A/N: Okay folks, I don't normally do a pre-author's note, but I feel as though I should at least try and explain why this chapter took forever to come out. After the disaster of last chapter, I have been sitting on this chapter half finished for months with one issue. How do I write my way out of such a scenario? I hmm'ed and I aahhh'd. I spend hours pouring over my decisions and trying to figure out what would salvage a situation that I'd screwed up.
And in the end, I said screw it. Writing something is better than writing nothing at all, and at the very least, if I can get this arc over with, we can go back to more humor. My biggest worry was writing the resolution out in a way that didn't feel satisfactory, thus making the entire arc terrible. So hopefully this will satisfy most of you, and to those who aren't, well, we'll be back to form next chapter.
So here's the deal. This chapter does end this particular arc (one could consider this the Jaundice arc of my story) but Jaune also continues to act like an idiot for the first half of the chapter. If this is an issue, you might want to skip this chapter, but if you do want to see how this arc concludes, then read on. Without further ado...
Chapter 12: I'M INVINCIBLE!
The next few days were some of the most awkward that Jaune had ever experienced in his pre-hunting career. In fact, things would have been especially hellacious if he hadn't been planning for the fight against Cardin and his team. The next three days after he'd set up his plan, he'd busied himself with studying Cardin and his team, and after sneaking around and investigating them, he'd come to one single conclusion.
Victory was all but guaranteed. Cardin and his team refused to take their education seriously, spent most of their time bullying weaker students or partying. How they'd ever made it to Beacon was beyond Jaune, honestly. Either way, with a little bit of brainpower, and with his team at his back, he'd be able to humiliate Cardin for his statement in front of everyone. Some might have called it overkill, or an overreaction, but Jaune had always had a great deal of pride in his family; and to have someone as asinine as Cardin dismiss his family name boiled his blood. Even people back in Vacuo Preparatory School had known better than to snub the Arc family name in front of Jaune.
So distracted as he was, he even barely recognized that the situation with RWBY had become worse. Blake was all but gone most of the time, Yang's temper was looking more and more frayed by the hour, Weiss had become even more frosty and Ruby looked at wits end, barely holding herself together despite her constant attempts to meet Weiss halfway. Things weren't much better between him and Yang; while she wasn't angry with him, the disappointed looks she'd send his way every so often honestly hurt.
His own team was...ambivalent. None of them were really angry or seemed upset, but Pyrrha seemed less upbeat, and Ren and Nora seemed to be a little more distant with him. Not unfriendly, but Nora wasn't as energetic around him, nor Ren as present. Still, he'd totally fix things, once this debacle with Cardin was done and over with. He was sure that Team RWBY could fix their issues by themselves, and he was sure that given time, Yang and Pyrrha would forgive him. Heck, Ruby would end up stronger for this, wouldn't she? She'd figure out how to fix the issue herself, become a stronger leader, and best of all, he wouldn't end up making anyone any more interested in him! Everything would fix itself if given enough time. Yeah, and pigs could fly… Jaune's mind snipped back.
Jaune tapped his pencil upon the notebook he had open before him at his dorm desk, the silence
of the dorm room stifling. Jaune stared at the paper for a few seconds and suddenly his head dropped down onto the notepaper. He had too many problems and not enough solutions. He couldn't help it though; every time he started thinking about how he could fix the problem with Pyrrha and Yang, his thoughts drifted to Cardin's insult and his blood began to boil. Jaune wasn't usually quick to anger, but he held his family in high regard; not just his heroic ancestors, but his wise, strong father, his kind, beautiful mother and his incredible sisters all whom had supported and protected him his life over. To have someone so arrogant, stupid and from what his studying had uncovered, inhumane, insult his family like that was more than he could bear.
It was a familiar anger, now that he thought about it. Wasn't this a similar situation as to what he'd dealt with in Vacuo with that...who was it again? Winter? Yeah, that was it. Although, in that scenario he had literally the entire graduating class of Vacuo Preparatory School at his beck and call. Still, if he could match wits with Winter Schnee and win (even if he did technically cheat) then Cardin wouldn't be an issue. Once he was dealt with, he was certain that the issues between he, his team and team RWBY would be easy to solve, right? He picked his head up off of the notebook, leaned back and stretched. His gaze drifted over to the cheap digital clock on top of the desk and he took note of the time. Goodwitch's class would be taking place in a couple of hours, and he was certain that today would be the day. He kicked his chair away from the desk…
Only to suddenly remember that the dorm floors weren't the cool tile of Vacuo, but the carpeted floor of Vale and that sliding back on carpet wasn't very easy to do. With a cry and a crash, Jaune fell backward onto the ground, groaning. At least no one was around to see th- Jaune's train of thought stopped as he looked up and behind him, the upside down figures of Ren and Nora standing in the open doorway, Nora looking as though she were about to burst out laughing. With a sigh, Jaune closed his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, get it out of your system."
As Nora could no longer contain her laughter, and the room filled with the sounds of her guffaws, Jaune couldn't help but feel a sense of trepidation, unable to ignore the little voice in his head saying:
Are you sure this is all a good idea?
[Professor Goodwitch's Classroom]
The stage was set.
Pyrrha had joined up with the team last, her damp hair clueing Jaune in that she'd just showered as part of her post workout routine, and team RWBY wasn't too far behind her. They sat nearby, but not next to team JNPR, the space of a few chairs between them feeling a bit more rift-like than Jaune would have liked. That sense of unease kept gnawing at him the entire time, and RWBY's presence, or lack thereof wasn't helping matters any. Was it guilt that kept unsettling him? He clenched his hands and shook his head lightly. No. He'd deal with all of that later. He instead concentrated on watching Glynda enter the room and stand at the front of the class. It was a testament to her powers of intimidation as well as her reputation that her mere presence at the head of the class had dropped the dull roar of the students talking down to an almost dead quiet.
"Students. Today in class, we're going to be discussing and observing the differences in single combat, and in team combat. While being able to fight on your own is a valuable skill, it must also be said that learning to fight in a team is even moreso. The term, 'safety in numbers,' is as true as one possibly could find, and what one cannot do alone, becomes much more attainable with a team. With that being said, I'd like to have Team CRDL and Team JNPR approach the front of the class."
Cardin and his cronies were the first up, shoving and pushing each other, laughing raucously as they approached the class. Cardin was smirking up at team JNPR, Russell and Sky were busy posing and trying to silently flirt with the females in the room, and Dove, the odd one out, was quiet, simply following the rest to front.
JNPR followed second, Pyrrha right behind Jaune and flanked by Nora and Ren. Nora simply looked excited, Ren focused and Pyrrha looked...she looked off. Jaune began to open his mouth to ask what was wrong, when Cardin's voice cut across the arena, catching his attention. "Tch, this is bullshit."
Jaune turned to Cardin, smirking. "Oh, afraid you'll lose?"
Cardin rolled his eyes, pointing his massive mace at Pyrrha. "Yeah, 'cause you have the Invincible Girl on your team. Real brave of you to hide behind her skirt while she does the heavy lifting." Cardin sneered while the rest of his team chuckled and jeered, leaving Jaune seething.
The blond's hands clenched tightly and he turned on his heel to face Pyrrha, leaning in to be heard better. "Pyrrha, could I ask you for a big favor?"
Pyrrha, already looking uneasy tilted her head before replying hesitantly. "Um...I-I suppose?"
Jaune took a deep breath. "Could you...maybe...you know...sit this one out?"
Pyrrha's eyes widened. "W-what?!"
Jaune almost winced at the look on her face. "Just this once! I just want to show Cardin that I don't need you to beat him."
[Pyrrha Nikos' interest has drastically decreased!]
[Pyrrha Nikos no longer has a slight crush on you!]
[Pyrrha Nikos is no longer friends with you!]
This time, Jaune really did wince, his eyes widening to the size of dinner plates at the message popping up before him. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, FUCK. Jaune's gaze popped up to Pyrrha, who was already turning on her heel, her expression hidden from him. The bottom dropped out of his equilibrium and for a few brief moments, he wanted to call the whole thing off. What had he said? He didn't think Pyrrha would take sitting out a battle that she could have easily won herself so badly!
"Hey, wait, what?" Cardin shouted, practically laughing. "The Invincible Girl abandoned you? Oh jeeze, that's sad!"
Jaune, already distressed turned on his heel, practically snarling at Cardin. "No, I'm just saying I don't need a full team to stomp you and your pathetic cronies!" Jaune's hand clenched tightly at his side, his nails digging into his palms. Now he wasn't sure who he was mad at, Cardin or himself. Well, he was already neck deep in this, the only thing he could do was ride it out. He forced himself to calm down, taking deep breaths and doing his best to focus the white hot rage that was threatening to overwhelm him. After a few seconds, Jaune turned on his heel again to face Nora and Ren. Nora wasn't looking happy, and while Ren looked his usual stoic self, there was a slight accusing look in his eyes. Jaune leaned in, murmuring something under his breath.
Cardin meanwhile stared at the three of them, chuckling. This was all too easy; Arc was taking his bait, hook, line, and sinker. He wondered, after taking a glance at Pyrrha who had sat back down, looking quite upset, if after he stomped the rest of her team if he might be able to convince her for a night with him. She was too good for the useless waste of space that was Jaune Arc, and today would be the day he'd definitively prove it. He looked back at the rest of team JNPR and noticed that they'd stopped talking and Jaune…
Jaune was smirking wickedly. It almost took Cardin aback for a few seconds to see such a malevolent expression on the face of someone who usually looked like such a doofus, but he recovered quickly. "What's so funny, Arc? You really think you and the rest of your sad sack of a team can really beat us? Should have kept Nikos around, you could have at least had one victory under your belt!" Behind Cardin, the rest of his team snickered and guffawed at Cardin's bravado.
The smile never left Jaune's face though. Instead he unsheathed Crocea Mors and twirled it a couple of times experimentally. "You're an idiot for agreeing to this in the first place, but then again, I suppose you've got to compensate for something. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, that's why you've got such the large weapon, hm? Terrified that the rest of Beacon will find out that your weapon is the only thing you've got hanging below the belt, so you've got to attack others to make yourself feel big, is that it?"
Cardin snarled and brandished his mace. "Excuse me, Arc?"
Jaune smacked himself in the face with the palm of his hand. "Oh, stupid me, I forgot! Let me put it into terms you can understand. The only people impressed with the size of your dick in Beacon are your teammates!"
"W-w-what?!" Russel spat out, as the rest of CRDL growled and snarled at the insult. "I-I do not like Cardin's dick!"
"Sorry, what's that?" Jaune queried, digging into one ear with a pinky finger. "Can't understand you; maybe you should stop sucking your leader off so much."
If CRDL wasn't focused on Jaune, they were now, absolutely furious. Any retort they might have had was interrupted, however, by the re-arrival of Goodwitch who had returned from adjusting the machine for the arena barrier. "Alright, is everyone ready?" Jaune nodded, the smirk never leaving his face. Nora and Ren exchanged glances, before the two of them met Pyrrha's gaze. "Mr. Arc, where is your fourth teammate?"
"Tch, she ditched him, knowing how much he sucks." Cardin sneered, brandishing his mace.
"I had asked Pyrrha to sit this out, as I felt her presence would be an unfair advantage." Jaune explained. Goodwitch silently looked toward Pyrrha who simply nodded from her seat and looked away.
"That would put you at a disadvantage though, Mr. Arc." Glynda retorted, looking a bit confused at Jaune's decision.
"That's quite alright, I'm sure the three of us will have no problem." Jaune responded as he continued to stare right at CRDL, all of whom looked like they were itching to destroy Jaune for his earlier commentary. Just as Jaune had fallen for Cardin's taunt, so too did CRDL fall for Jaune's. Knowing that attacking their fragile masculinity would put him under their combined ire, they were falling perfectly into his trap.
"...if you insist, Mr. Arc. Ms Nikos, this is alright with you?" Glynda queried. Pyrrha didn't respond, only nodding her head slowly before turning her gaze away.
"Very well." Glynda walked to her seat and there was a flash of blue that indicated the shield for the arena had been activated. "Are the combatants ready?"
"Yeah, yeah, let's get this over with!" Cardin snarled, glaring angrily at Jaune.
"Nora, now!" The very moment Glynda had started the match, Jaune rushed forward at the four members of Team CRDL, but ran at an angle. Nora nodded and hoisted Magnhild to fire a grenade at the ground...or at least perpendicular to the ground. The grenade bounced once, twice, a third time, moving quickly toward CRDL all of whom calmly stepped to the side, Cardin laughing. "Wow, that's the best you've got-"
Cardin's mockery was cut short when he and the rest of his team watched as Jaune threw Croca Mors' shielth atop the bouncing grenade and literally jumped on top of it. The grenade detonated, and Jaune was launched skyward, much to the surprise, shock and confusion of CRDL. They, and the rest of the audience below stared up at Jaune with surprise as he was flung skyward atop his shield.
This, as it turns out, was the perfect distraction.
Team CRDL was so focused on Jaune in their collective fury that the four of them didn't notice that Nora had started moving forward as soon as she'd fired her grenade and while the four members of the opposing team were busy watching Jaune fly into the air like a snowboarder hitting a sweet ramp, Nora made her way next to the team, within striking distance.
It wasn't until she'd swung Maghnild into Russel's unprotected chest and pulled the trigger to add an additional explosive element to her swing that they noticed her presence, and by then, it was too late. The massive swing of the warhammer, combined with the explosive charge detonated upon impact was enough to not only send Russel flying, but to have him crash into Sky and send the two of them slamming into the barrier. Maybe if they'd been paying more attention, they could have defended and rolled with some of the impact, but instead Nora's attack managed to take both of them out, plummeting their Aura's down below the 15% mark. Two, almost simultaneous buzzers sounded to let CRDL know that two of theirs had been knocked out of the fight.
Cardin and Dove looked shocked, caught unaware, but since their attention was now on Nora, Dove was unfortunately equally as unprepared as Ren snuck up from behind, and suddenly found his legs being swept out from underneath him. "Wha-" With a cry, Dove found himself thrown into the air by Ren, an easy target for his StomFlower pistols.. The boy was unable to dodge and found himself getting utterly hammered with both guns of StormFlower, the twin guns peppering him with a hundred rapid shots. By the time Dove hit the ground, another buzzer sounded signalling his removal from combat as well.
To say that it was a disaster for Cardin would have been an understatement. Within thirty seconds, Team JNPR had demolished his, taking them out of the battle before they'd even had a chance to defend themselves or fight back. That was when a whistle caught his attention. Cardin, as well as the rest of the audience who'd been also caught unaware by Ren and Nora's dual attack, looked up to see Jaune literally hanging from the rafters. The moment Cardin's attention was focused back on Jaune, Crocea Mors' sheath fell onto his head. There was a beat, then the shielth popped open into shield form, and a split second later, Jaune landed atop it, shoving Cardin to the ground under his weight.
Cardin groaned as Jaune stepped off of his face and gave a wince as Jaune stepped onto the edge of his shield, flipping it into the air and catching it onto his arm. With a smirk, Jaune walked forward, amid a smattering of applause from the surrounding students. Surely with a display of such cunning, Pyrrha would be willing to let her exclusion slide, right? His elation was short lived when the message stating her rekindled interest did not appear. Face falling, Jaune was too distracted to notice what was going on around him, notably, the warning cry that Nora gave mere moments before the tip of Cardin's mace slammed into Jaune's side and sent him flying, tumbling over and over a few times. "You!" Cardin snarled. "You think you're so clever, don't you?!"
Jaune thanked his lucky stars for having an inordinately large amount of Aura, or such a blow could have taken him out, as he never saw it coming. Aura was helpful even against unseen blows, but not nearly as effective as it was against attacks one was aware of. Jaune staggered to his feet, barely acknowledging the cry of panic Nora gave. Commotion erupted behind him, and Jaune whirled around on his heel only to watch Nora and Ren converge on Cardin. While they outnumbered him, Cardin was a bit more skilled than he let on, taking on both of them without much effort. Explosions from the tip of Cardin's mace were keeping Ren at bay, and while Nora's raw strength was a match for Cardin, she also wasn't gaining much ground.
He shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs from it. There wasn't much time. Cardin was holding off his team, so he could recover, but they couldn't keep it up forever. Cardin was quite a tank like fighter, which would require a bit more thought than previously. With his mind cleared, Jaune took a look at the board. Cardin's surprise attack had taken out a massive chunk of his Aura, just over 50% in total. If he was to win this, he'd have to be careful. The fight raged on, Ren peppering Cardin with shots from Stormflower while Nora did her best to bring Cardin down with nearly room shaking strikes from her hammer. An idea struck. Cardin was busy worrying about the other two, which meant his attention was no longer on Jaune. With a smirk Jaune slowly approached as quietly as he could.
He waited, a little longer until Nora had proceeded to swing her hammer in a downward strike which was blocked with both hands against the haft of Cardin's mace, and Jaune struck. He rushed forward and swung his shielth into the back of Cardin's knees, dropping him into a kneeling position. With his stance no longer bracing him, Nora's hammer overpowered him and crashed right into his face, driving him further to the floor. Jaune, not hearing the buzzer sound, didn't take any chances and before Cardin had a chance to recover, slammed the edge of his shield right into Cardin's face, to the tune of a cry of pain and the sound of a buzzer, signifying that Cardin had indeed lost.
Jaune gave a sigh of relief, and Nora gave an oddly restrained cry of victory. Ren simply holstered his weapons. As Cardin got to his feet, his expression filled with seething anger toward Jaune, Goodwitch approached, the barrier having been deactivated. "Excellent work, JNPR. Team CRDL, you allowed yourselves to be distracted by flashy movements. You should have been more aware of your surroundings, especially you, Cardin. As leader, you are required to be aware of everything going on around you."
Cardin gave a smile that looked more like a pained grimace and answered with something that might have been misconstrued as, "Yes, Ms. Goodwitch," if one were to try and listen carefully. The larger boy stomped to his seat, throwing glares at everyone, but most of all toward Jaune, who couldn't help but smirk knowingly. A smirk that was short lived.
No message had popped up to reveal Pyrrha's change of heart still, and when his gaze flickered over toward where their seating was…
Pyrrha was nowhere to be seen.
The class took an eternity to be over with, at least in Jaune's opinion. Pyrrha's absence ate away at him the entire time, until he was sitting with his hands gripping the edge of his desk in a white knuckled grip, and his heart hammered in his chest. Did he seriously screw up that badly? He didn't think Pyrrha would be that upset over not being included in a fight that she could honestly win herself! The moment Goodwitch had released the class, Jaune had gotten to his feet and practically bolted to the door to find Pyrrha. Maybe if he could just explain himself…
What was there to explain? Jaune stopped in the hallway, the other students filtering out behind him and down the hall to either side, including Ren and Nora. A sinking feeling emerged from within and Jaune had to lean against the wall to steady himself.
"Were you even paying attention?"
Weiss' voice roused Jaune from his inner turmoil, watching as the white haired heiress stormed out of the class, a very chastised looking Ruby in tow. To Ruby's side, Yang stood, eyes narrowed at Weiss and her hands clenched into fists. Ruby's eyes looked up to Weiss, her expression pleading. "I really was!"
"Oh, I'm sure. That sleepy look on your face totally smacked of focus!" Weiss huffed.
"Hey! If my sister says she was paying attention, she was paying attention! What is your problem?!" Yang snapped, her eyes flashing red and her hands clenching into even tighter fists.
Weiss twirled on her heel to face Yang and stomped a foot. "My problem? My problem is how little effort or care your sister puts into being the leader of this team! I mean, despite his lack of combat skills, even Jaune is a better leader than Ruby!"
Yang stepped forward even as Ruby's eyes widened, sensing impending disaster, but before she, Yang or Weiss could speak another word, Jaune's voice interrupted, stopping all three in their tracks. "You're wrong!" The trio turned to Jaune who'd approached, his expression deadly serious. Weiss took a step back, looking surprised at Jaune's aggressive approach.
Jaune stepped forward, appearing to tower over Weiss. "Yeah, wrong. Tell me, do you have any idea what a leader is? Hm?!"
Ruby and Yang exchanged glances, the latter's eyes turning back to lilac as she turned back to Weiss, who stammered for a few seconds before glaring and crossing her arms. "Of course I do! A leader is the person in charge of a group of an organization-"
Jaune cut her off with, "Wrong! Any idiot with a voice box can give orders! A leader is so much more than just the person in charge! A leader is someone who can bring a group to their full potential, someone who can work with each person in their own way. A leader is someone who is willing to meet someone halfway, to work with them instead of trying to force them to do as they say! All I've seen Ruby do is try to meet you halfway, but it's you who keeps acting immature and refusing to work with her because you want to have the glory of the title of leader!"
Weiss' mouth hung open, eyes wide with the expression of someone who'd just been slapped unexpectedly. While Weiss was unable to find her voice, Jaune continued, eyes narrowed. "A leader must be willing to put others before themselves, to see things from their point of view…" Jaune's voice trailed off as he spoke, and it became increasingly clear that he was talking more to himself than he was to Weiss. "...How can you be a good leader, if you can't even be a good partner?" Jaune murmured to himself. He took a step back, realization dawning over his face and he shook his head. "I'm such an idiot…" With that last mention, Jaune suddenly turned on his heel, not even acknowledging Yang or Ruby, and took off at a dead sprint, leaving Weiss standing in the hall, mouth opening and closing like a goldfish…
[JNPR Dorm Room]
The door to Team JNPR's dorm room flew open and Jaune, huffing and puffing with exertion, stepped into the room, only to be met with the confused gazes of Nora and Ren. Jaune took a look around the room and drew his lips into a thin line for a few seconds before suddenly bowing his head. "I-I...I'm sorry!" Jaune cried out.
Nora blinked. "Huh?"
"I'm sorry to both of you! That whole bullshit about a team fight was just that. I just used the team to get back at Cardin and put my pride before all of you. It was stupid, selfish, and I was a total idiot, and I'm really, really, sorry!" Jaune's head hung further, hands clenched at his sides.
Jaune was met with a few moments of silence as Nora and Ren exchanged glances. Nora spoke first. "Nah, it's cool."
"Huh?" Jaune looked up, confusion written plainly across his face.
"Cardin's a big jerk anyway, so it was great to be able to kick his butt!" Nora replied, adjusting her headphones across her neck.
Ren spoke up next, putting down his pistols onto the surface he'd been cleaning them upon. "Honestly, I don't think it's really us you should be apologizing to…" Ren trailed off meaningfully, and Jaune actually winced slightly, nodding.
"You're right. I...I just hope I didn't screw things up permanently." Jaune groaned, shoulders falling in depression. "Do you guys…?"
Ren and Nora once again exchanged meaningful glances before Ren turned back to Jaune. "She should be in the training grounds."
"Thank you, Ren. I just have to figure out how to prove that I'm sorry to Pyrrha." Jaune murmured.
"Just be honest, and admit your faults. Pyrrha doesn't seem like the type to hold a grudge, so as long as you're honest with her, I'm sure she'll forgive you." Ren explained.
Nora piped in, "Yeah, and if that doesn't work, you can always try grovelling!"
"Nora, I don't know if he needs to go that far…" Ren replied, a small, amused smile stretching across his face.
"Nonsense! Also, he has to wear an 'I Heart Pyrrha' shirt as well!"
"That's just absurd. Jaune, I wouldn't go that...Jaune?" Ren looked back, but Jaune was already gone, leaving the door swinging in his wake. "...never mind."
Nora grinned. "Wonder if he's gonna do it?"
[Beacon Training Area - Alpha]
Jaune was just about out of breath by the time he arrived at the training area marked 'Alpha,' and he paused at the entrance to the outside dirt arena that composed one of the many training areas. True to Ren's information, he noticed Pyrrha going through her motions, using spear, sword, shield and rifle alike in a beautiful dance that had Jaune temporarily entranced. He had to shake himself out of his trance, remembering what he was there for. Heart thumping rapidly in his chest, Jaune slowly walked up behind Pyrrha, who was getting back into a neutral stance, sword and shield at the ready. He swallowed, and nervously, spoke up. "P-p-Pyrrha?"
She paused, but did not look back at him. "Yes, Jaune?" Her tone was polite, too polite. Frosty, even, and Jaune winced at it. Pyrrha stood with her back to Jaune as she awaited his next words, but heard a strange sound of metal and something else hitting the dirt behind her, followed next by Jaune's voice.
"I'm sorry!" Jaune pleaded, crying out. Pyrrha, hardening the expression on her face, turned around, only to be met with...air? She looked down, only to notice with sudden shock that Jaune had literally fallen to his knees and had his head on the ground, grovelling at her feet. Her eyes widened and nervously she stepped forward, unsure of how to feel about the situation. As she approached, Jaune continued to speak. "I'm so sorry Pyrrha, I was an idiot, a fool, a moron! I let my own stupid, stupid pride get the best of me and I should have never turned you away!"
Pyrrha's lips drew into a thin line, and her expression wavered. On one hand, she'd built up a nice anger for once in her life, feeling upset that someone she'd been originally so excited to have been partnered up with had so casually turned her away like so many others had. On the other hand, the fact that he was willing to prostrate himself before her upon his apparent realization of his callous behavior. She stared down at him, expression torn. As she did, Jaune continued. "I know you must be angry with me, but I'm really, truly sorry Pyrrha. I'll do whatever it takes to prove it!"
Silence answered his pleas as Pyrrha's eyes shifted back and forth, trying to decide if she should forgive Jaune. However, Jaune's answer came not in the form of Pyrrha's voice, but a mocking tone from none other than Cardin, who had been walking by only to notice Jaune's position. "Oh man, is that sad or what? Acting like a big hot shot on the field, only to be bowing before your betters like that, huh? Realize you can't do shit without your team, did you?"
Pyrrha looked down at Jaune, who, much to her inner surprise, didn't bother to get up, move, or even respond. One hand of his was clenched into a tight fist, but he didn't make any other movements. Finally, Pyrrha's gaze snapped up at Cardin, gaze steely. "You know, at least Jaune's willing to admit when he's wrong. Honestly, it probably was a good idea he had me sit out that fight, obviously you didn't know what you were doing. It wouldn't have even been a decent warm up."
Cardin growled, and the sound of his armor clanking was heard as he stomped toward Pyrrha and Jaune, hand gripping the hilt of his mace. This time, Jaune did stand to his feet, whirling around with Crocea Mors drawn, blue eyes flashing dangerously. However, it was a gentle hand on his arm that stopped Jaune from advancing on Cardin. Behind Jaune, Pyrrha glared at Cardin, causing the larger boy to stop in his tracks and clench his teeth before muttering a slew of obscenities and stomping away in fury. As soon as he was out of sight, Jaune sighed and sheathed his blade, hanging his head afterward, unable to look at Pyrrha. Luckily, Pyrrha spoke up first.
"Do you mean it?"
Jaune nodded. "I do."
Pyrrha signed, then added, "I just...I want to be part of this team, Jaune."
"You-" Jaune choked for a second, feeling ashamed at the sound of hurt in Pyrrha's voice. "You are. I was an idiot, and I promise, I'll never do anything like that again. I don't care what Cardin says to me, or anyone else for that matter; my team, you included, are more important."
Jaune realized that Pyrrha had yet to move her hand from his arm, her touch gentle and in a way, soothing. "Do I have your word?"
"You have my word, and-"
Pyrrha finished Jaune's words, "An Arc never goes back on his word?"
Jaune chuckled, albeit nervously. "Y-yeah."
[Pyrrha's interest has dramatically increased!]
[You are now friends with Pyrrha!]
Jaune almost collapsed in relief at the sight of the translucent messages that appeared before him. Pyrrha had forgiven him! Mind, her interest had ultimately taken a slight hit, but it was a small price to pay to get back into her good graces. He turned around to face Pyrrha, who had a small smile across her face, and without thinking, he threw his arms around her in happiness. "Thank you!" Pyrrha was taken aback, but she gave her own, small chuckle and returned the embrace, her earlier anger all but dissipated in the face of Jaune's earnest apology. Jaune then let go and stepped back, his expression suddenly morphing into a nervous one. "Erm...I did want to ask something…" He shook his head. "N-never mind."
"Go ahead, Jaune." Pyrrha encouraged.
"N-no, I can't. I-I'm gonna go take over one of the other training grounds." Jaune replied, scratching the back of his neck.
Pyrrha frowned slightly. "You can train here, Jaune."
"I-I wouldn't want to bother you, especially after my earlier stupidity." Jaune answered.
Pyrrha went silent, smirking slightly. Jaune was caught off guard when Pyrrha's leg shot out and tripped him, bringing him to the ground with an, "Oof!" A look of panic crossed his face as he looked up, worried that Pyrrha had somehow not forgiven him, only to be met with Pyrrha's smiling face and outstretched hand, ready to help him back up.
"Your stance needs to be wider and closer to the ground." She advised, as Jaune grasped her hand.
Jaune couldn't help but smile back. "Y-yeah. You're right, Pyrrha. Thanks."
"Of course. Now, if you'd still like, I wouldn't mind giving you some pointers, if you think you need the help…" Pyrrha offered.
"Y-yes! Of course!" Jaune excitedly answered back, smiling from ear to ear…
At the end of their training session, Pyrrha had left first, Jaune insisting that she go and grab a shower first while Jaune made sure to clean up the training ground, cleaning up spent rounds that Pyrrha had fired earlier as a further way of making amends. Pyrrha tried to tell him he didn't have to, but Jaune had insisted, and Pyrrha gratefully made her way back to the dorm. The sun was dipping below the horizon, painting the entire sky orange as Jaune finished his task, and began to make his own way back to JNPR's dorm room.
As he stepped past the threshold back into the school, a voice spoke up. "Hey, Jaune."
Jaune turned around to see Yang leaning against the wall, a small smile across her lips. She uncrossed her arms and approached him. "O-oh, hey Yang." He'd forgotten, in his desperation to achieve Pyrrha's forgiveness, that he had ended up interfering in RWBY's business.
"Training with Pyrrha?"
"Yeah…" Jaune answered, rubbing the back of his head.
"I see." Yang shot him an aside glance, and the two began to walk back to the dorm rooms in silence for a minute or so before Yang spoke up again. "So, I thought you said you weren't going to help Ruby." Yang's voice wasn't angry or accusatory, but merely amused.
"I wasn't. I didn't." Jaune answered.
Yang raised one eyebrow. "Then what do you call your little lecture?"
Jaune shook his head. "Ruby didn't need help. Saying that she did is like saying she did something wrong, and she's been acting like a better leader than I've been these past few days. All I did was remind Weiss that a leader is something more...and remind myself as well."
Yang smiled, one of those rare, warm smiles. "Whatever you want to call it, thanks."
"Weiss has been...well, not friendly, but she was real quiet afterward. I overheard her and Ruby talking out in the hall outside the dorm, and Weiss tried to apologize to her, at least in her own insufferable way. I think you told her something she needed to hear." Yang explained.
[Yang's interest has increased!]
[You are now best friends with Yang Xiao Long!]
Jaune almost had to laugh at the new message, both in relief, and exasperation. Of course, he'd lose friends if he tried to simply just ignore their problems. Instead, he simply shot Yang a wry smile. "Don't worry 'bout it."
Yang reached over and grabbed his head in an armlock and began to grind her fist against the top of his head, laughing. "Aw, don't be so humble, Jaune! You helped save the team!"
"Hey, come on! Stop!"
The cries of Jaune's distress and Yang's laughter travelled through the hallway, and despite Yang's brusque treatment, Jaune couldn't help in soon laughing along with her, relieved that his immediate problems were no longer an issue. He'd still beat his Semblance, no doubt about that, but he knew now that he had to come up with another plan of attack that wouldn't compromise his own personal morals.
A/N 2: Electric Boogaloo: There you go, new chapter, hot off the presses. Hopefully this will tide you all over, and I've got to start working on my next update. My own personal work and video games have been preventing me from updating my fan work. Sorry. :(
B/N: Honestly, Lefou is too contrite for his own good. We got all this bitchy, entitled reviews saying "No! That's out of character! Jaune would never hurt anyone like that! He's the second coming of jesus!" completely forgetting, of course, that Jaune pre-jaunedice was selfish, prideful, and a bit of an idiot.
He was all "what do I do to fix this?" Fix what? The story is happening exactly as it should. Jaune'll learn, and the entitled and whiny ones among the readers can get bent. It's your story.
On some distant plane, in the land of ancestors, or dreams, or whatever you felt like calling it, a figure clad only in a white dress shirt sat smugly on a log in a beautiful glade. Red hair piled into a ponytail fell almost to the ground.
She swirled her hands through the air, a vision of a girl lying in bed appearing. "Oh, Jaune. My poor, sweet Jaune. We're just. Getting. Started."
She tapped a finger against the mirage, and the girl tossed and turned in her bed. "Sweet dreams~."