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This one's a doozy.
Are you ready?
So cling to what you know and never let go
You should know things aren't always what they seem
"You've been spending a lot of time with her."
It was a bright sunny day. The sky was a soft shade of blue and there was a slight breeze in the air. Well, that's what it looked like from the window of Jaune's dark dorm anyways. He, Blake and Ren were all inside, casually discussing their thoughts on the last episode of Toradora they had just finished watching.
A couple weeks time had passed by since Jaune and Pyrrha's heart to heart; Yang had gone berserk that night once she realized Ruby was missing. Had Ren and Nora not convinced her that Jaune and Pyrrha had taken Ruby back to the quad, Yang would've certainly torn apart all of Beacon looking for her. Once everyone had been rounded up, Yang practically sprinted to her dorm, bursting through the door ready to murder Jaune and Pyrrha for not telling her they were leaving with Ruby. Her rage evaporated when she found not only Ruby, who was peacefully asleep on the couch, but Jaune and Pyrrha cuddled up together on the couch opposite Ruby. Pyrrha had her arms wrapped tightly around Jaune, and he held her head as his face was buried in her sea of red hair. Yang grinned devilishly as she noticed the traces of lipstick on Jaune's cheek, and decided to take some pictures instead of yelling. Pictures were worth a thousand words, and they made for pretty awesome blackmail.
The weeks to follow, the pictures and teasing Jaune and Pyrrha received from their friends went basically unnoticed by the two. Ever since the walls in between them came down that one night, the duo were nearly inseparable. They sat next to each other in class, they studied together, trained together, ate together, even had inside jokes. Jaune would attend Pyrrha's MMA fights, and she his wrestling matches. Yang noted that they spent as much time together as Ren and Nora, if not more. Even with their new found closeness, neither had the courage to tell the other their true feelings.
For Jaune nothing was more humiliating than misreading a girl, so because of this he read any and all of Pyrrha's advances as friendly rather than romantic. Oblivious to the situation, Jaune was sure he was deep in the friend zone; lately he had thought about possibly asking some other random girl on a date, but the interest was never there.
Pyrrha, taking advice from her best friend Yang, had been trying to subtly hint at her affections for Jaune. Unfortunately for her, Jaune was much too dense for subtly. Yang suggested more... direct methods, but Pyrrha was in now way bold enough to make such advances. Their friends watched as the two struggled, deciding it was best just to "let lost puppies find their way."
"You two remind me of Ryuuji and Taiga. You say something dumb, and Pyrrha beats the hell out of you." Ren smiled as he watched Jaune turn a light pink and crack a smile, seeing the resemblance clearly.
"I don't say dumb stuff…"
"I beg to differ."
"Shut up, Blake."
"What did you ask yesterday? 'Does rocks float on lava?'" Ren tried to remain straight-faced as Blake spoke, her deadpan expression selling it perfectly.
"It was a legitimate question!"
"What did he ask a couple days back?" Ren asked, "Oh, he asked Pyrrha if she'd ever take money for sex." Blake bit her bottom lip in an attempt to not laugh, remembering what happened immediately after Jaune asked that incredibly awkward question.
"...Alright. But, it wasn't my fault, I was curious!" Jaune rubbed his shoulder, which was still slightly bruised from the punch he received after asking Pyrrha the question.
"I rest my case. Thanks Ren." Blake flashed Ren a smile and relaxed back onto the futon. She enjoyed making Jaune flustered; in their group of friends, they found he was the funniest to tease, next to Weiss. Jaune pouted at his friends, got up and was about to swap the DVD in his Xbone for the next when he heard both his and Ren's phones ring.
"Sun wants us to meet him in the courtyard," Ren broadcasted, the faint light of the cell phone seen in his eyes, "I'm gonna head to my room to change. See ya in a bit." The magenta eyed boy promptly got up, said goodbye to Blake and swiftly exited the dorm, leaving Blake and Jaune alone.
"Guess we'll have to continue this show next time," Blake sighed, getting up as she was about to leave, "I'll see you later, Jaune." She was about to open the door when Jaune finally spoke up.
"Hey, hold up."
"Hmm?" Blake turned back around, her face questioning. "Something wrong?"
"I wouldn't say wrong," Jaune took a few steps forward, his eyes locked onto Blake's black bow, "just have a question for ya." Blake traced his sapphire eyes and realized where he was looking, a faint blush forming on her face.
"W-What is it?"
"'What is it?" Don't act like you don't know. When are you gonna tell everyone?" Blake knew the question would turn up eventually, and shook her head. She and Jaune had history, going way back to elementary school…
Nine years prior...
Blake sat alone at the long, wooden lunch table, quietly eating her tuna fish sandwich. She was the 'new girl' at this elementary school, and she had been aware of the stares and whispers she'd been receiving all day. As she scanned the lunchroom, the different colored eyes all giving her quick glances, she realized something. She was different.
'I don't belong here, no one would want to be friends with a freak like me.' Her teacher treated her a bit differently, and no one wanted to sit next to her. During gym class, no one wanted to be her partner. All because of her stupid cat ears; god, she'd do anything to remove them from existence. She wasn't some animal, she was a person! At least, that's what she thought before the stares and whispers.
Blake returned her attention to her lunch, a pit forming in her stomach, when she heard the sound of a tray gently placed down to the right of her. Her head swung over, her amber stare meeting the deep blue eyes of a messy haired blond boy in an orange shirt and faded blue jeans.
"Why are you eating alone?" he asked, flashing her a wide, friendly wide. Blake pouted and narrowed her eyes, ready for the boy to tease her about her ears.
"Can I eat with you?" Blake's expression softened at the question. Why was this boy being so nice?
"I-I guess so." The boy plopped down next to her, and he adjusted his neon orange tray in front of him. He had a big slice of cheese pizza and a small chocolate milk carton; which reminded Blake that she had forgotten to pack a drink for lunch today. The blond boy grinned and bit into his pizza, who immediately regretted it after feeling how hot the pizza was. Blake giggled a little bit, but then reserved herself, putting her hands on her lap and staring at her sandwich.
"How come you don't have a drink?" Blake gave the boy a quick look before returning it to her lap.
"I forgot it."
"Here, have mine." Blake watched the brown carton come into view, right above her sandwich.
"What about you?" she asked, watching the boy smile.
"I don't need it. No give backs!" Blake smiled as the boy triumphantly opened the carton for her.
"Why aren't you sitting with your friends?" Blake pointed over to a group of boys, who were laughing and seemed to be having a grand time. Jaune scowled at them, before giving Blake a gentle smile.
"Because they're jerks. Also, we're friends now, so I ammmmmm sitting with my friend." He stopped, frowning and looking at her sheepishly. "If you're okay with that." Blake couldn't hide her rosy cheeks fast enough as she looked in the opposite direction. They sat in silence for a few moments, the boy looking at Blake curiously. She lowered her blushing face in embarrassment before speaking.
"Y-yeah, that's okay." She stammered nervously, causing Jaune's face to light up in excitement. He took another bite of his pizza, crying out in pain when he burned his tongue for the second time. Blake giggled at her strange new friend, then paused as he tapped her shoulder. He swallowed his pizza, then motioned towards her purple cat ears.
"Can I touch your kitty ears?" At the mention of them, the ears flattened on top of Blake's head. For just a few minutes, her worries and anxiety over the ears had vanished, only for the floodgates to open over such a silly question.
"They look really soft." The boy gave Blake a quizzical look before his left hand slowly approached the top of her head. He paused, his expression asking for Blake's permission. She offered him a slow nod, and the boy reached up, gently petting her ears.
"Wow! They are soft!" The blond's mouth slowly opened in amazement, and Blake had to admit, what he was doing felt nice. He continued for a few moments, amazed by her faunus heritage. "You're so cool, I wish I had..." the boy mulled it over for a few seconds before nodding, "A shark fin." Blake giggled a little and gave the boy a confused look.
"A shark fin?"
"So I could scare people at the beach and in pools."
"Oh." The boy shrugged, and the two returned to eating; Blake would occasionally laugh at the boy's silly questions as they ate. A few seconds after Blake finished her milk the bell rang, indicating the end of lunch.
"It was nice meeting you!" The boy beamed a bright smile and turned to leave, but Blake frowned.
"My name is Blake." This caused the blue eyed boy to turn back around, still wearing his cheesy grin.
"Thanks for eating with me." Blake's face flushed a little bit as she looked down, swaying back and forth.
"Well, can I eat with you tomorrow too?" A wide grin formed on Blake's face at his question, and she looked away shyly.
"That'd be… that'd be nice."
"Okay! Bye, Blakey!"
"...Don't call me that!" Blake cried in mock anger.
"I'm going to anyway." She watched Jaune quickly walk away, being sure he had the last word. Her cheeks flushed and she had a weird feeling in her tummy. She threw her trash away and walked back to her classroom; Maybe her first day wasn't so bad after all.
Blake's crush on Jaune only grew more and more as the days flew by. Jaune ate lunch with Blake every day, would play with her at recess every day, and when the other boys would ridicule or throw things at her, Jaune would protect her. No one showed her kindness like he did. She would go over his house for play dates, but she always found it weird that Jaune's mom was never home.
Before middle school, to cut back on the ogling and teasing, Blake started to wear her black bow; she noticed how much it bothered Jaune that she would hide who she truly was, but it was the only way to prevent the discrimination. He always told her she looked better without the bow, but she never believed him.
A few more years went by, and though she and Jaune still stayed in touch, they also became much more distant. Their interests frayed; Jaune had his wrestling, Blake her writing and reading. They talked much less, their exchanges were quick. Blake had made many friends over the years thanks to her bow, but secretly all she wanted to repair her relations with Jaune. She still liked him.
Then, junior year of high school came around, and…
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"I thiiiink you do," Jaune replied, his hand quickly shooting up and snatching away Blake's bow before she could react.
"Hey!" Blake's hands covered her head, a feeling of nakedness washing over her.
"C'mon, you gotta face the music at some point Blakey-Blake."
"Give me the ribbon back."
"Move your hands, and I'll consider it."
"I'm going to murder you."
"You can try." Blake scowled as she slowly removed her hands from atop her head, revealing two purple cat ears. She rubbed her left arm and averted her eyes from Jaune's smiling face, she couldn't help but feel ashamed.
"You look so much better without the bow, y'know."
"Shut. Up." Jaune couldn't help himself. He reached forward and gave Blake's left cat ear a few scratches, making her turn a fierce red and slap his arm away, then sending a kick to his stomach.
"Meow." He grunted as he rubbed his abs and tossed Blake her ribbon, which she quickly tied and covered her second set of ears. She released a disgruntled sigh and stared at Jaune.
"I'll tell them when I'm ready, you dick."
"They'll be more offended that you kept it from them, not that you're faunus."
"You don't know that."
"Yeah, but Sun and Adam do." Blake held her tongue. Jaune was right. She never realized it, but Sun and adam were widely accepted in their group. She just felt so gross without her bow, even though she enjoyed Jaune's compliment quite a lot. She was just so used to concealing her identity that at this point; revealing to a group of people that she had been lying to them wasn't something she wanted to do just yet.
"See ya, Blakey." Blake paused, her amber eyes narrowed towards the blond.
"...Don't call me that."
"You didn't mind in high school."
"That was... different."
"Oh, yeah? Why's that?" Jaune shot Blake a sly smile, making her cheeks flush pink. "Hey, do you remember when we-"
"Bye." The door slammed shut, and Jaune thought about chasing her to see what would happen, but shook his head as turned to his closet to change into gym shorts and a t-shirt, his smile still present. 'She's almost too fun to mess with.' He rolled his neck around, hearing a few slight pops and cracks, before checking his phone to confirm what Ren said.
"What the hell does Sun want..." He murmured, locking his door and heading to the courtyard.
"I'm going to hang with the guys for a bit."
"We can get ice cream later, Nora. I'll probably only be an hour."
"But I want it nooooow!"
"Ask your roommate to go with you, then." Ren was in his room, pulling on his shoes. He had just gotten done changing when Nora burst through the door, demanding Ren to go with her to the dining hall to get some sugary frozen treats.
"It won't be the same!"
"I'm sure you'll have plenty of fun with Velvet."
"I said it won't be the saaaaaaame!" Nora whined, pouting. She didn't have anything against her roommate; Velvet was a very nice girl. Nora especially liked the fact that she had big, fluffy bunny ears, but today she wanted to get ice cream with her favorite boy, not her favorite bunny-faunus. She watched as Ren adjusted his attire in the mirror- she was surprised that he was in gym shorts and a baggy green tee. "I like when you dress like that."
"Hmm?" Ren looked at Nora's reflection in the mirror, her eyes staring back. "Why's that?"
"I dunno. You just look so… tough. It's boopin'!"
"Boopin'. That's new."
"That's how you look though."
"Thanks, Nora." Ren turned around and smiled, which Nora readily returned. He walked forward and put his hands on her shoulders. "Tell ya what. How about you get ice cream with Velvet now, and next time you ask, I can't say no, I promise." He looked up and smirked at the cute smile and rosy cheeks of his friend.
"D-Deal!" Nora replied, slightly choked up. Ren never acted so charming before, was something wrong? Did he have a fever? Nora cautiously touched his forehead, to which Ren furrowed his brow a bit.
"I'm not sick."
"Just making sure." Ren let go of her and walked to his desk, picking up his keys and phone and placing them in his pocket.
"Alright, I'm outta here. Tell Velvet I said 'hello'." With that, Ren led Nora out of his room and locked it behind him. "And please, don't make a mess, or get Velvet into any trouble like the last time you two hung out."
"No promises, since you won't be there. Who knows, maybe Velvet wants to do some extreme table-surfing!"
"Nora, am I going to have to take away a certain someone's stuffed animal and give it to our blonde friend?" Nora's eyes narrowed and shot Ren an extremely intimidating glare.
"Which animal we talkin'."
"Oh, let me rephrase. I'm actually not talking about an animal per say. Rather… your favorite plushie."
"You wouldn't dare, Lie."
"Try me." Ren knew when Nora used his first name she was serious, but if he backed out now he knew Nora would cause some sort of ruckus just to annoy him. By threatening to give Nora's favorite, and admittedly most embarrassing, plush to Yang, he knew she'd stay in line. Silence held for a few more seconds, light blue jewels staring down magenta.
"For the sake of little-Ren… I don't think Velvet feels like table-surfing today." Nora defeatedly huffed, her eyes still narrowed and fists clenched. "Low blow, big-Ren."
"It's all out of love."
"Go have fun with dumb and dumber. Oh, if dumber asks any silly questions, text me them!"
"Bye, Ren!" Nora's face brightened and she skipped down the hall, waving goodbye until she disappeared into the stairwell. Ren let out a sigh as he scratched his head.
'I can't believe she brought the plush of me here.'
"Alright bitches, listen up." Sun stood in front of Adam, Jaune and Ren, his arms crossed and tail swaying as his face expressed determination. He didn't have a shirt on, for it was wrapped around his head, and his body reflected how hot it was due to the beads of sweat forming all around. "I have called you here today for a very important reason."
"Why's that?" Adam asked, his face expressionless behind his sunglasses.
"And why are we wearing gym clothes if we aren't going to the gym?" Jaune added, "we aren't going to the gym, right?"
"No, we're not," Sun answered, "The reason you're here is because we have yet to have a boy's night out."
"...But it's day," Ren answered with a hint of malice in his tone, "and we always hang out."
"But whenever we do, one of the girls is around," Sun paced back and forth, as if he were a professor giving a lecture, "don't get me wrong, I love the girls. We all love them, right?"
"Right. However, the girls can sometimes get annoying, right?" Sun walked up to Ren, placing a hand on his right shoulder. "Ren, how does an entire day without scolding Nora sound?" Ren's head tilted to the side in thought, a small smirk forming.
"Sounds kinda nice."
"And Adam," Sun continued, now placing a hand on the fellow faunus' shoulder, "Sitting in silence, giving Blake a massage as she reads… is that fun for you?" Adam looked around, being sure his girlfriend wasn't in earshot.
"Not at all." Sun finally walked over to Jaune, his arms crossed.
"Jaune, you know you could go for a day without getting punched in the mouth by Pyrrha, or asked if you need help with your homework by her."
"Yeah, I guess I could."
"Great! What I'm suggesting is a day without them. Just us four. I already have a plan for the day." Sun took out a pad of paper from his pocket, unfolding it.
Yang peeked around the large tree she was behind, trying to hear what Sun was saying.
"What's he saying?" Nora asked, who was directly behind the blonde.
"I don't know, I can't hear him."
"This is so dumb. Why am I spying on my boyfriend and his friends again?" Blake asked, who was reading her book next to Nora.
"Because I said so."
"Yang, this is ridiculous," Pyrrha added, who stood next to Blake, "what are we doing?" Yang perked up, stood straight and turned to the other three girls, getting their undivided attention.
"Recon?" the three replied in unison, equally as confused.
"Haven't you ever wondered what guys do?"
"Not to the point of stalking them." Pyrrha answered.
"Not stalking. Recon," Yang clarified, "girls, these are our boys. Not any other girl's. They're ours, right?" The three hesitantly and unenthusiastically nodded, making Yang sigh. "So you'd all be okay if other girls decided to claim them as theirs?" She looked over to Nora, "If Ren got a new best friend?" then to Blake, "Adam a new girlfriend?" and finally Pyrrha, "and Jaune a new training partner?" The three shook their heads frantically, the thought of being replaced not too appealing to them.
"Exactly," Yang continued her speech, "so, we're just doing some recon to make sure no girls get as bold to try and steal our boys."
"Yang, you're crazy," Nora commented, her face getting close, "I love it." Beside Nora, Pyrrha and Blake furrowed their brows at one another, sending the same thought telepathically.
"I'm calling BS on that. This isn't about us. This is about you. We wouldn't be doing this if you didn't constantly try to make Sun jealous," Pyrrha stated, "Admit it, we're not doing recon. You're just making sure Sun isn't hooking up with another girl."
"Look, I wouldn't need to make him jealous if he made it official already, dammit," Yang snapped, returning to her post behind the tree, "there's got to be a reason why he isn't doing it, and I have to know."
"Why don't you just ask him to be your boyfriend?" Blake asked, her face buried back into her book, "and why are we here if this is all about you?"
"The guy is supposed to ask, not the girl, and you're here for moral support along with the fact that all of the guys are in on this," Yang answered, cupping her ears, "now shut up, Sun's starting to talk again."
"First, we'll take a nice run through campus."
"Running sucks." Jaune butted in.
"Agreed." Adam commented, nodding his head.
"Don't complain, we're doing it you lazy bitches," Sun scolded, "Second, we'll get burritos at Kuja's."
"I don't want a burrito."
"Third, we're gonna have a Super Smash tourney at the arcade."
"No fair! Ren's gonna win!" Jaune blurted, covering his mouth immediately afterwards.
"Why's that?" Ren asked, crossing his arms in mock annoyance.
"Nevermind. Dibs on Marth."
"Sure, pick the best character." Adam added in.
"Shut up, idiots. Alright, fourth, we'll go to the Red Rose for drinks!"
"We don't have fake ID's, how will we get in?" Jaune held his hands up in curiosity.
"I know a guy," Sun answered Jaune, "don't worry about it."
"Shut up. Alright!" Sun exclaimed, "part one of boy's night … day?... out starts….. now!" Sun darted off down the sidewalk, leaving the other three behind. They all groaned, not wanting to run in such heat.
"Why is he making us run?" Ren asked, "there must be a reason."
"He's been complaining about how Yang always flirts with other guys, even when he's around," Jaune answered, shrugging, "Guess he figures running around shirtless, when every girl on campus will be outside, is some sort of payback, and he doesn't want to do it alone."
"Why would Yang need to make him jealous?"
"Probably so he grows a pair and asks her out officially." Adam answered.
"So this is one big plot to get back at Yang," Ren concluded, "Do we go along with it?"
"Sure," Jaune said, "Whatever it takes to not get punched today. Pyrrha hits hard. And asks me about my homework a lot. I think she thinks I'm dumb."
"Because you are."
"Thanks, Adam." The blond began to run in the direction Sun took off in, looking back at motioning for his friends to follow suit. They groaned, but eventually their feet picked up the pace and they all caught up to Sun, unaware of the other four quietly following them.
"I lied. I did want a burrito." Jaune, Ren, Sun and Adam all sat on a bench in the middle of campus, enjoying the post-run burritos they bought from Kuja's. All four were shirtless at this point, the intense heat leaving their shirts nothing but drenched rags that sat in front of them. With the lack of clothing came an intense increase of stares and the occasional whistle from girls around campus; it was nothing different from the run itself.
"Yeah, this burrito is bitchin'." Sun said before he took another bite, making the other three laugh at his terminology.
"The run wasn't." Ren commented, taking a bite.
"Schut up," Sun replied with his mouth full, "did choo see all dos gurls lookin' at ush?"
"Yeah, they're laughing at how dumb you look talking with your mouth full," Adam replied, pointing over to a group of girls that were giggling at them, "I don't think I'm allowed to have girls giggle at me. Blake will kill them." Sun furrowed his brow and gulped down his food before speaking.
"No one cares what you think, Taurus," the monkey-faunus wiped his mouth, then with the same hand motioned towards Ren and Jaune, "We're single, and therefore like when girls giggle at us."
"Shut up Ren." Jaune beamed a wide smile at Ren, who was flicking Sun off. When he returned his attention to what was in front of him, he noticed a black haired girl in a red sundress walking towards them. Jaune thought perhaps she was someone they knew and squinted to try and see her better. He realized that was not the case when he noticed her fiery yellow and orange eyes. They moved over his body hungrily, scrutinizing him like a predator does its prey.
"Uh, any of you guys know this chick?" Jaune quietly asked, the other three boys looking up and taking a quick glance at the girl who was approaching them.
"I think I've seen her around before…"
"Looks like she knows who you are."
"Nora, no, you can't break that girls phone!"
"But she has pictures of them!" Nora shook a bit as Blake held her back from stomping over and smashing a girl's phone after she took a picture of the boys.
"Yeah, cool your jets Nora. We're doing recon, not attrition." Yang didn't bother to look away from the fake pair of binoculars she created with her hands. Pyrrha sat behind the blonde with her legs crossed, wishing that she wasn't being dragged on this stupid little mission. Sure, seeing Jaune run with his shirt off for a minute was kinda nice, but aside from that, there was much more she could be doing, like studying, or helping Jaune with his biology homework.
"Who's that walking towards Jaune?" Yang asked, poking Pyrrha's side as she peered around the lamppost she was behind. "Oh, shit, is that...? Yup, that's her, I heard about her. You might want to make note of this bitch, Pyr!"
"I'm sure she has no interest in Jaune, she could be walking to any of the boys," Pyrrha semi-confidently replied, hoping she was right, "but who is it, exactly?"
"Captain of the girl's lacrosse team," Yang answered, narrowing her eyes, "I don't think you understand the severity of the situation."
"W-What do you mean?" Pyrrha asked, her eyes reflecting a genuine sense of interest all of the sudden.
"She's a known man-stealer."
"See something you like, baby?" Sun smiled cheerfully at the dark haired girl before them, standing up in a flash and motioning towards his body.
"I do, and it's certainly not you, Curious George." Sun's shoulders slumped at the girls insult, and his friends only made it worse by laughing.
"Guys! Don't laugh, she's a bitch!" Sun exclaimed, his arms flailing every which way.
"Oh, if only I had a nickel for every time some chump called me that." The yellow eyed girl tilted her head and smiled wickedly at Sun who looked to his friends for backup. However, no assistance came.
"Anyway," the girl continued, walking up to Jaune and pointing at him, "You. Stand up." Jaune's eyes widened in surprise, and he pointed to himself before glancing over at Adam and Ren in confusion. They only shrugged, unsure of what to do or say. Jaune hesitantly did as he was told, standing up slowly as he watched the girls yellow eyes scan over his body again. She smiled at him, narrowing her eyes a bit.
"Yes, I definitely see something I like," she purred, sending shivers down Jaune's spine, "What's your name?"
"Jaune. That's what I thought it was. You're the wrestler, right?" Jaune chuckled nervously as he scratched the back of his head, unsure of what to reply with. "I'm Cinder." She took out her cell phone from the small handbag she was carrying and held it out to him. "Give me your number. I'd very much like to… get to know you."
"Whoa there," Sun intervened, stepping in between Jaune and Cinder and pushing them apart, "He has a girl." He turned to give Jaune a look, but was too slow.
"What? No I don't…" Jaune said honestly, unaware of what Sun was talking about. Sun shook his head. He looked defeatedly at Cinder, who smiled viciously.
"Nice try." Cinder pushed Sun aside, stepping close to Jaune and putting her phone in his hand. "You see, I'm captain of the lacrosse team, and I've seen how hard you train. You show determination and passion for your sport, something every man should show, and something every woman should admire." She ran a finger down Jaune's chest, making him squirm in surprise. "Which I, for one, admire. It's such a surprise no girl had snatched you up. Now, I just want your number," she brushed some hair away from her face, "I've seen you squat, and I would love some help with mine… maybe we can even be training partners. All I'm asking for is a little… cooperation, Jaune." Her eyes stared into Jaune's, making his face flush a bright red. His brain short-circuited as he panicked.
"I-uh, uh, well, I already have a, you see- look, it's just-"
"People are starting to stare, Jaune. Make up your mind."
"U-uh, yeah, uh, let me just…" Jaune quickly entered his information into Cinder's ePhone, handing it back to her. She took a step back, smiling down at the device.
"I'm going to the bar tonight with my team. You should come."
"I mean, really? Is this a joke-"
"It's not. So, please? I know we just met, but I can make it worth your while if you come." Cinder pouted, her eyes dancing as they dug into Jaune's. Jaune felt as if he had no control over himself. This girl was like no other- she melted his brain beyond comprehension. Her flirtatious and bold ways of speech were too much, he couldn't make jokes to worm himself out. He thought about Pyrrha for a split second- but he remembered that he was only going to be a friend to her. This girl, however, showed obvious interest and asked him out. Why throw away an opportunity like this?
"Y-Yeah, uh, sure."
"Great. It's a date, then. See ya, Jaune." Cinder blew the blond a kiss before turning and walking away, swaying her hips as Jaune's eyes locked onto her rear. He shook himself out of it before long, catching himself staring when the girl turned around and smiled.
"Smooth, buddy." Adam was still sitting on the bench, he hadn't moved an inch since she came over.
"D-...Did I just score a date?!" Jaune exclaimed, "YES! I HAVE A DATE! Suck it, Sun!" He stopped and looked at the other three. "Who is she again?"
"Cinder Fall, captain of the lacrosse team," Adam answered, sitting up, "Also known as the most promiscuous girl on campus. Congrats."
"My 'holy-shit-she's-crazy' meter is off the charts." Sun commented, looking to Jaune. "Have Pyrrha fight her."
"That'd be hot."
Jaune looked over to Ren, a smile plastered on his face. "Ren, I have a date."
"Just making sure, cause, y'know."
"Oh, an eye joke. Very classy, Jaune."
"Pyrrha, no!" Yang and Blake held Pyrrha by the arms as she struggled, trying to bolt in the direction she saw Cinder walk off in. "You're gonna blow our cover, and we're missing what they're saying!"
"I just wanna talk to her, is all." Pyrrha's voice was calm, but her eyes were dark and full of murderous intent.
"I juuuuuust wanna talk, guys, really."
"You hear something?" Ren asked as the four went to throw their trash away. The burritos hit the spot, and the next item on the list was the Super Smash tournament. The encounter with Cinder ate up some precious time, and Sun wanted them to get back on schedule.
"Nah, you're going crazy. Maybe it's all the time you spend with Nora, you're starting to hear shit." Jaune replied, finally fully snapped out of the spell Cinder cast on him.
"Have you ever felt like you're being watched…?" Sun asked, placing a finger on his chin. He squinted and looked around, trying to see if someone really was watching. He stopped for a moment and smiled; he shrugged, then turned to his friends. "Alright, we need shirts if we wanna get into the arcade."
"They're drenched, I'm not wearing mine." Jaune stated, holding his still damp shirt up.
"Same," Adam added, "I'm guessing this is a hiccup in your plan."
"Nope!" Sun then sprinted and jumped into some nearby bushes that were planted next to the building closest to them. He popped his head up, holding a black trash bag. He ran back over and threw three white tees to each of his party.
"You're fucking kidding." Adam said, holding the shirt up and reading what was written on it.
"Nope, you have to wear it."
The four walked into the arcade, each wearing a shirt that read "Boy's Night Out" in Sharpie. They paid entrance, and the cashier trying not to laugh as they walked in and towards the GameSphere set up on the far end. They set up Super Smash, with Jaune playing Marth, Adam as Fox, Ren as Samus and Sun as Pikachu.
"The pain train has no brakes, bitches!" Sun exclaimed as Samus' heel connected with Pikachu's face.
"They're playing some weird game." Yang reported, squinting to get a better look.
"Why is that orange guy kicking the shit out of a little mouse?" Blake furrowed her brow and looked over to Pyrrha, who could only offer a look of mutual confusion and shrugged.
"Go Ren!" Nora exclaimed, being pulled back behind the potted plants by Yang.
"Hey I'll be right back, I have to do something." Pyrrha tried to walk away and find a certain Cinder, but was grabbed by the shoulders and pulled back to the recon spot. The red haired girl sat cross legged, facing away from the other three.
"Beating her up won't stop her from getting Jaune." Yang said sternly. "So she flirted a bit, big whoop. I've been telling you this would happen if you didn't do something!"
"What you want me to do is crazy!" Pyrrha cried, her face pink at the thought of actually going through with one of Yang's ideas to get Jaune, "but Cinder won't get him, he's smarter than that. Plus he's my little warrior. Not that tramp's." Pyrrha's eyes went wide and cheeks went rosy when she realized she just revealed what she calls Jaune in her head every time she trains him in MMA. Sure enough, she saw Yang's face creep into her peripheral.
"Did you just say he's your… little… warrior…!?" Yang burst into laughter, causing Blake and Nora to follow suit. "Look," Yang said after a minute of hysterical laughter, "all you gotta do is get to him before she can. Enough with the subtle shit- Jaune's not smart, Pyr, he's stupid. You gotta lay the cards on the table, and you're gonna do it tonight."
"I knew she'd follow…" Sun murmured to himself, placing the GameSphere controller down, "but congrats, Ren, for being the Super Smash champ! You piece of shit!"
"Like we didn't see that coming…" Adam whispered, making Jaune laugh.
"Alright, next on the list- the bar! We need to freshen up and look fly." Sun stood up and stretched, making his way towards the exit. Before he walked out, however, he looked to Jaune. "AND NO, you cannot hang out with Cinder if she shows up. Bros before hoes."
"I don't think I have a choice..."
"I said no, bitch. Now let's go, we're burning valuable time!"
Jaune began to fasten the buttons to his blue button down, looking in the mirror to make sure his hair was perfectly messy. Sun was down in Ren's room with Adam, probably discussing their plan to keep Cinder away from Jaune. The blond expected as much, but he never asked for the girl to come on so strong. He fastened the top button and walked over to grab his things before joining the boys.
'Keys, phone, wallet… good to-' a knock on the door interrupted his chain of thought. He walked over and opened the door, revealing none other than Pyrrha. Her curly red hair was down and the floral aroma of her perfume tickled his nose. She was in a rather revealing black dress, and she had a golden upper arm bracelet that spiraled around a couple of times. Jaune blinked a few times, bringing himself back to earth.
"Pyrrha?" he asked, "how did you get in my building?"
"That's not important." Pyrrha bit her lip and stared at Jaune for a few seconds. Her vision then shot straight down to the floor. "Hey, I was wondering if you'd like to… um, if you'd like to go out with me tonight?" Her face crimson, she looked back up to Jaune, only to see him staring at his phone rather than her. "If you're not busy…?"
"Huh?" he asked, giving Pyrrha a quick glance before returning to his phone, "Sorry, someone I met today just texted me."
"O-Oh, no, it's okay," Pyrrha stuttered, anger filling her mind at the thought of who the text might be from, "take your time." Pyrrha's stared at Jaune's face as he smiled slightly at the device, the sound of his finger pads tapping the screen filling the hall. The light finally shut off, and he brought his gaze back to the beauty before him.
"So what's up, Pyr-Pyr?"
"I-I was just, um, wondering, if you… if you wanted to go out with me tonight." Jaune tsked and shook his head.
"Ooooh, sorry Pyr, no can do," he replied, "Tell everyone I'm sorry, Cin- uh, Sun already made me and the guys plans."
"What do you mean, everyone?" Pyrrha asked, her heart starting to pound.
"Oh, aren't you asking me to go out with you, Nora, Blake and all them?" Jaune scratched his head, a bit confused by what was going on.
"N-No, it'd just be you and me," Pyrrha clarified, "Couldn't you maybe go out with them another time?" Jaune furrowed his brow for a split second. 'Why is she so adamant about this, we hang out all the damn time!'
"Pyrrha, we hang all the time! I wanna go out with the boys tonight, plus, between you and me," Jaune leaned in, "I got a date!" Pyrrha felt her throat go very, very dry and a ringing sound came from nowhere.
"Yeah, this girl totally asked me out, and I'm going down to the bar to see her!" Jaune told Pyrrha excitedly, "Isn't that great?" Pyrrha just stood in silence, staring at Jaune as he did his trademark awkward chuckle and leaned back a bit. "U-Uh, Pyrrha, you okay?" After another few seconds of silence, Jaune's phone buzzed, and he stared back down on it.
"Yeah, Jaune, that's... that's just great. Really Great. And I'm fine. Have fun tonight." Her voice was stern, yet held a sense of pain she hoped Jaune would catch up on.
"Cool. Later." Jaune then stepped back, letting the door slowly swing closed in Pyrrha's face. She had the urge to bust the door down and punch Jaune in the face. She clenched her fists and teeth. She had put herself out there, only to be shot down embarrassingly by her best friend. The girl stood, astonished, then finally mustered enough will to turn and walk towards the stairwell, where she was greeted by a gentle hug from Nora.
"Jaune, stop looking for her. You're not gonna spend time with her!" Sun took another sip of his drink, shaking his head.
"I'm not looking for her. She's probably looking for me!"
"Well this is fun," Adam said sarcastically as he sat casually in between Ren and Jaune, "sure glad we didn't invite the girls."
"Guys, we don't need them to have fun!" Sun exclaimed, "I'm having a blast!" Sun was met with dead stares and relaxed back into his chair. The bar was noisy and everyone seemed to be chipper, but the four sat in relative silence for a minute. After an hour and a half of lame jokes and bad beer, it was safe to say the fun died a long time ago. "Fine. This sucks."
"I mean it's not that bad," Ren said, trying to cheer Sun up, "but how about we get the real reason behind all of this?" Sun sighed heavily and took another swig of his drink.
"Yang flirts with other guys all the time. Pisses me off. So I thought I'd give her a taste of her own medicine. She and the girls were following us the whole time, I saw them."
"Why don't you just tell her that?" Adam asked, leaning forward onto the counter, "and how do you know they were following us?"
"Have you met Yang? She'd just tell me to fuck myself…" Sun clicked his tongue, "and I saw her outside when we were eating. Kinda hard to miss when three of the girls are behind one skinny lamppost and a potted plant next to it has a black bow."
"Wait- all the girls were following?" Jaune asked.
"Yeah. I just didn't want to let the cat out of the bag."
"So… how much did they see?" Ren questioned as he stared at the bottle in his hand, his thumb wiping away some of the condensation.
"I'm going to go ahead and assume everything." Sun shrugged and took another sip of his beverage.
"Oh, god." Ren buried his face in his hands, remembering the girl who had given him her number and hoping that Nora hadn't hunted her down.
"Heh." Adam smirked, knowing his girlfriend would make him "pay" for allowing girls to take selfies with him blatantly posing in the background.
"That's nuts," Jaune smiled, "you guys are in for it." The other three furrowed their brows at Jaune.
"What, and you're not?" Adam asked.
"Why would I be?" Jaune countered, "I didn't do anything."
"Uhh, hello? You gave your number to Cinder, with Pyrrha watching." Ren said bluntly in an annoyed tone.
"So?" Jaune raised his palms, not seeing the point being made.
"How the hell do you think Pyrrha felt about that?" Sun added, the three ganging up on the blond. Jaune gave a peeved expression before continuing.
"What's she have to do with anything? She doesn't look at me that way, she's just a great friend," Jaune answered, "She came to my room and I talked to her before I met you guys at Ren's room. She was fine!" All three of them stared at Jaune in utter disbelief.
"Are you a fucking idiot!?" Adam slammed his bottle down, a loud clang riddling through the bar. Jaune jumped a bit, surprised by the sudden outburst. Adam took his sunglasses off, staring directly at Jaune. "What did she say?"
"She asked for me to hang out, and I said I couldn't, why?" Adam was speechless, putting his glasses back on and sitting back in his chair with a heavy sigh of disappointment. He crossed his arms and looked forward.
"I can't believe what I'm hearing. You guys can handle this."
"Handle what?" Jaune asked, looking at Ren then Sun, "What's going on!?" Sun stared angrily at Jaune for a few moments.
"I was going to let you figure this out on your own, but-"
"There you are, Jaune." A woman's voice interrupted Sun, making him scowl. He recognized it, and turned to see Cinder stood behind Jaune. Her hands were on his shoulders as she gently massaged them. "I've been looking for you." She cooed seductively.
"Oh, hey, Cinder…" Jaune said, surprised by the touch of the girl, "Do you mind if I meet up with you later, at a different time? We're all sort of talking."
"Talking about what?" Cinder spun Jaune's chair a bit and sat on his lap, wrapping her arms around him, "Secrets are no fun. Whatever you can tell monkey-boy, bull-man and… the Locus… you can tell me." Ren had just about enough. He got up and stared at Cinder, who stared back with a slight smirk.
"What did you call me?"
"Oh, did I hurt the little boy's feelings?" Cinder leaned down and put her lips close to Jaune's ear, whispering, "how about we ditch these loser friends of yours." Jaune shook his head and grabbed Cinder's waist, softly pushing her off of him.
"Look, guys, lets not get hostile here. Cinder, would you mind leaving for a bit?"
"Make me." Cinder wrapped her arms around Jaune's neck and leaned into him, making him turn his head. He chuckled nervously and tried to fight down the blush forming on his face.
"Come on, Cinder. This is really, really not necessary. Just give me two more minutes, then, uh, we can leave." Jaune tried to sound as sincere as he could, his eyes rotating and glaring at Cinder's pondering face.
"Two minutes. Then, you're mine." She let go and kissed Jaune's neck, sending shivers down his back. Cinder then walked off, leaning against a pool table with her team as her eyes threw daggers at Jaune.
"Sun," Jaune said quickly, "what were you saying?" Sun wasn't looking back at Jaune, though, rather his phone. When his gaze did return, his haunted expression made Jaune's heart drop.
"I got a text from Yang. She says Pyrrha ran off and she, Blake nor Nora can find her." Sun paused for a second, shaking his head. "She's been gone for two hours, and she says it's because of you, Jaune."
"Blake texted me the same thing." Adam confirmed with the group, putting his phone away.
"Nora's calling," Ren said, standing up, "We should help." The four stood to leave, and as Jaune was making his way through the crowd he felt a soft hand grab his arm.
"Whoa there, tiger." Cinder pulled Jaune to her, surprising him. "You promised me we'd leave together. Where do you think you're going?" Jaune gridded his teeth together, wishing he would have been able to sneak out of the bar without Cinder realizing.
"Cinder, I have to go, something came up-" Jaune was cut off when he felt Cinder's hand grab the hair on the back of his head.
"No, you don't."
"No, really, I think we should just drop this-"
"So you're gonna leave a defenseless girl alone at this crappy bar?" Jaune bit his lip, his head turning and seeing his friends exiting the building.
"I'm sorry, but yeah, my friends-"
"Come onnnn, Jaune," Cinder laced her fingers with his, "just stay, I'm sure it can wait." Jaune sighed heavily and parted his hand from hers, shaking his head.
"I'm sorry." Jaune gently pulled the woman off of him. "I have to go. Have fun tonight." Jaune frowned and turned quickly, rushing out of the door to catch his party. Cinder just stood and wiped her lips, a smile forming.
"So, the redhead does have some pull with him. I can change that."
"This is all your fucking fault, Jaune!" Yang shouted furiously at Jaune, the only thing stopping her from tearing him apart being Ren and Nora holding her back. Yang was pretty worried about Pyrrha just running off- she'd never done something like this before. However, she was much more angry at Jaune for hurting her best friend.
"I don't know what I did!" Jaune countered, equally as angry at the whole situation.
"Yes you do! Yes you do!" Yang tried to break free, but it was turning out to be futile. "You just had to give in to the biggest slut on campus when your stupid self couldn't realize what you had right in front of you!"
"What does that even mean?!"
"RRRRRAWGH!" Yang collapsed onto the ground, her anger tiring her out beyond measure. Blake led Jaune away, Ren and Adam close by.
"Listen, she's losing it," Blake said quietly, sighing, "We just need to walk around campus and see if Pyrrha's alright. I have faith that she'll come back, but she doesn't have her phone and we know from experience there's plenty of creeps on this campus."
"Better safe than sorry," Ren added, "I'll head towards the gym."
"I'll go towards the physics building." Adam stated.
"I'll go to Garnet Park." Jaune said, hoping everyones nerves would calm down by the time this was over.
"I'll go and talk to everyone else on what they wanna do," Blake commented, "text one of us if you find her." Everyone nodded, and headed off in different directions.
Pyrrha sat on a bench in front of the pond, feeling as though Jaune stabbed her heart. She wanted to cry, but was too angry to allow herself to. Instead, she sang. She let go of any insecurity she had over her voice and sang the song that always calmed her down.
'He struck me down. At least he has someone else.' She closed her eyes and let the song flow from her, as if it were second nature.
'Fuckin' Yang. This is her fault. I never would have even liked the kid if she didn't keep bringing him up.' She paused for a moment, biting her lip, before starting the song over.
'Okay, that's a lie. He's great. I should be happy for him, as a friend.' The song itself had no particular end, so she just continued to transfer her irritation into the soothing melodies.
'But I'm not. God dammit, Jaune.'
'Idiot. Idiot. Idiot.' Jaune mentally slammed himself as he entered Garnet Park, the dim yellow lampposts lighting his way.
'What the hell are they all talking about though? Something I never saw? How can I know about something I don't see? This is so confusing!' He walked the path, the chirps of crickets and croaks of frogs filling the air. No one else was on the path, and he felt as if the darkness was waiting to swallow him up.
'And Cinder… Sun was right. She's slammin' hot, but batshit crazy. Lucky me, right?' Jaune scanned the area, trying to spot the red hair of the girl he thought about very often.
'Come on Fireball, please be okay.' As he got towards the pond, he heard what sounded like a woman's voice; not just a voice, rather, a woman singing. Jaune followed the vocals, maybe this person had seen Pyrrha. He couldn't see too far past the light of each lamp, so he had to trust his ears. The voice became clearer as he approached it.
'Wait… I recognize that song. Could it be…?' The singing was as loud as it could get, and Jaune stood behind the very red haired girl he was looking for sitting on the bench facing the pond. Jaune waited behind her, letting the girl sing her heart out; the same song he had heard many, many years ago. It sent chills through his body as he stood, paralyzed.
'How does she know this song!?' She finished, and the beautiful singing was replaced with the ambient noises of nature. Jaune just stood there, mesmerized. He wanted to call out her name, see what was wrong, but he didn't remember how to talk. He took a quiet step forward.
"Leave me alone, Jaune. I don't want to talk to you."
So we'll pretend it's alright, and stay in for the night.
Oh what a world, I'll keep you safe here with me.
Cinder: every campus has one. And it's amazing.
Hope y'all like cliffhangers. Next chapter: A Night to Remember
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