Author's Notes: Happy New Year, everybody! Sorry this took a bit longer than I expected. Turns out the chapter became so long I had to divide it into two. This one isn't too big nor too minor in terms of importance, but it's the first one that enters Volume 2 territory, and as of now it really starts to deviate into an AU from the main story-line. Either ways, hope you enjoy!
Bright New Beginnings
"Cardin, c'mere." Cardin stopped beating the punching bag, the sand grating against itself as it restored the shape of the cylindrical sack. He turned halfway around, eyebrow raised at Junior. A month and a half had passed since the 'incident', and since then, the giant had assigned a pair of his workers to follow him at all times. It had caused havoc in the Orphanage at first, but Hei got really scary when he talked to the head of the place. Hell had been raised and dropped and him and Lucy ended up getting 'security detail'. At least until the rabbit Faunus could be found.
"Sure, whadaya need?" His reply was fast, quick to follow the man. He'd been growing lately, he was finally eye to eye with Junior's belly button at his current height. Getting his Aura unlocked had changed the entire playing field for fighting. It was great because most people his age only had the spiritual shield as a way to resist an enemy's attacks. Cardin had been training hard with Hei for over two years now. The Aura gave him a great boost in surpassing his own limits and working twice as hard with its healing, though numerous ear tugs from the giant and Lucy taught him not to push too far.
And out of The Club's basement they went, up the stairs, through several guarded corridors an up to a very secure door at its end. He recognized the outside of Junior's office from all the times he'd been there. The large man opened the door at once and, once inside, held it open for him to walk through. Cardin muttered a simple 'thanks' and took a comfy seat at the chair on the other side of the desk. Hei walked giant, lumbering steps and quickly made it to his own. Even sitting down, he was still a head and a half taller than the ginger. "Cardin, do you know why you're here?"
"No, not really. What's this about, Hei?" He questioned simply. He was probably one of the very few, if not the only people in the building to get away with calling him by his name. The advantages of their friendship and his mentorship, he supposed. The dark brown eyes closed as his chest sighed in relief. "Good, then none of the bozos in charge of it let anything about this slip out in their drinks."
"Slip what out? What's going on?" Cardin raised a brow when Hei grabbed a small, golden key from his pocket and opened a classical-looking cabinet to his oaken desk. Once open, he took some items out, one of them an expensive Dust revolver, before he got a thick stack of papers and dropped it in front of him. The teen waited for him to finish putting everything back inside the drawer and closing it. He looked at the papers in the meantime, barely held together by a yellow folder and several rubber bands keeping it from opening up or altogether exploding.
"Open it." Cardin did as the older man said, peeling off each ringlet of rubber, as if they were keys used to open a multilocked chest. Finally, after then or so very tense and not-so-elastic circles had been discarded, the folder could be opened. Cardin had his brows furrowed when he looked at Hei again. The man, on the other hand, had a very good poker face. He honestly couldn't read the giant if he tried. So, he opened the folder. Inside were a lot of official looking papers, most of them with letters so small one might have thought a colony of ants had been smudged against a pale sheet of paper. It was the header that caught his eye, that had him paralyzed. 'Official Approval for Adoption Permit: Hei Xiong'. He looked back at Hei, awestruck.
"I've got two permits for adoption confirmed. I know you're both leaving that shithole of an orphanage when your sister turns eighteen, but that won't be all the way until the end of the year. Her birthday's on late November, if I remember right. Originally, I only had one permit, and I planned that to be my real gift for you on your birthday, since Lucy's nearly old enough anyways. After that fucking attempt on you, though, I put on a lot of pressure the good and the bad way to get a second one. I don't want either of you under that kind of risk." When he explained it all, Cardin simply kept silence, pondering over the news as if it were happening to someone else and not him. It felt too good to be true. "Wait, so you just have to pay to get a permit for an adoption?"
"Cardin, Cardin, Cardin. What was the golden rule of Old Vale City?" At Hei's chiding, Cardin droned. "Anyone can be bought for the right price or threatened with the right words."
"Same applies here. Might be the only good thing to ever come out of the system. Anyways, if I do adopt the two of you, I sure as hell wouldn't be some sort of dad for you, and you don't need to take my last name either. But… we could try to do some of the things families do… though honestly, I can't remember any right now. Point is, this is it. This is your ticket out of Schnee's Orphanage." Cardin let those words sink in slowly. He played them in his head again and again and again. Finally, a smile slowly started to form on his face, growing so much that it might have circled around his head if it stretched anymore. He got up and ran to the man's side to leap up and wrap his arms around him. Junior's chest rumbled with laughter, taking one of his great hands and ruffling his hair. When the hug was done, Cardin reached out for the papers, but Hei slammed his hand on them.
"Now hold on, Cardin, if you just go back to the Orphanage and waltz right in with those papers, whadaya think the other orphans will do to you, or worse, the workers?" Cardin immediately retracted his hand and nodded dutifully. Hei was right, the papers were safest with him, and the redhead would not risk their chance at freedom in any way. Still, the smile did not leave his face, excitement still making him glow in spirit. Hei placed a hand on his shoulder with a half stern face. "Alright now, but first you tell your sister, alright? She's the oldest one, and she gets to make the final call. I doubt she'll say no, but you need to run that by her anyways."
"Sure, I'll tell her as soon as I get back to the Orphanage!" Before Hei could speak anymore, he was left with his mouth open as Cardin sprinted off and out of his office. Running down the stairs, he could hear the echoes of the giant's hearty laughter. He bit the great big strap of his right gauntlet, taking the great red punching glove off as he put said hand between his knees to free it. The left glove came off easier with his hand freed, running with the fighting equipment under his arm and off to where he left his clothes bag at. Getting them in, looking for a shirt and putting it on, he ran out, saying some goodbyes here and there to the recognizable friendly faces in The Club.
And so he ran, past the police officers dozing off, past the dealers settling business, by the bums begging on the streets. He made it all the way to the street where the hellish grey building stood, only rather than go into the ascetic confines, he strayed a bit from the main entrance. There was a group of the resident orphans in a circle where the few steps up leading to the double doors, laughing and pointing at something in the center. Cardin frowned. New blood. He heard one of the bigger teens mocking threateningly. "So, you think you can just come in here and become the queens of Vale, is that it? Is that what you are? The brand new fucking queens?"
"N-no, we're not, we–" The newcomer's voice was cut off as one of the older girls leaned in and slapped her over her head. The younger ones took advantage of the one downed to spit on her and the other rookie that had the terrible luck of winding up in the Orphanage. He heard some silent whimpers from the two. It prompted the others to laugh again, half of them going into the building while the others took longer to leave. One of the last ones to leave stepped real close to the girls, bent over so her face was real close to theirs. "You're our new bitches, you hear that, pretty gals? You're our fucking bitches, and if you try anything against us, you're dead."
One final gurgle and projectile shot of saliva for the two downed girls and the last of the orphans ran up the stairs with the rest of her friends. The pair were pretty, raven-haired and green-eyed. They were twins, and the only way he could tell the two apart was from their different haircuts and dress colors. And their wounds. The one in red, the one who cried more silently but much more desolately, had a broken nose and was bleeding on the right brow. Red on red. The one in white was louder, but her sobs were angrier and spiteful, her equally pretty features marred as her sister's, though she had her left eye blackened and the corner of her right jaw green and mauve with another bruise.
"Y-you want to spit on us, beat us? Just do it and-and be done with it, y-you filthy pig!" The one in white glared at him with her bright green eyes. Mostly with her right eye, her left was almost swollen shut. The one in her arms looked at him, a silent beg for mercy in her features. Cardin raised his brow at the two. They had gone especially rough on them. The teen just raised his hands slowly and carefully, coming close enough to them to be at a more comfortable talking distance with them without being threatening. "No, no, I ain't here for that. I was just gonna head for my room. How come you're new here?"
"Oh, we got sent here for a summer trip by our parents. Why do you think we're here?!" Her shout only led to more heaving weeps from her form while her sister continued to cry silently. Cardin didn't want to ask more, but from how pretty their dresses were, he could only assume their parents had been rich or nobles of some kind if they looked that much richer than everyone else. That answered the question as to why the others were beating them relentlessly. He was actually surprised for a moment. For once in his life, he saw not one, but two different people that were much, much worse off than him. He bit his bottom lip.
Freedom was his and Lucy's. They had waited and survived years of living in the Orphanage. Hei's gift was their right, the thing they deserved the most. But Cardin frowned when he remembered Aurum Cor. He had hated her intruding in their lives, even if Lucy wanted them with them, and much as he didn't want to admit it, the strange little blonde had grown on him. Even if he wanted to get himself and Lucy out of there, the older ginger would only accept the little one taking that ticket out of the hellish place. Even if everything had gone right, the two of them wouldn't have simply left and forgotten about the terrible place owned by the Schnees. Cardin sighed. At least he only had to wait less than a year for Lucy to get them out.
"Come with me." The two stopped weeping to stop and look at him incredulously, the one in red in fear and the one in white in anger. Cardin groaned. "Look, if you wanna stay here and wait for those assholes in the Orphanage to get you again, go ahead. If you want a chance to live without having to look twice over your shoulder everywhere you go, grab your stuff and come with me. Trust me, it's much, much better than any life you can get in that hell, I give you my word."
The two stayed in place, and for a second, Cardin reconsidered trying to convince Lucy to take advantage of Hei's proposal. Then the twins turned to one another. The one in white shook her head vigorously, and Cardin grunted internally, not surprised and not too pitiful of the girl's predicaments. The on in red, however, surprised the two when she nodded, before getting up, composing herself a little bit and grabbing her suitcase to walk up to Cardin and waiting. Cardin nodded at her before he looked at the other one. She gave him a pathetically angry glare in a poor attempt to intimidate him before she joined her other half. And with that, he took off, the two in tow as he retraced every step of the way back.
Twist and turns led them back to The Club, and upon looking at the building, the pair looked like they were ready to turn back. Cardin simply held the door open for them and made a motion of his head at the other side. The two hesitated once more before going inside, deciding that whatever was inside couldn't be worse than the whole of their teens in Schnee's Orphanage for the Poor and the Unfortunate. The ginger, a head taller than them, fumed internally, silently jealous of the two's luck. But, he'd go through with the decision he made. Both Lucy and Hei taught him that saying something and going through was one of the most important things in life. The power of one's word was worth more than money, they said.
And so, the two kept their heads down, many of the workers giving Cardin curious looks about the unfortunate stragglers he brought into Junior's place of work. He made the gesture and they in return didn't ask. Walking up the stairs back outside the giant's office, the three waited outside the door. Cardin was closest, and he mentally prepared himself for the conversation and argument to come. He shook his head. The sooner it was done, the sooner he could forget about the whole deal in the first place, the sooner he could get back to the last shitty months at the institute he had left. He turned to the twins. "Wait here."
He opened the door, making Hei look up from some papers from his work in surprise. At a simple 'wow, that was fast', Cardin shook his head. He gave one last look at the midnight-haired sisters behind him before taking a moment to realize how stupid his idea was in the first place. He internally smacked himself in the head. He gave his word, he was gonna follow through. So, he looked at Junior and began to tell the tale of the two, the giant intrigued and sympathetic at the story. Then he told him his grand idea.
"Cardin. You can't be fucking serious, for Christ's sake. Do you even know their names?!" Cardin flinched at that. Hei didn't lecture him unless he was onto something dumb or crazy. He guessed in this case it was both. But there was a gut feeling in him that told him it was dumb and crazy, but also right. It was what led him to give his word in the first place. So, he simply turned his head halfway back to the two of them. "What're your names, by the way?"
"There you go, they're Melanie and Miltiades Malachite. It can't be that hard to switch my profile and Lucy's for theirs, right?" Junior groaned and put his head in his hands. He stayed like that for a while before lifting his face and giving him a scrutinizing gaze. He opened his mouth to talk, but halfway through closed it. He genuinely seemed lost for words. He tried again and failed again. With a sharp inhale of his nose, he pinched its bridge with his forefinger and his thumb before closing his eyes and humming steadily. His voice finally reached a peaceful quiet. With a far more worn out tone, he simply asked. "Alright, Cardin, they're the Malachite sisters. Now, can you tell me why, after being on the shit end of everything that's had to do with the Orphanage almost all your life, would you give up your place out of that shithole for a pair of girls you don't even know? I deserve as much since, unless you forgot, I'm the one who's adopting."
Cardin gave the morose twins one final look, furrowing his brows and wondering why he had done it as well. Sure, there was the excuse in his head that Lucy wouldn't take it, but then again, he and Aury could have escaped and simply waited until Lucy turned eighteen for the three to be together again. It was the easier way, and he didn't take it. Finally, he came to an answer. "Because I think they might just be the two people who are capable of having worse than I've had it my whole life in the Orphanage. You see them, Junior? That was their first day, not their week, their first day. You know how it goes, you know it gets worse. Besides, I've got what? Nine months left, give or take a few weeks? They need this more than I do, Hei, and they sure as hell could use some training under you."
Hei finally opened his eyes and let his two brown orbs look hard against his own indigo-shaded globes. A few minutes of silence was left between the two, the girls just outside the office looking intently and definitely intrigued by the conversation. The giant then switched his gaze to the sisters, small, beaten, cold, afraid. He breathed heavily and bobbed his head. "Alright. I'll do it."
Yang put her hands on her knees, panting. She would have been laughing if she weren't so exhausted by the food fight, especially her… landing. No, that wasn't a food fight, that was a cuisine battle royale! When she saw Team JNPR fall out of the wall, covered in all sorts of meals that had been jumbled up into a grand projectile by her little sister, she magically found the breath she needed to cackle madly. Everyone was laughing, even while they nursed the bruises from the teams' quarrel. Even Miss-Stick-Up-Her-Butt had a smile on her face.
When she heard the door opening, she bolted upright, half afraid Goodwitch had finally come to give them detention. From the hustling she heard behind her, she could tell the others were nervous, but that posture relaxed and deflated when said teacher wasn't there. Sun and some attractive blue-haired friend of his were there, the former smiling, wide-eyed at the sight while the latter was simply slack-jawed at the spectacle. The blonde monkey-Faunus chuckled and slapped his friend in the back. "See, Neptune? Told you they were fun!"
"You don't say… wouldn't you say this is a bit much though?" Blue-haired 'Neptune' smiled, even as he said those words, but Sun kept his grin wide open and shook his head fiercely. There was a wave of relief that washed over Blake, one that Yang had been fortunate enough to catch, one she would definitely not let the Faunus live down. JNPR had finally picked themselves up, trying to wipe what little of the food-induced grime that covered their bodies unsuccessfully before joining RWBY, fun-loving expressions as present as was in the winning group. A pair of heavy footsteps brought their attention, and as they grew closer the mood died down. The words were the killing blow on the fun.
"Second semester in, and the lot of you had a… food fight?" Those words alone wiped their smiles away, drowned any sort of giggles the ten had shared over the events that had recently occurred. Cardin walked in the cafeteria, eyes wide and incredulous, looking at the eight of them with genuine disgust. It was a degrading sensation, one Yang did not like feeling, but no one commented on the giant's unprecedented and unwanted appearance.
All eyes were on him as he picked up a stray chicken leg that had miraculously survived the brawl, still ruined by the fact that it was on the not-so-clean floor. He looked at the fried-brown covering to the white meat over the bones, so intensely that he might have looked like a philosopher under different circumstances. The derisive look in his eyes was what had them paralyzed. "…I would have skinned any one of you alive just for a fucking chicken wing. And here you are, wasting it and everything else like the bunch of stupid bastards you are. Fuck if I know why I expected any different."
"Okay, okay, so maybe they wasted a little food, but do you really have to just come up and–"
"Fuck off." Cardin's curt shout immediately drowned out Neptune's protest, and Sun stayed out of the giant's way, giving him a silent glare. Yang felt her heart at her ears. She couldn't remember the last time she'd felt so tense because someone else was mad. Then again, Cardin wasn't just 'someone'. When the two visitors backed down and backed away, the leader of CRDL looked at the eight with a disgusted scowl before it turned to a viciously spiteful grin. "But you know what's the richest part? That you eight, every last one of you eight took a part in this. It's just too fucking good."
He walked closer, an angry, scornful smile in place as he did. A good portion of the eight shrank under his immense shadow as he got closer, silent when he continued his speech. "Well, I can't say I didn't expect this from most of you. I mean, I already knew Little Red was a child, but I thought she was mentally a fifteen-year-old, not a five-year-old. Goldie's is the same stupid bimbo she was on the first day of classes, so I can't blame her for being any different. Valkyrie's hardly any different, but she's louder than half the whores in Old Vale City, which makes her worse. Then some fucking prudish princess like Schnee sure as hell wouldn't know anything about what food's worth in the real world. And Jauney-boy… you look perfect where you are right now. And for a second, I thought Nikos was gonna shove that spear of hers up your ass and set you straight."
"Hey! Don't talk to them that way! They wasted some food, sure, but what the hell's wrong with having a little fun, huh? There's plenty of worse things than–"
"FUCK OFF!" Cardin's roar made everyone flinch, or in Ruby and Jaune's case, jump. Sun had worked up the nerve and courage to grab the giant's arm, but that had sent him flying back with a simple shove. For a moment, Yang wondered if his much more aggressive response was because he was interrupted again, because a stranger touched him, or because the blonde was a Faunus. Her bet was on a mixture of the three. One way or another, Sun was on the floor, looking absolutely bewildered and winded, without any intent on intervening further on the ginger's rant.
It had certainly worked on Yang, who was pissed on her sister's and her own's behalf on his insults against them. She'd wanted to say something back, or preferably fight him, but there was a burning sensation at the bottom of her stomach that kept her silently scowling. She sure as hell wouldn't admit to the guilty feeling, not to him. Anyone else and it might have been a different story. When he turned to them again, he was smiling. Not just any type, but the smile he got when he was gonna be vicious. "Now, where was I? Oh yeah, the crown trinity. See, I expected this kind of shit from the rest of you, but you three… you three sunk real fucking low, didn't you?
"Ren Lie, the silent fighter, the good Samaritan, the guy who puts up with everyone's shit and somehow finds the silver lining to every moronic spasm your friends have. Anyone ever tell you how great you are? How you are just the sweetest fruit in the basket? And that's not all, folks, our hero is an orphan, a fucking orphan, ladies and gentlemen. Our mute champion had no parents and somehow, he still is the posterchild of virtue. But… you're much more stupid and selfish than people give you credit for, maybe even more. For all that bullshit goodness, you still just wasted an entire school's opening banquet, didn't you? Or at least had a hand in it. Guess there's not much hope for you, then. I thought dead parents might have given you the least bit of humility, you dumb cunt."
It shocked them beyond all doubt to hear Ren, of all people, being the first to receive the hateful tirade from Cardin. Nora nearly lashed out at the mention of Ren being an orphan, more so at the blunter mention of dead parents, but Ren held her back with a grip of steel. He was angry, there was no doubting that, even for someone as peaceful as him, but his reluctance was stronger. Cardin's cruelty wasn't savage or senseless, it was smart enough to hit right home with him. It was all bitterer by the fact that there was a measure of truth to his words. Yang, and by extension the rest of RWBY tensed up when he turned to the secret Faunus, at the ready to stop the giant from doing anything more than ranting.
"Then we have Blake Belladonna. You know, for a second I thought you were one of the few people around here who understood how the world worked, one of the only students who might actually not live in a fantasy world filled with rainbows and horseshit. But for all the shit you gave her, you still became friends with Schnee, didn't you? You thought I forgot the day when we met, our first encounter, the shit you and I said about that family of cunts? No, you don't, do you? No. Because here you are, looking so proud and full of yourself about how you were part of the winning team. Not in a practice bout, not in a real battle. In. A fucking. Food fight." Blake had far fewer reservations about giving the man spiteful looks, but ultimately she suffered the same guilt that kept her from lashing out at him. Cardin smiled wide when he looked at the remaining unmentioned student.
"And finally, here she is, the one and only, the goddess in the flesh, Pyrrha fucking Nikos. I don't think I've ever met anyone half as righteous as you in my life. Most people aren't that gullible or innocent, but somehow, you are. You just have an aura of… just pure hypocrisy. You are so fucking conceited about who and what you are, about how you're just above everyone else, and you're so blind to it that you think it's your responsibility to help enlighten the rest of us. Tell me something, how the hell do you fight so good without any ribs? When do you get the time to train when you spend every free hour licking your own pussy? You and that fucking shit-eating grin of yours, smiling for your own brand of cereal, pretending that you care about others, about the world. You sure are doing plenty wasting a whole month's chow, let me tell you that right now.
"Every one of you mock me, insult me behind my back. Let me guess. 'Cardin's a brute', or 'Cardin's dumber than a sack of shit'. You know what? You're right about that, about both. But at least I'm aware of what I am and am not. Unlike you bastards, I get to sleep with myself at night in peace, because I don't pretend that you can make perfume out of my shit. And I'd be dead long before you'd catch me wasting food!" At his final words, he threw the wing in his hand at the floor in front of them. The white of his eyes had turn a hazy pink, a notable vein in his neck, anger oozing from his form. He had to take a few breaths to calm down, using his clean hand to straighten his school uniform. He turned around and marched away, viciously kicking a turned table that was in his way, sending it to the other side of the hall. He was almost out when the person Yang initially feared would show up came.
"And what is the meaning of this?! Is this a place for Hunters or for children?! And you stop right there, Mister Winchester! Don't think for a second that you're walking out here scot-free. Do you have any idea how hard the cooks worked for the welcoming feast?!" Yang, amongst a few of her braver friends, chuckled under her breath at Goodwitch blocking Cardin's way out with her riding crop. He turned to her wildly at that, far more liberal in visual shows of rage. He turned to them and gave the group a wrathful but expectant glare. Not one of them spoke up, though Yang stole a look at Ruby and Jaune, who had worried looks. When Cardin looked back at her, he pointed at them. "You think I had anything to do with this shit?!"
"Watch the language! And show me your hand. Your right hand." Cardin gawked at her, surprised, before he looked at his own hand. It was far cleaner than the rest of them, but the grease from the discarded peace of chicken might as well have made him out to be another 'culprit' of the crime scene. He gawked, actually gawked at the accusation. But, as was his custom, he grinned and laughed. Grinned and laughed mockingly. When he stopped, he looked at a very irritated Goodwitch. "You think I had anything to do with this?! You think I'd waste my time with these retards having a food fight?! You know what, I don't feel like putting with this shit today. Find someone else to fuck over in your spare time."
"Stop right there, young man! You are not going anywhere without punishment for what happened here and you will be expelled the next time you talk to a professor without any kind of respect, so you better watch your mouth!" At her shout, something that made them all flinch having never seen her that mad before, Cardin laughed again. Only this time, it was actually genuine, like he found the whole situation amusing. It left an immeasurable tension in the hall, RWBY and JNPR because they understood the intensity of a confrontation between the two, and Sun and Neptune because they looked like they desperately wanted to leave but the pair were blocking their way. Cardin bent over so his face was inches from the blond teacher's own, an act that made the rest of them nervously wonder what she would do.
"I should be mad, I really should be, but this is too good. You thought I actually valued my time here as if it were a right and not a privilege? You think I didn't count every meal, every night under a stable roof with a soft bed as if it were my last? You think I took ANY of this for granted? Expelled? Fuck that, I quit. It's been fun while it's lasted. At least now I won't have to listen to your self-serving, self-rewarding bullshit that doesn't translate to the real world." When he was on the verge of walking out, Goodwitch withdrew her whip and held him in place with her Telekinesis. That made him growl dangerously. "Let. Fucking. Go."
"Glynda, enough." The simple, clear, commanding voice of Ozpin resonated through the hall, silent as it was. The blonde professor's eyes widened immediately at the headmaster's words. She opened her mouth to argue with him, as she usually did, but Yang's eyes widened at how quickly she dropped the subject when he gave her a very direct gaze. Cardin was released from his bounds, rubbing his wrists as he did. He gave a poisonous glare to the professor as she barked, "Mister Winchester here was planning on escaping from punishment from the extreme food fight he engaged in along with teams RWBY and JNPR, professor, I hardly think that–"
"He took no part in it." Yang raised her brows. Does he trust HIM more than the rest of us now? There was such a sureness in Ozpin's tone that even Cardin looked surprised by it. When the junior professor gave him a look asking for explanation, he turned his hazel eyes upon them. For the second time that day, the blonde warrior, along with the rest of her friends, felt her stomach sink in no small amount of anxiety and guilt. His walk was slow, cane sounding loud and clear for every pair of steps he took, a sensation that Yang hated. Finally it ended, and the brawler of the team looked up to find him in front of them, Goodwitch just behind him, though far more silently. "I'm going to ask this once and only once, and I'd like you all to remember how dire the consequences can be for lying to the principal of this academy. Did Mister Winchester partake or not in this food fight?"
Yang was sure that if the eight were angry enough, they could have all nodded their heads, with the single purpose of dragging the hateful giant down to their level. But Ozpin's look was soul-burning, and any hesitation from so much as one of her group would have given them away immediately. Yang shook her head without a second doubt. So did the rest. Ozpin looked at Goodwitch behind him, who looked surprised by the collective answer. "As you can see, Glynda, Mister Winchester took no part of this childish notion. I believe apologies are due."
Now the professor had her eyes bulging, cheeks scarlet in the shame and embarrassment of being forced to say sorry. Her pleading words died in her throat when she looked at Ozpin's definitive gaze, tranquil yet unyielding. She tucked a stray strand of blonde hair behind her ear, what little escaped her bun, before she turned to the gargantuan ginger. He had his arms crossed, and in spite of his obviously still present anger, he had a victorious grin on his face as well. "Mister Winchester… I would like to apologize for my error in assuming you had taken part in this."
He chuckled much more silently now, though there was no mirth on his face, only wrath. That much Yang could tell by the pulsating vein on his forehead and the one at his throat. He simply looked at her with that grudgeful smile of his before turning around to walk away. Ozpin stopped him as well. "Mr. Winchester, you too owe the professor an apology. She might have been in the wrong to accuse her, but your lack of respect to her position and authority just now warrants as much regret as she feels at this moment."
"…Fine. I'm sorry, Professor Goodwitch. Am I done here now?" He uttered the words through gritted teeth, neck and ears red in anger. Angry as he was, he had kept his end of the bargain, and Ozpin gave an affirmative nod. The giant stormed off, this time without anyone to stop him or delay his exit. The headmaster looked around, inspecting the 'ruins' of the mess hall, making the group feel more self-conscious the colder his look got. "I believe I can handle it from here, Glynda. As for you, gentlemen, you'll be departing as well. These are Beacon matters, and I'll see to them myself."
Neptune gave them an awkward half-frown which said 'good luck' while Sun gave them a far more sympathetic and apologetic face. They followed Goodwitch's steps out of the mess hall, though they headed the opposite direction of the professor's. Now they were alone with the headmaster, and immediately the eight were much more frightened at the idea of the consequences that he'd have in store for them. Yang's stomach sank when his fingers went under his glasses just so he could very tiredly rub the bridge of his nose, no small amount of frustration in his eyes when he opened them again to look at their lot. "You know, I thought it above my students the idea of wasting time and effort in an activity as stupid as this. Two weeks of preparation went into making this banquet for the entire student body and the faculty, all wasted in one simple afternoon."
"Professor, I'm really sorry. It's my fault, I started it. Please don't punish my team or JNPR's for this. I deserve the punishments alone." For a second, Yang wanted nothing more than to kiss her little sister for her bravery and maturity in the situation they were in. The next second, she wanted to slap her on the back of the head for risking her stay in Beacon with her confession. Still, Yang grew frustrated at the feeling of helplessness that overwhelmed her at the moment. Ozpin looked at her before walking slowly again towards her, tap tap of his cane marking his walk towards her. Ruby shrank under his scrutinizing glare. "You're sorry, is that right? Does your feeling sorry undo the damage that was done?"
"No." Ruby looked at the ground, unable to look him in the eyes any longer. Ozpin stayed for a good minute like that longer, so much Yang thought she would give into insulting him so she'd be in trouble and he'd get off her sister, and then he walked back to where he could face the eight. "Thought so. And even if you did instigate, all eight took tremendous part in this childish endeavor to waste our cooks' efforts and lower the standards this academy has for its students. If any of you think yourselves exempt from the punishment this action will merit, then you will find yourselves with ill-fated misfortune."
"Professor Ozpin, are we getting detention?" Yang asked half in fear of the answer, half sure that his answer would confirm her doubts for the wrong reasons. "Have you ever gotten involved in food fights before, Miss Xiao Long?"
Her cheeks went pink. "Yes, sir."
"And have you gotten detention for them?"
They went from pink to red. "Yes, sir."
"Then it's not a very effective punishment now, is it?" The crudeness of his tone actually had Yang blushing ashamed. The last man who had managed that had been her father, the only time she'd ever brought a boy to her bed when Ruby was still to young to be fully immersed in that world. Since then, the blonde had very much enjoyed having forgotten what that felt like. Instead, she was feeling it again, though now she had the fear that the headmaster's punishment would involve something big enough to get their dad involved. That wouldn't end well. Everything went silent when Weiss spoke up. "Professor Ozpin, sir, what we did was wrong, you're right about that, but what about Cardin? He's been crass to us and an outright savage in several occasions to the rest of the student body, and the one time we get involved in something childish, we get punished and he gets to walk free."
"Has he been confrontational?" His question was immediate, making Weiss snap back with a measure of anxiety. "At times, he has, sir."
"Has he broken any particular rules, or has he just been intimidating?" Weiss opened her mouth to speak, and Yang could tell she was thinking of the incidents with Jaune, but one look from the blue-eyed Arc was enough to tell the princess to drop it. "…Just intimidating, sir."
"And have you used the arena to challenge him?" Ozpin's questions were made so simply, Yang felt stupid just in the process of finding an answer, even when she wasn't the one on the spot. "…No, sir. But he was cruel and insulted us before you arrived here, sir. If professor Goodwitch deserved an apology, don't we deserve one as well?!"
"And what did he say to you that warranted an apology?" Ozpin's question wasn't one that asked for an answer anymore. It was rhetorical, the kind adults used when children were being stubborn. "I heard what he said, before Glynda walked through those doors. Oh, he did insult you, but for that matter, you could insult him back. If you think I'll settle disputes of students badmouthing each other, you'll have better luck returning to kindergarten and asking that of your professors there. Perhaps you expect me to defend you because he disrespected you and not one of you was able to retort back. If that is the case, then you ought to understand that in this situation, you were in the wrong and he was in the right for that to have happened. Tell me, Miss Schnee, what does it say about the lot of you, if the very 'savage', as you call him, is in the right enough to curse you deservingly? If the 'savage' marks a low for the rest of you, what does it make you for him to have the moral higher ground than you?"
For a second, Yang actually felt winded at his words. The low blow that dealt the idea of Cardin actually being in the right to insult the lot of them like he did had her shocked. Yang would have said something about Jaune's suffering at the ginger's hands would only make things worse. Cardin would simply say the blonde faked his way into the academy, and at that, maybe even Ozpin would say the giant had been in the right to treat him like he did. The tall, silent specter of a headmaster looked around the room one final time before speaking up. "You're going to start fixing your situation by cleaning all of this up, and repairing the materials and the tables and the walls that you need to. Glynda will provide the materials necessary for the job. When you're done, you'll come to my office. Come Friday, you'll start your amends for this."
Author's Notes: Now, there's probably a few of you that would argue that this whole situation was blown out of proportion, but it does have a much bigger significance in this fic than it would in the actual show (you'll see why next chapter). Besides, according to the wiki, the inspiration for Ozpin's character was Tywin Lannister, which is absolutely unbelievable (thinking he's based off of Dumbledore would make infinitely more sense), so if anything, I'm having him live up to his inspiration's standards. Beyond that, I hope you enjoyed Cardin's Samaritanism in this chapter's flashback, and I hope you get better aquainted with Yang (this chapter is the official show of the second POV of this story). All in all, I hope you enjoyed, I'll try to post the next chapter as soon as I can and review what you think was done right and what needs improvement.
The Almighty Afroduck,