Jaune swung with reckless abandon at the training drones in the Beacon Academy practice rooms, foolishly forfeiting all of his knowledge in sparring with Pyrrha in a desperate attempt to best the drones with his own strength. Unsurprisingly, the drones easily dodge each and every one of Jaune's strikes, landing a swift and painful counter blow whenever he tried to press his attack.
Despite his endurance and massive aura pool, Jaune was quickly overwhelmed where he collapsed onto his back a broken, sweaty mess of a man. All the drones deactivated upon him reaching below fifty percent aura, followed by a set of surveyor bots flying in and hauling them away into storage. Panting heavily, Jaune allowed his tears to flow freely, thankful of the fact that he was alone so that no one can see him in such a pitiful state.
Gripping his hands in a tight fist, Jaune cursed beneath his breath. Mentally berating himself for making such a stupid decision. Trying to muscle through the fight was a tactical error on his part, and he had no one to blame but himself. He could've utilized everything that he learned from Pyrrha and his friends and won with relative ease, but instead he stubbornly chose not to out of idiotic pride.
He was an Arc. The blood of countless heroes and heroines spanning across several generations coursed through his veins, but the weight of his legacy was often to much for him to bear all at once. He wanted so desperately to forge his own identity amongst the pantheon of his ancestors that he was willing to risk his own steady growth as a hunter just to prove to himself that he was something he wasn't: a hero.
Saving lives and ridding Remnant of the nightmarish Grimm was more important than being a big shot hero, but why couldn't he see that? Why does he constantly torture himself with efforts to fulfill a pipe dream that he knows he could never hope to accomplish? Why does he hold himself back and purposely stunt his own potential? Why couldn't he muster up the confidence to just be himself and move on with his life?
"Sheesh, I'm so pathetic." Jaune muttered as he brought his hands to his face. "I can't even beat these drones on easy mode. I don't even know why I bother anymore..."
As he sulked, a lone figure peering from off in the observation deck watched with watery eyes and a heavy heart. Turning away, the figure leaves the practice room. Leaves to seek help for Jaune Arc and his waning confidence.
Ruby was all alone in her dorm room, resting comfortably on her bed as she buried her face in a good book, giggling uncontrollably every time she turned the page. The rest of her team had all gone out to Vale for a nice relaxing day out on the town, while she chose to stay back and reread for the millionth time perhaps the greatest piece of literature ever produce in the history of Remnant: The Adventures of Captain Underpants.
It is a well known fact that Captain Underpants is a popular children's book, it is an even lesser known fact that Captain Underpants had been banned from several schools across the continent for having questionable content unsuitable for the age group that it was appealing to. But that was all a part of why Ruby loved the series so much. Another would be that the book was downright hilarious to read, and it only got funnier with each time she read it.
She struggled to rein her laughing fits, only to fail miserably with each paragraph she read. The book was worth it's weight in gold, now if only she could get Blake to appreciate it. It was whole heck of a lot better than 'Ninjas of Love' or whatever the heck it was called. A cheesy title does not make up for the fact that it was a lousy romance novel that had an underground fanbase praising its originality and bold blah, blah, blah. Ruby ain't having not of that.
"Oh, Dav Pilkey. How on earth do you do it?" she asked aloud in between giggles. "How do you keep me chuckling like there's no tomorrow?"
As she turned to read the next page, she heard a loud set of knock come from her front door. Setting her book down, she hopped off her bed and ran on over to answer the door. WIth a curt turn of the knob and a swing of the door, Ruby was pleasantly surprised to see that it was Pyrrha who had knocked. However, Ruby's smile waned slightly when she noticed her friend's downcast expression.
"Hey, Pyrrha. Is something wrong?" Pyrrha shuffled in place, sighing heavily before looking Ruby in the eye.
"Can I discuss something with you in private? It's about Jaune." Ruby raised her eyebrow at Pyrrha's request. What happened?
"Sure, come on in. Everyone else is at Vale so it's just us two and the floorboards." Pyrrha nodded and entered, choosing to take a seat on the chair by the desk while Ruby plopped back to her bed.
"So what's wrong with Jaune? Is Cardin still bullying him? Because if he is then I say we should get the go ahead to execute plan N! Plan Nora!" Ruby shouted furiously with a shake of her fist. Pyrrha giggled, her mood lightened a little by the girl's antics.
"No, it's not that, Ruby." Pyrrha sighed again. "I found Jaune at the practice rooms earlier today trying to fight training drones on his own, and he took a pretty bad beating from them."
"Yikes." Ruby winced. " Oh, well. It probably wasn't so bad. He's a tough guy. I sure the only thing that's damaged is his pride."
"I'm afraid that the damage is much more severe than you think, Ruby."
"What do you mean?" Ruby leaned forward against her bed's footboard.
"Jaune's been beating himself over his own abilities, and it's only getting worse. He's slowly losing confidence in himself and if something's not done soon I'm afraid he might start a downward spiral towards a deep depression." Pyrrha looked to the floor. "I want to help him get rid of all his self doubt, I really do, but I don't know what to do."
"Shouldn't we discuss this with Ren and Nora, or with Jaune himself?"
"I tried to talking to Jaune about his problem before. He constantly dodges the question, every time I think I've got him he assures me that everything is fine when really it's not. As for Ren and Nora, I don't like keeping them out in the dark, but it would be preferable if this issue was only known between you and I. Besides, the two are out shopping at the moment. Well, Nora is. Ren is probably there to carry her bags."
"Should we talk to the instructors about it then? Maybe we can get some counseling for him." Ruby suggested.
"I thought about that, but do you think we'll ever get Jaune to agree to it?"
"As his concerned friends, we could alway force him to do it." Ruby grinned mischievously. "Okay, here's what we do. We'll stage an intervention, with him thinking that it's someone's birthday party. When he shows up to the party," she used air quotes, "we tackle him down onto the ground, knock him out and drag his limp body over to where he can get some help with his confidence issue!"
"Or, how about we take things nice and easy and not give Jaune a heart attack by forcing him into something he probably wants no part of." Pyrrha advised.
"Are you sure? It's either that, or talking it out with him." Ruby fell back onto her bed. "Maybe I should try talking to him. If he won't open up to you, his own partner, maybe he'll open up to a fellow leader in training."
"Hmm... We might as well go with option number two. I hope that you have to raise his spirits up since you do seem to have a way with pep talks."
"It has been a while since I gave a rousing speech." Ruby scratched at her chin. "Although, I feel that even if my speech gets to him, there is a chance he could relapse back into a sad sack, and we wouldn't want that. I wonder if there's any way that we can make him see that he isn't a failure?"
Ruby let her mind wander for a few seconds, pondering for a solution to the problem at hand. She needed a way for Jaune to see himself for the intelligent and brave leader he was, but how was she going to do get rid of all his self doubts without it coming back to haunt him again in the near future? She needed both a short term and a long term solution, and she needed it now. But what? What?
Her eyes glanced all around the room, looking for some sort of sign to tell her what she must do. When her eyes skimmed over her books, inspiration struck her like a bolt of lightning from Monty himself.
"I got it!" Ruby exclaimed as the metaphorical light bulb went off above her head.
"What? What is it?" Pyrrha reeled back from Ruby's sudden outburst. Ruby hopped off her bed and ran to the bookshelf where she pulled out a worn book before shoving it right in front of Pyrrha's face. The book was none other than,
"Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman?" Pyrrha raised an eyebrow. "What does this kid's book have to do with Jaune?"
"Duh, it has everything to do with Jaune!"
"It does?" Pyrrha tilted her head.
"Of course it does!" Ruby shook her book and a small cheap looking red plastic ring with a black and white spiral patterned holographic center fell out from its inner pages. It was still wrapped in its original plastic packaging and looked brand spanking new. "Behold, the solution to all our problems! This is the 3-D hypno ring!" she showed it to Pyrrha, who looked perplexed by the small red piece of faux jewelry.
"This little beauty came with the special edition of this book. The main characters in this story used it to hypnotize people for fun. Don't you realize what this means, Pyrrha?" Ruby grinned widely.
"I'm sorry, but, you lost me at Captain Underpants." Pyrrha grinned back weakly. Ruby rolled her eyes.
"It means that if we can't convince Jaune to be more confident in himself, then we can hypnotize him using the 3-D hypno ring into thinking that he really is!" Ruby proclaimed.
"Excuse me?" Pyrrha furrowed her brow. "Can you run that by me again?" Ruby sighed and shook her head at her friends ignorance towards such a genius idea.
"We'll use the 3-D hypno ring to hypnotize Jaune into become the confident leader that he really is, got that?" Ruby spoke slowly and enunciated every little syllable clearly.
"Ruby, don't speak to me like I'm a child." Pyrrha stated firmly, causing Ruby to deflate a little.
"Sorry" Ruby's head drooped.
"It's alright." Pyrrha's expression softened. "But what's not alright is the idea of using hypnotism on Jaune to solve the issue of his insecurities."
"Do you have any better ideas?" Ruby raised her eyebrow.
"No, not at the moment. But do you honestly believe that something as bizarre and unreliable as hypnotism can help Jaune?"
"It's worth a shot, don't you think?" Runy insisted. "Look, if it doesn't work, then we're going to try our hardest to get Jaune some counseling, okay?"
"Um... I'm still not sure. Have you done this sort of thing before? I mean, that does look like a really cheap ring. And I highly doubt that it could be used to hypnotize someone."
"I'm sure it isn't hard." Ruby waved it off. "All I have to do is read the step by step instructions and we'll be good to go! After all, if George and Harold were able to turn their mean principal into a underwear themed superhero, and their nasty teacher into a hair raising villainess that gave people wedgies, then I'm sure we'll be okay!"
"Somehow that doesn't make the idea of hypnotizing Jaune any more pleasant than it already sounds." Pyrrha grimaced.
"That's the spirit!" Ruby gleefully ran over and patted Pyrrha on the back. "Now, go get Jaune while I figure out how to use the ring." As Pyrrha turned to leave, Ruby began to tear open the hypno ring's packaging, and somehow failing entirely to do so. She stretched, she strained, she gnawed vehemently at the plastic wrappings, but to no avail.
"Grr... come on! Open up!"
Jaune trekked down the halls of the school's dormitories, making his way back to his room after getting his butt handed to him on a silver platter by the training drones earlier. His whole body felt heavy as he dragged himself onward, he could practically hear his bones and muscles cry out for the relief of rest with each forced step that he took. He felt terrible, both physically and mentally.
"Well, I got absolutely nothing accomplished today, except getting wailed on by training drones. Go me." Jaune droned on, followed by a yawn shortly after. "Man, I can't wait to just collapse onto my bed and get some sle-"
Jaune nearly jumped out of his skin upon being loudly addressed. Frantically turning around, he was relieved to find out that it was Pyrrha who had called out to him. Pyrrha waved at him as she ran through the halls, to which he waved back lamely.
"Oh. Hey, Pyrrha. How's it going?" Jaune asked with another yawn.
"Fine, fine." Pyrrha replied with a gentle smile. "What about you? You look tired."
"Tired is an understatement, Pyrrha. I'm wiped out." Jaune stretched, hearing the satisfying pops that his bones gave. "I need sleep, and I needed it yesterday."
"I'm heading back to our dorm as well, but I need a little help with something. Do you think you can help me out for a bit?" Pyrrha asked.
"I don't know. I'm really tired, and I just want to get some sleep." Jaune yawned.
"It's just a small experiment that Ruby and I are trying out. We just need you to be our guinea pig for a few minutes." Pyrrha fibbed.
"A guinea pig?" Jaune raised his eyebrow. "This isn't going to hurt, is it?"
"Not at all!" Pyrrha reassured Jaune. "In fact, you'll probably feel a whole lot better in the end. You might even say that you're a changed man."
"Really? Sounds kinda awesome. Lead the way."
Jaune followed Pyrrha all the way back to team RWBY's dorm, albeit sluggishly and with constant yawns escaping the exhausted boys mouth. When he finally reached the door, he entered and saw that Ruby was standing in the center of the room, right next to a lone chair.
"Hi, Jaune!" Ruby greeted. "I'm glad you can make it to our little experiment!"
"I'm happy to help." replied Jaune. He could feel his eyelids droop down but did his best to keep them up. "So, what do you need me to do?"
"Just sit down on the chair." Ruby guided her sleepy friend over. Jaune lazily plopped himself down onto the seat and awaited for the further instruction. "Now, what's going to happen next is that yours truly is gonna hypnotize you." Jaune raised his eyebrow, a look of amusement slowly formed on his face.
"Hypnotize? You're going to hypnotize me?" Jaune chuckled.
"What's so funny?" Ruby pouted.
"It's just, you can't hypnotize me. I'm too smart for this kind of thing to affect me." Jaune heard a snigger come from behind him. He turned around to only find Pyrrha absently checking her nails.
"Oh, really? Well, we'll see if you can or can't be hypnotized when I have you acting like a chicken under my control!"
"Ruby!" Pyrrha scolded the girl. "Stick to the experiment."
"Oh, I'm gonna enjoy this" Jaune smirked.
Ignoring the snide comment, Ruby pulled out the 3-D hypno ring from her pocket and wore it on her right middle finger. After adjust the ring, she reached into her pocket again and pulled out small piece of paper.
"Alright. So it says here that in order to hypnotize someone, show the ring to them and make them look directly at the holographic center. Huh, seems easy enough."
"You're only reading the instructions now?" Pyrrha asked incredulously.
"It was very hard to remove the thing from its stupid packaging, okay!" Ruby cried.
"Um, girls? Can we get a move on with this?" Jaune cut in.
"Oh, right." Ruby blushed before bringing the ring up to Jaune's face. "Step number two; once the recipient is looking directly at the holographic spiral, slowly move the ring back and forth until the recipient enters trance."
Ruby did as the instructions stated and moved the ring back and forth before Jaune, causing to the holographic center to grant the illusion that it was gyrating. Jaune stared at spinning spiral, feeling his mind drift in and out of consciousness as the seconds passed by. Whether it was because he was actually being placed in a trance or if it was because his drowsiness was getting to him he couldn't tell.
Before long, however, Jaune succumbed to his waning consciousness, causing him to shut his eyes and his head to hang low. Ruby let out a silent squeal. She was genuinely excited to see that she was indeed putting Juane under her hypnotic spell, doing her best to contain her excitement. Even Pyrrha was amazed, but unless it all works out in the end then this was nothing more than a waste of time.
"I can't believe it, it's working!" Ruby smiled widely before looking over her instruction again. "Okay, step three; once the recipient enters a trance, issue a command and then determine a switch for the recipient to abide by. Huh?" Ruby looked perplexed, turning to Pyrrha. " What's a switch?"
"I think it's way to get the hypnotized to do what they were ordered to." said Pyrrha.
"Oh, okay then." Ruby turned back to Jaune. "Jaune Arc, listen to the sound of my voice. When I tap you on your head, you shall be more confident in yourself. You will no longer look down on yourself, and have a greater outlook on life than you once had. Is that clear?" Jaune's unconscious form mumbled something beneath his breath. "I'll take that as a yes. Ahem, then by the power invested in me, I declare the old Jaune Arc no more than a distant memory!"
Ruby then lightly tapped Jaune on his head, expecting for the boy to arise a new man. Both she and Pyrrha waited, and waited, but nothing happened.
"Uh... let's try that again." Ruby scratched at the back of her head nervously. "By the power invested in me, I declare the old Jaune Arc no more than a distant memory!" she shouted much more vigorously than before, but tapping Jaune lightly on the head again. Again, no reactions. "Hey! What's going on here? I followed the instructions, so why isn't this working?"
"Ruby, are you sure you followed all the steps?" Pyrrha asked.
"Pyrrha, there were only three steps on the instruction sheet." Ruby deadpanned.
"Then clearly you must've done something wrong."
"You don't know that." Ruby defended.
Just as Pyrrha was about to retort, a low sound rumbled through the room. The girls were startled at first, but upon locating the source of the sound they found out that it was just Jaune, and that he was snoring. Jaune was fast asleep, and by extension, it looked like any attempt at hypnotizing him had failed.
"It didn't work." Pyrrha looked over Jaune, snapping her finger in front of him. The only response she received was more snoring. "Yep, he's out like a light. Sleep finally got to him it seems. Sorry, Ruby. I guess hypnotism really was a crazy as it sounded."
"Darn it. And I was so sure my plan was going to work." Ruby huffed, crossing her arms in displeasure.
"I'm sorry, Ruby. I'll go see Dr. Oobleck tomorrow to get some counseling for Jaune then. Come on, grab his legs, I'll take his arm. You're helping me bring him back to our dorm." Pyrrha reached on over and picked up Jaune's body, while Ruby did the same. Together they carried him out of team RWBY's dorm and back into team JNPR's, where they tucked him into bed and left as quietly as they could as not to disturb the sleeping boy.
"I know Oobleck is a doctor and all, but do you think he's really qualified for this kind of thing? I mean the man speaks at a million miles a second, and he's always going off on a tangent..." As Ruby's voice faded away, Jaune began to stir in his sleep. A splitting headache struck him hard and he began to writhe in bed, feeling something inside him change. For better or for worse...
The very next morning was full of hustle and bustle within the cafeteria as students poured in to receive the most important meal of the day. Team RWBY and the NPR portion of team JNPR were all seated and enjoying breakfast, idly chatting with each other before they took notice of a familiar mop of blonde hair belonging to their friend strolling down the aisles with his head held high, his chest puffed out, and a noticeable spring in his step.
Each step that Jaune took towards his friends was strong, measured, and full of enthusiasm for this brand new day. While the others simply brushed off Jaune's joyfulness as waking up on the right side of the bed, Pyrrha and Ruby were left awestruck by how all traces of his self-depreciating ways had faded away overnight. It was almost as though...
"Yes!" Ruby jumped up from her seat, earning a few stares from the people around her. Supressing a blush she slowly sank back into her seat, chuckling weakly as she did so. "They uh... have my favorite brand of orange juice. Heh, heh..." She turned over and inconspicuously whispered to Pyrrha. "My hypnosis worked! Jaune's cured."
"I-I can see that." Pyrrha whispered back before blinking, making sure that what she was seeing was true. "Look at him, he's like a guy version of Nora." She involuntarily dry heaved. "Ugh, I can't believe I just made that comparison."
"Hola compadres, how's everyone doing today?" He asked cheerily with an odd latin accent gracing his voice.
"Probably not a good as you are vomit boy," Yang sized Jaune up, "where is all this confidence coming from? Did someone inject you with a syringe full of liquid sunshine?"
"Honestly, I don't know. I just woke up this morning and felt like I could take on the whole day." Jaune smiled a smile so bright it was damn near blinding. Shielding themselves from the overwhelming glare of the smile, Weiss was the first to break away from the light and speak up.
"So now I guess this is the part where you try to ask me out again with another one of your idiotic one liners." Weiss remarked rather coldly. "When are you going to get it through your thick skull that I'm not interested in you, you troglodyte."
"Me, with you? Never." Jaune's smile morphed into one of mild contempt. "Not even my passion, which burns with the white hot intensity of a thousand sun would I ever hope to melt away such a frigid exterior. Although, I'd love to see the man that's willing to pair themselves with such a cold woman. He's going to need a heat pack in his pants once he's through dancing the horizontal flamenco with you."
With that said, the area around the table became deathly silent. Jaune Arc, the man who was known all over campus as the knucklehead who was head over heels for the young heiress, just denied his love for her. Not only that. he openly expressed his displeasure as to why he would never want to be with the girl. To say that many were shocked was a major understatement.
"Whoa, whoa. Is this a dream? Am I dreaming?" Yang asked aloud, pinching herself in the cheek. "Did vomit boy just blow off Weiss?"
"I think he just did." Blake commented with wide eyes. "Yang, pinch me too."
Weiss lost her voice. She wanted to speak, to viciously berate the boy before her for speaking the unspeakable to an heiress of the Schnee family name. But the shock was still in her system, and all she could do at the moment was turn red in anger.
"H-how dare you!" Weiss angrily rebuked. "Are you saying that I'm not good enough for you!? You are beneath me, Arc! I stand atop the highest mountain in society that you could never hope to reach ever! You're not good enough for me!"
"Hmm... In a way, you are right. But know that my passion is an unquenchable fire that cannot be smoted. A bright star that illuminates the darkness, and guides the lost towards their path." Jaune stated firmly. "My burning love is only reserved for the one I would willingly give my life for. You, miss Schnee, are not the one."
"...Wow, Jaune. That was preety deep." Nora uttered. "When did you get all philosophical and stuff?"
"Jaune? Who is Jaune?" Jaune asked.