Dedicated to the Monty Oum Project of 2016.
Chapter 1: Just how do I explain this to my best friend?
Now, contrary to what it may seem, Nora Valkyrie was not a purely impulsive individual. Her antics, while bombastic, are always measured in some way. Sure, she may lack better judgement when it came to her favourite things, such as pancakes, Ren, or explosives, but her actions are directed by clear thought more often times than not—It's just that she has far more energy than most of her peers.
"Ren. Renny! Ren?"
At the very least, she was far more energetic than her closest friend, Lie Ren. Of course, that just meant that she was the perfect partner for him! At least, she hoped that they'd be partners. Neither of them knew too much about Beacon Academy beyond what was publicly available. Which wasn't much, beyond 'it's a fancy school' and 'really important huntsmen/huntresses are there'. There was probably more to it than that, of course, but Nora always made sure to only get the important bits of information.
Speaking of important, there was a reason why she was currently attempting to wake up her hopefully-will-be-partner. N-Not in that sense, of course, but in the huntsmen sense! Yeah!
What was she talking about?
"... Yes Nora?"
Oh, right! Nora immediately shook her head from her thoughts, turning towards the green gunman with a smile, one hand shooting up into the air as she greeted him proper. "Good morning Ren!"
"Good morning, Nora." He returned a resigned smile, an infinite font of patience as he turned his attention to the nearby clock for just a moment. "... But can I ask why you woke me up at 5 in the morning?"
Nora blinked, not realizing that it was that early. Instantly, she felt bad, since she knew how much Ren needed rest. His constitution wasn't the best, and she knew that she was far too energetic yesterday, so she had initially hoped to let him sleep in. Her gaze fell towards the floor, now more interested in the hardwood flooring of the hotel they were staying in, her eyes gradually shifting over to that dark corner over there, or to her bed on the other side of the room. Anywhere away from the source of her guilt.
"... Sorry Ren..."
"It's okay Nora. You wouldn't have woken me up if it was important. Now... What's the matter?"
Honestly, Ren was far too nice to her, and she knew it. Still, she couldn't help but smile at his words, his accepting demeanour deflating part of the self-guilt she had. Make no mistake though, she'll definitely let Ren sleep in the next chance she got. However, she did have an important reason for waking him up. After all, she was reminded of this the moment her eyes fell on the bed.
"Umm... I just wanted to ask... Do you ever dream of having a shoulder angel who tries to tell you what to do, and a shoulder devil who argues with that angel about that stuff?" Nora knew she couldn't outright say what her issue was; she wasn't that clueless, after all. Still, she needed help on her issue, and Ren was the smartest most awesome person she knew. The Valkyrie's gaze settled on Ren, trying to read his expression she flashed him a nervous smile.
"I've... never really had a dream like that, no. Why do you ask?"
"Y-you know! I was just wondering how you'd react if you did! It was in a... cartoon that I saw once! Yeah!" That wasn't technically a lie, since she had watched a cartoon that had a character with that little trait. And it's not like she hadn't entertained the idea of having a shoulder-sized Ren telling her if her actions were right or not, especially during those moments where he wasn't around for her to ask. "B-but, you know... Hypothetically, if you did... What would you... do?"
Nora flashed a meek smile at Ren.
Ren's deadpan gaze told her that he didn't buy it.
"Nora? Is there something you'd like to tell me?" No longer was her friend listless, his back having straightened up as he rose to his feet. No doubt, he saw the uneasiness in her words, and all she could do was pout at him. He always saw through her words, and it wasn't fair that she could never really hide things from him. Even the smaller stuff, from surprise gifts to surprise hugs to surprise pancakes, were not safe from his appraising gaze. So really, Nora shouldn't have been that upset that her friend had managed to see through her attempts at hiding her problem.
After all, it was not 'small stuff'.
"... Well... Promise you won't laugh at me?" Her voice was quiet, unsure of what to say as she turned her attention from Ren back to her bed. This was what she was most afraid of: Behind all of her antics, all of her silliness, and all of her exuberance, Nora Valkyrie was still a fragile teenager. Ren represented everything stable in her life, and she honestly did not want to lose all that, just because of something that was... That was...
What was that thing doing?!
"Hey! Don't sit on that!" Nora's voice immediately shot up as her attention turned to her weapon, propped up against the wall. Just what was that potentially-imaginary figure doing? How dare he drink coffee on her weapon!? Without another word, the orange-haired girl lunged forward, dashing towards the other side of the room, completely missing Ren's confused glance as she tackled her hammer. The sound of face meeting wall echoed throughout the room, but Nora ignored the pain as she gave an appraising glance towards the hammer head, before sending a glare to a spot on the floor.
"What did you do that for?! Don't you know that coffee can really mess with Magnhild?"
She kept an angry pout fixed on that spot, her eyes narrowing for a good few seconds, before suddenly flashing with recognition. Her frustration shifted to one of embarrassment, her face red with anxiety as she turned back to the green gunman. Nora did not miss that blank look of confusion and concern that had formed on her partner's face. She felt everything from her cheeks to her ears heat up, her eyes shooting back down to the floor as she blurted out a pathetic apology-excuse-thing.
"Uhm... I mean, uh... I-gotta-go-check-on-our-morning-laundry-for-breakfast-help-bye!"
And just like that, she was out the nearest door, not giving Ren a chance to question her.
Nora Valkyrie was not a happy camper, and she made this known as she glared towards her problem.
"While I am sorry about how your conversation concluded... I must say that I did warn you."
And of course, the first half of her problem had the audacity to rebuke her. Not only did she ruin her chances of talking with Ren about the issue, but he followed her out the room without actually following her! Even now, Nora wasn't quite sure how the tiny glasses guy did it. She threw a frustrated glare towards her shoulder, staring down at the object of her ire, her eyes squinting as she watched the green-dressed man sip at his tiny coffee cup. The tiny coffee cup with her pink hammer symbol plastered onto it.
Even she was hard-pressed to the sheer oddity of it, and the girl found herself wondering where the man had managed to find coffee in a hotel like this. Last she recalled, the staff said they were out, for some odd reason.
"...Ugh, whatever! It's not my fault you're so difficult!"
"Now now, Miss Valkyrie. Do not lay the blame solely at my feet. I did try to be as accommodating as possible, did I not?" She could almost see the smirk behind the mug. Either he was enjoying this, or... She was really bad at reading people. Which she was, but that weakness didn't extend to strange might-be-imaginary shoulder people, right?
"You were sitting on Magnhild while drinking your thingy! You could've spilt coffee on it, and that would've exploded the wall, and then Ren would've yelled at me!"
"I am quite familiar with your weapon, Miss Valkyrie, and I assure that the chances of such an incident occurring are... quite low." The annoying man took another sip of his mug as he leaned against his cane, the tiny prop pushing against her shoulder with an almost unnoticeable pressure. "Besides, both my associate and I are incapable of interacting with the world on the same scale as you."
"That's a lie and you know it!" And Nora would not be buying any of his filthy lies for even a second! The white-haired man and his black-haired partner-in-crime were definitely responsible for the loss of some of her dummy rounds—She was sure of this! After all, she had received no less than three complaints from Ren last week, lecturing her about properly storing her grenades, even though she knew she put them away; That left only one culprit! "She's the whole reason I was grounded yester-month!"
"Yeah, can't say anything about that, can you?! I knew it was the fault of you and your evil cohort!" Nora gave a triumphant smirk as she turned her head towards the ceiling, nodding to herself before dropping the expression entirely. Waaaiiit a minute. "... Where is she, anyways?"
"... Oh, you know how she is with sensitive dust machines. Last I recall, she was trying to reacquaint herself with the ventilation system. She was quite adamant about exploring the facility's-"
"Shut up, Ozpin."
The second half of Nora's problems made herself known. There was a fiery poof on Nora's other shoulder, and the Valkyrie spotted the missing shoulder-person. Just like before, she wore the same bright-red dress with the fancy orange lines, and her hair was a silky-black as Nora's hair was orange, though far longer. And just like the first shoulder-person, firelady had Nora's symbol etched on her person somewhere, showing up as a pink tattoo that was scribbled between her shoulders.
Honestly, she was fancy and well-dressed, and would've been impressive if not for the clumps of dust that were in her hair.
"... Are you okay?" Rather than anger, Nora showed concern for the little woman, her eyes finally noticing that the black-haired person's dress was far more disorganized than usual. There was even a light dusting of pink powder on the hem of her... Wait...
"No, I am not. Incidentally, you're missing another one of your grenades." The woman gave an annoyed huff as she turned her gaze to her counterpart, glaring at the miniature man as she pointed an accusatory finger at the man. "He decided it would be a good idea to modify your ammunition while under the influence of that devil drink."
"Come now, Miss Fall. We must always strive to help assist our benefactor in her endeavours, and if she truly wishes to become a huntress, then it is our duty to fully realize her potential." Even Nora could hear the condescending tone in the man's voice, a mixture of chiding mirth and sarcasm that ... made Nora wonder if she misremembered the definition of condescending. She'd have to ask Ren later abou-
"Oh no! Ren! He's going to have so many questions..." Whatever mood Nora had before was quickly replaced by dread, instantly slumping over her upper body flopped against empty air. At least there was a counter for her to catch herself at, and this allowed the young woman to slowly organize her thoughts. "... No... I think I can explain this. I-I'll just say that I had to check on something, and he'll understand. Right Ozman?"
"Miss Valkyrie, I've informed you this before, but my name is Ozpin."
"Quiet Ozzers! You're the reason I'm in this mess! I'm just lucky that Ren hasn't caught up with me, or he'd be asking all sorts of questions!" She glared at the tiny man, her emotions once again replaced by others, worry fading to frustration. Then back to worry, when she realized that, yes, she'd have to answer Ren properly. She knew her friend was far too perceptive of this, and she also knew she had no chance of hiding the issue forever.
"Um..." The sound of tiny woman's voice broke Nora away from her thoughts, as she gave an awkward cough. "You... understand that you haven't actually escaped from your friend, right?"
"What do you mean?" Confusion flashed in Nora's eyes as she turned towards the tiny Cinder.
"You hid in the bathroom. He's standing right there." Cinder gave a dismissive wave, smirking at the look of horror that appeared on Nora's face as she gestured towards the very open doorway. "Have fun with that, by the way."
There was a moment of silence, as Nora finally turned her gaze away from the shoulder-woman towards the door.
She was right.
Her partner was right there, confusion plastered on his face, the young man's expression mixed with equal amounts concern and ... more concern, as he stood in the middle of the doorway.