This story takes place in the world of RWBY owned by Rooster Teeth, it starts roughly on volume 2 episode 7's end, with canon being rewritten so that dance is the end of the first term they shared at beacon. The story assumes a base level of knowledge about the world and the characters included. For those not familiar here is a short rundown of some basic information on the world. Many elements are taken from canon, but not all. I will try and tell the story from a realistic perspective as often as I can, to the best of my ability, I intend to have 3 ships of canon characters, Jaune x Pyrrha, Weiss x Ruby, and Blake x Yang, they will not happen all at once and will take time to develop. I do not intend to have a Ren and Nora ship. While I like them as characters, I like them more as longtime childhood friends. They will find their partners throughout the story assuming I can piece it together the way I envision it in my head, but it will not be until later in the story. The story, as the title implies, will cover 4 years once completed with a possible epilogue afterwards, starting at the conclusion of their first term at Beacon.
Aura: Aura is the manifestation of a human soul, in combat aura can be used in several ways, but the most important aspect is its ability to shield its owner. When a human takes a hit in combat after unlocking their aura, it is their aura which will shield them. Each person has a finite amount, and while it does regenerate naturally, the levels of each person are specific to themselves. In the combat classes and tournament battles one is considered the victor when they drop the opponents aura into the red. How much aura is lost per hit depends on the several factors, how well defended they were, and the power of the attacker amongst others
Semblance: A person semblance uses their aura to perform a function. These functions differ from individual to the next, but it can often times be past down in families. To use a person's semblance means they need to dip into their pool of Aura. Example, Pyrrha can control the forces of magnetism with her semblance, Weiss and her family can use glyphs.
Dust: Dust is a refined form of crystal, when activated in weaponry or with somebody's aura they can perform a variety of functions. IE a fire dust can be used to manipulate fire, to various extents.
Hunters: Hunters are the protectors of Remnant, they are trained to fight Grimm, in one of 3 schools. Students accepted to hunter schools are expected to possess a certain level of combat prowess, having attended a combat school or equivalent prior to enrolling. In hunter training each person will be assigned a partner, through various means, they are to be their partner in school for the duration of their stay. If they choose to go separate ways after training, that is a decision left up to them.
Grimm: Soulless enemies of humans. They are drawn to negative emotions. They take the forms of animals, and tend to share in that animals habits in regards to fighting and hunting. Examples of Grimm include, but are not limited to: Nevermore ( big birds ), Beowulf's ( werewolves in appearance ) , Ursa (bears) , Deathstalker ( scorpion ), Goliath ( elephants ).
Faunus: Faunus have the overall appearance of a human, yet they can take on aspects of an animal. They could have cat ears, a monkey tail, antlers. They are treated, generally speaking, as sub humans, and looked down upon by society.
White Fang: White fang is a Faunus movement group, which has recently moved towards more terrorist style behavior noting how much force has been doing compared to their previous peaceful method of finding resolution. Blake formerly was a member. Most members of the White Fang are Faunus, but they do not attack only human owned enterprises to make their points, in fact the majority of the people they tend to harm, are Faunus. Though the Schnee Dust Company tends to get a particular focus given that companies stance on Faunus rights.
Schnee Dust Company: Simply the highly rich, wealthy, and powerful mega-corporation. They also happen to be one of the most controversial companies to exist. They are owned and ran by the Schnee family.
Scroll: Basically the equivalent of a very high tech cell phone.
Lien: currency ( dollars )
Persons of Interest:
Headmaster Ozpin : revered headmaster of Beacon, under his leadership Beacon is considered the top academy for hunters and huntresses in training.
Ms. Goodwitch: combat instructor at Beacon, her semblance is telekinesis. She tends to get annoyed by the antics of Beacon students as it tends to be her job to repair following an accident or incident, but she is a good instructor and cares for her charges.
Jaune (John… for this story anyway) Arc. Weapon: Crocea Mors, a family Heirloom. It is carried on the hip like a typical sword, once drawn the sheath can be expanded into a kite shield form. Semblance: Unknown. Jaune is a kind hearted boy, tends to lack in self confidence, but is known to possess an abnormal amount of aura. He is unique in that he got into Beacon without attending a combat school. In my story this was something he was open about. Which is different from Canon. Partner: Pyrrha Nikos. Jaune is the team leader of team JNPR and stands a touch higher than 6 feet tall, referred to as the Knight in the story.
Pyrrha(Peer-A) Nikos: Weapons: Milo(weapon), Akouo(Greek style hoplite shield). Semblance: Magnetism. Pyrrha is a fighter without equal, her unheard of physical prowess has earned her several perks, unfortunately she has never really had a chance to speak to people on a personal level. Despite that Pyrrha is truly a great person, caring, patient, helpful, all qualities which are almost always overlooked when compared to her physical ability. Milo has 3 forms, rifle, sword, and spear forms. She carries her weapon and shield on her back. Pyrrha is very tall for a woman, standing 6 feet tall, and is referred to as the Spartan.
Lie Ren: Weapons: Stormflower. Semblance, not specified, but he tends to be able to focus it into his weapons and physical attacks. Ren is a stoic individual, nobody would go as far as to say he is without feelings, but he tends to be very calm in any situation. His weapon is primarily a dual automatic pistol, yet it is a versatile weapon able to be used in both melee and ranged combat. Partner: Nora Valkyrie, a longtime friend. Ren is about 5'10. Gunslinger is his story nickname.
Nora Valkyrie: Weapon Magnhild. Nora is a powerful individual, typically preferring to use brute force over tactics to win her battles. She is childhood friends with Ren. Her weapon has two modes, 2 handed hammer, and grenade launcher. She is eternally happy and bubbly, even at worst of times. Her semblance allows her to absorb lighting to channel it into her weapons or herself to strengthen her attacks. Nora is about average height for a woman, around 5'5", hammer-wielder is shorthand for her.
Ruby Rose: Weapon: Crescent Rose. Ruby personally designed her weapon, it is a scythe, and sniper rifle at the same time. She was taught to her it by her uncle Qrow. Her semblance is speed, being able to move almost incomprehensibly fast, while using her semblance she leaves behind rose petals in the air. She is half sisters with her teammate Yang Xiao Long. She was granted entry into beacon due to her actions in stopping a robbery, as such she is the youngest member of the group( 15 to their 17). Despite that she does show a natural tendency towards leadership. She is the leader of team RWBY. Ruby is about 5'1 and is referred to as the Reaper.
Weiss Schnee: Weapon: Myrtenaster( a rapier, designed by herself ). Semblance: Glyphs, she can manipulate dust into various forms to due various actions which is stored in her sword, her two favorite elements are ice and lightning. Weiss is the Heiress of the Schnee Dust Company, the world's biggest, most wealthy, and most controversial family. She has an air of haughtiness about her, and while she is used to keeping people at arm's length and treating them coldly ( hence her nickname, Ice Queen. ) She is actually a good person, once people have gotten through her normally cold exterior. She is partnered with Ruby Rose. Weiss is a small individual, she stands about 5'3 and is referred to as the Heiress.
Yang Xiao Long: Weapon: Ember Celica, they are normally bracelets, when she arms them they expand to cover her forearms. They can be loaded with various dust shells and also function as a shogun which fits in well with her fighting style of power and ferocity over grace and precision. Semblance: Absorption, as she takes damage, she uses it to increase her physical power, when she uses her semblance, or is simply very angry, her eyes change to red, and her long flowing blond hair carries an odd golden energy to it, almost like a fire . She is very protective of her hair. Yang is a jokester and a prankster, she also happens to be the mother of the group in terms of maturity. Despite this maturity she always seems to be in a joking mood, eager to poke fun at her teammates, and has assigned all of them various nicknames. She is the half sister of Ruby. Partner to Blake Belladonna. She stands tall at 5'8 and is referred to as the Brawler.
Blake Belladona: Weapon: Gambol Shroud. Her custom weapon is... complicated to describe. It can be used as a sword, a grapple hook, a whip, and a scythe. Semblance: Shadow, she can make clone images of herself and temporarily vanish from view. Blake is a more mellow person, and she loves her books, especially smutty literature with her favorite book being Ninja's of Love. She is the only faunus of the group, with cat ears on top of her head. In my story she has decide to not wear her customary bow which she previously used to hide her ears already. Her partner is Yang, she stands about 5'6, and is referred to as the Shadow in the story.
Jaune Arc always wanted to be a knight, a hero really. Growing up in the famous Arc family it was expected of him in truth. Despite him having a very sickly childhood, and was never considered somebody who had the ability to protect others as was his dream. It was a surprise then when he was accepted into Beacon, the best academy for training hunters and huntresses, the defenders of Remnant. And so the hero in training took to his studies with the enthusiasm of a puppy with a new toy.
However right now, he is a hero in training, wearing a dress. Dancing with his best friend and partner, Pyrrha Nikos. He wore a dress on an off topic remark, firm in his belief that the unmatched fighter and gorgeous Spartan like woman would have a date to the winter dance. Yet as with many things in his life, he finds himself on the short end of the stick, proverbially of course.
On one hand, he is wearing a pink dress, on the other he is dancing with the girl he would only be able to describe as perfect. A physical specimen with unmatched combat prowess as her calling card, the "Invincible Girl" was as close to the phrase as can be achieved. Yet despite having the physical ability of a modern day Achilles, with a long, slender, graceful yet absurdly fit frame with hair of pure scarlet down to her waist and deep emerald eyes. She remained a wonderful person on the inside as well, humble, kind, considerate, patient. All accurate bywords when people would describe her.
For her part Pyrrha couldn't help but gaze in amazement at the goofy blond knight in training. She never expected him to keep his word to her about wearing a dress if nobody asked her to the dance, yet now that she was dancing she had this joyous grin on her face that just would not leave. She had seen him trained nightly for the past 4 months, and he had finally gained some modicum of muscle, taking on the beginnings of an athletic build himself. With eyes of deep ocean blue and golden blonde hair, he was every bit the embodiment of the classic white knight. Yet here he was, this strapping man of 17 years old, in a pink dress dancing. To keep his word, and she believed, or maybe hoped. To make her happy.
Four Years at Beacon
Ch1 Post Dance.
Still clad in the dress, and adorably enough, his sneakers Jaune was walking back to his dorm room with Pyrrha. His two other JNPR(Juniper) team mates, the bubbly and powerful Nora along with the stoic and steady Ren, were walking a fair distance ahead of them. A rush of footsteps behind them drew Jaune and Pyrrha's attention to a member of their sister team RWBY(Ruby).
"Hey Vomit Boy!" Jaune cringed as he heard his least favorite nickname.
"Hello Yang, you look nice." She did too, Yang was regarded as one of the most gorgeous women in the school. Her blond hair was thick and flowed well past her waistline, she cut a very powerful athletic figure and of course, her womanly endowment was the envy of most women in the school. He issued a sideways smile trying to placate her, or possibly distract her. He was not in the mood for her teasing at the moment.
"You know it" She said with a sly smile and turned her attention to Pyrrha. "You know Cereal Girl don't you think he, actually no, I won't tease him tonight, not while he is wearing that for you." Pyrrha blushed a bit at this and gently hugged her date with a happy expression on her face.
"I must admit, I respect your boldness Arc. However, you sir, are still a dunce." Jaune cringed again as he had another encounter he was not looking forward too. The Schnee Heiress was a small girl, but most anybody would call her beautiful with her platinum blond near white hair and delicate features only marred slightly by the scar on her face over her left eye. She was very touchy and irritable on the subject of her scar, but to many it did nothing but accentuate her natural beauty.
"Hello Weiss, I hope you enjoyed yourself tonight?" he said looking back at the young snow haired Heiress.
"I suppose I did have a good enough time, once Neptune realized I was just waiting for him to say hello." Jaune decided to let the fact that he had convinced Neptune to talk to her go unsaid.
"Well I am glad it worked out for you-" Jaune started, but was interrupted when Ruby appeared from seemingly nowhere via her semblance. She still hadn't mastered walking, much less running in high heels and only stopped when she bumped into Jaune, who managed to catch the speeding Reaper. Ruby being the youngest of the group was the smallest, yet she already had more curves on her body than the older Weiss did. She was similar to the Heiress beyond the fact that she had black hair dyed a very dark red near the tips moving closer to her scalp.
"Oh hey Jaune, sorry again about your punch. Hey has anybody seen Blake?" She asked recovering her balance.
"Last I saw she was still dancing with Sun" Pyrrha responded. She still couldn't quite get the happy off her face after dancing with Jaune, not that she felt any real desire too.
"Well the kitty cat deserved some fun. So what are we all doing over the weekend?" Yang responded
"My dear sister Yang, are you telling me that you forgot the sleepover tomorrow night?" Ruby said with a pout.
"Course not, its everybody from JNPR and Velvet right, oh I know just what to do for fun!" Everybody was scared of the smile Yang had on her face.
"Yeah Velvet said she would be there too." Blake confirmed, finally catching up with her team. Her friends still weren't used to seeing her without her customary bow on her cat ears. Blake was an athletic girl, fitting for a Beacon student, she wasn't as strong as Yang , and was a mix between Yang's power, and Weiss' grace in how her figure framed her body.
"Actually I wasn't going to go." All of them turned to look at Jaune, he quailed a bit under their collective glare.
"Sorry I have to study, Ms. Goodwitch made it clear I need to improve or I won't pass the combat assessment at the end of the year, which of course won't mean a thing if my grades don't improve too-"
"Jaune!" Pyrrha said somewhat angrily. "It's just one night, surely you can have fun with the rest of us?" Her hair swayed as she turned to face him.
"No combat school previously, remember?" He had told them that that despite being accepted to Beacon, he had zero formal education. "I need every day I can get to catch up to you all. Ozpin told me straight up he needs 100% from me or I won't be allowed back." The group continued to walk towards their dorm rooms separated only by a few feet in the same hallway as they spoke.
Pyrrha wore an obvious frown on her face, but Ruby chimed up next "Well we arrived, let's get out of these dresses-"
"Oh thank god." Jaune interjected and quickly opened the door to the JNPR dorm room.
... "-Don't worry Pyrrha I'm sure we can convince him to join us tomorrow night. Why don't you talk to him with Ren and Nora? Aren't they already inside?" The Reaper continued.
"Yeah I'll talk to them, anyway its late, and I think we all can use some rest before the slumber party tomorrow." Pyrrha said as she followed her team leader into the dorm room. Many people asked her why she allowed somebody like Jaune to be her team leader, believing herself to be more suited to the job. The truth is she saw something in Jaune from the moment their eyes met, she didn't think she was as suited to the task. If anybody was being honest with their assessment of him. They had to admit that while his combat skills were… below normal at least for now, his tactical awareness and battlefield command were excellent. As she entered she heard the end of a conversation with Jaune.
"... as I said I need to study. I can't go tomorrow but don't worry about me, you three go have fun." There was a uncomfortable pause as he looked around the room, and gathered that the decision for him to stay behind, wasn't a popular one. "Anyway I need to get out of this thing, dibs on first shower!" He then jogged into their team shower.
Nora waited until the door had closed before she said "I'm sorry Pyrrha, he is still as obvious as always isn't he?"
Nora was the only one on the group who could match Yang in terms of pure power, she hid her strength well, but it was evident on her body to those who knew where to look.
"Well, no I don't believe so at least not completely, he did get into that dress for me and tonight was wonderful. I do wonder if he still just sees me as a best friend" There was just a hint of annoyance in the redheads face.
"Well don't you worry, we will help you tomorrow before the sleepover. You know Yang is going to want to play Truth or Dare again right? We need to come up with some devious scheme to get Jaune to agree to come along." Nora said with an evil look in her eye and a sinister smile.
"Nora really I appreciate it, but just try not to embarrass him to much alright?" Curiosity overcoming her she continued "What do you have in mind?" She couldn't help but think this was a dangerous conversation to have with Nora.
"Well it's simple really, we just need to convince Jaune that its best for the team. I'm pretty sure he would feel obligated to go then. Course if that fails you could just ask him, he seems to have problems not doing what you tell him." The bubbly girl replied with a grin, causing the Spartan to blush heavily.
Nora continued with that grin growing bigger "Those was some fancy moves he showed though right?" Nora asked, causing Pyrrha to blush more.
"I never would have guessed he was such a good dancer, I knew about how large his family was. I wonder why he never talks about it, I wouldn't consider being a good dancer was all that embarrassing." Ren said.
Ren was the most soft spoken of the group, yet when he did speak it was always with a purpose. He stood tall, but thin, with the look of a martial artist in terms of shape, not overly powerful, but he carried himself with confidence and poise.
"Well, in any case it was fun and I am glad for tonight." Pyrrha said. It was obvious to all her friends, minus Jaune, that she desired more than friendship with the blond knight in training. He has as of yet not picked up on that point despite the fact that she admitted she wished he had asked her to go with him.
Nora and Ren shared a look, then Nora spoke on.
"Why don't you just tell him? Or better yet just kiss him! I'm sure he would understand your feelings at that point." A sly grin appeared on her face.
"You both know I am bad at talking about my feelings, and I can't just kiss him!" Pyrrha responded in shock, her blush hiding the fact that she almost wanted to do that.
Her teammates looked at her as she funneled through her thoughts then she continued by saying "It was hard enough just admitting I wanted to dance with him tonight. That I wished he had asked me and I liked him as a person, more would be..."
Pyrrha was going to continue when they were interrupted by Ren clearing his throat reminding them that the shower just cut off.
Jaune shortly thereafter emerged from the shower in his typical shorts and t-shirt. "Ok guys plenty of hot water left, I think I will turn in for the night" Nora zipped into the shower soon as the entry was clear.
"Jaune, because of the party tomorrow do you think we could get our training in the afternoon? I don't want to skip another day."
"Sure Pyrrha that sounds great." Her smile was radiant.
"Excellent, how about after brunch? Normally we have a late breakfast on Saturdays." Looking forwards to sparring with him always put a smile on her face.
He answered with nod, then pulled out a book while the remaining members of his team showered and turned in for the night.
Pyrrha woke up before her team, as is her habit. She did a quick glance around her room, and found her teammates sleeping soundly. After quickly dressing in her normal combat attire she went to the training room. After a couple hours of what could only be described as training dummy annihilation she had finished with her morning workout. She showered, then joined her team for breakfast. Ren and Jaune were already at work in the kitchen. As she approached she heard a conversation between Ren and Jaune becoming more clear as she closed the distance.
"Ren why are we both making pancakes?" Her team leader asked stifling a yawn.
"Well if I was the only one cooking Nora would get bored." Ren replied.
Jaune accepted this with a with a "huh, makes sense" and angled his head to the side, then continued cooking.
"Jaune, you know it would really mean a great deal to the rest of us if you would join us tonight with RWBY."
"Ren, c'mon man you know I have to study." Pyrrha stood out of view and listened to the conversation, ignoring the looks she was getting from her friends at their joint table.
"Jaune" Ren voiced back with a bit more energy then he likely intended. "It's a few hours, moreover it's important to your team. Everybody would benefit from you being there."
"Meaning Yang would have another target." He replied somewhat under his breath remembering the 'Yang or nothing approach' she has to playing truth or dare.
"Well that too but it's important to us that we all be there for team building. Hold on I have enough to get this round out to them."
Several members of the joint JNPR and RWBY teams cheered as more of their beloved pancakes arrived. Pyrrha caught Ren's eye, he understood the look. Nobody wanted Jaune there more than she did. Ren went back into the kitchen and resumed cooking. Pyrrha moved to take her seat at the table, following the mutual understanding between herself and Ren.
"Jaune I know you want to do as much as you can alone but you would have more progress if you let your team help you, that's why we are in teams after all." Ren continued to speak to him but as Pyrrha moved away she couldn't hear once she reached the table.
Yang was the last to grab some pancakes. She finished buttering them and applied some syrup. After she took a healthy bite, she voiced "Gotta admit, Ren makes the best pancakes" she spotted her sister across the table had finished eating her pancakes, waiting on more to be delivered, and chuckled when she pulled out cookies "Really Sis? Cookies and pancakes?"
She received a slow nod, almost akin to a 'duh?' and proceeded to devour cookies at an astounding rate.
"So Weissy, how'd the dance go with Neptune last night?" The Brawler asked, looking to cause some embarrassment to start her day right.
Weiss responded with a huff but eventually worded "He didn't dance with me, we just spoke for a couple hours... Wait a moment you knew that you came up and talked to us!"
The Brawler couldn't help but grin and reply back "Well I didn't keep my eyes glued on you two the entire night I was curious if he did anything more you know... provocative" This was met with a death glare from the Heiress and another fit of laughter from the Brawler.
More pancakes arrived to interrupt them, carried by Jaune this time, they were claimed in the blink of an eye. Jaune was slightly terrified at how quickly they were running out of pancake batter "How much more do you all want?" He asked.
"Just keep em coming!" Yang, Ruby, Pyrrha and Nora all said at the same time. He saw Ren pulling a second bowl out of the fridge. With a resigned sigh he started walking back to the kitchen.
Recovering from her previous mirth the Brawler asked with her normal smirk "Oh hey Vomit Boy!" Ugh, that nickname again "Why are you so bent on studying when the fall term is over?"
Jaune froze, and slowly turned to face her. He appeared to be questioning the wisdom of answering the question honestly. His honesty won out and without his customary friendly smile he sighed, then answered. "Yang, I am not naturally strong or fierce, like you are. I am not a protégé like your sister. I am not graceful and precise like Weiss, I'm not... I'm not perfect like Pyrrha I'm..." He sighed again. "Look if I want to be here next year I need to work at it. It doesn't come naturally to me. Please stop asking me to go, ok?"
The mood at the table was several degrees colder once he was back making more pancakes. Pyrrha was trying not to cry at that admission from Jaune. On one hand she was elated like the 17 year old girl she was, that her crush just called her perfect. On the other the look in his eyes and sadness in his voice nearly brought tears to her eyes.
As is normal in these situations, the youngest of the group surprised them all. "Pyrrha you don't need to worry, Jaune will go all you need to do is ask. It's obvious he will do anything you ask him." Pyrrha blushed at that, it said something that even Ruby knew of her interest in him.
Blake who had finished with her pancakes and was back to her customary book worming deadpanned "That's a dangerous thing to say to her Ruby" She blushed more.
"He has made so much progress especially when you consider that when he got here he didn't know a thing about fighting. He knew nothing about footwork, stances, not even how to defend himself. Despite all that he has made remarkable progress and is a great person." She sighed sadly. "He is an amazing leader I just wish he could see that himself, see his potential. I think he has the potential to be a truly exceptional fighter, he just needs a helping hand." The Spartan lamented.
"I for one don't see what you see in him Pyrrha." The snow haired Heiress chimed in, seemingly oblivious or simply not caring to Pyrrha's feelings.
"No Weiss, I suppose you don't. Then again it's common knowledge that you cannot see what you are not looking for." An uncomfortable silence filled over the table for several seconds. The memory of Jaune's initial pursuit of Weiss which was a constant source of pain for Pyrrha fresh in the minds of the group. The silence was interrupted by an adorable;
"Nope." They looked at Ruby.
"Nope?" Several of them replied back looking curiously at the RWBY team leader.
"Nope! Look we aren't going to argue or fight today, we are done with our first term at Beacon and we are going to have fun! With or without Jaune." They couldn't help but laugh at her childish attitude, but it was exactly what they needed. "Besides he is the only one of us who is sick, if he wants to study we should let him."
That got their attention, several pairs of eyes locked themselves directly on Ruby. "Um, Sis, what do you mean, he is sick?" Yang asked the first to piece together what Ruby said.
The Reaper seemed to remember that wasn't something she was suppose to talk about, and she tried to hide behind her cookies. There is however no hiding from Jaune's partner, a fierce look was in the Spartans eyes when she demanded "What. Do. You. Mean. Ruby?!" Punctuating each word deliberately for maximum emphasis.
She gulped, then decided she couldn't avoid the topic now and in a quiet voice said "Our first day at Beacon when we met-"
"You mean when you tried to blow me up?" Weiss deadpanned.
"I said I was sorry!" Weiss just grinned. "Anyway, I noticed he was out of breath while walking up the stairs you know the flight after getting off the bullhead, and he seemed sick. He told me that he was constantly sick as a child due to him being born with a weak heart. That's why he tires more quickly than we do."
They were interrupted when the bunny faunus Velvet walked up to their table and energetically asked them "Hey guys! what's up? Can I join in for pancakes?" In her usual cheer.
They were still trying to sort through what Ruby had revealed and it took a second for Pyrrha to say sure, however she couldn't help but tear up. As she looked around she saw that everybody at their table was touched by what Ruby had said to varying extents, even Weiss had her eyes downcast. How a boy, who was untrained. Would apply and be accepted into Beacon to protect the innocent, when he himself had a heart condition. The same boy who stood up to bullies like Cardin for people he didn't even know. She recalled the memory of how he introduced them to Velvet when he saved her from one of Cardin's acts of bullying.
"You all seem... off, did I come at a bad time?" the bunny girl asked, her ears dipped down her head thinking something was wrong.
"No, no we are ok. Hey Vel, nice to see you." Jaune said surprising them, Ren right behind him emerging from the kitchen with the last of their pancakes.
"Oh! More pancakes!" A certain hammer wielder said. Interestingly enough, half of the pancakes disappeared around the same time.
The two boys sat down at the table and began eating, Jaune couldn't help but feel the glare of eyes against him and looked around him nervously.
"Uh, guys? Something on my face?" He knew, he just KNEW something was out of place by the intense glare of his partners eyes and the way that Ruby just couldn't quite meet his gaze. He was about to interrogate the young Reaper when as usual, her sister came to her aid.
"We were just plotting on how we were gona get you to go to the party tonight." Yang said with a wink.
Jaune groaned and planted his face on the table. Ruby, keen to distract Jaune added in "Yes exactly we were gona have cookies! Oh oh and brownies!" Pyrrha perked up at brownies, she always had a weakness for chocolates. Several chuckles were heard around the table at that.
Picking up on the lead Pyrrha chimed in "It really would mean a lot to us if you went Jaune. If you need to study we can help you afterwards ok?"
A resigned groan was heard coming off the table edge as he finally spoke "Gah fine FINE if it would get you all to stop pestering me I'll go." Jaune finally caved in. There was a chorus of "Yays!" around the table. Pyrrha hugged him, Nora lamented the lack of more pancakes, Weiss chuckled at her partners energy, and Blake was just annoyed at the noise.
"So what's everybody going to do until tonight?" Velvet asked.
"Jaune and I have training to do" Pyrrha said cheerfully.
"I'm going to work on my Glyph more." Weiss surprised everybody.
"What Glyph?" Her partner asked.
"It's something I'm trying to invent, something that would let me heal the scar over my eye." Despite being more comfortable around her friends, she never really spoke about her scar, her friends were smart enough to leave it alone.
"Why would you need to invent something Snow Princess the Schnee Corporation does everything you need?" The Brawler couldn't quite hold back.
Her eyes narrowed in a Terrifying Glare, but she didn't dignify it with a response otherwise.
After the late brunch the group dispersed to go about their activities
Jaune was left winded, sore, and a touch humiliated as he picked himself off the ground for what must be the millionth time. They had been sparring for some time, he always seemed to lose track of exactly how long. He had never known Pyrrha to tire so they normally stopped on the weekends when he simply couldn't go any further. Which was different from their sessions during the week where they stopped after an hour or two. He felt that threshold was approaching quickly.
"You know Pyrrha, if I had a cookie for every time I ended up on the ground out here. Ruby would never need to eat again." The Knight joked as he struggled to find his balance.
The Spartan grabbed his shoulders with a kind smile and helped steady him, then said "You definitely are improving, it is true." The smile grew into what he might classify as ... affectionate before she continued "Why did I beat you that time Jaune?" She had taken to making him refight the battle mentally, to try an added approach beyond just the physical nature of their training, and to give him time to catch his breath between bouts which she insisted upon most sternly until he complied given her newfound knowledge regarding his health. Something which greatly assisted them in training for longer periods of time.
"You mean aside from being stronger faster and more, well, everything than I am, right?" This resulted in a slight blush from the Spartan but none the less her eyes narrowed expecting an answer.
"Ok ok fine. Well my center of balance was off, which is why you were able to push me over so easily." He shook his head side to side then continued. "Honestly though Pyrrha even if I had my balance you still could have pushed me over. I'd wager Weiss could push me over right now if she wanted." He was still struggling to catch his breath.
"And what does that tell you Jaune?" She couldn't help but feel for him seeing him wheeze while trying to breath.
"That, I'm... I'm...not-. " He sounded defeated here staring at the ground.
"Don't you dare finish that sentence Jaune. That is the attitude I am trying to get you past. It won't matter what skills I manage to give you or what physicality you gain if your mind is still closed off. Keeping your form and maintaining your stance in battle is not something that only experienced fighters do. It is absolutely critical to survival, it is not an option, it is a necessity." She cupped his face with her hands and forced him to look at her. "Jaune, you can do this. Your body will give up well after your mind. Keep your mind in the game, ok?" She said all that with a very intense glean in her eyes.
He gave her an empty smile and said "Thank you for believing in me Pyrrha. I would literally be nothing without you, you realize that right?"
Pyrrha wanted to smile at that, she cared more for Jaune than she was able to articulate, but the fact that he thought so little of himself made her want to cry. "Jaune, I'm your partner. We are suppose to help each other overcome the others weaknesses, remember?"
"I'll remember that when somebody finds out a weakness of yours Pyrrha." He said as he detached from her, his breath finally coming easily.
Pyrrha already knew her weakness, or at least the only one she was aware of. It was something she desperately needed Jaune for, her complete inability to form meaningful friendships on her own. While it's true, she was a kind and considerate person. She found conversation, real conversation a more difficult challenge than any sparring match. For all her training did to keep her mentally composed, human interaction was something she continually struggled with. She was taught so thoroughly well that while she is an unmatched fighter, the same training told her that feelings are bad. That she should always push them away. As a result she never really learned how to deal with feelings outside of the arena. This goofy awkward good natured blond boy has done more for her in this regard in the 4 months she had known him than she had in the previous 17 years of her life. She just didn't know how to tell him. Instead she retreated to more comfortable territory.
"You ready to go again?" She asked with a smile, and a mischievous grin.
Several bouts later, once again Jaune was on his back gasping for breath. He found his limbs weren't obeying him, he was absolutely, utterly, completely, exhausted. Trying several times to sit up or spin over, only to come crashing back down to the ground.
"I fear... I will... have... to lay here... awhile... Pyrrha" He managed to get out in between breaths.
Pyrrha stared down at her partner with a mix of wonder and sadness. Wonder at this boy who wants to do the right thing so badly he gives everything he has, without holding anything in reserve. Sadness due to the fact that Beacon housed several individuals who are far more regarded than he was. People who were perfectly happy with their lot in life, never really feeling the need to push themselves. Those same individuals looked down on him ever since he enrolled at Beacon. It sent a pang through her heart, but it only reaffirmed her fondness for the boy.
"Pyrrha?" he asked, giving her a curious look, his chest still heaving as he tried to breath.
She wanted to go into her feelings, to express how much he means to her. She tried to start saying so several times. Unfortunately just like normal when she tried to talk about her feelings. The training she had endured which made her the premier fighter of her time, clamped down on them. Unable to voice them. Instead she decided on something else she wanted to know, something less alien to her "Jaune, why didn't you tell me about your heart condition?"
Jaune groaned, he really didn't want to talk about this topic. He managed to roll over to his stomach and tried to push himself off the ground eventually rising to his knees while utilizing both of his arms. Somewhere in his exhausted mind he realized he never told her about it, and figured out that Ruby must have told her. Hence why she was so nervous at brunch... he kicked himself mentally for not putting it together before now.
"Ruby?" he asked trying to buy time to think, still facing the ground breathing less hard but still gulping in air as quickly as he could. He managed to bring his torso up and one of his legs into a kneeling position an elbow resting on the kneeling leg.
"A woman never reveals her sources." She said biting her lip with a nervous smile... the smile quickly deteriorated as Jaune used 'that look' he had. He doesn't use it often, but it was commanding and highly, highly intimidating.
She could only hold the gaze for a fraction of a second before her eyes dipped down.
"Ruby" she finally affirmed, and once again grabbed him by his shoulders helping him stand. Once he was up however she didn't let go. She continued to look at him, with what she hoped was care and concern. She could feel his body trying to gulp in as much air as it possibly could, she never really knew until this moment just how hard it was for him to keep up with others, it was hard for her seeing him like this now that she knew what exactly this was. Previously she just thought he was out of shape.
He sighed dejectedly, and starred at his feet. In a voice barely more than a whisper said "Do you really want to talk about this Pyrrha?" She never heard him sound this way and was left feelings confused.
"Do, I... you... do you not trust me with the truth?" She squeezed his shoulders to try impart some measure faith... or assurance for him, but was unable to completely keep the hurt out of her voice.
Jaune looked up at her and all her worry evaporated as once again he was just the kind boy with the gentle ocean blue eyes smiling at her. "Yes of course I trust you. I just, really didn't want to talk about it, to bring it with me here."
"Why then did you tell Ruby?" She couldn't help a touch of jealousy entering her voice here.
He chucked humorlessly "Ruby just earned her first nickname."
"Crater-face?" Pyrrha guessed.
"Yes Crater-face. She needed a friend. She needed to trust somebody. I just saw a scared and confused girl, and I felt the right thing to do was help however I could. Telling her a 'secret' was a great way to do that." There was a sad look in his eye as he said this, but he tried to reassure Pyrrha with one of his smiles.
She immediately felt terrible about that pang of jealousy. Jaune so casually is such an amazing person, always and seemingly effortlessly treating others so well. She absolutely loved him for his heart, despite being unable to say so.
"Now that I know about it, can you tell me why?" She pushed, her curiosity not yet being sated.
At this he bent over slightly, and uttered a deeply frustrated , emotionally charged sigh but spoke on after looking back up at her "Weiss introduced you to me as Pyrrha Nikos, the 4 time Mistral Tournament winner, decorated celebrity athlete who was heavily endorsed by several companies including cereal brands known as the 'Invincible Girl', right?" She nodded. "Well, in my hometown. I was the sick boy with a weak heart who continually let his father down and embarrassed his family. I wanted none of that here with me at Beacon." His eyes spoke volumes to her as he recalled a piece of his, evidently, painful childhood.
It took Pyrrha no time at all to understand why he didn't want to tell anybody and felt horrible for pressing the issue. She brought her arms around his body and hugged him while trying to utter an apology. He completed the hug but cut her off with a shush.
He couldn't help but notice her gorgeous red hair given that it was inches from his eyes, tied up in her customary ponytail swaying with the breeze as he rubbed her back returning the hug as the silence drew on.
She would have been content to stay here like this for some time when she heard him speak again.
"Pyrrha..." he started to say then struggled to find the words.
"HEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYYY you two!" They turned to see Ruby happily walking towards them. For reasons Jaune didn't quite understand Pyrrha continued to hug him, in fact she seemed to hug him more forcefully.
"Hey Ruby." Pyrrha said, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice, she really wanted to know what Jaune was going to say. "What's up?"
"Ren asked me to come get you two, he says if he has to cook cookies AND brownies you need to help with dinner." The Reaper responded with typical youthful cheer.
"Dinner?" Jaune asked, then looked around to observe their surroundings, it seems they were practicing for far longer than he thought, the sun was about to go down below the tree line.
"Yes of course dinner we are hungry!"
"But why would I need to help him I didn't ask for either of those things?" He replied in mock indignation.
"Well... because I want cookies, Pyrrha wants brownies and Ren needs your help!" She then vanished in a puff of rose petals as she activated her semblance.
With a resigned sigh, he trudged off towards his dorm room. Or tried to anyway, he realized that Pyrrha was actually supporting his weight, and nearly fell were it not for her catching him. She helped him limp back to the dorm, gaining the strength to stand about halfway there. Like most things in his life however he lamented, he has come to accept a steady amount of humiliation and accepted Pyrrha's willing assistance without complaint.
Jaune let Pyrrha get the first shower, she would be done quickly and he needed the time to get his strength back. Once she was out and he had his turn he had to admit the hot water did wonders for his body and his recovering stamina. He stood just letting the water fall over his body for several minutes. He remembered, wish some measure of regret that Ren was waiting for him and felt the need to hurry up and get dressed.
He emerged dressed casually in a t-shirt and shorts and noticed Pyrrha in a similar set of clothing. He took a spare moment to admire her physique and musculature while she was looking away from him fixing her hair. He couldn't help but admire the long, slender and graceful yet amazingly fit look of her figure. The alluring contours of the curves she carried from her head down through her torso and especially so in her legs. She always managed to pull off breathtakingly gorgeous woman and shockingly deadly warrior at the same time better than anybody ever would have thought possible. He realized that even if she were in a brown sack she would still manage to look regal refined and beautiful effortlessly. A blush ran through his cheeks as he quickly looked away and started his way down to the kitchen.
Before he managed to exit through the door however Pyrrha intercepted him and said "You did well today Jaune, I think your body is starting to show some results too." She squeezed his upper arm to show her point.
"Thanks Pyrrha, but I still wouldn't want to arm wrestle you." She blushed wildly at this.
"C'mon let's get to the kitchen before somethi-"
"NORA!" The intruder shouted as she opened the door.
"ng happens..." Jaune finished.
"C'mon you two we are HUNGGRRRY! HURRYYY UUUUPPPPPP!" She proclaimed then the always cheerful girl skipped back down the hallway towards the kitchen.
Jaune realized that Pyrrha had grabbed his hand during that and was still actively holding it. "Uh, are you ok Pyrrha?" She blushed like a maple leaf in autumn and let go of his hand just a touch too quickly.
"Yes, yes I'm perfectly ok. Let's go get some food before the party tonight, ok?" She stammered out, then walked at a brisk pace down the hallway.
Replaying the event in his mind he thought, wait a minute, was that her way of saying I looked good?
He knew that he absolutely was attracted to her, in fact he couldn't imagine a more attractive person. He knew she considered his personality amiable, she said so herself but the idea that she thought he was attractive too, just seemed to impossible to entertain.
When he reached the lunch room he found the table of his friends with Neptune as well as Velvet present, banging silverware on the table while demanding food. Even Weiss was playing along at this point with an amused smirk on her face.
Neither Ren or Jaune wanted to be responsible for the desserts for the party that night, both insisting that they be responsible for dinner.
"As team leader it is my responsibility to ensure that my team is well nourished, it is only right therefore that I be responsible for dinner"
"Yes but as team leader you should be given the most difficult assignment, therefore the job of preparing the cookies and brownies should be yours"
This went on for several more sentences leaving the girls amused, somewhat entertained, but getting progressively more and more hungry.
Pyrrha decided to try and end the stalemate by saying "I think you two should settle this like men, not as children." With an obvious smirk to her sly smile.
"Oh that means fisticuffs!" Nora interjected with her usual cheer.
"I have 60 lien on Ren." Blake deadpanned.
The two boys looked at each other with honest amusement.
Ruby chimed in, "C'mon nobody is going to fight, why don't you two do something else, like arm wrestle."
"I have 120 lien on Ren." Blake deadpanned again.
Reading each others look Jaune replied.
"You really to go down gunslinger?"
Ren just smirked and worked his way around the table so they could face off against each other.
Pyrrha was certainly intrigued at this point. She never actually believed Jaune would agree to arm wrestle as tired as he was and was dead set certain that the look the two shared carried some type of mutual understanding. He must have something else in mind. She knew that both Jaune and Ren considered the other a brother, they did seem to have an easy time with unspoken communication.
"This is really going to happen? This will be entertaining." Yang said with an interested twinkle in her eye.
"This should be over quick." Weiss agreed.
Ren had reached the other end of the table and both boys sat down, then almost as if this had been rehearsed they shouted at the same time:
"ROCK! PAPER! SISSORS! SHOOT!" and proceeded to put down their choices. The table was echoing with laughter(Pyrrha and Ruby), sights of girls falling out of their chairs while laughing (Yang and Nora) and looks of obvious disappointment as Blake and Weiss actually wanted to see some sport, even as they laughed with them.
Jaune ended up victorious after winning 2 out of 3 rounds leaving Ren to glare as his 'Scissors' and accept his fate as the cookie and brownie master. Pyrrha couldn't keep the blush from her face as Jaune took an honorary bow and went into the kitchen to prepare a dinner.
Turns out Ren actually won the wager as the kitchen was nearly devoid of materials needed to feed the ravenous pack of teenagers waiting.
"You knew about this already didn't you?" Jaune demanded.
The smirk he received in reply told him everything he needed to know.
While Ren was slaving away at the desserts Jaune found enough to make what he hoped, would be a filling meal for his friends. Ren watched as he prepared the party food with an obvious air of intrigue about him, unsure what Jaune was doing. Jaune had never displayed any degree of skill with cooking previously aside from helping with pancakes occasionally. Yet here he had the appearance of a professional chef in a kitchen he wasn't familiar with.
20 minutes later the cookies and brownies were cooling, an extra pan of each was made so the group would be able to hold off on devouring the rest.
Jaune emerged with his scrapped together meal. He found macaroni noodles, but no cheese to go along with it. He did however find enough to make a rich alfredo sauce and so, made macaroni alfredo. For a meat he made a rather impressive bowl of scrambled eggs with various onions, tomatoes and other ingredients added in. While Blake would have happily eaten away at the meal provided for her she squealed in delight when Jaune brought out a salad prepared with a healthy amount of tuna.
As the collection of friends dug into the meal various compliments were thrown out.
"Holy crap Jaune where did you learn to do this? More importantly why haven't you been cooking for us all along?" Yang asked in between healthy amounts of pasta and egg. "Seriously I think this could be in a main dish somewhere" She continued.
"It does seem exceptional." Weiss admitted, silencing the table. Shocked pairs of astonished eyes glaring at her. "What it's the truth!"
"Jaune, this is marvelous. Where did you learn to cook like this for so many people?" Pyrrha added in.
Jaune was never very adept at receiving praise and blushed heavily scratching the back of his head, but seemed hesitant to talk about it.
"Come on Vomit boy it can't be THAT embarrassing can it?" Jaune looked at her very irritated at both the nickname and pressing the issue.
"I am glad that you all enjoy my cooking, I hope it's enough." He said modestly.
"Jaune, can't you just accept our praise? This is very very good." Ren surprised him by voicing his thoughts.
Jaune let out another of his sad/resigned sighs "Yes, yes I can. I'm sorry. It just reminds of home."
They were still looking at him expectantly. He continued "You all know that I didn't receive combat training as my parents forbade me from training due to health. I had to support my parents and 7 sisters by cooking, and other things around the house instead. Cooking for you all and cooking for my family isn't all that different in terms of numbers."
Pyrrha was sad at hearing that, but tried to cheer him up "Well it is an excellent skill to have, and as we all enjoy your cooking hopefully you would be willing to cook for us more often." She gave one of her radiant smiles and couldn't contain her blush when they looked at her.
"What other... hidden skills do you have Jauney?" Ruby asked innocently enough.
"I'm sure he is good with his hands." the blond Brawler stated, starting in on catching her grove.
"I bet he is good with his fingers too." Blake deadpanned.
"Oh now I know why Pyrrha gives him so much hand to hand training." Yang continued with a hearty laugh. Seeing Pyrrha's blush was as red as her hair she made to continue when she was interrupted.
"I don't know what any of that means." Ruby said with an adorable pout.
"You will when your older sis!" Yang replied with a wink prompting another pout from Ruby.
"That is quite enough." The Heiress scolded with one of her death glares, then she continued "In all seriousness Arc what else can you do?" The eyes of his friends bored into him expectantly.
Resigned to his fate Jaune answered "Well, I'm reasonable at hair care, I guess I can cut and style hair. I can draw well, and I was trained as a masseuse. I think that about sums up what I can do competently." There were several blushes around the table (Pyrrha most notably) as she contemplated his meaning of masseuse.
"Oh awesome free hair care would you mind doing my hair Jaune?" Neptune asked a little too energetically. Not noticing the angry look from Weiss.
"No, Neptune, I will not be doing your hair." He dryly replied.
"Well damn. Anyway am I welcome at this party of yours tonight? You all never did invite me." Neptune asked. For reasons Jaune didn't understand, the group turned to him, for an answer. Still not sure about why this was happening he nodded to Weiss for her to answer.
"Sure Neptune of course you would be welcome" and gave him a dazzling smile, earning a look of scorn from Ruby, oddly enough. "How about Sun, would he like to come too?" She continued.
"I'm sure he would if he could, but he decided he wanted to return home for the winter break, he prefers sand to snow as you all know." Neptune replied.
"Neptune are you sure you know what your signing up for? Yang has been known to cause near world ending cataclysm when she plays truth or dare." Jaune felt the need to warn his new friend.
"Oh I'm sure I can handle whatever she throws at me." He confidently stated, his confidence started to shake a bit when he noticed the terrifying look Yang was giving him.
After the meal Velvet, Neptune and Ruby volunteered to take care of the dishes. Jaune suspected Ruby really just wanted to get closer to the cookies so in an effort to save them he pulled the trays to the table and started assembling them into a case. He was amused by the look of betrayal Ruby had on her face as he saw through her scheme. While he worked Pyrrha moved over to his side and asked him in a quiet voice.
"Is what you said true, did your family really make you take care of them like that?" She had a clearly concerned look to her face and she asked in hushed tones. She knew from the previous time with him that he didn't think of his family fondly, but he did his absolute best to please them. Evidently it was loud enough for her friends to hear as several pairs of eyes looked to him to answer her despite her attempts to be quiet.
With another one of his sad sighs he responded "Yes, whenever they had an accident or someone needed a hair cut I was expected to take care of them. If they were sore after practice or working out I was expected to give them a massage to help them stay limber. They considered it fair trade for taking care of me given my condition." It would be impossible to miss the hurt which accompanied his voice when he answered that question.
"Well Arc I think you missed your calling, that was an excellent meal." Weiss tried to compliment him. She seemed to miss the point that he wasn't proud of these skills.
"Weiss, it isn't about what I can do well, it's what I feel I must do. I thought you would understand that." With that he grabbed his tray and the remaining dishes on the table and went back into the kitchen to help. Pyrrha noticed he carried a cookie for Ruby and the girl gave a happy squeal once she noticed the peace offering.
Pyrrha was still annoyed at the Heiress and decided to make a point of it. "Weiss, that was tactless of you to say you know how much he wants to be here."
Weiss, never one to take criticism well responded. "Pyrrha, I know you have feelings for him, so you feel obligated to come to his defense. Plus he is your partner after all. However we all must accept reality. Some people just aren't built to fight, and if they attempt to force the issue then they only put themselves and those who are depending on them at risk. He has obviously grown under your tutoring but he is still well behind the minimum expectations of a Beacon student."
Pyrrha was about give Weiss a piece of her mind when the normally stoic Ren came to his leaders defense and walked up to Pyrrha's side "Weiss, you and Jaune aren't so dissimilar as you seem to think. You came to Beacon despite your father's wishes, so did he. The difference is you were taught to fight beforehand. Our team doesn't need another invincible warrior, we do have Pyrrha for that after all." He placed a hand reassuringly on her shoulder. "We need a leader, somebody who could bring all of us with our different skills together, so the net result is greater than the sum of its individual parts. There is nobody at this table who can do a superior job of that than Jaune has thus far. I suggest you reevaluate why you are here and if you feel this strongly help him with his studying. It is after all what you are best at. Frankly as long as he continues at the rate he has been improving he will end up a fine hunter before his time here is done." He looked around the table having silenced everybody at it, including miraculously enough Yang. "Come on, we have a slumber party to get too right?"
Pyrrha was practically jumping for joy on the inside at Ren's words. She observed Nora walk to Ren's side and take his arm quickly then started to hum happily as she walked alongside him to the RWBY dorm room for the party with her longtime friend. She he couldn't help but shoot another angry glare at Weiss, then she stood and began to move towards the RWBY dorm room herself.
The Heiress appeared to be struck speechless after uncharacteristic lecture from the normally stoic Ren. Weiss was shocked. It was one thing to be told that by Pyrrha. It was quite another to be told that by Ren. The lecture reminded her of something she promised Ruby. She would try to overcome her short comings with everybody else, so the team as a whole improved. By harping on Jaune's weaknesses and continually trying to break him down, she realized; She was not honoring that promise. This sent a shock through her system as she realized she was not keeping her word. Something she prided herself on. After recovering enough to gain back motor function Weiss stood with all the regal grace she could bring forth, and walked, nearly jogging up to Pyrrha. She moved in front of the bigger redheaded girl cutting her off and ignored the look of scorn the Spartan gave her.
"Pyr-" she started to say.
"Stop. Just stop, Weiss" Pyrrha interrupted, she issued one of her rare sighs and lowered the strength of her glare. "It is obvious you care, in your own way. Jaune does not need somebody else trying to tear him down. I suggest you put your mind and energy into doing something constructive." Pyrrha went to move away but was stopped by the smaller girl grabbing her arm and trying to pull her aside to no avail, unable to more than slow the more muscular woman.
"What do you want Weiss?" She asked as she turned to face her, starting to lose her patience. She knew she could break away from Weiss if she put even any effort into it... but decided to give the Heiress her attention again for the moment.
"Help me." She said simply, surprising Pyrrha.
"Help you with what?"
"Help me see the best in people, like you can. How do you see potential when all I see is faults?"
"Weiss, you see what you let yourself see, you remember your opinion of Ruby when you started here?" Pyrrha asked.
"Of course she was clumsy and careless and reckless and-" She would have continued except Pyrrha interrupted her.
"Now, I guess I still see her faults, but..." She went silent as understanding crept into the Heiresses ice blue eyes. There was no mistaking that Ruby will end up a superb huntress one day once she learned to harness her incredible potential coupled with her natural eye for weapon crafting.
A sly smile appeared on Pyrrha's face as she bent down and hugged the Heiress then whispered in her ear. "There is no trick Weiss, it's just a matter of seeing what your eyes are looking at."
At that the two girls walked back to the RWBY dorm room, they were shortly joined by the remaining people and prepared for a night of fun.
As Jaune walked to his dorm to get some last minute items for the party he realized it didn't really matter that he agreed to go to the party instead of study. With him as tired as he was, as soon as he opened a book odds are he would just fall asleep anyway. At least here he could develop some friendships and maybe have some fun in the process. Throwing on one of his signature hoodies, grabbing a blanket and a pillow he walked across the hall to the RWBY dorm room.
He found the rest of the 'gang' present and in a semi circle in the middle of the room. He found an open spot next to Velvet, ideally he would have sat next to Pyrrha but she was already boxed in by Yang on one side and Weiss on the other.
"There you are Vomit Boy, we thought you were gona ditch us!" the blond Brawler announced to the world... seemingly.
"No Yang but I can't promise I won't fall asleep in the middle of the game." He responded in a tired voice.
"I would advise you to stay awake Jaune, my sister does evil things when people fall asleep before they should." The Reaper warned her friend.
"We were establishing some round rules right?" Neptune interjected.
"Oh who needs rules?" Yang complained.
"I do." Blake said " So rule number 1, no dares where you are asked to leave the building, dares requiring you to visit the JNPR room however are allowed."
"Ok seems fair." Yang said.
"Also we each get a pass for either one dare or truth." Weiss demanded.
"Oh c'mon that's no fun." The Brawler complained.
She looked around the room and found her opinion to be the minority, then relented.
Jaune decided to enter the debate "Also no repeating somebody else truths or dares, you need to be original." Nobody challenged the point.
"Ok ok ok so we have the rules established, now to the fun part." She pulled out what looked like a tesla coil. "This is a lie detector, if you lie, it zaps you." There were several nervous looks in the room at that.
"Is it on now?" Jaune asked.
Yang placed it in the middle of the room and hit a button, an odd glow permeated the orb. "Yup is now!"
"I have 12 siblings." Jaune said as a test. He didn't get zapped.
"Huh seems to be broken?" He tentatively asked, knowing full well he had 7 sisters.
"No it works fine, the dust charge is set to only activate after a question is asked." Yang explained. "Ok time to get this party rolling!" She produced a bottle and gave it a spin, it landed on Neptune.
An evil grin appeared in Yang's eyes as she asked "Truth or Dare Mister!"
"Truth." He said assured of himself.
"Who do you think is the most attractive person in the room?" Weiss looked at him expecting a obvious response.
Neptune visibly paled and uttered "Pass."
"So soon?" Yang taunted. "No more safety net for you!" Weiss was still looking at him in disbelief.
Trying to ignore the Heiresses gaze Neptune spun the bottle, it ended up on Yang.
"Dare hit me Blueey!" She responded.
"Yang I dare you to remove your bra in front of us and leave it off the rest of the night."
This drew a gasp from several members of the group but Yang didn't even blush. She expertly removed her bra from under her shirt and dangled it out in front for everybody to see.
"You are WAY to good at doing that." Ruby said in wonder earning a chuckle from several people present.
The bottle was spinning again and it ended up on Velvet, her ears perked up in excitement.
"Truth or Dare Vel?"
"Dare." She replied eagerly.
"I dare you to tackle Weiss to the ground and tickle her until she begs you to stop." Weiss' eyes shot up in alarm at that but she was too late. Velvet had already knocked her to the ground and was mercilessly assaulting her with tickles before she knew it. Surrender is not in the Schnee vocabulary, as she had claimed so several times. Weiss fought off the bunny girl for as long as she could, but minutes and a room full of chuckling friends later Weiss surrendered.
"I'll get you back for that Yang!" The angry Heiress said with a flushed face. The bottle was spun again and it ended up on Jaune.
"Dare Vel." He responded.
Velvet really considered her options before responding. Then as if a lightbulb went off in her head she said "I dare you to play against Weiss in chess, the loser has to take off their shirt for the rest of the night."
The room was filled with several 'Oh hoo's!" and chuckles when Weiss declared "Arc I will destroy you at chess for you sake just pass now."
"Actually Weiss, I accept, do you want white or black?"
Pointing a finger menacingly at him she declared "On your head so be it Arc! Ladies first, I'll be white." She pulled out an electronic chess board which allowed all in the room to watch the game, they agreed to a fast 3 minute game. Several turns in Weiss wasn't sure exactly what he was trying to do, but she saw an opportunity to trap his Queen. All she needed to do was surrender a knight and if he took it the queen would be hers, and almost assuredly after that victory! She was laughing internally when he seemed to take the bait.
"I warned you Arc, it seems your queen is mine" She taunted as she confidently moved a bishop to take the queen.
"Yes, an excellent trap Weiss. I will give you credit, you know how to play chess." She smiled smugly. "Also however," He moved a knight forward in a position she didn't see previously "checkmate, I'll take that shirt off you please?"
Weiss could only glare into the board in disbelief, she furiously looked for anyway to get out of check but realized she moved the bishop which could have taken the knight out of position when she claimed his queen. While she was in denial there was several hoots an cat calls being sent her way.
Pyrrha in particular was proud of Jaune for winning and was clapping excitedly.
Weiss had one last card to play though, and pointed an accusing finger at him "You tricked me! When I asked you what else you were good at you never said you were good at chess!" She said angrily.
To which Jaune replied with a smug grin "I never said I was good at chess mostly because I don't believe I am. I do however believe you are worse than I am." The look he received made him very glad her sword was outside of arms reach.
"Come on Snow Angel lets have it, you accepted the challenge after all." Yang taunted her teammate.
Weiss finally surrendered her shirt and held her arms around her chest to hide her bra. After a seemingly long amount of embarrassment, keen to help lessen the sting of his previous comment Jaune removed his hoodie. "Weiss, catch." He said as he tossed it at her.
"Oh thank you thank you thank you." As she pulled the hoodie on over her about as fast as it could physically have been performed. The act of removing his shirt lifted up his undershirt for a period and the honest work he has been doing was evident on his body as lean muscle was displayed on his arms chest and stomach. The moment didn't last long but it was enough for Pyrrha and several other girls to get a furious blush on their faces.
"Wow I gotta say nice work P-Money, hard to admit this is the same guy we met on that that first day." Pyrrha blushed harder.
"She is an excellent tutor, I really couldn't ask for anybody better." Jaune said in praise causing Pyrrha to smile as her blush was exceeding the color of her hair at this point. Yang spun the bottle again, it landing on herself. Before Jaune could even ask Yang blurted out.
"Dare take your best shot Vomit Boy!"
"I… don't think you want my best shot Yang." He cautioned.
"Bring it on little man!" She taunted.
"Ok Yang, " he said with an EEVVIILL grin appearing on his face. "I dare you to let me shave your head."
The sounds couldn't be uttered faster than Yang did as she issued a near instant. "WaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH ! PASS PASS PASS PASS PASS!" Yang appeared breathless her eyes become red and hair ignited at the thought. Ruby was even clapping at how quickly Jaune got her sister to surrender her pass. He had a smug look on his face as Yang calmed down and spun the bottle again.
Pointing an accusing finger at her new 'Arc-Rival' she said. "Jaune you have just declared war, I hope you are prepared!" There was definitely a look in her eyes at this point, 'nobody threatens my hair!' she thought. He acknowledged her threat with a smile and leaned back against the wall.
There was murmurings around the room as the bottle stopped spinning and landed on Nora.
"DARE" Nora proudly declared.
"I dare you to wrestle Jaune and pin him to the ground."
Nora smiled and said "Sorry fearless leader, time to get pinned." Then walked menacingly at him.
Jaune just lazily scooted himself forward so his back was plush against the ground. Nora stopped, a confused look on her face.
"C'mon it's no fun if you don't plan on fighting back." She pouted.
"Sorry Nora no energy for that right now, you got me." Nora put a foot on his chest and 'pined' him.
Yang felt utterly cheated at this development but accepted it as she didn't word her dare accurately enough. She vowed to get him yet!
The bottle was spinning again and it came to rest on Pyrrha. She loves these normal person games and excitedly said.
Nora considered for a moment the with a grin unknown to belong to her face said "I dare you to give up chocolate for a week!"
A look of utter betrayal appeared on the Spartans face. "Nora we were sisters!" She complained. Then uttered a defeated "pass" before quickly scarfing down a brownie.
The bottle was spinning again and it ended up on Neptune.
"Truth" He requested.
Pyrrha was unsure what she could ask the young man, although, she did want to know one thing.
"I want to know one thing. What convinced you to go talk to Weiss at the dance after you showed up alone?" Weiss' eyes perked up at this, she never actually knew herself.
"Jaune convinced me to talk to her."
Weiss was speechless "Uh what do you mean he convinced you?" she demanded.
"That's not really part of the game is it?" He replied with a smug look on his face. He must have been intimidated by the glare Weiss gave him as he gave more information. "I was embarrassed about something, and he helped me see it was such a small thing to be embarrassed about when compared to making somebody happy, so, I went and talked to you"
Pyrrha was giddy as a schoolgirl, Jaune sought her out and gave up his pursuit of Weiss on the same night! Whereas Weiss continued to want more information out of Neptune.
The bottle however was spinning again saving him from further interrogation, at least for the moment and it landed on Weiss.
"Dare Neptune!" She proudly announced.
"Ok, I dare you to kiss Jaune on the lips." A cold look of anger appeared on both Weiss and Pyrrha while looks of glee appeared on Yang and well... just about everybody else in the room aside from Jaune and, interestingly enough Ruby.
Weiss, thinking this would be a good way to get back at Neptune, sauntered over to Jaune in her best seductive walk. Jaune for his part looked like a deer in the headlights, as she bent over and kissed him on the lips.
As she walked back to her spot she silently mouthed "Sorry" to Pyrrha, who wore a look of intense anger on her face. The bottle was spinning again and it landed on Pyrrha. She perked up at this and instantly choose,
Weiss took a moment to think and then said, "I dare you to steal one article of clothing off of whoever you choose."
A mischievous grin appeared on her as she glared right at Jaune, and with a speed that only Pyrrha could manage she appeared next to him nearly ripped his shirt off him. Jaune barely had the time to fight back or resist her. Satisfied with her work she gave the shirt to Weiss.
"Feeling a little picked on there Vomit Boy! This is payback for trying to get rid of my hair!" Yang proudly announced... mostly just cause she could not because it was true.
Jaune was running low on energy as his exhaustion was quickly catching up to him, he could only really just grunt in response. Feeling cold without a shirt on he pulled his blanket around him and watch as the bottle spun again, this time landing on him.
With a groan he looked at Pyrrha judging her mood, she appeared upset that he kissed Weiss, but somewhat... tamed due to her claiming his shirt. At least that's what he hoped the blush meant. Oh well he figured he still has a pass and isn't going to last much longer tonight before he passes out anyway so he figured he might as well say.
"Dare." He pushed himself back up against the wall into a seating position.
What can only be described as a sadistic smile appeared on her face as she contemplated her dare. The smile changed into one of curiosity as she thought of her dare.
"Jaune, I dare you to tell me right here and now in front of everybody, what you were going to say to me while we were training before Ruby interrupted us."
The look on his face as she said that must have been hilarious as Yang, Blake, Weiss, Ruby and even Velvet started laughing so hard they fell over.
"Pyrrha are you serious?! That was more of a speech than anything else." Pleading with her to change her mind.
"Oh no you don't Vomit Boy she gave her dare, you either pass or you spill the beans!" Yang responded back with glee at his discomfort.
Pyrrha for her part was curious what it could be that he actually is considering passing, and was starting to wonder if it would be a good idea to remind him he had the opportunity too, but decided nope. He kissed Weiss without a fight. He deserves no mercy.
"I'm waiting Jaune." She purred in an overly cute and innocent voice with an adorable smile on her face flashing her eyelashes for good measure.
Jaune was incredibly conflicted. He viewed this information as highly personal, yet it was after all Pyrrha herself that said there is nothing to hide behind if it's the truth. He also realized on some level that Yang was gunning for him, heavily. While he knew he could pass this question, it might insult Pyrrha. Which he wasn't willing to risk. In the span of a few heartbeats he made up his mind. He appeared more nervous than anybody had ever seen him, but eventually a powerful will appeared in his eyes as he started to assert himself. With a deep breath he started his speech.
"Very well Pyrrha. I've thought about the dance A lot, and specifically what you told me. About your feelings about me and wishing I had asked you to the dance. I wanted to apologize, I haven't been fair to you. You told me a lot and aside from dancing with you, I did nothing to reciprocate that..."
Pyrrha's eyes went big, this was not what she was expecting, but she was starting to think; Yes Yes Yes Yes.
He continued "... On some level I was aware of your feelings towards me I have for some time, and I guess my own insecurities got in my way. At the dance you told me that you want to be with me, and I hardly considered myself worthy of you. I guess for the most part I still don't..."
Pyrrha brought her hands up to her mouth at this point unsure where he was going with this suddenly. You could hear a pin drop in the room. They were not looking forwards to the fallout if Jaune rejected her poorly in front of everybody.
"... But, you see, I, I realized something else. And that something is..." Here, he stopped for a second, and took a deep breath before continuing. When he started up again he was visibly trembling, tremors ran the length of his body, but he never looked away from Pyrrha. "...that something is, when you... when you love, somebody, you are suppose to... to put that persons happiness above your own. So even if I have my doubts, about my deserving you. If you still feel the same way as you did, I would ask you to be my girlfriend."
Finishing his speech his courage gave out and he covered his eyes with his hands.
"That's what I was going to tell you."
He couldn't see this but his heartfelt confession brought about just about everybody in that room to tears. Pyrrha was surprised to say the least, but also elated, she got EXACTLY what she wanted. She felt like running right at him and tackling him. Realizing that might not be the best course of action she stood, and walked slowly around the circle of friends. Her eyes watery and her face sharing the same complexion as her hair while her hands still met together covering her mouth.
She sat down next to Jaune, and pulled his hands down from his face. He looked right at her, she could tell that there was apprehension or maybe fear in his eyes after revealing so much of himself in front of so many people. However he looked at her straight in the eye. Confident she had his undivided attention, she said.
"That was the single sweetest thing anybody has ever said to me. Of course I would love being your girlfriend, but that does make me address the fact that you made me wait this long." Jaune looked at her confused. His confusion was squashed, literally, as she lunged at him tackling him to the ground and laid a heavy kiss on him.
That act seemed to bring the group of friends out of their daze and starting cheering, hooting, hollering, and in the case of Weiss, shout "GET A ROOM!" Once Pyrrha had made her case on imprinting that moment in Jaune's memory she pulled him back up to a seated position blushing terribly, giggling happily, then leaned against his shoulder wearing a content and happy grin on her face.
After a time the silence was broken. "Come on we got a game to play let's get back to it!" Ruby pleaded energetically following Pyrrha's forward actions and she quickly spun the bottle. The bottle ended up pointing at her.
"Gimme a dare Jaune!"
Jaune thought for a good few seconds needing to clear his head, and realized he felt he owed Weiss one for his lack of a shirt, promptly said "Ruby, I dare you to kiss Weiss."
Both girls eyes went big, very quickly. Before Weiss could object Ruby used her semblance and planted a sweet, but unorthodox kiss on the older girls lips before vanishing in a puff of rose petals and reappearing in her seat.
Weiss felt the need to object. "Hey that dare was already used!" Ruby chuckled at this.
Jaune however predicted this complaint "Actually Weiss, you were dared to kiss me on the lips, I made no such requirement. She could have kissed you on the nose, toe or finger and would still have completed the dare." Several people were laughing hysterically at this Pyrrha included.
Several glances were exchanged and by the look in Yang and Weiss's glares they were now both gunning for him. He would need to progress extra carefully from here on out. The bottle was spun again and it landed on Ren, his first time up.
The stoic hunter in training said "Dare" in a confident voice.
Ruby had a malicious grin on her face when she said "Ren I dare you to spend all of Nora's pancake funds on cookies."
"OH NO! DON'T YOU DARE RENNY!" The hammer wielder interjected.
Ren fearing for his life, or at least his dignity and quite possibly his legs too, muttered a "Pass."
Several more rounds passed and a handful of players were eliminated from the game. Yang, Weiss, Pyrrha, Ruby, Jaune and Velvet were the only ones left in the game. Jaune felt the chill of the void as the girls were looking at each other in turn as only women do, and that feeling of dread only intensified when they all seemed to nod at the same time. He visibly gulped and looked at all the women in turn and finally realized. They want me out of the game. His eyes lingered on his newly fledged girlfriend who was putting on her most adorable 'who me?' expression.
"Just so you all know, this is totally unfair " Jaune stated matter of fact like.
"Now now Jauney-boy, we just realized that out of all of us you still somehow have your pass, you have slithered out of our clutches long enough, we will not let you win the first RWBY/JNPR truth or dare showdown!" The increasingly anxious Brawler stated.
The last person to take a dare was Pyrrha, and she gave the bottle a spin. It came to no surprise then when the bottle ended up pointing at him. If he didn't know better Pyrrha used her semblance to force the issue...
He realized the girls were waiting for him to make a decision with looks that appeared just a 'touch' too sweet, and decided if he is gona go down, he will go down with a Yang...Ugh did I really just think that... I'm clearly too tired to play this game.
"Dare Pyrrha." Not quite able to meet her gaze.
Her smile was both sly and radiant as she very simply said "Jaune, I dare you… to give me a back rub." The rest of the girls looked at her aghast, Ruby even blurted out "Hey that isn't what we agreed! He was suppose to give us all backrubs!" She couldn't have looked more adorably cute if she tried.
Pyrrha just gave a shrug and laid down on her stomach in front of Jaune expectantly and moved her shirt up to her shoulders.
"Pyrrha you play a mean game." The Brawler said "This is officially war." Pyrrha just smirked at her.
Jaune for his part did his best for his girlfriend. Her skin was absurdly warm and soft, yet it carried unmistakable strength as he remembered this girl was also incredibly strong too, given how much energy it took to work out her tension. A fact he realized somewhat foolishly, later than he would typically have preferred. While he worked his way across her shoulders she issued occasional moans and groans eliciting obviously jealous looks from her former conspirators.
"You are... stupppiiiddddly... gooood ... at that..." Pyrrha managed to say.
'I'm going to get them both' the Brawler swore to herself 'but I gotta admit he seems to know what he is doing.'
'He can't be THAT good with his hands... could he?' Weiss thought while she glowered at Jaune.
'I wonder what she likes so much about a backrub' Ruby thought innocently.
Velvet was just happy that both of her friends found each other... though she wouldn't mind a backrub either.
As he moved from her shoulders to her middle and lower back the unintended sounds from her didn't stop, and she started to hum a happy and content tune to herself. By the time her back was free of tension, he pulled her shirt back down over her back and realized she was sound asleep. Well, dodged that bullet Jaune thought.
Jaune spun the bottle and it pointed at Yang.
Yang thought she had been on the receiving end of Jaune's dares already once tonight and figured Truth was the safer bet.
"Tell me honestly Yang, right now, are you jealous of Pyrrha" he asked with a smirk.
"What? No of course not YAAAKK!" She was interrupted as the orb in the middle of room, gone ignored till then, proved it wasn't actually broken and gave Yang a powerful shock.
"Son of a _%$# _# $%#" Yang started off while the rest of them just laughed at her. The bottle was spun again with the pointer going to Velvet. A predatory glare entered Yang's eyes as she thought how best to tease the bunny girl, their earlier alliance seemly forgotten.
"Truth seems the safer option."
"Did you want to kiss Jaune when he stopped Cardin from bullying you?"
Velvet felt her face flush, and while she knew the answer was yes, realized she couldn't actually speak her answer in front of him. "I withdrawal" she said with her ears flat and face down.
Yang gave a fist pump as she just eliminated another player and gave the bottle another spin. This time the bottle ended up at Weiss.
Weiss was seriously considering her options, she was hell bent on not losing to both Ruby AND Jaune, for reasons she refused to admit to herself. She steeled herself as she looked proudly at the Blond Brawler and said "Dare".
"Weiss Schnee, I dare you to fill up a bucket from the bathroom with cold water, and pour it all over Pyrrha." She said with a wink.
Weiss felt, as Jaune might describe, the cold touch of the void, on her shoulder. On one hand it would be supremely easy to do this. However she wasn't sure if she could survive the Spartans wrath once she was roused. However she had already set herself on the track of beating the two people who annoyed her the most. At least the most at the present. With all the regal grace of her upbringing she stood, and emerged from the bathroom a few moments later with a bucket full of water.
Jaune was trying to get some distance from the sleeping redhead and was able to succeed in getting a few feet of separation before the water was poured all over Pyrrha from the waist to her head.
The reaction couldn't have been more terrifying for Weiss if she had had a year to imagine the worst reaction possible, and then multiply it by 100. Pyrrha was on her feet instantly, with a murderous glare in her eyes and they fixed themselves right on the Heiress, walking very, very slowly towards her. While moving, she was making seemingly random motions and gestures with her hands… Normally in a choking manner. Weiss had her hands raised in surrender and was backing up slowly, but steadily away from Pyrrha.
"Now now big girl, let's not be too hasty it was a dare after all." Weiss managed to squeak out and pointed a lazy finger at Yang who could barely keep her laughter under control. The years of self control finally began to reassert themselves and Pyrrha just reached Weiss, plucked the shirt of Jaune's that she stole from him earlier. Put it on, then sat back down a silent determination now in her eyes. Weiss let out a breath she didn't know she was holding as Pyrrha settled in her seat.
Jaune tried to placate his girlfriend and put a hand on her neck and gave her a casual neck massage, she seemed somewhat pacified, for the moment. At least up until the bottle ended up pointing at her, and she was once again in championship fighter mode as she waited for Weiss' response after instantly declaring "DARE" and awaiting on the Heiress's reply.
Weiss was, for the first time, utterly terrified of the person she must face. The glare the Spartan was giving her was so many times worse than her father's it was making it hard for her to think. C'mon think Weiss THINK! What could she do to deflect her anger. Her eyes lit up as she had a BRILLIANT idea... she hoped.
"Pyrrha, I dare you to challenge Yang to a pushup contest, the winner gets a massage from Jaune"
"Hey!" The Knight complained.
That did the trick Weiss thought, as the two girls glared angrily at each other. Yang very energetically appeared ready to go and even adopted a one handed stance smugly. Pyrrha, not to be outdone, mimicked her stance.
Remind me not to challenge them to an arm wrestling contest, Jaune couldn't help but think. As the two women just kept cranking out pushups with abandon. Thinking logically he has seen Yang put forth some incredibly powerful punches, but realized that Pyrrha wouldn't be outclassed by an irrecoverable amount in terms of raw strength. Even if she was, her endurance far outstripped that of Yang. So it was that even after he gave up trying to count, Yang had to concede defeat on their fifth arm rotation.
Pyrrha had a very triumphant look on her face as she once again laid down in front of Jaune while he worked out the once again tense muscles of her shoulder and back, and as before, she ended up sleeping soundly as he finished.
Seeing Pyrrha sleeping with a content smile on her face he looked around the room. The other friends who were long since out of the game and were keeping themselves busy watching a movie or observing the current game were now asleep, and Jaune realized just how heavy his eyes were becoming.
"Ok girls, I call a cease fire. I give you all a backrub, and you let me go to sleep at a reasonable time tonight?" Jaune couldn't even perceive how quickly Yang seemed to materialize in front of him begging for a backrub.
After giving each of the remaining girls a back rub and finding himself the only one awake in the room... somehow. He looked around for a spot for him to get some sleep, when he noticed an unread message on his scroll. Upon reading it he found he no longer desired company. After grabbing his pillow, as he still wore his blanket around him, made his way to the JNPR dorm room for the night.
Pyrrha woke up briefly as Jaune was making his exit, saw her partner get the message, and very visibly, even in the weak light, go pale. He appeared several years older when he gave the room one last scan. Turned off the lamp near Weiss's bed, the only light on in the room, then left. She resolved to ask him about it tomorrow.
The party goers awoke at various times and in some cases, awkward positions. Nora was sleeping with her head on Ren's chest, but with her legs angled up against a bed. The remaining finalists in the game in a semi circle where Jaune formally was sitting. The first to wake was Pyrrha, who silently as she could manage, grabbed her gym bag which she packed with her blanket and pillow. Then exited the room and made her way to the school gym. The two back rubs Jaune gave her allowed her to put more into her morning workout than she typically did, doing both weight training and training against dummies at a greater intensity than normal. When she still didn't feel appropriately tired she went on an aggressive inclined run on a treadmill, and managed to put several miles in before believing she had accomplished her morning goals.
After she showered she walked back to the joint RWBY and JNPR kitchen. She couldn't help but wonder at how much a simple backrub can do for her. She knew she was absolutely ecstatic that Jaune asked to date her. She was more than happy to say yes, having tried, and failed to ask him out herself. No, she didn't believe that fact, as giddy as it made her, would have this much of an impact. She decided to try and coax more of those out of him to see if it continued to effect her that way in the future.
She arrived at the kitchen expecting to see the full gang present, and was disappointed as only one was present. Ruby was at the table picking away at her breakfast. She went through the line, got her typical eggs bacon and toast with some juice, then sat next to her friend.
"Hey Ruby, what's up?" she asked.
The younger girl gave a bit of a pout and replied "Nobody is happy like they should be after a party."
Pyrrha felt like she should stay silent and wait for more information.
"Weiss broke up with Neptune, because Ice Queen. Nora yelled at Ren cause they didn't serve pancakes today, Yang is mad that Jaune never did give up his pass and Blake was depressed that her next smutty book wasn't being delivered in time due to the weather. Not that I know what smutty means anyway." She said, finally taking a bite of food.
"That uh, kind of sounds like business as normal around here doesn't it Ruby?" The Spartan said as she tried to cheer her friend up, normally it would be Jaune's job to do this.
"You don't understand... I want Weiss to be happy. Why does she always push people away. Even after she goes out of her way to get their attention, I just don't understand." This was quickly turning into territory that Pyrrha really struggled with, and was glad when the remaining members of team RWBY arrived at the table except Blake, followed quickly by Ren and Nora.
"Morning Cereal-Girl, don't think I've forgotten about what happened last night! I will beat you in pushups next time" Yang said with her normal morning cheer. "I gotta admit I feel full of energy this morning, that backrub from Jaune felt like magic to me."
Pyrrha's eyes narrowed in annoyance but she didn't say anything, the last thing she wanted right now was more competition for backrubs.
"I think I'll ask him to do that more often." She continued, trying to bring the Spartan into an argument.
As Pyrrha continued to refuse to take the bait Yang resumed her speech "Speaking of our resident blond goofball Knight has anybody seen him?"
Ren answered "I think he is in our dorm room, remember he wanted to study last night, I wager he is trying to get some book work done."
"Wait he was serious about that? I thought it was just a ploy to not go to our party." The Heiress stated with a startled expression on her face.
"Honestly Weiss I know you and he aren't on the best of terms but it just amazes me how little you think of him. Why do you think he would make up an excuse not to be with his friends?" Pyrrha said with an obviously threatening gleam in her eyes and she didn't try to keep a hint of anger out of her voice.
Weiss carefully considered her reply as she didn't want to antagonize the Spartan further "I don't know, I guess I just never imagined he was trying so hard."
"Well he is and he does. Frankly he deserves more from his friends who, as you learned last night, he would give the shirt off his back if they needed it." Indicating the hoodie that Weiss still wore. Pyrrha at this point had no desire to speak further and she worked quickly to finish her meal to proceed with her day.
For the second time in less than 24 hours a Schnee was struck dumb, and in this case, a side of shame was included. Weiss, normally so sure of herself, was actively trying to rework her image of Jaune. He did apologize to her for all those times he pursued her. He didn't mention her hated nickname, and even she was forced to admit that maybe she had the initial wrong impression of the boy. Though the possibility of that actually being a necessity had the tiniest most slim chances of being a truth.
"Come on Weiss-a-rooney..."
Weiss made an mental note of her second most hated nickname with that.
Ruby continued "...You should cheer up and just try to be happy like the rest of us. We have 2 weeks off we should have some fun!"
Despite herself Weiss cracked, what might have been mistaken for a smile, that is if Weiss actually was somebody who knew how to smile. She was about to answer politely when a frantic yelp was heard from the direction of their dorm room and the unmistakable sight of Blake running as if she just learned the lunch room was serving an infinite supply of sushi.
"Keep it away keep it away from me AHHH!" She yelled jumping on the table to hide from her mysterious assailant.
It took a few moments for her pursuer to appear, as that of the Xiao Long family pet, the corgi Zwei. He wagged his tail furiously and happily walked up to Ruby.
"ZWEI!" The girls cried and moved to embrace the dog, aside from Blake who was trying to keep at least 10 feet and 2 people between it and her at all times.
While Pyrrha was fond of the dog, and animals in general she didn't want to be around Weiss. Unfortunately the dog was one of the few creatures in the world who seemed to crack her eternally frozen exterior, she wanted to talk to Jaune.
Quickly depositing her now empty tray in the used dishes pile she walked at a brisk pace to the JNPR dorm room.
As she walked down the hall she looked out the windows to see the gorgeous grounds Beacon was housed in. Contrary to the summer setting when she first arrived in Vale this was the deep of winter, and the swirling snow falling and glistening light of frozen tree limbs made a memorable sight. She took a few minutes to try to memorize the scene before her, it being her first time seeing this much snow.
Breaking away from the view she made the remaining way to her destination and found her query inside with his face buried in a book. Contrary to what Ren had said she fully expected to find him asleep. She knew he wanted to study, she never actually expected him to be awake. Judging by the empty tray of food on his desk and the multitude of pages he had filled out, he had been awake for some time.
"Hey Jaune, you're up early." She queried.
"Oh, hi Pyr. " Pyr, she liked that "Yeah I woke up early and decided to get some work done." He replied in greetings.
She felt like such a coward. He managed that confession in front of a dozen people and she couldn't manage a sentence with just him. She had all morning to work up the speech she wanted to tell him. How much the backrub meant to her, how incredibly happy she was that they were now dating, but at the sight of him once again that part of her that let her speak her feelings was closed off.
He looked at her with an amused expression on his face and added "Is something wrong?"
She didn't want the conversation to go in this direction, but it was comfortable for her, and she found some words were better than silence. "Jaune I wanted to talk to you about your training."
This wasn't what he was hoping to hear. She could tell that much by his face, but he none the less put his book down, and gave her his undivided attention. She tried not to be irritated by how easy it was for him to talk to people.
She proceeded forwards "Jaune I was thinking we should do some work in the morning before classes, maybe do some cardio or weight training. So you have some time to recover, before we do our combat training in the evening."
Jaune mulled the statement over in his head, and replied "I guess we can give it a try, though you and I both know I won't be able to keep up with you. What brought this on?"
"I was just thinking about how we can improve your endurance, figured it might help." She was struck by a flash of brilliance. "Think of it as training for the Vytal festival tournament at the year's end."
"Pyr, I don't intend to enroll. I will be more than happy to try morning workouts with you though."
She didn't want to give up just yet "Jaune if you enroll I will enroll."
His face was utterly shocked at the suggestion.
"Pyrrha don't put that on me, that isn't fair. You know I have zero chance of winning the tournament. You have a chance, a real chance to win. Come to think of it you are probably the favorite to win. Me I would be lucky to get out of the first round."
She was less than happy with his defeatist attitude reappearing. It just reminded her of an old enemy she could never get rid of, but still replied in caring voice "So what you won't even try cause you think you can't win? I've told you that you need to stop thinking that you aren't good enough before you even try. You should enroll."
Jaune was still calm when he replied "Pyrrha, I can't, I won't have a weapon."
She took about 3 seconds to process that information and when she did all she could come up with was "What?"
He indicated his scroll lying on his desk. Pyrrha picked up the scroll and read the message already loaded in.
Dear Jaune Arc,
I have thought about the current state of our family Heirlooms, and have decided that Crocea Mors is not best left to your care. Therefore I have decided to reclaim the weapon and armor your family has loaned you, to present to your sister Jewel. Please have it prepared...
The letter went on but Pyrrha dropped the scroll, a confused burning anger filling her being. Dear Jaune Arc? Not Dear Son, or Dear Jaune. Dear Jaune Arc? From his father? She didn't like this man already.
"Wait it gets better." Jaune said "Read the date he wants it returned."
Pyrrha picked up the scroll again and read the date, it seemed like something she was aware of but she just couldn't place it.
Jaune provided the explanation "The day before our final combat assessments, middle of the day."
Pyrrha didn't think she ever felt hatred before, pure unadulterated hatred. Even with the unclothe and ugly people from the tournament fighting scene she was familiar with. This level of... uncaring was completely unknown to her. All she could ask is "Why would he do this?"
Jaune had a look of accepted pain when he answered her "Pyrrha, it isn't that complicated. He knows if I don't pass the combat final I won't be allowed back here next year. Up until then I will need to use the weapon to stand any remote chance against the people I go against in combat class. I've told you my family considers my being here an insult to them and ... well I guess I could go on but the point is they really don't want me here."
Pyrrha's thoughts turned dark, very very dark. Yes, this must be hatred, how could anybody treat their own children so poorly?
Trying to think of what to say. "How can you be this calm about it? How can you not be angry about this? Can't you get a substitute weapon?" She fired off questions as they entered her mind.
A humorless smile appeared on his face. "Pyrrha, I wasn't calm about it this morning. I could hardly sleep at all, and I was angry about it. I just, decided I should put my energy into something constructive. I drew, made a picture to help me move on, then just pulled out a book and started studying. Maybe if I can improve my written scores enough Ozpin will let me stay even if I do fail the combat exam. As far as a new weapon is concerned I don't have the money. If they are taking Crocea Mors from me my family won't agree to buy or order a new weapon. I was hoping to do some work for Ozpin over the summer break so I could collect enough to order a new weapon, it isn't a perfect solution but it's the best I've got right now."
The doors were closing around Pyrrha's ability to think as she continued to work through her unbridled rage at the way his family was treating their son.
"What picture?" She asked.
He pointed to a book against the wall on his desk "Last page" he said.
She continued "I still just don't understand your father, or your family. Mine have been very supportive of me." She regretted saying it almost as soon as the words escaped her lips. Her eyes became huge when she realized what she just suggested. Of course her family had supported her. She was a world renown fighter, never been beaten in a tournament setting. Rarely even gets struck in sparring contests. Her success has brought her wealth, fame, and prosperity to herself and her family. Yet even so she wasn't the only child her parents had, she had more... mundanely skilled siblings and they were supportive towards them. Jaune knew almost none of this however, and she quickly tried to apologize.
"Jaune I'm so, so sorry I didn't mean it like that."
He dropped the venomous glare he was shooting her with, but didn't reply. She could tell he was not amazingly happy with her at the moment. Inwardly Pyrrha was kicking herself. She felt he was trying, really trying to move past feeling down on himself and it is like everything that happened to him only seemed to remind him that he just wasn't good enough. She was trying to build him up, not break him down, yet… she accomplished exactly the opposite.
Deciding to give him some time to think... and herself some time to organize her own thoughts, she moved to look through his art book. She skimmed through the book Jaune directed her too and was observing the pages. She found herself in awe of the images she were seeing.
The book carried images he had captured from his time starting at beacon. At first the images were mostly of Weiss, drawn in flattering poses always hiding her scar. The drawings might have only been made using a pencil, but they appeared every bit as skilled as any image she had ever seen. As she paged through the book there were other images present. She found pictures of Ruby playing with Zwei, of Ren and Nora in various poses. A few pages devoted to herself in various sparring contests. He seemed… hesitant to draw her. Almost as if the thought of him being worthy of anything involving her was a joke. Yet again she felt her stomach churn at how little credit he gave himself.
A few pages after she saw a picture of himself cutting the head off the Ursa Major from Forever Fall when he saved Cardin from that very same Ursa. She at first was very happy with the image until she realized he had drawn her in as well in the background. Suddenly like ice shooting over her body, she realized he knew she had helped him. If fact based off the manner in which she was drawn it was like he credited the entire victory to her.
Skipping ahead to the last page she saw an image which literally made her heart bleed. His prized family heirloom was collapsed into its sheath form and was floating in the air with a light behind it burning brightly. Surrounding the bright light was a ring of utter darkness with a person on the ground on his knees looking up at the weapon. The word "Failure" was written in several positions around the edge of the page.
Suddenly she didn't want to look through the book anymore and dropped it. At the sight of the book falling however, which carried with it Jaune's thoughts triggered something in her mind. She plucked it right out of the air before it hit the ground and clutched it tightly across her chest. Ignoring the pointed look from Jaune, she acted, moving quickly she put the book down on her bed. She vowed to look through the rest of the images later, but right now, she had a job to do, a mission really. She picked up her gear pack, slung it over one shoulder, grabbed his which she knew had all his combat gear in it then grabbed some water bottles she kept on hand, shoved them in his pack, and slung it over her other shoulder. Their gear now secured she gripped Jaune by his arm and using all of strength her body could muster, yanked him off the bed, out of the room ( Jaune closed the door behind her ) and proceeded to drag him towards the training area as the rooftop was currently snowed in.
Jaune at first was in a daze but recovered enough to ask his girlfriend "Pyrrha! What's Ow, what ACK, gotten into you?"
She stopped, turned towards him then with both hands grabbed him by the collar on his shirt then pushed him against the wall, tears forming in her eyes. She tried to cheer him up through words, she failed at it. She would not let herself fail in this.
"We are going to train. I am going to push you harder than you have ever been pushed before. I don't care what I have to do. So help me god you will pass your combat test and you WILL be back here next year. Do. You. Understand. ME?" The longer she spoke the more her voice began to break until tears were freely flowing down her face. While shivering slightly she hugged him tight with her arms around his neck. He returned the hug, struck utterly speechless.
She allowed them to waste all of about 17 seconds in their embrace before she pulled away and continued to drag him towards the training area.
As she pulled him she thought to herself. The Arc family has had a single semblance dating back several generations. In all occurrences and by all accounts it was an exceptionally powerful semblance, easily rivaling my control over magnetism.
She knew of one way to force a semblance to the surface and that was to instill a dire sense of need on the user. She just knew in every fiber of her being. If Jaune was going to pass, he needed his semblance. He needed it now, and he needed to be familiar with its use.
With a sadistic grin on her otherwise gorgeous face she vowed she would impart some need into him. She would not give his family the satisfaction of seeing him fail. Ozpin has asked him for 100%. Feeling a surge of motivation in her she vowed she would give 100% herself, and see if she can't crank a few extra % out of both Jaune and herself in the mean time. These next two weeks might not be fun for either of them and she was sure that not every newly paired girlfriend and boyfriend desired to spend this type of time together. However she wasn't the standard girl. This new goal gave her a reignited sense of purpose as strong as any desire she had ever felt in her tournament competitions. She would allow nothing to get in her way. As long as Jaune was willing to try, no matter how much or little energy he had, she would force every bit of effort out of him she could.
Jaune was grateful for such an amazing partner and found his love for Pyrrha to continue to climb with her statement on her desire to see him return to Beacon next year. However even he, as attractive as he found her, all of her, couldn't help but feel a tinge of dread at the possessed look in her eyes or the grin she wore on her face. This would likely be a painful 2 weeks. He steeled himself, and silently made himself a promise. If his partner and girlfriend was willing to go to these lengths to keep him around, he swore, upon everything he holds sacred. If he didn't disappoint one person, for once in his life, it would be her.
14 days later Yang was watching Pyrrha pummel Jaune for what would appear the, oh who cares she lost count 13 days ago. Within seconds of thinking that thought she realized it was both unkind and unfair to Jaune. The boy had grown by leaps and bounds since he started at Beacon and the pure dedication he had to improving was some sort of inspiring. It was afternoon on Saturday, 2 weeks after their sleepover. Tomorrow would mark the last day of their winter break before they returned to class on Monday, she was taking a break from her sisters endless plans about how JNPR and RWBY can have one last day of fun before the resumption of classes.
In the time sense the break started Pyrrha has had an almost inhuman drive in her eyes as she pushed Jaune into new heights of training. The effects this was having on his body was evident to anybody who found the male form pleasing, and she had to admit the eye candy was worth it. Even if it was constantly getting beaten around, like now. Both of their weapons were on the ground, as they were currently training in hand to hand.
The current bout ended with Jaune on one knee, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath, his clothing soaked completely through in sweat. Conversely Pyrrha was barely even breathing, with just a light coat of perspiration on her body. It was easy to see then how she lost to Pyrrha in that pushup contest. She could probably bench press more than the redhead, but the Spartan's level of endurance was near superhuman. She focused in on what they were saying.
"Not good enough Jaune you need to push harder." Pyrrha said.
In spite of her words she wasn't exactly sure how much left Jaune had in him or how much harder he could push. She had become fairly familiar with the levels of his endurance over the months she had known him and she knew he was nearly at the edge of the cliff, but she also knew until he fell off that cliff he would give everything he had. Right up until the point his body collapsed from exhaustion. He had learned to use his aura reserves to help reinforce his body, which was a key skill any hunter must learn. It was a blessing really that the boy had an unnaturally large reserve of aura, without it he would have collapsed long ago.
Jaune was still trying to force oxygen into his body didn't even try to respond, he knew Pyrrha would start another bout soon and he didn't wish to waste any on words. He did look at her with a mix of confusion, frustration and anger.
She understood the meaning, he didn't think he could push any harder. An idea entered her mind, which she was loathe to try as it played with his emotions. However she was confident that he would forgive her afterwards and that was what mattered. She looked at her scroll and saw his aura level was in the red, but only just. Another thought hit her mind. While to the average person red meant they could only withstand one or two hits, to somebody with Jaune's aura, red meant they still had plenty left. Set now in her belief that this was the right thing to do, she acted.
She walked up to Jaune until they were less than a step away and forced a disgusted look into her face "You know what Jaune, your right. Maybe this really is your limit. Maybe your family is right about you." She couldn't have caused more damage if she hit him with Milo in spear form, changed it into rifle mode, shot him and then hit him with Milo again in sword form. The look on his face almost made her heart break. She noticed Yang even stopped what she was doing and looked aghast at her for saying that.
Pyrrha continued steeling herself by leaning in close so she didn't have to do more than whisper the spear point to her plan "I bet Jewel deserves that weapon more than you do anyway." She didn't have time to look at him with a smirk as a blinding white burst of aura emanated from him and forced her back a step.
Her senses where still in shock when she heard an inhumanly angry yell and connected the voice to Jaune. Her training saved her from a punch as she rose her shield arm instinctively and blocked what would have been a very painful punch to take as it absorbed the blow.
Yang could hardly believe her ears when Pyrrha said those things to Jaune, and she could barely believe her eyes when with a rush of aura emanated from Jaune he had somehow leapt to his feet and sent a haymaker at Pyrrha. She was even more shocked when Pyrrha barely blocked the punch with her arm. She didn't know Jaune was capable of punching that hard or moving that fast.
Finally Pyrrha thought, he is close. The flurry of punches directed at her wasn't really her worry. In terms of weighted skill Jaune still was notched barely above zero compared to her, but the power of the blows wasn't something she wanted to joke around with. The rush of anger has passed following that first punch, but Jaune still came at her with the fury of a madman. She absorbed a shot to her forearm which echoed down her arm to her shoulder then countered with an elbow. A -thud- echoed through the room as it connected driving him back. Another soul piercing howl came from him as he leapt back at her. This time countering each of his attacks with a punch or kick of her own she forced him back to the center of the training room. He was moving with a greater speed than normal and his reaction times also seemed to be quicker. While neither was on par with her own physicality she didn't want to take any risks at all. Not every one of her attacks hit him as he was able to block or dodge some of them, but she continued to avoid his assault and finally dropped him with a kick to his jaw. It was while he was standing up again that she noticed the faint white outline surrounding his body then with a flash it was gone.
Their eyes locked for a second and betrayal was still in his deep blue orbs, then comprehension vanished as he fell forward. She closed the distance and caught him, then gently lowered him to the ground feeling terrible for saying those things to him, despite the intention of helping him. She checked her scroll and his aura was completely gone, he once again gave her exactly what she asked of him, everything he had.
"Pyrrha are you trying to kill the kid?" She heard Yang ask without her normal playful manner as she was walking towards the pair.
"He needed the push Yang." She simply replied, keeping her eyes on Jaune. She felt a grip on her shoulder and was pulled around to look at the Brawler.
"Pyrrha, you need to relax-" Yang would have said more but Pyrrha interrupted her, outrage flowing through her.
"Yang don't you dare tell me what I need to do! You did not read what I did, you did not see what I saw." Her words were hot, angry and filled with emotion, "Jaune has never had anybody actually willing to believe in him don't you understand!" The pain in her voice was evident now and she was barely holding herself together, her eyes watered up. Yang surprised her by pulling her into a hug which the Spartan returned after a seconds hesitation, stifling a sob.
Yang continued the hug until Pyrrha pulled away. She had a curious look in her eyes as she eyed the Spartan over but spoke "Pyrrha, I get it, you love him, and it's unfair how he has been treated thus far. It's ok to cry, it is ok to be angry. Just remember what he said."
Pyrrha looked at her, not understanding yet.
"What does he fight for Pyrrha? Do you remember what he said first term?"
Pyrrha tried to think, but she was struggling at this moment and didn't quite remember, though she felt she should.
"He said fights for life, he fights for peace. Don't turn into what you or he hates to help him grow, he will just resent it in the end. C'mon let's get you back to the dorm, I'll carry Jaune you get your gear, ok?"
Understanding appeared in Pyrrha's eyes as she grasped Yang's meaning, with a quick hug she thanked her friend and collected their gear packs.
Back in the JNPR dorm room Yang stayed behind in case Jaune woke up while Pyrrha caught a shower. She stood in the shower letting the hot water fall down her back while she tried to calm her nerves. Jaune has progressed immensely from when he started at Beacon and he has improved at an impressive rate throughout the two weeks they have on break, something she had taken great pride in. However she couldn't quite get the look of betrayal he gave her out of her mind, it was absolutely haunting her thoughts. The water was turning cold on her back when she finally forced her body to function, washed herself down and exited with a towel on her hair dressed in her t-shirt and shorts again.
"Jeez took you long enough, I was starting to wonder if you drowned." Yang almost had her typical teasing smile on her face.
"I've had alot on my mind. You go on ahead to lunch Yang, I need to be here when he wakes up." While Pyrrha said that she had grabbed a chair and moved it next to Jaune's bed, she was about to grab the art book to look through while she waited when she noticed it wasn't on her bed, Yang had it.
"You really should check out these images Pyrrha, those of you are especially well done. I wonder when he learned to draw so well."
Pyrrha was at first angry that Yang just opened the book without asking, then remembered it was on her bed. Odds are she was trying to cheer her up not tease her. A painful thought entered her mind as she thought about Yang's question. "You remember how he said he was sick as a child? I'd wager the only thing he had was his books and his pencil. I bet drawing was the only fun he had for most of his life." The thought caused her eyes to tear up and rekindled the feelings of rage she was beginning to harbor over his family.
"Yeah, I suppose your right Pyrrha." Yang didn't even try to make a joke at that, she thought, I guess Jaune is starting to grow on her a bit. "I'm going to go get some food for lunch." Pyrrha nodded. Yang paused, looked back then continued. "You know, you both should hang out with us tomorrow, Ruby has been planning something all week."
Pyrrha thought about it "I have been pushing him rather hard haven't I? I suppose a light workout in the morning or something wouldn't be too much, he should get his strength back for classes on Monday, we are going to have combat classes after all."
"Pyrrha, I hate to say it but it might be a light workout for you but to him it's all he can do to keep up, you have been pushing him extraordinarily hard. Frankly I don't know how he manages it."
"He manages it because he wills himself too Yang. All his life people have been telling him he can't do something, he isn't strong enough to train to fight. He can't work out, he isn't strong enough. I think he has finally had enough of people telling him he can't do something. I've been saying I saw his potential for months now and believe me I am determined to bring it out of him." Her focus still intently on Jaune as he rested.
"You really do love him, don't you?" Yang asked, without a hint of sarcasm.
"Yes... I do... I have since our initiation." She answered not shifting her gaze.
"Why can't you tell him? I just don't get it if you felt this strongly for so long why wait to let him know your feelings. For that matter why does this matter so much to you? He is your partner yes, but you aren't obligated to be his guiding light." The Brawler asked.
Pyrrha thought about her answer and tried to ease into it. "Yang, since I was learning to walk, I was taught to fight with a sword spear and shield it is practically in my blood. In Mistral they do tests to measure various physical potential in children, mine were, shall we say exceptionally high. My parents were working on my strength, endurance, and agility from before I can even remember because of that. The first thing they teach you is feelings are your enemy, they betray you in fights. The only thing that matters in battle is your focus on your enemy. Locking out feelings of affection, kindness... love, are critical as they don't allow you to focus on your target. I was very, very good at it. It was beaten into me so well I was soon competing against people much older than myself. When I was 12 I had beaten all my instructors and could do so regularly, if not easily."
Yang continued to listen. She noticed the ... hesitation in Pyrrha's voice.
"By the time I was attending Sanctum I was already alienated by my fellow students. They never treated me like one of their own."
Yang interrupted "Pyrrha you shouldn't listen to them, you aren't some monstrosity you are an absolutely gorgeous girl, why would you let them get to you?" Yang was familiar with the talk Pyrrha consistently is subject to from people who didn't know her.
"Thank you Yang, but that wasn't where I was going with it. Yes, I am very strong, especially so in my legs. I would be a fool to deny. Yes, my athletic ability and training has given me a tremendous advantage in many aspects of fighting. In short I have been blessed in many different ways with talents and physical attributes. What you don't understand is I was no longer a person. I was a prize, I was a horse they brought out on parade and was put back in my stable after the match. Yes I enjoyed the competing aspect of it, and I even began to love the crowd. But at some point I stopped being Pyrrha, and became 'The Invincible Girl'. Somewhere in that journey I had almost given up having a normal life. People wouldn't talk to me, and when they did it was obvious they only did because of my fame. Friends were impossible, close friends or relationships especially. Not just because of my fame, but because as people distanced themselves from me the only human interaction I had was in press conferences. Where I mostly just said the politically correct thing or read from a script I didn't even write." She looked at Yang here, and the tears were evident on her face.
"Then came my time at Beacon, and I found this adorable, clumsy, blond, goofball who didn't treat me like Pyrrha Nikos. He in fact didn't even know my name or title. He just saw a girl. For the first time in a very long time I had hope. The problem was he never looked at me the way somebody interested did. I had to fight for him, and I was losing that fight. Weiss I thought was my rival for his affections and I was losing that contest. It was a battle of the emotional kind I was wholly unprepared for."
Yang continued to listen, not quite sure where she was going.
"I knew he wanted to ask Weiss to the dance, I even gave him advice on how to do it." Her voice began to crack slightly "It was a race, it was a fight, and I had lost. The moment I confessed to him was done in desperation, I had given up. I just wanted him to understand and I guess that desperation finally let me voice part of what I felt. As I walked away I was sure it was over. Then came the moment he walked up to me in that dress and I finally thought I might have a chance with him. Do you understand? I am fighting for him so hard because it is what he so casually and easily did for me at the cost of his own dignity. He treated me like me, not as some untouchable celebrity, and certainly not some prize to be won."
Yang spoke up "Pyrrha, Jaune loves you. It is evident all over him. Especially so in his art, which you should look at by the way." She gave her a sideways glance "That was a long explanation. Why can't you tell him that? Why can you tell me that?"
"It is harder when he is looking at me, I guess." She replied turning her gaze back on Jaune's sleeping face. "Go ahead and get some food Yang I'll be fine." Yang handed her Jaune's art book gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze, and left the room.
While Pyrrha waited for Jaune to wake up she looked through his art book, picking up where she left off. Following the picture involving the Ursa was more pictures involving his friends. More pictures of Ruby working on Crescent Rose. Some of Weiss arguing with various people, another of her shouting the world 'DOLT' ironically enough at the world, earning a quick chuckle from her. Another picture of Nora with a plate of pancakes as high as the Beacon Clock tower itself, adorably asking 'is that all' and Ren's expression as he explained there is no more pancake mix in the world to her.
Turning the page she found a picture of Velvet, and his attempt to rescue her from Cardin's bullying. Another of Velvet adorably playing hide and seek with Zwei, seemingly unaware that her ears make it obvious where she is. She found a page out of order as he expressed his shame in being beaten by Cardin in training, and another at his elation at his first victory in the combat training classes, then realized it was deliberately drawn that way, a joint showing of feeling. She turned the page again and her heart leapt up to her throat.
The next two pages featured her exclusively. She was standing with Milo in spear form and Akouo held lazily down closer to the ground at her waist. Her hair was a gorgeous flowing mane behind her that seemingly caught fire in the sun tied in her customary pony tail, she wore her combat attire beyond that, greaves, custom build flexible chest plate corset with ties at the back, her sash flowing off the side and tiara. Everything from her facial expression to even the look in her eyes spoke volumes for the care he put into the drawing. What stuck out most to her was the fact that her figure wasn't embellished as it was in campaign ads or photo shoots she had to partake in. Her waist, while thin, wasn't overly so. Her bust, while present, wasn't improved or enhanced. The looks of her legs shoulders arms or just muscles in general weren't exaggerated or made overly large in an attempt at intimidation as she constantly found herself shown in an unrealistic way. They were instead accurately shown, giving her a type of lean long athletic dancers grace which was more accurate to reality, while also making it clear that she had more than enough physical ability and power.
The drawing seemed to capture her character in a way that left her speechless. She starred finding additional details hidden away from the casual pair of eyes. The focused intensity of her eyes, which you would really only know if you had trained or fought against her. The exact and accurate way she gripped Milo and the way she angled Akouo all spoke of information gained from personal experience painstakingly added not in attempt to embellish or promote, but rather an honest attempt at showing reality. The level of detail he was able to capture with a simple pencil just amazed her, but what touched her most is what he named the picture, it read simply 'My Warrior Goddess'. This must have been made around the time they first started training together, she concluded. The image made her heart flutter in her chest as she was touched somebody would put this much effort into a simple drawing of her, all because it meant enough to him to get it right.
Once she had her fill of the picture she turned the page again and couldn't contain the gasp. The next image was titled 'My Family'. She initially was expecting to see a group of 7 sisters and 2 parents, but instead she saw the RWBY and JNPR team members. Each of them was drawn to reflect their character. Ruby was carrying Zwei, cradling him like a baby with an absurdly happy expression on her face as the dog licked her cheek. Weiss was next to her with an annoyed expressed, or what she thought was an annoyed expression at first. However upon closer viewing it was really just a smirk as she looked slightly down and to the left, using her off hand to pet the dog while not doing it in an openly visible way. She saw Blake next and was unsure what was happening. Her arms were outstretched as she ran after something with drool freely falling from her mouth. She gathered that Blake was chasing Nora. Nora was carrying a huge fish with 2 hands like a hammer but otherwise had the same drool and open mouth that Blake did. Then the mystery was solved as she realized Nora was chasing Ren, who was carrying a stack of pancakes so tall they were starting to bend heavily over his head, evidently trying to eat them himself.
Yang was spotted next behind Ruby giving her a pair of bunny ears with a dazzling smile on her face. When she realized that Yang wasn't shown with her weapon bracelets Ember Celica, she did a rescan of the picture and realized everybody she had seen were just in their leisure clothing. It took her a few seconds to realize why he had drawn them like this. They were his Family, and he preferred to think of them as family first, not as warriors. He viewed Yang not characterized as the blond brawler and party girl she so often was considered. Rather by her love, care and affection for her sister. She stood protectively behind Ruby, while the bunny ears she held up also it also clear that she was a jokester.
Her mind was still reeling at the level of attention he gave this picture when once again she was dumb struck as she spotted herself in the picture. She wasn't sweating or lifting weights, training, sparring, or even working out. Her customary weapons and armor also weren't visible in the picture. She was simply in her school uniform, with one arm around Jaune, hugging him, and the other around Velvet, hugging her. The imagery was clear. He viewed her as a person first, and a warrior second, the second time the thought occurred to her. Also hugging Velvet implied he admired her character, as she didn't care that one arm was around a human, and the other a faunus. She couldn't help but notice how this picture captured her character similarly to the previous one of her she saw, yet as there was no mention of her fighting ability, she was left confused for a moment. Until she saw one detail so small she nearly missed it. Her tiara. The head ornament somehow brought her dedication into the picture in a way that she had difficulty understanding she was unsure if he understood the meaning of the tiara, yet his adding it in this picture made all the difference to her. The combined thoughts brought a heat to her face and managed to pull her back to the world, she no longer heard Jaune snore. Dispelling her desire to continue to page through the book at least momentarily.
Snapping her eyes to his face she realized he was awake and looking at her with an amused, but tired expression. Suddenly embarrassed for being caught with the book she fumbled with an apology.
"Jaune I uh I'm sorry it's your book and I uh-" He stopped her with a finger on her lips.
"It's ok Pyr I showed you that book after all right?" She visibly relaxed.
He continued saying "This isn't a dream right I am still alive after that session? I guess I am to sore to be dead." He joked.
Pyrrha was suddenly at a loss for words, as she struggled with how she was going to word her apology. Unable to look at him with eyes downcast she grabbed her right elbow, and bit her lip. Determined not to stumble with her feelings this time, she forced out "Jaune I uh, I'm sorry with what I said, I wasn't trying to be cruel." She held her breath as she waited on his response. Her head was lifted up to face him as he gently cupped her chin. He released his grip once she was looking at him.
"Pyr, It's ok, you said it to help me I'm mature enough to understand that. It might have hurt me a lot at the time, but I get it." He looked around trying to find something like the previous incident was already gone from his mind then asked "What time is it anyway?" Pyrrha was left with her mouth agape as she was certain this would lead to a fight, or at minimum an argument. How he could just casually brush the incident aside left her literally speechless.
He noticed her confusion and pinched her on her rib with a smile on his face. She gave him a look which said she wanted nothing more than to attack him back in kind, but resisted the urge given his state of exhaustion, it wouldn't be fair or fun. Finding her scroll she checked the time as he requested of her. She didn't notice it previously but it had turned into evening while she was admiring his drawings. She answered "Wow, it's a little after 6, I guess it is dinner time."
His humor returning to him he sat up and pushed his legs off the bed, albeit very slowly given his level of exhaustion. "Well I think I'm going to swim over to the shower, try to clean myself off. Then head to dinner, try to survive Yang's jokes and resist the plea to join in with RWBY tomorrow."
"Actually Jaune, I think we should go with them, whatever they do." Pyrrha surprised him by saying that.
"I uh, wasn't expecting that, figured you'd want another day of practicing." He said as he slowly moved his way to the team shower.
"Jaune, your body is exhausted, it's all your aura can do to keep you on your feet. I was thinking a light workout session in the morning, we can come back relax, and then have fun with the others" she replied.
"Pyrrha I trust you, I might not understand all the time, but I trust you. If you think its best you don't need to try and convince me, you had me at 'I think'." He gave her a reassuring smile, then entered the bathroom to shower with his change of clothes.
Pyrrha was blushing hard when she heard that, it was such a simple thing to say but it exemplifies why she cares so much for him. She found she was a bit stiff from sitting in that chair looking over the photos so she did some basic stretches while Jaune was busy in the shower. She was preparing what she wanted to say but was so deep in thought that she didn't hear him cut the water off and exit the bathroom.
"How do you do that?" He simply asked, startling her. Deciding to act and voice an earlier impulse he had.
"Do what?" She queried as she turned around.
"Do the most mundane things we can possibly do and look mind numbingly gorgeous doing it?"
The smile that brought to her face was radiant and made her feel extremely happy, the level of blush on her face grew darker that of her hair color. She could do nothing but look back at him and smile happily if a bit shyly.
She recovered her voice and responded "You know, I never did thank you for those backrubs the other day. They did wonders for me."
He gave her a rather sharp look of surprise and asked "Wonders?, How so?" genuinely curious.
"Its like, I don't know it's like I had more energy than I normally did, I went about a workout even more intense than I normally do and I just didn't seem to tire. I even decided to run a bit and even that barely tired me out" She struggled to really say the effect it had on her as she didn't completely understand it herself.
"Well, the normal you is intense enough I could barely imagine a more intense version of you. I suppose I do need to pay you back for these lessons somehow, I'd be glad to give you a massage anytime you want one."
She couldn't fathom how everything he said just caused her to blush wildly, not that she was complaining of course. She was so giddy with happiness that she didn't even respond.
"Well in any case Pyrrha lets go get some food, ok?" He started walking to the door. He just stepped past his girlfriend when she grabbed his hand, turned him around with it and embraced him in a crushing hug.
"You don't owe me anything for the time we spend together, but I won't say no to your backrubs. Just don't say anytime I want one as that's all you'd be doing, but whenever I need one, I think I could live with that, deal?" She whispered into his ear. Then kissed him on the cheek.
He responded by kissing her on her forehead and said "Anytime you need it, you got it." After an unspecified amount of time, or maybe it was their stomachs grumbling loudly, they laughed nervously then exited their dorm, and headed off to the kitchen for some dinner.
Pyrrha was still gushing happiness as they walked down to the kitchen, a fact with did not go unnoticed by their friends as they found both RWBY and the remainder of JNPR present at their table. Unfortunately they both also saw that something was wrong. Namely the normally ravenous pack of teenagers, wasn't eating anything.
Pyrrha felt something akin to confusion as she struggled to figured out what this could mean, where as Jaune felt as though a favor would soon be requested of him. A belief which only steeled itself when he noticed team CFVY(coffee) was also at the RWBY/JNPR table. He recognized Coco, Fox, Yatsu and Velvet and acknowledged them with a quick smile, but figured a greater explanation was about to be more forthcoming.
When conversation went silent and all eyes turned on him and Pyrrha he was now dead certain he was about to be asked a favor, something which only increased in probability based off how they managed to include them in their conversation.
"So Jaune, can you uh, can you believe that they would serve cold cuts for dinner with the weather we have been getting?" Ruby asked, obviously trying to lead him in the conversation.
Before he could answer however Yang added with an obvious amount of forced theatricality "Oh it is a devilish deed indeed, why we are only wanting a good-"
Coco cut her off and simply stated "We would like you to make us dinner Arc." Prompting a facepalm from nearly everybody present at the table, only the stoic Ren was able to resist.
Figuring that's where they were going with this Jaune crossed his arms. He didn't mind cooking for his friends. He did after all view them as his true family, but he didn't like being asked to do it on demand. He looked to Pyrrha for moral support.
She simply shrugged and said "Well, we are on break after all, it would be nice to have something more than cold cuts." she gave him a reassuring smile. He for once, got the hidden meaning. They aren't trying to take advantage of him.
With a sigh he asked them to wait, and visited the kitchen to see what they had for him to use. He found the fridge mostly restocked, and he had plenty of options for what he could do with what was present. He thought a few more moments about it then emerged from the kitchen, and once again all conversation stopped as they looked at him with anticipation. He realized that Pyrrha had found her seat, and while there was a spot open next to Weiss he found it odd that she was avoiding her sitting near the end of the table opposite her, but didn't feel a need to push the issue.
"Ok, I'll do something for you all,"
Cheers prevailed through the room.
"but I need an assistant." The cheers faltered a bit, as eyes cascaded over to Ren.
"Oh no, not this time, I always cook, today I'm taking it easy." The group looked at him mystified that he would actually say no.
Jaune watched the proceedings with an amused look on his face as he had his arms crossed while leaning against the kitchen wall. When something he never EVER expected to hear was uttered.
"Arc, I would... I would be glad, to help." It took him several seconds before he realized that Weiss, was the one who had spoken.
For some reason the sight of her walking with perfect posture towards him with the offering to assist with food preparation, was something he just thought she would always consider beneath her. The looks from their friends at the table spoke more volumes then Jaune's thoughts did. Pyrrha looked absolutely speechless, like her mind was filled with static, and she looked the most 'there' among them.
Weiss seemed to be in a hurry to spare herself embarrassment and grabbed him by his hand and pulled him into the kitchen out of sight. Though he couldn't decide if she was actually embarrassed or just wanted to get food ready as soon as possible.
She seemed a bit out of place in the kitchen and was fidgeting, but there was a look in her eyes that implied she needed to do this.
With a deep breath of resolve she started the awkward conversation "Ok Arc, you needed another pair of hands, I'm here. What do I do?"
"Start by washing your hands."
Her eyebrow twitched. "Jaune Arc are you implying that I am not clean?"
Jaune was trying not to laugh and answered the question to humor her. "Weiss, No. You take excellent care of yourself. We are talking about food here, you know, goes into people's mouth? Wash your hands, first step every time."
Weiss seemed to accept that, and he was struck by a bit of enlightenment "You've never actually prepared your own meals or used a knife before, have you?"
She seemed to bite back her initial reaction and instead answer back with "Is it that obvious?"
Her lack of... venom, for lack of a better term, stuck Jaune momentarily dumb.
"Sadly, it is, don't worry I'm sure you will be an expert in no time at all."
He filled a large pot of about half full with water, and set the burner to boil. Weiss tried to figure out what exactly he was doing, he had a pan at the ready with some form of oil prepared. He pulled out a cutting board, a knife and vegetables with cheese. Once he had what he needed he turned to her, and said.
"Ok here is what I need you to do"
Back at the table the group was still not quite sure who had kidnapped Weiss and replaced her with a doppelganger. Nora even had some drool coming off her lip.
"Did what I think just happen, happen?" Yang asked to nobody in particular.
"I think, so. Should we be scared for Jaune?" Ruby asked.
It never actually occurred to Pyrrha that Jaune was in danger. While she felt a brief surge of energy to defend him, she instantly disregarded it as ridiculous that Weiss pulled him aside to try and stab him... then realized that Ruby was actually joking and felt utterly foolish.
"I do wonder what he is doing... it must not be very extensive if he could get by with Weiss' help. I'm pretty sure she has never even set foot in a kitchen before." Blake added in.
"With Jaune you never really know what you're going to get." Ruby said wistfully.
"Whatever it is it smells divine, oh I can hardly wait." Velvet said, excitement practically oozing off her.
Their attention was drawn to Weiss carrying two bowls of ... a red substance which she placed on the table divided in thirds, then without saying another word, returned to the kitchen.
The group looked into the bowls and found they were tomatoes, diced into small pieces.
"Tomatoes?" Pyrrha said "I have absolutely no idea what the guy is doing."
Back in the kitchen Weiss was mentally screaming bloody murder at Jaune, when she volunteered to assist him she didn't think he would try black magic on her, these onions are making her cry, horribly.
"So Pyrrha, do you think you have Jaune's semblance figured out?" Velvet asked
"His semblance was never a great mystery, he is an Arc. However much his family doesn't treat him as one. As you know semblances are commonly passed on to children, and the Arc family semblance is well known." She replied back, quoting information from her own studies on aura's and the information she has researched while trying to help Jaune unlock his semblance.
"Oh my. I can't believe I didn't realize that already. I studied aura pretty extensively in combat school but I never even thought about that" Ren said, with an honest air of embarrassment.
"Sooo what exactly is his semblance then?" Ruby asked
"It's... complicated to explain Ruby. Most people have mostly accepted calling it Aid, but it is more complicated than that." Pyrrha stated.
"Complicated in what way?" Yang asked.
"Have none of you heard about the Arc semblance? I find that impossible given how much it is covered in aura studies classes?" Pyrrha asked with a hint of shock in her voice.
The silence permeating from the table was her answer. Before she could answer Weiss reappeared with two more bowls, and upon them being placed next to the tomato's the group realized they were diced onions. They then saw that her face was red, puffy and had the appearance of crying.
Ruby being very quick to recognize her partners distress asked... with more alarm than she likely intended. "Oh no! Weiss what happened did Jaune say something?!" There was a hint of malice in her voice.
Weiss addressed her... overly eager partner by saying "No the dolt," Looking somewhat embarrassed at using that term "... he didn't do anything, it's those damnable onions, I didn't realize they induced tears when cut open." With that she walked back into the kitchen.
The smell at this point was getting contagious and it was getting hard not to think about their hunger. Pyrrha eventually remembered that they were talking about the Arc semblance and continued. She cleared her throat to get back their attention then continued.
"Aid is similar to a healing Semblance, he can heal wounds his own or others. Even more efficiently than our aura's will, and he can replenish the aura of others through a touch. He also can channel his aura into an object, to temporarily strengthen that object. That is its more basic level. Once he has grown more familiar to the point he can control it at will, he can channel his aura into his body to give him a temporary boost in physical prowess, greater speed and strength, that kind of thing. Some are able to do other things with their semblances after awakening it given how many bloodlines have married into the Arc family over time. It will really be left up to Jaune to see what he can do." She couldn't keep the excitement out of her voice as she described it.
"Was that what happened today during training? With that glow around him?" Yang asked astutely.
"Yes. That wasn't the pure form, just A shadow of it. I hope to refine his control over the coming weeks." Her happiness at his progress was quite visible on her face.
Weiss reappeared with more bowls this time including diced peppers then returned to the kitchen.
Blake eyed the vegetables with an obvious curiosity. "Peppers, onions and tomatoes, what in the world is he doing in there?"
Her thoughts were echoed across the rest of them. This wasn't halted when Weiss reappeared again with more bowls, this time including cheese. Before quickly returning to the kitchen.
Further conversation would prove impossible as curiosity overcame the need to talk amongst themselves when they saw Zwei trot up into the kitchen to be greeted by the Heiress happily petting the dog. It took her approximately 7 seconds before she realized she did something wrong and cringed when Jaune's voice was heard from behind her, "Weiss not the dog NOO! Now you gotta wash your hands again." She looked like a tomato herself when she let her shoulders slouch and left the dog to wash her hands again. The crimson on her face defused to a pink when she came bringing plates which had a curious flour product which had meat placed in the middle.
Weiss explained "He called this a Taco, evidently it's something of the local eats where one of his sisters attended school. You put the cheese tomato's and stuff in there and eat it."
They just looked at her. "What he told me to say that!" With caution atypical to his cooking they cautiously went about filling their tacos with materials and Weiss went back to the kitchen to help more. She re-appeared shortly after and took her seat. Then grabbed a shell, and started filling it. Pyrrha decided she would take the seat next to her after all. She moved from the tables edge down to where the Heiress was sitting.
Weiss seemed surprised that Pyrrha sat next to her, she looked at her expecting a verbal onslaught, but she didn't say anything. Pyrrha just pulled her into a gentle hug with one arm around the shoulder, and whispered into her ear "I'm proud of you".
She wasn't trying to provoke a reaction from Weiss, but the group was utterly dumbstruck a second time that night as that simple action caused her to cry briefly.
"Pyrrha!" Ruby exclaimed "You made Weiss Cry, WHY?!"
Pyrrha, just smirked at the younger girl and replied "Ruby, I think you will find those are happy tears, not sad ones." Then smiled at her.
Pyrrha decided she had enough 'stuff' on her taco and took a bite, the others followed suit and nervous glances were shared across the table with their eyes eventually ending up on the pile of unclaimed shells. What happened next could only be described by as a frantic dash to finish their taco and claim another, and another. Then glare viciously at those who had tacos and you didn't while you waited for more. Pyrrha had an absolutely impish look on her face while she enjoyed the angry glares from Ruby and Yang looking hungrily at the taco they coveted.
"What I want to know." Coco started, "Is why have you all been holding out on me and my team? This is outrageously good." The menace in her voice... they at least thought was in jest.
Ruby responded "We didn't know he could do this until recently."
Jaune emerged from the kitchen carrying more shells to the joy of everybody at the table. It was soon Pyrrha's turn to glare at the others as they had a taco and she didn't.
"Well we need to convince him to do this more often, this is marvelous." Weiss said.
"Just get Pyrrha to ask him. Being his girlfriend has to come with dinner privileges." Yang put forth happily.
"Oh I'm sure I could get him to cook for just me, but cooking for you all would be... expensive" Pyrrha replied with a grin in good humor.
"That is cruel Invincible Girl, you would actually dine on some 5 star meal while the rest of us had cold cuts?" Blake couldn't help but ask.
"Depends, how many favors are we talking about?" Pyrrha couldn't help herself at this point.
"Pyrrha I promise you one tray of the most delicious brownies you can imagine a month if you get him to do this every time we ask." Ren added to the conversation, a grin on his own face.
Pyrrha felt her face twitch at the aforementioned bribe, but didn't say anything causing a round of laughter to be heard.
By the time Jaune brought out the third batch of shells some people were beginning to get full so the completion for shells wasn't as bad, as such Jaune sat down himself on the edge of the line where Pyrrha formerly was sitting.
"Arc what is it going to take to convince you to do this every night?" Coco asked bluntly.
Jaune coughed a bit at first choking on food, but answered after getting it under control "A miracle, I'm happy to do it once in awhile, but I don't see myself doing this every day. For one the fridge isn't restocked enough for me to do this for you all every day." Hoping that is enough to placate them he went back to eating, but was a bit unnerved in the curious glance CFVY was giving him. He was very grateful when Ruby asked.
"So we are all going to have fun tomorrow right? Last day of winter break and all." She had an adorable smile on her face as she asked the question.
There was general affirmative murmurings around the table as they agreed they would be happy to have fun together. Though Coco had to decline as her team was due another mission tomorrow and would have to miss it.
The group finished their meal shortly thereafter, nobody left hungry and there wasn't a single taco left over when it was all said and done. Several members of the group left to go take care of dishes, leaving a spot next to Jaune, Pyrrha sauntered over with a very satisfied look on her face.
"That was superb once again. I think we are going to get addicted to your cooking." She said as she hugged him and rested her head on his shoulder.
"I'm really very glad you all appreciate it. We are going to work out in the morning right?" Jaune asked.
"Yeah, I'm not sure what yet, I will need to know how much you have recovered by then. Jaune I wanted to say I am proud of you, you've done exceedingly well these last 2 weeks."
He just nodded his head, and replied "I owe it all to you" which caused her to blush slightly. He continued "Pyrrha my body is still screaming at me from today's session, I think I'm going to get to sleep early."
She replied back "Yes I agree, that's a good idea, I was going to suggest we not do our nightly routine tonight. Your aura was the only thing keeping you going earlier. Your body is still exhausted, training right now would do more harm than good."
He signed dejectedly, making her look at him with concern on her face "I'm sorry, I will try to do better in the future. Like I said earlier I trust you. I had wanted to do something tonight but with you mimicking my thoughts, I won't argue."
"Jaune you don't need to apologize. Really you have performed exceedingly well of late, and you have improved. We can see it in your body, but right now you are exhausted. I have been pushing you extremely hard and your body needs the rest. We will get to the point where you won't feel like this. I promise you." She hugged him again and placed a kiss on his cheek.
Giving her a sideways glance he responded in kind. She felt he sounded a bit down and felt the need to speak further. "Jaune, really I mean it. The people you are comparing yourself too have been in training for years, and have spent time honing their bodies all their life. I admit I am extraordinarily blessed physically but even I have been working at it all my life. Considering what you've done in less than a year it is remarkable. Keep your chin up ok." She gave him a reassuring pat on the back.
"Pyrrha, I really do owe you everything, all the desire in the world wouldn't mean a thing if I didn't have you willing to help me. I just hope it is enough to earn a passing grade in the end. I've seen the way Ms. Goodwitch looks at me. It's like she thinks I'm a danger to myself and you realize she has told me you deserve a better partner than myself more than once. I try not to think about it much but I do appreciate your words." He said
That information brought a frown to her face "I hadn't realized Goodwitch said that." Was all she could manage. She was looking at him with pure concern, the last thing she wanted was for his self confidence to fail at this point and undue the work they have done over the break.
"You don't need to worry about me Pyrrha, at least not when it comes to effort. I have somebody now who cares for me that I want to make proud." He looked at her. "You."
Happy tears formed in her eyes as she thought 'that's more like it' and before she knew it she was hugging him again.
After he managed to break away from the unexpected embrace he advised her he is going back to sleep, and left the table.
"Ok, I'm going to stay and talk to Ruby a bit, see what she has in mind for tomorrow's activities." Even he as tired as he was couldn't miss the sly smile on her face.
He did question the wisdom of leaving his girlfriend alone with their friends to discuss the next day's act ivies, but reminded himself that he trusted Pyrrha. She had earned that trust 100 times over in the time he had known her, and had no reason to feel this way.
Sometime later Pyrrha returned to the dorm room, having done a workout on her own to find that Nora, Ren and Jaune were already back, and sleeping. She eyed Jaune's sleeping form affectionately. The honest work he had been doing was doing wonders for his body, but he was so tired he looked like he only made it to his bed, then collapsed on it. She gently moved him into a more square position on the bed and moved his blanket over him. Then laid herself down to sleep, looking forward to the act ivies of the next day.
Jaune woke up feeling better rested then he had in, just about as long as he could remember during his time at Beacon. His morning was further improved by his gorgeous girlfriend smiling at him as he gained some semblance of consciousness. Once he had a few more seconds to improve his awareness he realized she was shaking him, obviously trying to wake him up.
Pyrrha was considering kissing him as part of her plan to wake him up, but decided it would be a bit awkward and simply decided to shake him.
"Time to get up Jaune, we have training time." She said with a happy smile.
At this point he had recovered enough to be aware of what was happening and stretched lightly while he answered back "Ugh, I'm pretty sure people aren't meant to get up this early."
"You are going to need to get used to it Jaune, especially if we are going to start working in the morning and evenings"
"Yeah I was thinking about that. I think we, well, I should only get up on days when we don't have combat classes. We both know I take longer than you to recover I can't show up exhausted." He said while getting out of bed and grabbing his bag.
She pondered that for awhile. "Jaune, I understand what you are saying, I do. However acting like you are sick will only reinforce it in your mind that you are. I think you should try to do as much as you can in the mornings with me. Even if it is something as simple as showing up and stretching or just walking. Once you get more accustomed to it, it will be easier over time."
He was unsure what to say for a time, his partner continued to amaze him. "Pyrrha, you know I will give you everything I have, but you have to realize everything I have is... half of what-" He was silenced by a finger over his mouth.
"Jaune, you need to understand something. The first step in accomplishing anything, is simply taking that first step. It is an absurdly simple lesson to learn. Yet there is no doubting its accuracy. Many things seem impossible, until you actively start walking down the path. I am asking you to take that first step, nothing more." The feelings she was showing was difficult to see in the dim morning light with no other lights on to not wake the rest of their team, but even to Jaune's limited ability to read people it was evident there was a world of emotion in her face.
He could think of nothing more than to look at her, and eventually hug her. Once they had stood that way for a few minutes he whispered in her ear "Pyr, I swore that if there was one person I do not let down in my life, it would be you. If you want me up every day to work out with you, then I will give you exactly that."
She squeezed him in response and hummed happily to herself.
With that they decided wordlessly to leave the room and head to the training room for their light morning workout.
Light in this case was Pyrrha introducing him with the proper form on more than two dozen workouts, none of which he had done previously making sure that he had the form correct. Followed by an hour of Yoga. After they had showered they started walking back to the kitchen for breakfast.
Pyrrha grabbed her typical bacon, eggs toast and juice. Jaune for the most part just struggled to move.
"Never again, never ever again ever will I say Yoga is easy... ever never ever." Jaune said more to himself than anything.
"Jaune you did well today, just keep giving me that every morning and I won't be disappointed." She said with a happy smile.
"Giving her what every morning?" Yang said with a grin that should be too big to appear on a human face. Behind her the rest of team RWBY was trying to hold back their laughs.
"Yang please, just this once I'm begging you. Just shut up and drop it, please, thank you" Jaune said which absolutely silenced a stunned table.
Yang could only blink a couple times then her grin returned. "Tell you what Jaune. If you can push me over, I will let it drop. If not I will continue to tease Pyrrha, deal?"
Jaune looked at her, and decided in the next few moments. "You obviously don't think I can, I think you should sweeten the deal. If I can push you over, you cannot tease her or myself, until 2 weeks from now."
Yang's natural impulse as a gambler waivered as she was unsure how to treat Jaune's confidence. Sure he is a lot more physically powerful now than when he started, but he also just finished working out, and didn't think he has all that much left in him now. With a smirk she said "Ok fine, but if I am still standing after your push, you have to make dinner tonight and tomorrow, deal?"
"Deal" he said, with that he stood, ignoring the mystified look Pyrrha was giving him.
He walked up to Yang who had a look of supreme both confidence and amusement.
"Last chance to give up without looking surprised Yang." He said with a smirk.
"Vomit Boy please, just quit while you are ahead." She smiled at him.
"Jaune, you know you don't need to do this I can handle her teasing." Pyrrha said... not entirely sure why Jaune was doing this.
"Yeah listen to your girlfriend Jaune, you don't need to make a fool of yourself on purpose." She looked at Pyrrha and made to wink. The instant her gaze turned away from him, he jumped lightly and landed on both of her feet. Then pushed with both of his arms until they reached extension.
Yang fell, landed squarely on the ground, and was unable to quite understand exactly what happened. Though she did hear Jaune gloating in the background about how she couldn't tease himself and Pyrrha. This was an impossibility, he couldn't push her over... why was she on the ground and why did her feet hurt?
It took them about 3 minutes to explain to Yang that she did in fact get pushed over.
Jaune walked over pleased with himself and sat back down next to Pyrrha, surprise and amusement all over her face.
"One day you will have to tell me what that was about." She said, grinning at him wickedly.
Jaune just looked at her smiled, then said "I can tell you now, a wise person I know. Though she isn't just wise, once told me that all I had to do to accomplish something is take the first step. I decided I would try that out."
Her smile couldn't be more radiant as she understood his meaning. She pulled him into a kiss. Several seconds in they were interrupted by a stern "AHEM!" They looked up to see Yang standing across the table looking down at them with a very annoyed look on her face.
"Now now Yang, before you speak remember the bet, no teasing." Jaune reminded her.
"Jaune-boy, this is a warning. First you outwit me at truth or dare, you impress me with your dedication to your training, and then you trick me by pushing me over... I think you have just earned my respect." Yang finished with a smirk. "Just know, I will not underestimate you again." She said the last statement with a threatening finger pointed at him menacingly.
"I would expect nothing less Yang." He replied, then changed the subject. "Although I gotta say I think Ruby is going to be disappointed given the blizzard outside" He said pointing at the snow falling through the outside windows. "I am unsure what we are going to be able to do with the rest of our day."
"Yeah it is not fair." The Reaper pouted. "I had all these events scheduled, but nobody is going to want to play out in the snow in a blizzard." She looked around the room. "Jaune I think it should be your job to come up with something for us to do today."
"Why exactly should that be my responsibility?" He asked.
"Well it's our job as team leaders to plan, I planned for today but the weather trumped me. It is your turn to plan something. PLEASE!?" She gave him her infamous puppy dog look.
Jaune struggled for a time but accepted the inevitability of the situation by saying "Well to be fair Ruby if we weren't going to do something I had already planned on trying to work on my semblance." Suddenly the eyes around him turned from friendly to offended.
"You only planned for yourself? That seems a bit self serving." Ruby said with mock annoyance.
"Jaune I think your forgetting you need to rest. You can't keep relying on your Aura to keep you moving, you should take it easy today" Pyrrha said with a stern look in her eyes. Then realized Jaune was trying to use that as an excuse to not have to plan for something, a few seconds too late.
"HA! Well given that your trainer is vetoing that idea you need to come up with something mister!" Ruby said victoriously.
"How about we start with what do you all want to do?" He asked to well, nobody and everybody.
Weiss and Blake looked at each other. Yang seemed distracted still that Jaune actually pushed her over, and Ruby seemed happy with the fact he was taking this seriously, so basically, he got no insight into what to think.
"You all never did explain how Zwei showed up mysteriously the other day." Jaune asked to buy time.
"Oh! Well he arrived via mail from dad that morning, Blake just opened up the wrong package, thinking it was her book, or that's at least what she said." Ruby said... which Blake didn't object too.
Weiss surprised them by asking "Arc, I would like to play you again in chess, see if I can avenge my defeat."
Jaune just shared a glance with Pyrrha then looked back at her "If that is what you want, sure. Once you all have had breakfast." He felt enough energy was back in him now to go through the breakfast line himself, and mimicked Pyrrha's meal, thinking if it's enough to keep her going as much as she works out, it should be enough to keep him going.
He realized the responsibility was somehow on him once again to plan for their teams act ivies. He checked his scroll and saw a message from Ren, telling them to have fun as he and Nora are going to work on a new grenade shell for her weapon. Leaving him and Pyrrha with RWBY.
Following breakfast the group moved to the RWBY dorm for the rematch against Weiss and Jaune. They ended up playing 4 more matches with Jaune winning each of them, without himself ever appearing threatened.
"How do you continually beat me this isn't fair!" Weiss complained to, well, the room.
"Is the possibility that I'm actually better at than you at chess, or maybe even strategic thought so impossible?" He answered.
"Jaune, you are a team leader, so I confess you aren't a complete moron. But I should still be able to beat you. Nobody has a perfect record, Pyrrha's tournament record not withstanding anyway. Help me understand why you keep beating me." Her voice sounded almost... pleading.
He looked at her for several seconds while trying to best find the words to explain how he could make her understand.
"Weiss, look at Pyrrha. Tell me what you see."
The snow haired girl looked almost... insulted by the simplicity of the question, and answered. "She has a graceful slim yet powerful and feminine athletic body, she is what most everybody would say attractive if not more so. She has red hair tied in a pony tail down to her waist, vivid green eyes and is around 6 feet tall. How much more do you want me to say?" She sounded bored.
"That is what she looks like, yes. However that isn't what she is and it shouldn't be all you can see. If that is all you see, that should explain why I can beat you." Weiss cocked her head, thinking about something, but not entirely grasping his point.
"Ok let's try this, look at me, what do you see." He tried again.
"Arc, I can describe you all you want but you aren't explaining your point." She sounded testy.
He looked at her for a few seconds more, he knew he had the attention of everybody in the room as they waited for him to speak.
"Are you going to help me or not Arc?" she asked.
"Weiss, believe it or not, I am trying too." He sighed.
"Fine. Weiss when I look at you, I see a pretty girl, I see snow colored hair, delicate features, and a short petite frame. That is about as detailed as you went when you described Pyrrha, but yes, you are missing the point. You sit and present yourself like somebody raised in privilege, its written in your posture and how you stand. The way you always sit facing off to the side and tie your pony tail off center hints at your insecurity about your scar on your eye." She moved to hide it further as he said that.
Jaune continued. "You tend to think of yourself as superior to everybody else because of your skill with your weapon, glyphs and your extensive education. You move with a dancers grace which does grant a graceful thought process and way of thinking with a fluidity of movement. Yet that is impaired by your previous limitation regarding your stance about others. I could go on, but I've made my point."
She had a bit of a sneer on her face as she thought he was insulting her.
He further continued "When you look at me if you were being honest with yourself you would say you see somebody whom you don't respect as an opponent. Who you deem to be less intelligent than yourself. Somebody you are capable of winning against regardless of the means of competing. All of that might be true to a certain extent. But what you fail to see Weiss is that this is exactly why I beat you. You do not see me, at all, you see your opinion of me. Which is highly flawed, and easy for me to exploit. When I look at you I acknowledge your strong points, while also realizing possible weaknesses I can exploit. It gives me insight to your way of thinking which allows me to predict what you are going to try to do and formulate plans to beat it. I know of no other way to explain it than that."
She was still contemplating his words when Yang interjected "You could look at me, tell me what you see when you look at me Jaune." She said in a friendly manner.
"I could Yang but then I would be here all day doing that for all of you and to be honest I just don't want to do that right now. Pyrrha how about you and I go get yourself registered for the Vytal tournament then I'd like to spend time in the library. I want to do some reading about my semblance." He stood, while he was saying that and offered his hand to his girlfriend.
"Oh no you don't Arc I still have something to say to you." Weiss said threateningly. "So what your telling me is you beat me because you think you know more about me than I do of you?"
"I wouldn't word it like that. While I think that is true, I would say I beat you because I take that information and I am able to formulate strategies to take advantage of what I can. Your pride and superior attitude leave many openings for others to exploit." Pyrrha had taken his hand at this point and hugged him as he helped her to her feet.
"You know Jaune, you are going to have to tell me what you see when you look at me one of these days" Pyrrha said with a coy smile on her face.
"I would but I think my vocabulary would run out of accurate words to describe you before I finished doing an adequate job." He replied, to which she ducked her face down to hide her blush. "But, I will happily try one day." He finished with a friendly smile.
"You all haven't already registered?" Yang asked.
"Well, as you know I won't have a weapon so even if I wanted too, I can't. I don't think Pyrrha has yet, and I know Ren and Nora already have."
"Everybody on RWBY has ." Ruby proudly announced.
Conversation delved into talk about how more chess matches would be needed in the future as they walked with Pyrrha while she registered for the Vytal Tournament. Once at the library Jaune did reading about his family semblance and was astonished that nobody in his family mentioned what he learned was common knowledge. A fact Pyrrha found infuriating as it would have helped them unlock it by well before now. In the end it was a lazy Sunday spent reading, joking and teasing Weiss' inability to beat Jaune in chess as they played 7 more matches in the library, with Jaune winning each one.
"Arc we will continue to do this until I can beat you, I refuse to accept that I am incapable of beating you." The Heiress vowed.
He chuckled then responded "You might notice I've never said I was invincible Weiss. You tend to excel at whatever you set your mind too, you just need to open up your mind to new ways of thinking." That seemed to pacify, if not please her bruised pride.
"Speaking of that openness of mind one of these days you will have to tell me what you see what you look at me Jaune." Yang said with her customary joking mannerisms repeating her previous request.
"Would you be happy with 'Boobs and Hair'?" He responded. The resounding thump of something sounding suspiciously like it had collided with his head indicated no. "Oh ok very well, sometime"
"Me too!" Ruby said... somewhat energetically.
Blake tried not to look interested but she admitted she was curious.
"Weiss you ever finish with your work on that glyph of yours?" Jaune asked.
She appeared annoyed with the question.
"Ok jeez forget I asked" He said as they parted ways outside their dormitory.
They decided to take an early night. Pyrrha stayed true to her convictions that Jaune should rest and skip another day of night combat practice, though she did stress that starting next week they would resume both morning and night time lessons. She put in a workout after they left the library and found Jaune at work with a new scrapbook. She picked up the first book of his and paged through a few pictures.
While she continued to marvel at the skill he displayed she didn't find any images which jumped out at her and captured her attention like the previous ones. She did see that each of the JNPR and RWBY team members were drawn in their standard combat stance with their weapons, she found the only one missing was Jaune himself. She thought about why he would leave him out as he had drawn himself previously. She came to the conclusion either he didn't think he was a warrior yet, or simple didn't want too. She turned the page near the end of the book she saw an image which was drawn in first person from his perspective. She found herself tearing up at the image, but one of happy tears. The title of the picture was "I am such an Idiot". The image was simply of herself on the balcony in her red dress at the party before she confessed to him her feelings. The image was well done, but she couldn't help but keep an idiotic grin on her face at how seemingly perfect she was drawn in that dress. Yet as she looked at the image, as gorgeous as she had to admit she looked, the image wasn't embellished. Moreover, it was from his perspective, meaning that was how HE viewed her. The thought brought a happy smile to her face and she found herself not wanting to turn the page to the next image.
She put the book down, moved to go to sleep, and found that he had already turned in. Once she finished looking through the current book of his she vowed to look through the one he was actively filling, in time.
The next morning Jaune awoke to find Pyrrha shaking him once again, they grabbed their gear bags then walked into the training room. Inside they did their normal stretches and decided doing Yoga again, a different exercise then they previously did. Pyrrha advised him that until he got used two the two-a-day workout approach they are going to take things easy in the morning. When they arrived at their joint kitchen for breakfast they found their teams waiting for them.
"Hey guys, ready for combat classes?" Nora asked in her normal energetic manner.
"Ready as I will ever be I suppose" Jaune asked.
"Jaune you've prepared as best you can, just do your best." Pyrrha supported him.
"I suppose it depends on who we get paired with right? I wonder who I will be placed against today" Ruby voiced her thoughts.
For the most part Jaune didn't listen in to the table conversation. He was more focused on keeping himself motivated for the combat class. He had gotten used to a steady stream of humiliating defeats. Something his friends, well aside from Weiss, had been very supportive of him given his lack of previous training. None of that lessoned the bruising on his pride however, he thought. He realized this line of thought is somewhat foolish, he has people behind him now none he was more thrilled with than his own partner. As long as he did right by her, it would be enough for him, I just hope I am not first up. He was pulled back from his thoughts when he realized they were trying to get his attention.
"Uh what sorry I wasn't listening" He said.
"I said what have you decided about your family taking your weapon from you?" Ruby asked.
The question brought back some unpleasant memories which he could see mirrored on his partners face. She accepted his decision not to sign up for the Vytal Tournament given his lack of weapon but that didn't mean she wasn't furious about the facts leading to that decision, she was likely even more mad than he was about it.
"To be honest, I don't know. I don't have the funding to buy one, I was hoping I could work here doing... something for Headmaster Ozpin during the summer, maybe earn enough to get him to have the armory forge me one. I realize it isn't the best of solutions but it's the best one I have right now."
Next to him Pyrrha wanted to say that with her wealth she could just order a weapon for him, and if Weiss helped with supply the weapon might even be done within a week. She had considered this point several times but she realized Jaune wanted to prove to his family that he was worthy of the family heirloom, and hoped that he could change their minds. If he had arranged a replacement, it would be like part of him had given up. She wasn't happy about this but she accepted it.
There was an unhappy uncomfortable silence around the table as the group shared similar feelings regarding the reclamation of his family heirloom, but they finished their breakfast and made ready to move on to the start of their second term combat classes.
"Why oh why does all my bad thoughts have to come true." Jaune complained to everybody and nobody at the same time with the realization that he was first up being matched against the team CRDL member Russel.
Pyrrha pulled him into a warm embrace and wished him luck, ignoring the looks they got from their fellow students, then watched as he walked down to the arena.
"Think he has a chance?" Blake asked.
"Of course he has a chance." Pyrrha responded back with total confidence.
"Well I guess the question is how big of a chance we talking about?" Weiss asked.
"That remains to be seen Weiss" Pyrrha said with a smile.
"GOOOOO FEARLESS LEADERR!" Nora shouted energetically as they squared off against each other.
The match kicked off with Russel started with his typical aggression wielding his duel daggers with some degree of skill. Jaune for his part kept dancing away and blocking playing it very defensive.
"Pyrrha I'll say it again, you have done an amazing job with him, he doesn't look like the same guy from a few months ago." Ren said.
"Yeah, he has put a lot of work in he deserves to see some results." Pyrrha replied keeping her eyes on the match.
"What is he doing? Why isn't he attacking? He cannot win if he doesn't at least try to hit him. Sure his defense is reasonably good at least when compared to Russel but eventually he will tire and wear out." Weiss said voicing the thoughts of several people present. She acknowledged that Jaune had a ... knack for strategic thought, but not attacking when even he could have seen those openings was something she failed to understand the purpose of.
Jaune focused on keeping everything balanced and level, maintaining his footwork while deflecting the barrage of close ranged dagger strikes. His lessons with Pyrrha doing wonders for him now, but Russel eventually managed to get his daggers inside his guard and scored a few quick hits. Jaune hit back with a shield bash sending the other man sliding backwards.
"Well, that happened, Russel came out on top of it." Blake lamented.
Pyrrha kept silent but watched the fight, thinking she figured out what Jaune was trying to do. He was trying to frustrate Russel into over committing but she couldn't figure out why.
"Uh guys, why is Jaune's aura draining?" Ruby asked.
Pyrrha didn't catch on to this right away but looked at the aura readouts, sure enough his aura was draining ever so slightly.
"I don't know Ruby, the fight hasn't gone on long enough for his stamina to be depleted he shouldn't be using his aura to keep himself going this soon." Despite her words she was terrified that their morning routine tired him out more than she thought, and hoped she didn't have a lapse in judgment regarding his training.
"No, it isn't his aura keeping him upright, he is channeling it into his sword, look" Ren said.
Sure enough there was a faint white glow on the weapon as it received his aura's energy.
"Uh, ok, but what is he doing, I OHH!" Pyrrha understood.
"He isn't attacking cause he wants to make Russel to think only about his shield, if he appears too afraid to commit to attack and open himself up for Russels offensive he hopes Russel will leave himself open." She announced.
They went back to watching the fight.
Jaune was once again back peddling but blocking his attacks with his shield, and once again manage to bash him away with another hammer strike using his shield. He could tell Russel was getting impatient, Jaune decided it was time to go for broke.
"Oh no he slipped!" Ruby observed.
The two teams were wearing uneasy expressions by the observation. Pyrrha in particular really wanted Jaune to win, maybe more than he wanted to win himself, if for no other reason he really needs the confidence now to keep propelling him forward.
They weren't the only ones who noticed the fact that he slipped, Russel decided now was the time to take the Knight out, and committed into his trademark air spin.
"Here it comes!" Pyrrha said with a worried expression on her face.
Jaune finally got what he wanted, he recovered from his slip, given that he did it on purpose he was never actually in danger. Then briskly stepped to the side rotating to his left, spinning to his right. He absorbed the forward kick with his shield then caught Russel on his chest with his sword completing the spin over his shield between the two daggers set up in a defensive posture.
A flash filled the room as the energy stored in his sword was unleashed. The lights kicked on signaling the end of the match. Russel was laying on his back at Jaune's feet with a look of utter confusion.
"Uh what just happened?" Ruby asked.
"Did...Did he just take out nearly all of his aura in one strike and a couple shield bashes?" Yang asked in disbelief.
Sure enough they looked at the Aura readout and Jaune was reduced to maybe 70%, where as that one strike brought Russel into the deep red below 10%. They saw Jaune help a completely dumbfounded Russel off the ground then slowly work his way back up to his friends. They all noticed how heavily he was breathing.
Pyrrha couldn't help herself as he got close, she embraced him seemingly squeezing the life out of him out of sheer happiness that he won.
"You won I knew you could do it!" She announced gleefully.
"You still have a long way to go Mr. Arc, but your progress is visible, keep it up." Ms. Goodwitch issued words of... he hoped encouragement.
"I will, thank you professor." He replied humbly.
"Well done Jaune." Ren put forth. While Nora was playing tug of war with Pyrrha to get Jaune into her own bear hug. In the end they both decided to hug him, one from in front, one from behind.
The rest of the group issued similar words of encouragement. He was actually glad the praise stopped when Goodwitch announced the next fights. Pyrrha made short work of Cardin. Once again as was her calling card not even taking a single scratch of damage, which wasn't saying much as she proved to be capable of taking out his entire team single handedly without taking a shot previously.
Ren and Nora also faced off against the remaining members of Team CRDL and Jaune was pleased to no end in the knowledge that his team just swept their rivals.
Ruby ended up facing Neptune and won making it look easy as she was simply too fast for him to keep up with. Much to the chagrin of their blue haired friend.
The most competitive match was between Yang and Sun.
Sun initially had no problem landing blows against Yang, and it appeared as though he would come away with an easy victory. But he discounted Yang's semblance. Specifically the additional power Yang received in return as she took damage. It was an extremely close match but Yang manage to win once she caught him with a few punches when she was nearly beaten.
Following the combat classes the group was left tired, but elated as they all managed to win their first bouts of the new term. Their afternoon class was spent listening to professor Port go on tangent after tangent while he relived the glory days of his youth. One out of seemingly one hundred words was actually important and it seemed the only two people who could accurately follow were Pyrrha and Weiss, though Jaune, Ren and Blake all succeeded in staying awake through the class.
"You all are going to be assigned a project which you will work throughout the remainder of your time in this class this term. You will be with your initiation partners for this assignment so there is no confusion over who is paired with who. Assignments will be sent to your scrolls where you will research and come up with a method of dealing with a specific scenario. That will be all, see you next week."
Two classes later the group had finished their courses for the day and were making their way back to the kitchen for dinner.
"Is it normal for Port to give us one assignment for the term?" Jaune asked.
Weiss answered "I overheard one of the professors saying they are going to try it differently this term. They said that this first year class is exceptionally competitive so they are experimenting. Allowing greater focus on our combat training to help determine who is best to represent Beacon in the Vytal Tournament."
"Speaking which," Jaune started "the qualifiers take place the last week of classes following our combat class, right?"
"Yes that's right, the tournament itself lasts a week. This year they are only having the singles competition." Pyrrha confirmed.
"What do you all have to do for your projects from Port?" Ruby asked. "We need to come up with 3 strategies for dealing with a Deathstalker."
"We have to come up with a plan to clean out a nest of Nevermore's." Ren Said.
"We need to come up with a way to stop Beowulf's from scaling buildings." Blake said.
"Wow all of that seems easy compared to what Pyrrha and I have to do. We need to come up with the best plans for dealing with Goliath's." Jaune said. "Specifically a group of stampeding Goliath's."
"That seems, impossible, very few encounters with Goliaths exist to draw from, they tend to be highly intelligent Grimm" Weiss said
"Well that's all the more reason once we finish dinner I want to head to the library and get a head start on it. You ok with that Pyrrha?" Jaune asked.
"Sure, training after right?" She asked with her typical smile.
The pair arrived in the library and set to work on finding out anything they could about the Goliath Grimm.
"Well, they are old, some believe centuries old. With that age comes an intellect, they are said to be extremely powerful. The book here claims even high caliber sniper shells would do little more than irritate it. Granted the book is written by Professor Bootblack so we should take that with a grain of salt." Pyrrha said as she surmised their findings.
"Well, we know more about their physical being, they tend to resemble elephants. The question is how do you stop a herd of stampeding elephants. I'd say the best answer is not let them start to stampede in the first place." Jaune commented.
"Well, that might be right be we should assume for the sake of the assignment that it is already in motion. How would you suggest we stop it oh wise team leader?" She joked.
"Well" He thought about it. "If we assume they are highly intelligent then we can also assume they have a sense of self preservation, and won't run headlong into something which could harm or kill them" He said wistfully.
"So what exactly do you have in mind?" She asked, curiosity present on her face.
"I'm saying this book suggesting that some type of tranquilizer would work is ridiculous, it was written hundreds of years ago and while the information might have been accurate at its time, It doesn't seem like the best solution" He said indicating the book he was reading.
"Id say the best solution is to block its path. Most of the time we as hunters would fight Goliaths because they have wandered too close to the city, and we wouldn't care about stopping it unless they were moving into a population center, you follow?"
"Yes" She said, not understanding his point yet.
"So, my point is, collapse the passage. If it is an urban area there must be buildings nearby we could use. Prof. Ooblecks book clearly indicates they do not encounter them often due to their cautious nature, they know if they attack humans it tends to only lead to their deaths. So we don't hunt them as they tend to stay away. A stampede which brings them into the population centers would just need to be diverted. " He said like he just solved a complex riddle finally.
"Ok, so how do you plan on coming up with ways to collapse passages?" She asked with a mischievous smirk on her face.
"One word. Nora." He replied with a grin.
With that they went about coming up with different means of halting and or slowing their advance. They would continue to work on coming up with theories but were happy to get a head start on their winter project.
They used their weapons this time during combat training once again. Instead of his traditional weapon Jaune used a stock weapon and shield freely available to beacon students.
"This result, leaves much to be desired." He lamented as he tried to catch his breath following a bout.
"Yeah, I don't know what to tell you Jaune, hopefully you won't have to use one." She eyed the weapon he was carrying.
"I didn't think it would shatter on me, I figured they would be better made then that." He said still not quite sure why he was holding the hilt.
"Come on, your aura is nearly out and its almost curfew." She helped pick him up off the ground, and was concerned when he let a sigh out.
"Jaune, what's wrong?" She asked, concern etched on her face.
"It's, it's nothing Pyrrha." He winced as she gripped his arm with a vice like hold.
"Jaune, please don't give me that come on tell me what's bothering you!" A hint of pleading entered her eyes.
He looked at her, hesitated then proceeded "Pyrrha, how do you do it?" he asked.
"I have paired off against Yang, Weiss, Blake, Ruby, just about everybody in our year. While my win rate leaves much to be desired I have managed to actually hit them. Nobody ever touches you, like never ever. I've never once seen it." She moved to speak, but he interrupted her. "Don't tell me it's all about your semblance, I know you use it to help with close calls, but." He sighed again.
"I'm not angry Pyrrha, I am overjoyed you've helped me, I've said it before, and I will say it again you are the reason I am still here. I am nothing without you. It's just, the better I get, the more I realize how much you are holding back and how much I have to grow." He said voicing his feelings.
Her shock evident that he discovered, while she thoroughly enjoyed helping him, he had yet to even remotely push or threaten her, even that brief moment when he activated his semblance wasn't truly a threat to her.
"It makes it seem like an impossible task." With that he turned and started to walk down towards the dorm room.
She ran ahead of him and cut him off. "This is about your family taking Crocea Mors back, isn't it?" She asked, there was a gleam to her eyes that he couldn't quite place.
He looked at her for a long time, affection was in his eyes, but it was mixed with pain, leaving her confused. With a sigh, he spoke "Pyrrha, I love my family. No matter how they treat me or what they say, I love them. That simple fact has caused me more pain than I can put into words. It is in my nature it is who I am. I am still trying to do right by them. The thought I can never make them proud, its... it's like a black mark on me that I can never wash off. You saw what happened just now without Crocea Mors I will have to rely on hand to hand. Not something that might shatter in my hand. I am just not a guy that is threatening with 'these'." He said shaking his hands in front of her.
He continued, "At least that weapon, as old as it is, is dependable. It is literally my only positive mark I could rely on, and now I don't even know how long I will have it. I don't know what to do. You have said multiple times I need to be able to defend myself unarmed, I need to be able to grapple and I need to be able to fight with my weapon. I don't dispute any of that and in fact I agree. It's just, it sometimes feels like to much to overcome." He didn't sound like he was complaining here.
"Jaune..." Words failed her here.
She lunged forward and hugged him which he returned instantly. He still hasn't fully mastered his semblance she thought to herself, but she has done as much as she can for him in unlocking it, he needed to learn how to use it. She didn't know what more she could do for him. She buried her head in the crook of his neck while she gathered her thoughts.
"I just... I... I don't understand, why your family can treat you so callously. You are their son, you are trying to protect people, is that not enough for them?" She asked in a whimper.
Jaune wasn't sure what he could say beyond what he already has on the topic, but he felt he owed it to Pyrrha to try again. "Pyr, it might be difficult for you to understand. You have only ever known victory, success. Me? My family has learned only that I let them down literally from the moment I was born. They wanted a healthy boy to carry the family name. They got me. They wanted that boy to be able to go to combat school, earn high marks and represent the Arc name, as our ancestors did. Again, instead, they got me. Yes I got into Beacon, for reasons I still am unsure about, maybe Ozpin lost a bet I don't know but that's all, I didn't earn my way here, I was given the opportunity as a charity offer. There is a statue of my great-great-grandfather on the entry walkway to Beacon, you might have seen him, he was the one who had Crocea Mors forged and one of the earliest Hunters, he paved the way for what Beacon came to become. That is what is expected of every Arc. We are expected to succeed in what we do. Out of all my siblings, I am the only one who has not lived up to that. They don't want me here. They find it an insult to them that somebody like me, who they consider a disappointment and failure, would be enlisted at Beacon representing the Arc name. They will do whatever they can, no matter how cold to keep me from being here. They can't forcibly remove me as I am of age, but they can take away my ability to stay by removing the weapon."
She stifled a sob as he tried to help her understand and hugged him even more forcefully. None of it made sense to her. Jaune was a great person. He had a great heart, supposed weak heart be damned he was the best person she knew. He worked hard despite not having the advantage of good health made what would be consider miraculous improvements based on no previous training and hell be damned if she wasn't hopelessly in love with him. However… this wasn't something she could face for him, she had no way of making it easier for him beyond training him and encouraging him to push himself as far as that heart of his could carry him.
"It isn't fair." Was all she could say tightening her embrace.
"No, I suppose it isn't Pyr, but you have given me a chance. That is more than anybody else has ever done for me. " There was no trace of contempt or pity in his voice.
She felt like the doors around her mind were closing again and she desperately needed them to stay open. While she was still able to think she reached up with her hands, cupped his face, and planted a kiss on him. It was sloppy, it was awkward, it was poorly aimed, none of that mattered. It was the most accurate way she had of getting her feelings across.
Jaune was a bit dazed, he didn't think he was suppose to kiss her back as right after the kiss she went back to hugging him tightly. He felt her start to shake, and realized she was crying. He didn't want to break away from her hug to kiss her lips, so he just kissed her neck, she shivered at his touch, and he went back to holding her. Somehow the feeling of her crying into his shoulder and her shaking as she cried hurt him more than he was able to describe. Right at that moment he didn't care about curfew, his priority was her.
"Should I translate that kiss to mean 'Don't you dare give up or I will throw my spear at you?'" he tried a joke.
"Something like that" She started to say. He could feel the smile form on her face in spite of herself. She broke off finally and was grinning at him with affection in her eyes. Seeing her feeling better they joined hands again and moved back to their dorm room.
The following weeks passed very quickly for them. And they found themselves on the final Sunday before the combat assessment finals on Monday, the two teams of friends were trying to enjoy one last weekend before the biggest test of their Beacon careers took place on Monday and were followed by the qualifiers for the Vytal Tournament.
While Weiss would never admit it, but she found her thawing... slightly to the blond haired knight. His simple dedication to do what's right and improve himself was starting to wear her down. Though at the moment she couldn't think about that, because this stupid glyph continually infuriated her. Her family semblance being the manipulation of dust using glyphs officially made her family the go to source for glyph based manipulation. Yet this simple thing, this simple desire, to heal her scar, proved to be a task of the type of complexity she didn't even realize could exist. Each time she thought she had it prepared, she found another flaw. Some other facet of which would leave too much damaged skin, or simply cause more harm than good. She only had one chance to do this, and she was determined to get it right.
"What's wrong Weiss? You have that weird look of concentration on your face" Ruby asked with a smile.
"This. Stupid. Glyph. Refuses. To. Work." Glaring at it as if it was actively trying to not function out of spite, giving the clear impression she doesn't want to talk about it.
"Oooookay then, message received you want to be alone." A coy smile appeared on her face. "I think I'll go play against Jaune in chess, I'm thinking I'll beat him first try." She said with a smirk... or would have if her partner hadn't leapt over the table separating them and starting strangling her. A cloud of dust appeared around the two girls as they seemed to fight around the room.
Yang walked around her room picking up her things like it was just any other day, seemingly ignoring the two of them spinning all over the room leaving a whirlwind of devastation as they passed. She was prepared to just let them work it out until they were in danger of spilling into the hallway, at which point she reached into the cloud and managed to halt the proceedings grabbing Ruby by her hood.
Ruby seemed to have a slight advantage as despite being younger, was likely the stronger of the two given her work with Crescent Rose and had one of Weiss' legs in some type of lock. While Weiss was playing the ticklish card and seemed to be winning the match at the exact moment it froze when Yang intervened. Both girls had their hairs disheveled and were breathing hard.
"Girls if you two are going to fight like this you should at least do it while Blake is nearby to capture the event for her journal." Yang said with an obvious laugh on her lips.
"You assume I don't have spies everywhere and I wouldn't see it anyway" Blake said with a -thump- as she landed on the floor after clearing the window to their room.
"Where were you at kitty cat?" Yang asked.
"Observing..." She said with a sly smile.
"Observing... what?" Ruby asked as Yang was thinking of a more elaborate way to put the question.
"Stuff, things..." Her team glared at her. "Ok fine I've been watching Jaune and Pyrrha's morning session."
"His parents didn't show up to take back his weapon right? I bet that has him in a good mood." Ruby said with a happy smile on her face.
"Yeah about that... I'm not so sure. It isn't like he did anything to get them to change their mind. No until the combat exam is over tomorrow I will continue to think this is something of a trap." Blake said in total seriousness.
"That seems, out of character Blake, what gives?" Yang asked.
Blake gave her partner a calculated look before answering. "Yang, Jaune believes in the best in people. Over the last few months he has even helped turn Cardin into something resembling a less horrible human being. He cannot help but strengthen everybody he is around. He helps both Faunus and Human, he doesn't care if you have a tail or an extra pair of ears. In short his heart has earned my respect. I've seen the ugly parts of this world through my time in the White Fang, I will not believe this is over until it is over given the letter his family sent him." There was an obvious gleam in her eyes as she spoke.
"Well, ok noted but what exactly can we do about it?" Weiss asked.
That question was left in the air for several minutes.
"I don't really think we can do anything but be there for him. Remind him he doesn't have to do it alone." Wise words from the youngest of them.
"So uh, what exactly where they doing?" Yang asked... trying not to make it sound... dirty.
"They were just finishing up weight training. He was heavily relying on his aura that much is clear, but I still would have swore it was impossible for somebody to improve as much as he has in just a few months. Pyrrha really pushes him to be better." Blake said.
"Yes but it isn't like Jaune doesn't also inspire Pyrrha. You've seen her training and her fights, she seems to get sharper and more crisp each fight, something I'd have swore was impossible given how lethal she already was." Weiss commented.
"I guess, they really just needed each other." Yang said. "It will be interesting to see how they grow in future years here."
Across the hall and down the passage Ren was making pancakes for the group... talked into it by Nora and Ruby to celebrate... something or something else.
RWBY found Nora already eating away happily at her pancakes with Ren seemingly pulling double duty cooking them. Ruby volunteered to sub in for Jaune to help Ren keep up with demand... provided the group help convince him to cook dinner for them.
Pyrrha was worried, though she wouldn't let anybody see it in her face, especially Jaune. She noticed Blake observing them while they trained, and they shared a glance at each other. She seemed to understand the black haired girls concerns. She couldn't help but think that something was in store for Jaune tomorrow and it will be nothing but cruel, but she very much hoped to be wrong. It might be nothing. After all the day had come and gone when somebody was suppose to show up to receive his family heirloom, she just hoped things didn't fall apart now.
She had to admit that while Jaune had yet to fully master his semblance, he had made remarkable progress with it. It had taken her years before she was comfortable with her semblance and years more until she was good at its use, given how she has chosen to employ it. The fact he can dip into it at times speaks volumes to how hard he has worked this year. As she remembered the famous quote about aura loosely "Aura is the reflection of your soul" she couldn't help but wonder at how pure his desire is for him to be able to use it as well as he has. The work he has done to besides that was impressive, though she wonders what he could have done if he hadn't had to continually use his aura to keep himself fresh. No use wondering about things that cannot be she supposed.
Jaune emerged from the men's shower and they shared a quick hug.
"Jaune, I wanted to tell you something." She said.
"Uh, ok." He smiled brightly at her... but he was thinking to himself 'oh crap'.
"I realize you said this months ago, but, I've continued to think about it. Yes, I have had to hold back with you quite a lot at times. But, please keep in mind, I have to hold back against almost anybody in training. There is no shame in that you do realize that? You have done a truly superb job. You are the only partner I would want to have."
"Pyrrha where is this coming from?" He asked.
"You just seemed, saddened by it Jaune. I don't want you distracted for tomorrow test." She said with concern in her eyes.
He gave her a leveled look, putting the most serious expression on his face he could "Pyrrha, my concern, is that I want to protect people. I always have. I want to protect those I love. My team, RWBY, even people I don't know. Most of all you. And, I just realized how impossible it is that you would ever need my help. The thought just made me sad." She couldn't detect any hint negativity in his voice at all, the unexpected smile it brought to her face was dazzling.
Pyrrha tried, really tried, to speak her feelings about how much he IS helping her, how much he had helped her throughout the term, on the inside. She just... was unable to voice the words.
"Besides I get the feeling you are upset about something, what's wrong?" He asked.
"Oh, it's nothing, just something I heard. It's nothing." She sent him a smile, and secretly was surprised he caught on to it, though which of the two things on her mind she wasn't sure. She had heard some things from the females of Beacon about their relationship that worried her, but she refused to bring this in front of him at this point so close to the biggest test of his career.
He gave her a sideways glance that seemed to indicate he didn't completely believe her, but didn't push the matter further. He simply took her hand in his and said "Well, ok, let's get to breakfast before Nora eats all of our pancakes, shall we?"
They arrived at the joint kitchen in the middle of breakfast, Velvet had joined them, and seemed in awe of how much was actually being eaten.
"Oh good Jaune, you're here." She said "Can you explain to me in 10 words or less where she puts all those pancakes." Pointing at Nora "It is like she has eaten her body weight in pancakes."
"Uh..." He looked around the table and observed the people eying him expectedly. "She is Nora?"
Was all he could say, earning a round of laughs from the group. Both he and Pyrrha started attacking the pancakes. They were interrupted by an.
"AHEM!" He looked up to see Weiss looking at him with her hands on her hips. He briefly searched his memory for something he might have said that made her angry, and came up blank. Her right hand broke away from her hip and she pointed it threateningly at him "You! Jaune Arc, I challenge you to a round of Chess! If you lose you must submit yourself as the cook for tonight's dinner!"
He looked at her in reluctant amusement, trying to hold back a chuckle, something Pyrrha failed to do and started laughing at the situation. So it's going to be one of those mornings eh? Ok I might as well enjoy myself.
"Ok Weiss, let's think here. I lose, I make dinner. Ok that's fair, but what if you lose? What do I get?"
"Uh, Weiss makes dinner seems fair." Velvet suggested.
"Not for the rest of us, we actually want to survive our meals." Yang said with a smirk, causing Weiss' eyebrow to twitch.
"It can't be that much of a wager really, I mean isn't it like 0-71 in Jaune's favor?" Blake decided to interject, this time causing Weiss' eyebrow and lip to twitch.
"I would accept something like you owe me one." Jaune put forward helpfully, he hoped...
"I think I can accept that Arc... Just nothing indecent!" Weiss agreed to the bargain.
"Where is the fun if it isn't indecent?" Yang couldn't contain the laugh as Weiss ran to get her game board.
Weiss returned with her game board, and in-between bites of pancake they played their game. 3 minutes later it was 0-72 in Jaune's favor.
"Good game" He said... more out of politeness than anything else.
Weiss merely nodded and rested her head on the table. Under the table however she used her foot to touch Yang signaling it's her turn.
"Ok Vomit Boy, how about a wager. We arm wrestle, if I win you make dinner, If you win... I'll owe you one?" She put forth.
Seeing a pattern forming here he simply said "Pass". Earning a look of shock from the rest of the group.
"What you don't even want to negotiate?" Yang said... trying to imprint some amount of outrage into her voice.
"Uh, sorry?" He simple said.
Ren emerged from the kitchen with Ruby and they carried the last batch of pancakes. The girls shared a glance and before long were in a huddle near the kitchen entrance Pyrrha included... somehow just appearing at her pre-defined spot in the huddle. Ren and Jaune shared a look and mutual understanding passed between them, they both knew what's happening. Jaune decided if he was going to have fun with this, he might as well go all out.
"You know girls-" They stopped mid conversation to look at him. "If you want me to make dinner, you could just, you know, ask me, right?"
They went back to huddling and he could have sworn he heard the question asked "Would that even work?" but he couldn't tell who asked it. A few seconds later Ruby had appeared in front of him and asked with the cutest puppy dog look possible said.
"Jaune would you make us dinner tonight puuuuuuuuullease?" and blinked heavily flashing her eyelashes for good measure. He could practically see her tail wagging.
It took all of the willpower Jaune had to resist the infamous puppy dog look from Ruby, but he stifled a chuckle and simply said "Nope."
It took about 20 seconds for the girls to figure out what just happened, except Pyrrha. Pyrrha seemed to see through what Jaune was doing and slowly, very slowly, sauntered around the table. Using the cat like grace she possessed swaying her hips in a way that was highly distracting to mortal men. Once she reached him she sat in the seat next to him, then pulled him into a sweet and loving kiss on the lips taking several seconds and removing any breath he had in his body. Once she was sure he was appropriately dazed she asked him "Jaune, would you please make us dinner tonight?" While flashing him a coy smile.
Jaune's eye twitched and couldn't quite stop the sound "NRRRRGGGHHHHH" from escaping until he finally voiced "That. Was. Cheating... Fine."
Earning a chorus of "YAYS" from the group, one highly amused look from Ren, one supremely pleased look from Pyrrha, and one evil look from Weiss and Ruby. With a visible gulp he focused on finishing his breakfast.
After breakfast the group moved back to the JNPR dorm room. Weiss decided that she needed to play against Jaune more in chess, and took turns playing games against him with Pyrrha. While neither were able to beat him, both Weiss and Pyrrha were on about the same level in terms of skill with the game. It was a new sensation for Pyrrha, she had no illusions about her skill with the game, but it was odd finding herself on the losing end of, anything involving Jaune.
Yang, Nora, Ren and Blake were enjoying a game of poker, while Ruby enjoyed watching both games take place.
After beating both Weiss and Pyrrha they decided they should pair off against each other, Jaune pulled out his art book and began drawing, occasionally paying attention to the poker game.
Yang was playing a coy game this hand, he thought. He had gotten accustomed to her tells throughout the day and was sure that she had a massive hand. Judging by the body language on the rest of the game players he didn't think anybody else knew that but him. A chance to play a joke on Yang came into his mind and he got Ruby's attention, and using a finger requested that she come over to him.
"Ruby I need you to do me a favor." He whispered.
"Uh, ok what is it?" She said, equal measure excited and caution while also keeping her voice quiet.
"I need you to do this." He told her.
The Reaper had a positively evil expression on her face at the prospect of paying a prank on Yang. She had an expression so puppy like it almost could have been seen on Zwei as she walked up behind her sister, and said with as much theatricality as she possibly could. "*GASP* Holy Crap, nice hand!" The other people in the game instantly folded.
Yang had this amused expression her face until she realized Ruby did that on purpose AND Jaune arranged it, she was about to take action when there was a knock on the door.
Jaune looked at the door, and said "I bet that's Velvet, just saying hello, Ruby do you mind?"
As the Reaper opened the door she stood facing a very tall man with blond hair followed behind by two women, both also with blond hair. The rest of the group didn't pay any attention to the newcomers until Ruby said "Uh, Jaune?"
The newcomer was broad and tall, filling out his shirt nicely, he had a beard neatly trimmed covering his face and had his hair drawn back flat to his head which continued down to his shoulders.
Jaune looked at the man and paled very quickly, was on his feet almost instantly, and struggled visibly to find his voice. Pyrrha looked from Jaune to the newcomer and back again, a terrible feeling sinking in her stomach. The encounter had gotten the attention of all of the people in the room.
"Dad?" He asked in a voice barely more than a whisper. "What are you doing here?" Utter silence permeated the room as all other activity stopped. Pyrrha noticed the Arc family symbol on the suit the older man wore.
"Why do you think I am here? I am here to claim Crocea Mors." He replied with a smug look on his face. His voice was rich and seeped in arrogance.
"But, that was Friday I didn't think..." Comprehension entered Jaune's face, and he seemed to deflate a bit. He was still struggling with what to say and the two women outside behind his dad giggled at the situation.
"Oh I understand. You assumed I meant last school day in my letter. Well the letter clearly indicated around noon the day before your combat final which is today." That smug look on his face grew in size and gained a sinister aspect, with the two women behind him chuckling evilly as he spoke.
Jaune clenshed his fists trying not to be rash, and Pyrrha knew he was absolutely livid, for that matter so was she. Looking across to Weiss, the look on her face made it clear that even the Heiress never believed his family would do something like this.
"Well, are you going to make me search the room, Idiot Boy, or are you going to give me what is mine?" His dad asked crossing his arms.
Pyrrha, now more certain than ever this feeling was hatred rose to her feet and was about to say something when she noticed Jaune's outstretched hand silencing her. It took an effort of will, but she didn't speak as he requested.
Jaune moved as if every step pained him, but he walked to his gear pack. He removed the water bottles he always carried and a few articles of spare clothing. Until only what remained in the bag was his prized family heirloom and the armor pieces he normally wore. Then zipped up the bag, and cradled it in his arms. As he turned to give the bag to his father Pyrrha noticed the... lack of life present in his eyes. It took all of her self control not to move or say anything in her fury at seeing that.
He handed the bag over to his dad, and said "Thank you for the use of your weapon." Before turning his back to him with his eyes closed, there was no missing the fact that his shoulders were shaking, despite visible efforts to keep himself composed.
Mr. Arc seemed pleased, but he still had more to say "One more thing, you are coming home with me." He paused and let the words sink in. "Your presence here is a disgrace to our family and I will not allow it to proceed any longer."
Jaune opened his eyes and appeared more angry than anybody thought he could be. He rounded faster than anybody had ever seen him move and responded back, fighting to keep his voice calm "That, is not your decision to make. My place is here."
His father's voice level rising he continued "Your place will not be here when you fail your combat test tomorrow, I suggest you spare us the dishonor and come home while it is still your home to come back too" As he spoke he reached forward to grab Jaune's arm or shoulder.
Jaune stood his ground and swatted away the outstretched arm of his dad, earning a sharp look and spoke "Then I won't return home, my place is here Mr. Arc. For as long as Headmaster Ozpin will have me. Now please leave." He shouldered his way past his dad and the two women behind him and made his way down the hallway. Mr. Arc was still bristling at the implied statement.
His dad watched him leave then resumed speaking "That damned fool, what a disgrace. Well you all should be thanking me for removing that failure from your lives. Especially you Ms. Nikos, with him gone you might actually get a partner you don't have to babysit."
Pyrrha was rage incarnate, for Jaune's sake she did everything she could to not lose her temper and tried not to respond, even as tremors racked her body.
"I thought you would be more thankful, and as a sponsor of yours I think you should be more grateful." He continued to speak.
She looked at him with murder in her eyes. "What company of yours sponsors me?" She asked as politely as she could.
"Arc-Wheat, we farm the best wheat which goes into several major cereal sponsorships including yours" He said with pride. As he said that he removed the weapon from the bag Jaune gave him, and handed the weapon to one of the women behind him then said to her "In your hands this weapon might fulfill its purpose, he doesn't have a shred of your potential" He turned back to Pyrrha seemingly oblivious to the livid look the group was giving him when he noticed Pyrrha had pulled out her scroll and was making a call.
"Yes Mom?" She said "Yes Yes I am perfectly fine. Listen I need to ask you a favor. I have a sponsorship from 'Arc-Wheat' right?" She paused as her mother confirmed this. "Great, listen, I want this sponsorship dropped immediately. Yes mom I am sure I will explain later, great, love you, bye" She looked back at Mr. Arc wishing she could deal him a worse blow than she did.
"What is this foolishness? I offer you all a chance to get a real leader on your team and you all-" *SMACK!* Pyrrha had heard enough, moving with blinding speed she slapped him.
"You are an ugly, detestable, cruel, sad excuse of a human being. I don't care if your spawn has A million times the potential of my friend. I would rather fight beside one of him, than a 1000 of you 3." She nearly shouted with A look that demanded silence as her body heaved in barely controlled anger, then continued "You are not welcome in this room, do not make me call security. Leave, now." She then exited the room searching for Jaune.
"Well I have got to say the standards at Beacon truly has fallen I am glad that my children who aren't disappointments decided on other schools" He made to speak again when Weiss stood and in her typical sweet voice said "Mr. Arc, hello my name is Weiss Schnee, pleased to make your acquaintance." She did a slight curtsy.
"Oh yes finally somebody with some class, what can I do for the Schnee family?" He gave an almost courtly bow to Weiss.
"Your family, is it related to the Arcadian Dust Company?" She asked.
"Yes it is one of our family businesses, we have are actively establishing a partnership with yours. I believe the contract is being discussed right now in fact." He said with evident pride in his voice.
"Excellent" It was Weiss' turn to pull out her scroll and make a call. "Mr. Burgess? Yes this is Weiss Schnee. Listen I need you to halt all contact negotiations with the Arcadian Dust Company" Mr. Arc could barely keep the rage out of his face. "Yes I want all further negotiations canceled, yes I mean that. I will deal with my father. Thank you." It was Weiss' turn to look pleased with herself.
"You idiotic foolish girl, you just cost my family millions of lien!" Practically spitting the words.
"And you, dear Terrible Human being, has tried to pry a friend away from all of us. Consider yourself getting off easy. Now I am 3 seconds from pushing this button" she said indicating her scroll "and asking for Security. Leave. Now."
"You spoiled Brat I am a booster to this university you do not call security on me!" Mr. Arc Roared.
"That will be enough James." Ozpin said with Ms. Goodwitch behind him. "When I gave you permission to conduct family business on Beacon grounds that did not include harassing students. Ms. Goodwitch please, escort them out." When they didn't move a fire entered the venerable headmasters eyes as he rose his voice up to say "NOW!" The tone and look on his face commanded obedience. With supreme arrogance the Arcs left the room in a huff and marched down the hallway.
The 6 friends looked at each other, their games forgotten. Ruby was freely crying, though she had the self control to do it silently. Yang's eyes had turned red, and it was all she could do to not run them down and pummel them senseless. Blake was still in shock unsure what to think though she hated being right in this case. Nora kept whispering to herself "I will break his legs, I will break his legs, I will break his legs" and Ren was seriously considering not stopping her. Jaune was practically a brother to him and that was a difficult thing to watch.
Still crying her silent tears Ruby regained enough control to say to the group "We have to do something about this, this isn't right." She was about to continue when a bone chilling howl was heard through the open windows of the room.
"That sounds, bad, we should find Jaune." Ruby said, with that they left the room. They saw the headmaster talking to Ms. Goodwitch at the end of the hall, but couldn't hear what they were saying. They moved the other direction, to the rooftop where they figured Jaune was now.
Pyrrha considered herself a master of self control, having been put in the spotlight from a young age always expected to say the proper thing and leave her feelings out of what she said, it wasn't an easy skill to learn. Yet even she with all this experience, was nearly foaming at the mouth with pure rage filled hate, made only stronger when she caught sight of her partner on the roof. He had just issued the most un-Jaune-like scream she ever thought to witness and punched a tree on the roof so hard the tree literally was shattered by the aura augmented punch.
She just, did, not, know... what to do. Violent tremors racked his body, and though he wasn't making the sound of crying, the puddle of water accumulating at the base of his feet made it obvious he was in fact crying. She heard a sound behind her and saw that the remaining members of their group, RWBY and JNPR walked up behind them. She knew it was her job to try and say something. To help him. She just had no earthly idea what she could possibly say when her own thoughts were so dark she almost wanted to go after them with her spear.
She tried to distract herself by thinking about the combat final tomorrow and what he could possibly do to do well. He had no weapon, no suitable replacement would be found on campus, and he stood practically zero chance fighting hand to hand. A shiver ran through her body as tears mixed with rage leaving her confused.
She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked to see Ren, motioning for her to be silent. He then moved up to Jaune, starting from the side, as his back was too the group. He moved slowly, cautiously, like he was trying to circle a wounded animal. Until Jaune noticed his presence and seemed to let him get close. Without a sound and without warning Jaune seemed to lose the will to stand and collapsed on the ground into a seated position.
Ren looked up, caught Pyrrha's gaze and nodded. Ignoring the butterfly's in her stomach and the fact that she still didn't know what to say. She walked up to him and sat down next to him off to his right, granted further away then she typically would. She followed Ren's actions and slowly approached inching closer to him, when he seemed to acknowledge her she pulled him into a hug. He was still shaking so heavily she was having difficulty keeping herself still. It wasn't until she was hugging him that she understood the true level of his duress. She had never seen him effected by anything like this before. He appeared utterly inconsolable.
Ren sat down in front of him, and at his nod Nora moved closer to sit next to Jaune's other side opposite Pyrrha.
RWBY decided to move back to their dorm, and leave JNPR alone on the rooftop to help him through this, though Ruby did send Ren a message that if they were needed, to ask.
After an unspecified amount of time, Jaune surprised them by speaking, though they weren't happy with what he had to say.
"If you all want to request a new team, I understand." They looked at him mouths agape. On some level they knew what he was doing. He was giving them an out. If they asked for a new team, it would imply it was their choice to leave him, not that they were forced into it. A small distinction but a political one, if they were of the mind to do it.
Pyrrha's thoughts were made of mush and she couldn't respond. If she did it likely would have resulted in a bruise on the blond boy. Instead ironically enough Nora was the one who responded with a gentle ( for her ) punch on the shoulder.
"Jaune, It hurts me that you would even think we would want to leave you now. We started as a team, and we will finish as one. And if you say something like that again, team leader or no team leader your legses will be in danger, understood?" She forced her normal cheer into the statement.
Ren just smiled, while Pyrrha was actually surprised that she more or less managed to sum up her own thoughts.
Jaune kept his eyes closed and his head downcast, but did eventually manage to say "Thank You, I'm ok I just need to sit here awhile, you all don't have to sit with me." Nora, Pyrrha and Ren shared a look, and they both agreed to leave Jaune alone with Pyrrha. They both gave his shoulder a supportive squeeze as they walked past him.
Jaune waited until he couldn't hear their footsteps anymore then said to Pyrrha, unable to look at her "If you feel the need to punch me you should do it now. You might not get a chance later."
Pyrrha looked at him, and decided that he was joking... for his sake, but continued to hug him in silence. When he made to stand she stood with him, and pulled him into another forceful hug once they were both on their feet.
She finally had enough time to sort out her thoughts and whispered to him. "Let me help you, tell me what you feel." Trying to pull him back to the real world.
He stirred, somewhat then said, "Nothing" She stayed silent figuring he would finish his thought, she was right, he finished with "I feel... Numb, I don't feel anything" completing his thought.
She put even more power into the hug upon hearing that desperate to give him an anchor to anything beyond his loss right now. "Please, talk to me." She whispered.
"I don't know what to say." She just continued to hug him, and was relieved when he finally brought his arms up to complete the hug, as if he just noticed her around him. Her thoughts were coming from everywhere, every direction, every type of emotion. Anger, love, hate, rage, concern, frustration, helplessness. She would happily stand against anything with her weapons, she knew of no tactic for engaging in this type of battle. She wanted no more than to help him, as he certainly would her if their positions were reversed, she just had no idea on how to do it.
"I thought it would be easier to hate him, to hate them. It might be. I just... cannot hold on to that amount of hate. It just isn't a feeling I am able to keep in me." He said, his voice made quiet by virtue of Pyrrha having him crushed against her.
Pyrrha nearly started crying again when she heard that and her eyes definitely became watery. She had no doubts she absolutely hated his family. Yet after all that has happened, he still didn't have it in him to hate them with her. He was STILL trying to find some good to hold on to. It broke her heart how vulnerable he was right now. "Jaune. Please. Tell me what you need." She pleaded.
"I don't know." He admitted. They stood in silence as they continued to hug each other.
Sometime later when Jaune was feeling a little better, he noticed it had turned dark outside. He checked his scroll and learned it was nearly 7pm. He had zero desire to cook at this time, none at all. He wasn't even hungry. He had however given his word, and was determined to see it through.
Pyrrha continued to send supportive looks as they walked, she wished she knew what he was thinking. They arrived at their dorm room, and found RWBY talking with Nora and Ren inside.
Conversation stopped and it was obvious just about all of them wore the signs of crying on their faces, Jaune was surprisingly touched by this.
"I said I would cook dinner for you all, lets head to the kitchen." He turned and started walking to the door.
"Jaune, you know you don't need to do that." Ren said. A shocked expression on his face.
Jaune just turned back and issued a sad smile, "An Arc never goes back on his word."
Pyrrha cautiously walked alongside the group to their kitchen and found Velvet waiting for them. The bunny faunus seemed to sense something was wrong and didn't move to intercept Jaune as he moved to the kitchen. Velvets caution only increased when they sat in silence and she noticed that many of them appeared to have been crying recently.
Weiss broke off briefly from the group to try and help Jaune in the kitchen. She returned once again with her eyes beginning to water despite her best efforts to the contrary.
"He said he doesn't want help tonight." The Heiress claimed.
Worry taking shape in her normally affectionate and welcoming brown eyes Velvet asked quietly "What happened?"
By the time the explanations finished, Velvet was openly crying, and prepared to add herself to the waiting list of people to break the Arc Patriarchs legs.
"I just don't understand." Was all she could say.
"I worry for Jaune tomorrow." Ren said. He continued by saying "It is no secret he held out hope of earning the weapon in the eyes of his father and being allowed to keep it. With it being entrusted to his sister that has almost no chance of happening."
"Can't we talk to Goodwitch about the combat final, she can't expect him to fight without a weapon." Pyrrha asked hope riding in her eyes.
"We did while you all were with him on the roof. She said she can't. In the schools eyes it is very similar to finding yourself on a battle field where your weapon breaks or you lose it. You would have to make do. She did say that you don't need to win the battle to get a passing score, merely fight well. Though that is a consolation of no real measure at this point. Practically a cookie with raisins" Ruby said, not entirely happy at all.
Ruby looked around thoughtfully and walked into the kitchen.
"Uh, what is she doing? Yang asked.
"She's your sister, use those sisterly powers you are always talking about" Blake said... not quite able to joke at this moment.
Inside the kitchen Ruby walked up to Jaune, he didn't seem to notice her.
"Hey Jaune!" She said with forced cheer. "What can I do to help?"
He looked at her, and her cheer evaporated. He looked like he was barely holding himself together. "Ruby, right now, I need you to leave me alone, moving helps me focus."
With that he went back to his work.
Ruby emerged from the kitchen, sat down, and pouted.
"Now what happened?" Pyrrha asked.
"He said he wants to work alone, it helps him focus" She said with a sniff.
Yang, who was seated next to ruby pulled her sister into a hug. Not even Zwei happily trotting up to the group could put a smile on their faces.
Roughly half an hour past and finally Jaune emerged from the kitchen, carrying their meals. It took several trips as they each had their own plate. He served hamburgers, cooked to absolute perfection, blue cheese melted in the middle of the patty, another cheese on top. All the toppings included around the plate. A salad was included in a bowl, and there was steamed vegetables on the side in the form of beans, corn, and broccoli.
"What exactly, do I do with this?" Weiss asked.
They looked at her mouths agape "You've never had a burger before?" Ruby asked in amazement.
"Its... finger food, of course I haven't had one before." She said as she placed the toppings she wanted on it. As she took a bite of it her eyes lit up. "Wow." was all she could vocalize.
Despite the superb meal Jaune provided them, conversation was nearly impossible to make given the mood of the table. Jaune himself didn't sit with his friends, instead preferring to take his food back to his dorm room to eat in peace.
"That... cannot be a good idea, he shouldn't be alone right now." Pyrrha said, worried for her partner.
"Let him go for now, after you finish with your meal though you should go to him." Ren said.
Pyrrha never thought she could force such a delicious meal down without really tasting it, but her concern for Jaune seemed to overcome her desire to taste the food. She ate as quickly as she possibly could.
She moved her plate to the kitchen, left it in the room on the promise that they would take care of it, then hurried down the hall. Upon reaching the door however, she faltered. What should she do? What could she say? She didn't know the answer to those questions. Some part of her psyche, a small part, urged her in despite not knowing what to do.
Upon entering she found Jaune sitting on his bed, with his elbows on his knees staring seemingly at the floor. His food tray was already gone, he must have ate even faster than she did.
She stepped forward cautiously into the room, and decided to do something she hadn't yet had the courage to do. She sat down on his bed beside him. When he didn't object she snaked her arms around his chest and pulled herself into a hug against his body, he placed an arm on her back.
"I'm glad you are here, I wanted to see you." He surprised her by saying that.
She was unsure what to do so she just continued to hug him. "I wanted to do something for you, lie down on your bed." He asked.
"Jaune, what are you doing?" She asked cautiously.
"I wanted to give you something, for all the help you've given me this year." His happy smile almost back on his face.
"Jaune I've told you, you don't need to pay me back" She was vehement that her time with him wasn't something he owed her.
"Pyrrha, I understand that, that's why I'm offering you this as a gift, please lay down on your bed."
Unsure what he had planned, she did as requested. "What are you going to do?" She asked
"I'm going to give you a massage." He said simply.
"Jaune, you don't need to-"
"I know." He interrupted her "I want to do this. OK?" He asked.
She finally relented and submitted to the massage.
She found herself utterly amazed, at how incredible it felt.
"I... don't... understand... how.. mmmmmmmmm, you..." Was about the most cohesive thing she could say.
When her back was free of tension she didn't even know she carried, he started on her legs. He was working tremendously hard... He realized it seemed insane, but it never struck just how much power Pyrrha had at her disposal until now, trying to work her tension out of her body was exhausting for him. "Sweet, Holy... Dust, what are your legs made out of, Dust Hardened Granite?" She blushed both at the comment and the manner in how he was touching her. She found that his touch was utterly putting her to sleep. Well before he actually finished with his massage she found herself asleep.
She was awoken several hours later by a sound, and snapped alert looking around the room, she saw that Nora and Ren had just arrived. Alarm shot through her when she didn't see Jaune at his bed. The time was nearly 1 am, well after curfew.
"Have you two seen Jaune?" She asked with concern in her eyes.
"Yeah, he is right outside sitting on the bench. You should talk to him, he appears troubled." Ren stated, concern evident on his face.
Ren's concerned look frightened her like nothing she had ever experienced before, her terror was further increased when she remembered something Jaune had said earlier that night 'If you feel the need to punch me you should do it now. You might not get a chance later.' Her breath caught, her mind froze, momentarily paralyzing her utterly frozen in fear.
Ren seemed to read her thoughts despite not hearing the conversation with Jaune, maybe he just guessed his team leaders intent. He gripped Pyrrha's shoulder and said "He doesn't need me or Nora right now. He needs you, hurry."
That was all the motivation she needed. She quickly found herself outside in the hallway and saw Jaune sitting on a near bench towards the end of the walkway leading towards the rooftop, hands in his face hunched over.
"Jaune you should head to bed and get some rest, you have an important day tomorrow." She said, sounding almost pleading, nervous energy causing her hands to fidget.
"Pyrrha, we both know without a weapon I won't be able to pass." He replied. Horror took hold in her features again. He didn't look at her.
"It is better this way really, you can get a partner which actually can contribute to the team, and not be a burden as I am." She started shaking uncontrollably at his words. He still didn't look at her. Suddenly it all fell into place for her. His determination to fix a meal for his friends. His insistence on giving her a massage. He was trying to say goodbye.
"Giving you that massage is about all I've ever been able to do to help you, I see that now-" He was cut off when Pyrrha placed a hand on his mouth, sitting down next to him on the bench. With her tremors barely under control.
"Jaune. Please, don't make me beg you. Please, go back to the room, and get some rest. You need your strength tomorrow." The darkness of the hallway hid most of her, but her vivid green eyes were still clear, as they began to water. "I need you to do well tomorrow."
He pulled his hands away from his face and said while turning to look at her "Pyrrha, I will always be eternally grateful for your help. I don't know how many times I've said this but I would be nothing without you. You deserve somebody who will help you as much as you have me. Or somebody you don't have to help at all. I mean look at you, you clearly don't need me." He had a sad look on his face, when he spoke, but spoke clearly.
Desperation took root in her mind again. She felt like the world was going crazy and this was all a bad dream. Jaune could not give up now. He absolutely could not... but she didn't know what she could do to motivate him now... until his words sunk in. It was then she knew what she had to say. She was given courage by the fact that what she needed to say was true. However it would be the single most difficult thing she has ever had to say in her life, possibly most difficult thing period. She gripped him by his shoulders to force him to look at her, with also having the effect of steadying herself.
"Jaune, listen to me, now, I..." She struggled talking about this at the best of times, and that was not now. "I have never really told you about my time at Sanctum. You need to understand something, before you say another word."
She could tell he didn't want to listen. Believing that she would only complicate matters, but gave her his undivided attention again, if reluctantly.
"My life, at Sanctum, was horrible. Absolutely horrible."
"Pyrrha that makes no sense, you were at the top of your class you won all of those awards."
"JAUNE!" Her voice, normally so pleasant was a Shriek as she cried his name, to the point he visibly recoiled. "Please, please just listen to me!" Tears were flowing from her face now.
"Yes, I was popular, but I was miserable." She paused stifling a sob.
"How many friends do you think I had at Sanctum?" She looked at him expectantly.
"I don't know we never spoke about your time there." He admitted.
"There is a reason for that Jaune." -she sobbed- "I had no friends Jaune. None, not even one!" That got his attention, he hadn't expected that.
"You just told me you were popular." He said, confusion evident on his face.
"Yes I was popular. People knew what my name was, but they didn't know who I am." She paused, and collected her thoughts.
"Jaune this really isn't easy for me to talk about, so please,"-another sob- "listen to me and do not interrupt. During my time at Sanctum, I was hollow, I was empty, and I was profoundly unhappy." He looked at her, and did not move to interrupt her as she requested.
"I was, I was... " Hating the words even as she spoke them, she sobbed, then continued with her emotions clear in her voice. "I was treated… as an… as an animal. I was a race horse, being made pretty for the camera's and brought from one event to the next. People avoided me at school, they spoke behind my back. They whispered as I walked. I hated every moment of my time at Sanctum." Tears were still freely flowing from her but she none the less stared at him.
"It isn't that I didn't try to make friends, I did try. I did speak to people," She sniffed sadly here. "but it was to no avail. I was no longer a person to them. I was this celebrity, this entity people spoke about, never too."
"Pyrrha I-" She cut him off again. This was painful for him to listen to and watch her like this, she knew that, but she needed to do this.
"Four years of isolation, 4 major tournament victories, several smaller tournament victories, and one very unhappy life I was glad to try and leave behind. When I graduated from Sanctum and enrolled at Beacon, I was so happy to be away from there. But you must understand. I was so terrified, I was so incredibly scared." He looked at her in utter confusion, nobody would use those words to describe her.
"I was terrified of spending another 4 years alone, like I did previously." He listened, the words not quite sinking in, another string of sobs came from her and her tears didn't seem at all likely to stop.
"I had this, mad hope, that Beacon would be different, but I saw nothing to indicate it would be. It was even reinforced in my mind when Weiss walked up to me and gave me the same routine everybody else did at Sanctum. She only saw 'The Invincible Girl'. I hadn't been here for even a day, and already people were lining up to treat me exactly the same. I was crushed, I was devastated. I wanted to quit. I could not endure another 4 years of solitude." Her grip on his shoulders was getting painful at this point with her fingers digging into his flesh.
"Then, I met a certain blond boy... At first I thought he was taking me for a fool, or was trying to insult me. But... I learned he wasn't doing either. He knew nothing of my fame. Even after he learned of it, it didn't change the way he treated me. I came to love him for that." His eyes widened.
"He gave me something, something I've never had before. He just saw a girl when he looked at me. He offered me a chance at stepping off that podium I so hated, stepping off that race track. The chance to be a girl again, not a prize animal." She looked at him with an intensity that dwarfed all other looks from her he had seen.
"You... You..." She sobbed gently. "You seem... to think, that I haven't... that I haven't... " -another sob- "... been getting any sort of benefit from having you in my life or as my partner." The pleading in her eyes only intensified.
"Yes, it is more evident on you. Your skill has grown, your body has strengthened." She moved her hands off his shoulders and was touching him on his arms, chest, stomach. Trying to make a picture for him with her words, once she was done, they went back to his shoulder, gripping harder than before. "What you don't... seem... to understand." She sobbed again. "Is that the entire time I've known you... You have done the same for me, on the inside." His mouth fell open and stared at her with a dumbfounded expression.
"Jaune, within seconds of meeting you, I had gained a friend. Within minutes of meeting you, I grew to love you. And that feeling has only grown." She tried to give him a smile.
"Within a day of meeting you I had 3 friends, 3 teammates. More than I have ever had within my entire life. And through you I have made friends with team RWBY and beyond. I have people who are actually willing to treat me as a person surrounding me now, I could only dream of that before I came here. It is the greatest gift anybody has ever given me, and it is all thanks to you. I could not, have not, ever have done that alone." She leaned forward and hugged him, he could do nothing but continue to listen, a stunned expression on his face.
"You have said that without me, you would be nothing. I guess in your view that is true. What you Must, MUST understand, is that is true… for me… as well" He could hardly breathe following that.
"Without you, I would be empty, without you I would be a husk. With you I have never been happier in my life. Even with today and the... cruelty of your family. It might be hard to see, because you never knew me before Beacon, but it absolutely true." She sobbed again. Still hugging him. Though her eyes remained locked on his.
"Do you understand what I'm telling you Jaune? If you were not here I would be nothing as well. The effect might not show on my body, as the muscle you have gained does on yours. But that does not mean it doesn't exist." She squeezed him in that hug which dwarfed easily all other hugs she has ever given him in pure strength. "I truly would be nothing without you."
She started trembling again... shivering and sobbing uncontrollably, and in-between it all, managed to say "Jaune, I need you here. Desperately I need you here with me, and I am begging you now with every fiber in my being. Please. Go back to our room. Get some rest. Recover your strength and prepare for tomorrows test." She was beyond pleading with him, and was still shaking horribly several moments after she stopped speaking waiting for some action on his part.
Jaune's mind was in a daze, his ability to process information stressed to the limit. He was never exceptional at it, especially when he was ambushed like Pyrrha had just done to him. To the point he didn't even really feel the tremors running through is body as Pyrrha shook against him or how unbelievably hard she was embracing him. Yet, he knew, he must not lose his sharpness right now.
All his life, all he has ever known himself to be was a failure and disappointment . Either through himself or his family, no better example than today. To belong, to feel needed, was a sensation he wanted to feel more than anything. The feelings Pyrrha just… set loose in him, with this revealing information. Seemed to spark a fire in him that, he never experienced before. Somebody needed him. He was helping her just as much as she was him. The impossibility of it being Pyrrha, Pyrrha Nikos HIS Pyrrha Nikos, the "Invincible Girl" herself. His best friend, his mentor, his role model, his idol... his... -the first time this word sinks in-... Girlfriend. It was almost more than he could comprehend. Yet it meant more to him than... the only words he came up with was everything and anything else.
He stood, and she let out a whimper as he broke from her grip, and just stayed standing for several seconds. A minute.
Pyrrha continued to looked at him with desperation in her eyes, she could barely get those words out. She hoped that they finally, FINALLY got through to him. His eyes went from confusion, to, something akin to pride to, some other emotion she couldn't place, but his eyes eventually held a focused intensity that she had never known him to possess.
"Pyr, please stand, this will be easier if you are on your feet." He turned to look at her as he spoke. If she was more self aware, she might have identified the affectionate reference to her name.
She still was crying... her emotions were all over the place and for once, her training could not run them aground. She was in unknown waters and could do nothing except trust Jaune to help her navigate them. She managed to stand off the bench holding a nervous pose. She was still unsure what he was going to do when he made the few steps needed to stand directly in front of her. They stood face to face being of similar heights.
She still hadn't identified the look in his eye and she had no further time to try. With a conviction in them she has never seen before, and showing an initiative she never knew he had. His right hand moved purposely behind her neck, his left hand around the small of her back and pulled her close. He took her lips in his, a spark past between them, she gasped, and he did not relent for several minutes. By the time he finished, a different type of tear was in Pyrrha's eyes.
Jaune took a small step back from her and took up her hands in his holding them gently. "Pyrrha, I don't think you can understand, how much what you just said means to me." He looked away unsure what to say to explain how he felt.
It was her turn to take the lead. If his kiss was a calm gentle stream of affection, hers was a torrent of pure passion. She surged across the distance separating them with such force he was driven back several steps until the other end of the hallway stopped his movement. Crushing her lips on his with the most passionate, fiery, affectionate kiss her young body could muster. She leaned into him with such urgency, their bodies pressed against each other so forcefully they were practically one.
They broke apart a couple minutes later. Breathing hard, panting for breath.
With a determined look in her eye, she took his cheeks in her hands, and pointed him at her. Locking her gaze on his eyes she said "You swear to me Jaune Arc! Right now! You swear that you will give everything you have. Don't leave anything unfinished. You fight with all your strength, everything, 100%." She looked away and issued a quick sob, then looked back at him "Please, I, I need you here, with me. Promise, promise me… that you will do everything in your power to stay here." Tears were visibly falling from her face as she, for the first time in her life, allowed emotions to run their course. The desperation and pleading mixed with love and affection in her eyes really only allowed him one course of action.
He wrapped his arms around her and answered still looking into her eyes. "I promise, I will give everything I possibly can-" He didn't need to explain more. Nor could he, as she couldn't hold back anymore after hearing what she longed to hear. She pushed him back against the wall as she kissed him again, trying to impart all of the emotions she was feeling at that moment. It lasted several moments and she tried to draw out the feeling as long as possible. For nearly a year she had known him. Nearly as long she had wanted to kiss him like this. Now she had the opportunity, and she cherished it. It was only a lack of oxygen that forced her to stop and rest her forehead against his.
"I love you... you, big, dork." She managed to whisper to him.
"I love you too, you... beautiful, gorgeous, red headed... spear throwing lady." She chuckled despite herself and buried her face in the crook of his neck. Just melting into his body as he held her, and ended up wrapping her arms around him meeting at the middle of his upper back. She felt his hands pull her in around her upper and lower back. Despite the sadness of the day, they stood soaking in each other's warmth for several minutes. Him thinking about how he managed to get so lucky that Pyrrha was interested in him, her infinitely happy that she finally saw eye to eye with Jaune on her feelings.
While she loved being this close to him and being held by him. Her own pleas forced her to break away well before she wanted too and get Jaune back in their dorm room, they did have a test tomorrow. Though if she was honest she might never have wanted that moment to end.
They were greeted by their teammates who waited for them. Both Nora and Ren seemed to sense a change in Jaune. While the goofy blonde was still present, there was a conviction driving him now, and they could not be more pleased. They shared a moment in of camaraderie before realizing it was now almost 2:30 and morning would roll around very quickly. Then went to their beds, and got some rest.
Nobody woke up at their normal times the next morning. Pyrrha woke up around the time she was normally finishing her morning workout. She found Nora and Ren already up and getting dressed. Jaune was still sleeping soundly. By unspoken consent they moved to the hall after they dressed. Ren first, then Pyrrha, followed finally by Nora.
Nora exited the room and found the other two members waiting for her, with a highly amused expression on her face.
"Nora, what did you do?" Ren asked, being her lifelong friend he couldn't help but feel the alarm flaring up in the back of his mind.
"Oh I just made sure he would wake up in time for breakfast!" She said with a gleeful chuckle.
"Do I even want to know?" Pyrrha asked
"Oh its nothing! Come on let's get breakfast made." Ren and Pyrrha looked at each other, shrugged, then walked to the kitchen.
"Nora how much time do we have until Jaune wakes up?" Ren asked.
"31 minutes 73 seconds." She replied.
"Soooo 32 minutes... 10 seconds?" Pyrrha asked.
"What did you expect an even number?" Nora asked still smiling happily, nothing seemed to take away her cheer...
Right up until something did.
"What do you mean we don't have pancake mix!?" She exclaimed.
"I mean, we are out of pancake mix." Ren cautiously confirmed.
"Well, that sounds like a job for Jaune! But we were going to do something special for him!" Nora said with a frown.
"Well, I guess we will have to adapt"
The 3 JNPR members turned to see RWBY entering the kitchen.
"What do we have to work with?" Ruby asked.
"Uh, eggs?" Ren answered quickly followed up by Nora advising
"and 30 minutes 81 seconds" She said with a smile.
"What happens in... that much time?" Yang asked
"Jaune wakes up... evidently" Pyrrha said.
"Well, Jaune could make a luxury meal with just eggs, surely we can manage a tolerable one." Weiss said, earning shocked expressions from everybody present.
"What? I need to beat him in chess before he goes anywhere." She joked.
"Did, you just compliment Jaune, and joke, in the same sentence?" Yang asked looking at her partner.
"Uh, did we have a blood moon last night?" Blake asked looking back.
"I think I need to sit down." The two of them said at the same time.
"Well let's get started" Ren said.
"I can help." Weiss volunteered. As they were walking to the kitchen a screeching sound was heard.
"Uh, was that Jaune?" Pyrrha asked.
The looks of the group converged on Nora.
"Uh, sorry, I guess I miss timed my alarm" She replied still all smiles.
Ruby walked up to Pyrrha with an odd expression on her face and pulled the Spartan aside.
"Pyrrha, we were thinking. About the combat final, you know Jaune doesn't have a weapon." The Reaper reminded her friend unnecessarily.
Pyrrha nodded in reply... she was intimately familiar with that fact.
"We were thinking, we would be happy to let him use one of ours, but none of our weapons even remotely resemble what he is used too. We thought you might want to let him use Milo and Akouo. If he kept Milo in sword form it wouldn't be all that different than what he has practiced with." She suggested.
Pyrrha's mind stopped working for a few seconds... then she pulled the smaller girl into a crushing bear hug.
-HURK- Was the only sound Ruby could make as she was patting Pyrrha on the back to get her to let go. Realizing what she did with big eyes an embarrassed yet absurdly happy look on her face she let the Reaper go from her grip as tears of joy appeared in her eyes.
"Of course Ruby I cannot believe I didn't think of that." She pulled her into another hug... gentler this time then let her go and sat at the table.
She was so happy she didn't hear Jaune approach until with a loud *THUNK* he dropped some... odd machine on the table. He was dressed in his combat gear, minus the armor plating which his family took away.
"Can somebody explain to me, What. This. Is?" he asked.
Everybody looked at Nora.
"Uh, I was trying to make sure you woke up on time It just went off a little early" She sung.
"This. Stupid. Thing. SHOCKED. ME!" Shooting one of his rare glares to Nora.
"Well, I had to make sure you were up and about for the big test today. About 15 minutes before the test they will announce who we will be matched against." She advised with her normal cheerful tone of voice.
"Just so you know If I get matched against any of you I will hold it against you if you take it easy on me. Nobody gets a bad grade for my benefit, understand?" Jaune said... bordering on ordered.
Pyrrha's was proud of him for making that statement, she always respected him for his heart. But she was forced to wonder, if she was matched against him, would she really be able to fight at her maximum knowing how much she outclassed him? She really hoped she would never find out. Remembering what Ruby and she spoke about moments before she decided to ask Jaune now.
"Jaune, Ruby had a good idea I'd like to talk to you about." Trying not to sound TOO happy.
"Shock of shocks I know." Ruby said with a smile on her face.
"She suggested, I lend you Milo and Akouo for your combat test." Not able to contain her glee at having a solution for him.
Jaune just stared back at her a blank expression on his face, blinking several times to try and comprehend what she just suggested.
"Would that even work? Would Goodwitch allow it?" He asked.
"That's the AWESOME part" Ruby said. "We spoke to Goodwitch about it already, she said yeah, no different than team members tossing their weapons to somebody who needed it."
"I don't know what to say, if you would actually let me-" Jaune started to say.
Pyrrha hugged him to interrupt him then said to him. "Of course you big dummy, I'm just sorry I didn't think of it earlier." The group didn't think they had ever seen her so happy or relieved.
"Time for food" Ren advised, bringing out the dishes for the two teams.
"Omelet, looks great Ren." Blake said, reminding everybody that she is present.
The group talked amongst themselves as they ate their breakfast, but Jaune for his part tried not to listen. He swore to Pyrrha last night that he would do everything in his power to do well today. He realized that he didn't need to win the match to pass. However a large part of him thought he owned it to Pyrrha to win, if for no other reason to validate the time that she has spent training him with her eternal patience. He wanted to win, for her. Before long he had finished with his meal and noticed that his scroll had a message. It was who his match would be against... Cardin.
"Who are you against?" Pyrrha asked, trying not to look concerned at his expression.
"Cardin" He said simply.
Pyrrha was crestfallen, Jaune and Cardin haven't had the same level of rivalry, the hatred towards each other for some time. She realized however that he was somebody Jaune at least in the past, had zero belief he could beat.
"Jaune, you beat the rest of team CRDL, Goodwitch wouldn't match you against him if she didn't think it would be a fair test." Trying to cheer him up, as she quickly learned needlessly.
"I am 0-6 against him, I guess that means it is my turn, right?" He said, Pyrrha's smile could not have been bigger.
Finishing their breakfast the group walked to the arena for their combat final. The order of fighting was made available, Jaune learned that he and Cardin would fight last.
The group of friends were energetic, happy, and most importantly, functioning like a team, as they cheered on their teammates to do well. Pyrrha finished her match first out of the 8 of them, earning a perfect score on her final and for the class with the second ever S ranking. Ruby was next going against Weiss, the match ended in a draw, with both of them earning an A. Nora, Blake and Ren each went against a team CRDL member and won their match, Nora earned a B ranking as she didn't try to strategize at all and instead kept attacking until one of her hammer blows connected. Ren and Blake more strategically took down their targets, also earning an A. Yang was matched against Neptune. The blue haired boy fought well, earning a B, however the powerful Yang put him down, earning an A-. She let herself get hit to power up her semblance, a fact which Goodwitch didn't like, but because she did it tactfully she didn't remove too many points. Other matches took place until finally it was Jaune's turn.
As Jaune started his way down Pyrrha pulled him into a gentle hug and kissed him on the cheek, earning a round of murmurings around the room. She ignored them however, she just looked at him and simply said.
"Remember, 100%, you promised me." He nodded, with that she kissed him again, he then moved down to the arena floor below.
Milo felt different to him, yet he was oddly optimistic. With as often as Pyrrha had hit him with these weapons during their training sessions it was almost like Pyrrha was alongside him as he went up against his longtime rival. The feeling was incredibly comforting, even thinking that she was with him. In spirit if nothing else.
Cardin looked incredibly confident in his full plate armor carrying his brutal 2 handed mace, watching Jaune walk into the arena, especially without his armor plates and unfamiliar weapons. He had no reason to think that this would be any different than the previous times they had squared off. Jaune and he might not be enemies, like they were in their first term. That did not mean they were friends and he was determined to beat the young man again, if for no other reason he hated losing.
The pre match began as they normally do, lights turning off on all area's but the combat floor, to focus attention on the fights for learning purposes, and to not distract the combatants. It was impossible to miss the shouts and cheers from the area where Jaune knew his friends sat. Nora and Pyrrha's voices in particular came through exceptionally clear. He smiled, brought up his shield arm. Indicated he was ready with a nod. Then, focused with all he had on Cardin.
The match kicked off with Cardin charging at Jaune in his typical style and brought his mace down at him with a heavy two handed strike. Jaune knew from previous experience he could block the mace, but it would drain his aura needlessly to do it. Instead he utilized one of the endless things Pyrrha had taught him.
-Don't match strength for strength, angle your shield so the blow is deflected, not absorbed.-
He remembered the lesson, and was glad when it did the job, the mace shied away from his body, at the same time he brought Milo across his body and was rewarded with a grunt as the sword hit Cardin in the chest.
"YES!" Pyrrha exclaimed as Jaune did exactly what she hoped he would. She was excited, elated, terrified, and proud all at once in equal measure. A few more like that, and Jaune might just pass the test.
Words of encouragement was also shouted by the rest of the friends as they watched him continue to fight.
For the better part of 10 minutes the two men fought. Jaune dancing around the bigger man getting in hits when he can, and trying to avoid the crushing blows of Cardin's mace. Milo was different than the sword he had trained with, and it was difficult to land solid blows against Cardin given his full plate armor. Yet he continually got in as many hornet strikes when he could. His didn't have the deadly precision of Pyrrha's strikes, nor did he swing with the same force she did. But, he was in the fight, and making a good account of himself.
Jaune just hit Cardin with an overhead slash, ducked under the counter swing, and got a few more hits in before Cardin activated his semblance, Jaune was knocked in the air and while he tried to block the swinging mace the he couldn't quite catch the angle, the blow sent him flying backward several meters.
Worried looks were on the faces of RWBY and JNPR as they watched Jaune take that hit.
"Pyrrha you should be proud, I don't believe he has ever fought better" Ren said
"I'm sure he will get a passing grade for this." Yang added.
"I hope your right, I really do." Pyrrha said in response.
It was impossible to miss the gasping breaths Jaune was taking as he tried to keep himself in the fight.
Jaune forced himself to stand, and face Cardin again. He could tell by the look on Cardin's face that he was less that pleased that Jaune was still in the match, but Jaune was feeling himself tire, and wasn't sure how much longer he could keep himself going.
Cardin started to run at him and one again cranked up a strong 2 handed strike. If he were Pyrrha he would have spun Milo into gun form, and fired at Cardin. He was not Pyrrha, and he wasn't as familiar as she was with the weapon. He didn't want to risk being caught in gun form in melee combat. So he didn't try. Instead he waited as long as he could, then threw himself towards Cardin flat to the ground and rolled under his arm to get behind him. He hit Cardin with several quick sword strikes and blocked a backhand from the bigger man. When he tried to move away he caught the smirk on Cardin's face. He had grasped the shield and was holding him in that location while his other arm brought the mace down. He remembered another of Pyrrha's lessons.
-Never keep hold of your weapon if it means getting yourself killed, it is better to surrender it and keep fighting, then foolishly hold on to it and take a shot you could otherwise avoid-
He let go of Akouo once again stepping under Cardin's mace, Milo was inches from its target when once again Cardin used his semblance, only this time knocking Jaune back, not in the air. Cardin threw the shield to the side.
Jaune's breathing was all the group could hear, it was a terrible thing to listen too.
"That's it." Pyrrha said "That's the limit of his endurance." He gave everything he had, she thought, she could ask no more. Cardin was nearly beaten, and Jaune for his part still had more than an ample amount of aura, in fact he was barely out of the green, but it would mean nothing if he couldn't move.
As Jaune tried to stand his foot lost its footing and he slipped down, staring up at Cardin run towards him thoughts and feelings came to mind.
I HAVE to move... but I can't, my arms are heavy, I can't get enough breath, and I have about 2 seconds until that mace hits me and my aura is drained.
If he continued to draw from his aura yes he could stay in the fight but all Cardin would have to do at that point is just defend and wait for his aura to expire. He knew Cardin was a smart enough fighter to do that too. Moreover his aura couldn't keep up with the demands of the fight… if he has some time to catch his breath his aura would replenish his body but that required time he just didn't have.
Then he remembered.
"Give 100% leave nothing unfinished."
The memory reignited his drive to win, but he had no energy to fight with.
Just as that thought exited his mind.
That's when he felt it, a tug on his thoughts, like a piece of twine around his mind. It was strange, and alien, and, oddly warm and comforting. Trusting his instincts more than rational thought. He grasped that twine with his mind, and pulled with all the strength he could.
The onlookers gasped as there was a brilliant flash of blinding white energy from Jaune, they watched as he brought Milo up and used his left hand to hold the flat edge of the sword. His arms ignited in an incandescent white light as he was able to block the attack.
Pyrrha's gasp was more of a yelp, with tears of joy falling from her eyes as she pointed at him excitedly.
"His semblance! That is his semblance! He has mastered his semblance!" There was no mistaking the pride and pure elation as she practically sang that jumping like a rabbit up and down excitedly.
His friends were renewed in their energy to cheer him to a victory continued to shout words of encouragement at him.
Jaune could swear he heard shouts from his friends and gasps from the crowd as he blocked the mace. He was aware that Cardin had a shocked expression as the previously exhausted boy was able to block his attack even as he continued to struggle against this newfound strength, but he knew he needed more. The, odd, heat he had on his arms gave him a boost in energy. His arms didn't feel so tired or heavy. Yet still he had no air in his lungs and his legs were burning from exertion. IF only he could pull that ... lower.
His friends cheering only grew louder to the point it was a deafening roar as they saw his semblance take shape. The white light on his arms extended down through his torso, suddenly his painful sounding gasps for breath vanished. It continued further into his legs, he regained his balance on sturdy footing. Finally it extended up from his chest to cover his head. Where the light met his eyes it turned into a gorgeous ocean blue giving off a compassionate sapphire light. Jaune reared his arms back and with a push from his legs, shoved Cardin with his mace back several meters. Then stood to face him again. His semblance causing waves of fire like light to pass over his body, looking like a living white flame.
"Holy Dust! THAT is the Arc semblance?" Yang asked.
"YES! That's it!" Pyrrha confirmed energetically, tears of joy still falling from her face.
"Wow, that looks incredible." Ruby managed to say.
"I don't know how long his aura will be able to keep him going, he is out of energy otherwise. He has an impressive amount of aura but it will run out at some point" Ren cautioned.
"What matters is that he passes" Nora said with all her attention focused on the fight below.
Pyrrha was going to say something... more, but settled for what their pink colored cheerful friend said.
"GOOOO JAUNE!" someone yelled, it took the group a few seconds to learn it Weiss.
"What, I really don't like Cardin" Weiss said.
They laughed, and focuses again on the renewed fight.
Feeling refreshed and full of energy, Jaune kicked off straight at Cardin. He noticed that things seemed to happen slower than they normally do, like his eyes were processing information faster than they normally did as he closed the distance. He gripped Milo with both hands, and swung with everything he had. As the blade was descending he saw off to his left in his peripheral vision Akouo on the ground. Cardin blocked the attack, and gasped in amazement that the force of the blow sent him skidding backward several meters earning sounds of astonishment from the crowd. Jaune pushed off to his side, and in a couple strides picked up the discarded shield.
"Jeez, this is crazy" was about all Yang could say.
"C'mon Jaune you can do it." Ruby whispered nervously biting her finger nails wishing her friend would prevail.
"Damn he is so much faster with that semblance active." Blake said mouth slightly agape, not quite believing what she was seeing.
"Who knew Jaune had this in him all along?" Nora asked, looking knowingly at Pyrrha as she said it.
Ren kept looking up at the aura readout then switching his gaze back to the fight. Jaune's was fading quickly. Having to maintain his body and his semblance at once was taxing it. He had never known anybody to possess the same raw level of aura that his leader did, even so the demands placed on it right now were extreme. He didn't have long to win the fight or semblance or no, he would lose.
Pyrrha wanted to praise her partner more but excitement was radiating off of her and she could only watch the fight. She didn't realize her nervous energy was causing her to bounce slightly as she clapped her hands together quietly.
"It seems you were right all along Pyrrha, the dunce...the goof, has potential after all" Weiss said, then corrected, she was struggling not to water up as Pyrrha.
Jaune ran at Cardin, effortlessly ducked under the sideways sweep of the mace, and realized that as the telltale sign Cardin was about to use his semblance again. He jumped rolling off to the side. His intuition was correct as the ground lit up following the activation of Cardin's semblance. This time however the blow meant for him was stopped by Milo as Jaune blocked near the handle of the mace. Surprise was in Cardin's face, it was quickly replaced by determination as he sent a punch at Jaune. Jaune moved stepping into and under the punch while rotating his body spinning to the left.
His shield collided with Cardin's head dazing him. He reversed with his spin and kicked with all the strength he had, sweeping the legs out from under the bigger man. There was an audible *thump* as he hit the ground.
A yell emerged from his lips as Jaune jumped on top of Cardin's chest and brought Milo down on his throat. The lights kicked on. Match over. Jaune, had won.
"YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!" Essentially is what RWBY and JNPR were doing, Ms. Goodwitch observed. Secretly she was proud of the Arc boy, pushing on and trying to be the best person he can despite what he has endured in his life. She suppressed a smile as she observed Pyrrha crying tears of joy as the teammates and friends hugged each other in celebration. Ozpin had previously told her several times that it isn't simply one's ability to fight that makes them special. In many cases it is their ability to form connections, deep bonds, to strengthen each other beyond what would normally be possible. She couldn't help but think Jaune personifies this type of leader seeing the reaction he got from his friends as he won. Except now he was also starting to show incredible combat potential thanks to Ms. Nikos. The Mistrali girl seemed to be the first to spot it, which really shouldn't surprise anybody given his lineage. His mother in particular is one of the fiercest warriors to ever have existed. She was glad to have been proven wrong in this case. Yet as she looked back at the two boys in the arena, alarm shot through her.
"Uh, guys, what's going on?" Ruby asked.
Pulling away from a hug with Nora, Pyrrha looked back on the match below. Jaune had collapsed on the ground next to Cardin. Cardin was shaking him, gently. Why was Cardin shaking him? She could almost understand it if Cardin punched him, it would give Nora the chance to break his legs and herself a chance to spear him. But that isn't what was happening. Instead Cardin was calling for a stretcher, and proclaimed he wasn't breathing.
This cannot be happening, she thought. She vaulted over the guard rail to the next level, and again to the ground, the rest of her friends were not far behind her. Concern was etched on her face when she reached Jaune. The boy indeed wasn't breathing, and had gone, pale, very very pale. She felt a knot in her stomach as the medics carefully put Jaune on a stretcher, and moved him to the infirmary, even as they tried to get him breathing again via a healing glyph.
Today, was going perfectly, until an hour ago. Pyrrha thought. Jaune was now in a medical bed, Doctors were hovering over him. Her weapons were back in her possession, in their normal positions, but nothing felt right about it at all. All 7 of the RWBY JNPR group crowded into the waiting room. She could do nothing but try not to cry, and glare at Jaune's unmoving form, willing him to get better.
Several hours pass.
Ms. Goodwitch walked up to Pyrrha and got her attention. The rest of their group follows suit.
"Ms. Nikos, Headmaster Ozpin would like you and the rest of JNPR to join him in his office."
"Why?" Ren asked.
"It concerns your team, it is best left to him to explain more." She said, then turned and left.
"Go to Ozpin, we will stay here." Ruby said with an odd commanding tone in her voice.
The group walked in scared silence as they made their way to the central elevator which would take them to the top of the Beacon Clock tower where Ozpin held his office.
The door opened with a 'DING!' and they walked into the somber office, pillars were on each of the sides as they made their way to the central area where the Headmaster waited for them. Surrounding the office was a glass wall giving them what would be a breathtaking view of the Beacon Grounds... if they were of any mind to look.
"Ah good, you 3 are here, please, come closer and sit down." He asked.
"If this is about moving us to another team, I can speak for everybody and say we politely decline." Ren surprised them all by speaking.
Ozpin gave them a warm smile, then repeated "Please, sit down." This time, they did. He took a slurp from his ever present coffee mug, set the cup down, brought both of his hands together making a semi pyramid like structure, and gave them a piercing look.
Off to her side Pyrrha noticed a desk covered by a white sheet, something was obscured below, but she couldn't make out what it was.
"I asked you all here to talk to you about Jaune." The Headmaster started off the conversation.
"Like I said Headmaster, we have no desire to be moved to another team." Ren repeated.
"Mr. Lie, I am not asking you to move to another team, in fact I am doing everything I can to prevent that. But I need your help to do it." At this point he had their undivided attention. He pulled out a picture from under his desk, it was a large picture, maybe 1 foot by 18 inches.
"Look at this, tell me what you see." He said.
The 3 of them studied the picture, it was a diagnostic glyph, taking an image of a human heart.
"A heart" Pyrrha said.
"A normal heart, more specifically." Ozpin corrected. He pulled out another picture and placed it next to the first one.
"Again, what do you see?" he asked.
They looked at the picture, and saw no noticeable difference.
"Uh, looks like a heart again." Nora said.
"Correct, the second one is Jaune's heart, it appears for all intents and purposes to be normal. Surprising isn't it?" Ozpin said.
At this point, Pyrrha was developing a sick feeling in her stomach. She observed Ozpin pulling out another picture, setting it on top of both of them.
"This is why I wanted you here. This photo has finally given us a glimpse at what has been tormenting the young man down in the infirmary."
It was once again a picture of a heart, magnified to an extreme degree. It showed a very small almost invisible back image, they weren't able to identify it.
"I don't understand." Pyrrha admitted.
"Jaune Arc, was not born with a weak heart." Ozpin said. He gave them some time to let that sink in.
"Again, I... we don't understand" Ren said.
"Jaune was born with a parasite. It has gone untreated for the duration of his life." Ozpin said.
Cold fury started to fill Pyrrha.
"You mean to tell me his family didn't even care enough for him to take him to a doctor? They just assumed he was born with a heart defect?!" She could barely keep from screaming in her anger.
"I can't claim to know what caused it initially, and honestly that isn't why I have you here. If it sets your mind at ease so we can move on, I will tell you I will have two independent doctors perform a report on the young man so we can use that in the future. What I need from you 3 is much more pressing."
He took another swig from his coffee cup, as if to gather his thoughts on a difficult thing to say.
"When Jaune used his semblance today it overtaxed his body. Right now instead of being a problem, draining his strength, the parasite is potentially killing him." He said with a somber expression.
They could not think of something to say.
"You three are faced with a difficult decision. There is a chance that with his level of aura reserve, he will pull through and survive. The doctors give him a 20% chance of dying if left untreated. But if we do that his time here will be at an end. He would not be able to exert himself like that again as the next time he does, the parasite would kill him."
Nora and Pyrrha both started to tear up, only Ren, with his stoic professionalism kept them off his face. He was collected enough to ask "What is the alternative?"
"Alternatively we can use a very advanced, and dangerous, dust bombardment treatment. The odds are strong he will not survive, I am given a 60% chance he will die if we do it, given how long the parasite has gone untreated it is powerful at this point. It will be difficult to kill. If they can however, he will finally have a clean slate in terms of health."
Pyrrha had a thought.
"Why is this our decision? Why isn't his family making the decision?" She asked.
The headmaster gave her a calculated look before responding. "The Arcs have not been very helpful on this matter. They tell me they are near the point of disowning the boy, and are trying to distance themselves from him. They won't make a decision quickly. As such it falls to you three, his teammates, who know what he would want best to decide." He sounded sad as he said that.
The three of them shared glances with each other.
"Renny..." Was all Nora could say.
"Jaune, I believe, would want to try the procedure. Leaving Beacon would be horrible for him." Ren said.
"I also believe the procedure is what he would want, his dream is to protect the innocent, he cannot do that if he is given a lifetime of bed-rest with that... thing in his chest." Pyrrha said, fresh tears in her eyes.
The headmaster smiled at them. "I was hoping you would say that. This process is very expensive-"
"I will pay for it." Pyrrha said, a sharp and hard look in her eyes.
"Thank you Ms. Nikos, but that is not what I was going to say. The school will cover it. We invest in all of our students, and Mr. Arc is no exception. However as your headmaster I will give you the same deal I gave Jaune." He gave them a warm smile again.
They looked at him expectantly, not sure where he was going with this. "I want you to give as he does, 100% effort, that includes now. You all signed up for the Vytal Tournament. To honor your friend, and everything the tournament stands for, I insist you all compete to the best of your ability. Do this, and the school will consider it more than fair trade for the medical procedure. To add to this I want you 3 to return here next year to continue your studies, I have high hopes for you all."
The 3 of them smiled, Pyrrha was happy somebody was willing to give Jaune something essentially for free. They get to compete, stay with Jaune while he is here, and be with him next year... if he survives.
"How long will the process take?" Ren asked.
Ozpin was taking another slurp of coffee and didn't respond right away.
"The doctors tell me it will take about 2 weeks, sadly you 3 will likely be gone by the time he wakes up." He answered.
Pyrrha was sad at hearing this, she wanted to spend more time with him, but at least, she could be with him in-between matches. The qualifiers for the tournament would start early the next morning and run until Friday. They would take a break for Saturday, then run through Thursday when the champion would be crowned.
"I suggest you all send warm wishes to your friend, it speaks well of him that he has grown so much this year, and with some luck, will continue to grow in the coming years. Unfortunately I need to advise our medical staff to start the process soon, and I must ask you three to leave. I will have another appointment soon." Ozpin said.
As they silently excited the room, they shared nervous glances with each other, really really hoping they made the right decision.
16 days later.
Strength and feeling slowly coming back into his limbs as Jaune worked his way back to consciousness. His vision at first was black, but slowly the his eyes captured the image. While he was confused, he at least could place where he is. He was in the infirmary, its lights bright against unused eyes. He looked down and saw a pair of clothes waiting for him in a chair near the rooms door. Looking around the room he saw some cards next to his bed, and a newspaper.
His arm was slow to follow his commands, but he found the paper, pulled it in front of him and smiled at the headline "Invincible Girl wins Vytal Tournament." He looked down and saw a picture of his girlfriend smiling for cameras with an absurdly gorgeous trophy in her arms, she carried a card in her hand, the print was small, but she recognized lips present in it. He realized the tournament ended some time ago. That would be why they aren't here, he thought sadly. They are all back at home.
He pulled through the cards left for him, and realized they were from RWBY and JNPR. Giving him best wishes for a speedy recovery and advising him to let them know when he wakes up. A special card was from Pyrrha. It simply said "Love you" and had a pair of lips captured via lipstick on it, and realized Pyrrha had this same card in the newspaper picture, he smiled at the thought. He would have to remember to send them a message later.
He noticed his scroll on the table and it had a message, received minutes ago. He picked it up, and suppressed a gasp as it was from Headmaster Ozpin. It simply read: "Mr. Arc, please get dressed and meet me in my office, as soon as you can."
He rotated himself to the side of the bed, and tested his legs. Everything is working right... he thought. Last thing he remembered was his fight with Cardin, he won...he thought... then he blacked out. Maybe he got hit when he didn't notice and lost? He decided to ask the Headmaster.
The clothing which was laid out for him was simple, his shoes, shorts and a t-shirt. Nearly identical to the ones he and Pyrrha spent countless hours working together with, but these were new.
He quickly dressed and was walking towards the elevator to take to the headmasters study carrying the newspaper and cards from his friends. While waiting for the elevator to bring him up to the highest level Beacon had to offer he read more of the newspaper article. All of his friends did exceptionally well in the tournament. They all made it to the third round, where they mostly started facing each other. Pyrrha in particular really earned that trophy. She faced Sun in the first round, somebody who could easily have made it very deep in the tournament. Cardin in the second round. Blake in the third. Ruby in the fourth, and finally Yang in the championship, having never taking a shot... again. He smiled warmly at his girlfriend, wishing he could have seen her fight, or just seen her in general.
The ding of the elevator pulled him back to the present. As he stepped out of the elevator he found the Headmaster talking to... an older, taller, and seemingly stronger version of Weiss dressed in the same style as who he guessed is her younger sister. He stayed a respectful distance behind them so he didn't hear the conversation. As their conversation concluded he realized the headmaster had seen him... or maybe just heard him and asked him to come forward.
As he was walking the white haired woman stopped him "You must be Jaune." It was not a question.
"Uh. Yes, my name is Jaune, pleased to meet you." He extended his hand to her.
She looked at it for a second longer then he would have preferred, before accepted the handshake, her grip surprisingly strong.
"I have wanted to meet the boy who caused my father such a headache." She said with a smile.
"Sorry, I don't follow." He said, a confused expression on his face.
"Don't worry I'm sure my sister will tell you. My name is Winter, Weiss is my sister."
"Ms. Schnee." Ozpin called from his desk. She acknowledged him by nodding her head.
"Sorry, I have to go, nice meeting you Mr. Arc." She turned, and exited the room.
Not quite sure what to think about the older Schnee Heiress, he turned and moved on to find Ozpin having stood up and circled around his desk to meet him.
"Mr. Arc, it is so good to see you fully recovered." He said with a warm smile.
"Thank you sir, but uh, recovered from what?" He asked.
"Mr. Arc, look at this." He held picture.
The picture looked like a mosquito, if you crossed the insect with a shark. Beyond that it had the unmistakable black white and red combination Grimm have been known to possess.
"It looks like a Grimm sir, but I have never seen the type." Jaune answered honestly.
"That is because this is a very, very rare kind. So rare it was thought to have been extinct several times, its name, aptly enough, is Vampire Grimm. It is a parasite Mr. Arc, and it until recently, is why you were thought to have a weak heart." Ozpin said.
Jaune just stared at the picture, not quite understanding what Ozpin was trying to tell him.
"I'm afraid I don't understand sir." He said.
"There is not much more to say beyond what I just did. You were told incorrectly that you had a weak heart. This parasite had been leeching off of you since you were born." Ozpin still had a happy smile on his face.
Jaune took a few steps forwards, and sat down in a chair, his mind reeling. "So, if that, thing is out of me now, that means I should be healthy right?" He asked, not quite able to keep the hope out of his voice.
"Correct, Mr. Arc. While you were resting from the medical process we had to put you through I had 2 doctors do an evaluation." He moved to sit behind his desk, and pulled out a folder, then set it down in front of Jaune. "That is the physical copy, I have sent an electronic copy to your scroll, use it as you see fit. I suggest you read it when you get a chance."
As overjoyed as he was to learn this information, he felt something even more important to him demanded his attention. "Sir, I meant to ask you, my combat final. How did I do?" He asked.
"Ah yes, that." Ozpin said, taking a sip of coffee.
"All of your grades were satisfactory. You will be welcomed back next year. The lowest grade you earned was in Ms. Goodwitch's combat class, which, by the way." He pulled up a report from his scroll and began reading from it. "Has performed beyond my expectations for him. He has improved steadily with the aid of his teammates, and seems to inspire them in a way that is unexpected. In the combat final assessment he performed tactically and fought well. Earning a B- with a recommendation for JNPR to join team RWBY in the advanced combat course starting next term."
At seeing Jaune struck speechless. Ozpin grinned, took another slurp of coffee, and continued "The advanced combat course is something which only happens to the teams who perform above and beyond expectations. Once selected they continue as a group through their time at Beacon. It is very rare for two teams to be selected. You should be very proud of your team."
All Jaune could say was "I owe everything to them, Pyrrha especially."
Ozpin smiled "Believe it or not Jaune, they might say the same about you, including your partner. While it is true Ms. Nikos is an exemplar in battle, she is not without her weaknesses as an individual. You and her make a truly exceptional team. It will be interesting to see where and how RWBY and JNPR grow in the coming years."
That brought an immeasurable smile to Jaune, however it turned into a frown.
"Sir I wanted to ask a favor of you" He said.
"Oh, do tell, what is on your mind?" Ozpin asked.
"Sir, as you know, my... ... Father, decided to remove Crocea Mors from my care. I am grateful that Pyrrha let me use her weapons, but I need my own. I was hoping you would let me work here for the summer and possibly order a weapon forged for me." He said carefully.
The smile Ozpin wore on his face was... almost like he was reading Jaune's mind.
"Mr. Arc, remove that sheet over on that desk please." Indicating the side with one of his hands.
Jaune looked confused, followed the outstretched arm, and saw the desk in question. He stood, and walked to the covered piece of furniture. Then removed the white cloth covering it.
Looked back at Ozpin, Ozpin nodded.
He looked forward again, and marveled at the weapon before him.
It was a sheathed sword, very similar to the family heirloom he was familiar with. The sheath and weapon handle were white, with red and silver highlights giving a detailed image of image of a warm fire near the top of the handle. He realized he was looking at the back end of the weapon and turned it over. He gasped again. On the front of the sheath was Pyrrha's symbol. A red circle with a spear crossing both edges of the circle, with white contrasts that looked natural on the weapon near the center of the sheath, the top continued the warm fire image. He also found a white armored bracer, again with Pyrrha's symbol present on it on the top. It had an intricate detailing matching the sheath of a gentle flame in red and silver. Under the armored exterior was a leather interior which spanned the length of the bracer and ended in a glove. The sword was lighter than the weapon he was more familiar with and came with 2 straps. He was unsure what to make of the weapon beyond its beauty.
Ozpin interrupted his thoughts. "I had this weapon commissioned for you when I heard the Arcs meant to take away Crocea Mors from you. As I told your teammates, we invest in our students, which of course includes you. You are meant to wear that weapon on your back. Go ahead and put it on." He gave another warm smile to his student.
Jaune was struggling to get it on correctly as it seemed to be made for a left handed person. It was currently worn along his back draping down from his shoulder all the way to the edge of his torso diagonally across it. As if reading his thoughts Ozpin again spoke.
"No, you have it right Mr. Arc, that weapon is indeed placed on your back in that manner. You draw it with your left hand. Go ahead."
Jaune hesitantly reach up, grasped the hilt then drew the weapon. He instantly figured out why it is designed to be drawn left handed. As his left hand gripped the hilt and pulled, he realized it wasn't, in fact, a hilt. A shield formed up along his left arm. As he brought his arm down in front of his body, he saw the shield had taken a shape very similar to the shield he had trained with beyond being curved compared to the angled lines of Crocea Mors. On the backside of the shield he saw another sheath and realized this would actually be the sword. With his right hand he drew the sword out from his shield. He saw Pyrrha's symbol once again on the hilt of the weapon, it was etched in an otherwise white cut gem, given a red color by dust with the same red and silver flame pattern making up the hilt. The sword looked and felt like a Gladius, a short thick heavy blade roughly the same length that Crocea Mors had been. The shield and sword both felt perfect, as if the weapon was built specifically for him.
Ozpin spoke on. "This weapon is made out of newer stronger, and lighter materials than what you were previously using. The shield is about half the weight of the heirloom you are familiar with, yet it is about 3x more resilient to damage. The Sword is made out of the same material. The shield itself has 3 settings. What it is in now is its base state 'Kite' form. Extend your aura into the shield." Jaune did. "Now will it to-"
He was cut off by the sound of the shield following its masters will, and it expanded out into a 'Tower' shield. Large enough to fill a doorway with a small slit to see through though, there was an odd curve on its right edge along with a hand grip for... what purpose Jaune wasn't yet sure.
"Excellent. It has one more mode." Jaune was already triggering the third mode and it attached itself to his arm abandoning the shield form, and instead ran up his arm to his shoulder without impeding his range of motion, appearing to be plate armor but for a piece he could grab on near his hand to reform it back into a shield.
"The sword also has two modes, the short 'Gladius' mode, it is in now, and-" Jaune, learning how this works, triggered the sword to shift. The hilt of the sword extended down, doubling in length, the guard extended with the hilt. The blade grew to near 3 times in length, the thickness shrunk slightly appearing to be a more normal size for that type of weapon, appearing here as a Longsword. With room enough for two hands if he needed to use them, the third mode of the shield now being obvious.
Ozpin was smiling at him again as he spoke "That second mode is its long sword mode named 'Claymore'. Finally that bracer is meant to be worn on your right arm. It will function as a bracer against attacks, but it doubles as a gun. You will need to practice it, you trigger it like you would your weapon otherwise. It doesn't have many shots until you will need to reload it. However I thought you might appreciate being able to fight from ranged now to some extent."
Jaune was struggling mightily, he willed himself not to cry at the Headmasters generosity. He spun the sword back into Gladius form, sheathed it in the shield after moving the shield back to standard mode, then sheathed the weapon on his back. He gripped the bracer and slid his arm inside, the interior felt natural and wasn't overly tight. The metal covering started at his wrist covered moved all the way to his elbow. With a thought the gun module expanded with a large barrel along the right side of his right arm with an adjustable aiming sight on its center, then condensed again. Realizing now why the tower shield mode had the curvature on its right side.
He felt he should say something. "Sir, I cannot thank you enough, does the weapon have a name?"
"No, I have left it unnamed, I felt that should be your job." He replied
"Why Pyrrha's symbols Sir?" He asked, still mostly speechless.
"Well, back when you first learned of your family's plan to remove Crocea Mors from your possession, she came to me and asked if I could stop it. I told her I had no control over the matter. I did however mention I might have a weapon forged for you. I asked that if I did, if I could use her symbol for your weapon. She said yes. Given how close you two have become, I felt it the right decision." He explained.
Jaune could think of nothing more to do than make the few steps needed to close to the headmaster and hug him, still struggling not to cry. Ozpin chuckled at the action and returned the hug, before breaking apart after a few seconds.
"Mr. Arc there is one more matter we need to speak about." He said still smiling at his pupil.
Jaune looked at him expectantly, still struggling to hold back tears over the headmasters unexpected kindness.
"Ms. Goodwitch is waiting for you. Ms. Nikos has done a truly remarkable job tutoring you. I expect that to continue as your studies here continue. However you still need to work on your skills, as such she will give you additional lessons over the summer. Starting today. Your gear has already been moved to the year 2 and 3 advance combat class dormitory. Its location has been sent to your scroll, you are right across from Team RWBY again. Part of the benefit of being selected for the advanced combat course is each team is moved to different dorm. Each team will have a common room, though we don't have the space for a private bed room, at least not till year 4. In the rare cases where 2 teams are selected for the advanced courses we move them together, so your team and RWBY will share a joint commons room. Also there is a private practice, training and workout area for you both teams to employ. Your friend Velvet and her team are also part of the advanced combat courses, though she is a year ahead of you, so you can ask her if you have questions about the advanced combat program."
As he spoke Ozpin guided Jaune to the balcony and they had a great view of the noon time view of the Beacon Grounds.
"I am excited to see how you and your friends grow Mr. Arc, almost as much as I am to see how you adapt to a landing strategy on the fly."
"Landing strategy sir?" Ozpin then pushed him off the balcony.
Oh what the HELLLLLLLL. Jaune thought, and focused on how the hell he was going to emerge from this without breaking a leg, his legs, or well, every bone in his body. He reached for his semblance and channeled his power into his legs, trying to level himself out to the ground even as his semblance enveloped him. He closed his eyes as the ground approached and felt the impact tremors travel through his body, his legs flexing to ease the pressure. The air parted in a quick burst as the invader landed in a puff of dust. Nearby students and Beacon personnel looked surprised at the appearance of Jaune, cloaked in his semblance.
Jaune opened his eyes and realized... that he wasn't hurt. His semblance absorbed the fall, and his aura reserve barely took a hit. His scroll beeped, a message from Ozpin.
"Well done. Never doubt yourself, Mr. Arc. You have earned the respect of this old man, that of your team, and that of your friends. Keep working hard. Remember, I asked you for 100% effort. That has not stopped nor will it stop in your life. That is what is asked of all Hunters and Huntresses. The newspaper, cards and other items you left here will be transported to your new room. For now, Ms. Goodwitch is waiting for you. Congratulations on a successful term Mr. Arc, and please enjoy your summer here at Beacon." It concluded with a grinning thumbs up smilie, with the left hand holding a coffee mug, very much like the headmaster himself.
Smiling with pent up energy he didn't realize he had, and overjoyed at finally having something he never really had, his health. Jaune sprinted to the training area indicated on his scroll, laughing happily to himself that the experience didn't instantly reduce him to painful gasps for breath. As he approached the outdoor training arena he found Ms. Goodwitch waiting for him, an odd, almost smile on her face. As he was walking down to the training floor he looked forward to seeing his friends, and girlfriend soon, along with the start of the fall term.