She's here. He can feel it in his bones.
His storm-dark gaze sweeps the street once more, frowning when nothing catches his eye. Another frigid wind blows in from the east, and he grits his teeth against it, stuffing his hands in his pockets. He hates winter. It's one of the only things he misses about Vacuo's scorching heat.
He's about to turn around and try his luck elsewhere, when something flashes across the edge of his vision, prompting an about-face so sudden he nearly tumbles off the roof.
The malevolent, dark sheen of a blade strapped to the figure's back is all the conformation he needs before he's leaping down and giving chase.
"Blake!" he shouts, hurling himself through the streets of Vale. "Blake!"
She's fast—he forgets that running is second nature to her, as automatic as her Semblance—but he's not easily swayed. He blows past boarded-up shops and mounds of rubble. Vale is still an absolute wreck, but Sun pays it no mind as he sprints after the phantom figure.
He follows her as she ducks into the Vale docks, and panic rises like bile in his throat. She's got him beat here. The docks are a maze that he can't make heads or tails of.
Sure enough, not a few moments later, he makes a sharp turn and finds himself face-to-face with the ocean. The dark waves shimmer in the moonlight, and Sun grits his teeth, throwing his gaze everywhere, but there's no sign of her. He wonders—with a wild sort of panic—if she'd been there at all.
"Get it together, Wukong," he chides himself, cracking his knuckles as he stares out at the water. He's committed himself to a game of patience, he knows. Entered himself in a match of cat-and-mouse that he knows he's absurdly ill-equipped for.
But if Blake thinks she's the only determined one between the two of them, she's wrong.
Sun's not good at being patient, but he hasn't given up on a cause yet.
So he turns around and lets the darkness swallow him. He'll try again tomorrow.
"Bow?" the man asks, scratching his chin. "Not sure about that, lad."
Sun feels his mouth pull down with displeasure, but tries to hide it. "Oh, well, thanks anyway," he says, offering the shopkeeper an amiable wave.
The older man considers him closely. "You're on that Haven team, aren't you?" he asks. "The one with that great big swordsman, and the lad with the red hair?"
Sun's stomach rolls at the mention of his team—god they're going to kill him when he finally sees them again—and offers a slightly forced smile.
"Sure am," he replies, because he'll never not be proud to be a member of Team SSSN. Even when he's removed himself from said team.
The man raises his eyebrows. "A bit far from home then, wouldn't you say?" he asks. "Vale ain't a tourist destination anymore. You should leave, and quickly."
"I will once I find her," Sun explains. "But uh, thanks for your concern." He offers the shopkeep a nod before he turns to leave.
"Maybe she doesn't want to be found, lad," the old man calls after him, and Sun forces himself not to react to the words. "Not many do, these days."
It takes all of his willpower not to slam the door to the shop closed.
Sun ducks a wild swing of the girl's sword.
She's unskilled and he pities her for it. He wonders how many White Fang members are like this—down on their luck kids with nowhere else to go. He takes her out with a solid strike of his staff to her ankles, and she cries out as she collapses before him. Her eyes are covered by her mask, but Sun knows her expression isn't anything he wants to see.
"I warned you," he reminds her lowly, kicking her weapon well out of reach and towering over her prone form. He narrows his eyes. "Now, where's your hideout?"
He's been scouring the city for weeks. He knows the White Fang has to have set up shop somewhere in Vale—he crosses paths with their members too many times for there to not be.
She sneers up at him. "I'll never betray them!" she shouts. Her bravado is belied by the way her voice shakes, and Sun sighs, raking a hand through his hair. He feels miserable.
"Look, the only one's who have betrayed anything is the White Fang," he tells her. He flicks his tail around so she can get a good look at it. "We're all Faunus. You guys are just taking things too far."
She swallows hard, and he can see her body trembles slightly in the moonlight. He honestly wants nothing more than to gather her up in a hug and tell her it's going to be okay and take her away from whatever cruel life she's been living, but he knows that's just not the way of things.
"You can't save everyone, Sun," Sage's voice echoes in his mind, low and steady and unshakably true. "You have to do what you can with what you have."
"Please," Sun says quietly, a whisper of a plea in his words. "Please, just tell me where it is. I'm just trying to find her, and that's the best way point I can get."
But she stubbornly shakes her head. "They're my family," her voice trembles and Sun wants to punch a wall. "You can't make me betray my family."
Somewhere in the distance, and Beowolf's howl pierces the night, and Sun heaves a heavy sigh.
"You're right," he says wearily. He folds up his staff, tucking it away once more. "Just stay out trouble. Try to keep your hands clean, kid." He turns to leave, before she calls out to him.
He regards her over his shoulder, lifting an eyebrow.
"I hope you find her," she whispers.
He wonders how many hideaways she has like this.
He steps lightly into the abandoned building, one hand on his staff as he glances around. It's dirty and damp and utterly dilapidated, but the small nest of threadbare blankets and the unmistakable Blake-shaped depression in them makes his heart soar.
She's been here. Recently.
He knows she won't come back—she's too smart, he's too unlucky—so he takes his time perusing the place. It's an old bookstore, he realizes, and smiles softly at the broken shelves that line the shop. He notices a small stack beside her makeshift bed, and stoops to inspect them.
They're all fairytales, he realizes, thumbing through them. He frowns when he discovers all the pages that have been dog-eared ("More like cat-eared! Ha!" he can hear Scarlet's voice clear as day) pertain to the legend of the Four Maidens.
His eyes skim over the familiar tale, wondering—not for the first time—what she knows that he doesn't. He sets the book aside, reaching for a second. He freezes when he reads the title, Little Red Riding Hood, and his hands hover over the storybook.
A thousand implications swirl in his mind, but he just sighs, setting his jaw unhappily.
Looks like he isn't the only one who misses his team.
He spends the night there, reading the legend of the Maidens over and over again until he runs out of candles but it doesn't really matter because he has it memorized it at that point.
What is so special about that story?
He falls asleep in her worn blankets, dreaming fitfully of Beowolves and red cloaks.
"Where're your friends, boy?"
Sun pulls a face at the question, turning to see it's posed by an older woman in uniform who cocks an inquisitive brow at him.
"I'm sorry?" he says. "I don't know what you're talking about." He's tired and in no mood to entertain, and tries to keep walking away, but the woman speaks again.
"Oh, yes you do," she insists, and there's a bite of authority to her voice that commands his attention. "You and the rest of your little band of bravos. The ones who helped us clear out the city during the first wave of the Grimm attack a few months back."
Sun blinks a few times, thinking it over.
"Where do you think you're going boys? Leave the Grimm clearing to the other Hunters, our priority is safety. Evacuate all the civilians!"
He turns around slowly, eyes wide in disbelief.
"You're that officer," he whispers faintly.
She just gives a little hmph, crossing her arms and surveying him critically. "How good of you to remember," she tells him, and her voice still smarts, but there's a soft undercurrent to it that coaxes a small smile from him. "So I'll ask you again, boy: where are your friends?"
The smile vanishes, and he looks away.
"Not here," he answers lamely.
"I gathered as much," she tells him tartly. "They didn't make me detective for nothing you know."
He chuckles quietly, but won't raise his gaze. He hadn't thought of the boys in a while, and now guilt's gnawing at his gut.
She draws closer, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"What's going on, boy?" she asks, and this time her tone is full of concern. He glances up to see her studying him closely. "Did…did something—?"
He shakes his head quickly. "No, no, it's nothing like that," he hastens to explain. "They're all completely fine—" he hopes desperately he isn't lying "—I'm just…here. And they're not."
The officer eyes him sagely. "I've heard about a Faunus boy who is hell-bent on finding a girl," she says slowly, rubbing her jaw in thought. "Am I correct in guessing that's you?"
He shrugs. "Probably," he admits.
She lifts an eyebrow, but doesn't push it. "Not that it's any of my business," she tells him archly. "But I've always found you get better results when you work with people."
He stuffs his hands in his pockets. "Yeah," he mutters.
She sighs, and he looks up to see her gesturing for him to follow. "Come on, boy," she orders. "At least let me clean you up a little bit. It's hard to play the independent hero when you look like you crawled out of the garbage."
He cracks a smile at her crass but caring words, and follows her to the police station.
He hears her ragged breathing, and it's killing him to stay still.
She's just around the corner—no tricks, he heard her clear as day as she talked down the White Fang members who had cornered her—but he keeps himself well in check. This may be the only time he gets the drop on her. He can't afford to mess this up.
He listens carefully as her breathing gradually evens out—he'd been dying to throw himself into the fray beside her, but he knew that would have resulted in her instant departure. So he waits—Sage would be at least mildly impressed at how well he's keeping it together—wondering when he should show himself.
She utters a curse, and something akin to pride flares up in his chest as he realizes it's a filthy Vacuo swear that he favored and had, on occasion, dropped in her presence.
But in the next moment the curse turns into a hiss of pain, and he realizes she's wounded—no telling how badly, he'd only stumbled upon the tail end of her scuffle—and he's run out of reasons to stay still.
She moves a half-second after he does. He can hear her sharp gasp of surprise as his shoes scuff the ground and there's quick rustling and in the time it takes him to turn the corner, she's gone. Leaving nothing but a small splattering of blood in her wake.
He stares down at it, a frown etched onto his features, and echoes the oath in a rough voice.
It's an absolute date with disaster, but he can't resist roaming Beacon's grounds.
He's fast and quiet and the Grimm pay him no mind as scampers about the ruined campus. He'd been enamored with Beacon the moment he stepped foot within its grounds, charmed by the students and the general feel the place gave off. Haven is inarguably where he belongs, but he quickly discovered he has a soft spot for the Vale school as well.
He eyes the frozen Dragon atop the spire with distaste. He has no idea what went down on the top floor of the school, but he's heard rumors about a silver-eyed warrior.
He darts into a ragged hole in the school's wall, making his way down the abandoned corridor. He guesses this must have been part of the dormitories, as he glances into one of the rooms and finds a relatively intact four-man room.
His eyes pass over a large map of Remnant, and little figurines that line a shelf. He finds himself charmed with the small room, and wishes the place wasn't crawling with Grimm as he glances at the bed that's just begging to be slept in.
He's about to step inside and see if there's anything worth taking a closer look at, when he hears the the distinct sound of a footfall, and whips his staff out, eyes scanning the darkened corridor.
Silence greets him, and he grits his teeth, edging farther down the hall, holding his staff in a white-knuckle grip, straining to pick up any telltale signs of movement.
Grimm have no sense of stealth. Whoever is here with him is another Hunter.
It's long shot—the most desperate of chances—but he calls out softly: "Blake?"
No response. Sun grits his teeth, swinging his weapon around and preparing to fight his way out of Beacon's ruins, when a woman steps into his line of sight.
She's slim and elegant and looks like she doesn't remember what a good night's sleep feels like. Her glasses are cracked and her clothes are torn, but she stands straight and proud at the end of the corridor, chin lifted as she surveys him imperiously.
"Sun Wukong," Goodwitch remarks archly. "I should have known."
Sun's eyes go wide as his staff falls slack at his side.
"Professor…" he trails off as she approaches him. He notices with a jolt she's heavily favoring her left leg. "What happened?"
She narrows her eyes at him. "What in the world are you doing here?" she demands, and the hard ring of authority in her voice makes Sun feel like he's being reprimanded for sneaking into the kitchens at night instead of ghosting around the ruins of a once-great school.
"Um," he replies, caught off guard. "Looking for Blake?" He feels ridiculously guilty under her gaze.
She scoffs at this, crossing her arms tightly across her chest. Sun eyes the riding crop she grips in her fist.
"You are chasing a phantom, I'm afraid," Goodwitch tells him curtly. "Miss Belladonna has made her choice. It is time you returned home." Her gaze grows sharper. "Where is the rest of your team?" She leans around him, like she's expecting to see Neptune, Scarlet, and Sage standing sheepishly in his wake.
"They're in Mistral," he explains. He feels his shoulders drop but is too tired to do anything about it. "It's…it's just me."
Her features soften with what he can only call pity, and when she speaks again, there's none of the sharpness it had previously held.
"Go home, Sun," she tells him quietly. "What you are doing is noble, but I'm afraid you are wasting your time." She sighs, looking askance at the ruined hallway they stand in. "I studied Belladonna's files extensively before accepting her, and I've watched her in combat many times. You will not catch her unless she wants to be caught."
She gives him a small, sad, smile, but he scowls back.
"With all due respect, Professor," he says, a hot edge of anger in his voice. "You're wrong."
She studies him, arching a thin eyebrow. "You think you can catch her?" she asks, and her dour, drown-out tone drips doubt.
He frowns. "No. I mean, I don't know if I can catch her. I'll get back to you on that. But it's not noble. I'm not…there's nothing noble about any of this," he waves a hand at the destruction around them. "I'm not chasing after Blake because it's the right thing to do—it's probably not." He thinks of his team—of how he hadn't even been able to tell them goodbye to their faces—and his stomach rolls at the wrongness of it. "I'm here because I know if I was anywhere else doing anything else, all I'd be thinking about is what I'm doing right now."
Goodwitch studies him, unbothered by the—in his opinion—rather rousing speech.
"Well," she remarks after a moment. "You've been here this long, clearly I'm not going to convince you otherwise." She points her riding crop down the hallway behind him, gesturing towards the exit. "As much as I'd like to keep you where I can ensure your safety, I can see you aren't got to be swayed. I have no leads on Miss Belladonna, but you have my word that I will keep an eye out for her." Her expression turns sharp. "On the grounds that you give me your word that you will keep yourself safe."
He nods, oddly touched by her concern. "'Course," he replies, trying for a lighter tone as he offers her a two-fingered salute. He takes in her battered state with a frown. "You, uh, you take care of yourself too." He doesn't want to think about what could do so much damage to a Huntress of Goodwitch's caliber, but he hopes he doesn't cross paths with it.
She offers him a wan smile. "I'll do my best, Mr. Wukong," she tells him, and the astringent edge to her words haunts him for days after.
Sun doesn't think. He runs.
The man hears him coming—of course he does, he's not being subtle—and blocks Sun's strike with a lazy lift of his rifle.
"Well, well," the man drawls, turning to face Sun properly. His garnet hair gives off a dull sheen in the twilight. "Sun Wukong. What an absolute pleasure."
Sun grits his teeth, knowing he's being reckless but unwilling to heel to his rationale as he snaps his staff in half and lashes out with Jingu Bang. The man smoothly sidesteps the attack, and counters with an upward slice that Sun barely dodges.
"A poor showing," the man remarks. "I'd honestly expected better from you." Adam Taurus gives a foul smile, and Sun leers back at him, preparing to lunge again.
The high, keening screech of steel against steel echoes in the back alley as the men trade blows. Sun—already worse for wear from his time on the streets and running on pure adrenaline—falters again and again, but each time he rallies with a rush of determination, unwilling to let himself be bested.
"You've got a strong spirit," Adam observes as they circle each other, Sun's chest heaving with the effort to breathe. "No wonder she's so fond of you."
Sun's eyes catch fire at the mention of she, and he's about to swing again when—
"Adam!" Blake's shriek pierces the night, and Sun immediately snaps his head up, searching wildly for the source.
Adam's lips twist into a cruel smirk below his mask, as takes advantage of Sun's distraction to swipe out with his chokutō in a backhanded swing that catches his opponent across the jaw.
Sun swears viciously, rearing away as his vision swims with pain. He manages to keep a hold on Jingu Bang, but Ruyi Bang goes clattering away as he claps a hand to his face. He barely has time to even think about a retaliation when Adam follows up with a sharp stab at his knees.
The team leader immediately buckles, going down hard, curses pouring out of him as he clutches at his knee.
Adam stands over him, and Sun reaches blindly for one of his weapons—it can't end, not like this, not in a back alley of Vale without his team it can't—but Adam just kicks him solidly in the stomach, crushing the wind from him. Sun rolls over with a gasp, wincing with pain, and the White Fang leader just chuckles darkly.
"Don't worry, we'll meet again," he promises lowly, watching as Sun tries to stand. He kicks the arm braced beneath the struggling boy out from under him, and the blond Faunus collapses in a heap. "For now, I think I hear my love calling me."
Sun can only lay there, battered and broken and seething with rage.
They will meet again, he vows to himself. And it will go very differently.
Sun swears the crow is following him.
At first, he'd paid no mind to it. It isn't a Nevermore, so he can't say he's inclined to care. But when he'd encountered the bird for the fifth day in a row, he's wondering if he's going insane or is so filthy from his weeks on the street that he's attracting the local wildlife.
He knows it's the same bird, too. He's got a keen eye, and a knack for seeing past pretenses. There's something decidedly human about the crow, but he can't quite place it, and the creature is never around long enough for him to decide what it is.
So he ignores it—because he honestly can't be bothered—but he can't help but notice how the bird always seems to know the safest places to crash for the night, or how it will caw and flap and scratch until Sun changes his direction—only to discover the road he'd been trying to take would have lead him straight into a nest of Grimm.
"If you can understand me," Sun tells it one day, because the choices he's made in this life have led him to the point where he is speaking to a bird. "And I know you can, look after her. She's in worse shape than I am, alright?"
The crow caws in a way that makes Sun feel like he's being mocked, but before he can think anymore about it, its spread its inky-black wings and taken to the skies.
He sighs, looking away, idly wondering who's truly in worse shape.
"Are you a Hunter?"
Sun glances down, drawn out of his thoughts at the squeaky voice. He finds it belongs to a young girl holding the hand of a very weary-looking father.
He feels something tug at his heart as he squats down to her level. "Sure am," he tells her, flashing a cocky grin that provokes a round of giggles from the girl. "Name's Sun Wukong, what's yours?"
"I'm Annette," she tells him, smiling shyly. "Nice to meet you."
"Same to you," he replies. He tilts his head, realizing she's holding something very tightly with her free hand. "What'dya got there?"
"Oh!" her face lights up as she uncurls her fingers. Sun sees it's a slightly tarnished, but elegantly carved emerald brooch. "This is my mom's. We're asking people if they remember seeing anyone wearing it."
Uneasiness creeps into Sun's mind, and he steals a glance at the father's drawn and haggard face.
"Yeah?" he asks looking back at Annette.
She bobs her head. "Yeah," she agrees, staring resolutely at the brooch. "We haven't found her yet, but I know we will." She gasps suddenly, looking up at Sun with wide eyes. "Will you look for her too, Mister Wukong? She looks a lot like me, 'cept taller and prettier, and she wears a bright red coat."
Sun nods, finding it difficult to swallow as he looks again to the father. He doesn't like the vacant expression he finds there.
"'Course I will, kiddo," he promises, reaching out to fold her hands back over the brooch. He drops his voice into a conspiring whisper. "I'm looking for someone too. What'dya say we both find them, and then meet up again sometime?"
She beams at him. "I'd like that very much," she tells him brightly. He smiles back at her, before the roar of an Ursa tears through the chilly afternoon, and Sun's face darkens as pedestrians already start running from Vale's town square. Annette gasps as her father suddenly tugs her away, and Sun withdraws his staff, spinning it around as he scans the streets for the source of the cry.
"Be careful, Mister Wukong!" Annette calls after him as she's pulled away by her father.
Sun spares her a backwards glance.
"You too, kiddo," he murmurs.
Rooftops, Sun decides, are very lonely places.
He paces the length of the one he's currently standing on, scanning the streets below him. He's never been one to shy away from heights—he'd be willing to call higher ground familiar territory—but it's hard to not feel the sharp sting of solitude as he stands above the city, watching what few pedestrians brave the Vale night to scurry about the darkened streets.
He wonders if she feels the bite of isolation as well. He knows she prefers the darkness—she wears the shadows like a cloak and crowns herself with the gloom. But Sun prefers the light and the warmth it brings with it.
It's a matter of their upbringing, he assumes. He was born beneath Vacuo's scorching sun, she was raised under the cover of night by the White Fang. It is—like many things about Blake—nothing he can really blame her for. It's just the way of things.
He thinks back to the warm summer days before the Vytal Festival. When they had given both their teams the slip—well, he'd given his team the slip and then all but kidnapped her from hers—and spent the day basking in the heat of the day as they'd perused Vale's various shops and stands.
It's one of his fondest memories—he thinks especially of the moment when he'd made an off-handed comment about most of Vacuo's local legends never seem to make it into books of Remnant's fairytales, and her golden eyes had gleamed with interest as she'd requested he tell them all to her.
A boy with eyes like a rainy day who lived in the sun, and the girl with eyes as bright as fire who sequestered herself in shadows.
"There is so much irony here I could write a poem," Neptune had remarked when the team had been discussing it one day.
Even Sun—who put little stock in fate and even less in any sort of soul mate nonsense—had to admit they fit together pretty well.
A smile plays at his lips, before he catches sight of a figure darting through the shadows below, his eyes narrow in on her familiar gait before he's leaping down after her to give chase.
"Fifty lien," the portly man demands, and Sun grimaces.
He left Vacuo to escape the swindlers and backstabbers, but it seems Vale has fallen to similar lows as he barters for information.
"I don't have that kind of money," Sun snaps, growing irritated. "And honestly, I trust my instincts more than anything that comes out of your mouth." He turns to leave.
"She's got eyes like the sun, doesn't she?" the man murmurs, a whisper of triumphant malice in his words. Sun stills immediately.
"Pale skin—like she was crafted from moonlight. Hair as dark as the night sky." Sun hears the ugly smirk in the man's voice—he knows he's being played—but lingers still, eyes growing wide and sightless.
"Her blade is like a nightmare. What did she call it?" Sun doesn't trust himself to breathe as the man pretends to ponder his own question. "Gambol Shroud, I believe?"
Leave. Leave now. He doesn't know anything more than you do and you're being a sentimental idiot his rational, sensible, street-hardened side orders him.
"She looked a little worse for wear, I don't mind saying," the man adds, and panic lances through Sun. "Had the nastiest cut on her face. She was saying something about the White Fang…"
Hating himself just a little bit, Sun turns and throws down the demanded money, fixing the man with a fierce look of expectation.
"How long ago did you see her?" he asks roughly.
The man's thick lips curl into a smile nothing short of serpentine.
Sun hates rain.
He stands moodily under an overhang, scowling up at the sky. He doesn't care how ironic it is—he loves the sun. He revels in it, drawing some sort of inner strength from its warmth. Neptune teases him mercilessly about it.
He huffs out a breath, idly hoping she's found some sort of shelter. He knows she's not fond of it either—he remembers Scarlet making a crack about cats hating water and receiving a golden glare just short of a slap for his trouble.
This wintry mix of rain and snow and sleet hammers the overhang, and he grits his teeth. He wonders if she's similarly hung up—unwilling to leave whatever refuge she's sought.
It's an impasse, he muses—a stalemate. Neither of them are likely to venture out in this weather. He can picture her scowling sullenly at the precipitation—that flat glare that amuses him endlessly—before burrowing back under whatever kinds of blankets she's managed to procure and flipping through her books as she waits for the storm to pass.
"Till tomorrow, then," he says quietly, smiling slightly to himself. No one will make any progress today. He ducks back inside, accepting the deadlock.
"I'm sorry, kid. If I knew you were looking for her I would have held her up."
Sun just gives a brittle laugh, dully cheered at the barkeep's genuine apology.
"Don't worry about it," he mutters, settling himself down at a stool and offering him a crooked grin. "I'm kinda used to it at this point."
The barkeep arches an eyebrow. "You're pretty determined, huh?" he remarks. "Must be pretty crazy about this girl."
Sun snorts through his fingers as he drags his hands down his face. He'd torn his way through Vale to get here when he'd caught wind of her presence but had found himself—predictably—three steps behind her.
"It's not like that," he explains tiredly, turning to leave. He pauses when the barkeep places a tall glass of water before him.
"You look like hell, kid," the barkeep tells him, nodding to the drink. "Honestly."
Pulling a face at his crass description, Sun mutters a suspicious thank-you as he eyes the glass of water. His instincts are screaming at him to chug it—he's been drinking lake water for the better part of he last three weeks—but his rationale stays him.
"It's not poisoned," the bartend calls to him, and Sun looks up to see he's got his back turned as he replaces glasses to the shelf. "I have no desire to have a Faunus drop dead at my bar," he turns around, flashing Sun a cocky smile that reminds him painfully of Neptune's cocksure smirk. "Might be bad for business."
Sun snorts at this—as if Vale's status as a literal disaster isn't enough to deter business—and reaches for the glass.
"So if you don't love her, what's the deal?" he asks, watching as Sun takes a long drink from the glass. "She owe you lien or something?"
Sun shakes his head, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Trust me, there's no amount of lien in the world worth this," he says seriously, and the barkeep chuckles.
"So what is it?" he presses, and Sun sighs.
"I don't know," he answers honestly. "I just…have you ever felt drawn to someone?"
The bartend shrugs as he refills Sun's glass.
"Not really, but I've never been the romantic kind, so enlighten me," he replies.
Sun frowns. "It's not romantic. It's just—" he huffs a sigh, trying to order his thoughts. Trying to defend his actions. "I know she doesn't need me, and I don't need her." He shrugs, swallowing another gulp of water. "It's just something I want. I want to be there when she's trying to take on the world or whatever the hell she's trying to do." He drags a hand through his hair, looking away.
"I move a lot. Like, all the time," he explains, idly wondering if there was something in his drink or if he's just this desperate to explain his rationale to someone. "Mom says I've got wanderer's bones."
The bartend arches a sly eyebrow. "The love 'em and leave 'em type?" he inquires, and Sun flings him a flat look.
"No," he answers firmly. "Just…I've never felt like anywhere's home for me…but when we would hang out—even for a little bit—it was like…that was where I was supposed to be." He looks up to see if the barkeep is going to laugh at him, but the older man is surprisingly sober.
"She's home," the bartend murmurs. "You're not chasing a girl. You're trying to get home."
Sun shrugs, cheeks coloring a little at the implications of the bartender's words. "I mean, I guess," he mumbles. "It's not like it matters. I don't think she really cares, so…" he trails off, downing the rest of his drink.
When he sets his glass down, he frowns at the piece of paper the barkeep has placed in front of him.
"Don't be so sure, kid," he says quietly. He taps the paper. "I knew she was short on lien, so I offered to take this as payment." He smirks as Sun's eyes go wide. "She's quite the artist. Especially now that I can compare the real thing."
Sun stares down at the paper. It's a sketch. Of him. He traces the strong jaw she's penciled in, and the smile lines that crinkle the edges of his eyes. A cocky smirk twists the sketch's lips, and he swallows at the amount of detail she'd put into his necklace.
Below the image, a handful of titles are scrawled and the hastily scratched out. He reads them all, and his stomach bottoms out.
And, at the very bottom, simply Sun.
"Keep it," the bartend tells him. "And keep your chin up, kid."
Sun wakes with a jolt.
He jerks himself upright, reaching blindly for his staff, when he feels cool hands on his face. Panic rips through his mind and he's about to rear away and throw a punch when a soft voice whispers, "Sun."
His heart cuts all ties with his chest and leaps into his throat as he finds a pair of golden eyes in the darkness.
"Blake," he chokes out, hardly daring to say the name aloud. Like his verbal admission of her presence would make her disappear.
But she just stares back at him, forehead creased with worry as her fingers skate over an ugly blue-black bruise blossoming across his jaw. He drinks in her presence, realizing why his descriptions of her haven't been getting him anywhere.
Her hair is cropped short. He can tell by the way it hangs longer on one side than the other that she probably did it herself, most likely with her own blade. She's removed her bow, and her dark ears twitch atop her head, no doubt listening for danger.
Her pale skin looks almost luminescent in the darkness, and he frowns at the cuts and bruises that litter her arms and torso, both bare in the cropped, sleeveless, turtleneck she wears. She shifts—he grabs her hand as his eyes snap to hers in panic—and she shushes him gently as she settles onto her knees beside him. A flash of white catches his eye, and he notices she bears her own personal emblem on a band tied around her thigh.
"You cut your hair," he blurts out, because he really can't get over it. He reaches out to catch a few dark locks between his fingers, and she chuckles softly beside him.
"I did," she answers. He drops his hand, openly staring at her.
"I looked everywhere for you," he tells her softly. He's not bitter and he's not angry. He just sits there, feeling like he's seeing the sun for the first time in his life. He's in honest disbelief that she's here and she's real.
Her face falls a little, and guilt washes over her features. "I know," she whispers. She won't look him in the eye. "Sun, I'm so sorry, I never wanted to cause you all this trouble—I was hoping you'd go back to Mistral and—" she breaks off, gritting her teeth and looking away. He frowns as she wrenches her eyes shut. "I had a whole thing planned," she mutters. "Just…just give me a second."
"You wanted me to give up?" he asks. It's not like he couldn't reason that out himself, but it still stings.
She heaves a sigh, sitting back on her heels and looking miserably at the floor.
"I didn't want you to get hurt," she defends herself quietly. "Sun, the last person who tried to fight for me—"
"No one's trying to fight your battles, Blake," he interrupts. "Is that why you think I'm here? Because I don't think you're capable?" He frowns at her while she blinks in confusion.
"I…I mean," she tries, but the words are spilling out of his mouth now and he has no way of stopping them.
"Blake, I'm here because I want to be. I don't know everything about the White Fang—honestly, I don't know everything about you—but I just have this feeling this—this physical feeling that I'm supposed to be here. Not because you need saving, not even because you need help."
He sighs, raking a hand through his hair as he notices her eyes have grown wide with surprise. Embarrassment colors his cheek as he realizes how impassioned he's gotten. "I just don't want to be alone. And I don't think you do either." He looks up at her, tracing her pale features in the moonlight. "So…so maybe we can be not alone together?"
She lifts her head, and their gazes catch—his thundercloud gaze clashing against her sunburst glance—and she smiles.
"I'd like that very much," she tells him softly, and his answering grin is blinding.
"Well…perfect, then," he says. He knows it's not perfect—they both have months of behavior to answer for, weeks of cold and hunger and pain to reflect on—but that can wait because she's here and she's not going anywhere.
She pulls Gambol Shroud off her back as their gentle chatter fills the old café he'd been camping out of. She tells him about her quest to find Adam and the head of the White Fang, but had been mostly unsuccessful. She recounts that dreadful day of Beacon's fall, and he gives her hand a comforting squeeze when she confess how she'd run from Yang.
"She probably hates me," the dark-haired girl whispers.
Sun doesn't contradict her—he didn't spend the better part of the last two months seeking Blake out just to lie to her face—so he just holds her hand a little tighter.
"Maybe right now," he allows. "But you can still fix this. You guys are partners. You'll find your way back to each other."
She gifts him with a gracious smile before snapping her weapon into its pistol form and tucking it into the waistband of her pants.
"You want me to keep watch?" he asks, watching as she stretches out on the ground beside him. She's close—after all the time he's spent chasing her, just having her within his sights seems close—and he watches as she lays on her side, facing him in the moonlight.
"Not really," she says quietly, still holding his hand. "I'm just really, really tired."
He nods. "Me too," he replies. He props his staff back up against the wall beside him and tries to wiggle his way back into a comfortable position.
"Sun?" she whispers to him after a moment of silence stretches by. He feels her trace symbols on the back of his hand.
"Yeah?" he prompts, staring up at the ceiling, wondering what she feels like she has to say tonight that can't wait until morning.
His lips tilt up in a smile. Their calloused fingers knit together, and he lets his eyes fall shut.
"Anytime," he answers quietly.
He'd do it again—and again and again and again. They're so young and the world is so big, but here—in a dark, destroyed café in the heart of a broken city with a girl whose seen more tragedies than most see in their entire lifetime at his side—it's here, that Sun Wukong finally feels at peace.
I think, like I really honestly think, that this is my best work.
I hope you guys like it as much as I do.
A series of one-shots depicting Sun's attempts to meet up with Blake after the Volume 3 fallout.
Blake's appearance is based off of this gorgeous sketch by azumane-asagohan and the scene with the police officer is based off of this comic by erinye
Hope you guys enjoyed!