"Look, there he is! Right there!"
"Yes, we see him too, Rubes." Yang rolled her eyes at her team leader's enthusiasm, staring out the window herself to catch sight of their final teammate, standing tall beside Professor Goodwitch. It had been a week since they had seen the blond, their studies bogging them down more than any of them thought.
"As well," Weiss corrected, which only made the blonde groan. When he had first been moved from Beacon proper, the seven of them had taken to visiting him every single day. Their grades had started to suffer however, with each visit eating up most of their days and evenings and thus they had been restricted to visit the boy only during their days off.
None of them had been happy about it of course, they had complained and complained until Glynda had threatened several detentions. They were still belligerent but eventually Jaune had called them himself and said that he would be okay. They had reluctantly let it go at his request.
"He looks happy." She had to agree with Pyrrha; she hadn't see Jaune look this relaxed or carefree for a long time.
The plane landed and Ruby was the first one out, making liberal use of her semblance to launch herself at Jaune, wrapping herself around him as she circled his body and climbed onto his back. Her arms wrapped around his chest as she hugged him tightly, her cheek digging into the crux of his neck.
"Jaune! Hi." Since what they commonly referred to as 'The Hug', their team had become affectionately close to each other, and most of that went into enunciating their suspended teammate with positive physical contact. It went without saying that Ruby was the most enthusiastic about it, almost always draping herself over him whenever they went to visit him in Vale.
And she couldn't even tease the girl about it since everyone on the team went out of their way to be close to the blond, even Weiss. Yang didn't want to think what it would've been like if they hadn't learned about his tragic past; the thought of it made her sad and angry.
"Are you ready for a hopefully exciting class?" Ren asked. Beside him, Nora certain looked ready. Yang already knew they would lose a jar or two to the orange-haired girl's stomach.
"We're supposed to collect sap or something?" Jaune didn't seem too bothered by the task, boring as it sounded. Yang watched his reaction carefully. Around him, the team began to surround the boy as surreptitiously as possible. They had already noticed the whispers from their other classmates regarding his presence, and guarding him was something they had actively discussed beforehand when they were told he would be coming for the project.
"Some delicious sap," Nora corrected, licking her lips at the prospect. Weiss palmed her face.
"I've never been in a red forest before." Jaune looked around at his surroundings as Glynda walked around to gather the rest of their errant classmates, some of which who had already wandered off a bit. Blake touched her shoulder lightly, nodding towards a bruise on Jaune's neck as he looked away from them to inspect a tree.
Again, another injury. It went unspoken that nobody would ask him about it. The first time they had tried, the blond had clammed up and ignored the question. It was one thing to know that he didn't seem to know how to lie convincingly, but an entirely different thing to think of a way to force Jaune to tell them something. Yang hated that she had to walk on eggshells around someone she cared about, but even Glynda seemed to avoid the topic.
"It's a nice color." Her dark-haired partner sidled up to him, "Just like Pyrrha's hair. What do you think, Jaune?"
"Well, Pyrrha's hair is a better color." Yang hid her grin when a small blush dusted Pyrrha's cheeks as Blake cajoled Jaune into teasing her, not that he understood what she had done.
"Gather around, class." Glynda had returned with their chastised-looking classmates, "As we've gone over before, we will be gathering red sap for your assignment today. You will be doing so in your regular teams of course, but take care not to stray too far. There are Grimm in this forest. We will be departing in two hours; be sure to finish within that time."
Blake dragged Jaune away as Yang walked up to Pyrrha, wrapping a hand around her waist and pulling her in. Pyrrha jerked, startled.
She nodded at the redheaded girl, looking ahead to where Blake had dragged the male leader of their team. As Weiss joined Ren to help him control Nora's appetite, Ruby joined the two of them, curious as to what they were doing.
"Is this about his bruises?" Yang nodded in answer to her sister's question, sighing.
"He won't open up about it to us," she said to the two, "But that could be because we've tried to force it out of him as a group. Let Blake give it a shot, one on one."
"I'm worried he's getting into fights." Pyrrha rubbed her arm as she began walking forward to start on the assignment, breaking apart from Yang's grip. She grabbed one of the faucets provided to their team and absentmindedly looked for a tree to extract the sap from.
"He's almost definitely getting into fights." There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Injuries like that didn't show up out of nowhere. When they had visited him at his apartment and saw his black eye a few weeks ago, they naturally had freaked out. The fact that he had been hit hard enough to get such an injury whilst having aura was a cause for concern, and that there was a new one every time they saw him only made them worry more.
"Why didn't you let me talk to him instead?" Pyrrha demanded, speaking in hushed tones as she turned the tap.
"You're too close to him, and vice versa. He'd zip up 'cause you'd be disappointed." When Pyrrha turned to her and opened her mouth to object, Yang waved her off, "Oh please, you're already upset just thinking about it. Blake will be subtle, so let her try instead."
"Mama's coming, my sweet! This dastardly ice princess won't keep me away for long!"
"Shouldn't we be upset?" Ruby asked. The girl hurriedly stuck a jar under Pyrrha's forgotten faucet, just barely catching the syrup.
"I'm worried that he's going to get himself in trouble, but considering how relaxed he's been I think whatever fighting club he's gotten himself into is doing good for him." Yang turned her head to watch as Weiss attempted to hold Nora back as Ren extracted syrup from a nearby tree, keeping a wary eye on his partner.
With their imposed restrictions, the team were hardly in a position to keep watch over him. They really had no way of stopping Jaune, and it didn't help that even their Goodwitch and Ozpin seemed to turn a blind eye to it.
"I- I suppose you have a point." Pyrrha took over for Ruby as she replaced their first jar with another, "At the very least, I'd like to know that he'll be safe considering the type of fights he gets into."
"She's breaking free!"
Weiss had lost her battle with the orange-haired berserker; Nora went on to shove Ren out of the way- sending him flying- and stuck her open mouth right underneath the faucet, directly injesting the sweet syrup that came out.
"We all would," Yang assured her soothingly, "So let's give Blake a chance. Now come on, I think the princess needs our help."
"Just stick it in." A line straight out of one of her books, but Blake knew better than to think Jaune would understand the innuendo. The blond followed her instructions dutifully, stabbing the tree with a faucet near the ground and placing a jar underneath it, letting the sap flow in.
"We haven't really had a chance to talk recently." She sat on the ground near the tree, patting the floor next to her, "What have you been up to?"
Jaune sat down beside her and she got a glimpse of the bruise on his neck. It was an ugly welt, a purplish-red that was barely visible from the side of his neck, hidden partially by his long hair and under his clothes.
"Well, I've been working through the workbooks Glynda gave to me." Blake had to avert her eyes from the injury as he looked at her, "It's been going a bit slow, but she helps me every time she visits."
"I'm sorry we haven't been able to come so often any more," Blake apologized a bit morosely, "Ren and I actually got in a bit of trouble trying to sneak out to visit you last week."
It irked her a bit that Professor Goodwitch had caught them so easily; she prided herself for her stealthiness and she could recognize that the only other male on their team was also very light on his feet as well.
"It's okay. Glynda told me that you were falling behind in your classes." He absentmindedly played with the faucet in the tree situated between them, still leaking sap into the jar. "I wouldn't want you to fail because of me."
"Well, I don't believe any of us would've failed, exactly." Apart from Ruby who had two years less of an education, and Nora who tended to procrastinate, the rest of their team were among the top of the class normally. Even with the constant visits draining a lot of their time, it hadn't been enough for any of them to actually fail.
"And you're our teammate, Jaune. More importantly, you're our friend so it was worth it." Jaune smiled shyly and looked at the ground at the comment, avoiding her gaze; Blake felt like hugging him yet again.
"So you can't just be doing those workbooks all day," she said, turning the tap off as their jar was finally full, "Have you made any new friends? Or at least just met someone you can get along with?"
The expression on his face was hesitant at her question, and he licked his lips once.
"Well, there is this girl. She's… well I'd say she's kinda crazy but-"
A scream interrupted their conversation and they both jumped to their feet in a flurry of movement, looking towards the direction of the noise. She caught a glimpse of a member from team CRDL as he ran by, not having spotted them. Blake didn't really remember his name; Cardin was the only one from that team that she had the displeasure of knowing.
Blake was sure they had been attacked by Grimm and looked to where Jaune had been standing to see what he thought, only to find that he had completely disappeared.
"Jaune?" She looked around in a panic and incredulity; despite her senses, she wasn't sure where exactly he had vanished to. Deducing that he most likely had ran to where the other boy was running away from, Blake ran in the same direction.
Hearing a roar of anger, the girl came across a clearing only to catch sight of a clearly exhausted Cardin swinging his weapon at an absolutely massive Ursa. She watched in horror however as the boy's face twisted in pain and his weapon dropped from his grip mid-swing. Blake ran forward but she knew instinctively that she couldn't get to him in time. The monster struck true with it's paw, striking Cardin across the chest, shredding past his armor and gouging his chest.
Cardin flew back as Blake struck at the Ursa in fury, not going to allow the beast to injure him any more. The Ursa had drawn blood from the cocky boy, meaning that he had likely been fighting it until his aura had run out.
She yelled at it to draw it's attention; the monster stood on it's feet, completely towering over her as she stood between it and Cardin. And again, completely hidden from her senses, Jaune appeared on top of the beast, standing on it's shoulders. The Ursa looked up at the boy in what Blake had to assume was surprise.
The blond stabbed his sword into the beast's open mouth, tearing into it's throat with the wide blade as he grinded it into the innards of the beast. It roared in pain and Blake knew that there was absolutely no way it could have survived such an assault.
The beast stumbled in its death throes, swiping it's paws uselessly as it tried to get Jaune off; the girl had to dive out of the way as one was sent her way. When it finally died, still on it's feet, her teammate pulled his weapon out and jumped off, leaving the Grimm to fall.
She jerked when she realized that it would fall on top of Cardin, who was slowly bleeding out on the floor in front of it. Jaune made no move to save him however, so she jumped forward and grabbed Cardin's prone body, quickly pulling it out of the way.
Blake sighed in relief as the threat was finally over, the Grimm slowly beginning it's usual evaporation. She ran an eye over Cardin's wound and knew that he would need medical attention.
"You okay, Blake?"
She looked over to see the long-haired blond gazing at her with concern. She smiled at him reassuringly.
"I'm fine." But as Blake looked back at him, she realized that he didn't spare a single glance at the grievously injured boy on the ground next to her. He hadn't even bothered to think about where he dropped the dead Ursa; it would have fell right on top of Cardin if she hadn't intervened.
She wanted to get angry, to yell at Jaune about being so callous, but she didn't. Instead, she felt a deep sorrow that he didn't care. Jaune wasn't a monster; there was just something fundamentally different, something wrong about in how he thought. It wasn't his fault and it just broke her heart that it was someone she cared about.
She turned her head, watching as the rest of team CRDL returned with reinforcements. She stood up, stepping away from Cardin's body and brushing her dress. .
"Get away from him!"
"Trying to finish the job?"
The team withdrew their weapons, glaring at her as they jumped in front of their team leader. Weiss and Pyrrha ran in behind them, stopping and carefully observing the situation instead of jumping into the middle. Blake was thankful that they kept a level head instead of doing something to ignite the situation She held up her hands to defuse the situation.
"We saved him from the Ursa," she explained, "But he was injured. He needs to get to a hospital."
When they didn't stow their weapons away, Blake glanced behind her to see that Jaune still had his weapon drawn; she realized that they weren't reacting to her, they were reacting to his presence.
She backed up, placing her hand on top of Jaune's and signalling for him to put his weapon away. The blond did so reluctantly, but Blake was relieved that he didn't try to argue the point.
"Jaune didn't hurt your leader; it was the Ursa, and he was the one to kill it." Blake did her best to calm them down, but it didn't work much to her irritation.
"Why is he even back? He should've been expelled!"
"Don't pretend like you're blameless. You provoked all of us and don't forget your stupid display in the cafeteria," she spat back at them, finally losing her temper. Regardless of the fact that Jaune shouldn't have attacked Cardin the way he did, she didn't forget team CRDL's appalling behavior, especially towards their faunus classmates.
"And he reacted like a maniac!" The mohawked boy looked irate, glaring daggers at Jaune. "Cardin can barely fight with that hand any more and the doctors said it might never recover!"
The willingness to argue died immediately at the revelation; Blake hadn't really paid much attention to team CRDL since Jaune had stabbed their leader but she had no idea that Cardin's hand had taken that much damage. And now he was wounded even more grievously; what if the boy could no longer be a Huntsman after today?
She looked to see Jaune's reaction and felt even more tired when she caught sight of him. He looked completely disinterested in the conversation, obviously not caring even the slightest bit.
"That's enough!" Weiss's frigid voice snapped out as she stood up, glaring at everyone. She had kneeling beside Cardin applying first aid while the rest of them were arguing. "He needs an emergency room and you're doing him no favors by airing your grievances right now. Professor Goodwitch should almost be here, so you should prepare to depart."
Her words had destroyed any inclination to fight among the group. Team CRDL finally stowed their weapons away, turning away from her and Jaune. Blake sighed and mentally thanked Weiss before turning to Jaune again.
He smiled at her as if nothing had happened, and her heart twisted again. There was no chance that she or anyone on the team would abandon Jaune considering how attached they were to each other at this point. Teaching him empathy seemed a monumental task however, and Blake wasn't sure where to begin.
She hadn't felt this lost in such a long time.
"So you're the new favorite, huh?"
"What of it?" Jaune took in her appearance carefully. Lisa had said Domina would be his most difficult matchup to date, given her skillset and fighting style. He wasn't entirely sure about his chances of winning.
"Nothing, just curious how a pretty boy like you could be on a winning streak." She was more like a bodybuilder than a Huntress; the muscles on her bare arms rippled as she stood tall in front of him.
"Are you going to be the first to beat me, then?" He watched carefully as she began stretching out her tanned arms and legs in preparation for their fight. "Everyone else said the same."
She just barked out in laughter at his comment.
"Win or lose, I don't care." Domina grinned at him, bending over slightly as the clock began ticking down, "I've seen how you fight and I've been waiting for this. Give me a good one."
Jaune prepared himself as well, his hood up like always. He already had his daggers at the ready; their function had been revealed in his very first match so there was no use in hiding it. Across from him, he noticed that the peach-haired woman had already prepared her semblance for use going by the sudden sharpness of her teeth. The currently black-haired boy witnessed her nails elongate and harden into claws, her hair growing shaggy and furry. Even her eyes looked feral, completing the image of a beast-like woman instead of the human that she was.
As soon as the timer ringed the start of the match, Domina ran at him with her claws leading, her body still hunched. Her muscled legs took great strides, feet pounding the ground with beastly strength as she aimed to tackle him to the floor.
Watching her approach with anticipation, Jaune flicked one of his daggers at her. The blade flew at her face still attached to the chain; it was nothing more than an annoyance however, something she deflected with a quick flick of her clawed hand. Jaune took advantage of the distraction however, leaping forward and flipping over her back. He spun in the air and viciously kicked at the back of her head.
Domina lost her balance for only a short moment as she flinched from the hit, but after skidding to a halt she abruptly turned and lunged at the opponent now within her range.
Adrenaline coursing through his veins, Jaune ducked under her punch and twisted his upper body, slamming his elbow into her stomach. He tried to ignore the pain in his elbow as it hit her hardened body and aimed to slash at her neck with his blade.
The beast-like woman jerked her head back, narrowly dodging the blade and letting it sail past her as she lashed out with her leg.
"Ugh!" Jaune blocked the strike with his arm, wincing in pain as he felt the force of the blow to his arm. He attempted to jump back but Domina gave chase quickly, not letting him put any distance between them.
"Come on Surge!"
Pulling on both of his extended weapons as she caught up to him again, Jaune ducked under her blow again as he circled behind her quickly. The one thing he had noticed about the muscled fighter during Lisa's review was that she had a tendency to aim for the face and the head. With that foresight, it allowed him to dodge more of her attacks so long as she kept trying to maim his face.
The chains from his blades wrapped around her torso and he pulled them taut, tightening them. With great effort, he wrapped a portion of the chains around his arms and pulled on the handles, attempting to wrestle her to the ground while keeping his distance. Domina turned around however and began to pull back.
It was with horror that he realized exactly how much greater physical strength she had than him; he quickly lost the tug of war he had initiated and Domina quickly took advantage of it as she pulled him in.
Jaune lost his balance for a second as he tripped forward, but it was enough time for his opponent to lunge at him and grab him in a bear hug.
"Aaghhh!" He held back his screams as pain coursed through his body; Domina was doing her best to crush him with her body, her arms wrapping around his back. He kicked and punched at her frantically, her hug only letting him do so at odd angles, but the heavier woman wasn't letting go despite the hits she was taking.
Jaune slammed his head into hers, but regretted it as soon as he did; even her skull was tougher than his. He felt her razor-sharp teeth pierce his collar, drawing a gout of blood as she bit off a chunk of his flesh.
"I like marking my men." She chuckled at his agonized howl. Her face and front splattered with his blood, she relaxed her hold and tossed him away. He bounced from the throw, looking up blearily at her once he came to a stop.
He felt fear grip his heart as she made her way across the bloodstained floor toward him. Groaning from the searing pain in his shoulder, Jaune tried to crawl away from the woman but it was to no avail. She bent over and grabbed his ankle, preventing his futile escape.
"I'm disappointed, Surge," she said, as she dragged him across the floor behind her, the wound on his shoulder spilling as she did so, "I expected more from you."
Jaune kicked at her hand with his free leg, freeing himself from whatever she had planned. He pushed away again, putting as much between them as he could. Domina turned around to look at him with an exasperated expression.
"I'm going to bite into that pretty little face of yours." His hood had come off long before, and Jaune was terrified at the taunt; she wasn't like any of the other fighters he had faced previously. This fight reminded him of his time in the Wilds when he was younger, where every monster wanted nothing more than to consume him.
Fighting for his life, for survival. And all he had against that threat was his blood. Domina was just like the Grimm in that regard.
Fury filled his veins, and he felt the connection.
As the hulk lumbered forward once more, Jaune swiped his hand at her. His blood jumped at the command, slicing through the backs of her ankles, piercing through her aura and the hardened flesh from her semblance.
"Aah!" Screaming in both surprise and pain, Domina fell to the ground as her feet were no longer able to support her body. She saw the moving blood behind her and looked at the furious Jaune with fear for the first time.
He raised his hand again, his blood pooling into the crude shape of a spear in front of him, floating in the air. He grit his teeth at the exertion, especially when the flowing blood from his shoulder joined it.
"W-wait…" Domina raised her hand in mercy, knowing that whatever he was doing, her aura would not stop it.
Jaune snarled at her. "I will not be eaten!"
With a motion, the spear launched at her. She threw herself out of it's path as best she could, dodging the blow to her face that would surely have killed her. The spear slammed through the side of her chest, drilling straight through before bursting into liquid as it came out the other side.
Domina writhed on the floor as the puncture burned her in utter agony, bleeding from her mouth as she bit into her tongue. Seeing that he missed, Jaune began to ready another one. The woman barely caught sight of it.
"H-hey wait." The woman put her forehead to the ground in direct submission to him. "I give up. I give up!"
But Jaune paid her words no heed, no longer seeing a tournament or a fight. His second spear began to form and his opponent began to freak out.
"No!" she shrieked, "I already forfeit! Please!"
Before he could finish her off, Jaune felt a nimble hand touch his uninjured shoulder. Looking up, he saw Lisa's hooded face leaning beside him with a worried look on her face.
"It's already over." Lisa's soothing voice relaxed him and he felt himself give in to it; he released his control over his makeshift weapon, letting it splash uselessly onto the ground. "You won."
Jaune slumped into her, his head falling comfortably into her shoulder. She lightly hugged him to her and the last thing he saw was her worried face before everything went dark.
"We should never have allowed this!"
Ozpin didn't react to her rising voice, scrutinizing the video carefully to see if there was anything he might have missed. Glynda wasn't deterred by his silence, determined to vent her frustration.
"Ozpin! He could have died. It was pure luck that he survived. Why did we even allow this in the first place!?" She wasn't capable of keeping the worry from her voice, especially not when it came to Jaune. The normally collected woman was beyond furious; she had been against this from the start.
"Calm your tits, Glyndie." Qrow's sarcastic comment was definitely not appreciated, especially when it was coming through a Scroll instead of his being physically present and within reach of a good beating.
"You can't deny his improvement, Glynda." Ozpin was only half-right however.
"Yes, he's gotten much better at fighting," she replied scathingly, "It's not as if he hasn't been doing that for half his life already."
"And would you rather he be unprepared?" She wanted to be even more furious with the Headmaster's calm reply, but he wasn't entirely wrong with that.
"And what about helping him adapt to society, to be able to live with friends and family normally?" Taking part in an illegal underground fight club with little to no rules in regards to the protection of its fighters hardly constituted a healthy environment for the boy.
"A balance had to be struck," Ozpin replied, "I also want for the boy to be safe and happy, but you know as well as I do that he needs to be primed for what will come."
Glynda sighed unhappily, taking her superior's point. It didn't help that she had to also play around his team's desire to help him as well. They had noticed all the injuries he had sustained during his night-time escapades. She had no doubt that she had come across as negligent at the very least. Glynda only hoped they wouldn't do anything drastic, especially when they would soon get word of his being in the hospital.
"Don't worry about him too much; we've got Lisa there to look after him." Qrow chuckled at the thought, which only made her frown.
"I'm not sure why you recommended her of all people." It was only at Qrow's endorsement that they had contacted her.
"If I didn't trust Ms Lavender, I would not have asked her to watch after Jaune." Ozpin's voice remained unwavering, but Glynda heard the rebuke in it. Lisa was one of their agents, after all.
"I trust Lisa. I just don't quite have faith in her… inclinations." She tried to put it as politely as possible. Lisa Lavender might have been on their side, but she wouldn't put it past the woman to seduce someone as naive as Jaune.
"Don't worry about that. Nothing came of it, though not for a lack of trying on her part."
"What do you mean?" she asked Qrow, danger in her voice.
"You really gotta take things easy, Glynda." Qrow barked in laughter; she hated that the man was able to infuriate her from so far away. "She apparently threw herself at him in her hot tub. No reaction on his part. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"
Glynda's fury paused as she considered Qrow's words. Lisa was an attractive woman with a curvy figure; for a teenaged boy to not have any physiological reaction to her naked body seemed very unlikely.
"Don't think he's gay. Asexual maybe? Either way, given all that we know about him, I'd put my money on the little bit less-than-human category. Or more-than-human if you want it to sound better."
"Did you have any inclination on his abilities when you were training him?" Ozpin asked the wayward man, his fingers crossed as he rested his hands on his desk.
"I guess you could say there were hints." It wasn't hard to imagine that Qrow was thinking back to however he had trained Jaune as he spoke. "I always wondered exactly how he's capable of controlling those Vespers of his. It's not a far leap to say he can physically control his blood."
"It makes it even more imperative that we learn of his origins," Ozpin said, looking lost in thought, "To know if it is a family trait, or whether it might have been something he... picked up along the way."
If something out there made Jaune this way, Glynda didn't want to think of the possible consequences of that. There were already so many enemies out there; adding another mysterious potential foe with such a power would only hurt them in the long run.
"Well, I should be in Mistral soon. I got to Anima a few days ago, so it isn't too far now," Glynda listened as Qrow finished up the conversation on his end. "I'm going to take off. Look, Glynda. I shouldn't have to tell you this, and Lisa is there to help as well, but… take care of the kid, will ya?"
"I will," she promised, and the raven-haired man hung up without preamble. Glynda turned her gaze to Ozpin.
"He won't be participating in that arena any longer." He may have been her boss, but her voice brooked no argument. Ozpin sighed, but nodded.
"It is for the best, I suppose," he said wearily, "We'll have to bring him back to Beacon. With this new ability revealed, we can't afford to attract any unsavory attention to him."
They watched as he got caught, having lost his tug of war battle after underestimating the strength of his opponent. Neo's amused expression didn't change in the slightest as her 'friend' was slowly being crushed by the colossus of a woman.
"I guess he's done for." Roman knew how Domina fought after all, and despite witnessing the boy's undefeated streak of fights in the arena he didn't have high hopes for the student to come out on top for this one.
"Ouch." He winced with Jaune as the barbarian tore a chunk of his shoulder off, gritting his teeth in sympathy. Like most of the fighters that took part in those battles, the woman could be quite vicious. The fact that her opponent was prettier than her probably bugged her on an inner level, not to mention his own rather ruthless match history had most likely only spurned her on.
"Seems like your pal finally got done in." Neo only shrugged at his comment. Despite knowing her for so long, Roman still didn't fully understand the little psychopath. He didn't really think she was attached to the boy, but then he had never really heard of Neo going on a date with people. Still, she didn't show any outward reaction to his eminent loss so Roman figured it didn't truly matter to her.
"He looks terrified." It didn't stop Neo from watching however, her eyes on the screen with rapt attention. When Jaune continued to fight, kicking at Domina's hand and crawling away from her, a satisfied smirk spread on Neo's face.
"You know, she might really eat his face," Roman commented, glancing at Neo, "I don't know if your boy toy is going to be any good to you disfigured."
Roman knew that Neo didn't really have any other aspirations for him; he could only scoff at the thought of the girl falling in love. Most likely, she was interested in how he continued to fight and struggle; she loved prey that fought back.
He blinked when Domina suddenly fell to her knees, her ankles bleeding heavily.
"What just hap-" As a lance began to form out of his blood, Roman shut his mouth and paid close attention to the remainder of the fight with a keen focus. Jaune launched the makeshift weapon at Domina, who dodged as best as she could while on the ground. His eyes widened when it went right through her before bursting.
"That doesn't seem right." Domina's semblance hardened her skin and basically turned her into a part-beast, almost like a faunus. With her aura on top of it, the woman had a formidable defense, her offensive capabilities notwithstanding. He knew of semblances affecting the body, but never of one using one's own blood. Especially one capable of making liquid blades with the ability to pierce through aura, if not skin with the toughness of iron.
He recalled what he knew about the boy. After Neo had mentioned knowing him, Roman of course took the time to look him up. Jaune didn't have any records before Beacon which was probably indicative of his being from a frontier town in the Wilds.
Or a cover story.
Roman mulled it over, and he knew it bore serious investigating. A Beacon student with no accountable history. A student taking part in an illegal fight club outside of school jurisdiction, with a semblance the likes of which he had never seen. A semblance that seemed… fake. Artificial.
"My dear Neo, I do believe I've just made a breakthrough," he said, getting her attention as Domina surrendered the match, "I'm afraid your little friend might be involved in some shady dealings. What do you say we have a serious conversation with him about the perils of treason."
Neo looked at him for a moment before looking back at Jaune. She grinned in excitement. Grabbing the remote, the diminutive woman changed the channel over to a pornographic flick.
When she stuck her hand down the front of her pants, Roman took it as his cue to leave. She didn't like anyone in the room while she was in this sort of mood, and he had plans to make.
Notes: Since I'll be busy with work and other things for the next three days or so, I wanted to get this out as soon as possible. Wrote this whole chapter in the past few days, in fact.
A lot of things happened here (as they do most chapters), but there has been a couple of revelations. From my experience, reviewers for the RWBY section tend to leave very in-depth, detailed, and analyzing review and I absolutely love seeing them. I like that my story might make people want to think and invest a little bit of their time in it, so I'm especially curious to see what you think of this one.
There is one point of contention that I feel I'll have to explain here, however. This is regarding Roman's conclusion of Jaune's 'semblance'.
The use of semblances isn't explicitly stated by RT, the only thing we can assume is that a semblance only appears once a person's aura is unlocked. The ones we've seen in the series are pretty unique but also do sometimes share themes (illusions, speed, cloning, damage absorption, etc...). For this story, I made the decision that a semblance is used when one makes use of their aura. Thus, Jaune controlling his blood, which he can only really make use of if his aura is deactivated (in order to draw blood), is an outlier in terms of a semblance (though we know that it's not a semblance).
That's why Roman comes to the conclusion that Jaune's 'semblance' seems artificial. Combined with the rest of what he knows about Jaune and that he knows of the existence of Simulacrum, his mind jumps to that conclusion. If he didn't have that knowledge, it just would've been a weird semblance and that would be the end of it.
Anyway, I need to prepare for work, so I'll be taking off. I hope to hear from all of you, regarding not just this semblance thing, but all the other things that happened in this chapter (Cardin, the fight, Lisa etc...).