Welcome back to this story after so many years. Thank you for reading it again, if you did! If not, I encourage you to check out the new and improved Rush.

When I went through the story to post this version, I knew I had to write another epilogue. I needed to show where they were after some time passed and the events leading to their relationship faded into the past. I hope you enjoy it, as I really enjoyed writing it. I hope you feel, like I do, that their happy ending only got happier.

Approaching the lobby of her father's office - on the top floor of the towering Schnee Industrial building in the middle of downtown - Weiss heard yelling before she even opened the door.

At one point in time, the sound terrified her. She used to hide in her room to escape his wrath, only re-emerging when she was sure he'd left the house. These days, she quickened her pace - her feet leading her directly into the storm.

As soon as she pushed open the door and stepped into the wide lobby, she looked through the glass walls into her father's office and found him berating one of their lead shipment managers.

"What's going on?" she asked the young woman sitting behind the reception desk on her left.

"I'm not sure…" the woman replied, her brow furrowing in deep thought while struggling to come up with an answer. "I think it has something to do with Mistral…"

When that was all the information the woman could provide, Weiss shook her head and sighed. For as much as her father stressed productivity and intelligence, his assistants were mind-numbingly dumb and incompetent. Weiss couldn't even remember this one's name - was it Erica? Jamie? They rotated so quickly sometimes; it was hard to keep track.

"Feel free to head home now," Weiss told the girl, adding a look that made it clear that the words were an instruction, not a suggestion.

While the assistant of the week hastily packed up, Weiss strode over to the office door.

Fortunately, she didn't need more information to figure out what was going on. A hurricane passed through Mistral several days ago and damaged the ports - meaning that any boats trying to go in or out would be stuck. Seeing as how they had a significant shipment that was supposed to arrive tomorrow, from Mistral, she understood the source of her father's current anger.

Without requesting permission, Weiss opened the door and strode into the office - having no fear of retribution.

" - utter incompetence!" her father yelled while the manager - an otherwise competent man named Alexander - sweat bullets as he stood rooted to the floor. "Get that shipment here tomorrow, or you're fired!"

"But Sir, I've done everything I can. The hurricane -"

"Does it look like I care about some natural disaster?" Fredrick Schnee replied, his voice low and angry. "We have thirty different companies waiting for that product to get here tomorrow. Every day it's late, we lose millions of Lien. Can you even comprehend that number?"

Weiss very nearly rolled her eyes at the typical response.

If she was to learn one thing from her father, apparently it was that anger solved everything. Maybe that's how his world worked, but she operated under a different philosophy.

"I think I have a solution," Weiss interrupted, drawing two sets of eyes her way.

"Great. My daughter can solve this problem in three seconds, while you come in here complaining about how hard it is," her father berated the man. "You're fired. Get out of my sight."

Before Alexander could leave, Weiss caught his eye and shook her head.

"Take tomorrow off. I'll see you on Monday," she said, giving him a reassuring smile as he visibly relaxed and rushed out of the room - the door nearly shutting on his heels in his haste.

"You're too soft on them," her father immediately griped. "It's a weakness. They'll take advantage of you."

"Alexander is a good manager. It's not his fault he can't control the weather."

Walking across the office and pulling out her phone, Weiss ignored the scowl on her father's face. He could scowl all he wanted - it made no difference to her. Instead, she scrolled through a list of contacts, found the one reserved just for times like these, and pressed the call button.

The phone rang twice before someone picked up the other end of the line.

"I'm hoping this is the lovely Schnee," the voice said. "And not the elder."

"Hello, Raphael," Weiss replied, smiling at the greeting. "It is."

Frustrated, her father threw his arms in the air and walked away, but she shook her head at his childlike tactics.

"Miss Schnee," Raphael said in a much warmer tone. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I'm sorry to call last minute, but l have a job that requires your...expertise. We have a shipment stuck in Mistral that we need in Vale tomorrow. I'm under the impression that you can handle the impossible?"

Hearing jovial laughter through the phone, Weiss smiled - knowing that their solution had been found.

"Miss Schnee, I can get a shipment from anywhere, to anywhere," the man replied. "It will be quite costly though..."

"That's not a problem. I'll send you the details right now."

"Always a pleasure doing business with you, Miss."

"You too. I'll see you tomorrow."

After ending the call, she sent off a quick message with the details and then set down the phone. With one problem taken care of, the next whirled back on her in anger.

"You realize you're now in his debt," her father said, clenching his jaw in irritation.

"Which I'll willingly be. He's doing us a favor."

"He's doing his job," her father snarled. "And you should've let our damn employee do his job."

This time, Weiss did roll her eyes. Her father was so prone to anger, it was almost laughable. His first response in any situation was to be angry, demanding, or cross. These traits made him the worst type of boss to work for, and their employees lived in fear of making a tiny slip up that would cost them their job.

Weiss, however, was in a unique position. She didn't need to be here - he was the one who needed her here. Before she even agreed to set foot in the building, very explicit rules were established. He came close to breaking them - always toeing the line as he railed against restrictions placed upon him, of all people - but he'd yet to step across.

One of those rules was that he would never treat her the way he did his employees.

The other was that she would always be free to speak her mind.

"Raphael is the only option before calling the government," she pointed out. "On his own, Alexander would have failed, and the shipment wouldn't get here tomorrow. The clients would be upset, you'd fire Alexander, and no one would get what they wanted - is that preferable?"

Helping employees grow and empowering them to find solutions on their own was good management, but setting someone up for failure was just cruel.

"The decision has already made," she added. "It's done."

She wanted to add 'get over it,' but knew that would only press his buttons.

"That's a horrible business decision," he replied, his scowl giving away only a fraction of his dislike for their solution. "You put yourself at a severe negotiating disadvantage should they ever need anything."

"We'll deal with that if the time ever comes."

Weiss had quickly learned her father's business style, and, as expected, he was ruthless. It didn't matter who he was speaking to; he used the same heavy-handed approach with everyone. Obviously, he'd found success with his methods, but he'd formed few allies in the process. Instead, companies acquiesced because of the Schnee name and power - not because they wanted to do business with him.

She hoped to change that. Most of her life had been spent in forced isolation - where she was at the top of an ivory tower, and everyone else was to be looked down upon. It wasn't until recently that she discovered the strength of having supporters.

Sure, business was more cutthroat than personal life, but there were similarities. Ironically, the years she'd spent under her mother's thumb helped her spot and deal with manipulation and power plays attempted by executives and employees alike. She could be no-nonsense if the situation called for it, but mostly she just wanted everyone to work hard and succeed. The more success the company had, the more significant changes they could make both in Vale and in society - helping shape the future for the better.

Of course, her father felt differently, but he wasn't going to be in charge forever. And he seemed to understand the position he was in - as he clenched his jaw and scowled before finally sitting down at his desk.

"You'll probably be the death of this company," he grumbled under his breath, picking up a pen and looking over a stack of forms.

Having heard the same insult a multitude of times over the past few years, Weiss simply shook her head and let it go. His claim was factually incorrect, and he knew it. As she took over more responsibilities, the company ran better than ever. This likely had to do with productivity and morale soaring under her watch as she pushed her father further and further from any decisions that affected quality of life.

The two of them had an interesting relationship now - nothing like what she would've imagined as a child. Working together was extremely difficult - at least, at first. He did his best to mold her into a young version of himself, but she steadfastly refused. Instead, she listened to his lessons, decided what was worthwhile, and discarded the rest.

She'd sworn that she would never become her father, and she wasn't. All thanks to a certain someone who kept her grounded...

As Ruby popped into her mind, Weiss glanced at the clock and found it was time to take her leave.

"I'm heading home," she said, and had already turned to leave when he let out a loud huff from behind her.

"So early?"

It wasn't early at all, and the response was supposed to be a slight at her 'lack of dedication.' He did this frequently to everyone who worked here, but it always frustrated her. The day had ended, and she had far better places to be.

"Yes," she answered, sending him a look. "It's funny how that happens when you have a wife you actually want to go home to."

Spinning on her heel to leave, her hand was on the door handle before he spoke again.

"Your mother and I are separating."

The disclosure stopped her in her tracks. Turning back to the office, she found her father signing forms as if it wasn't earth-shattering news.

"What?" she asked, unsure if she'd heard him correctly. Because that couldn't be right. Her mother had sold her soul for the Schnee name.

"As soon as the merger ends, she will file for divorce," he replied, still not looking up from his work. "l would appreciate your discretion until that time."

So many questions flitted through her mind as Weiss stood there, shell-shocked by the news.

"Of course," she replied, looking at him while he refused to meet her eyes. What was she supposed to say at this moment? She'd never in a million years expected her parents to separate - what was someone supposed to say when hearing this news?

"I'm sorry?"

"Save your sympathy for someone who needs it," he replied, finally setting down his pen and looking at her. "And I certainly don't need for it."

"Right. I'll...see you tomorrow then."

When he waved her out, she left the office in a hurry.

She was dumbfounded - in complete disbelief. She had no idea what was happening at home since she'd left, but apparently her father finally stepped too far. Apparently, her mother finally had enough. But to divorce? It would be front page news, and the divorce proceedings were guaranteed to be contentious.

Stepping into the elevator and pressing the button for the parking garage, she let out a long breath of air as the doors slid shut in front of her.

She didn't feel sorry for her father - he was getting what he deserved for being a horrible husband - but she was almost...sad...that he had no one else to share the news with. As much as he pretended otherwise, getting divorced was a big deal. But he had no friends, and no one to trust, besides Weiss. And she couldn't even say she liked him very much.

Fredrick Schnee...all the money and power in the world, yet no one to talk to about his impending divorce. No one cared how he would take the failure of his marriage. Most would probably be happy to hear of his misery.

Walking into the parking garage, Weiss spotted a familiar face nearby - standing outside a familiar limousine.

Altering her course, she headed over to him with a smile.

"Good evening, James," she said, dipping her head in greeting.

"Good evening, Miss." When he tilted his head in respect, Weiss scoffed and waved one hand.

"You don't need to call me 'Miss' anymore. Please call me Weiss."

"Sorry," he replied, relaxing into a smile. "Some habits are hard to break. You've been the 'Little Miss' ever since I started working for your family."

Weiss smiled at the term, which sounded quite endearing.

"You might be waiting for my father for a while," she said, glancing towards the building. "He's...stewing."

"That's alright. I'm used to waiting while he 'stews.'" When James let out a laugh at the choice of words, Weiss shook her head and smiled.

"Have you ever thought of doing anything else?" she asked. "Because if you're ever interested in changing careers, I'm sure we could -" She waved towards the towering Schnee corporate headquarters, but James shook his head.

"Believe it or not, I like this job."

"Do you?"

"Of course. Flexible hours, lots of downtime, good pay, plus the chance to hear how the other half lives."

When James smiled at her, Weiss chuckled.

"I can only imagine the things you've heard..."

"All good things," he replied with a wink. "At least, that's the company line."

Laughing again, Weiss turned to leave, but something stopped her. Instead, she paused and turned back to James - who was a somewhat-impartial observer into her parents' lives.

"My father mentioned that things are going to change soon. Are you aware of that?"

She didn't want to say the word out loud, but when James nodded she knew he understood what she was referring to.

"How's my mother doing?" she asked, watching his brow furrow as he thought through an answer.

"She's...more talkative."

Weiss huffed at that response. "That's probably a horrible thing."

"It can be." He paused again, thinking quite carefully about his words before saying them. "In some ways, I think she's going through a process similar to your own - but it's been delayed for so long that it can be a little...up and down."

"Is that the diplomatic way of saying she's a terror?"

"She's a mess," James admitted, meeting Weiss' eyes. "But I think this will be better for the both of them, in the end."

Trying to imagine her mother as anything other than cold, calculating, and emotionless, Weiss found she couldn't do it. But with James' position - a fly on the wall until they needed him - Weiss knew he saw sides of her parents that no one else would ever see.

"You realize they're going to fight over who gets to keep you," Weiss remarked, smiling when he burst into laughter.

"In that case, maybe I do need a new job. You wouldn't be in need of a personal driver, would you?"

Chuckling, Weiss pulled her keys out of her bag and held them up for him to see.

"Sorry, but I quite like driving myself."

"That's too bad. I enjoyed chauffeuring you and your wonderful lady around."

Thinking about Ruby, Weiss instantly smiled - and decided it was past time for her to go home.

"Maybe for special events," she offered as she turned away. "I'm sure she'll be happy to see you, too."

"Have a good evening, Mis-" When Weiss raised an eyebrow, James caught himself and smiled. "Have a good evening, Weiss," he said instead. "Please give Ruby my best."

"I will." With one last wave, Weiss left the man behind and walked over to her car, which was parked just a few spaces down. After opening her own door, she stepped inside and prepared for the short drive home.

As far as she was concerned, driving herself home was a luxury. She didn't have to arrange a chauffeur ahead of time; she didn't have anyone eavesdropping on her conversations. She could listen to whatever she wanted - and sing whatever she wanted - without judgment. The feeling was quite liberating, and something she wouldn't give up anytime soon.

Ordinarily, she used the drive home to go through her day - analyzing what was accomplished and what needed to be done in the future. In this way, she compartmentalized her work and tucked it away before she got home.

Today, however, her mind dwelled upon the news her father had shared - thinking about what it meant for herself as well as her parents. Her mother had finally inherited her family's company, and it was in the midst of merging with Schnee Industrial. Yet she was waiting for the merger to finish before filing for divorce? Why not file now and keep the company for herself? Could it be that she felt that was the last thing she owed her husband?

Spotting a white, two-story home at the end of the block, Weiss pushed those thoughts from her mind in favor of pulling into the short drive with a sigh of relief. As much as she liked her job - since she accomplished some amazing things while at work - nothing beat coming home at the end of the day.

The three bedroom home was nothing spectacular, yet it was Weiss' favorite spot in the entire world. Perfectly sized, with room to grow. An adorable front yard with a row of roses planted under the front windows, while the backyard was fenced with plenty of space for hosting get-togethers or - as Ruby so often did - just running around.

Leaving the car behind, Weiss walked to the front door and let herself inside. As soon as she stepped through the doorway, she dropped her bag on the table by the door and glanced into the living room. Finding it empty, she walked over to the staircase and looked up to the second level.

"Ruby?" she called out. "I'm home."

The next second, the sound of feet tore across the upper level before Ruby appeared on the landing with Zwei racing along behind her.

"Hey Weiss!" With a big grin, Ruby hopped onto the railing and slid down to the first floor while Zwei ran down the stairs beside her. Shaking her head, Weiss stepped out of the way so Ruby wouldn't crash into her on the way down. Upon reaching the bottom, Ruby hopped off the banister and landed with a smile.

"I missed you!" Ruby said, immediately leaning forward and giving Weiss the kiss she'd longed for all day.

"I missed you too," she mumbled in return, breathing out another sigh before feeling a tiny paw on her ankle. Looking down, she knelt on the floor to pet Zwei. "And hello Zwei - it's nice to have you around for a while," she said, scratching his ears and smiling at his happy-go-lucky smile. When he was sufficiently greeted, Weiss stood up and caught Ruby's eyes.

"How was work?"

"Good!" Ruby answered with a nod. "It's weird without Yang around, but I managed."

"Was it busy?" Stepping closer, Weiss reached out to hold Ruby's hands, wanting contact in any way possible even as they carried on a normal conversation.

"Yeah, kind of! Oh! The cutest little girl came in though." Pausing for a second to let out an adorable shake of happiness, Ruby then rushed forward with a big smile. "She wanted the biggest stuffed animal in the store, but her dad couldn't afford it. So you know what I did?"

When Ruby looked at her, Weiss shook her head.

"What did you do?" she obligingly asked, knowing that's what Ruby wanted her to do.

"I took that giant bear into the back of the store and used my super-secret shrink ray to shrink him into a little tiny bear!" Ruby answered, smiling at her ingenious solution. "Her dad could afford the little bear, and she was soooo happy to get the huge-tiny stuffed animal."

"You're so smart," Weiss replied, leaning forward and kissing Ruby on the lips.

After graduating from college, Ruby had decided to go into business - with her sister, of all people. With a great deal of amusement, Weiss watched the two sisters go through hundreds, if not thousands, of ideas before landing on one that became a reality.

And thus, Ruby's Toy Box was born (Yang lost the coin flip to decide the name).

The dynamic duo was doing very well, but Weiss wouldn't have expected otherwise. With their combined high energy and excellence with children, their shop had quickly become something of a destination in Vale.

"Naww…" Ruby replied with a modest wave. "Just doin' my job!"

"Well, you're very good at your job." Tugging Ruby closer, Weiss stole another kiss before looking into Ruby's eyes. "I'm proud of you."

When Ruby beamed at the honest praise, Weiss leaned forward for another kiss - this one lasting much longer than the last. Snaking an arm behind Ruby's back, Weiss stepped closer - their bodies pressed together as her skin tingled with desire.

No matter what happened over the course of the day, Ruby could wash it all away with just a few kisses.

"What would you like to do now?" Weiss mumbled against Ruby's lips, sliding her hands underneath Ruby's shirt. But before she got anywhere, Ruby backed away with a giggle.

"We have to take Zwei for a walk!"

"Are you...serious?" Weiss asked as a surge of consternation flowed through her, throwing ice water on her desire.

When Ruby nodded, Weiss sighed and looked down at the dog - who was watching with a happy grin on his face.

"You're lucky you're cute," she told him, releasing Ruby and watching her buzz across the room.

"Just so I understand," Weiss said as Ruby returned and clipped a leash to Zwei's collar. "Am I completely shut out as long as he's here?"

"Well we can't do it right in front of him!"

There were so many things Weiss wanted to say to that comment. Instead, she shut her mouth and nodded.

"Of course," she replied, knowing that was the right answer. "Of course, you're right."

"Plus, we still have to go for our walk!"

"Can I at least change first?" Weiss asked, watching Ruby open the door and run outside with Zwei.

"Sure! We'll wait for you out here!"

Shaking her head at Ruby's enthusiasm, Weiss hurried upstairs to change out of her work clothes and into something more comfortable and appropriate for an evening stroll. The two of them took a walk together every night - a routine that started soon after they began dating. They used the alone time to talk without interruptions, finding a wide array of topics to cover.

They were watching Zwei while Blake and Yang were out of town, but that didn't change their routine in the slightest. Their evening stroll would still happen, but with Zwei in tow. It was the perfect way to decompress after the day.

After throwing on the first outfit that looked decently coordinated, Weiss rushed downstairs. She was nearly out the door when she did an abrupt about-face to grab her keys from her bag, as Ruby was prone to forgetting those. Satisfied that she was ready, she locked and closed the front door behind her as she jogged over to Ruby.

"Ready," she said, feeling a shiver of anticipation run down her spine when Ruby's eyes roved over her outfit. The glance lasted only a few seconds before Ruby grinned - a happy, loving grin that put a smile right back on Weiss' lips.

"You look fantastic."

The compliment was unneeded but much appreciated. And still, after all these years, Weiss blushed and temporarily averted her gaze.

"Thank you…" she muttered towards the street, watching a black town car drive past. The vehicle jogged her memory and reminded her of a message she was supposed to deliver.

"I saw James today," she said while leading Ruby down their front walkway and turning right at the sidewalk. "He sends his best."

"Aww did he really? Well, I send my best right back! Although...you're my best so...maybe I'll send my second best back..."

Chuckling at the response, Weiss shook her head and reached out to hold Ruby's free hand.

"I'll make sure to tell him that the next time I see him."

"But make it sound better!" Ruby requested. "Make it sound all...Weiss-y."


"Yeah! Weiss-y things are super composed and amazing. Just like - well, you."

Feeling her heart thump in adoration at the comment, Weiss squeezed Ruby's hand as they crossed the street and walked into the next neighborhood. The fact that Ruby still thought she was amazing meant more than the world to her. It didn't matter how good she was at her job, or how much she was praised for her hard work - being the one Ruby loved was more than enough for her. Everything else was just...a nice benefit.

"I'll do my best," she answered, knowing that she would provide a 'Weiss-y' answer no matter what. That was just how she spoke.

"So how was your day?" Ruby asked after a couple of seconds of comfortable silence.

"Good. Busy, but good." Moving closer to Ruby so a jogger could pass them on the sidewalk, Weiss' mind drifted to the bombshell her father dropped right before she left the office. "My father had some...unexpectedly big news for me today."

"Yeah? What was it?"

Taking a deep breath, Weiss shook her head and decided to get it out in the open.

"My parents are getting divorced."

"Uh...what?" was Ruby's first response as she looked at Weiss in shock. "Really?"

"Yup." Nodding once, Weiss paused at the next crosswalk and let out a big sigh.

"How do you feel about it? I mean, that's a big deal, right?"

"It's a huge deal," Weiss replied. "And honestly...I don't know how I feel. I can't believe she would actually divorce him. Not after all this time..."

"Maybe you should call her!"

Surprised by the suggestion, Weiss turned to the side and found that Ruby was serious.

"Why would I do that?"

"l dunno...see how she's doing? I know if you were divorcing me…" Her words trailing off, Ruby frowned and shook her head. "I'd need someone to talk to…"

"That will never happen," Weiss remarked, gently tugging Ruby forward so they could resume their walk. "As for my mother…"

Drifting into silence, Weiss thought about suggestion for a long time before sighing out loud.

"Are you trying to make me a better person again?" she grumbled, to which Ruby giggled and leaned over to kiss her cheek.

"You're already a great person! I just thought maybe you'd want to check in or something."

Did Weiss want to see how her mother was doing? Yes and no. The woman had put her through hell - something like that takes time to heal from. But she also knew her mother was in the same position as her father - her 'friends' weren't friends at all. They were gossip mongers looking for the next bit of drama.

"Besides!" Ruby added. "You're her daughter. I'm sure she misses you."

Weiss wasn't so sure that comment was correct, but she squeezed Ruby's hand in gratitude.

She understood what Ruby was saying without really saying it. As much as Weiss' parents had made her life miserable, they were still her parents. Much to their chagrin - and her own - they'd shaped her into the person she was today. And in a fragile world, where lives were often lost too early, it was best not to carry a grudge for long.

"I'll think about it," Weiss said - the most she was willing to acquiesce for now.

"And if she's still mean, at least you tried!" Ruby concluded with a smile. Because to Ruby, it was that simple - if someone was nice, befriend them. If someone was mean...still try to befriend them and give multiple chances if need be.

Maybe things had changed, but Weiss wouldn't know since she hadn't spoken to her mother in years. The woman had been invited to their wedding, under the strict instructions not to make a scene. Much to Weiss' surprise, the woman showed up and was well-behaved - she arrived quietly, sat quietly, and left quietly. She even sent them a nice wedding gift, but besides those instances, there'd been no attempt at communication.

It was probably better that way. Weiss was happy, and her mother was...still unhappy, apparently.

"Want to get some ice cream?" Weiss asked, waving towards the shopping center across the street, where one of Ruby's favorite ice cream parlors was located.

"Is that even a question?"

"Ah, silly me," Weiss replied with a chuckle. "Of course not - let's go get some ice cream."

Laughing as they cut across the street, Weiss waited for Ruby to tie Zwei outside before opening the door and walking into every sugar-lover's wonderland.

"You know, ice cream is made with milk," Ruby commented while they walked towards the counter. "And milk is good for you. So...ice cream must be good for you too!"

"Uh huh…" Shaking her head at the line of reasoning, Weiss waved at the store owner as he came over to make Ruby's ice cream. "What about all the sugar they put into it?"

"Sugar's like salt! It adds flavor!"

The answer made a small amount of sense...in Ruby's world.

"What can I get for you?" the shopkeeper said, looking first to Weiss - who shook her head and waved him off - before turning to Ruby. "The usual?"

"Actually...think you can make the usual into a milkshake?" Ruby asked, her eyes already sparkling with delight at the idea. "Then I can have it to go!"

The man only laughed and nodded in appreciation of the order while scooping ice cream into a large, metal cup.

"This way you don't have to wait for me!" Ruby explained, tearing her eyes away from the ice cream to smile at Weiss.

"I don't mind waiting."

And she really didn't.

Well, most of the time she didn't mind waiting. Sometimes, she felt like they should hurry it along just a little bit…

"But now we can do more walking!" Making a happy noise, Ruby accepted the tall, styrofoam cup as it was passed across the counter to her. Both Weiss and the shop owner watched as she took a long sip before doing a delighted wiggle and giving them a thumbs up.

Knowing that Ruby was happy made Weiss happy in an instant, and she stepped over to the register to pay while smiling at the goofy girl she was lucky to call her wife.

"Glad you like it," the man said while swiping Weiss' card and handing it back to her - no receipt required, as she'd told him quite a few visits ago. "You ladies have a wonderful night."

"You as well," Weiss replied, nodding towards the door so they could take their leave.

"You too!" Ruby called back, sending a wave before taking another sip of her milkshake. "Goddd, Weiss, this is so freaking good! You have to try some!"

As they stepped back outside, Weiss obligingly took the cup from Ruby - knowing there was no way to avoid trying it at least once. While Ruby untied Zwei from the bench outside the door, Weiss lifted the straw to her lips and took a tiny sip. As expected, the milkshake was almost sickeningly sweet.

"What do you think?"

"It's...well-seasoned," Weiss answered, handing the milkshake back to Ruby as they continued their walk through the shopping center. Laughing, Ruby took a long sip and made another happy noise.

"So good though!"

Prepared to make a joke about how salty their dinner would be tonight, Weiss paused when she spotted a familiar crew cut up ahead. The color and hairstyle were exactly the same as...

When the boy turned to the side and immediately caught her gaze, she nearly groaned out loud.

When he headed towards them, she did groan out loud.

"Incoming," she warned, giving a miniscule nod in his direction as he cut through a group of high schoolers.

"Is that -" Ruby started to ask, but the question never finished as he stopped in front of them and smiled - that same, self-righteous smile he'd always had. Only, it was a little different than before...

"Cardin?" Weiss asked, surprised that he'd made any effort to talk to them.

"Hey Weiss," he said, dipping his head to her in respect before turning to Ruby. "What's up, Ruby?"

Surprised by the greeting, Ruby took a step back and narrowed her eyes.

"l should let you know," she said, lowering her voice in warning. "Zwei might look small, but he's actually a highly-trained attack dog."

"Really? Cool!" Kneeling down, Cardin stuck his hand towards Zwei. "Bite me, little guy."

Without a single menacing bone in his body, Zwei licked Cardin's hand, and Cardin laughed as he scratched behind Zwei's ears.

Watching the moment unfold, Weiss and Ruby shared a look of bewilderment.


Everything about the greeting was so wrong, Weiss didn't know what else to say. He greeted Ruby by name? He didn't make some inappropriate comment?

Fortunately, her manners appeared after he gave Zwei one last scratch and stood back up - towering over the both of them with his height.

"Hi Cardin," Weiss finally said, her heart beating faster as she tried to figure out why he was being nice - and what ploy he might be working towards. "How have you been?"

She didn't necessarily want to be friendly, but what other choice did she have now that he'd engaged them for a conversation? Fortunately, Ruby gripped her hand tighter, and she relaxed - knowing that she wasn't alone. She had support right here beside her.

"I've been pretty great, actually," Cardin replied. When he grinned, Weiss braced herself for the grotesque comments about female conquests to follow. "I've been modeling more," he added with a small nod. "Signed with a few more brands recently."

Not exactly what she'd expected...but she carried on the conversation without letting him see her surprise.

"We've seen some the ads," she replied, waving towards Ruby - who nodded once. "That's great to hear though. I'm glad it's going well."

"Thanks. It's nice to have something to call my own." As Cardin's eyes drifted to Ruby, his grin widened. "But you probably get what I mean."

As much as Weiss eschewed having anything in common with Cardin, she did understand what he meant.

Growing up, they were given everything. Every opportunity was tilted in their favor. Every success was tinged with bias. Then...Weiss met Ruby. And somehow, she'd earned Ruby's love - not because of who her family was, but because of who she was. Ruby was Weiss' greatest success - and she was so lucky that she could call Ruby hers. Her best friend. Her wife.

When Weiss opened her mouth to respond with some type of agreement, she was cut off by someone shouting "Cardin!" their way.

Cardin immediately looked over his shoulder - where a tall, slender woman was waving him over. With her impeccable fashion sense, designer sunglasses, heels, and incredible height, the woman must be a supermodel. Several department store bags sat near her feet, but it looked like she had no intention of picking them up herself.

"l should get going," Cardin said, turning around with another grin - this one much less smug than before. "She's not very patient."

Glancing over his shoulder again, Weiss struggled to find words to say. Cardin must have sensed her confusion because he laughed.

"That's my fiancée," he explained. "Just got engaged a couple weeks ago."

"Oh." Weiss looked at the woman one more time - finding her on her phone talking to someone, waving one perfectly-manicured hand through the air while speaking.

That was Cardin's new fiancée? Everything about the woman screamed control - that she was used to having it, and unwilling to cede it to anyone. While that wasn't a problematic trait in itself, Weiss could think of one person who would take issue with that type of behavior.

"What does your mother think?" she asked, feeling even more confused when Cardin laughed again.

"Mom hates her." Shaking his head, he smiled - almost fondly - at the woman. "And she couldn't care less."

Finished with her call, the woman heaved a heavy sigh and put one hand on her hip.


The impatient tone spurred him into motion.

"Yeah, gotta go," he said, nearly reaching out to hug Weiss before stopping and looking at Ruby. "Uh, is it cool?"

Ruby was utterly miffed but nodded. With permission granted, Cardin turned to Weiss and raised his arms, requesting a hug. She'd never given him a hug in her life - and had no idea why he wanted to now - but she allowed him to wrap her in a hug (while Ruby held her hand the entire time).

"Great seeing you," he said, giving Weiss one last smile before hurrying back to his fiancée. The woman waved to Weiss and Ruby before pointing to her bags, which Cardin willingly picked up before following her towards a waiting limousine.

"Ruby..." Weiss said, watching in shock as Cardin opened the door for his fiancée, then loaded the bags into the trunk of the vehicle himself. "Do you remember how we woke up this morning and talked about calling in sick to work?"


"We didn't go back to sleep, did we? Because I must be dreaming."

Ruby's giggle broke Weiss out of her daze, and she turned to find Ruby shaking her head.

"l actually kinda liked him!" Ruby remarked with a baffled laugh. "l mean, I'll always hate him, but he's like a little puppy following that lady around!"

Watching the limousine drive away, Weiss shook her head in disbelief. Ruby was right though - Cardin looked like a puppy following its owner.

Whoever that woman was, she had him wrapped around her finger tight.

"Wow. Good for her."

Giggling at the response, Ruby took Weiss' hand and pulled them back in the direction they'd come from. Even as they left the shopping center behind, Weiss' thoughts dwelled on the interaction.

"That was...surreal…" she finally said out loud, thinking that was the best summary for what they'd just experienced.

"l guess so!" Her feet doing a little skip on the sidewalk, Ruby sipped at her milkshake and lightly swung their joined hands.

"He was different, right?" Weiss mused, thinking back on the person she'd just met for the first time. "That wasn't the same Cardin Winchester."

Hearing a laugh, Weiss looked over and found Ruby shaking her head.

"None of us are the same, Weiss!" Ruby replied with a smile. "It's been a few years now - that's plenty of time for everyone to grow up and stuff."

Turning her attention back to her milkshake, Ruby thought nothing more on the words. Weiss, however, mulled them over in her head several times.

It had been several years, and, she knew she'd significantly changed since her engagement to Cardin ended. The person she was today was only a fraction of who she'd been at that time. Ruby had also changed, blossoming into this lively, remarkable young woman who everyone loved to be around.

If the two of them had changed, why was it so difficult to believe that others might have, as well?

"I guess we have…'grown up and stuff,'" Weiss concluded, squeezing Ruby's hand as they crossed the street and headed home.

Sometimes, it was difficult to believe this was her life. No more limousines, no more chauffeurs, no more mansions. Instead, she drove herself to work, drove herself home, and went on a walk every evening with the love of her life - strolling along tree-lined streets in a quaint, quiet neighborhood in Vale.

She'd had everything growing up, but was never happy. Now, she had very few things - a simple life through-and-through - yet she was the happiest she'd ever been.

After walking up the path to their front door, Weiss watched Ruby pat at her pockets only to find she had no keys. Shaking her head and laughing, Weiss pulled out her own keys and unlocked the front door to let them inside. With a sheepish grin, Ruby headed through the doorway and set her cup on the entryway table with a conspicuously-light thump.

"Did you finish that entire thing?" Weiss asked, gesturing towards the cup as Ruby unclipped Zwei from his leash.


Continually amazed by Ruby's ability to consume sugar at lightning speeds, Weiss merely shook her head and knelt down to pet Zwei.

"When do Blake and Yang get back again?" she asked, using both hands to scratch his ears and smiling when his hind leg began to move on its own.

"Next week. Why?"

"Because I like having Zwei around, don't you?" Picking the little dog up, Weiss stood and held him up so Ruby could see how cute he was. "Kind of don't want to give him back."

Leaning forward, Ruby touched her nose to Zwei's and laughed when he licked her.

"Good luck with that. Pretty sure Blake would murder someone to get him back."

"And she's 'not a dog person,'" Weiss muttered with a roll of her eyes. After setting Zwei down, she watched him run into the kitchen for a drink of water. Hearing the sound of him drinking from the bowl they'd set up for him, Weiss smiled as an idea popped into her head - a gift of sorts she'd considered getting for Ruby for quite some time.

Maybe now was the time to finally bring it up.

"Ruby," she began, turning away from the kitchen and meeting Ruby's silver gaze. "What do you think about...expanding our family?"

Ruby immediately froze at the words - and then her jaw dropped open - and then her eyes widened in surprise.

"Are you saying what I think you're saying?"

Looking down at Zwei as he ran back out to them, Weiss smiled and nodded.

"Would you like to get a puppy?"

Ruby's squeal of delight was definitely worthy of spilling the surprise early.

"Yes! Of course I want a puppy!" Ruby exclaimed, racing over and kissing Weiss on the lips. "But you don't think it's like...too early or anything?"

"What? Of course not. We've been living together for years. Our jobs and lives finally seem stable - so why not?"

For a while, Ruby stared in shock - and then she kissed Weiss again.

"I agree! I think we're totally ready!"

Weiss laughed at the response while girl bounced away in excitement.

She already had one puppy - she was pretty sure she could handle another.

"I can take him to work with me! And on runs! And I'll teach him all the cool tricks!" Leaning down, Ruby patted Zwei's head. "What do you think, Zwei - you want a brother? Or sister?"

When Zwei barked and wagged his tail, Ruby stood up and beamed.

"It's like we're starting a family!" she said, hugging Weiss one more time while her cheeks flushed at the comment.

"You'll make a fantastic mom."

Her cheeks grew even warmer at the admission, but she knew it was true. Anyone who saw Ruby at work could tell that she would be a wonderful mother - the kind that loved her children more than anything else in the world.

"Me? What about you? You'll be the coolest mom ever!"

Watching Ruby play with Zwei, Weiss smiled and hoped that it was true. She didn't know if they were there yet, but if they decided to go down that path...she would make sure she was nothing like her own parents. That should be a good start.

"Before you start looking up places," she added, pushing Ruby's phone down before they spent the entire evening searching for puppies. "We should eat dinner."

After briefly pouting at the delay, Ruby willingly put her phone away and followed Weiss into the kitchen.

"What if we find brother and sister puppies? We couldn't just separate them!"

"We'll see what happens…" Weiss replied, mentally marking off any visits to dog breeders, lest they come home with an entire litter of puppies. "What would you like for dinner?"

Raising one hand to her chin, Ruby thought about the question while looking around the kitchen.

Learning how to cook was...quite the process. Since Weiss had practically zero experience from her past life, and Ruby had minimal experience because Yang did a majority of the cooking, the two of them had burned, undercooked, or otherwise ruined many meals together. But, as much as Weiss disliked failing, it wasn't so bad when Ruby failed with her. Plus, that's what takeout menus were for.

Regardless, they still tried to make their food when they could. If they could...

"How 'bout you sit here," Ruby said, pulling out a stool at the island and patting the cushion. "And I'll make dinner!"

"But -"

"Because you've had a rough day!" Ruby answered before Weiss could even ask. "Work and your parents and running into that douchebag who might not be quite a douchebag anymore - all those things! You deserve to sit for a bit!"

Ordinarily, Weiss would argue to help - or at least assist. But she could already tell that Ruby was set on making this kind gesture for her, and she was loathe to turn Ruby down.

Weiss would just find some way to make it up to her later...

"What will you make?" Settling onto the barstool, Weiss watched Ruby buzz to the cabinets in search of ingredients and cookware.


The answer wasn't at all surprising. Thus far, spaghetti was the only meal they'd mastered. It also happened to be one of Ruby's favorites.

"Sounds delicious."

Pulling out her phone and placing it on the island in front of her, Weiss gave it a long glance before shaking her head and watching Ruby fly around the kitchen. Something about the speed at which Ruby moved was calming - in a way that not many others would find calming. It always looked like she was on the cusp of falling or breaking something, but that hardly ever happened. So Weiss simply absorbed the frenetic energy and converted it into a buzz of cheerfulness unique to Ruby's presence.

A pot of water was set to boil, a pan of sauce started, and Ruby hummed a little tune to herself all the while. As they fell into a comfortable state of being - where neither of them felt compelled to speak - Weiss' thoughts drifted through the information she'd learned today.

Cardin - happy, not such an all-around chauvinist, and completely whipped.

Her parents - unhappy, and finally doing something about that unhappiness. Her father would bury himself in his work to avoid the fallout of marriage, but her mother...

"You should just call her."

Startled from her thoughts, Weiss realized she'd been staring at her phone - which Ruby picked up and held out to her.

"I doubt she wants me to call," she immediately said, leaning away from the device like Ruby was offering her hot coals.

"You never know unless you try, right?"

With a small smile, Ruby wiggled the phone, but Weiss still didn't take it.

"Why would I even call her?" she finally said, stumbling over the crux of her confusion. "She made our lives miserable, treated you horribly, and ordered me around my entire life. Divorce or not - why would I ever want to speak to a person like that again?"

Ruby knew all those reasons were valid, but still gave Weiss a kind, sympathetic smile.

"Because she's your mom."

"She's a mean, unpleasant person."

"She's still your mom." Ruby wiggled the phone again and, when Weiss didn't take it, hopped up onto the island in front of her.

"I know she wasn't very nice, but if there's a chance to salvage some kind of relationship...isn't it worth trying?"

Weiss thought about the question and sighed. She understood what Ruby was trying to say - wasn't having one mother, even a horrible one, better than having none at all? Coming from the girl who'd lost her own mother too soon...

"Plus, then I'd have a real mother-in-law!" Ruby added with a grin. "That might be pretty cool."

Scoffing at the idea, Weiss shook her head in an attempt to clear away the thought before Ruby latched onto it.

"My mother would be the worst mother-in-law imaginable."

"You never know!"

"I do know," Weiss said, but when Ruby gave her that kind, patient expression, she sighed again. "At least, I thought I did…"

On every day up until this one, Weiss hadn't cared one bit what her mother's life was like. Foolishly, she'd thought nothing had changed - that the woman kept the same routine with or without a daughter to boss around. After the news today…

Why should Weiss care? Her mother nearly forced her into a loveless marriage -

Just like the marriage the woman was trying to get away from, herself.

Burying her face in her hands, Weiss groaned as indecision consumed her.

"If you don't want to talk to her, I'll call!"

"What?" Looking up, Weiss found that Ruby was serious about the offer. "You would?"

"Yeah! It'll be a test! If she's mean to me, then we know nothing's changed and can try again in a few more years. If she's nice, then maybe she's changed a little bit!"

Surprisingly, that didn't sound like such a bad idea.

"Whatdya say?" Wiggling the phone again, Ruby waited for Weiss' answer - again displaying far more patience than she did on any typical day.

But Ruby had always been this way. When the moment counted, she would wait. She would be patient. She would give Weiss the opportunity to think through her options and come to a conclusion.

It reminded her very much of their first kiss - when Ruby hadn't put any pressure on Weiss to explain what had sent her to Ruby's apartment in tears. It reminded her of the day they'd finally gotten together - when Ruby had waited outside the church for her. And it reminded her of so many instances since then - when Ruby displayed how much she loved Weiss, by being patient, understanding, and endlessly supportive.

This was another one of those moments - where Weiss had as much time as she needed to weigh this idea and come to a decision.

While it was unconventional, it could be the solution to Weiss' uncertainty. The last thing she wanted was for her mother to say something rude to Ruby, but she knew that the most realistic outcome would be a dial tone after the woman hung up.

"I suppose…" she began, her brow furrowing as she thought through the 'solution' several more times. "I suppose that if she can be civil to you, I'd be more willing to speak to her…"

"Then I'm gonna call - k? I'm gonna call her?"

Again, Ruby gave Weiss every opportunity to back out or change her mind - but she didn't. Instead, she nodded - and then immediately wondered how Ruby had convinced her that this was a good idea.

It was too late now, as Ruby quickly found the contact information in Weiss' phone and pressed dial.

As Ruby held the phone to her ear, Weiss stood up and leaned close enough that she could hear the other side of the conversation.

One ring.

"She probably won't answer."

Two rings.

"You never know," Ruby whispered back.

Three rings and Weiss knew she was right. Her mother was either busy or didn't want to talk -


At the sound of her mother's voice, Weiss' eyes widened - shocked that the woman had accepted the call.

"Hi, Mrs. Schnee!" Ruby said with a smile. "It's Ruby, actually - you know, the girl you didn't want your daughter to marry?"

"How could I forget...is everything alright? Is Weiss ok?"

Upon hearing the question - which could only be described as genuine concern for Weiss' wellbeing - Weiss and Ruby shared a look.

That couldn't be right though. Her mother was capable of worrying about her? Hadn't her entire childhood proved otherwise?

"Oh, yeah!" Ruby quickly replied. "Everything's fine - Weiss is fine. Sorry to worry you!"

"Oh…well, good."

The call drifted to silence - the awkward kind that made Ruby's knee jitter with nerves.

"U-um, right," she stammered. "Uh, anyway, so I was just calling because Weiss doesn't know if she wants to talk to you, but she might if you talk to me!"

Weiss covered her eyes with one hand and shook her head at the outright honesty. But what else had she expected? Ruby couldn't lie to save her life.

There was silence at the other end of the line - a silence that lasted so long Weiss thought her mother had hung up rather than deal with Ruby's effusive happiness. That would answer their question though. If she couldn't even talk to Ruby for three seconds -

"How have you been?"

Hearing the question, Weiss nearly sat down in surprise.

Was her mother going to make small talk? With Ruby, of all people?

"Pretty good!" Ruby answered, unperturbed by the completely unexpected question. "Work's been busy, and I'm in charge since my sister's on vacation - she's traveling with her girlfriend on a book tour thing." Pausing only long enough to take a deep breath, Ruby then continued. "And Weiss has been pretty busy doing important work stuff - she opened up this giant factory downtown all by herself! And then sponsored all these little league teams - that was super fun..."

"I heard - about the factory, at least." There was another short pause before the woman added, "I'm afraid I underestimated her - in more ways than one."

"I mean, yeah kinda," Ruby replied, again choosing honesty over tact. "She's only like a genius, you know. They keep giving her all these important tasks, and she keeps knocking them outta the park!"

"She was always...quite intelligent…"

"More than that! She's sooo smart and really...uh, what's the word? Savvy!"

"Is that so..."

"Oh yeah, for sure!" Leaning back on the countertop, Ruby looked like she was having fun - she wore that big, goofy grin that said she was enjoying the topic at hand. Meanwhile, Weiss watched the entire conversation on the verge of pure shock - having no idea how it had continued this long.

"She's super amazing!" Ruby carried on, sending Weiss a warm, loving smile that made her heart skip a beat. "I'm sure she gets so many high fives at work, but I try to give her a lot when she gets home too!"

"High fives?"

"Yeah! You know that thing where two people slap hands? That thing."

"Oh. Yes. That...gesture…"

In that comment, Weiss heard disdain and haughtiness creeping back into her mother's tone. It was a sign that their time had run out, and her mother's true personality was about to rear its ugly head.

But, before Weiss could signal to Ruby that it was time to hang up the call, her mother spoke again.

"And...how are the two of you doing?"

Again, Weiss nearly sat down as her jaw dropped in shock. She'd never had a conversation like this with her mother - not even one remotely close to this. Yet here Ruby was...chatting away like they were old friends catching up.

"We're doing great!" Ruby answered with a big grin, leaning back on the counter and swinging her feet. "We were just talking about expanding our family!"

"...excuse me?"

"Yeah - we're getting a puppy! So you're gonna be a grandma!" Hearing the word, Ruby cringed and backpedaled. "I mean, not that you're old or anything! You're still really young! But like, officially you'd kinda be a grandma. Even if it's just a puppy, I think you can still be a grandma, if you want to be. Even if you don't want to be...uh, well, we're still getting a puppy..."

Trailing off, Ruby glanced at Weiss for feedback. Personally, Weiss thought the meandering sentences were adorable, so she gave Ruby a thumbs up. Her mother, on the other hand...

"Do you always ramble like this?" her mother asked.

"Uh, yeah?"

"I see…" There was a long pause on the other end of the line, which the woman was using either to collect herself or to determine the best reprimand to give Ruby. It had better be the former, because if she scolded Ruby...Weiss would have some not-very-nice words to say to that.

"If you happen to be free this weekend, would you care to have lunch?"

Or...the woman was using the silence to figure out how to ask Ruby to lunch?

"Uhhh…" Eyes wide, Ruby looked to Weiss for an answer but she raised her hands - silently telling Ruby it was up to her. Weiss had no idea what was going on anymore anyway. Every assumption she had about that conversation turned out wrong.

"Yeah, sure! Why not?" Ruby answered with another grin. "Have you ever been to Brown Bear Burritos?"

"I can't say I've ever heard of it, but I'm certain one of the chauffeurs can find it."

Shaking her head, Weiss leaned over and whispered, "Stella's," in Ruby's ear.

"Or I mean, we could go to Stella's?" Ruby added before waiting for an answer.

"I am familiar with Stella's," Weiss' mother responded. "But if you'd like to go to this...burrito place...then I'm more than happy to oblige."

Weiss mouthed 'wow' to Ruby - stunned that her mother had agreed to go to a restaurant that didn't have a name-recognizable chef. All to win Ruby over?

When Ruby started giggling, Weiss stared at her in confusion.

"You say 'burrito' just like Weiss does!" Ruby said, smiling at the connection she'd just made. "Like it's a dirty word or something - it's so funny!"

Shaking her head, Weiss smiled - but she couldn't help but smile when Ruby was happy.

"Our household wasn't quite known for eating...burritos," Weiss' mother answered - making Ruby giggle again at the word.

"Totally the opposite of mine. We had burritos all the time!"

As soon as the words left Ruby's mouth, Weiss waited for the rebuttal - sensing the perfect opportunity for the woman to throw a condescending insult Ruby's way.

"Whichever restaurant you'd prefer," the woman said instead. "It's your choice, as my guest."

"Stella's," Ruby replied with a nod. "Definitely Stella's, but maybe next time we'll get burritos."

"Certainly. Would Sunday at noon work for you?"

"Uh, yeah, sure!"

"I'll meet you there then."

Sensing that the conversation was wrapping up, Ruby looked at Weiss and shrugged. "Sounds good!"

"And if you would…" the woman added before a pause stretched out over the line - both Ruby and Weiss waiting on bated breath for what would come next. "Please tell my daughter she's more than welcome to join us. I'd...like to see her, if she's free."

"Don't worry; I'll invite her," Ruby said, smiling at Weiss. "I'll see you later then!"

"Yes. Thank you for calling, Ruby."

"No problem! Have a great day!"

"You too."

Hanging up the phone, Ruby blew a big puff of air through her lips. Then she smiled.

"I kinda liked her too!" she said, setting Weiss' phone down on the table with a laugh. "What do you think?"

"I...really don't know what to think."

Her mind was a scrambled mess at the moment. If her mother had been rude and cruel, as expected, she'd have no issue writing the woman off for good. Instead, Ruby was going to lunch with her on Sunday.

"I can't believe that was my mother," Weiss finally replied, pointing towards the phone. "Are you sure you called the right number?"

Giggling at the pseudo-joke, Ruby nodded.


"Then…" Trailing off, Weiss tried to sort out her thoughts but quickly gave up with a shake of her head. "Then I guess we're going to lunch this weekend."

"No, no, no," Ruby quickly replied, shaking her short, brunette hair all over the place. "You don't have to go if you don't want to. Unless you want to?"

Carefully considering the question, Weiss found that the idea of sitting at the same table as her mother wasn't nearly as...off-putting as it used to be. If anything, a part of her was curious about what their relationship could be like now - when Weiss was happy, confident in her decisions, and not living under her parents' thumbs.

"I don't know if I want to," she answered honestly. "But I think I can."

After thinking about it a little more, she shook her head and smiled at Ruby. "Of course, that could change multiple times between now and Sunday."

"But that's what you have me for!" Ruby replied with a grin. "To support you!"

The statement was so genuine and sincere, it nearly brought tears to Weiss' eyes.

Ruby was a never-ending fountain of support - bursting with encouragement and motivation unlike anything Weiss had ever experienced before. No matter what challenges she faced, she knew that Ruby was always on her side. Ruby was always in her corner. Ruby always had her back. Knowing that she wasn't alone gave her confidence, and it was this confidence that helped her build a remarkable and rewarding life.

If they went to lunch and Weiss' mother reverted to her old ways, it wouldn't even matter because Ruby would be right there beside her. The two of them could just stand up and walk out - together.

"Besides," Weiss added. "Do you really think I'd let you have lunch with her alone?" Pausing for a second, she scoffed at the idea and shook her head. "I don't think so."

"I could totally hold my own!"

"Right..." Weiss replied in playful disbelief. "She'd eat you alive."

"Well, I've been told I'm really sweet, so…" Letting the sentence trail off, Ruby grinned when Weiss smiled.

"You are very sweet. Maybe she needs someone like you in her life." Thinking about that comment for a second, Weiss felt her heart swell with affection for the girl sitting on the counter in front of her - the girl who could worm her way into anyone's heart.

Reaching out, she gently picked up Ruby's hands.

"I need you in my life."

"D'aww...now who's the sweet one?"

"Still you."

Leaning forward, Weiss pressed a kiss to Ruby's lips, lingering for several seconds before pulling away - but remaining close enough to look deep into silver eyes.

"l love you, Ruby Rose-Schnee," she said, meaning the words with every fiber in her being. She loved everything about Ruby - her friendliness, her hyperactivity, her adorable made-up rhymes and songs. And she loved that Ruby supported her no matter what, even if that meant pressing Weiss out of her comfort zone - to work with her father, or communicate with her mother - to become a better, more forgiving, more tolerant person.

With a happy giggle, Ruby scooted closer to the edge of the island and wrapped her legs around Weiss' hips.

"l love you, Weiss Rose-Schnee," she replied, kissing the tip of Weiss' nose before pulling away with a loving smile.

Reaching up, Weiss ran her hand through Ruby's hair, lightly grazing Ruby's temple.

"Think dinner can wait?" she whispered, curling her fingers around Ruby's ear before trailing down her neck and pulling her a little closer.

"Pretty sure," Ruby replied, leaning down to Weiss with a mischievous glint in her silver eyes. "But what about Zwei?"

"He can stay down here."

When Ruby giggled, Weiss knew they agreed. Wiggling out of Ruby's legs, Weiss hurried over to the stove and turned off the burners before grabbing Ruby's hand and pulling the girl upstairs - hearing happy giggles all the while.

Most of her life had been spent doing what her parents told her to do - until she met Ruby. Such a chance occurrence, yet it changed the course of her life. She'd discovered strength within herself that she never knew she possessed. She'd discovered that she could give up everything - including her name, her identity - for Ruby.

In the end, that hadn't been necessary. She didn't need to reinvent herself or start over from scratch. With Ruby's help, she learned that she was already a decent person - she was just...missing something.

All this time, Weiss thought she had to get rid of her last name to change who she was, but that wasn't the case at all. Schnee wasn't immutable. It wasn't set in stone. It could be changed, altered, modified.

So Weiss added Ruby's name to her own, and she put Rose first because Ruby was - and would always be - the most important part of her life.