It's an accident. A mistake.

Sage and Scarlet are finishing up their spar while Blake, Sun, and Neptune look on. Sun tries to offer advice, while Neptune reclines lazily on the half-wall. Blake sits neatly between the two, completely absorbed in the book in her hands.

"Watch for the opening, Scar," Sun calls, his tail swinging casually behind him. "Sage has a lot of reach, but not a lot of speed."

"You calling me slow, Wukong?" Sage asks, turning to level a look at the team leader, who flashes a grin.

"Just saying I don't see you running any marathons," Sun replies, smirking as the large boy turns back to block a strike from Scarlet.

Neptune chuckles, shaking his head. "Okay, real question: who would win in a race? Yatsuhashi or Sage?"

Blake laughs softly, allowing herself to be drawn out of her novel to listen to the exchange. Sun props his chin up on his fist in thought.

"Sage," he eventually decides. "Loyalty to Team SSSN!" he asserts, pumping his fist in the air.

"No, no, no," Neptune shakes his head, sitting up. "Loyalty has no place in gambling, man. Yatsuhashi all the way. Have you seen Coco? Could you imagine the kind of conditioning she puts them through? No contest."

Sun frowns, immediately turning to scowl at his partner. "What are you talking about, man? We go through training." He jabs a finger at his significantly well-defined stomach. "You think I just woke up one day with these?"

Neptune waves him away. "Ah, go shove your abs in someone else's face," he retorts dismissively.

Blake can't mask a chuckle, and both boys turn to give her looks of amusement.

"Well?" Neptune asks, quirking an eyebrow. "Care to share your thoughts? Who would win?"

"Easy," she replies immediately, not even lowering her book. "Sage."

Sun's expression wavers—somewhere between pleased and suspicious.

"You seem awfully sure of yourself," he remarks slowly, clearly gauging her expression. "What's so great about Sage?"

Blake's lips quirk in a smirk. With the way his jealously flares out, it's amazing Sun isn't as green as Sage's hair.

She looks up from her book to give him a small smile. "You'll never catch me betting against Team SSSN," she tells him, and he beams.

"Booo," Neptune jeers, earning an irritated look from Sun. "Fight the power, Blake. Don't give into peer pressure."

The cocky trident-wielder is saved from his leader's reply when there's a clatter and the three look up to see Sage has effectively disarmed Scarlet, and levels his massive broadsword at the redhead's neck.

"And the match goes to Sage!" Sun declares.

"Not that we're surprised!" Neptune adds just as loudly, and Scarlet looks over with displeasure.

"Of course no one's surprised," the swordsman quips. "Sage could just sit on me and he'd win."

"Honestly, I'm surprised he didn't just pick you up and throw you out of the ring," Neptune remarks, rubbing his jaw as Sage chuckles, lowering his enormous blade.

"Let's see how well you do," the large boy calls, gesturing to the ring. "I'll take you on."

But Sun shakes his head. "Nah, take a break Sage. Not that you need one." An impish smirk splits his face. "Chili pepper ain't much of a challenge."

Scarlet scowls, pointing his cutlass at the leader. "Say that to my face, banana boy!" he shouts, and Blake chuckles at their antics.

She loves her team dearly, but there's something about SSSN that just makes her feel at home. No pressure to be anything she's not. No prejudices to face—just pleasant company and the occasional brawl when things (predictably) get out of hand.

"How about you, Blake?" Sage calls, glancing over. "Care to have a turn?"

Blake lowers her book, considering it. She hadn't exactly planned on a spar today, but it would probably do her some good. She isn't participating in the doubles match, so she should take the chance to keep her skills sharp.

"What'dya say, my darling?" Neptune leaps off the wall, bowing low and sweeping out his arm dramatically. He looks up to flash a grin. "You wanna go a few rounds?"

Sun rolls his eyes at his friend's dramatics and turns to make a sly comment to Blake, when her book falls to the ground.

She has his attention immediately—Blake cares for her books almost as much as her blade—when he sees she's gone completely stiff, her eyes wide and unfocused as she stares at the ground.

"Blake?" he asks, his tone riddled with concern. He places a hand on her shoulder, trying to claim her gaze. "Blake, what's wrong? What happened?"

Neptune, who had stooped to collect the book, frowns with alarm at Blake's sudden freeze. Sage and Scarlet make their way over, foreheads creased with worry.

"You alright there, love?" Scarlet calls, sheathing his cutlass. He tilts his head to the side, studying her. "You look a bit poorly."

She jerks to attention suddenly, drawing in a sharp breath and snapping her head up. Her golden eyes are overbright and wild and she narrows them exclusively at Neptune, who steps back in alarm.

"Don't call me that," she spits out, her voice whipping out low and fast. "Ever."

Neptune holds up his hands in defense, dropping the flirtatious act instantly. "I'm sorry, Blake," he apologizes, sincerity ringing out clearly in his words. "Honestly. I won't say it again."

Blake bites her lip as she stares him down, knowing full well she's being completely unreasonable but not exactly sure how to save face.

He didn't know, you idiot, she berates herself. None of them know.

So she falls back on her old haunt: running.

She leaps down from the wall and turns to bolt, but a warm hand closes around her arm, and she looks over her shoulder to see Sun holding her there, looking absolutely wounded.

"Blake, come on, you don't have to go," he tries to coax her. "Look, it's fine, okay? You don't want us to call you that, we won't call you that." He shrugs. "Easy as that."

"Yeah," Scarlet adds, drawing closer. "Or, we can just kick Neptune out. We like you more than him anyway."

She appreciates his attempt to lighten the mood, but her mind's eye is darkened by the image of a White Fang mask, and suddenly Scarlet's bright red hair is just too much and she can see him

"Blake, what's wrong?" Sun asks softly. His tone bleeds with worry for her.

But she pushes away from the comfort and concern. All she can hear is Adam.

Adam whispering in her ear, telling her everything's going to be okay, murmuring affectionate sobriquets that make her stomach turn in the most delightful way, foretelling the future—their future—in hushed tones.

"I just—I can't—I—" Blake shakes her head, trying to pull away, and Sage places a heavy hand on the team leader's shoulder.

"Let her go, Sun," he instructs lowly. A spark of stark fierceness flashes across Sun's face, but Sage's grip tightens, and Sun drops his hand.

He looks so defeated—so crushed at her desire to put space between them—that she almost rethinks her decision.

But then she feels the ghost of a caress against her back—a phantom touch from man whose face she rarely saw—and her mental defenses lock into place.

"I'm sorry," she tells him, her voice tight with emotion. "I just—"

Just what? Wish I told you? Wish I could tell you?

She stares at them—their expressions all twisted with concern and worry—and can't stop the overwhelming feeling that she owes them some kind of explanation. Something to prove she doesn't blame them, or resent them at all.

It's not their fault she's haunted by ghosts of her past.

"That's what he called me," she blurts out, and she sees Sun's expression darken considerably. "Adam," she chokes out. "When we…when he…"

"Blake," Sage's voice is calm and steady, and she wants to drown in it. "You can go. It's okay. You don't have to explain anything if you don't want."

It's a lifeline she appreciates more than she can put into words, and one she accepts whole-heartedly.

She turns to run—tries to outdistance her demons like always—and can't help but catch a glimpse of Sun's expression as she does.

It would haunt her if her head weren't already full of masks and lies.

-0-

It's Scarlet who eventually seeks her out.

"Lovely day," he comments, the grass crunching beneath his boots as he approaches her.

She doesn't reply, hoping—futility—that if she says nothing he'll just leave her alone.

But she knows Team SSSN better than that, and the swordsman doesn't disappoint.

"You wanna talk about it?" Scarlet asks, cocking his head to the side.

"Not particularly," she replies, hugging her knees to her chest.

Scarlet just nods, before plopping down beside her in the blood-red grass. Blake has half a mind to tell him to leave her alone, but finds herself soothed by his presence. It's been about an hour since her ungraceful departure, and she's still wrestling with anger and shame.

"It's weird you'd come here," he remarks. Blake glances sideways to find him flat on his back, staring straight up at the sky. "I thought you hated Forever Fall."

She shrugs noncommittally, glancing around at the crimson foliage. "It's not my favorite place," she murmurs. "But it's good if you want to be alone."

Her unspoken insinuation hangs heavily in the air, but Scarlet only shrugs.

"If you want me to go, I'll go," he tells her easily. He glances up and their eyes clash: bronze against gold. "But I get the feeling you don't really want to be alone."

She looks away. "I don't know what I want," she admits quietly.

He pulls himself up to a seated position, fiddling with blades of crimson grass. "Sure you do," he replies lightheartedly. "You're at Beacon. Obviously, you want to be a Huntress. You don't have to, and you have the skills to be pretty much anything you want to be. But you chose to be a Huntress."

Blake frowns, considering his words. "Yeah, but…" she trails off, looking away. "That's different."

"Is it?" Scarlet asks. Blake spares him a sideways glance and watches as he starts twisting the blades together into a chain. "I mean, you could be here, with us, at the Vytal Festival having a great time. Or, you could be with the White Fang, watching your skills and your character be taken advantage of." He glances up, offering her a lopsided smile. "Personally, I think you made the right choice. But I admit, I'm a little biased."

Blake huffs with frustration, pushing herself to her feet. "You can't make comparisons like that!" she protests. "You don't know what it's like! You don't know the first thing about the White Fang!"

She's being unreasonable and can't bring herself to care. If Scarlet thought he'd be able to mollify her with some clam rationale, he was dead wrong.

Scarlet doesn't match her anger, though; he just peers up at her, half-completed chain in his hands.

"You have every right to be angry, Blake," he tells her quietly. "You're right—I don't know what it's like. Nobody does, except you." He drops his gaze back to the chain, yanking more blades out of the grass to work into it. "But, just because I can't necessarily be perfectly empathetic—I, as you pointed out, have no idea what it's like to be apart of the White Fang—doesn't mean I can't be sympathetic."

Blake surveys him cautiously, wondering if she's being played.

"Or," Scarlet suggests, still not looking at her, "we could just sit here and make grass chains and talk about how nice the weather is."

Slowly, Blake sinks down beside him, folding her legs up under herself.

"I don't know how," she admits quietly, watching as he weaves the grass in an intricate plait.

"Aw, it's easy," he assures her. "Just watch me, okay? This piece goes under here, and this one goes over these guys…" he trails off, intertwining the blades together before tying the whole thing off and presenting her with a small crown of scarlet grass.

Blake can't help it—she smiles. It's small and quiet and barely there but it's genuine and real.

"And with this crown," Scarlet declares, lowering his voice to sound more official as he shifts up on his knees, rising above Blake. "I hereby name you Queen of…" he trails off, tilting his head to the side. "What do you want to be queen of?"

Blake blinks, caught off guard. "Oh, um, anything really. Whatever."

Scarlet nods. "Queen of…Whatever," he sets the grass chain atop her head, where it stands out starkly against her inky dark curls. He nods in satisfaction before sitting back on his heels. "We'll work on the title, but you look great," he says, offering her a cheerful grin. "You'll make a hell of a queen."

She scoffs, shaking her head, but a blush threatens to color her cheeks.

"Doubtful," she replies, looking away.

"Why not?" Scarlet asks, ripping up more grass to begin a new chain. "You're a skilled fighter, you want to help people, and you have a good heart," he shrugs. "That's a pretty queenly résumé."

Blake shakes her head again. "Yeah, and whenever people come to me with a problem that doesn't have an easy solution, I'll just run away." She picks at the grass angrily, the red pigment rubbing off on her pale fingers.

Scarlet frowns. "You can't fault yourself," he tells her quietly. "You aren't running because you're incompetent, or because you're scared." He shrugs. "At least, I don't think so."

She frowns, disliking his tone. "And you're an expert, I take it?"

Scarlet chuckles, taking no offense to her harsh words. "Not at all," he says easily. "But…I do know Sun. And I think that lends me some insight on you."

Blake immediately looks away, face burning with shame at the thought of the team leader. "I'm nothing like Sun," she tells him firmly.

"Well, to be fair, you don't know him quite as well as I do," Scarlet explains. "Just as I'm sure I don't know you quite as well as, say, Yang does."

Blake nods her acquiescence. He has a point.

Seemingly convinced that she's going to listen, Scarlet returns to his grass chain.

"Sun was…well, he was a scrappy kid," Scarlet begins. "He had to be—Vacuo's a tough place to grow up in. He fought a lot." He looks up to meet her curious gaze. "Like, a lot a lot."

"He must have been a tough kid," she remarks, picturing a tiny Sun squaring up against an opponent, small fists raised and eyes shining with determination.

"He was—well, he still is," Scarlet agrees. "But he's not really an aggressive person. I mean, he's never more violent than the situation calls for."

Blake nods, wondering where he's going with this.

"Sun fought because he had no other option," Scarlet explains. She watches as he ties off the second chain. "As long as he kept fighting, he wasn't dying."

"It's how he survived," Blake murmurs, understanding dawning on her.

Scarlet nods. "I don't want to pretend I know what it was like being with the White Fang," he says, toying with the completed chain. "But I imagine disobedience wasn't really tolerated."

Blake grimaces. That's putting it lightly.

"When Sun's presented with a problem with no easy fix, he fights," the swordsman finishes quietly. "It's no better or worse than what you do Blake—it's just how your lives shaped you. Sun fought because if he ran he would have died. You ran because if you fought you would have died." He shrugs. "Your Semblances favor survival."

There's no rush of relief, or any weight lifted off her shoulders. She still feels Adam's shadow hovering over her, but Scarlet's words brighten her—if only a little.

"Thank you, Scarlet," she tells him, sincerity burning in her words. She nods to the chain in his lap. "Would you like to be crowned King of Whatever?"

He chuckles, but shakes his head. "Nah, it'd be a waste. You wouldn't be able to see it." He holds the chain up to his hair, and sure enough, the crimson grass vanishes against his crimson hair.

Blake laughs quietly. "Well," she remarks, climbing to her feet and offering a hand to Scarlet. "I guess we'll have to find someone else, won't we?"

Scarlet nods, accepting her hand, and Blake raises her voice.

"Perhaps the tall, dark, handsome boy hiding in the trees? As if I didn't hear him coming from a mile away," she calls, turning and staring straight at the spot where she knows Sage is standing, smirking to herself.

Sure enough, Sage steps from the trees, at least having the decency to look a little ashamed.

"I've gotten good at sneaking past Sun," he explains as he draws near. "Thought I could fool you too."

Blake arches an eyebrow. "Sage, there is nothing about you that suggests you're good at sneaking anywhere," she tells him, pointedly giving his gigantic frame a once-over. He smirks.

"Fair point," he allows, folding his massive arms across his chest. "So what's this I hear about King of Whatever?"

Scarlet's eyes light up. "I made grass chains!" he explains cheerfully, pointing to the one in Blake's hair. "Here," he stretches on tiptoe to place the chain on Sage's head. "Congrats. You're now Blake's king. Sun's gonna kill you."

Sage scoffs. "He can try," the boy rumbles out.

Blake smiles, opening her mouth to reply, when her ears suddenly twitch and she turns to see Neptune making his way over.

"Hey," he greets, offering a small wave. He looks terribly uncomfortable. "Uh, just wondering if I could join the party."

Disgrace washes over Blake at his dejected appearance. She rushes forward before she quite knows what she's doing to gather the boy in a hug.

"Of course," she says quietly. "I'm so sorry, Neptune. I didn't mean to—" she breaks off with a shuddering breath, trying to keep her composure. Regret isn't an uncommon emotion for Blake, but it's one that cuts her deeply.

"Hey," Neptune soothes, patting her back. "It's okay, alright? You've got all kinds of stuff going on in that pretty head. The last thing I want to do is upset you."

She nods her appreciation, giving him a tight squeeze before pulling back. She leans around him to watch as Sun approaches, surveying the scene carefully.

"Oh good," Neptune says, turning to throw a smirk at his leader. "The court jester's here."

Sun's eyebrows pull together in annoyance. "What's that supposed to mean?" he asks.

Blake steps forward, neatly linking her arm with his, and watching as his expression clears.

"Scarlet made grass crowns," she explains, gesturing to hers.

"'Yeah, and Sage is already the king, so don't even try," Scarlet adds.

A cocky smirk splits Sun's face.

"Oh, is that so?" he asks. "And what if I stage a mutiny?"

"It'd be more like a coup," Blake corrects softly, golden eyes dancing.

Sun sighs, rolling his eyes. "Between you and Neptune, you'd swear I didn't know how to speak," he complains. "Is the end result me kicking Sage's ass?"

Blake bites her lip to hide her smile. "Yes," she assures him.

"Good," Sun replies, tipping Blake a wink as he pulls away to draw his staff. "Then I guess it's you and me, big guy."

"We all know I'd be a far better king," Sage taunts, reaching for the hilt of his blade. A sly smirk twists his lips. "Besides, it was Blake who suggested someone tall, dark, and handsome—"

His booming laughter fills the forest as Sun lunges for him.


Shows up like a month late to the RWBY fandom with a fic and feelings

Okay, so I've been really busy, but I'm back now and have a lot of fics lined up (spoiler a lot of them are about Adam because his character fascinates me sorry)

Also Scarlet is a precious, perspective, articulate, grass-chain maker. This is my headcanon.

Thoughts on the recent episodes in no particular order:

1. What the fuck Qrow

2. Blake's issues with Adam are way bigger than I thought

3. Adam's absolute garbage and I love it

4. Are Port and Oobleck okay I need to know

5. Ironwood's a badass and I'm fucking down for it

6. Where is Team SSSN honestly

7. Ruby is precious and perfect and please stop flying through the air on a rocket-propelled locker Ruby what the fuck

8. Are we going to talk about how Pyrrha just like threw Jaune into a wall or

9. If Penny is forreal dead I'm gonna be pissed because that is a waste of a beautiful character

10. THE FUCKING CHESS PIECES

11. Yang I miss you come back to me my love

12. The fight scene between Pyrrha and Penny was a religious experience so good man so fucking good

13. Is Raven ever gonna show up or like were we supposed to forget about that little scene in the season 2 finale

14. Why were Sage and Yatsuhashi riding on an Ursa I need answers

15. Emerald needs to find her fucking chill no I do not forgive her for those two measly lines on the rooftop are you kidding me

16. Ruby's bout to get fucked by the ice cream truck

17. Does the ice cream truck talk? Not that she needs to I'm just curious

18. I just want Sun to know about Adam. I just need it. Not because I want him to be jealous or possessive (because I don't think he'd be any of those things honestly) I just need him to be like "hey man it's whatever you're still good in my book I'll cheer you on while you kick his disgusting grossly possessive creepy ass" and for Blake to be y

19. More Sun and Ruby interactions

20. More Sun in general

21. Where the fuck is Winter

22. Blake needs to kick Adam's ass because I get the feeling he was weirdly controlling and that shit's not okay

23. When will people stop giving Blake shit for running away like shit man that's her fucking Semblance what do you want it's not like she hasn't kicked enough ass to prove she's perfectly capable of fighting

24. If/when Yang meets Adam she needs to be fucking appalled that Blake compared the two of them like honestly I'd be so offended are you kidding me

Okay that list got really long but I think that covers everything. Thanks for sticking around!