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Game On

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“A-are you actually pouting?” Yang couldn't help but smirk up at Weiss from her place sitting on the floor in front of the Xiao Long family sofa where the Schnee heiress was, indeed pouting.

“I am not pouting,” Weiss pouted. “I'm just still trying to make sense of this... this.” She gestured broadly at their surroundings. Pyrrha, being the girl of the hour, had gotten claim to the good recliner while Weiss and Ruby were sharing the couch with Yang leaning against it with her legs stretched out and Nora was sprawled across the 'less-good' arm chair. Blake leaned on the side of the couch near Yang, reading a book. No one knew where she'd gotten it.

Around them was a ruin of junk food; bags of chips, popcorn and pizza boxes alongside a sheet cake Nora had bought because she insisted it wasn't a birthday celebration without cake. Also Yang had broken out some of Qrow's leftover Chinese takeout.

“Is this because we were still hungry after the steakhouse? Lighten up, Weiss: the portions in that fancy-pants place were tiny!”

“Alsfo,” Nora chipped in through a fistful of popcorn, “Weref grow-ig, actif girlf!”

“That was 'we're growing, active girls', by the way,” Pyrrha translated, nursing the slice of cake Nora had forced on her. She was just eating it to be polite; it wasn't very good cake seeing as how Nora piked it up from the first store that sold cake they passed on the way back from dinner. “And she is right we're teenagers and athletes: we burn a lot of calories.”

Ruby nodded and squirmed about on the couch trying to get comfortable. She ended up laying with her legs up on the arm, looking at Weiss upside down. “Uncle Qrow says that teenagers are black holes with teeth and hormones. But that's usually when Yang's stealing his food... like now.”

“It's not the food!” Weiss squawked, her arms flailing at the air in frustration. She collected herself immediately after that outburst, but not by much. “I was talking about the movies. Isn't there supposed to be some sort of theme?”

Yang craned her head to also look at Weiss upside down. The skewed perspectives were starting to make the highly orderly and regimented young woman twitch just a little. “Do you get all your knowledge about how other people act from old TV shows?”

“No,” Weiss denied, turning red in the face. To cover, she leaned off the couch and snatched up the rental cases. “It's just that these don't go together: The Princess Bride? Eight-Legged Freaks? Tremors 2? Why two when we're not watching the first one?!”

“Because the second one's the best one.” Pyrrha, Ruby and Nora all said automatically.

If looks could kill, Weiss's glare would have set them all on fire. “It's not how things are done!” she moaned.

“Yeah it is,” Ruby offered, “it's like how there's really no point of watching the first few Fast and Furiouses... eses...eeses? Fast and Furious movies more than once just to get to the ones where the world's more or less turned into a fantasy RPG with car-based magic.”

“You start at one because that's... wait what?” Weiss's borderline OCD was no match for Ruby's ultimate power of the nonsequitor.

“Oh yeah,” Ruby nodded sagely. “We were talking about it last week at lunch: Fast and Furious past the third one is really just Harry Potter but instead of wands letting you do anything, it's cars. You can do impossible drifts, haul bank vaults around like a water skier against all physics...”

“...have perfect timing,” Pyrrha added.

“...ramp pretty much everything!” Nora chimed in.

“ long as you car hard enough. And Vin Diesel cars the hardest of anyone.” Ruby finished, looking incredibly proud. “Oh, and also the Italian Job is in the same car-niverse.”

Weiss just stared at the three of them unblinking. “This must be what going mad feels like...”

“Nice Firefly reference!” Ruby flipped over on her stomach and posted up for a high five.

“What now?” Weiss asked, still unblinking.

Blake peeked at her from over the arm of the couch. “No, this is what going nerd feels like. And if it helps, the theme is 'Pyrrha's favorite movies.. that Yang won't complain all the way through. We had this argument at the video store while you were in shock over Yang and Ruby not having Netflix.”

“It's not that expensive!” Weiss said, unable to help herself. “Why would anyone rent movies instead?”

Amber eyes rolled in their sockets. “One day I'm going to explain privilege to you and we're going to have to hospitalize you.” She smirked and shook her head, snapping her book shut before hoisting herself up to sit on the arm of the couch. “But today is not the day. In the interest of keeping your blood vessels from popping: Hey listen everyone a distraction!”

Predictably to the point that she cringed internally, all eyes went to Blake. “So I've been thinking and I think I have a pretty good starting point for what to do about your 'imperfect' date with Jaune, Pyrrha.”

The redhead's expression brightened and she sat up a bit straighter. “Oh, do tell. I've been wracking my brain without much to show for it, I'm afraid.”

“Well for starters, I was thinking we can't really tinker with something Jaune comes up with. Too stressful for him, too unpredictable for us. The major point here is to show him it's okay not to be perfect. And what better way than to have the person he already thinks is perfect screw up? Pyrrha, you're going to tell him you're taking care of all the arrangements the night of the dance. All he has to do is show up looking nice with flowers. This gives us maximum control to make sure things are a beautiful disaster.”


Pyrrha answered the door to find Jaune awkwardly waiting at the door for her.

He'd made a valiant effort to tame his hair but ultimately failed as the simple act of walking next door was enough for his wilder locks to wrestle their way back into their more accustomed state. Aside from that, he'd cleaned up nicely in the same way he usually did for dances: dressed in a charcoal-colored suit and matching shirt with a gold tie. The wool overcoat he wore, a hand-me-down from his father, had aged in a way that made it look distinguished rather than ratty.

Seeing him standing there looking nervous just to be spending time with her both flattered Pyrrha and hardened her resolve to go through with the girls' plan to take some of the edge off for him. The last things she wanted was for her best friend—her boyfriend now—to be uncomfortable around her. She wanted to have the ease they'd always had around each other to remain intact above all else.

To that end, she gave him an easy smile and motioned for him to come in. “Have trouble finding the place?” she asked with a light laugh once it was clear he was beyond words at the moment.

That wasn't entirely attributable to nerves. While she was completely on board with her friends 'failing forward' (as Ruby put it) her date, one thing Pyrrha refused to do was look unattractive to Jaune. If anything, she'd decided to go all out with an ankle length black dress slit to mid-thigh on one side with a vibrant orange, red and gold phoenix embroidered up the opposite side, its wings wrapping around her body in such a way as to enhance her bust.

It took a few seconds for Jaune to tear his eyes away to reply, but the joke seemed to do its job in distracting him from his thoughts. A small laugh escaped him as he reached up and scrubbed a hand through his hair, mussing it even more, much to Pyrrha's delight. “I got lost a few times, but my phone's GPS saved me.” A flash of memory lit his eyes. “Oh! I got you these.” He held up a small bouquet of orchids. “I owe Mr. Collins at the florist down the street a couple of days running the register, but I hope you like them.”

“Pyrrha accepted them happily. “Thank you, Jaune. They're lovely. It means a lot that you remembered my favorite flower.”

He shrugged, a small smile tugging at his lips. “How could I not? Especially since you took care of everything else. Thanks for that by the way.” Jaune lowered his head, looking sheepish.

Taking care to set the bouquet on an end table, Pyrrha stepped forward and cupped his cheek with one hand. “You never have to thank me for that kind of thing. You know that, Jaune.” Feeling bold from the proximity, she leaned in and rested her forehead against his. “Us being together hasn't changed how things work between us, okay? At least I hope not.”

They never really discussed it, but Pyrrha was the one that usually paid their way. Not to say the Arcs were in financial trouble, but even with Leon's generous pension and the fact that Muriel taught in one of the rare school districts that actually spent their tax money on paying teachers instead of school board members and tax cuts for Weiss's father, the fact remained that they had eight kids that needed food, clothing, entertainment, healthcare and tuition. Even with the older sisters out of the house, it still meant that none of the Arc children was rolling in expendable income.

And no matter how much old fashioned 'the man should be the provider' obligation Jaune may have felt, reality and Pyrrha's status as the only child of a couple who made good livings said different.

Leaving all that unsaid, Pyrrha continued, doing her best not to notice how she could feel Jaune's breath tickling her lips in the position she'd put them in. “The only thing that's changed between us is this, okay? The fact that we can...” she was starting to lose her nerve now and with it steam. “...can be like this. No more hiding how we feel right?”

It was right then that she made what could have been a critical mistake: she glanced up and made eye contact with Jaune. My but he was close. So close that it would only take the slightest movement for their lips to make contact.

“Right,” they both more breathed the agreement than spoke the word.

Pyrrha felt a shiver up her spine as Jaune slowly—possibly instinctively—started to tilt his head to close that tiny distance. The hand on his cheek slipped down along his neck to his shoulder and her other reached up to grasp his upper arm.

It was only when she felt his own grip settle on her waist did she snap out of the spell and made her remember that there was something important riding on them actually going on their date rather than the energetic make-out session she found herself hoping this was going to turn into.

At the last moment, she moved her head just enough that her lips met Jaune's jawline instead of his lips. Of course, in that impulsive moment she'd gauged his distance wrong and ended up delivering a gesture that reminded her uncomfortably of her great aunt who insisted that a proper Greek greeting wasn't complete without a sloppy wet kiss on either kiss.

Desperately wanting to make it clear that that wasn't on purpose, she followed that up with another quick kiss, then came in even closer to say in his ear, “Just be patient a little longer, okay?”

A beat later she realized how teasing she sounded saying that and blushed, taking a full step back. Jaune was in a similarly flustered state, which was a little heartening. “W-we need to get going,” she covered none too smoothly, “We've got a reservation after all.”

It took a few swallows before Jaune's throat stopped being too dry for him to talk. “Y-yeah. Almost forgot.”

The pair locked gazes again and if possible went even redder.

“I'll get my coat.” Pyrrha's voice sounded unnaturally shrill to her ears as she went over to the closet in the foyer to get her new coat and her purse.


“This is terrible.”

“I know, but we trusted Yang with the provisions and we all knew that she has no taste when it comes to coffee.” Weiss was sitting in Nora's van, frowning into a cup of coffee made from woefully burnt beans. It was bad enough that she wasn't even complaining about being wedged in between Ruby and Blake in the second row of seats while Nora and Yang took up the front.

All of them were dressed for the dance, though Nora had put blacking under her eyes as if that was going to disguise her better.

“I know, right? And danishes? These are not stakeout snacks. You're supposed to have donuts. Everyone knows that.” Ruby was cramming one said danish into her maw even as she said it. “Even if they are moist and delicious.”

Yang turned around to glare at them. “Hey, you wanna complain, get your own.”

Grimacing at her first experimental sip of the coffee, Blake spoke up. “Actually, I'm curious now how you managed to find coffee this bad.”

A grunt came from the front seat as Yang turned herself back around. “I made it myself, okay? The danishes were expensive enough and I'm tapped right now.”

Ruby narrowed her eyes. “Wait a minute... there's no coffee in the house but Uncle Qrow's. You tried to grind and brew Uncle Qrow's coffee beans? You have no idea how to do that.”

“Which is abundantly clear,” Weiss agreed, holding up her cup.

“Shut up everyone! We've got friends to stalk.”

Nora growled a little. “That's not what's terrible! It's because you made my beloved Slothmobile not-pink!” She hugged the steering wheel, rubbing it consolingly. “It's okay baby, I still love you even if you've been ruined forever!”

“Oh for god's sake,” Weiss muttered. “I didn't have your van repainted, it's a vinyl wrap; you can rip it off at anyt--” she was interrupted by the sound of the driver's side door opening and was forced to lunge across the car to grab the girl by the shoulder. “not now! After we're done...” she sighed. “...stalking our friends. We can't do that in a highly recognized pink van.”

“Is it really stalking both of them if Pyrrha knows we're doing it?” asked Blake.

Yang obstinately sipped her coffee, trying to ignore how objectively awful it tasted. Her eyes were fixed on the Nikos house door. “They've been in there a really long time. Wonder what's going on in there?” Mischief played in her expression. “Hey, wouldn't it be awesome and save us a lot of time if they just skipped the dance and decided to just snog all evening?”

“Ha. As if. It's going to be months before those two work up the nerve to even come close.” Weiss shook her head. At that exact moment, the door opened and the pair stepped out. “See? They were probably just making awkward small talk this whole time.”

After Pyrrha locked the door, Jaune offer her his arm and she linked her with his. The two then proceeded down the walk to where he was parked. With Jaune facing the other direction, Pyrrha flashed a thumb's up at where she knew the van would be.

“Aww, they are so cute together!” Nora squealed, her earlier complaints forgotten. After a beat, she reached over any opened the glove compartment, taking out a bundle of pennants which she passed around.

“Okay,” said Ruby, examining the pennant she'd been handed, “I've seen you with these more than once. What the heck's an 'Arkos'?”

Nora grinned brightly and held up one finger. “Jaune Arc.” Another finger. “Pyrrha Nikos. Ar-kos. Get it?”

“And I'm sure I am actually dumber from finding that out,” said Weiss.

“Ooo, that's so cool!” said Ruby.

“Oh, I've got names for every possible combination of our friends,” Nora said sagely. She pointed at Yang and Blake in turn. “Bumblebee because Yang's hair's kinda yellow-blonde and Blake's is black.”

Yang raised an eyebrow. “That's my motorcycle's name.”

“Even better!” Nora then pointed to Ruby and Blake. “Ladybug! Because Ruby's hair's got those red tips a—”

“Are these all hair-based?” Blake asked.

“Nah. Like Weiss and Ruby would be White Rose because Weiss's name means white and Ruby's last name is Rose and Weiss and Blake would be Checkmate because black and white and they're both all smart like chess players.”

Weiss massaged the bridge of her nose. “You actually just sit around all day imagining what you'd call any of us if we ever got together?”

“Not all day. And sometimes I think of what the babies would be like.”

“I'm going to regret this in just a few seconds, but... you do realize that we're all girls and would have to adopt if that were to happen. Also I obviously can't speak for everyone, but I'm not a lesbian.”

Yang smirked. “Never know until you try Weiss-cream.” For effect, she waggled her eyebrows at the heiress.

“Since when does your actual orientation matter in fanficiton?” Nora asked with a laugh.

Yang's smirk faded as she processed what Nora just said. “Wait. You write fanfiction of us?”

Nora chuckled nervously. “Um... of course not. That would be weird for me to write stories about my friends going on adventures and falling in love and keeping it on a secret blog. Who would do that, not me! Certainly... not...”

Assuming Nora was messing with her (or at least she hoped), Yang decided to retaliate. “Say Nora? You said you had names for every combination, right?” Nora nodded, “So what's the name for if me and Ren got together.”

“There is none!” Nora blurted out. “I mean there's no point in making one, 'cause Ren's with me. Okay, not with me. But you know what I mean...”

“No I don't.” Yang countered.

Nora was starting to get red in the face. “Well we're going to the dance together. Or I'm meeting him at the dance at least.”

“Jaune and Pyrrha go every year and they only just got together,” Blake pointed out, not wanting to be left out of the good-natured ribbing.

“I-I um...” Nora cringed and started the car. “This game isn't fun anymore. Let's go stalking!”