Weiss begins with a cough.

A small cough. Refined. A polite noise that Blake knows is going to lead to some less-than-polite conversation.

She sighs, allowing herself an eye roll. She and Weiss are on good terms—better terms than they've probably ever been on. But nothing will change the fact that their approach to problem solving is just fundamentally different.

And a frequent source of friction.

"Yes?" Blake prompts, cutting a sideways glance at her companion. As if the heiress ever needed encouragement to speak her mind.

Weiss spins on her stool, crossing her legs and facing Blake squarely at the counter. Blake doesn't have to look to know she's got her shoulders back, chin tilted, and nose in the air.

She takes a sip from her tea and fixes her gaze back on the television. If Weiss wants to ruin a perfectly good afternoon by bringing up things Blake doubtlessly doesn't want to talk about, that's her business.

"I want to talk," Weiss begins. Her high-handed Atlesian accent makes Blake's lips twitch in amusement. She wonders if she'll ever tire of Weiss' straightforwardness. For all the finesse she uses in battle, the girl is blunt as a club when it comes to communication.

"I gathered," the Faunus replies, blowing gently on her drink.

"And I know you don't like talking," Weiss goes on, ignoring or perhaps ignorant of Blake's comment. "But I feel like it's important."

"I'm sure you do," Blake answers. There's no malice in her words—it's the honest truth. The heiress is one of the most impassioned people Blake's ever met. Even the most fervent White Fang follower would have a hard time matching Weiss' zeal for something she's deemed important.

Blake catches Wiess' mouth pull down in displeasure and knows her second comment isn't lost. She sighs, setting down her drink and staring down at the table.

"Weiss, I get that you feel strongly about…the team. About partnership, and the loyalty that comes with it." She tries to keep her voice composed, measured. She's too tired for a fight.

Weiss's eyebrows slant down. "Are you saying you don't?" she demands.

Blake finally turns her head to regard the regal girl with a steady look. "Don't put words in my mouth," she cautions lowly. "Listen to what I say, not what you want to hear."

Properly contrite, Weiss sits back a little in her seat, waiting for Blake to go on.

Blake sighs again, watching the teabag float lazily through her drink. "Yang isn't the first partner I've ever had," she explains. "Like I said back in the dorm, I've seen relationships dissolve because of misunderstandings like this. I've done this all before, and I have no desire to do it again."

Weiss nods. "Right. You said all that."

Blake holds in a third sigh. Again with the bluntness.

"Then I guess I don't see what you're still not understanding," Blake admits, looking askance at the heiress again. "In my eyes, history is repeating itself. I'm nervous, but not scared." She reaches for her mug once more. "End of story. End of discussion."

She knows—of course—it won't be, but a girl can dream.

Weiss arches a brow. "On the contrary, I think there's still quite a lot worth talking about."

Blake takes another sip from her mug. She had a feeling Weiss wouldn't be so keen to let it go.

"What do you have in mind?" she asks, partly to stall for time and partly because, well, she's genuinely curious. What is it about this that Weiss is so determined to weasel out of her?

"I want to know who this partner is," Weiss requests.

Blake's lips curl in resentment before she can think to stop herself. "That is not up for discussion!" The words fall from her lips like poison, but Weiss doesn't match the Faunus' anger.

"You're going to have to tell us sooner or later," Weiss points out. "I don't know if you've realized or not, but we're playing the long game. Team RWBY isn't going anywhere. Which means everyone's dirty laundry is going to have to get aired eventually."

Blake tries to reign in her anger, but the superior lilt to Weiss' tone is making that a difficult task.

"It's not dirty laundry," she argues in a hushed tone. Do not cause a scene, she chants silently to herself. Do not cause a scene. "It's nobody's business but my own."

Weiss hums in agreement as she takes a sip of her coffee. "True enough, but you need to tell someone."

Blake studies the girl beside her flatly. She means herself. Of course she does. That kind of colossal arrogance could only come from a Schnee.

"You can't be serious," the Faunus says stiffly.

Weiss crosses her ankles daintily, assessing Blake with a look of cold authority. "I'm clearly the best candidate," she remarks archly.

Blake can't suppress a snort of disbelief. "Really?" she asks. "And how is that?"

"Because there is nothing you can tell me about your past life or associates that can hold a candle to the atrocity of my family," Weiss explains in a clipped voice. "When it comes to a dark past that you'd rather leave well alone, the Schnees have you well and truly beat."

Blake's eyes widen at the heiress' words. There is nothing in her tone but cold honesty—a very take it or leave it truth.

"I…" Blake casts her mind around for an appropriate response. "I didn't except you to say that, honestly."

"I gathered," Weiss returns, and there's just enough dryness in her tone to draw a small frown from Blake. The heiress sighs. "Blake, I'm not looking for a fight, and I'm not trying to overstep myself. I just think it's dangerous to your heath to keep all this bottled up inside of you."

"Why do you care?" Blake argues.

"Why wouldn't I care?" Weiss counters. "Blake, I know we have our differences, but you're still a part of this team. You're instrumental to our success, and we need you at the top of your game."

Blake's mouth twitches with distaste. Of course Weiss would only be concerned with her performance as a fighter.

"I know what it's like to keep things bottled up, Blake," Weiss whispers, her voice so low Blake wonders if anyone other than a Faunus would have heard her. She turns to see the heiress has her fists clenched tightly, her gazed riveted to the counter. "There's no sense in holding it all in—not when there are people so willing to help you."

Wrath surges through Blake. She can't help it.

"When have you ever been willing to help me?" she demands.

Weiss glances up—eyes wide and scandalized—before anger darkens her features.

"Then tell Ruby!" the heiress bursts out. "Or Yang! Or any of them! I know you're close with Team SSSN. Tell Pyrrha, or Nora, or Goodwitch, or Ozpin. Tell Penny." Weiss stares at her with wide eyes. "For the sake of your sanity, Blake, tell someone."

Something about her tone grabs Blake—hits her in a way that she can't describe but feels in her bones.

"Tell me," Blake request suddenly. Weiss, surprised, falls silent.

"What?" the heiress asks.

Blake immediately regrets opening her mouth, but the words are already out and now she has to say something.

"A trade," Blake requests softly. "If we're airing dirty laundry, then we're both going to take part."

Weiss blinks with surprise, and Blake, suddenly embolden, pushes further.

"You said it yourself—we both have ugly pasts. So who can we tell if not each other?"

The elegant girl hesitates, frowning like such a request has never been posed to her before. She recovers quickly, though. Smothering her surprise beneath her typical mask of icy superiority.

"Well, what would you like to know?" she asks stiffly.

Blake shrugs. "Anything, I guess." She hadn't exactly thought this far ahead. "Just…something you wouldn't normally tell other people."

Weiss narrows her eyes, like she's assessing the honesty in Blake's voice, before her expression clears and she sighs, leaning back in her chair and look straight ahead at the wall before them.

"My mother died when I was a child," Weiss explains curtly. "I…I have very little memory of her."

Blake turns towards the heiress, curious despite her better judgment.

"She was elegant," Weiss goes on, a faraway look in her ice-colored eyes. "And kind. Too kind." She lets out a chuckle that sounds horribly forced. "She wasn't Schnee material, I suppose."

"What happened to her?" Blake presses gently. She's dimly away that she's completely turned in her stool for the first time, facing the heiress properly.

"She died," Weiss murmurs. Her coffee lays untouched before her. "They claimed natural causes but…" she trails off, offering a brittle laugh. "There is nothing about my family that is unplanned or unintentional." She looks up at Blake with a thin smile that doesn't touch her eyes. "Schnees don't die unless someone wishes it."

Blake finds herself at a loss. "I…I'm sorry," she whispers. And she means it. She boasts a terrible and blood-spattered past, but Weiss' tales of the Schnee household unnerve even her.

"She was the most beautiful woman in Remnant," Weiss goes on softly. "Father had her portrait removed from the house, but I still remember it."

Silence envelopes the two girls, and Blake watches as the heiress tries to regain her poise. She doesn't want to think about how much pride that story had cost the icy girl.

"So," Weiss gives a little wave, as if the story of her mother's death is a very causal, mundane thing that doesn't warrant a second thought. "Your partner."

Blake realizes Weiss is desperate to change the subject, and obliges.

"Do you promise to listen?" she asks, raising an eyebrow. "And not just assume things unless I explicitly say them?"

Weiss places one hand over her heart and lifts the other in the air.

"Huntress' honor," she declares.

Blake snorts quietly, but begins nonetheless.

"His name was Adam," she murmurs. "And he was a Faunus."

"Why are you speaking about him in past tense?" Weiss asks, predictably breaking her promise of silence a moment after making it. "Is he dead?"

Blake shoots her an annoyed look, and Weiss goes obediently quiet. "He is to me," she murmurs. "In reality, I'm not sure. I doubt it. I don't know who could kill him, to be honest."

"So he was a fighter," Weiss prompts, and Blake resigns herself to the fact that unless she physically clamps the heiress' mouth, she's just going to have to put up with her comments.

"Yes. He was the best." Blake's voice is absolute.

"Better than you?" Weiss asks, and Blake is thrown for a moment. She didn't realize the other girl thought so highly of her swordsmanship.

"I…" she trails off. Was he better than her? They'd never turned their blades against each other. She wonders—if she'd been bold enough to throw down a challenge—who would emerge victorious. She thinks of his devastating, overwhelming Semblance with a slight shiver.

"That's not important," Blake insists. "He was a highly skilled fighter, and he was my partner."

"He was more than that," Weiss tells her gently. "If he was only those things, this wouldn't be so hard to talk about."

The words his Blake hard. What more had Adam been than her partner?

Something worth doodling in your notebook, her cynical side hisses. Blake flushes at the memories of her sketches.

Weiss doesn't miss the girl's discomfort. "Was he like…your boyfriend?" she asks hesitantly.

"No!" Blake insists sharply. Echoes of my love and my darling swirl darkly in her memory, but she fights it. "No," she repeats with more steel. "He was my mentor, my partner, and at one time, my friend."

"You cared for him," Weiss murmurs.

Blake looks away, color rising in her cheeks at the words and their implications. This isn't a conversation she'd wanted to have on a calm afternoon. With Weiss Schnee of all people. This is a conversation she has only with herself, late at night, when the rest of her team is asleep and she's overrun by the ghosts of her past.

"I cared for the man he once was," Blake murmurs. "He wasn't always so…violent. So cruel. He was kind, and brave, and…" she swallows, raking a pale hand through her dark hair. "We were indestructible."

She feels Weiss' frozen gaze, but doesn't turn to meet it. She has no idea what to say.

"Blake," Weiss begins tentatively. "I…I realize I know nothing about you outside of what I've seen," she says slowly. "But, as far as I've seen, you're no slouch when it comes to combat. I'm not downplaying this…this Adam, but…" she trails off with a delicate shrug. "I think you need to give yourself more credit. You're pretty indestructible as it stands."

Blake blinks, struck a bit dumb at the concept of Weiss giving her a compliment, when the heiress speaks again.

"But—" she declares, and Blake turns to give her a sidelong look that clearly states Weiss had better think long and hard about her next words because they are both too fragile and vulnerable for her ridiculous self-importance right now. "—that's only because you're with us."

Blake frowns, genuinely thrown by her grand statement.

"What?" she asks bluntly, eyebrows slanting down in confusion.

Weiss picks up her coffee. "Individually, we're only sub-par," Weiss explains tightly, and Blake realizes how much of a beating the Schnee heiress' pride is taking this afternoon. "It's when we come together—Team RWBY—that's when we become untouchable."

"I…" Blake falters, unsure what to say. "I…"

A scream goes up from another bar patron, and both Huntresses whirl in their seats, hands on their weapons as they scan the area for trouble. All eyes are riveted to the television, and Weiss and Blake snap their gazes in time to see a familiar head of red hair go rolling away from a body dressed in a slate-gray dress.

Weiss' eyes go wide and Blake utters a low curse.

"Pyrrha…" Weiss gasps out, as the camera cuts to the redheaded warrior who looks equally distraught at the events unfolding. Blake grabs her arm, pulling the other girl from her stool.

"Come on," she demands, throwing down the lien for their drinks. "Something's wrong."

She and Weiss burst out of the doors of the bar, getting ready to make a break for the main arena, when they find their path blocked by a handful of Faunus wearing masks.

Blake's stomach bottoms out, and Weiss goes stiff beside her.

"White Fang," the heiress sniffs disdainfully. Myrtenaster clears its sheath with a crystalline ring. "You will leave this place at once!"

One of the members closest to the pair barks a laugh that pins Blake's ears flat against her skull.

"So, you've really turned traitor, haven't you Belladonna?" he asks, and Blake's eyes narrow at his familiarity. "Fighting alongside a Schnee…" he trails off, a feral grin spreading below his mask. "What would Adam say?"

Weiss steals an anxious glance at Blake, who stares down the masked man with a face like thunder.

"I stopped asking that question a long time ago," she replies lowly, drawing Gambol Shroud and deftly snapping it into its dual form. Her eyes burn like molten gold. "I'd highly suggest you do the same."

The White Fang member chuckles, leveling his own weapon—a double-sided pike—at the Faunus. "No dice, Belladonna," he replies smugly.

A muscle tics in Blake's jaw. "Pity," she says softly. Her voice grows stronger, sharper. "Weiss."

The heiress looks up in surprise at the sound of her name. "Er, what?" she asks, unwilling to take her eyes off the enemy in front of them.

"Checkmate," Blake orders, and she leaps forward, trusting Weiss to fall into step beside her.

I'm just really feeling these character studies guys I'm sorry.

This is set in during the Volume 3 PvP match when Weiss and Blake skip off to have a coffee/tea date or whatever.

And I kinda want to reiterate something I've talked about a few times regarding RWBY and ships, which is I don't give a fuck. Really. You can absolutely, 100% ship whatever you want. You may read this and go, "damn, Blake and Weiss are so fucking married" or you may read this and be like "wow, I never thought about their partnership like that! How delightfully platonic!" and both are correct! I don't really write blatantly romantic pieces, I'm much more hung up on the little technicalities of relationships. I've gotten a ton of messages where people want to know where I fall on the RWBY romance scale, and I just don't write that. To me, romance—like hot and heavy physical acts of love—are the icing on the cake of a relationship. But it's not by any means the most important part of it. There are so many other aspects of a pairing of any kind, and that's the kind of shit I dig.

Anyway, this has also been rotting away in my drafts, so there you go.

Weiss' mother died tragically I just fucking know it okay fight me Miles Luna