This was it. After all that had happened, it was finally time for Jaune to do it. There was no going back, there was no mentally rewriting what he wanted or needed to say, and there would be no more time wasted by his uncertainty regarding the whole matter he now found himself in. This was what everything had inevitably been leading up to- Jaune needed to tell Ruby how he felt. It was far past due, if he were to be honest with himself. While waylaying himself with the "what ifs", he hadn't been able to see what he was missing the whole time- the obvious. After everything Ruby had done for him, after every suggestively romantic action that had occurred between the two in the previous five months ever since that fateful night on Beacon's roof, Jaune had still been so stupid as to second guess Ruby's feelings and himself. Did he feel, somewhere deep down in his heart, that he didn't deserve her love, which is why he chose to question its existence? Was he so insecure about how others perceived him to this day that he never felt worthy of her strongest feelings? Or had he been so utterly clueless, so incredibly daft and idiotic as to not see what had been there since nearly the beginning? No matter how long were he to have pondered these questions, Jaune would never be able to pinpoint exactly what it was. What he did know for certain however, was that if Ruby really did love him, he had been missing out something amazing. But no longer- Jaune wasn't going to let this game of emotional indecision and misinterpretation continue anymore. Now, it was the moment of truth- the beginning of the end. And all it would take was a single knock.
Inhaling deeply, Jaune raised his hand to team RWBY's door, steeling his nerves in the process. As many times as he done so already throughout his day so far, one more time couldn't hurt. Besides, he knew that he needed all the confidence he could muster for what he was about to do. He had began gathering as much as he could after rushing back to his dorm from his eventful (but not necessarily fun) morning to put on some actual clothes. He continued thinking of how he was going to say what he needed to as started his search for Ruby. He had quite a bit of time to think, as the young team leader was nowhere to be found. Though, after around an hour of searching the school's grounds while lost in thought, Jaune stumbled upon Yang collecting a few textbooks from her locker. While an initial spark of fear flashed in his eyes upon seeing the blonde due to the day's earlier events, it was clear that the bad blood that Yang harbored towards him was, for the most part, no longer something to worry about. Jaune wouldn't have assumed this one hundred percent (Yang was known to hold grudges), but Yang made her way over to him to say that Ruby had gone back to their dorm, and if he wanted to catch her, it would be the time to do so. So, thanking Yang, and attempting to ignore the comment she made about "no inappropriate business happening between him and her sister" as he started to leave, Jaune made his way up Beacon's steps towards their team's rooms. With every step he took, Jaune reminded himself of why he needed to do this, and couldn't back out. Because I love Ruby- and I will tell her. He knew how she felt about him, now for certainty thanks to her outburst that morning, but he never got to say that he returned her feelings because of how shocked he'd been in the moment. That wasn't something that he could live with, though. After how stupid I've been, she needs to know more than anything. Still, a part of him worried, as it always did- had he made her reconsider her feelings after she left abruptly that morning due to his cluelessness up to that point? As soon as the thought entered his head, Jaune shook it out- don't think about that! Keep positive… And just say what you need to say. So, exhaling the breath he had been holding for longer than he expected to, Jaune pushed his fist forward and knocked on the door.
There was silence for seconds on end. Cursing himself at the possibility of missing her, Jaune started to think about where she may be. But no more than two seconds after he began to wonder this, a small voice called out from behind the door. "Come in."
It was Ruby's voice, and it all but stopped Jaune's heart. A mixture of relief and guilt washed over him as he hesitated, still feeling horrible about how dumb he had been regarding everything emotional between them. But this only lasted a moment before he willed himself to push the door open and step inside.
The room was fairly well lit, the afternoon sunlight from the open curtains spilling into the room. It was however, vacant of people- well, other than Ruby. She sat cross legged on Weiss' bed, her head resting gently against the wall. Her expression looked to be one of contentment, her eyes closed as if they were focusing on something in her mind. She looked… Peaceful. Which, given the day's earlier events, confused Jaune slightly, but it wasn't something he even thought to question. He couldn't think about anything than her, and what she deserved to be told. What he wanted to tell her, more than anything. Moving closer to the bed, Jaune stopped when he was a few feet in front of her. She still hadn't opened her eyes or spoke, probably assuming it was someone from her team. Shoving his hands in his pockets, Jaune tried to brush off the sudden bashful feeling that started to dawn on him. He felt foolish about how unsure of everything he'd been, but he still didn't want her to think badly of him for it. That is, if she already didn't. Stop thinking like that and talk! Swallowing another sigh, Jaune glanced up from the floor to the girl. "Hey, Ruby."
Ruby's eyes flew open, obviously shocked by who was in the room with her. She opened her mouth before closing it again, blushing as she averted her gaze from his and moved it to the bed. "Jaune! Uh… Hey."
"Hey…" Awkwardly, the blonde rubbed the back of his neck, his eyes moving towards the ceiling as a strange, heavy air surrounded them. Okay, this feels a lot harder than I thought it would be.
Ruby rubbed her arm and bit her lip slightly. "I, uh… I thought you were Yang. Figured she might come up to… I don't know, yell at me or something."
"Heh, I'm pretty sure she wasted all that on me earlier." As the weak attempt at a joke left his mouth, Jaune felt the awkward atmosphere thicken, making his face begin to pale. Alright- jokes aren't gonna help you through this one, Arc. Balling up a fist, Jaune started chewing his lip, looking for the proper way to start this all off, which proved to be difficult given his swirling mind of emotions.
Before he could start off however, Ruby spoke. "So… What happened earlier was embarrassing."
A small weight dropped in Jaune's stomach. That… Doesn't sound like the start of something good. Devoid of anything more intelligent to say at being caught off guard by her statement, he muttered the easiest word he could think of. "Yeah…"
"And… After I left, I talked to Pyrrha." Jaune blinked at her words, a little more nervousness creeping it's way into his mind- he wasn't sure if that was supposed to a good thing or not. But Ruby continued. "And after that, I had some time to think… Like, to really think. About everything. And, well…" She sighed, meeting his blue eyes with her own unreadable silver pair. "I'm sorry, Jaune."
Confusion now completely filled Jaune. She's… Sorry? Huh? "W-What? Why are you sorry?"
Ruby smiled a sort of disappointed smile, though it seemed to be more directed at herself than Jaune. "I'm… I'm not good at this kind of thing, Jaune. Like, reading people, or being able to see how they feel about me. And I guess after all the time we spent together, I just… I kind of thought…" She paused, blinking slowly as she did so, as if contemplating her words carefully. "And then Pyrrha told me that you… But I can't know for sure… Since I'm not good at this."
Jaune felt his heartbeat increase- what was she saying? "Ruby… What are you talking about?"
With another sigh, Ruby stood up from the bed to meet Jaune, hugging herself slightly as she did so. "Jaune… I meant what I said. Earlier today… I love you." She smiled slightly at this. "I won't deny that, and I won't try to pretend like I never said it. Because… I wanted to say it. I meant it. I mean it." Her arms dropped to her sides as she continued. "And Pyrrha said that you'd feel the same way… But if you don't, if you really don't, and only see me as a friend… I don't want things to change between us. You're my best friend, and if I mess that up..."
Jaune was at a loss for words. She was apologizing to him? After he'd been so stupid as to second guess her feelings? "Ruby… I do feel the same way."
"If you don't though-"
"I do!" Surprising them both by his volume, Jaune took a slow breath and started again. This is it! "Ruby, I do love you. A lot! Like, more than anything!"
A blush started to rise to Ruby's cheeks as she looked off to the side of the room. "Jaune…"
"And I should be the one apologizing to you! I've just been…" He let out a small, humorless laugh. "I've been stupid, Ruby. I fell for you so hard, and I never told you. And I saw some of the signs that you might feel the same way, but… I don't know. I just didn't think that… You know, I was right."
Ruby looked up at him, mild surprise now present on her face. "R-Really? I… I did try flirting with you sometimes, but… I just figured you didn't notice because I'm bad at it. Or you just didn't like me like that."
Hanging his head, Jaune took a step closer to Ruby. "Yeah… I'm sorry, Ruby. I noticed, but I just figured I was imagining them."
"... Why would you figure that I wouldn't like you back?" Ruby cocked an eyebrow curiously, causing Jaune to sigh again.
"Because you're too good for me? I'm not good enough for you? Because I'm… I'm Jaune Arc, and I'm clueless and can't take a hint, and… I didn't want to lose you if I was wrong."
A pregnant silence filled the room as both teens took in his words. A few moments passed in silence before Ruby started to grin, ever so slightly, and shook her head. "... We're both really bad at these things, aren't we?"
Despite the nerves practically chewing on his soul, Jaune found it within himself to allow a somewhat humorless smile to play at his lips. "Yeah… We are."
"I mean… We kissed. Like, more than once… And we were both still didn't know for sure…" She trailed off, her eyes meeting Jaune's with a sparkle of humor behind them. It was something Jaune appreciated immensely. I guess we BOTH worried about being wrong about each other.
"Guess we both just needed more confidence in ourselves."
Ruby nodded slowly. "I'd say so… But I guess that it's not that much of a problem now. Since, you know… We're here."
Before he could think of something else to say, Jaune's blood froze and the feeling of Ruby's hand sliding into his. Looking up, his eyes met hers once again- this time, however, there was a small twinkle in her silver pools. A twinkle that made Jaune feel as though he went to heaven. "Hey? You never have to worry about losing me, Jaune. And you definitely don't have to worry about being good enough for me- I'm just a dorky girl who loves weapons too much."
Jaune smiled wider, about to respond when Ruby's arms started to slide around his neck and run into his hair. "A dorky girl who, no matter what, will always love her clueless, adorable dork of a best friend."
A rush of joy hit Jaune in the chest, harder than anything ever could. He did it- he hadn't screwed everything up. It was all he could have ever asked for- and he was feeling like he was on cloud nine because of it. All his fears, his nerves, and any bad or conflicting emotions that floated in his mind had disappeared, and all that was left was the most intense happiness he had ever experienced. For all the times that she had made him feel better about life in the past, Ruby had now given him even more than he had ever received before. Jaune felt like it was a dream, a magnificent fabrication of his mind that couldn't possibly be real, but there was no denying this feeling. It was real, and it, along with Ruby, was his- and it felt so right. Like it was meant to happen. The word burned itself into Jaune's brain as clear as Ruby's beautiful eyes did- destiny. He could see it clearly now, and there was no way around it- destiny did exist, and his looked to be the best kind.
His arms slowly started to wrap around Ruby's waist as he gazed into those silver pools that he fell in love with all those months ago. "And… I'll always love my beautiful, incredible best friend- who's always there for me, and who's helped me out of more than I could ever have imagined." Feeling his own blush begin to rise, Jaune began to inch closer his head closer to Ruby's his actions seemingly out of his own control. "The friend who I'm so grateful would love me, despite how much of an idiot I've been to have not seen it."
A small huff was emitted from Ruby's nose. "It's okay, Jaune… You're my idiot." With that, she closed the distance between them, filling Jaune's existence with a kiss that filled all of his senses with that one feeling, one that he hadn't known just how much he'd needed- love.
His arms wrapping tighter around Ruby's waist and pulling her closer, Jaune's mind started to wander back to the night they met on that roof. The night she had saved him from whatever future he would have been apart of had she not have talked to him. The night where he been drowning in loneliness and self doubt… Until she threw him a line. The night where he had found his angel, his light, his happiness- and it was all because of her. Without Ruby, Jaune knew that nothing in his life would be right. Everything- his friends, his skills, his love for himself as well as another- it was because of her. And he felt so thankful for it. For her.
A small cough caused the two leaders to pull apart and look towards the door. Yang, looking as though she was recovering from a blush, snickered and gave the Ruby and Jaune a thumbs up. "That… That was disgustingly romantic. But still cute- good job Rubes!" Turning to leave, she glanced back at Jaune, his face now lighting up with a crimson glow as well. "You too, Vomit Boy." With that, she closed the door as she left.
Jaune blinked before meeting Ruby's gaze. Her face seemed to be just as red as his, if not more so. For a moment, neither of the two made a movement. Then, Ruby giggled. And Jaune laughed. Soon enough, they were back in each other's arms, the feelings that they had been missing out on for so long now consuming their auras and filling their worlds with something more special than anything in all of Remnant. As Jaune gazed at Ruby in his embrace, the world instantly seemed flawless in his eyes.
Thanks, Ruby- for saving me, for making me strong, and for being my friend… And now my love. I couldn't have asked for a better direction for my life- and it's all because of you.
Finally. It's finally done- after writing and rewriting this chapter around fifteen times, it's finally done! I know that this is probably a lot different in tone than the rest of the story, but it was what seemed to stick best out of any of the other ideas I had.
A number of things extended my absence from this story- I was busy with post high school/pre college life, I had writer's block on how to end the story, I realized that I no longer really like this fic much (despite still loving Lancaster), blah blah blah- this list goes on. Honestly, I never really planned for this to be longer than about two chapters (not that I did much planning at ALL), so it's my own fault, really. But this story needed closure, to which I'm sure a lot of you agreed with. Even if it isn't what you were hoping for, I hope that you enjoy it to some degree!
Thank you so much for all the reviews, comments, messages, and and helpful advice that you have all given me over the past year! It means the world to me that some of you have stuck around since the beginning (which is like, a billion years in internet time)! I will try to post more fics in the future- I have been working on like, thirty different ideas or so, and I hope to get some out to you somewhat soon!
Once again, thank you all so much for the feedback and support- I love you all!