A/N: A different telling on RWBY's plot. Just a story that popped out in my mind after I watched episode 8. It's been bugging me, so I reckon I'll get this out of my mind.
Disclaimer: I don't own RWBY, that privilege goes to Monty Oum.
A single breath left his lips, before a loud boom sounded right beside his right foot as his colossal enemy fell. He took one more look on his surrounding, making sure that all his adversaries were dead, before bringing up his right hand and pushed a few buttons on the device attached there.
"Mission complete," he said simply. "Jaune? How about you?"
"Give me a second," he heard a reply before something inhuman growled on the other end. A number of sounds were audible shortly afterwards. An almost quiet 'shinck', something rolling on the ground, and lastly, a heavy sigh. "There, I'm done. What is it?"
"Are you okay? You sound tired."
"You try raiding a Beowolves' nest with only a sword and a shield, and not get exhausted."
"Well, excuse me, Master! Not everyone can be as strong as you!" his apprentice shouted. Such short temper. "I know I'm weak! You don't have to rub it in!"
"My, I'm flattered." he chuckled. So typical of Jaune. Even while angered, he never forgot to respect his better. "You still have a long way to go, dear apprentice."
"Wait a second, I know that tone..." he could almost see Jaune's face paling. "Oh no, I'm not doing it. Not in a million years."
"Don't say that, you know I'm doing this in your best interest."
"I said no, Master!" Jaune yelled to his communication device. "I don't work well with a team! You know that! We had a discussion about this!"
"In which I won every single argument," he reminded. "Perhaps it is time you fix that problem."
"I will accept nothing but complete obedience. I already had your transcript sent last week."
"Get your things packed tonight. You will leave for Beacon tomorrow."
"But, Master...!" Jaune heard static. "Master Ozpin!"
Hearing nothing else from his earpiece, Jaune groaned in exasperation. Realizing that enrolling to Beacon had just become an inevitability, Jaune walked to the nearest tree and began banging his head on its bark.
"...Stupid Master..." he grumbled. How could he?! He knew Jaune never worked well with other people! Not because he didn't want to, but because he always managed to finish whatever mission he was given by himself. Besides, he was never that good at following orders, bars the ones from his Master anyway. It might not be bad enough to cause casualty now, since he knew better than to take mission that required more than one personnel, but throwing him into an institute where he was required to be in a team? That was just tragedy waiting to happen!
Then again, his Master wasn't exactly someone with the best teaching ethic. Jaune knew that best. After all, Master Ozpin's way of unlocking his aura was to pit him against an Ursa, with no weapon or armor... when he was still twelve. It was that day he learned that his Master was a sadist, and that his training was going to be living hell from then on.
Not to say that it was a bad thing, not really at least. Jaune knew that without his training, he would have never gotten this far. If not for Ozpin, he would still be in that village. Poor, dirty, homeless.
Jaune shook his head. He didn't need that memory resurfacing, not right now.
Jaune heard a growl, before reflexively ducking. He saw something gouged the tree where he had been banging his head, leaving three deep gashes on its trunk. The blonde teen whirled and made three quick slashes without blinking. The body of now dead Beowolf fell to the ground, grazing his shoes slightly.
It was not over though. Even in the deep darkness, he could make out several figures, inching closer and growled with those abominable voices of theirs.
"Fine," Jaune brandished his sword and shield. "I can deal with some more Beowolves before going home."
Jaune got out of shower, drying his hair with a towel as he plopped down on the bed. He took a look around the room he had been renting it for the last seven years, a simple room in a simple apartment, with a bed, wardrobe, table, chair, television and a fridge. He always preferred simple things, a part of his personality that made him stick with his sword and shield even though there were many advanced weapons he could have gotten in Vale. Crocea Mors never chipped, never dented, and never dulled despite the abuse he put them through. The fact that they were family heirloom was another reason he could never throw them away. Besides, they had never failed him, and Jaune had great respect for such reliability.
Jaune looked at the clock; it should be a few more minutes before the pizza he ordered arrive. He took out a bottle of water from the fridge before turning on the tv, right on time for the news coverage of the place that had been in the center of his mind.
"Tomorrow is the day all aspiring Hunter and Huntress have been anticipating for. The gate of Beacon will open, and..."
Jaune stopped listening, knowing that there was nothing new they could tell him. Despite his unwillingness, Jaune had done his homework regardless, as there was never any short for information source on Beacon. What baffled him was his Master's decision to force him into the academy. To tell the truth, he never really aspired to be a Hunter. In fact, he could just keep on going like this, save money he got from doing part-time jobs and simple missions. Maybe open a shop in the future. Have a wife and two children, preferably one son and one daughter. Die of old age, surrounded by family.
However, with his Master's order, that life he had envisioned of having was becoming highly unlikely. Grimm Hunter was an occupation with a high rate of mortality, and for someone as weak as him, reaching twenty-five years of age was probably his limit, and that was being optimistic.
The teenage boy sighed and picked himself up. Jaune opened his wardrobe and began the process of packing whatever few clothes he had into a small bag he had procured on his way back from the forest, leaving only a black hoodie and jeans for tomorrow wear. He went back to the bathroom to retrieve his toothbrush and razor, throwing them into the bag before zipping it shut.
When he straightened up again, Jaune made sure to look around his apartment to be certain that nothing was left behind. It didn't take long; his room was bereft but the most essential of items. After all, Jaune held no love for things, except for his equipment and the amulet hanging from his neck, but this room had been his home for so long. Knowing that tomorrow he would enroll to Beacon and might not come back to this room again was enough to put him in a state of melancholy, however mild it may be.
"Bah, I'll just deal with it when it happens," Jaune took another sip from his bottle. "And where is that pizza?! Does the delivery boy get lost again?!"
"Well, well, well. We meet again, my arch enemy," Jaune fixed a fierce glare upon the flying object before him, earning weird looks from other passengers. "Today, I will conquer you for sure."
Half an hour later, he was bending down on a trashcan, heaving his lunch like no tomorrow. What was he thinking?! That contraption was a thing of nightmare! Spawn of the devil himself! He couldn't believe he got onto it willingly!
"Never again..." he moaned. "I'm not getting into that thing... ever again!"
He walked forward with wobbly steps, assuring himself that this time his feet had touched the ground. The boy raised his head to take his first good look of the so-called best Hunter academy in the world.
"At least it's easy on the eyes..." he mused quietly, admiring the view. "And to think that Master is the top person at this school makes me pretty proud as his apprentice."
Out of the blue, he heard an explosion. Out of reflex built from seven years of harsh training and life-or-death missions, Jaune reached for his sword and half expected for danger of whatever proportions to go for his neck. Thankfully, he managed to avert what would have been an awkward experience after seeing that it was only a bit of hassle between a small girl with red cloak and an older girl dressed in white.
He watched the exchange with interest, which ended with the cloaked slumping to the ground. His heart went to the girl seeing no one paid her any attention, so he approached her and offered his hand.
"Hey, need help?" he greeted as she opened her eyes. "I'm Jaune, by the way."
"I'm Ruby," she let him help her up before snickering. "Aren't you the guy who threw up on the plane?"
Jaune groaned as they started walking. "...Damn, that's really not the first impression I wanted to make."
"Look, I'm sorry. Vomit Boy was the first thing that came to mind."
"Oh yeah? I have two words for that," he crossed his arms. "Crater Face."
"Hey, that explosion was an accident!"
"Well, just so you don't call me Vomit Boy anymore, the name's Jaune Arc. Short and simple, just the way I like it."
Ruby chuckled. She tried to think on a topic, and decided that she would try with one that she knew best. "So... I've got this." she took out her scythe and stabbed the tip to the ground.
She expected surprise or even amazement from her new friend, not the tip of a sword on her jugular.
"Ruby, the next time you do something like this, please warn me beforehand," Jaune exasperated voice reached her ears as the sword left her neck.
"Did you just-"
"Look, I'm sorry. It's my reflex. Sometimes I just react even to the slightest bit of danger. I caught myself in time, though, thank God for that," not wanting to spook his first acquaintance any further, Jaune changed the topic. "Anyway, that's a pretty big scythe."
Fortunately, Ruby bit the bait. "Yeah! It's also a customizable, high impact sniper rifle."
"Sniper? And you can handle the recoil?" the girl nodded. "Uwah, that's bloody wicked!"
"Thanks," Ruby grinned. "So, what do you got?"
"As you've already seen, I have this sword, and the sheath is also a shield."
Jaune smiled. "Yours is nicer."
"Well, heheh, I'm a bit of a dork when it comes to weapon. I guess I got a little overboard in designing it."
"Wait, you made that?"
"Of course! All students at Signal forge their own weapons!" Ruby puffed her chest proudly. "Didn't you make yours?"
"Nah, this is a hand-me-down from my great-great grandfather. A family heirloom, you can say."
"Ah," Ruby nodded. "So, what do they do?" she asked excitedly.
"Other than the retractable shield? I guess not much. Do you still want to know?" Ruby nodded. "Well, first, as my Master said it-"
"...Come again? Master?"
"Yes, teacher, mentor, sensei. Whatever floats your boats," Jaune replied. "Anyways, as I said, my Master described them as invincible and eternal."
Ruby was silent for some time.
Jaune chuckled at her confusion. "I know, my Master really loved his dramatics. It just means that this sword never loses its sharpness from the moment it was forged hundreds of years ago. Also, if the stories of my ancestors are true, nothing has ever managed to even scratch the shield." He shrugged. "Nothing too fancy, but it suits me just fine."
Ruby was flabbergasted. "What?! But that's super awesome!"
"It is?" Jaune asked as Ruby nodded her head vigorously. "Huh. Can't say I expected that. All this time, I only cared about how I didn't need to take it to blacksmith for repair or sharpening."
"What a way to downplay an awesome feature," Ruby said wryly. "So, so, is there anything else?"
"Only one more," the blonde boy replied as he retracted the shield and sheathed the sword. "Try to draw it."
"Just try it. You'll get what I mean."
Ruby was confused, but followed the instruction nonetheless. She grabbed the blue handle to pull the sword out... only to find that she couldn't.
"What the...?" her confusion gave way to curiosity, and before long, she was using all her weight to pull the weapon. Her face turned red from exertion for a few second before she finally gave up. "...How does it do that?"
"That is Crocea Mors's last feature," Jaune said as he drew the sword without any difficulty. "It will only obey an Arc."
Ruby's jaw dropped. "It's sentient?"
"What? No?!" Jaune quickly shot down the idea. "Like I said, my Master really liked to dramatize things. Besides, how can a weapon have a mind of its own?"
"Whaat?" the girl said disappointedly. "So what kept me from drawing it? Is it some sort of fingerprint recognition system?"
"Ruby, this thing was forged in the First War. That was hundreds of years ago. Heck, I bet they didn't even know the word 'fingerprint' yet!" Jaune gazed at his sword. "When I said it's not sentient, I didn't mean it's exactly ordinary. According to my Master, all previous users of this sword had inserted a piece of their soul into it. Throughout time, they watched over the next wielder, giving him or her their guidance, knowledge, courage, even hopes and dreams. A part of them live on inside Crocea Mors, and they will stay there until the fight with Grimm is over."
Ruby was, simply said, astonished with her jaw hanging.
"Heh, I know it's going overboard, but you have to admit, my Master did make it sound bloody cool."
When Ruby kept being unresponsive, Jaune sniggered as he reached to the girl's chin and pushed her mouth shut. "Alright, you will swallow a fly if you keep that up." He resumed walking. "Come on, let's go."
"Er, ookaayy. Where are we going?"
Jaune stopped mid-stride. "Hm. Now that you mention it, I absolutely don't have the faintest idea of where we're supposed to go."
"And where are we anyway?"
Jaune looked around him... and promptly facepalmed. Seriously, didn't these guys have any shame? There were girls in the room, for God's sake! Couldn't they put something on besides pants? He seriously wondered if they hit their heads sometimes before nightfall.
Let it be known that Jaune was really lacking in knowledge of social convention.
His problem with the guys' attitude aside, there was himself. After living for seven years by yourself, scarce of human interaction except the essential ones, Jaune finally found out that he couldn't sleep while being surrounded by people. He kept waking up from the barest of sound or movement, and this had been happening for two hours straight now. God, he was tired!
He finally managed to doze off for about... three minutes, before a commotion woke him up again, causing the swordsman to almost unconsciously reach for his sword. Sharply sitting up, Jaune ignored someone apologizing (which seriously sounded like Ruby), picked up his pillow and blanket, before exiting the room altogether. By Lord he would have his rest tonight, even if it meant he had to sleep on the park or the roof.
The park, not so good an idea. Turns out some of the teachers was patrolling the area since this was the day before Initiation and it was imperative that they make sure nothing bad happened. That was why he was jumping on the wall, finding leverages with both hands and feet as he scaled the wall of the Dormitory building.
Once at the top, he let out a breath. When he opened his eyes, Jaune felt like his heart leapt up his throat.
"Aren't new students supposed to be sleeping in the ballroom?"
"Ah, well, that..." Jaune scratched his head sheepishly. "You know I don't sleep well around people..."
The Headmaster took a sip from his cup (coffee, judging from the earthy smell). "Jaune, this problem of yours is most concerning. Do you need help? I am pretty sure we can find a suitable therapist in Vale who can help with your mild case of anthrophobia."
"...You're making fun of me again, aren't you?" Jaune deadpanned.
"The answer is both yes and no," Ozpin calmly replied. "While it is true that teasing you is one of my most entertaining hobbies, I cannot deny that I am also worried."
"If that's true, then why did you coerce me to come to Beacon? You know my work method the best. I can function much better when I am alone. Or are you disappointed with my progress?"
"Jaune, I have nothing to complain about your current growth, but you need to realize that struggling alone can only take you so far. To reach your full potential, you need to learn how to work with other people. You working solo is good, but teamwork can make you better."
Jaune looked at his feet. "...Isn't it enough like this? Do I really have to become better?"
"You do, dear apprentice," Ozpin turned around and walked to the door. "Isn't that our agreement? That if you accept to train under my wings, you will do anything to meet my expectation? Even surpass your own limit?"
After that, Jaune did not continue, his brows furrowed together as if in deep thought. Ozpin took that silence as a sign of obedience and made to leave the roof. He was just about to grab the door handle when Jaune stopped him. "Wait, wait, wait, wait, now you just wait a bloody second! I didn't remember agreeing to anything like that! When did this happen?!"
"Just now," Ozpin smirked smugly. "I will meet you tomorrow, dear apprentice. Don't be late."
Just now?! As in half a minute ago?! Where is the logic in that?!
"You know I don't really operate within the realm of logic." Ozpin said, as if reading his apprentice's mind. "Anyway, I have to get back to work. Good night."
"Wait-!" the door closed and Jaune was left grumbling by himself. "Oh that insufferable old fart! He tricked me! Again!"
He was preparing another bout of shouting when a gust of wind swept by and made him shiver. The night was getting pretty late. The sooner he slept, the better his chances were in passing the Initiation without getting mauled by any kind of test his sadistic Master cooked up.
Jaune picked a corner and lay down, one last thought crossing his mind before he took the rest he needed.
'I'll just deal with it when it happens.'
To be Continued...
A/N: The idea came to me after I saw that Jaune always managed to considerably pull his own weight in a deadly confrontation (as you can see for yourself in "Player and Pieces" and "Forever Fall". That's why I concluded that the best way to improve him is by pitching him in a dead-or-alive situation. It is also why I put Ozpin as his master. Seeing that his initiation test involves launching students into a forest full of Grimm, I can't help but picture him as the right person to give Jaune the push he needs. In short, it's my take on Jaune being a badass. After all, when you're the sole apprentice of the most famous Hunter academy's Headmaster, what else can you be but a badass?
Should I continue or not? Tell me your opinion.
Praise me, shun me, applause me, make fun of me. Whatever you want to do, it's your call. Whatever it shall be, I will accept all.
Thanks a zillion for reading!