So, here it is. The final chapter. Sorry for the wait. I had a lot going on. As with some other chapters, I wasn't entirely sure about how this turned out, but it is how I wanted it to be. It will suffice. If you think its not as good as it could be, I agree, but I don't know how else to articulate what I wanted to. But anyway, read, review and enjoy.
"So… weekend plans?" Ren asked the group, as they sat at their normal table.
"Reeeen!" Nora wailed dramatically, tossing her hands on her stoic teammate's shoulders, "I have extra Stealth and Tracking classes on Friday. Don't leave me! Its so DULL!"
"…and she wonders why she needs to take 'em," Yang chuckled while whispering to Blake, who smiled in response.
"Is it because of the new Spruce Lee movie?" Ruby asked the boy with a look of excitement.
Ren nodded, "His best yet."
"Sounds good," Ruby gave a thumbs up, "What about you, Pyrrha?"
"Oh," the amazon snapped out of whatever daydream she had been in, "Sorry, I- what were you saying?"
"Cinema. Sweets. Action." Ruby punctuated each word with a punch to the air.
"Well…" Pyrrha visibly hesitated, which didn't go unnoticed by any of those present.
"Pyrrha, I'm sure he's fine," Yang said.
"Ozpin gave us his word that Jaune would be pardoned. You have nothing to worry about." Ruby added with her customary cheerful smile.
"I hope so…" Pyrrha trailed off when she looked up at the dining hall doors. As if in a grand entrance, the entire room seemed to quieten down as the leader of team JNPR passed through the doors.
(Three days earlier)
Ozpin sat at his clockwork desk, taking in the sight of the boy in front of him. He had dismissed the others in order to speak with him alone.
No, not him, them.
"Am I correct in saying that Felix is also present, Mr Arc?" he asked Jaune once he had explained what happened following fleeing the library.
Jaune nodded. "He is a bit catatonic, but he's recovering."
"You forced him into an ultimatum," Ozpin mused as he sipped from his cup. "Stop his vendetta with you or die. Quite a brave thing to do, Mr Arc."
"It wasn't brave. I wasn't doing it to stop him as such. I was doing it because I was tired. I just wanted him to stop and it was the only way I could think of."
"Nonetheless, your actions have ended a crisis that could have been much worse. You stopped Felix before he could kill anyone. For that, you deserve at least some credit." Jaune nodded passively. He was lost in thought, Ozpin could see. He was carrying on the conversation because he didn't have the enthusiasm to complain, "I understand that you must be beyond tired after such an ordeal. I will escort you back to your dorm and-"
"No," Jaune shook his head, suddenly with energy, "I- I can't face Pyrrha and the others right now. I need some time to… talk with Felix."
"Hmm, you may use the staff quarters if you wish to stay away from the student body. I will see to it that you are not disturbed for as long as needed. I assume Felix will not cause a fuss for now so I do not need to have you constantly watched."
When Jaune entered the room, Felix was sitting on the bed, hands wrapped around his knees so that they pressed against his chest. He was an apparition but his eyes were reddened as if he'd been crying, "You tried to kill me…" he whispered.
Jaune was unsure about how to proceed. Up until now, Felix had been a monster, his tormentor that took away his mother, his childhood and very nearly his new life at Beacon. He had threatened to kill several of those closest to him, almost killed their father and nearly destroyed his relationship with his partner.
But the… boy in front of him was just that: a boy, alone and afraid. As much as he didn't want to, Jaune felt pity for him. He had taken everything that Felix had done so far but some small shred of brotherly love remained that caused a twinge of sadness at his brother's sorry state.
"Actually, I tried to kill both of us. Ironic isn't it," Jaune sat himself down beside his brother, "The only reason we're both still alive is because of the friends I have now. The friends you tried to take away from me."
"I- I didn't- I'm just-" Felix screwed his eyes shut and his voice cracked. Jaune realised that this was the true Felix: not the terrifying and ruthless façade that he had seen so far, but a mirror of himself, only infinitely more scared of losing what he had.
"I know," Jaune reached out and wrapped his arm around his phantom brother's shoulders, "You just wanted to live free of… whatever is wrong with us. I do too. But, like it or not, we're stuck together. I tried to lock you away and live as myself. That didn't work. You tried to take over and ruin my life. That didn't work. Maybe we should try living together rather than apart this time. Who knows, it might even work."
Felix looked up with his tear-stained eyes. After all this time, he could be forgiven for looking sceptical, "Y-you'd accept me?"
"Of course. But remember, you hurt Cardin, you hurt Ruby and Yang, you nearly killed Dad and nearly took everything else from me. After everything you've done, I'm not sure if the others can forgive you. But you are my brother. Nothing will change that. I don't know why I stole you from your body but it had to be for a reason. Something good has to come from this. I just- I don't want to live anymore with someone as close to me as you as my enemy."
Felix smiled, "I always thought you hated me. I did what I did because hate was all I thought would keep me going,"
"Well, let's see if we can change that. Together." Jaune stood up and held his hand out.
After a moment of hesitation, Felix took it.
"Of course," Jaune smirked now that the reconciliation was over, "if this is going to work, we're going to need a few ground rules… This may take a while,"
The lull in the hall was short lived, the entrance of Jaune a mere coincidence. No one, after all, knew about the truth of Jaune and Felix. No one except the students who Pyrrha had told and the staff. He approached the table where RWBY and JNPR sat. "Uh, hey guys," he smiled with that awkward smile of his.
Silence. Ok, they're a bit suspicious. he thought as he sat down beside Pyrrha
"Uhm… I guess first things first; Felix is sorry for attacking Cardin. And Ren. And Ruby and Yang. And Pyrrha. And Dad…" each addition was met with unchanging neutral stares which caused Jaune to become quieter each time, until the background din drowned him out.
"Jaune?" Pyrrha asked, "Can we talk to Felix?"
In a blink, blue eyes became orange and Felix scowled, "I can hear you. You don't have to treat me like I'm not here."
"Polite, aren't you," Yang grumbled.
Felix huffed, "Got something to say, hot stuff?"
"Yeah, how about the time you held a knife to my sister's neck and did... forced me to wear this," she pointed at the yellow bandana tied around her head.
Felix flinched, "Yeah, sorry about that,"
"Sorry?" Yang exploded, "Are you serious? After everything you've done you think sorry's going to cut it?" Yang stood up, slamming her fist on the table, causing all the food, plates, cutlery (as well as the unsuspecting Nora and Ruby) to jump a few inches in the air.
Felix in turn shot up in return, "Well, what else am I supposed to say? I'm trying to make things right,"
"Because Jaune forced you too. Don't think a few words are going make us forget about what you've done." Yang stormed off.
Felix sighed and Jaune returned, "Sorry, guys. I know my and my brother's… condition would cause mixed emotions in you guys."
No one spoke immediately. This only made Jaune more nervous. Thanks Felix.
Not my fault Yang is stubborn as a mule.
Not helpful, big brother.
"Jaune, we trust you." Blake said, "We just… are unsure is we can trust Felix."
"Yeah, I get that. But please, for me, just try not to kill him, or treat me differently for it."
"Uh, I'm not sure you noticed but that might be a difficult." Ruby replied.
"Good point," Jaune shrugged, "But the truth is I am trying to make peace with Felix and he is doing the same. I would like you guys to help me but I would understand if its not something you guys could handle,"
Jaune stood up to leave, but was stopped by Pyrrha tugging on his sleeve, "Jaune, we would never turn on you. Felix is just… hard to deal with. But I for one will stand by you."
"Yeah," Ruby smiled, "Yang just needs some time to process everything,"
A moment later, Felix was back, "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Rubes," he grinned as Ruby turned a bright shade of red. Only Yang ever called her that. "Aww, you're cute when you're flustered."
Everyone at the table froze, including Jaune, who took control and cringed at what his brother had just said.
"Jaune, did he just-" Pyrrha stared.
Jaune began to explain, but this time, only his left eye changed to orange as Felix interrupted him, "Oh don't worry, Jaune doesn't feel that way. Besides, I already know that he likes Py-" the boy's right hand shot up and clamped over his mouth before another word could be uttered. Jaune/Felix struggled for a few seconds before his eyes became fully blue.
"Uh… just ignore that, he's talking gibberish." Jaune chuckled nervously, but no one present was buying it.
Felix did you have to do that?
Hey, i thought it would be a nice icebreaker. And it worked, didn't it?
Jaune was about to complain, but he saw that those around him were smiling. They weren't angry, they weren't rejecting them. They were happy.
Huh, I guess you are better with people than I thought.
"Oh, this is fantastic!" Nora jumped up waving her hands excitedly, "Felix likes Ruby, Jaune likes Pyrrha. This will be like a Romantic comedy!"
"No," Weiss facepalmed, "Just, no,"
"But we could have drama. Embarrassments. Shenanigans. This will be so much fun-"
"No RomComs!" Weiss pointed accusingly at the bubbly girl.
Jaune sighed as the two girls continued their ridiculous argument. Just another one of the daily routines of him and his friends. Then he noticed Pyrrha staring down at her lap. "Having to share your… feelings with Felix must be tough," she said quietly.
"Was what he said true?"
"So he likes Ruby?"
"Do you like me?"
"Look, its been a confusing few days. I just really need to-"
Pyrrha moved and kissed Jaune on the cheek sending the boy into mental freefall, "I know you might not want to hurt my feelings or say something you're not ready for. I can wait."
"Umm…" Jaune was a bit lost for words so decided to stay quiet. Unfortunately for him, his brother disagreed.
"Look, Jaune is an idiot," Felix took control "I'll set him straight. Just give him time,"
Pyrrha was taken aback by the sincerity of the boy who had tormented them for so long. Once she had collected herself, she said something she had not expected to say to him since he had surfaced in Beacon, "Thank you Felix."
Felix smiled, "No problem," he stretched, "Well, with all the meet-and-greets with friends over and done with, Jaune promised we would have some sparring. I'll see you later," his eyes changed back to blue and orange in the left and right respectively.
All those at the table smiled at the boy and said their goodbyes. With a wave to their friends still at the table Jaune and Felix walked away from the table, more at peace with their lives than either had been for seventeen years.
Yeah, I alluded to romance. What, you haven't seen a liar and hypocrite before? I regret nothing! I thought it would be a nice lighthearted way to end the story. So, here we are, at the end.A little abrupt, but this was always about the confrontation and resolution between two brothers, not what happens afterwards. Maybe I'll write about what happens after, maybe I won't. To be honest, I don't think I have the drive to. But enough of that.
For those who made their way from start to finish, congrats. If you enjoyed the story, I'm really happy. If the ending was lackluster, well, I'm not perfect. Regardless, thanks for the support. Seriously, I can't thank you guys enough for the feedback about this story. I really think its helped improve my writing skills. Comments and criticisms are appreciated. Thanks for reading.