Hello again! I'm back with a new story.
I'll keep this as brief as possible. So, my original plan was to finish my last story and then resume writing The Vale Order. Sadly, that likely will not happen. I'm a very momentum based writer; if I'm away from something for too long, I'm unable to properly return to it. However, I'm not scraping The Vale Order altogether. My new plan is to republish it, completely starting over. I've noticed a few things in the original that either needed better explanation, or just didn't make sense at all. I have no time-table on it, just that I'm working on it at the moment.
As for this story, it, like my last two, is Freezerburn. However, unlike my last two, there is no WhiteRose, which means that Ruby isn't suffering. This is a High School AU, but it starts before the school year has begun. I played around with the idea over the last month, but I only established what I wanted to do with it recently. So, yeah, here you go. It's more-or-less fluff, but there is some plot. Not a lot, but it's there.
This chapter is kinda short, as it was mainly just establishing characters. There will be a lot of that in the next few chapters, so be patient. The good stuff will come.
With that, I'll go ahead and let you guys enjoy the story.
There was a chill in the air, unusual for a late July afternoon. The normally hot and humid air of Vale was instead dry and cool, as if spring decided it wanted one more day of existence. Most people saw it as a sign that this summer would be much cooler than previous ones. The more paranoid believed this was the beginning of a global shift in climate, one that had been sped up by increased emissions of vehicles and the like.
However, Yang Xiao Long didn't see it as that. The blonde looked like the personification of summer; bright, warm, and energetic. However, she could appreciate a day like today, a reprieve from the 90 pluses that had dominated the last week's forecast. And that didn't take into account the midday showers that hit like clockwork.
Yes, Yang was accustomed to rain and heat, so a day like today was almost heavenly. She didn't have to worry about sweat gluing her shirt to her skin, or worse, the frizz in her wild but treasured golden mane. It was a rule you were taught quickly; do not mess with Yang's hair, or you'll suffer dire consequences. The blonde was vain, but only when it came to her hair. But, that wasn't to say she didn't appreciate her body.
The blonde was currently walking in the direction of Nightshade, a small coffee shop/bookstore that her best friend's family owned, and where she had gotten a job herself. The Nightshade wasn't the most trafficked locale in the city. Hell, it barely made enough money to keep itself running. Yang only made minimum wage, a little over 180 lien a week, but for a high school student simply looking for something to do over the summer, it was enough.
Besides, the work was really easy. She kept the books ordered. Okay, that wasn't the easiest job out there, but since there weren't a lot of people coming through to leave the books scattered around, it was fairly easy. The only time Yang had to actually work was at the start of the summer college semesters, when it seemed every student in the city came in to buy their reading list books. It was the only time Yang ever got a raise, even if it was only for that day.
The blonde arrived at the dark building located in the heart of downtown Vale. Parking near the store was near impossible, being so deep in the city, so Yang had to park her cherished motorcycle a few blocks away, in the cheapest parking garage within walking distance.
The bricks of the store were painted various dark shades, from red and green to pure black. The windows were tall and covered most of the right storefront, letting in plenty of natural light, but being tinted, they didn't let much light out. From a distance, say across the street, you could make out the design of a deadly nightshade, the namesake of the store and the family that owned it.
The Belladonna's themselves lived just above the store, in the small apartment that came with the store. It wasn't the largest, nor the most elaborate housing in Vale. However, it was big enough for the family of three. Yang herself had been inside a few times; the place was a living/dining/kitchen area, separated by furniture, two bedrooms, and a single bathroom. Yes, it was small, but since it was part of their lease on the store, and they made enough to pay that off every month, it was practially free.
Yang stepped inside, the bell ringing as she opened the door. As she expected, there weren't a lot of people inside. However, of the few people inside, one patron caught Yang's eyes. The Nightshade, as expected, prided itself on being a fairly dark environment, at least visually. So, to see white, and a vibrant white at that, was pretty jarring.
The 'white patron' was turned away from Yang, but if she had to guess, it was a woman. Or young woman, since they weren't very tall. Hell, they were likely shorter than Ruby, and Yang's younger sister had no claim to height herself. Their hair was tied into a ponytail that didn't quite line up with the center of her head. Whether this was intentional or not, Yang had no idea. However, it was held in place by a tiara-looking pin, giving this person a royal appearance to them.
Yang approached the counter and stepped behind it, entering the back of the store. The area served two purposes. It was a place for employees to rest out of sight of the customers, and it was where they prepared food that was ordered. The role of cook was filled by the only true full-time employee, and the Belladonna's only child, Blake. The faunus noticed her friend's arrival and gave her a small smile.
"How ya doing, kitty cat?" Yang asked as she pulled off her usual brown vest and grabbed a black one that hung next to the door, with a gold "Yang" embroidered over the left breast. Blake's smile faded slightly at Yang's nickname, less in anger and more in exasperation. If it were anyone else, Blake might've taken offense at the words, but Yang was known for her nicknames. She never meant any ill by them.
So, the feline faunus settled on shrugging her shoulders. "Nothing exciting, if that's what you're asking." She droned. One thing Blake Belladonna was known for was her indifferent attitude towards everything. There was very little that got to the black-haired girl, and if it did, she was an expert at hiding it.
Yang chuckled at the words, slipping into her 'uniform.' "So, the usual?" Yang countered, her voice a flat tone that she usually didn't use. It was something that she had acquired over her years knowing Blake. The dark-haired girl gave her a short nod. Yang sighed. "Okay, then."
Yang stepped out to do her first scan of the store, looking for any books that might be misplaced, or any trash a person may have left behind. However, as soon as she stepped out, her eyes once again found the woman in white.
It wasn't that there was anything particularly special about this person, whoever they were. It was just that the patrons here were usually very…camouflaged. They blended into the surroundings, usually not standing out. This person wasn't blending in at all. It was almost as if they wanted to be noticed.
It only took Yang a few minutes to check the store over, only finding one book out-of-place. She put it back where it belonged, and then returned to the counter. When she wasn't keeping things in order, she usually ran the cash register. It was just as easy as it looked; scan the item being checked out, put in how much the person was paying, and give them the change the computer said to give them.
Thirty minutes went by like this. All but one of the patrons had left, the white patron. They were reading a book, and from the three they had gathered, it was likely that they weren't leaving anytime soon. Or rather, they weren't leaving of their own accord anytime soon. Yang's shift today was from 3 to 8, and at 8, the store closed for the night. So, they had around four and a half more hours to complete their books, or to buy them and leave.
Around 2pm, Blake stepped out from the back, handing Yang a small plate of fries. It was fairly common for the blonde to enjoy a snack while working, since she usually didn't get a proper lunch break, and that it didn't interfere with her work. Blake noticed the lone patron and sighed. "She's still here?" The faunus asked, taking a seat on a small stool behind the counter.
Yang shrugged. "You know who she is?" She asked, grabbing two fries and tossing them into her mouth.
Blake gave Yang an odd look. "You don't know who that is?" She asked, her voice somewhere between disbelief and disdain.
The blonde caught the slight resentment in Blake's normally reserved voice. "Should I?" She questioned, her own voice confused.
The faunus sighed, and leaned closer. "That's Weiss Schnee." She said, her voice barely above a whisper. Yang had to strain to hear her, and she wasn't sure she heard right. However, Blake nodded, reinforcing what she had said.
You had to live under a rock to not know the name Schnee. They were big name business tycoons in Vale. They ran the Schnee Electric Company, a world-wide producer and distributor of energy. They were one of the largest companies on Remnant.
Yang knew who the Schnee's were, but she only knew them by name. The Belladonna's, however, had a slightly more intimate relationship with the Schnee's. In fact, just about every faunus did. The Schnee had, at one point, used faunus laborers to mine the various fuels that they used to produce energy. Conditions for these workers were below terrible, and the mortality rate was nearly 60%.
Blake's family was vocal supporters of the White Fang party, a political group that had fought for faunus rights for the last ten years. Since then, conditions in labor camps had gone up, but seeing as there still were labor camps, it was hardly seen as a victory.
Yang looked back to the woman she now knew as Weiss, then gave a small frown. "What's she doing here?" Yang asked, not trying to hide the confusion in her voice.
Blake shrugged, her face slightly torn in a frown. "I have no idea." She said simply, not hiding her disdain. "Father told me to treat her like any other customer." A small growl. "She doesn't deserve it, if you ask me."
The blonde gave Blake a worried look. "What do you mean?" She asked, her voice careful. She knew what Weiss's family, what the Schnee's, had done, but there had been nothing to say that Weiss was directly involved with it. And besides, compared to most faunus, Blake had a practically heavenly childhood.
The faunus frowned deeper, crossing her arms over her chest. "She's a Schnee. That's enough." There was an unnatural venom in the calm girl's voice, something that unnerved Yang. "Besides, I've heard she's nothing but a bitch."
Yang chuckled, less at Blake's use of the word 'bitch' and more at the way she said it. Normally, Blake was very eloquent, especially when she was insulting somebody. For her to resort to simply calling someone a 'bitch' was almost childish.
"You sound like Ruby." Yang quipped, leaning over the counter and resting her hand on her palms. "You know, expect for the 'bitch' part."
The black-haired girl flared slightly pink at the words, her anger subsiding slightly. Yang chuckled again at Blake's reaction, turning to face where Weiss was sitting.
For a few moments, nothing happened. Weiss continued to read, the book in her hands becoming more lopsided as time went on. The sky outside started darkening, a sign that rain was likely on its way. The distant sound of thunder rumbled in the air, a foreboding sound that seemed to set the pedestrians outside into a slightly more panicked mode. They started moving with more purpose, hoping to take shelter before the skies opened up on them.
It was then that Weiss moved, the first proper motion that Yang had seen her make since arriving. The white-haired girl looked around momentarily before her eyes fell on the pair behind the counter. She gave them a hard look, as if demanding one of them to assist her with whatever she needed.
Blake gave the white-haired girl an automatic smile, but Yang could see the strain behind it. The blonde chuckled. "Don't bite." She trailed, getting the desired glare. As Blake headed to help Weiss with whatever the heiress had wanted, Yang watched on. She wasn't the most versed at reading lips, but Blake seemed to act professionally throughout the exchange.
That professionalism faded when Weiss returned to her book and Blake was returning to the counter. There was an almost distasteful look in the faunus's eyes. Yang chuckled again. "So, what's the princess want?" She asked in a teasing tone.
Blake's frown deepened at the words. "A salad." She groaned without restraint, although not loud enough to attract attention to herself. "Nothing complicated, but she acted like I've never made one before."
Yang couldn't help but smirk. "Perhaps she's actually seen your cooking…" The blonde trailed, her voice indicating her tease. The faunus simply continued to frown, her 'amber look of death' that Yang had seen several times. "Well, go on. You don't want the ice queen out there getting mad."
Blake sighed, heading into the back to prepare Weiss's salad. Yang, meanwhile, continued to watch the girl. From what she could see, the white-haired girl wasn't reading slowly. In fact, she was almost done with the book in her hands. So, either she was a fast reader, or she had started at a much later point than Yang had thought.
A few moments later, Blake poked her head out of the kitchen. "Make yourself useful." She said flatly, handing Yang a black plate covered in greens, yellows, and reds.
The blonde looked between the plate and her friend with stunned confusion. "What the hell?" She asked in a low voice. "Why won't you do it?"
Blake sighed. "Just do it, you slouch." She demanded. "You're not doing anything but standing around, anyway." She added with a small hint of humor.
Yang frowned. "Well, this isn't my job." She motioned to the salad in her hands. "Besides, you're the one who took the order."
The words didn't work as well as Yang hoped they would. "And you've been staring at her since you showed up." Blake countered, her voice taking on a teasing tone. It wasn't often one had the chance to tease the great Yang Xiao Long, and, to be honest, Blake enjoyed being able to do that.
Yang's gaze narrowed at the dark-haired faunus. However, when Blake refused to relent, the blonde sighed. "Fine, I'll do it, you wimp." She droned, turning on her heel and approaching the heiress.
As she reached the white-haired girl's earshot, Weiss turned around, sensing the new presence, allowing Yang to look at the woman with more detail. The first thing that Yang noticed was the line of slightly pink skin above and below her left eye. The eyes themselves were turquoise, framed by a pair of red reading glasses. They were also slightly narrowed, as if scrutinizing the blonde.
"Where's the other girl?" She asked, her voice slightly annoyed, but only passively so. She barely gave a second look to the salad that Yang was holding.
Yang's eyebrow raised slightly, a small smirk on her face. "Well, Blake's a bit…shy." The words were said with a brief tease in them, but Weiss wouldn't catch the friendly jab.
The white-haired girl rolled her eyes, more in annoyance than anything. "Is she really?" Her voice possessed absolutely no intent on believing Yang's words. She set her book aside, clearing a spot on the table for Yang to place the salad.
Yang found her eye twitch slightly at the words. She had met her fair share of racist bigots in her lifetime. Being friends with a faunus came with the same ridicule and hatred that being a faunus generated. Yang didn't mind insults directed towards herself; she wasn't the type of person to care what other people thought of her. However, if the words were directed towards her friends, it was a different story. Insult one of Yang's friends, and you'd better hope you have great insurance. Because you'll need it.
However, an argument with Weiss would likely not end well. She was a customer, and Blake's father had said not to treat her differently. He may not agree with what the heiress had said, but she was still a customer. So, instead, the blonde sucked in every ounce of patience she could, and let out a short sigh, intending on spurring the conversation to a more suitable topic. Besides, it would be a hell of a lot more exciting than just sitting around doing nothing.
"Yeah, totally!" The words were said with typical Yang exuberance, the blonde practically bouncing in place. Her face turned into a smile indicating her intentions. "You should see her when we're actually busy. She hides in the back!"
Weiss let out a controlled breath, clearly getting annoyed with the blonde's antics. "Don't you have a job to do?" She asked, her voice not wavering from its initial tone.
Yang excitedly shook her head. "Not really. I just keep the place clean." She countered. "Besides, there isn't anybody else here." To further her point, she pulled up a chair and sat at the table next to the white-haired girl. "So, what brings you here?" She asked as she sat down, smirk growing at the aghast look on Weiss's face.
The heiress quickly replaced her shock with anger, her eyes narrowing to the point that they were barely slits. "What does that have to do with anything?" She asked, her annoyance becoming more and more palpable as she spoke.
The employee's smirk grew even further. "Nothing. Just making conversation." She answered as if it was the most obvious thing ever. "Besides, I'm just wondering what someone of your stature is doing here." This was added with mild, but genuine, curiosity.
The shorter girl scoffed, her salad still left untouched. "And why would I tell you that?" She countered, her voice losing some of its bitterness. Instead, there was amusement, like she found it funny that Yang was asking her that question.
The blonde's smirk refused to go away, even when Weiss seemed intent on getting it to leave. "Like I said before; conversation." Again, it was obvious, at least to Yang.
The heiress frowned. "It's none of your business what I do with my life." She hissed, grabbing a salad fork and pulling her meal closer to her. "Now, if you don't mind…" She trailed.
Yang shrugged. "I don't." She said easily. Weiss paused, giving the blonde a glare. "What, shy eater?" She asked with a small laugh.
The white-haired girl groaned. "What do you want!?" She set the fork down with a clatter, the sound ringing out in the silent bookstore.
The blonde let out a chuckle. "You're not very observant, are ya?" She commented, her lilac eyes full of humor. "Alright, I'll start." She cleared her throat and sat up straight, the action slightly mocking Weiss's rigid posture. "I'm Yang. Nice to meet you."
Weiss gave the girl a hard look. "You're clearly joking…" She droned. Yang, however, didn't falter, the blonde's posture still mocking her own.
"Nope." The blonde said evenly.
Weiss sighed, pushing the salad to the side. She faced Yang with a slightly annoyed look, one that conveyed that she was losing her patience. "I'm here because I was trying to find some peace and quiet." Her words were low and yet loud. She was almost elegant in her anger, her face scrunching slightly.
Yang smirked. "Quiet, huh?" She repeated the words with her own typical tone. "I don't know much, but I'd think you'd be able to find some quiet at your house." She added, her voice full of humor. "And the salads there would be a helluva lot better than that." She pointed at the salad before Weiss, her voice indicating the jabe she had made.
Weiss's face softened lightly, her eyes turning downward. "You'd be surprised…" She trailed, her voice barely audible.
The blonde heard the words and her face immediately changed. Yang was rash and sometimes loud, but she was extremely protective. She'd help a stranger at the drop of a hat if need be. Weiss's voice was a complete 180 from her original tone, full of solemness. "Trouble in paradise?" Yang asked gingerly.
At the words, Weiss's face hardened again. "It's none of your business." She said shortly. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd rather you leave me alone." With this, she turned to her salad and pulled it before her again, making her intentions abundantly clear.
Yang, seeing that the heiress was done conversing, simply stood up, pushing the chair back to its usual table, and returned to the counter.
Blake had watched on from a distance, her face even as it normally was. "What were you doing?" She asked, her voice matching her face.
The blonde chuckled, sitting on a stool behind the register. "I was trying to chat the ice princess up." She answered evenly. "Not easy, that."
Blake let out a short chuckle. "Told you she's a bitch." She teased, allowing a small smile to appear on her face.
Yang mimicked Blake's chuckle. "She's not pleasant, I'll give you that." She conceded.
The faunus, however, raised an eyebrow, a curious look in her amber eyes. "But…?" She coaxed, noticing the way Yang left her words hanging, whether she meant to or not. The front door opened, several people soaked to the bone stepping inside. The rain they had escaped fell so thickly you could barely see the other side of the street.
Yang propped herself up, ready to assist the newcomers with whatever they might need. However, she spared Blake one last look, her trademarked smirk at it's widest.
"She'd kinda cute."