Ruby is small. Frail.
The kind of littleness that teeters precariously through life, forever in danger of being swallowed up by the darkness, or swept away by the sea. Her tiny frame is like a plea to be protected. Her short stature seems to beg for sanctuary.
She's worried after constantly. The Xiao Longs follows her like golden shadows—forever on the lookout for anything that might pose a threat to the little rose.
Summer, however, is supremely confident in her daughter.
"Leave her be, Taiyang," she chides her husband, watching as the great Huntsman hovers anxiously over the toddler as she wobbles about the room. "She knows what she's doing."
Taiyang throws her a look of such stark incredulity that it makes even Yang—perched on Summer's lap as her mother brushes out her hair—giggle with delight.
"I just don't want her to fall," Taiyang defends himself, bending down to scoop Ruby up before she can wander any farther.
Summer smiles softly, shaking her head. "She's supposed to fall," the Huntress explains patiently. "How else will she learn?"
Taiyang just clutches his youngest daughter to his chest, like he's worried Summer will try and take her from him. Summer rolls her eyes fondly at his antics.
"Did I fall a lot?" Yang asks brightly, nestling closer to Summer.
Summer chuckles softly to herself as she separates Yang's hair into pigtails. "No, my love," she answers the young girl. "No, you were fond of breaking things."
Yang snickers at this, bobbing her head in agreement. Summer glances over at Taiyang, who is resolutely ignoring her gaze.
"Taiyang," she calls, arching an eyebrow. "Put her down."
He resists still, and the elegant Huntress shakes her head as she ties off Yang's pigtail with a bow. Giving her daughter's hair a quick ruffle, Summer watches as Yang gives a loud whoop of excitement as she jumps off her mother's lap and charges at Taiyang, wrapping her arms around his leg.
"Put her down, Dad!" she insists, beaming up at him. "I wanna play with Ruby!"
Taiyang throws an accusatory look at Summer, who simply spreads her hands in a gesture of helplessness. A smirk plays at her lips as Taiyang reluctantly bends down to place the little rose on her feet. He barely has time to call out a warning to Yang to look out for her sister before the pair have darted from the room, their high laughter hanging in the air.
Summer smiles after them, but Taiyang scowls in contrast.
"Oh, lighten up, love," she scolds, rising from her seat to cross the room and stand at his side. She places her hands on her hips, staring up at him incredulously while he shifts his gaze to glance down at her.
Amusement tugs at his lips. The top of Summer's head barely clears his chest, but her presence commands respect. She's one of the smallest people he knows, yet she always manages to look him in the eye.
"You can't carry her forever," Summer reasons gently. "Have a little faith, hm?"
Taiyang opens his mouth to concede, when a loud crash resonates through the house, directly followed by what has now become Yang's infamous line of "oopsie daisy!"
"Yang!" Taiyang calls, displeasure coloring his tone as he pulls from the room.
"I'm sure it was an accident," Summer tries to soothe him as she follows.
"With any luck, they broke that ugly vase Oz brought back from Vacuo," her husband grumbles. "I've been looking for an excuse to get rid of that thing."
"…and then wham!"
Taiyang's fist comes down on the table with a crash, rattling the dishes and upsetting a pitcher of water. Ruby and Yang gasp with surprise, eyes growing wide. With a roll of her eyes, Summer stretches her hand out to steady it, shooting her husband an amused look.
"Wham?" she repeats mildly, quirking a brow.
"Wham!" the man confirms, slamming the table once more, this time leaving a dent in the wood with his gauntlet. Summer eyes the indentation idly, wondering if Qrow will notice. And Taiyang asks why Yang has such an aggressive streak in her.
"Taiyang, stop hitting my furniture!" the red-eyed man shouts from the other room. Qrow leans around the doorframe to scowl at the blond, and Summer offers him an apologetic smile. Still frowning, Qrow ducks back out of sight, grumbling to himself.
"Then what, Dad?" Yang asks excitedly, placing both of her hands flat on the table as she stands on the seat of her chair. She stares at her father with wide violet eyes, and Summer cant's help but chuckle. Like father, like daughter, she muses to herself, watching as Ruby—in contrast to her previous thought—attempts to sit up in her seat like Yang, but her short arms don't quite grant her the reach she needs.
Summer tries not to laugh as she gazes across the table, seeing only tufts of black-red hair and the tips of her daughter's fingers as she reaches again for the edge of the table to try and pull herself up.
"Yang, be a dear and help Ruby," Summer calls. "I think she's feeling a little left out."
"Huh? Oh." Yang blinks before noticing Ruby's predicament. With a cheerful smile, she bends down to scoop up her sister, giving Ruby a boost that allows her to settle happily on the edge of the table.
"What happened next, Daddy?" the little rose asks, grinning beside her sister.
Taiyang eyes his daughter's new seating arrangement with a frown. Summer can tell by the way he eyes the distance between her perch and the floor that he's about to tell her to move, so she delivers a swift kick to his ankle under the table.
He snaps his gaze towards her, expression twisted with so much affront Summer almost laughs. Instead, she inclines her head towards the two sisters.
"Well?" she prompts. "What happened next?"
Taiyang turns back to his daughters, but is quickly interrupted as Qrow steps back into the room, a bundle of crimson fabric in his hands.
"And then your Uncle Qrow stepped in and saved the day while Summer healed all of your daddy's boo-boos," he says, a sardonic edge to his voice that goes completely over his nieces' heads but draws a glare from Taiyang.
Ruby giggles with delight at the story's conclusion, and Yang gives a toothy grin. Qrow presents the bundle to Ruby.
"Now, for the birthday girl," her uncle announces, smirking as Ruby's silver eyes grow wide with surprise.
"For me?" she gasps, accepting the bundle with a reverence that prompts Qrow's hoarse laughter.
"Don't look so surprised, kid. You didn't think I'd leave you empty-handed, did you?" He arches an eyebrow as Ruby hastily unfolds the parcel, Yang standing on tiptoe to peer over her sister's shoulder.
Summer watches fondly, but catches Taiyang's look of confusion at the edge of her vision.
"Qrow," he mutters, lifting his head to try and get a look at Ruby's gift. "What did you—?"
Yang's gasp and Ruby's delighted shriek cut him off.
"It's a cape!" the tiny girl cries, and her silver eyes shine like absolute stars as she holds the garment up before her. "It's so cool!"
Qrow chuckles quietly to himself. "Don't be too impressed—I had a fair amount of help from your mom," he tips a conspiring wink at Summer, who nods back at him. "But hey, you're like a proper Huntress now."
Ruby beams as Yang tries to help her put it on, but her fingers can't quite work the clasp so Summer calls her over. Ruby quickly drops down to the floor and scampers over to her mother, who bends down to helps fasten the cloak at her neck.
Yang grins, leaping down from her chair as Ruby twirls around. "You look great!" her sister says happily. "We're gonna be the best Huntresses ever!"
Ruby seizes her uncle's legs in a fierce hug and rattles off quick, high-pitched thankyouthankyouthankyou before darting off with Yang.
"Well," Qrow remarks, watching them go. "Not to brag, but I'm pretty sure I'm her new favorite parental figure."
"Ha!" Summer shakes her head with a grin. "Don't be so sure, I'm the only one who can work the clasp." She rises from her seat to help Qrow clear the table, but Taiyang speaks.
"You had no right," the brawler states lowly.
Qrow and Summer glance at each other.
"Taiyang," Summer begins, turning to face her husband.
"She's a child!" Taiyang shouts, his voice rising.
The dark-haired Hunter snorts with mirth, unimpressed with Taiyang's growing anger.
"Yeah," he agrees. "The child of two of the strongest Hunters on the continent."
Taiyang pushes himself away from the table roughly, and the shriek of wood against the floor draws a frown from Summer.
"Taiyang, control yourself," she orders him. "It's Ruby's birthday. It is not the time for this conversation."
She looks between the two men as tension hangs in the air. She's brought back to another time—another memory—where she had stood in the middle of their fight, clutching an infant Yang to her chest as Taiyang roared at Qrow, demanding to know what had become of Raven.
She knows that wound has never healed for either of them, and it makes her wary.
Thankfully, sense and reason wins today, and Taiyang steps back, and Qrow drops his sneer.
"Fine," her husband mutters. "Later." He turns to stalk out of the room, leaving Qrow and Summer alone, listening to the gleeful sounds of Yang and Ruby's play.
"She will not be a Huntress!" Taiyang shouts.
"She will be whatever she wants to be!" Summer insists fiercely. "How can you possibly deny her something she clearly wants? It's in her blood, Taiyang!"
His hands curl into fists as he looms above her, but Summer will not be daunted. She just lifts her chin, openly glaring at her husband.
"She's too weak," he growls.
Summer scoffs. "Please," she retorts. "Xiao Longs know nothing of weakness. Besides, she has a keen mind and an eye for strategy."
"Strategy won't save her from being ripped apart by Beowolves!" Taiyang flings at her. "Only strength can do that. Strength she doesn't have!"
"Tread carefully, my love," Summer returns coldly. "You are speaking to a team leader. Wisdom will always bring strength to heel. That is the way of combat."
"She isn't you!" he snaps. "She's…she's…"
"She's your youngest daughter," Summer supplies. It's so hard to maintain her anger when all she feels is pity. Taiyang is worried—terrified for Ruby. His baby, his little rose. How can she deny him such concern?
"Roses are small," Summer says quietly, reaching up to place her fingers against Taiyang's cheek. He brings up a calloused palm to hold her hand there. "We are little, yes, but we have thorns," she tilts her head, assessing him with silver eyes. "Ruby is stronger than you give her credit for."
He huffs out a sigh. "But, Yang—" he tries.
She cuts him off. "Comparing the strength of Ruby and Yang is as pointless as comparing the strength of you and I," she tells him. "There are a million and one ways to be strong, Taiyang. Xiao Longs are just fond of the punching things way."
His lips quirk with amusement at that, and she smiles back.
"Qrow's training her, isn't he?" he asks softly.
She nods. "He says her body type and Semblance are well-suited for the scythe," she explains. A pause. "You know, it would mean a lot to her if you would help her forge her weapon, when that time comes."
He looks away, and she cups his cheek to draw him back.
"Please, Taiyang," she whispers. "I was told I was weak my whole life. Don't do that to Ruby. She bares your bloodline as well. Help her. Teach her." She stares up at him, willing him to understand. "Our daughter wants to be a hero. How can we deny her that?"
Taiyang heaves a sigh, reaching out to catch Summer's other hand, twining their fingers together. They stand that way in silence for a long time, before he finally drops his hands, stepping back to offer her a small smile.
"Fine," he says, crossing his arms. "I was never very good at telling you no."
She flashes him a grin. "I am your team leader and more importantly, I am you wife," she tells him, her tone laced with humor. "You never stood a chance."
He barks a laugh, and she shushes him. "Be quiet!" she scolds, fighting her own laughter. "If you wake them, I'll absolutely murder you."
His grin wavers as he watches her pull on her pack. "Be back soon, yeah?"
She tosses him a confident smile. "It's just a simple overnight mission with Ozpin," she says. "I'll be back before you know it."
He nods. "Back in time for breakfast?"
"Always," she replies, smirking. She sobers quickly however, biting her lip. "Please think about what I said, Taiyang. Ruby needs to be told she can do anything. Let her be the hero she so desperately wants to be."
"Of course," he ducks down to press a quick kiss to her cheek. "When you get back, we can all go to the arena together. Yang's been itching for some practice, and you can work with Ruby," he offers. "We could even stop by the armory, give her some ideas on what kind of weapon she'd want."
Summer beams at him. "That sounds lovely," she says. "Thank you, Taiyang."
He just gives her a nod, and she turns, her white cloak flaring out behind her as she pulls up her hood.
"Summer," he calls before she goes. She glances back at him, and he can just see her questioning expression under the shadow cast by her cowl. "If Ruby grows up to be anything like you, then I'll be the luckiest dad in Remnant."
A smile splits her lips, before she turns and steps outside into the warm summer evening.
Taiyang turns to get to bed, suddenly eager for their plans tomorrow.
Ruby will make a fine Huntress, he muses, thinking of Summer. His indomitable rose. He wonders how he ever doubted her.
God I don't even know. This has been in my drafts since volume two I don't know what you want from me.
A bit rushed, but I was itching to put something out. Working on some more stuff, so if this isn't your cup of tea, don't fret. I might have something you'll like more later.
I love Summer Rose my goodness.