It's here… wow. Just to let you all know, Forged Destiny will have a trailer released today in the form of a prologue chapter. It will be shorter than the average chapter, but it's more a way for people to find and follow it if you're interested. It's planned as a Ruby x Jaune Lancaster fic, something I consider rare on this site.
Then again, back when this fic began, Blake x Jaune was also a rare pairing.
Cover Art: Kegi Springfield
Beta: Super Saiyan Cyndaquill
"Will you be okay?"
"I'll be fine. I always am."
"Are you sure? I can cancel this if you want me to."
"Shouldn't I be the one to ask you that?" Blue eyes drifted shut as a hand came out to stroke his cheek. Her skin was soft and warm against his, and he leaned into it. "You've been looking forward to this for over a month, Jaune. Don't back out now." The warm hand left him, and with its absence his eyes opened once more.
Blake shifted before him, lifting the young child on her arm further up her shoulder. Her other hand came beneath him, to better support the weight. She rolled her bright gold eyes at Jaune, a faint smile in place as she watched him watch her.
"You're doing the staring thing again."
"I have an excuse," he walked forward to wrap his arms around her, trapping the young boy between them as he leaned down to kiss her waiting lips. "You're beautiful."
"So you always say," she chuckled as they parted. He missed the warmth immediately but knew that if he didn't do so, he would never leave. His eyes roved hungrily across her body, devouring the sight of her crinkled and over-large shirt – one of his, in fact – and her long, toned legs. She'd grown older, but only more beautiful. Where once she had been lean and bony, she was now full figured and soft. Her face a little more mature, but still that of the girl he'd fallen in love with. "You hardly need to worry about me. I won't be going on any hunts for at least a few weeks. The most dangerous thing I'll be facing is boredom."
"And lack of sleep," Jaune nodded down at the young child in her arms, almost two years of age and little Russet had just started learning to walk. Which opened up its own set of problems… a mobile child was a suicidal child. "Will you be alright looking after him on your own?"
"I won't be on my own," Blake grinned and tilted her head to the side, "We're having a bit of a reunion in your absence, so it'll be me and rest of RWBY looking after him."
Jaune sighed, "And getting drunk, causing trouble and making a mess… no wonder you're so eager for me to head off."
"And don't come back for at least fourteen days," she reached up to kiss him once more, and yet again he found himself trying to push for more. "No," she pushed him back, "if we start that then you'll never go. I might have a surprise waiting for you when you return."
Jaune's pulse raced as his entire frame straightened. If he'd been a dog faunus then his ears would have shot up, but even without that his excitement was obvious. Surprises were good. Surprises from Blake were very good. Her taste in literature hadn't changed in twenty years – and that was definitely a good thing.
"I'd best leave then," Jaune teased. "Look for my coming on the fourteenth day," she winced and hit his arm for the dirty pun. "How about you, squirt? Give your old man a hug before he goes to save the world?"
Russet opened his little blue eyes, arms sleepily reaching out for his daddy. They couldn't fit around Jaune's broad frame, but he pressed his face against the toddler regardless, feeling his boy's hands rub against his rough cheeks. That cute, little face scrunched up a second later, nose twitching agitatedly.
"Stop that," Blake sighed and batted his hand away from the child's cute, little cat ears. Black like Blake's, and atop a messy mop of raven hair, they twitched one way then the other. "You and ears… I swear if I ever lost them in an injury you'd be out the door."
"To find the one who did it, maybe. I can't promise they'd survive." His eyes strayed to the clock once more, teeth biting at his lower lip. "I could stil-"
"Hey!" The front door of their house slammed open, making them all jump as a tall figure bounced into the room. "Blake! I'm here and I've brought the-" lilac eyes widened, "the totally-not-booze," the blonde woman said as she hid a crate of something behind her back. It wasn't very convincing.
"Ya-Ya," Russet held his arms out towards the woman, who dropped the crate and her own bag on the floor and rushed over.
"That's right! Oh my little sweetie, it's your auntie Yang!" Blake rolled her eyes but let the excited woman steal her child and throw him in the air. Russet chirped happily, sounding more like a bird than a cat. His vocabulary wasn't extensive enough to say much more… relegating people to Da-da, Ma-ma, Ya-ya, Wa-wa and Ra-ra. That was always a fun experience when Ren and Ruby were in the same room.
"Yang, your boots," Blake sighed. Yet again the blonde hadn't bothered to take her boots off and had tracked mud into the house… as she always did. "You know what, never mind. You're cleaning that up later."
"I always do," Yang grinned, missing the point entirely. The woman's large, brown jacket was thrown off, the heavy boots kicked to land atop it as she settled on the floor with the toddler. Left in nothing but her baggy cargo pants and tight shirt, she laid back with Russet held above her. "Anyway, why you still here vomit-man? Weren't you supposed to be gone like an hour ago?"
"The usual," Blake answered before he could. "I'm just finishing convincing him I won't spontaneously combust in his absence." Jaune sighed and rolled his eyes at the two's teasing. But he got the point.
"I love you," he whispered as he leaned in to kiss her once more, feeling her arms wrap around his neck. They ignored Yang's fake vomit sounds. "Be safe."
"I might love you," his wife teased back. Jaune laughed, reaching down to rub his son's hair and grab his bags. With a quick look back he saw her watching, arms crossed and still dressed in little more than an oversized shirt. It was something he'd come back to, once things were sorted elsewhere.
"Funny," he called before he finally left, making sure to catch Yang's attention as well as Blake's. "Last night you left off the maybe. Then again, you were a lot louder last night too."
"Oooh, Blakey!" Jaune grinned as he closed the door. The sound of Yang's excited teasing fading away. It was always hard to leave… but Remnant turned and days passed. And returning home was a wonderful feeling in itself.
Absence made the heart grow fonder.
Absence made Blake grow much fonder.
For all that some things changed, others remained the same. As the Bullhead sat down and he staggered out of its confines, the spires and peaks of Beacon welcomed him. A few students looked his way, the next generation, still wearing the same uniform he had once proudly donned.
"Mr Arc." Decades might have passed but Miss Goodwitch still had the presence of a woman used to command. The lines on her face were a little deeper, the hair shimmering with a touch of silver, but she still demanded respect like no other. He almost winced at the fact he still referred to her as Miss Goodwitch. "You are late. I suppose I should have expected this."
"Sorry Glynda," and it was it a monumental force of effort to refer to the Headmistress as that. "I got delayed. I suppose you're here to make sure I don't cause a scene?"
"Hardly a concern on a Saturday," the woman thumbed her glasses further up her nose. "The students are running amok as it stands. I suppose you will want to see your daughter?"
"I do." It had been so long… well, no, it had been about six weeks – but that still felt like an eternity to him. He'd never considered that, the effects of a boarding school on a family. It was hard to let go of the girl he'd bounced on his knees not so long ago.
Glynda, for he would force himself to refer to her as that, led him through the halls of Beacon. Little details had changed, new carpets, different coloured walls. He lapped them up with rapt attention, scenes of young teenagers replaced by he and his friends running amok, causing trouble. Those days were gone now. Replaced with something different and yet not altogether worse. It was not in Beacon that the messes were now caused, but more often in his living room. One day it might by a hungover Yang crashed on his couch. Another it might be Pyrrha bleeding into his bed, with him the ever-present nurse. Ruby had still managed to spill wine on an important dignitary at one of Weiss' special dinners… so much had changed, yet so much stayed the same.
He wouldn't have had it any different.
"How is your new Deputy settling in?" Jaune asked, more to break the silence than for anything else. Glynda's eyes shone, a rare smile spreading across her face. It had students who had once walked towards them turn and walk away. He felt the urge to flee too.
"Wonderfully," she whispered. "I will admit that I had my doubts at first but after two years here I cannot imagine running the Academy without him. His effect on the students has been marked, his drive incredible. I'll have to thank you for vouching for him."
Jaune's eyes were flat, "Cardin is brutalising the students… isn't he?"
"Mr Winchester," she corrected, "expects much from his students." She paused to point out a window, to where a bulky man stood in the middle of a grassy training field. From such a distance there was not much that could be made out, but Jaune recognised the silver armour, the rich crimson cloak he wore over the top, clasped to his breast with a hard-earned medal. Not the ones they had received from Magnis… no one dared wear those. No one could bring themselves to. But Cardin had his fair share of accolades… too many.
"He needed some place to settle down," Jaune sighed. "Mission to mission, one disaster zone to another. I don't think he ever recovered from Magnis. People called him a hero but to me I could only see a man looking to die. One who wanted to sell his life for the highest price in Grimm lives."
"War changes us all. He spends an hour of every day at the monument, nothing can change that. It gets worse towards the anniversary of that date." She shook her head and smiled, "That said, Mr Lark and Mr Bronzewing always appear on the day. As if by magic, without warning, and I lose my Deputy for the day." She didn't sound mad. "He always comes back happier, more whole."
A team stood together. Jaune understood that. How could he not?
"Is there a reason a few of the students running around him are currently on their knees throwing up?" Even from here he could feel their agony, hands clutched to her stomachs as they retched and slumped against the grass.
Glynda looked far too pleased. "Mr Winchester is hosting detentions. He managed to convince me that time spent in isolation serves no purpose, but that an opportunity to understand their limits and improve their physique would pay dividends. I must say, I really am pleased with the decision to hire him."
Jaune laughed, the sound nervous. He'd have hated to have Cardin as his teacher… but he knew the man. There would be no cruelty in it, no hate. Make them suffer now so that they never had to watch a teammate torn away from them. No one had taught them their limits… not until they had been forced to push past them. And so many had died because of that.
"He particularly despises racism," Glynda's words caught his ears. "Your daughter had one or two problems early on… but they soon learned to aim their hate at a different target. And their fear."
"I'll have to send him a gift basket." She'd never told him she was being bullied… hah, who was he kidding. What child told their parent that? He'd have been in Beacon within the hour, Crocea Mors in hand. Maybe it was for the best Cardin had handled it, actually. "How is she doing in class? She tells me everything is cool and fine, but I can never get details out of her."
"Welcome to parenthood Mr Arc." It seemed a little incongruous for her to say that since she didn't have her own, but he supposed she had more experience with kids than he. "She is doing well. Her theory could use work but she scores highly. Her combat is top-notch; she's been trained well. Miss Belladonna's style, if I'm not mistaken?" Jaune grumbled something. "A sore spot?"
"No, no, it's fine…" Totally not a sore spot that she'd wanted a weapon like her mum's. Definitely not sore that she'd called Gambol Shroud cool but dad's sword dorky. Definitely not sore that it had happened after his darling wife coincidentally showed off what she could do for about a week while he'd been on a mission. Or that she'd rubbed it in ever since! "Definitely not sore," his teeth ground together. Sneaky, ex-terrorist, manipulative wife…
If Russet decided he wanted to become a Hunter, then Jaune would have to get his own back. Just because her weapon was a gun, sword, ribbon thing… the traditional tools were awesome too. He could feel his pout breaking through.
But it was washed aside once he saw her.
She didn't see him. Too focused talking with three other people. People he could barely pay attention to once his eyes locked onto her light blonde hair, falling down her back in waves. Or her tufted little golden ears. Glynda could only sigh as he pushed past her, knowing she couldn't stop him.
"Nicola!" he cried, startling the girl as she spun to face him. Amber eyes widened, mouth dropping open.
"D-Da-" she got no further as his arms wrapped around her, drawing his darling girl into his chest. Muffled protests died in his jacket, her hands pushing against his shoulders as she tried to break free.
"It's so good to see you!" he whispered into her hair. "I missed you so much."
"Dad," she whined, "Stop! Not in front of my team!" She bucked and fought, but he simply brought one hand up to rub her ears. There was a shudder in his arms before she went slack, burying her face into his chest and letting out a small, contented sound. Someone sniggered, and then his beautiful daughter was a hellcat once more. "Let go, you're embarrassing me, stop it! Arghhh! Don't rub them, stop that!" She slapped his hands away, breaking free with a red face and horrific pout. The three that must have been her team stood awkwardly nearby. Two girls and one boy, the boy and girl sniggered into their hands, the final bespectacled girl watched in silence.
"Sorry," he chuckled and rubbed the back of his head. "It's just been so long. I missed you. We all did."
Nicola Arc shuffled, eyes downcast, "I missed you both too," she whispered – so quiet he barely heard it. Before her volume increased, "But you can't just appear in my school and pet me like I'm some kind of domesticated animal!"
Jaune blinked. "But you always like that at home," he noticed her eyes widen but thought nothing of it. "You always come and lay down in my lap and ask me t-"
"Daaaaaaad," his daughter's face had somehow become even redder as her hand affixed over his lips, "Stop talking, please…"
"I could rub your ears if you ever get homesick," the young man on her team offered.
"Walk off a cliff and die!" His suddenly cattish daughter growled. "Ugh… okay, this is my dad Jaune Arc," eyes widened, "and yes – hero of Magnis, slayer of dragons, things like that." Jaune rolled his eyes. While he wasn't exactly proud of his achievements and titles, he couldn't help but wish his daughter had been a little more impressed. "And dad, this is my team. The quiet one is our leader Rebecca," the bespectacled girl nodded but didn't speak. "The loud girl is my partner Teal."
"Nicola never told me her dad was so hot," the brown-haired girl said shamelessly, getting a fierce hiss from his daughter. "If you have any embarrassing stories about her childhood, I would really appreciate hearing them. Or receiving pictures."
"And this twat is Onyx."
"Hi," if he was upset about being referred to as a twat, then he hid it well, walking up to shake Jaune's hand. The kid had a good grip, one with a few calluses. "You're Nicola's dad?"
"I have that pleasure," Jaune hugged her close, even as she fidgeted to escape.
"Then I would like to formally ask permission to court your daughter!" The kid was brave too, Jaune would give him that. He'd have drawn Crocea Mors if it wasn't for his daughter knocking the boy off his feet first.
"In your dreams!" Nicola howled, standing above him.
"Every night," the boy whimsically replied, getting a shoe to the face for the effort.
"Are you my daughter's boyfriend?" Jaune asked, fighting down the urge to cause violence. His girl was growing up, she was experimenting, it was normal… he'd met Blake younger than she was right now. There was nothing wrong with the idea of her having a boyfriend… except for fucking everything!
"No," his daughter growled.
"It's a work in progress," the boy replied. Another kick, another groan from him. Looked like his daughter's team was an interesting one. He'd have to invite them over to meet Blake during the holidays or something. Then he could take some time to get to know this guy a little better, maybe make sure he was suitable for his darling.
"Stop that," Nicolas whirled on him, amber eyes narrowed. "I know that expression. Stop it! If you're about to follow up with how Jupiter is coming to Beacon soon, and how I should get to know him more, then you can keep it to yourself."
Jaune winced, "Come on sweetie, you know Jupiter has the biggest crush on you."
"He has a crush," she sighed, "because Auntie Weiss and you, and just about everyone, have practically raised him to have one! Just because you and Weiss want the Schnee and Arc family name to be joined, doesn't mean I get to do it." Okay, maybe they were a little guilty there… it wasn't like they had intended to push them together, it had just seemed like a cute idea if the two had developed feelings. Poor Jupiter… then again, if he grew up to have any of his dad's charm, then maybe his little daughter would be won over in time.
"Ahem," the pointed cough from Glynda had him pause in his tracks. "I hate to rush this along, but your flight is likely already waiting."
"Another expedition?" Nicola guessed, getting a nod from him. "Bring me back a souvenir."
Where the hell am I supposed to find a gift shop in the bloody Grimmlands? Her expression said she'd accept no excuses. He sighed but nodded. It would be awkward, but maybe he could jump our as they came back over Vale and grab her something. Damn demanding daughters… damn his inability to say no to her. Her or Blake.
"It was nice to meet you all," he nodded and smiled to each of her teammates, before turning to the silent girl. "Will you look after my daughter for me?" The girl blinked, surprised that he had even addressed her. There was a brief moment of silence, before a small, hesitant smile shimmered into view.
"I will," she whispered, barely audible.
"Make sure to call your mother," Jaune reminded as he left, just catching his embarrassed daughter comment how she was going to tell on him for humiliating her. Eh… it wasn't like Blake wouldn't have fully expected it. One of the few joys of being a parent.
It was always worth it.
He was marking papers behind a desk when Jaune walked into the room. "You're late." He said. Jaune rolled his eyes.
"I've been told that enough times today. I don't need to hear it from you." A chair scraped back, the figure rising from the desk. Jaune strode forward, arms outstretched. The two met in the middle, hands slapping against one another's backs.
"It's good to see you Jaune," Lie Ren laughed.
"You don't visit enough," Jaune replied, holding his friend and teammate. The man was a little taller, his hair having grown out to come down to the middle of his back. But those bright pink eyes still shone, and but for the slightest limp as he walked, the signs of Magnis had faded.
"Perils of being a teacher," his friend sighed, "even when I get a holiday I end up with coursework to mark and lessons to plan. Nora dropped by a week or so ago to drag me out though. We went on a short hunt."
"Without my permission," Glynda sighed. The way she said it told him it might have been a regular thing. Something she'd given up on trying to stop. That was Nora for you… now with only one eye, still an absolute force of nature.
"You told me you had a surprise on this run?" Jaune prompted. Ren's eyes widened as a wide smile took over his face.
"I do," he nodded, briskly walking to his desk and drawing out some documents. "Oobleck and I were speaking with Councillor Ozpin about those ruins we found the last time, the ones that showed signs of human writing?" Jaune nodded to show he remembered, the familiar tint of childish excitement rushing through him. What a find, a building in the Grimmlands. Proof that there had once existed civilisation out there. The old Doctor Oobleck never came with them, he was too old for that now. But he was their chief researcher upon coming home, the man in touch with them over radio the entire time – and eager to explore and study whatever they returned.
"And?" Jaune asked, "Don't leave me hanging here Ren."
He laughed, "And Ozpin was interested. That passed onto the rest of the Council, which then got into contact with Atlas. General Ironwood sent Winter Schnee to discuss… it all went crazy from there."
"The details? Ren please, the details!"
"We have funding," the black-haired man rolled his eyes. "A lot of funding. We're also not going alone this time. Winter Schnee aside, we're escorting a hundred Atlesian soldiers and a bunch of archaeologists. With a Hunter escort, of course."
"Huh," Jaune blinked, trying to imagine it. "That many people will be hard to hide."
"We were practically swimming in Grimm the last time," Ren rolled his eyes. "I don't think we could have attracted more."
"Touché." The ruin had been unusually packed with exotic and rare Grimm. Not that it had been a problem for the two of them. In fact, Winter's summons could save them some effort. Plus, with the funding they'd be able to explore further… not to mention all the supplies they could bring. Jaune's hands tingled. This was going to be their biggest one yet, they could discover so much!
"And now you share in the excitement I've been feeling for a week," his best friend grinned. "There's even going to be someone to chronicle it all. Apparently they want to make a documentary of our efforts."
"Oh great," Jaune rolled his eyes. "More fame… maybe another title for my daughter to consider uncool."
"Hey," Ren patted his arm sympathetically. "For what it's worth, I don't think the title of Dragon Slayer is ill-deserved or pretentious at all." Jaune glared. Even as his friend burst out laughing. Damn tabloids…
Twenty years. So much had passed in that time. They were adults now, old and with families of their own. Ren and he watched from before their Bullhead as uniformed men and women carried crates of supplies into large vehicles. The excavation team was already prepared. They would set off from Beacon. He could even see Winter, older and with more rank to her name, barking out orders to her soldiers. Students watched curiously, eager and curious to see what the ruckus was all about.
Ren tapped his earpiece, the voice of Bartholomew Oobleck faint to Jaune's ears, even as his teammate sent back a reply. The anticipation was high. It always was.
His scroll beeped and vibrated, prompting him to draw it forth. An image presented itself, of Blake and the rest of Team RWBY, but also with Nora and Pyrrha in the background. They were all waving and smiling, but for Blake who had made a small heart-shape with her thumb and fingers for him. The house-party was in full effect, it seemed. He showed it to Ren, who shook his head and made some quip about the mess his home would be in afterwards.
Jaune took one in return. Ren and he side by side, with the caption "Adventurers" beneath it.
Something blonde slammed into him.
"Be careful," his daughter whispered into him. If her face had been red before, then it was Ruby Rose Red right now. No doubt she could hear the whispered comments from the students. "I love you."
"I love you too," he whispered back. "And I'll be fine. Hell, we're going with an army this time."
"I know," she snuggled deeper, this time allowing him to rub her ears as she sighed. "It's just that you're getting old. I don't want you to get in trouble."
Kids… Jaune's eye twitched. He was thirty-nine… that wasn't old. When he came back he'd need to show her just how old he was, by knocking her round the training field until she was black and blue. Maybe Cardin had the right idea after all.
"I shall look after your old man, Nicola." Ren promised, no doubt enjoying the metaphorical storm clouds over Jaune's head. He wasn't old… he was mature. Besides, you were only as old as you acted…
Nicola nodded and gave him one final hug, tighter than any other. He pressed a kiss to her scalp, right between her ears before she backed away. She didn't walk back to her team. Instead she fled, face fit to burst into flame.
"She's worked really hard for the quiet, cool girl image too," Ren laughed. "I think she was trying to emulate her mother. Yet now she's showing her Jaune side more than ever."
"I suppose that's my Semblance," Jaune sniggered. "The ability to make quiet cat-faunus girls show their emotions. I can't say I'm disappointed." The Bullheads whirred to life, the crowds cheered their goodbyes. Jaune turned to Ren. "Are we ready to go?"
"Not yet," the black-haired man replied, digging in his backpack. Jaune blinked as a small, brown, paper bag sick-was pushed into his hands. "Now we're ready." He laughed and ducked Jaune's swing, the two climbing into the vehicle together as the years washed off them. He almost thought he could see Ren as a seventeen-year-old once more, the two laughing and chatting as they strapped themselves in for the journey to come.
Time had passed. Magnis was a memory of the past, albeit one that would never quite leave. But in some way he didn't want it to, either. As he caught the gaze of Cardin Winchester in the crowd, the man nodded meaningfully – and Jaune waved back.
So many had died. So many had given their lives so that others might live… so that the younger generation might live. They'd had dreams of their own, families and children of their own that they had been forced to leave behind.
But now it was Jaune's generation which protected those children while they grew. The Hunters of old may have fallen, but those who survived had taken up that mantle of responsibility. It only made sense.
Those soldiers, those Hunters, those heroes… they had all fought so that Jaune and his friends might live in a world free of fear.
And so too would he fight, so that the children of those who had fallen could live that life.
One good turn deserves another.
Cries a little. It's over. Ends are so hard, yet a story needs to have one… there were so many thoughts in my head telling me to continue, that I could write more. And yet every part of me knows that a good story must come to an end.
And this was my first. Wow. Looking back, I made all sorts of mistakes – especially early. Things like "grim" instead of "Grimm", getting names wrong – incorrect details. I only learned because reviewers took the effort to correct me and helped me grow. And I kept getting better because of those same people, you guys, who prompted me to keep writing. Whose expectations for updates kept me putting finger to keyboard.
It's been a journey and a half…. And it's one that won't stop. Not for me, who will keep writing, or for Jaune who will keep living his life with Blake and his two children. Nor for Ren with his research, Oobleck with his archaeology – or Yang with her party life. The world turns and people move on, yet the friends we make last forever. For those who sweat the ages, Nicola is 17, Jaune and Blake 39. No, she wasn't preggers after Magnis, but they solved that quick enough xD
Thanks to my patrons for making this possible, everyone for reading it – and Super Saiyan Cyndaquill for being my beta for the majority of it.
I hope you've enjoyed… and if you've been a silent reader for all this time, then I'd love a quick review here just to let me know how you felt.
And for any who fear – Jaune and Ren come back safe from their expedition. This isn't a "and then they die" ending xD
This is One Good Turn… finished.
P a treon . com (slash) Coeur