed in laughter.

"Let's calm down," Pyrrha suggested, but Jaune nearly falling out of his seat next to her didn't help her case.

"Pyrrha, how can you not being dying," Coco laughed, Velvet practically crying into her shoulder she was laughing so hard. "Their faces were priceless."

"I didn't know Weiss' eyes could get that wide," Neptune mused, much calmer than his boyfriend.

"Ruby's cheeks match her sweatshirt," Yatsu commented, as he was the only one besides Pyrrha not laughing.

"Let's not tease the poor girls," Pyrrha scolded gently.

"I'm sorry, sis." Yang threw her arm around Ruby and ruffled her hair. "That was cute."

"It's fine." Weiss didn't seem fine, but she smoothed out her blouse, her face still several fun shades of red. Ruby was extremely embarrassed and just kind of sat there, flushed. That had felt really nice. Weiss had soft lips.

"Why don't we go ahead and do our Secret Santa? We came here early to do that because Sun wants to stand at the door and greet people with his mistletoe," Pyrrha suggested, trying to guide things back on track.

"Oh, right. Sorry, dude." Sun vaulted the table to get back on his side.

"Does anyone want to go first?" Pyrrha asked.

"I will!" Nora announced and picked up a circular box from the ground with a big yellow bow. She tossed it at Sun and smacked him in the head. "Merry Christmas, I think? I don't know what the Chinese equivalent is."

"Thanks, Nora," Sun snorted and pulled the top off. His face lit up. "It's a cowboy hat!" He pulled it out and plopped it on his head.

"I got it so you'd stop stealing Yatsu's," Nora giggled.

"I love it, Nora." Sun got up so he could squeeze Nora in a tight hug.

"I can go next?" Yang suggested, passing her gift over to Pyrrha. It was a small red gift bag with gold tissue paper. Pyrrha pulled out the tissue paper and produced a small charm bracelet.

"This is gorgeous, Yang," Pyrrha whispered in awe, turning it over in her hands.

"I had to make it. Didn't have a lot of spare cash, but I hope it doesn't suck," Yang chuckled. Pyrrha looked up at her and smiled.

"It's beautiful!" Pyrrha looked at the little charms on it. Yang had spent hours etching the little charms for the little metal chain she'd gotten. There was a semicolon, a little charm that read ‘Hope,’ a pair of ballet shoes, a medicine symbol, a heart, Pyrrha's initials, a little spear, her birthstone, a TARDIS, and a pair of angel wings. They all had meanings to Yang she'd explain if Pyrrha asked.

Everyone else started exchanging gifts, spurred on by the first two. Yatsu got Velvet some film for her cameras. Velvet got Yatsu a bunch of country CDs. Fox got Coco comic books. Coco at first jokingly gave Fox a book without Braille but, after she'd finished laughing, gave him a hat with a bunch of swear words in Braille, which he loved.

Pyrrha got Jaune a new superman hoodie. Jaune got Ren a new cookbook. Ren got Nora a big, fluffy pink and green ugly Christmas sweater and matching socks, which Nora loved. And Blake had gotten Yang a certificate to a nearby gym's dance class because she knew Yang liked to dance. Yang hadn't told many people about her love of dancing, but she was glad she told Blake.

Sun gifted Blake weed. Neptune gave Sage cookies, Sage gave Scarlet a new binder, and Scarlet gave Neptune new cookie cutters.

The only people left were Weiss and Ruby.

"Here you go, Weiss." Ruby handed Weiss a crudely wrapped gift. "I hope you like it."

"Thank you." Weiss delicately unwrapped the gift. Inside was a small piano shaped music box. It was beautiful. The lid had an image of a white horse on top in the countryside. "Oh my," Weiss gasped.

"I found it at a thrift shop and had to fix it up, but hopefully you like it. The little turn thingy is on the bottom," Ruby explained. Weiss turned it over and turned the key before opening the piano box. A little red velvet chamber was sat next to the box of tech that played the music Edelweiss .

"I love this song," Weiss admitted, just staring at the music box. After a moment, she seemed to snap out of it and stood up. "I'll return shortly." She left the music box on the table and disappeared into the back.

"She's gonna cry, aww," Yang joked, pinching Ruby's cheek.

"No, she's not, right?" Ruby asked worriedly. Her questions were answered when Weiss came back holding a rather large box. She set it down on the table in front of Ruby.

"Here," Weiss announced, once again sitting down. There were holes in the box which confused Ruby, but she pulled the loose box top off and dropped it immediately, her eyes widening.

A black and white corgi slept soundly at the bottom.

"Oh my gosh, is that a dog?!" Ruby shrieked loudly, which wakened the dog. The dog yawned and stood up, looking at Weiss with wide eyes.

"Winter said they found him wandering around base. No one knew where he came from and they couldn't find his owner. After clearing it with Yang, I decided to gift him to you. Dogs have been know to be good companions for anxiety-" Weiss' long string of dialogue was cut off as Ruby tackled her, cutting off her air supply.

"He's a cutie." Yang reached in to scratch the dog's ears. His little tail wagged happily.

"What are you going to name him?" Jaune asked, chuckling.

"Zwei!" Ruby announced after letting Weiss breathe again. "He looks like Ein from Cowboy Bebop."

"That's really good," Blake snorted. Yang knew Ruby and Blake both liked anime. Ruby was so happy as she scooped up Zwei and cuddled him tightly, tears streaming down her face.

"Thank you, Weiss," Ruby whimpered. Zwei licked at her tears apparently trying to cheer her up. Yang smiled as she kissed her sister's head. She wasn't sure if Weiss knew how good this would be for Ruby, but she was sure it would be great. Plus, their apartment allowed pets, so no big deal. And Weiss had said he was a well trained dog...

"You're welcome, Ruby," Weiss smiled.

"Oooooh, people are starting to come in! I gotta man my station." Sun took off to greet those coming in with his mistletoe.

"We should go help people bring things in." Pyrrha nudged Jaune who nodded and the two walked out.

"Pretty great Christmas, huh Rubes?" Yang asked, wiping a stray tear from Ruby's cheek.

"The best," Ruby mumbled from where she'd buried her face I'm Zwei's fur. Yang looked over her and mouthed 'Thank you' to Weiss.

The days after Christmas were bitterly cold. Temperatures dropped drastically into the teens and single digits. The wind chill got as low as negative double digits by the time New Years Eve rolled around. Yang and Ruby remained holed up in their apartment as much as possible because thankfully the heat did work. Ruby and Zwei were inseparable and he slept in her bed. At one point, Blake and the boys stayed at their apartment because their heat had gone out.

Sometimes, Yang would go out with Pyrrha to help the homeless in the city since everything was so cold. Yang liked helping out, but she didn't like the reminders of the time she and Ruby had been on the streets.

When New Years Eve came around, Yang was excited. New Years was her favorite holiday. She liked the promise of the fresh start it offered. Maybe the new year would bring better times for them. She sure hoped so.

Pyrrha and Jaune were hosting the party for New Years. Penny would be joining them as her father was out of town. He promised Penny she could stay with Yang and Ruby the night before, and then Pyrrha would take her home after the party. The inside of their place was warm and filled with people, plenty of flowing drinks, and a random mix of music playing in the background. The live feed from Times Square played on the TV, where everyone was waiting in the frigid temperatures for the ball to drop.

"My father said he'd take me to see the ball drop one day if I wanted, but I don't think I could. It's so loud, and there are so many people," Penny commented, sitting cross legged on the floor to avoid being crowded too much. Ruby was sitting next to her, leaning back against Weiss' legs.

"I bet it's way too cold too," Ruby nodded.

"Sun you have, like, a couple minutes before the ball drops to finish making out with Neptune in the bathroom!" Coco called, snickering. Velvet was sitting in her lap now as they'd both had a decent amount of alcohol. Fox was in Yatsu's lap, but that was mostly to save space.

"So Blakey, wanna be my New Year's kiss?" Yang teased, the two tangled together on one chair. They were also decently tipsy.

"Sure thing," Blake laughed, rolling her eyes in amusement.

"Thank you all for coming. It has been a good year and we have added so many new faces," Pyrrha announced, smiling. She was probably one of only a few sober people in the room. Everyone cheered excitedly.

"To the new year!" Jaune announced, holding up his drink. "May this year be even better than the last."

"Cheers to that," Nora tapped her cup against Jaune's.

"Does anyone have any resolutions?" Ren asked, seeming to be the only one interested in seriousness.

"Fuck bitches, get money!" Nora announced, earning an eye roll from Ren.

"Resolutions are stupid, no one ever follows through," Blake pointed out.

"I think they can be fun," Ruby pouted.

"Our family used to do a New Years Wish. At the stroke of midnight, you think in your head a wish for the New Year," Scarlet suggested.

"That sounds lovely, Scarlet," Pyrrha said.

"Did we miss it?" Sun appeared, fixing his clothes and Neptune hanging off his back lazily. "Cause Neptune's gonna be pissed. This is way past his bedtime."

"No, you're good, boys." Velvet reached over to pat Sun's leg. As if on cue, the countdown from 30 began. Everyone excitedly watched as the big neon numbers flashed on screen. The ball started sliding down at 10.


Happy New Year!

Ruby turned to peck Weiss on the lips and immediately turned back around, face red. Everyone else made their wishes in their head hoping they would come true. Yang was busy making out with Blake, but had her wish in mind anyway.

Beacon had just entered the new year.

Chapter Text

The sounds of crunching metal and shattering glass filled the air at two o'clock in the morning. A monster of a truck slammed into a car that had lost control on a patch of ice and the car went rolling. A body ejected from the car and orange hair hit the pavement. It finally stopped in a mangle of metal. Pyrrha blinked her eyes open, her head pounding. Something sticky dripped down her face and her vision was blurry. She could just barely make out yelling and the screeching of car tires.

Penny wasn't in the passenger seat anymore.

Nora stared up at the ceiling of her room. The pack of Hubba Bubba and the note 'I'm here to talk when you're ready' sat on her nightstand. She'd moved them there after she'd found them on her pillow on Christmas. She hadn't touched either of them since. Her jaw clenched as she fought back tears. She hated this! She hated how well he knew her and yet he couldn't see what was right in front of his face.

Getting up she quickly swept away her tears. She grabbed the Hubba Bubba and the note and walked out to the kitchen. Ren was standing next to the counter sipping a mug of tea while reading the newspaper. He looked up when she walked in.

"Good morning, Nora," Ren greeted. He was wondering when she'd appear. She had slept late it seemed.

"I'm going out, Renny," Nora chirped, and with a declarative thump dropped the Hubba Bubba and note in the trash can.


Ren's gaze fell to the trash can.

"I'll see you at work." Ren sighed as Nora walked out of the house, watching her grab her big pink coat off the rack as she left. His heart broke for him and her.

Nora didn't need him. It was obvious Ren didn't need her, so why should she need him? She had other friends. He was moving on and she could, too. She wasn't his problem anymore.  

The windchill was bitterly cold so Nora flipped up her hood and hunched deeply into her coat. Weather channels were warning about dangerous windchill and frostbite, and weather advisories were issued for most of the counties nearby. The wind was unforgiving which made the actual feeling of the air drop into negative double digits. Nora's face hurt as she walked, making her way towards the diner for refuge.


Her mind was wasn't on the biting chill though. Instead it raced through the usual thoughts that plagued her when she was alone. Critiques about her weight and appearance always surfaced first. They were the easiest, the issues that she could attempt to control. She wondered if after all her effort she looked better, if maybe she was finally acceptable. If, at last, she looked like she should. She doubted that. She never actually met her expectations.


From there, the scope of Nora’s obsession broadened to include Ren, and not being good enough for him. What had made him leave her? Sure he hadn’t actually physically left, but May’s existence seemed more important to him now. What did May have that she didn’t? Lots of things, if Nora were being honest with herself. Self-esteem for one. Nice hair. A waistline. She’s funny. Smart… Nora’s stomach hurt. He had made his choice. Nothing she could do would bring him back.

Perhaps Ren had finally realized Nora was a lost cause and a waste of time. No matter what she did, she was worthless, and stupid. Why should he spend time with her? The fact he’d kept her around as long as he did was impressive. It was very Ren though, to take pity on someone like her.


You’re worthless.


No one cares.


Ren doesn’t love you.


He doesn’t even really care about you.


Why should he?


Why should anyone?


You don’t matter.


The thought process was nothing but a spiral into an abyss of darkness. The intrusive thoughts nagging incessantly, flooding her mind on repeat when she didn’t have something else to distract herself with. They popped up even louder when something went wrong. No matter how hard she tried to block them out, they made her question and doubt everything about herself, her job, what she ate, how much she slept, and pretty much every social interaction she’s ever had.

A warm rush of air hit her as she opened the door to the diner, breaking her out of her trance. At this point, she was an ace at flying on autopilot. Jaune was waiting on people at the counter and he waved as she walked in. Nora was glad to see him doing better after the rough time he'd had. He'd already been having some family problems, and then he'd went and stuck his foot in his mouth with Pyrrha.

“Hi Jaune!” Nora greeted, pushing herself up onto one of the tall stools by the register. Jaune walked over and leaned on the counter in front of her.


“Hey Nora, how’re you? Didn’t expect to see you in.” Jaune smiled. Nora twisted back and forth absentmindedly on the stool.


“I was bored, and thought I’d come see my favorite dummy.” Nora teased, reaching over to mess up his hair. He quickly fixed it, laughing.


Jaune was a good distraction for her. He was simple, and she didn’t question the authenticity of his smile.

“Meanie.” Jaune stuck out his tongue. “What can I get you?”

“The usual.” Nora smirked. Jaune shook his head in amusement and pulled out his pad of paper to write it down.


“A short-stack and a strawberry milkshake. Coming right up.” Jaune ripped off the paper and gave it to the cook before returning.


“How’re you Jaune?” Nora asked, genuinely interested on the Jaune and Pyrrha front. She always thought they were cute… if they could only be honest with each other.


“I’m good. Pyrrha and I are talking but she’s pretending nothing happened. I don’t know if that’s good or bad,” Jaune admitted, running a hand over his face.


“I mean it can go either way.” Nora shrugged, looking around the diner for their mutual red-haired friend. “Where is she?”

“I’m not sure. She took Penny home after the New Years party last night, but haven’t seen her since. I have the early shift, and she didn’t come back this morning. It was late, so she probably stayed with the Polendinas in the city,” Jaune said. “She had class today, so it would make sense.”

“Gotcha.” Nora nodded. She knew Pyrrha sometimes stayed with Penny’s family or with a couple of friends. Though she also knew Pyrrha could be at home and Jaune would never know because he was kind of oblivious.


“Hey Jaune, what did table 12 want?” The cook called, sufficiently distracting Jaune, and pulling him over to the order window.


Nora sighed again and turned on her stool to face the rest of the diner, leaning back on her arms against the edge of the counter. No Pyrrha. Damn. She could really use a hug-

"Hey, you've got something on your face," a familiar voice caught Nora's attention.

Her head whipped around in time to see May swipe something off Reese's face. The girl proceeded to stick her finger in her mouth like something from one of those cheesy romance movies. For a moment, Nora didn’t know what to think… Then her face started to burn in anger. Blaze, Reese's son, giggled and clapped excitedly.

"You're such a goof, May." Reese chuckled. May smiled back in a way Nora had never seen on her before.

"Only for you, beautiful... And little man here." May reached over to ruffle Blaze's mop of sandy blonde hair. Nora felt her chest swell with several different emotions. Mostly rage. How could she do that to Ren?!


She glanced down at her shoes on the black and white tile. At some point in the last couple seconds, Nora had hopped off of her stool as if she were ready to take action. But as she started to come back out of all the thoughts running through her head, she felt her cheeks flush, and she froze in place. Where was she going? What exactly did she intend to do? Anxiety taking over, she backed towards the door, her eyes never leaving the spectacle at the table.

"Nora?" Jaune called, holding a plate of pancakes and her milkshake as he stepped back toward the counter. But she couldn’t hear him.


Nora slammed through the door back out into the cold. Hurt hit her like a freight train as tears stung her eyes. As if it wasn't bad enough May'd almost completely ignored Ren at Blake's party. Now she was flirting with someone else?

The world around her seemed to go out of focus. She was dizzy. She hadn’t eaten properly in… And her heart was beating so fast, she could hear it in her ears. Her anxiety gave her tunnel vision. The only thing she was able to focus on were the little white clouds her breath made. They disappeared as she walked, so eventually, she just stopped and stared at them, the rise and fall of her chest predicting the appearance of each cloud. Then without warning, she sat down right on the sidewalk, on a patch of frigid ice, and Nora lost track of time until a hand touched her shoulder.

"Nora?" Nora looked up into the face of Velvet who looked very concerned behind her layers of winter clothing. She was definitely more suited for the cold than Nora.

"Hi, Velvet," Nora replied cheerily, trying to seem like she was fine.

"You shouldn't be sitting out here. Your face is really red, and it's not safe." Velvet warned, holding out a hand. Nora took it and stood up.

"I was just thinking," Nora admitted. Velvet started walking and Nora kept pace beside her.

"Well, I have to get to work but you can always hang out in the lobby with me. It's warm." Velvet offered. Nora just nodded and was quiet as she kicked at a chunk of ice. "Do you know how long I've known Coco?"

"Huh?" Nora turned to look at Velvet in confusion. Velvet smiled fondly before continuing.

"We've been in Beacon a while, but we actually came here together. Did you know that? My dad and her mom got married a few years ago and I went to live with them in Canada. My moms not the most well off and she wanted me to get a proper education." Velvet explained.

"Wait, you and Coco are stepsisters?" Nora's eyes widened in surprise.

"Legally, yes. But Coco has never been my sister. My best friend? Yes. My sister? No. I didn't even like her when I first met her," Velvet explained. "She didn't like me either. But after she took me to the clinic....." She trailed off, pausing. "I realized, I loved her."

"Why are you telling me this? You and Coco never talk about your life before Beacon. Coco even says stuff like 'I didn't exist before Beacon'," Nora asked, surprised and confused.

"Well, I haven't known Coco as long as you've known Ren... but I don't want you making the same mistakes we’ve made." Velvet sighed, looking over at Nora, her face earnest.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Nora lied. Even to her own ears it was unconvincing.

"Tell him how you feel, Nora. Before it's too late." Then Velvet did something Nora didn’t expect. She grabbed Nora's hand and squeezed it. Reflexively, Nora pulled it away.

"It's been too late for a long time now..." Nora huffed.

"We're losing her!"

"C'mon honey, stay with us."

"Penny! Penny!"

"Get her away from here! She doesn't need to see this. Get her to the cat-scan."

"Penny, please! I'm sorry, Penny!"

"Ren? Ren? Earth to Ren!"

It wasn't until an insistent finger poked his cheek that he was able to focus. Subtly, Ren banged his wrist against the underside of the counter to ground himself, and then he looked up.

"Sorry. How can I help you, Sun?" Ren asked, finally looking up at the blonde leaning against the counter in front of him.

"I promised Blake a chai tea latte thing... You okay, man?" Sun asked. He was smiling, but there’s obvious worry behind his eyes.

"I'm good, really." Ren smiled and plugged the order into the cash register. Then, he jotted down the abbreviation on a paper cup and silently held it out for Nora to take.

She took it, but gave him a strange look in return. To anyone who didn't know Ren as well as she did he would look fine. Spacey maybe, but fine. Nora, though, from just a cursory glance could see his hair was messy and his uniform wrinkled around the sleeves. He never left the apartment looking like that.

"Alrighty, then." Sun nodded, obviously oblivious as he handed Ren his card.

Nora easily finished the drink and handed it off, her eyes refusing to leave Ren, even as Sun waved his goodbye from the door on his way out. She took a second to glance at the clock. They only had about an hour left before closing, and Ren had been avoiding her their entire shift. He seemed sad, and lonely. More like he was isolating himself, rather than actually avoiding her. She frowned. What had happened? Whatever was bothering him, she wasn't going to push it at work.

Her eyes drifted from Ren to out toward the front of the shop for people watching. Yang was outside standing on the sidewalk not dressed for the cold at all. She was on the phone and from this distance Nora could just barely read her expression. She was angry about something.

"I wonder who Yang is mad at?" Nora commented offhandedly, looking over at Ren. She was trying to start up their usual banter, maybe get his mind off of whatever had him upset. But Ren was staring into space and obviously hadn't heard.

She sighed and went back to watching Yang who seemed to have hung up. Between the big window and the door was a column of brick. And in that moment, Yang decided to punch it. Someone was having a bad day.

"Yang is punching your wall." Weiss entered the coffee shop, the bell tinkling.

"Yeah, it happens." Nora shrugged. People punched things sometimes. It was hardly new information.

"Is Ren okay?" Weiss asked, pulling her wallet out of her purse. Ren had stepped away from the register and seemed to be very zoned in on cleaning something.

"He's depressed." Nora shrugged again.

"Who isn't?" Weiss commented, and it seemed like a joke but she wasn't wrong.

"Whatdya want?" Nora asked, deciding she could take Weiss' order, and taking Ren’s place at the register.

"Black coffee," Weiss said, and Nora quickly went to fill her order, returning with a hot, fresh cup in hand. Weiss took it and handed Nora exact change.

"How is Ruby?" Nora smirked, knowing she couldn't let Weiss out without teasing. Weiss' face flushed pink.

"How would I know? I'm not her keeper." Weiss huffed in vague annoyance, and Nora chuckled as she put the money into the cash register. Then Weiss left, and the shop was empty once again.

Fifty four minutes left.

"She was conscious 10 minutes ago! What happened?"

"There must be a bleed in her brain."

"Pyrrha honey can you open your eyes?"

"She's not responding!"

"May's cheating on you." Nora blurted out. She couldn’t help it. The thought of May and Reese at the diner today had been burning a hole in the pit of her stomach for the entire day.

They were home now, in the kitchen, and Ren nearly dropped the pan he was pulling out of the oven in surprise. Thankfully, he caught his fumble, and set it down gently on the stove.

"What?" Ren frowned, turning to look at Nora. She was standing next to the refrigerator with her hands on her hips.

"She doesn't treat you right either. She ignored you at Blake's party and now she's flirting with Reese ! You deserve better!" Nora went on, anger filling her once again. She hated seeing her best friend treated like something disposable. And she hated even more that he was oblivious to it.

"Slow down. First of all, why are you so angry about this?" Ren asked, confusion written all over his face. "And second of all-"

"I'm angry because who does she think she is? What gives her the right to think she can treat you like this?! She just uses you. Like at the haunted house! She doesn't actually care about you. Not like you deserve. Why did you choose her? Why is she better than me? Why wasn't I enough?" Nora's mouth moved much faster than her brain, and her words tumbled out clumsily before she could stop them. A dead silence fell over the apartment, she clapped her hands over her mouth. Oh shit. Oh shit, she said that.

"Nora?" Ren stared at her, uncomprehending, his own head was not functioning quickly enough to process. After a moment, he tried again, "Is… that what this is about? Is that why you relapsed?"

Nora began to panic, waving her hands in front of her. "What! No! I just...I-"

"Nora.” His stern voice cut her short. “I'm not with May and I never have been."

Nora froze in place, eyes wide as she watched him search for words.

"And… I'm not replacing you. I…” His eyes stayed trained on the floor. Why won’t he look at her? “I know you don't need me anymore, but you're always going to be my best friend."

"What?" Nora protested. “You’re the one who doesn’t need me.”

Ren took a deep breath and closed his eyes, "I will always need you, Nora. I just didn't want to hurt you. When we were together, you always said it was just sex, but it was more than that for me. I was concerned you would find out my feelings were no longer platonic. So I thought it would be best for both of us if I just ended things... That doesn't mean I don't need you. Of course, I need you." Ren explained, slowly opening his eyes to look at Nora.

"W-What?" Nora stammered, she felt like the wind had been knocked from her lungs.

"I've been in love with you since we were 13," Ren added. He had been hiding it for years but she deserved to know the truth. "If I had known trying to distance myself would hurt you like this, I never would have done it."

"You... love me?" Nora's eyes shined in the light of their apartment.

"Yes." Ren nodded.

Nora stood there for a long time, the two of them just looking at each other.

After a long period of silence, he added lamely, "I’m sorry. I didn't want it to ruin our friendship--"

"Ren." Nora said finally.


"Stop talking." In two quick steps, Nora closed the distance between them and kissed him hard, with a desperation neither of them really understood. Her arms locked around his neck, and his moved around her waist, and they clung tightly to each other, as if any second this would end and the other would disappear. Years of longing and want poured into that kiss, and by the time Ren finally pulled away and looked down at Nora, both of them were out of breath.

"What was that?" Ren asked, desperate for clarification.

"I've loved you since I met you, Lie Ren." Nora breathed out, finally admitting it out loud for the first time ever.

"That's a long time," Ren said, a little smile forming on his lips.

"Yes, it is." Nora couldn't help but giggle.

"You taste like strawberry bubblegum..." Ren commented casually.

His words broke through the spell, causing Nora to pull away and step back. She brought a hand up to her mouth as reality settled back in place. Even though they’d cleared the air between them, there was still a bigger issue at hand.

"I chew it sometimes." Nora shrugged, still determined to brush it off.

"Nora, you're hurting yourself." Ren sighed, then boldly reached out to take her hand. Nora didn't pull away, which seemed like a good sign. "Let me help you. Let me be there for you again."

"Okay..." Nora whispered and let Ren pull her into his arms. It was going to get better. She was going to get better. She’d managed once before, it would happen again.

"Has anyone found their next of kin yet?"

"I've already contacted Penny's father but Pyrrha's emergency contact isn't answering. I'm trying again."

"Breathe, Ren. I've got you." Nora stroked his hair as his entire body shook. She had to be strong for him. "It's going to be okay."

The two were sitting on the floor of the living room as he cried. That’s where Ren had collapsed after hanging up with the hospital. Nora had been in the kitchen getting a glass of water for their spontaneous movie night. The popcorn was abandoned in the microwave and the title screen for Captain Underpants had gone grey on Netflix. She had hoped the movie would cheer them both up. Neither was expecting a call from the ER.


Honestly, Nora had forgotten Ren was Pyrrha’s emergency contact.

"She could die, Nora..." Ren choked out, his chest seizing tightly. His mind flooded with images of Pyrrha unconscious. Dying. Dead. Of Nora dying. Of all his friends dying. His parents had died, he knew death. And this just made it all too real that there was absolutely nothing stopping him losing people he cared about again. And Nora… How long has Nora been hurting herself? He could have lost her. He could still.

"Pyrrha's strong, she'll be fine," Nora assured him, hugging him tightly. She had to believe Pyrrha would be okay. Pyrrha had to be okay.

Chapter Text

Yang pulled the blanket tighter around her, her entire body shivering violently. Ruby was sleeping like a rock on the hospital bed and had been for awhile. The flu was hitting everywhere hard and Beacon was no exception. Ruby and Yang were both severely infected. Ruby's was so bad, they had to go to the ER. Yang had spent most of the night vomiting and Ruby had been mostly unconscious. The only thing keeping the doctors from kicking her out was sheer spite and will.

They were one floor down Penny and Pyrrha, still confined to the ICU.

"Yang?" Weiss' soft voice pulled her tired eyes to the doorway. Weiss was standing there, looking concerned. If the situation were any better, she'd tease her about her lack of make up and the casual appearance she sported.

"Hey, Weiss," Yang croaked, letting her eyes fall back to her sister.

"How is she?" Weiss took another step, but didn't come too far in. Yang knew it was for the best. The flu was hitting Beacon like a train and Yang didn't want Weiss catching it too.

"They said she'll be okay, she just needs some rest," Yang said, not mentioning the doctors said it could have killed her if it got worse.

"Does she...?"

"No, I haven't told her yet." Yang sighed, drawing her hand down her face. "Any updates?"

"Ren said Pyrrha's finally awake so they're doing tests. He said traumatic brain injury can do a lot of damage and they have to see what extent it's going to affect Pyrrha," Weiss explained, her voice sounding strained. Yang thought it sounded like she might cry at any moment. "They said she might not be the same Pyrrha."

"And Penny?" Yang wasn't sure she wanted to know.

"She hasn't woken up yet, but....... Winter told me even if she does wake up, and there's no guarantee she will, her prognosis is poor. Being ejected from the car should have killed her." Weiss' voice cracked at the end and she sniffled, blinking a few times. “She most likely will never walk again at the very least.”

"They're gonna be okay, they'll be fine." Yang's words sounded hollow to her own ears. She wasn't sure she even believed them. "If they aren't, I don't know how to tell Ruby."

"Ruby's strong," Weiss offered. Her comfort fell flat for Yang and she covered her face in her hands.

"Our mom died in a car accident. She was supposed to pick us up from school one day and never showed. A drunk driver hit her." Yang's words were muffled, but the gasp she heard told her Weiss had heard.

"Yang, I'm s-"

"I don't know how much Ruby can take. We left Hawaii because I wanted her to have a second chance. She needed a fresh start. Seems like everything followed us here anyway." Yang fought back tears threatening to fall. She didn't know what to do. She was at a complete loss. Logically, she knew bad things happened wherever you went, but they just seemed to follow the sisters unceasingly, like a spectre haunting them from beyond the veil.

"She has you," Weiss said. Yang could tell she didn't know what else to say. She didn't think Weiss was great at comforting people, but she doubt she'd had a lot of experience either. Weiss was a bottled up person who could barely address her own emotions.

"I'm not sure that's enough anymore," Yang said, letting her hands drop so she could just gaze at her sister. She was pale, but slept peacefully. It was an improvement to the day before.


"You should get going." Yang grabbed the edges of the blanket again and tightened her hold. "I need to get some sleep and you don't need to get sick."

"Alright, I'll see you two tomorrow," Weiss acquiesced. Yang closed her eyes and leaned against the back of the awful chair she'd curled up in. She listened as Weiss' steps fading into nothing.

"Hey, firecracker."

"Get the fuck out." Yang's eyes snapped open and she was on her feet, blanket falling to the tile beneath her. A familiar figure stood in the room, a flask in hand one hand and the other resting on his neck.

"Now, that isn't anyway to greet your uncle," Qrow commented, raising an eyebrow.

"I said get the fuck out," Yang growled. She didn't know how he found them or how he'd gotten there, but she would die before she let him ruin anything else. They'd finally found a home and he decided to waltz in and fuck it up. No, she wasn't having it. If bad things followed Yang and Ruby, Qrow was far more cursed than them.

"Language, firecracker. Is that anyway to talk in front of your sister?" Qrow tutted, taking a drink from his flask.

"Listen to me you sarcastic piece of shit, I don't know how you found us, but we don't want you here. Get the hell out before I make you," Yang warned, her fists clenching.

"You gonna beat me up? Yeah right, you're sicker than a dog, kid," Qrow snorted in amusement. "And Oz invited me, said my nieces were sick and I came running."

"I could kick your ass on my deathbed. Get. The fuck. Out." Yang's blood was boiling. She knew she shouldn't have trusted Ozpin. Next thing they all knew, he'd be dragging all their demons into Beacon.

"Calm down, Yang. You're getting worked up about nothing. I was worried about you two," Qrow sighed, rubbing at his neck.

"You were never concerned before, so what changed now? Dad cracked my skull last year and you didn't so much as bat an eye." Yang narrowed her eyes. "Cinder could have killed Ruby and where were you?! Nowhere to be fucking found."

"Listen Yang-"

"Don't ‘listen Yang’ me. Just because you're all bent out of shape that Mom chose Dad over you, doesn't give you an excuse to be a shit uncle. Ruby may adore you, but I know better. I'm not stupid. You don't care about me because I look like your sister. You don't care about Ruby because she looks like Mom. The only person you care about is yourself!" Yang hissed, her anger filling her like a tea kettle that had been left on the stove too long. She kept her voice down in case Ruby stirred, but she was nonetheless livid.

Compared to Ruby, Yang remembered quite a bit more about their childhood. She was pretty sure the reason Yang had more negative feelings towards their uncle was because Ruby didn’t remember. Not the things Yang witnessed. Qrow not stepping in when they needed him was one thing, but it started even before her mother died.

Four year old Yang sat awake and alone on a stormy night. Ruby slept soundly in her crib, but Yang wanted her mom. She’d decided to crawl out of bed to go find her. The thunder rumbled loudly as Yang padded down the hall to her parents’ bedroom. Voices stopped her though and she peeked out into the living room. It was late, shouldn’t her mom be asleep? She could hear her father’s soft snoring down the hall from their room. Her mom’s voice drifted softly from the living room. Looking she spotted her mom and Uncle Qrow, both talking in hushed voices.

“Summer, please, don’t be this way,” Qrow pleaded. Yang wasn’t used to seeing him upset like that. Summer had his hands in her hands and she looked sad too, a weird sad Yang didn’t understand.

“I’m sorry, Qrow. I’m married to Tai. We have Ruby now. I don’t love you the same way you love me. I still love you dearly, you’re my best friend. But I can’t love you the same way,” Summer said softly, squeezing Qrow’s hands in hers.

“I don’t understand why you’re lying! Who are you trying to kid?!” Qrow hissed angrily, ripping his hands out of her grip. Summer looked pained as her hands fell limp to her sides. “You loved me once, you said so yourself.”

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t anymore and I’m married to Tai. You have to let me go.” Summer shook her head. Yang could just barely see unshed tears in her mom’s eyes and it upset her. She didn’t like it.

“So you’re just going to forget everything we had?!” Qrow growled and Yang could see anger flash in his eyes. Summer rubbed at her arm and sighed.

“I have a family now. You need to move on and find your own happiness,” Summer said.

“You made me happy, Summer! I thought I made you happy too.” Qrow stood eerily still, looking at Summer like he didn’t even know her. Yang watched in confusion, unsure of what was going on. Then a voice spoke.

"Let's get you back to bed, honey," Tai said, placing a gentle hand on Yang's shoulder and startling her. She looked over her shoulder at her mom and Uncle Qrow as he guided her back to bed.

"I love both of you, I was just busy and couldn't stick around much," Qrow protested, but his excuses only made Yang angrier.

"Don't bother trying to lie to me; you've never cared about either of us. Neglect and standing by while Dad abused us is just as bad as if you hit us yourself," Yang snapped. Her anger was strong. but she was also rather light headed from the flu. Why couldn't everything just calm down for a minute?

"I was there after you lost your arm," Qrow offered, but his face had lost a lot of his usual uncaring attitude. He looked regretful and guilty almost. Too little, too late.

"Yeah, for a couple weeks because I begged you to, because I couldn't fight dad off like that," Yang scoffed. "I know you were hurting, but that did not give you an excuse to take it out on two kids who didn't know anything." Her eyes glinted with a dangerous fire. "Now, get out. Neither of us need to see you. And if I find out you told Dad where we are, my flu won't save you."

"Your dad has no idea, firecracker. He wants me to bring you two home, but I didn't know where you were." Qrow took another drink from his flask. Seemed like alcoholism ran on both sides of her family.

"Good, keep it that way."

"He misses you. He's been more sober lately," Qrow said, frowning.

"Get. Out," Yang repeated. Qrow sighed, but turned on his heel and walked out, leaving the two sisters. Yang practically collapsed in the chair and fought back the nausea.





."How're you holding up?"


Yang was sitting in the cafeteria staring into a bowl a soup she'd never be able to hold down. She looked up at Blake, who had taken the seat across from her. "I'm not dead yet," Yang said, looking back down at her soup.

"You look like you're more than halfway there though," Blake commented and Yang couldn't help but chuckle weakly.

"Seems like it," Yang nodded. The two sat in silence for a solid few minutes. They'd seemed to be locked in this stalemate of fighting and make up sex when drunk, but when sober they were distant. Yang had been in worse relationships, but they were both just avoiding things now.

They hadn't spoken since New Years.

"Hey, Yang?"

"Yessss, Blakey?"

"Do you wanna go out sometime?"

"That's cute, but I don't do relationships. I can barely look at myself in the mirror, I'm sure as hell not fit to date."

The fact that Yang had been drunk and open enough to admit that to Blake was something. It was impressive Blake hadn't run from the hills after witnessing drunk Yang’s temper and then still wanted to go on a date with her. They both knew Yang was an alcoholic, and yet Blake had never said anything. Blake had made a move in their stalemate. She'd moved into no man's land. Yang had just dug her trench deeper.

"Hospitals are terrible," Blake commented offhandedly, looking around at the cafeteria. It was full of doctors, nurses, and visitors who all looked like they hadn’t slept in days.

"Yeah, they are," Yang agreed, running a hand through her messy hair.

"How's Ruby?" Blake asked, looking down and fidgeting with one of her bracelets.

"She's okay. The doctors are keeping an eye on her, but they think she's gonna be okay," Yang said, a small amount of relief bleeding into her tone. She'd been so scared for her sister.

"And you?" Blake prodded.

"I'm fine," Yang shrugged, not wanting to get into it. She really wanted a drink. That had always helped with things before. Her arm hurt a lot more than usual and she was more than stressed out. Still, she had to stay sober for Ruby. Plus, there was no guarantee she'd keep that down either.

"Listen Yang, things are kind of awkward right now. I was drunk when I asked you on a date," Blake said, fidgeting with the hem of her shirt. "I know we're just fuck buddies."

"Don't sweat it, Blakey. I didn't take it to heart." Yang grinned because, honestly, what else was she supposed to do. What else was there for either of them to do? Might as well just do what they always do and get back to square one as soon as possible.

"That's good." Blake chuckled, but it sounded off. Yang couldn't help but feel bad about it.

"How're you?" Yang asked, not really sure if Blake would answer truthfully.

"I'm fine. I mean, as fine as I can be. Everyone is torn up about Pyrrha and Penny," Blake sighed, tucking a strand of stray hair behind her ear.

"I'm honestly not looking forward to telling Ruby." Yang drug her hands over her face.

"If anyone can do it, you can," Blake assured her, but it didn't make Yang feel any better. She was so tired and the pain didn’t seem to go away. She didn't want Ruby to feel like that.

"Any more news?" Yang asked hopefully. Part of her dreaded what she could hear, but she was trying to be optimistic for Ruby's sake. Blake looked down at the ground and Yang already knew all she needed to know.

"I don't know much about Penny other than her dad has been coming around and Ciel won't leave her side. She hasn't woken up yet. There's no guarantee she will and if she does, it won't be pretty," Blake explained, and Yang sighed because it was the same thing Weiss told her. "Pyrrha though...."


"Well, she's awake, but she's struggling. Ren said she's struggling to talk and to remember words. Which is understandable, but I guess she's having other problems too. She's having trouble remembering things and processing stuff. Plus, like, she's had a bout or two of drunk Yang anger," Blake said. "They said it's because of the brain damage. They said she might never be the same person."

"Damn." Yang shook her head. Pyrrha, of all people, didn't deserve this. The idea that Pyrrha wouldn't be Pyrrha was scary. If even Pyrrha was in trouble like this...

"I need to warn you, too. I doubt Weiss has mentioned it with all that's going on, but her dad is making her life really hard again. So she's....sensitive," Blake sighed.

"How so?"

"Weiss is in a bunch of gay denial. Her dad sent her to one of those messed up camps and it screwed up her head. She's been doing better recently, thanks to your sister, but her dad's come blasting in again," Blake said.

"Looks like Beacon is falling...." Yang muttered under her breath.


Ruby sniffled, pulling her knees to her chest. She was clad in pajamas and waiting for Yang to finish dealing with her discharge information. Her sister had just finished telling her everything.

"Hey, Ruby, how ya feeling?" Nora leaned against the door. She looked tired, but she smiled.

"I'm okay," Ruby murmured, looking up at her.

"Your sister looks ready to keel over," Nora joked.

"Not surprising, she doesn't take very good care of herself," Ruby nodded.

"Sun tells me Zwei misses you like crazy." Nora smiled brightly, stepping in farther. Ruby wasn't great at reading people like Yang was, but she could see a lot hiding beneath Nora's smile.

"How're Pyrrha and Penny?" Ruby asked.

"They're strong, they'll be okay," Nora assured her with a wink.

"No need to worry about me."


Ruby almost fell off the bed as Ren wheeled a familiar redhead into the room. Pyrrha looked like she'd been in a serious car accident. Her face was swollen and bruised and her head was wrapped in bandages. She looked pale and weak in her hospital gown. Ren looked just as tired as Nora.

"Pyrrha!" Ruby stood up, smiling brightly.

"I heard you were in here," Pyrrha commented, smiling back. Ruby was really surprised. Yang had told her that Pyrrha was doing poorly in a lot of ways. She seemed herself, but she had been told it wouldn't last.

"I'm glad to see you're doing okay, Pyrrha," Ruby said.

"I have to say the same for you, I heard the flu is running its course through Beacon," Pyrrha said.

"Oh yeah, half the town is blowing chunks,” Nora laughed.

"Oh hey, Pyrrha, Nora, Ren." Yang came in, looking tired, but relieved. "Good to see you out and about."

"Ren volunteered to bring me to see Ruby before she left so I thought I'd take-" Pyrrha stopped and her brows furrowed. Her mouth opened and closed and it seemed like she was struggling to find the word. She started muttering a few words as if trying to get closer to what she was trying to say.

"Advantage?" Ren offered.

"I was getting there, Ren," Pyrrha snapped in irritation.

"I'm sorry," Ren said, but he looked away from her. Pyrrha's entire face was tight and frustrated.

"Alright Pyrrha, why don't we get you back to your room?" Nora suggested.

"What?" Pyrrha blinked, looking at her.

"Let's go back to your room, you have physical therapy soon," Nora repeated with a smile. Pyrrha nodded.

"Bye, Pyrrha," Ruby waved as Ren wheeled Pyrrha away.

"I'm sorry, she gets kind of frustrated when she can't remember a word or doesn't get what we're saying the first time," Nora explained.

"It's okay, good luck." Yang gave her a strained smile before Nora hurried off. She turned to Ruby. “Alright, Rubes. Let’s get you out of here.”


“Yang, are you okay?” Ruby asked worriedly, she hadn’t seen her sister this rundown and pained in a long time.

“I’m great, don’t worry about me.” Yang ruffled her hair as the nurse brought in a wheelchair for Ruby. Ruby pouted a little because even though it was protocol, she wasn’t a fan. Still she got into it and Yang bullied the nurse into letting her push it.


“I’m glad to be finally going home,” Ruby commented, a well of happiness rising in her chest. It felt foreign and out of place, but if this one good thing was happening at least there was that.


“Me too, Zwei missed you and our beds are waiting,” Yang chuckled. Ruby was about to say more, maybe even joke around, but any happiness she had drained out of her as they got to the elevator.


Nora and Ren were standing there, well Ren was standing off to the side looking lost while Nora tried to calm down Pyrrha who was raging about something or another. She was just screaming in anger, and lashing out with her hands at Nora.


“Why don’t we head the other way, girls?” the nurse suggested, directing Yang to turn around. They turned the other way and Pyrrha’s screaming faded behind them as they used another elevator.




Ruby lay awake in her bed, Zwei curled up in her side, as she listened to Yang’s angry voice from her own room. She was yelling at someone who’d come to her door. She didn’t know who, but she worried Yang would punch someone. She had tried to sleep, but it hadn’t worked. It was weird, her mind was drifting to memories of Hawaii, but only the worst ones. It’s like the bubble of safety at Beacon had been punctured and everything from before had decided to leak in.


Three year old Ruby clutched her sister’s hand where they stood on the sidewalk, outside of the preschool/kindergarten they attended. Mommy was supposed to pick them up over an hour ago.


Five year old Ruby watched as her dad beat Yang for pouring his beer down the drain. That was the first but not the last time he put her in the ER.


Seven year old Ruby chewed her lip as she watched Yang drink the beer instead of pouring it down the drain.


Nine year old Ruby flinched as Raven dropped Yang off covered in more bruises than she’d left with, a cold look in the eleven year old’s eyes. Raven and her dad screamed at each other as Yang clenched fists with bruised knuckles.


Twelve year old Ruby cried as the kids at school bullied her for her ratty clothes that were too small. She felt the anxiety swell in her chest for the first time when she walked into class and everyone stared.


Fourteen year old Ruby smiled as Cinder, older and wiser and prettier, brushed her hair from her face. Cinder smiled and crooned, making Ruby feel special and wonderful. Cinder pulled her away from the fights Yang had with their father, the fights Yang had with her girlfriend Neo, the fights she had with Raven, and the alcohol that stunk up her clothes in the same way as their dad. “Just look at me, little one,” Cinder whispered, kissing her like she’d never been kissed before.


Fifteen year old Ruby sobbed into her hands as Yang cried for the first time Ruby had ever seen, a stump where her right arm had once been.


Sixteen year old Ruby couldn’t bring herself to cry when Cinder, her first love, her first everything, betrayed her.


Sixteen year old Ruby coughed as the building burned, black soot covering her cheeks and hands from having to fight through the rubble. It had been her or Cinder, but she hadn’t meant for it to be like this.


Sixteen year old Ruby hit the ground, a crack resounding through the air when for the first time her father hit her. She didn’t even know what she’d done to make him mad and Yang had just walked in the door.


Sixteen year old Ruby.....


Ruby squeezed her eyes closed and dug the heels of her palms into her eyes, trying to stop the inevitable flood of memories. Why were they all coming back down? They’d left all that behind. Yet the panic attack built in her chest and she balled her hand into a fist, catching some of Zwei’s fur in it. He looked up, cocking his head in concern. She sucked in ragged breaths.


“You and your entire stupid fucking town can go to hell!” Yang’s voice rang out clearly in their apartment. Ruby’s phone started buzzing on her nightstand. She tried to breathe as Zwei licked worriedly at her hand, making soft whimpering noises. She felt light headed and sick.


Sixteen year old Ruby hit and kicked as the police officer dragged her towards the car, his partner talking to social services.


Sixteen year old Ruby looking up at Yang as she thrust money into her hand, not looking into her eyes. She was sitting in the crook of the dumpster on some cardboard, their bed for the last couple nights. “This should replace what we lost,” Yang spoke, hiding behind her hair. “Let’s go get some breakfast.”


Sixteen year old Ruby.....


Sixteen year old Ruby....


Sixteen year old Ruby.....


Seventeen year old Ruby hyperventilated at the thought of losing her new home and her second chance at a good life.


Chapter Text

Ozpin limped off the bus, heavily leaning on his cane as he walked towards the empty looking gas station. It had stopped in Ohio for a pit stop on its way to Georgia. He took in the dusty air as the other riders shambled off, his uniform itching uncomfortably. Some people gave him side looks of disapproval; it embittered him. He hadn’t signed up for this stupid pointless war, he’d been drafted. Vietnam was not a vacation. Why was he being blamed when he had no choice in the matter?


“Hello, son,” an old man greeted him as he stepped into the gas station.


“Hello, sir,” Ozpin nodded and headed towards the cooler. He got a Coke and made his way to the counter. The cashier rang him up and he placed the coin on the counter.


“I see you served,” the old man spoke, gesturing to his uniform.


“Yes, sir,” Ozpin replied.


“You’re a good boy, serving your country like that,” the old man commented. Ozpin shrugged, wanting nothing more than to just change the subject.


“What’s this town called?” he asked. The old man chuckled.




“Remnant?” Ozpin frowned.


“Old-ass town without much to be found. Name makes sense if you think about it,” the old man said. “Not too bad to live in though. Quiet.”


“Really?” Ozpin raised an eyebrow. Quiet sounded like a nice change of pace. Georgia was home, but it’s not like there was anything there for him. Just a loud city with too many people and a house that felt too empty.


“If you’re looking for somewhere quiet and out of the way, Remnant is definitely the place. We got all sorts of types here,” the old man nodded.


“You looking for any help here?” Ozpin inquired, thinking maybe he didn’t have to get back on the bus. The old man looked at him for a moment.


“I could always use an extra hand, son,” the old man said, changing Ozpin’s life as he knew it. The whole bus ride, he had dreaded going home. It was hardly a home. With his sister gone and a guardian who didn’t care, there was nothing to go back to by judgement and nosy gossipers.  


With the money he had from his parents’ estate, he could go and do whatever he liked. Even settle in a nowhere town, far from Atlanta and even farther from Vietnam.


Ozpin wiped sweat from his brow, the hot sun beating down on him. It was boiling outside and even compared to Georgia, it was bad. The humidity was high and the sun scorching. Men chattered around him as they worked. Ozpin wiped dirt from his hand on his already dirty handkerchief as he took in the area around him. The townsmen were working on a new park for the children to play in. Ozpin had tasked himself with landscaping and was currently pulling weeds from what he hoped to be a garden. His leg injury prevented him from putting in more physically demanding work, but the other men were content in setting up the equipment and building picnic tables.


“Hi, Ozzy.” A dirty faced, malnourished little girl stood next to him, no front teeth and bruises on her arms. Her baby sister’s hand was grasped tightly in her hand. It was Emily and Dorothy, two little girls who lived on a farm on the edge of town. Dorothy, the younger one, had her thumb in her mouth.


“Hello, Emily,” Ozpin said, and gave her a kind smile.


“Whatcha doin’?” she asked, cocking her head.


“We’re building a park for you and the other kids,” Ozpin explained, reaching over to tussle her greasy hair.


“Is there gonna be a slide?” Emily asked curiously, looking over him at the working men.


“There sure is,” Ozpin chuckled.


“Whatcha doin here?” Emily pointed to the ground where Ozpin was working.


“I’m doing some gardening so the park will look pretty,” Ozpin said. “Would you and Dorothy like to help?”


“Yeah!” Emily chirped and plopped down, pulling Dorothy onto her lap. Dorothy looked up at Ozpin with wide eyes. Dorothy’s eyes had always fascinated him since there was a ring of orange around each pupil and the rest were green. They suited the little girl.


“So what kind of flowers should we plant here?” Ozpin asked, pulling some weeds out. Emily followed suit and tugged hard.


“Poppies.” Dorothy spoke around her thumb.


“Poppies are very pretty, Dorothy,” Ozpin smiled. “I think that’s a good idea.”


“Dorothy loves poppies,” Emily beamed, kissing her sister’s head. Ozpin was happy to see an example of the good he could do. He desperately wanted to make Remnant a better place for the people who lived there, including children like these sisters. If he could just put money and hard work into the town, maybe they’d have a better life than those before them.



“Now boy, I told you to keep your nose out of other folks’ business,” the old man scolded. Ozpin was at the local bar drowning his sorrows. The old man had taken a seat next to him.


“How could she do that? I called them to help her, not to rip them apart.” Ozpin took another long drink from his glass. He couldn’t get Emily and Dorothy’s screams out of his head.


“You’re a funny one if you think the state cares much about children whose parents hit them. They just don’t want to get in trouble with the higher-ups.” The old man shrugged. “Around here, it’s ‘spare the rod, spoil the child.’”


“Emily and Dorothy had bruises. That’s not just simple discipline,” Ozpin growled, his hand tightening around his glass.


“Try telling that to half the parents in this town, son. Around here, hitting your kids is what you do. Most of ‘em were hit themselves. It’s just how it is.”


“It’s bullshit!” Ozpin yelled, catching the attention of several others.


“Then do something about it.” The old man put a heavy hand on his shoulder.


“I’m just one man, I can’t change the whole goddamn state of Ohio,” Ozpin grumbled. The old man cuffed his ear.


“First of all, boy, do not bring God into your troubles unless you’re asking for a guiding hand. You go to church and know your commandments, so hold your damn tongue. Second of all, I didn’t say fix the state. Fix Remnant, so kids like Emily and Dorothy have somewhere to go after the state puts them through hell. Fix Remnant, so the parents here don’t hafta hit their kids because they’re fixed too.”



“Beacon?” Peter raised an eyebrow, the paint cans sloshing in his hands as they walked. Ozpin was walking with him to the town sign.


“Beacon,” Ozpin confirmed.


“No offense, sir, but why Beacon?” Peter frowned.


“A new town needs a new name and I think it’s a fitting one.” Ozpin patted the teen’s head. “This town is no longer a Remnant. It’s a Beacon.”


“I think I need to pay more attention in school to get what you’re saying, sir,” Peter admitted, looking bewildered and confused. Ozpin just chuckled and kept walking. The town’s sign was at the very edge of town where one first entered the place on Vytal. It was old and rusted, hardly much to look at. Ozpin had a new sheet of metal under his arm though and his tools. He would replace the sign and Peter, who had decent art skills, would paint it.


“You’ll understand one day, Peter,” Ozpin assured him, beginning to take the old sign off the posts.


“I think I’ll just have to take your word on that one, sir.”



Beacon had been growing over the years and bringing in exactly the people Ozpin had hoped it would. He started attending college when the town began to flourish, hoping to educate himself in a way that would be beneficial to those coming in. He’d already been helping as many people as he could, encouraging those struggling to come to Beacon.


His newest projects were Amber and the Branwen twins. The three of them lived in one of the many apartments Beacon had to offer. Amber and the twins got along in an odd way. It was a friendship built on secrets and a shared brokenness.


Amber was a timid addict who had run away from every home she’d ever had. She’d come from a provincial town with more secrets than potlucks. Her parents were dysfunctional under the surface and were ashamed of having a daughter who had turned to drugs to cope with having no self-agency.


The Branwen twins, Qrow and Raven, had started on a Native American reservation with their mother, but had been ripped from their home by their white father. The two had been tossed around the system on a whim and had only ever seen the crueler side of life. They were angry at the world and a flight risk on a good day. Raven had a coldness about her and Qrow had taken to drinking and losing himself in careless recklessness.


Ozpin had been working to help them, but he feared he was too late. There was a hollow look in Amber’s eyes and part of him knew she was gone long before she came to Beacon. Her years surviving on her own had done its damage. Raven also seemed like she was a lost cause, especially with how hard she pushed against help.


He was determined though.


“So, how are lessons going?” Ozpin was sitting at the diner with the three teenagers, eating lunch for their monthly meeting.


“It’s funny you think we actually go to school,” Qrow snorted, shoving a handful of fries in his mouth.


“Mr. Branwen, school is very important for your future,” Ozpin tutted.


“Can I go yet?” Amber spoke, jittery and not having touched anything on her plate. She was hiding from Ozpin’s gaze behind her hair.


“We just started our meeting,” Ozpin reminded her.


“And? I don’t see how you can stop us from leaving?” Raven arched an eyebrow.


“Free food,” Qrow reminded her, laughing as he shoved in more fries. He pulled a flask from his pocket and dumped it into his glass of coke.


“I just really want to go home,” Amber whimpered, chewing on her fingernails.


“Leave it to Amber to forget to do some drugs before coming out,” Raven rolled her eyes. Amber pinched her side.


“I’m clean, Raven,” Amber insisted.


“And the sun rises in the West,” Raven retorted.


“You three are not bound to sit and eat with me, it’s simply a lunch meeting to see how you’re doing and if I can help at all,” Ozpin tried to reign them back in.


“We don’t need your help,” Raven huffed. “We’re only here because we don’t turn down free shit.”


“I thought you said nothing in life is free, Rae,” Qrow snorted and Raven’s eyes darkened.


“You can make it free if you want to,” Raven said.

“I’m going now.” Amber stood from the chair. Raven stood as well and took her arm.


“I’m going to go with you so you don’t pass out in the middle of the street and get hit by a car,” Raven insisted.


“Aww, it’s sweet you care,” Qrow teased.


“She’s not a shitty roommate and she keeps to herself, I don’t want another roommate,” Raven explained, practically dragging Amber towards the door.


“Dyke!” Qrow shouted after her.


“Qrow! We do not use that language around here,” Ozpin scolded.


“What? Why not?” Qrow raised an eyebrow.


“We accept everyone in Beacon,” Ozpin said. “Everyone is welcome no matter what, even if they participate in a different lifestyle.”


“You take homos here?” Qrow asked.


“Did I stutter?” Ozpin deadpanned.


“I guess that’s cool,” Qrow shrugged, not really caring. “People can screw who they want.”


“Then why call your sister such a name?” Ozpin inquired.


“Because she’s my sister and it’s funny,” Qrow grinned. Ozpin just shook his head and turned his gaze to the window of the diner. Raven was out there talking to Amber, a hand on her shoulder. It was the most intimate touch he’d seen Raven share with anyone before.


“I’m just glad you three are making friends,” Ozpin sighed, turning back.


“You lied to me, Ms. Belladonna,” Ozpin looked at her, disappointment etched across his face.


“No, I didn’t,” Blake protested, rubbing awkwardly at her arm.


“You told me you weren’t on drugs,” Ozpin reminded her. “And you are!”


“I’m clean!” Blake insisted.


“For now, but how am I supposed to believe that won’t change. I told you my rules about drugs. You don’t just stop doing heroin.” Ozpin frowned. “You told me you weren’t on it.”


“I’ve been here a couple months now and haven’t done it at all,” Blake insisted.


“That’s also a lie.” Ozpin narrowed his eyes.


“Oh fuck, Nora told you. She swore she wouldn’t tell anyone. It was just to take the edge off! I swear, I’m trying to stay clean for Beacon,” Blake cried.


“Ms. Belladonna, you have two choices: you can go into rehab or you can leave Beacon. We do not take drug addiction lightly in this town.”


“I just hate hospitals and I don’t want them asking questions.”


“This is your choice.”


“Fuck, fine.”


“You said you would save her.” Ozpin looked up from the papers on his desk. Raven stood in his door before she strode forward, looking cold. It hurt to see that he’d lost her as well.


“Ms. Branwen, I did my best-”


“She’s dead!” Raven’s words chilled his bones. “She’s dead because you didn’t save her. You said you’d protect her. You said you’d protect us. And I still found her dead in our bathroom.”


“Ms. Amber was already lost before she got to Beacon, I could only do so much,” Ozpin explained. “I can’t save what’s already gone.”


“You didn’t even know her last name,” Raven pointed out.


“No, I did not,” Ozpin nodded.


“She trusted you. We all did, which is a lot to say. Yet you never mentioned she was a lost cause. Are my brother and I lost causes too?” Raven asked.


“Now Ms. Branwen, no one is a lost cause b-”


“You just said she was already gone, which means she was a lost cause. That doesn’t answer my question.”


“I had worries about all three of you,” Ozpin admitted.


“That’s what I thought,” Raven scoffed, shaking her head. “Do you even really care about your people?”

“Of course, I do,” Ozpin protested.


“Rae, you coming?” Qrow’s voice came from the doorway. Ozpin turned his gaze to see him at the door with two duffel bags slung over his shoulder.


“Yeah, in a minute,” Raven nodded.


“Wait, are you two leaving?” Ozpin stood up quickly, panicked.


“Well yeah, we don’t stick around places long,” Qrow chuckled. “People around me tend to have a bad time and Raven doesn’t like staying in one place.”


“Mr. Branwen, we talked about this, you’re not cursed,” Ozpin insisted.


“Tell that to Amber,” Qrow snorted.


“Come on, brother. We should get going.” Raven started walking out and turned to look at Ozpin as she reached the door. “Good luck getting more children killed, let’s hope your lost causes stay lost and don’t find Beacon.” Then she walked out the door.



“I don’t have time for this.”


A young woman cradling a wailing infant stood in the door of a farmhouse glaring at Ozpin.


“Emily, I just want to talk,” Ozpin pled.


“It’s Em, and I don’t have anything to say to you.” She continued glaring. “Oscar needs fed and I don’t have time for your savior complex.”


“I do not have a savior complex.” Ozpin frowned.


“I beg to differ. You try to help people, but half the time all you do is make it worse. You got me and Dorothy split up,” Em reminded him. “All because you wanted to save us.”


“I had the best intentions,” Ozpin reminded her. (hello friend)


“The road to hell is paved with good intentions, Ozpin,” Em scoffed, rocking baby Oscar in an attempt to soothe him. “Now if you will excuse me, Oscar does need fed.”


“Em-” Ozpin was cut off by the door slamming in his face. “That could have gone better.” He sighed, shaking his head. It broke his heart to see his sweet Emily so jaded and angry at the world. Losing Dorothy had done a great toll, but he had desperately hoped she would be strong enough to weather it. Oh, he had been wrong for both of them. He cursed Salem in his head for her part in all of this. Her job was supposed to help the children, not tear them apart and make their lives worse.


Turning, he looked out at the yard in front of the farm house. If he closed his eyes he could still hear their giggling, he could still see little Dorothy, just a tiny thing, standing in the yard looking at him as he approached. He could see Emily run up, excitement on her face despite the blackened eye. Dorothy would cling to his leg and look up at him with big eyes.


When he opened his eyes, all he could see was a grown Dorothy, ashen faced and gaunt, pregnant and alone. Emily glaring at him with a hatred so intense he could feel it burn. Two little girls the world had abandoned.


Ozpin’s hand clutched desperately at the picture frame in his hand, the glass shattered. In it were two little girls who hadn’t been abandoned by the world yet. Yang and Ruby sat grinning on their uncle’s knees. Yang had thrown the picture at him when they’d fought over him calling Qrow.


His fingers gently removed the picture from the glass and he held it in his hands like it was the fragile glass it had been encased in. The apartment door felt like an imposing presence, closed and a reminder of another mistake. The frame was splintered from how hard Yang had slammed it.


The two little girls in this picture looked happy and carefree. This was a Yang that had never felt the stinging hit of her father’s hand. This was a Ruby who still felt safe and secure in herself and her home. It reminded him of Emily and Dorothy. They had been happy once too, even under their parents’ thumbs.


Ozpin had failed two more little girls and this time he’d done it to the same girls twice. When he failed Qrow and Raven, he doomed Yang and Ruby to a pain they didn’t deserve.


His failures and mistakes were heavy on his shoulders.




“Are you sure about this, sir?” The police officer raised an eyebrow. Ozpin stood in front of the desk, a NYPD officer looking at him like he was crazy. Perhaps he was. That didn’t make him any less sure of his decision.


“I am certain,” Ozpin nodded. The police officer shrugged before disappearing through a door behind the desk. When he returned, he had the two young teens by the backs of their necks.


“Mr. Ozpin has agreed not to press charges, on the grounds you are released into his custody.” The police officer spoke to the two as if they were the luckiest kids on earth. “Seems Mr. Ozpin is a registered foster parent. Congrats.” He shoved them at Ozpin, causing the boy to stumble and the girl to catch him.


The girl, Nora, stared up at him in defiance as she clutched the hand of the boy, Lie, with sad eyes. Inseparable, the police had told him when speaking about the orphans who had stolen his wallet.


Nora Valkyrie, parents incarcerated for a meth lab explosion that had set their apartment complex on fire.


Lie Ren, parents killed in the fire Nora’s parents had caused.


Best friends. Inseparable.


“What’s the catch?” Nora asked, free hand clenched into a fist.


“No catch. I simply wish to give you two a second chance at life,” Ozpin explained. “I’m the mayor of a town with many children just like you.”


“Why do you want us?” Nora frowned.


“Why not?” Ozpin countered.


“And you’re just allowed to take us?” Lie finally spoke up, eyes calculating.


“It seems your only other option was to stay in the cell until they found you another placement. I believe this was your third strike at your current group home,” Ozpin commented. Neither Nora nor Lie would look at him when he said that. Apparently, the two weren’t very good at staying in one place. Stealing was one of their more serious infractions, but was not the first.


“Fine,” Nora huffed.


“I know it’s a hard world we live in, but I make it my duty to make it a little bit softer for those who need it,” Ozpin explained, and decided he would do his best not to fail these children liked he’d failed others. He’d made many mistakes, but this would not be one of them.


“I will do everything in my power to keep you and your sister safe, Ms. Schnee,” Ozpin promised, a small smile on his face.


“Weiss needs a fresh start, but Father did a lot of damage and there’s no guaranteeing he will just leave her alone,” Winter said.


“She will be safe in Beacon.”




The girl looked to be in her late teens, maybe just out of high school. Legs adorned with ballet shoes were tucked to her chest and her red hair was pulled into a bun that looked like it had seen better days. She was just sitting on the hood of her car at the side of the highway, staring off at the horizon.


“Miss, would you like some help?” Ozpin had parked behind her and gotten out slowly as if not to spook her.


“What’s the point?” The girl sighed, her voice soft but heavy in the air. Ozpin’s chest constricted as he recognized something he had seen more than he wished. This was a girl with nothing left to live for.


“Well, it’s a nice day, but I imagine it won’t stay that way, I believe the weatherman spoke of thunderstorms.” Ozpin walked closer and stopped beside where she was perched.


“My car broke down.” The girl finally turned to look at him. She was so sad looking, like she wore the weight of several worlds on her shoulders.


“I may be able to help with that or at the very least give you a ride to town,” Ozpin offered. The girl didn’t answer, so Ozpin kept going. “My name is Ozpin, Mayor Ozpin to those who live in my town.”


“Pyrrha,” the girl whispered.


“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Pyrrha.” Ozpin smiled gently.


“I just wanted to see the ocean,” Pyrrha commented, letting her legs drop to lay out flat in front of her. Ozpin could see red cuts and new scars under what looked like smudged makeup on her legs.


“Well, if we can get your car going, that request may get fulfilled,” Ozpin said.


“I’ve wanted to see it my whole life. But there’s no ocean near where I’m from and ballet was always more important than vacations. I thought if I could just see it, just once, I could finally be done,” Pyrrha explained, her eyes back on the horizon as she spoke.


“Be done with what?”




She paused.




“There’s a lot more to see than just the ocean, Pyrrha. This world has a lot of beautiful parts, and while I know they may be hard to find at times, if you look in the right places, you can see them,” Ozpin said, looking out to where she was looking. “But I’ll make you a deal. If you come to my town and have some tea with me, I will get someone to look at your car. Then you’ll be free to go if you really wish to.”

“I’ve got nothing left to lose.” Pyrrha turned and smiled at him. It was the first time he saw what would become Pyrrha’s signature smile-through-the-pain moments, but it wouldn’t be the last. Ozpin smiled back.


“No, but so much to gain.”



Ozpin leaned heavily on the balcony, his cane leaning next to him. The sun was dropping beneath the horizon. Beautiful shades of pink, orange, purple, and red painted the skyline. A half-empty glass of whiskey sat on the railing and his clothes clung to him in the muggy air. The town lay lit beneath him, people milling about as if without a care in the world.


Ozpin had always loved Beacon. Even when Beacon was Remnant, there was a charm about it that had always drawn him in. Maybe it was the same charm so many other broken people had been drawn by. He wondered if by trying to help, if trying to make Beacon into what it had become, he had doomed all those who called it home.

"It's too hot for you to be out on the balcony, Ozpin," Glynda tutted from behind him, raising an eyebrow.

"The air helps me think," Ozpin commented, sighing.


“You're an old man, you might as well be in desert,” Glynda scoffed. “There is no air either because it’s still 90 at sunset.”


“I'm fine.”

"None of this was your fault. Beacon is not nearly as protected as you think it is. Not with the people who live here," Glynda reminded him.

"My children are lost and fighting and I can't help them, what use am I really to Beacon?" Ozpin rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. He looked out over the rail once more, but the sunset seemed less vibrant. He sighed again.

“You’ve done your best, Oz. You are just one man and you are not God,” Glynda said, shaking her head sadly.


“I should have done more.” Ozpin turned to face her. “I failed so many of them.”


“You’re only focusing on your failures. You’re forgetting your successes.” Glynda was frustrated. Despite her rather stoic features, he could hear it in her voice. “You have given your citizens time they wouldn’t have had before and you’ve saved lives.”


“The failures outweigh the successes, Glynda.” Ozpin turned back to the townscape. “And half my successes could barely be considered success. I’ve had some of these children their entire lives and they’re still struggling.”


“You’re trying which is a lot more than a lot of them have had before,” Glynda said.


“I’m sure they’d be better off if I didn’t try,” Ozpin scoffed.


“You act as if you are personally responsible for every tragedy that befalls a citizen of Beacon.”


“I am personally responsible. I promised these people a second chance and nothing I’ve done has actually helped them. Sure, they have a roof over their heads and a job if they want one, but how does that help the demons that doggedly pursue them.” Ozpin’s hands gripped the railing of the balcony. The sun had set completely, the sky where it had been now a sullen grey.


“I’m not arguing this further with you, Ozpin. Maybe you need to get out of Beacon for a bit to process what all has happened recently.” Glynda’s heels were loud and sharp as she left the balcony, leaving Ozpin to his own thoughts.


The last few months weighed heavily on his mind as the final dregs of the sun’s light faded and he was left alone with his thoughts.

Chapter Text


Weiss took a deep breath as she looked in the mirror. Her hair hung down the back of her light green dress. It was different for her. She had always been told white was her color and her hair should always be up. A girl of her station should always look put together. Everyone was watching Father, which meant they were watching her.

"Weiss?" Winter's voice pulled her gaze from the mirror. Winter was standing in the doorway, eyebrow arched.

"I thought I’d try something different," Weiss explained, fidgeting with a lock of hair.

"Oh?" Winter seemed surprised. "You look nice."

"Thank you." Weiss cracked a small smile.

"Is this for a special someone?" Winter teased and Weiss turned red. Her hand came down to her wrist by instinct.

"No," Weiss said firmly.

"Weiss, you’re allowed to like Ruby. There's nothing wrong with that. Father is close-minded," Winter insisted, her eyes not missing the subtle grip Weiss had on her wrist. "I still can’t believe that camp is allowed to exist."

"Ruby is just a friend," Weiss announced, turning her gaze from Winter. She didn’t want to have this talk. Not again. "She’s hosting a party for everyone. It’s a friendship party, for Valentine's Day."

"Alright," Winter modded and left her alone. Weiss brushed her hair behind her ear and stared out the window. Her finger came up to the scar on her eye. She tried not to think about the reminder it gave her and turned to leave the bathroom.

Ruby was waiting outside her house, rocking on her heels and sporting a pair of hearts on her head that stuck up and jiggled as she moved.

"Hi Weiss!." Ruby beamed.

"Hello, Ruby," Weiss greeted, smiling.

"Are you as excited as I am?" Ruby asked, holding out her hand. Instinctively, Weiss took it. The weather was frigid and she told herself it was just because Ruby's hand was warm.

"I’m still not sure this is a great idea," Weiss admitted. "There’s a lot going on around here."

"That’s why I think it’s a great idea," Ruby shrugged.

"But Pyrrha-"

"Pyrrha is still our friend." Ruby's smile seemed to falter. "Even if she’s having a hard time."

"Ruby, I would hardly call-"

"Yang is working with her," Ruby interrupted once again, obviously not wanting to talk about any of the incidents that had happened since she was released from hospital.

Pyrrha was having violent angry outbursts, finding new ways to hurt herself in her frustration, and having problems regulating her emotions. Yang working with her made sense, but Weiss suspected it was less because Yang could actually be helpful, and more because Yang could handle the outbursts physically. For his part, Jaune seemed to be taking it all in stride though, which was impressive.

"Have you heard from Ciel?" That was apparently the wrong thing to ask because Ruby's face screwed up like she was trying not to cry.

"Yes," Ruby mumbled, her eyes on the ground.

"How is Penny?"

"Alive." Ruby fidgeted with her sweatshirt. "Awake."

"Oh." Weiss didn’t want to prod anymore.

"She’s never going to walk again. She may or may not regain use of her arms," Ruby kept going anyway. "They have to reteach her how to talk again too."

"Fuck..." Weiss let the expletive slip out under her breath. How do you react to that? What could she say?

"Ciel did say Penny is doing her very best though." Ruby tipped up her chin. "She seems to be in better spirits than Pyrrha. Her autism is making things trickier at times, but she’s doing better than they expected."

"Poor girl," Weiss shook her head.

"Why don’t we talk about something else? It’s Valentine's Day! We're going to have a fun friendship party," Ruby smiled, it barely met her eyes.

"Right, everyone’s coming apparently." Weiss arched an eyebrow.

"Yup! I think. Nora said Ren's been having a hard time. But she said she’ll drag him if she has to," Ruby giggled. Weiss chewed on her lip because she knew what she was talking about. She'd been going over to keep Ren company while Nora worked. He was taking the Pyrrha situation hard.

"Well, we should get going then," Weiss suggested. Ruby grinned and started pulling Weiss faster towards her apartment. Even if it was crowded, it would at least be warm.


"Weiss." The familiar voice pulled her gaze up. Dr. Brown, or Max as he liked to be called, was smiling warmly at her. That was the part she hated the most. They seemed so nice, it was sick.

"I’m sorry," Weiss mumbled, taking the rubber band on her wrist and pulling it out. It thwacked painfully against her wrist, stinging the red welts there.

"Why are you redirecting yourself, Weiss?" Max asked. He seemed to be searching her face for something.

"My mind was wandering to unclean thoughts," Weiss admitted.

"What thoughts?" Max prodded. He wouldn’t let her get away with vague answers.

"About a girl."

"Weiss, I need more information to help you," Max reminded her.

"I started thinking about the girl from my church, about what she’s doing, about how she is," Weiss explained, rubbing a finger over the rubber band.

"Now, it’s not wrong to wonder about a fellow parishioner’s well-being. It’s the reasoning behind it that makes it wrong," Max nodded, seemingly understanding.

"Can I go back to my room yet?" Weiss was suddenly uncomfortable, she didn’t want Max digging again. He always dug and dug until he found something to bury her under. Thankfully, she was saved as one of the other staff came in.

"Max, you're needed urgently. There’s an emergency," The woman said frantically. Max frowned and hurried out. Weiss snuck behind him and saw several people were gathered in the rec area. There were whispers all around.

"Did you hear?"

"Octavia tried to off herself."

"They said she drank bleach."

"I heard she took a knife to her entire body."

"We should pray for her."

"Do you think they’ll send her home?"

Weiss tuned the words out and headed back to her room. Her stomach churned. She hadn’t met Octavia, hadn’t talked to her. She was in a different group than Weiss.

Weiss wished this was the first time something like this happened.

Her roommate wasn’t there when Weiss entered her room, so she sat down on her bed and sighed. She laid back wishing she could just be normal to go home. Hadn’t they fixed her yet?

"Looks like she took a page out of your book." Mata was standing in her door. She looked up at him. She still felt bad his dad had shaved his head. His hair had been important to him.

"I don’t know what you’re talking about." Weiss sat up. Mata tapped at his own eye and her fingers came up to the still healing scar on her eye.

"Sure, you don’t," Mata chuckled.

"This is different," Weiss lied, as if she hadn’t taken a paring knife to her face two weeks into her stay.

"This is what they do, Weiss. They tear you down, they get in your head, until you lash out at yourself. Whether it be as some form of penance or just an attempt at control," Mata reminded her. "Like somehow being straight will be easier if you’ve got damage."

"There’s no such thing as straight," Weiss found herself saying. "Only Godly relationships and sinning."

"Look at you being their puppet," Mata smirked.

"Just leave me alone."

"Weiss are you paying attention?"


Weiss snapped out of her wanderings by Fox’s voice. "Yes, sorry." She had been cleaning the same spot on the prize counter for ten minutes.

"I doubt it," Fox snorted, carrying a box of frozen pretzels. "What did I say?"

"Something annoying or insulting?" Weiss snarked.

"For once no, I asked you to do your job and help me with the pretzels," Fox chuckled. "Points for trying."

"You’re predictable, Fox." Weiss threw her rag in the bucket and went to get a box of pretzels.

"As are you, usually insufferably so. Which is why your zoning out is weird," Fox commented when she returned. They walked through the building to the back where they kept their storage.

"I’ve got a lot on my mind," Weiss said. They placed their boxes on a metal table in the middle of the room.

"Like what shoes to buy?" Fox teased, tearing open the box and shoving the bags of pretzels into their freezer.

"Maybe that should be what you’re thinking about. I don’t know why Coco lets you out in those hideous shoes." Weiss shook her head.  

"Coco isn’t around much," Fox shrugged. "And I see you deflecting."

"You don’t see anything."

"More deflecting." Fox threw piece of ice at her, missing.

"I’m thinking of visiting Octavia," Weiss explained, shoving a bag into the freezer a little more forcefully than necessary.

"Why?" Fox frowned.

"Sage said something a while ago and I only just thought about it," Weiss answered, not completely sure herself. "I didn’t realize until recently we have some things in common."

"Okay, still vague, but I’ll take it," Fox sighed, shaking his head in slight irritation. Weiss got the feeling he dealt with a lot at home when it came to being vague about problems. She was about to try to change the subject when her phone rang. Flinching, she reached in her pocket to turn it off.


“I should get back to work,” Weiss suggested, but her voice must have betrayed something because Fox caught her arm.


“Look, Weiss, we’re not really close, but I know things are hard right now. A lot of people have had a rough couple of months, so your usual sources might be tapped. I’m here if you need me.” It was a strange act of sincerity from Fox. It wasn’t even that Fox wasn’t usually sincere, it just seemed very candid for him. It seemed like the last couple of months had gotten to Fox as well.


“Thank you.” Weiss tried to match his sincerity. He seemed mollified by this and they went back to work.


When she got off work, she had 16 missed calls. She practically ran to the house Octavia shared with the girls, needing someone to understand. No one ever seemed to understand.


What she didn’t expect was an ambulance in front of their house, freezing her in her stride. A cold chill skittered down her spine. Her stomach churned sickeningly. Ambulances were not a common sight in Beacon, they never meant anything good. The last one had been for Ruby.


Two paramedics brought a stretcher out and her heart leapt into her chest, glad there wasn’t a white sheet over it. Instead, Gwen was lying on it, the other three following behind. Gwen looked white as a sheet as they loaded the stretcher in. Octavia was covered in blood and Dew had her face buried in Nebula’s shoulder, her entire body shaking. There was a quick conversation with the medics before Dew peeled herself away and climbed into the ambulance. It left, lights and sirens blaring into the frigid dusk.


“What happened?” Weiss got closer, unsure of what to do or say.


“Oh, hey Weiss, you’ve got us at a bad time.” Nebula laughed, but it sounded hollow and weak.


“Gwenny tried to kill herself,” Octavia said matter of factly. Her eyes were on her blood smeared hands.


“But she’s always so happy.” Weiss logically knew that didn’t necessarily mean anything, but still, Gwen seemed like a happy girl with a great life.


“We always said that about Pyrrha, and Nora too. Look where that got them,” Nebula shrugged.


“Nora is doing better,” Weiss reminded her.


“If only because Ren can’t get out of bed lately,” Nebula snorted and Octavia looked up to glare at her. Then she looked at Weiss.


“Gwen lives in Beacon just like the rest of us. She struggling as well and today she lost a battle in a war she’s been fighting a long time now,” Octavia explained. “Unfortunately, it happens to the best of us.”


“I find it ironic considering what I came over to talk about,” Weiss admitted, not sure how to respond to the situation in any other way.


Weiss’ phone rang.


“I’m always here to talk, but today Nebula and I have to meet the others at the hospital. We sent Dew because she can keep Gwen calm, but Dew is also deaf, the communication could be stunted.” Octavia seemed to know what she wanted to talk about. “Like Nebula said, you caught us at a bad time.”


“I understand, I hope she gets well soon.”


“So do we,” Nebula nodded, her eyes tired. Weiss couldn’t blame them and she truly hoped things in Beacon started looking up. It seemed like everything was going wrong at once.


“I’m sorry you’re having a bad day.” Ruby squeezed her hand. It was dark outside and they were sitting pressed together watching Netflix together. Weiss hated to admit Ruby had become her best friend. Ruby was the only one who could cheer her up when the day seemed to drag on too long. However, the butterflies in her stomach always made her question if it was worth it or not.


“It’s better now that we’re spending time together,” Weiss admitted. “You’re a very positive influence on my day.”


“Aww, Weissy, that’s so nice,” Ruby gushed, squeezing her into a hug.


“Don’t make me regret this.” Weiss rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help a small smile.


“I like spending time with you too,” Ruby assured her. “Yang isn’t any fun anymore.”


“No, I imagine she’s not.” Weiss could imagine helping with Pyrrha would bring anyone down. Which sounded horrible even in her head.


“But at least I still have you.” Ruby leaned her head against her shoulder. Then, Weiss did something she would regret for a very long time. She glanced down at Ruby, the content gorgeous smile looking up at her, and every rational thought flew out of her head.


Everything seemed like it moved in slow motion. Weiss’ hand came up to tip Ruby’s chin up and suddenly Weiss was kissing her. In reality, it happened so quickly. Just as quickly, two hands planted themselves firmly on her chest and shoved her off the bed. Weiss hit the carpet with a thump, her head clearing. Ruby was staring at her with wide startled eyes and something akin to fear in her expression.


“Weiss, I-”


Weiss didn’t let her finish as she fled, realizing what a mistake she’d made. Her mind ran in overtime as she ran, no coat and no shoes in the snow and ice. All the ugly thoughts she’d been fighting since she’d been at Beacon came flooding back. Her feet hurt and her chest constricted, desperate for oxygen.


How had she been so stupid? That was disgusting of her. She wasn’t gay and she didn’t like Ruby. What had she been thinking? She let the pain in her feet be the correction she deserved.


There was a black SUV outside their house when she got there and for the second time in one day, she was frozen in her spot. A familiar figure with red hair lazed against the SUV, smoke curling into the air and embers burning brightly in the night.


“Well, hello sweetheart.” Roman smirked, tapping ashes from his cigar onto the ground and leaning against the SUV. She could hear yelling in the house.


“What are you doing here?” Weiss blurted out, forgetting herself.


“Your father and I are here to bring you home,” Roman snorted. “Did you really think he’d just let you go so easily?”


“Since when are you on his side? You said arranged marriages were barbaric.” Weiss crossed her arms, partially in defiance and partially because of the cold.


“Since he promised me your trust fund.” Roman blew out a puff of smoke.


“Of course,” Weiss sighed. “Money is all that matters to you.”


“And power, sweetheart,” Roman added.


“Politicians... that’s all they really care about.” Weiss chewed on her lip.


“Exactly, and your father has quite a bit of both. Hence why he’s going to drag you back.”


“He just hates the idea I might be happy,” Weiss muttered, rubbing at her arms. Her feet really hurt now. It was like she was stepping on glass.


“He hates his daughter leaving to go chase immoral life choices and staining his reputation,” Roman corrected. “It’s time for his little girl to stop playing around.”


“I’m not doing anything of the sort.”


“We both know that’s not true.” Roman seemed too smug for his own good.


“You’re not religious,” Weiss argued.


“No, but your father is and I know how to play nice to get what I want.” Roman winked. “You know he plans to break you of whatever this nonsense is you’re playing at? By any means possible.”


“I thought he already tried that.” Weiss rolled her eyes.


“He can always send you back,” Roman reminded her.


“I’m not doing anything wrong,” Weiss protested weakly. Her last action said otherwise.


“Weiss!” Jacques’ voice boomed and her head snapped to see him coming down the walkway. Winter was nowhere to be seen.


“Father.” Weiss shrunk in her spot.


“Get in the car, I will not have my daughter gallivanting around like a hooligan. Your sister is bad enough. My voters do not want to see my daughter turning to a life of damnation. Why you’re choosing to act out like this, I don’t understand. I don’t know where your mother and I went wrong.” Jacques strode forward with each word and grabbed her arm, shoving her into the car. “I’ve found some suitable education for you compared to my last attempt.”


“It’s not a choice,” Pyrrha’s voice whispered in her head. “There’s nothing wrong with being gay. He’s just close-minded.”


“I’m not going back.” Weiss tried to struggle against his grasp.


“Your behavior will be corrected, Weiss. You will learn to act like a proper Christian woman,” Jacques huffed, slamming the door shut.




“You said you’d protect her,” Winter yelled, shaking in anger and betrayal. She still had a bruise from where Jacques tried to exert his will over his eldest.


Ozpin sat at his desk with his hands in his head. He’d failed another one of his children.