Howdy folks, how's it going?
Hope you all have been keeping safe.
Another month, another update, though to be quite honest, I am sorry to say this is a fairly small one. Other things occupying my time (fuck bureaucracy) and a nasty case of writer's block conspired to make this update not as good as I wished it could be, but I still wanted to get something out for you guys. I also apologize in advance if you find more typos than is usual, I did check, but didn't have the time or mental capacity to be quite as thorough as I would've liked.
As always, shout out to Chaos for all his help.
Also as always, I own neither RWBY nor MTG.
And without further ado, enjoy.
Detention, as it turned out, involved having to stay in the classroom at the end of the day after everyone else had cleared out, alone with the hag, and just sitting there, doing absolutely nothing as time trickled by until the woman saw fit to let her go. Honestly, as far as punishments went, Ruby supposed that most other teens would find a prolonged period of such utter boredom unpleasant. But then, she wasn't most other teens, and Auntie Narset's instruction had given her the perfect tools to deal with the situation.
And it was because of this that, under the stern gaze of the hag, the young planeswalker sat cross-legged, and closed her eyes. With practiced ease, her breathing steadied, and her body became perfectly still…
…And then she was immediately interrupted. One silver eye opened, staring at the deputy headmistress with undisguised annoyance.
"What?" She grunted.
"Detention is not a nap time, Miss Rose." The woman replied, frowning sternly, radiating mild frustration. "You are here to reflect upon what you did wrong in destroying school property, and while I am not naïve enough to believe you actually will, I'd appreciated it if you at least made an effort at pretending you care to try."
"Well, professor, with all due respect, I was going to meditate, not sleep." The young planeswalker retorted with that tone of voice that sounds so polite and yet is so obviously not meant to be. "Although you're probably right it wasn't going to be about that specifically."
The woman's stern expression did not shift one bit, but the quick spike of surprise and annoyance, followed by a stronger sense of frustration at the retort of a kind she did not seem used to, were plain to feel.
"Miss Rose, it has becomes obvious by now that you do not like me." The woman said, her prim and proper tone carrying just a hint of that frustration. "This is not new to me, I am fully aware of how the students of this academy tend to see me, but you act like I have personally wronged you, and I would like to at least understand why."
Hm, the hag did not beat around the bush. If nothing else, she could comply out of respect for that.
"You did not exactly make the most stellar of first impressions." Ruby replied calmly, now giving the woman her full attention and a level stare. "I expect or want no reward for any good actions I do, but I do not particularly enjoy being scolded and arrested for them."
"You were not arrested, Miss Rose. In fact, knowing what I know now I have a hard time believing the police could have taken you to the station if you were truly inclined to not let them." The hag replied with just a hint of a dry wit behind all the professionalism. "Regardless, what I saw then was a minor who put herself at risk against an infamous criminal. I told you what I would have told any other teenager in the same situation, assuming they survived the experience. Didn't your… caretakers ever scold you when you acted rashly?"
"Oh, yeah, many times. More often deserved than not." Ruby admitted without a hint of shame. "But I respect my Dad, Auntie and Uncle. You, on the other hand, have given me little to no reason to respect you since we first met. To be fair, it is not entirely your fault, I am just not naturally predisposed to handle the likes of you, just as you are not naturally predisposed to handle the likes of me."
"Excuse me?" Goodwitch blurted out, a momentary, indignant surprise piercing through her composure.
"I mean, think about it." The young planeswalker replied with a casual shrug. "You are an obvious stickler for rules and protocol. I was raised outside the kingdoms, so said rules and protocol mean little to me. You are obviously used to the authority of your position being heeded, while I have no reason or point of reference to actually care about whatever consequences you can dish out if I refuse to. And our first encounter consisted of you immensely annoying me for doing basically doing your work for you, so if anything I am just more inclined to not care about what you say or do. With all due respect, Professor, you may keep trying to treat me like "any other teenager" all you want, but that is not gonna make me fit into the mold you are used to or make me any more likely to obey."
For a long while, the hag did not reply. Her stern frown deepening was her only outward reaction to Ruby's reply as her stern gaze met Ruby own calm, even stare. A stare off that lasted until, besides the deepening annoyance and frustration, there was also a sense of grudging understanding. Ultimately, the deputy headmistress broke eye contact first, and that's how the red-cloaked girl knew she had won the debate.
"…I see." The woman said at length, her sternness dropping slightly as she allowed herself a small sigh. "And if I were to apologize for scolding you on that night, and politely request that you don't go out of your way to undermine me or cause wanton property damage on school grounds?"
"Then I could be persuaded to listen." Ruby replied with a smile, accepting the olive branch for what it was. It's not like the woman was actively malicious against her, just annoyingly stuck up, and when one really thought about it, if it hadn't been for her nagging, it might have taken the young planeswalker far longer to find her family. She supposed a reprieve was not an unreasonable request.
"Then I am glad that we have reached an understanding." The deputy headmistress replied. "I will leave you to your… meditation, for the remainder of this detention period. And I do hope that seeing you here does not become a common occurrence."
"We shall see, professor, we shall see." Ruby said with a quick grin, before once more closing her eyes, and growing still with a long, soft exhale.
Generally speaking, the beginning of a new school year in Beacon was, all in all, a positive experience. An opportunity to meet new people, make new friends. As someone who had found herself in their position just last year, Velvet, despite the usual nervousness, had actually been looking forward to helping the newbies find their way around the academy, just as she herself had been. It was a big part of why she went along with chaperoning the newcomers during initiation, if she was being honest.
Of course, then the actual school year begun, and her enthusiasm died rather quickly when she realized the new batch had its own fair share of assholes.
"Eh, didn't know they let animals in here."
In hindsight, it really should have been obvious.
And now here she was, surrounded by one of the first-year teams, led by a muscle-bound guy that was obviously a racist prick, with none of her friends in sight and what few people there were in the hallway just staring and keeping their distance like it wasn't any of their business. It wasn't, in fairness, but it didn't make the lack of common decency any less annoying.
"Will you guys just knock it off?" She asked in weary exasperation. She didn't expect it to work, but there was a certain comfort in dry sarcasm which made her growing concern easier to handle. "I've heard every insult and slur in the book. It's gotten old at this point, so you're kinda just wasting your time and mine."
"Ah, that's funny, I didn't know that rabbits could bark." The big guy barked out a laugh, then took a step forward. "I mean, those are rabbit ears, right? Maybe we should check…"
Yep, this school year was definitely off to a bad start.
Velvet blinked, an action that was repeated by her harassers, as they all registered the sudden interruption. The brunette looked in the voice's direction, and her eyes widened in recognition.
"Is this really the best use of our time?" The girl inquired, murmurs breaking out among those present as they too recognized her, as she approached, her expression with all the calm of a placid lake.
"…Oh, it's you. What's it to you shortie?" The big guy scoffed, earning him a few confused and bewildered looks. Didn't he know who he was talking to? Either he hadn't been paying attention, or he was just plain stupid… "Mind your own business."
"I was." The girl replied calmly, thoroughly unruffled by the dismissal. "And then I saw this happening, am I am quite confused as to what is the point of ganging up on another student like this."
Velvet blinked at that. The rabbit faunus wasn't much of a talker, even if the previous year here at Beacon with the friends she made had gone a long way in helping her get better at it, but she liked to think that she was good at reading people. And right now, Ruby Rose didn't sound sarcastic or condescending. Rather, it felt like she really was asking for clarification, less about the situation itself, but more about the logic behind it. Like she was expecting a bunch of bullies to have a reason…
"And again, what's it to you?" The big guy repeated, finally turning to look down at the newcomer. He didn't seem impressed. "You some kind of animal lover, pipsqueak? Go back home to momma before you get in trouble for sticking your nose where it doesn't belong."
The girl, completely unbothered by the retort, just calmly stared at the guy, contemplating him in a way that brought to mind a curious child staring at a bug as if that would allow her to unveil all of its mysteries. Her placid demeanour did not change one bit, but Velvet could not help but feel that something suddenly… shifted.
"…Does it ever work?" She asked with a tilt of her head.
"What?" The big guy asked in complete befuddlement, looking back to his teammates for clarification, but they seemed just as confused by the sudden question.
"You enjoy throwing your weight around and intimidating others. Makes you feel strong." Rose explained, voice a picture of perfect, stoic politeness. "It makes you feel better about yourself when you insult and attack people, because when you remind them of how they are lesser than you, you may perhaps for a little while believe you are actually worth something. You were doing it to her, and you were just now trying to do it to me. Do you honestly believe that it's gonna work? Has it ever?"
…Damn, the girl goes straight for the throat.
The murmuring increased in intensity as more people gathered around to see what was going on, a few "Ooooohs!" and snickers here and there. The guy reacted like her words just decked him across the face, his entire "tough guy" act shattering as he took a step back in shock at the blatant calling out. Going by how he begun trembling, however, the shock didn't last very long…
"Who the fuck do you think you are?" He snarled angrily, stomping forward until he was standing right before the girl, glaring down at her. She didn't seem the slightest bit moved.
"Uuuh, Cardin…?" One of the other guys called out weakly. Seemed like it was dawning on at least one of them that something was amiss. Too bad it went ignored.
"Someone who's not impressed by your bluster." Rose replied, ever calmly. "What's it to you?"
Easily seeing what was about to happen, Velvet prepared to actually move into action, a cry of warning on her lips. She needn't have bothered.
Cardin lashed out in a rage, throwing a haymaker straight at the girl's face only for her to calmly tilt her head to the side. Not expecting the lack of resistance, the excessive weight thrown into the attack worked against the bully, making him overbalance and topple forward into her… And the very next moment, the serenely staring girl grabbed him by the cuirass and twirled with the momentum, sending the much larger bully flying with a casual ease that brought to mind someone taking out the trash. Next thing Velvet know, he was landing face down on the ground right her feet, with the smaller girl, standing over him and firmly pulling his arm back at an awkward angle.
"You know, if you worked towards improving yourself, rather than try to drag everyone else down, that'd be a net positive for everyone." She suggested, sounding for all the world like she was honestly trying to impart some bit of sagely wisdom. "You fix your inferiority complex and others don't need to put up with you. Everybody wins."
"Let go of me, you crazy bitch!" Cardin retorted angrily as he struggled against her grip, only to find that it wouldn't budge, and that somehow this little slip of a girl was keeping him completely pinned down. He looked to his teammates for help, but unsurprisingly none of them seemed very eager to get in Rose's crosshairs.
"I see you are a stubborn one." The red-cloaked girl commented idly. "Well, fortunately for you, I have just come to an agreement of sorts with the Ha- with Professor Goodwitch, and I am fairly certain my usual approach to dealing with stubborn fools would go against it. So how about you apologize to this girl for your earlier rudeness, and we'll call the matter settled?"
Cardin made to retort, probably to tell her to fuck off if Velvet had to guess, only to be preemptively silenced when the girl pulled his arm even further back, making him grimace in discomfort. The implied threat, plus a few more moments of unsuccessful struggling, seemed to finally get the message across.
"…Sorry." He hissed sourly, glaring up at the rabbit faunus like she was somehow to blame for all of this.
"For all these fine people to hear, if you would." Rose "requested", and Velvet couldn't help but blink at the sudden warning edge to her voice. "And preferably while acknowledging what you were doing."
"…I'm sorry for insulting you." He very grudgingly obliged.
"Very good. Naturally, should I find that you failed to learn from this experience, I will be forced to inform the professors. And if you fail to learn form that, I will be more than happy to provide further lessons. Think on that." Then, as if she honestly did not realize what she was doing, she proceeded to finish emasculating the asshole in front of the crowd by grabbing him by the back of the neck and pulling him up to his feet. "I'd recommend you take a nice, long walk to cool off now."
Gingerly rubbing his arm, Cardin turned to glare at the thoroughly unruffled girl, and then tried to save whatever shreds of pride he still had left by shouldering past her. It failed miserably given how calmly she sidestepped out of reach, but in his first show of actual intelligence he just ignored it and walked away, his goons wordlessly scrambling to follow.
The commotion done with, the gathered students begun to disperse.
At which point Velvet realized she was being left alone with her unexpected assistance.
"You ok?" The younger girl, asked, nearly making the brunette blink with a sudden and complete shift in demeanour. Gone was the stoic, steely serenity, replaced by a far more casual, far more expressive curiosity.
"Uh, yeah, yeah, I'm fine, they didn't really do anything besides throwing some insults." The rabbit faunus reassured awkwardly. "Thanks for the help, though."
"No problem. I just don't like to see idiots picking on others." The younger girl replied with a shrug. "Could you clear some things up for me, though?"
"What was their problem? I mean, any reason for them to be singling you out?"
Velvet blinked, as her mind struggled to understand the completely innocent sounding question.
"It's because I'm a Faunus." She answered, somewhat mechanically due to her still trying to figure out whether the other girl as just messing with her.
"Ahuh…?" Rose prompted.
"…I have rabbit ears." Said ears twitched for emphasis.
"And…?" Was the honest reply.
"…And guys like that don't like my ears?" A now thoroughly lost Velvet supplied hesitantly. There's no way she wasn't being messed with… right?
"So they're just a bunch of racist pricks? Uh, maybe I should have handled it myself after all." The girl commented, more to herself than anything, before her attention once again fell on the rabbit faunus. "And on that note, why didn't you do anything about it? I mean, you were part of the team chaperoning us on the first day, if memory serves, Velvet, right?"
"U-uh, well…" Velvet winced at the inquiry, her ears drooping heavily as she pondered. Yes, it wasn't the best show of her abilities to allow herself to be bullied by a bunch of first years only for another even younger one to have to come bail her out, but still…
"Ah, I see." The girl continued before she could actually answer, giving her an amused, but not unkind smile. "Too nice for your own good, uh? Remind me to introduce you to my sister, I think you'll make good friends."
Velvet… really had no idea how to answer to that, and so she opted by not replying at all. At least, she didn't get the feeling that the red-cloaked girl was messing with her. She just seemed… genuinely curious, and maybe just a bit concerned?
"Also, I'm Ruby Rose. Nice to meet you."
"Oh, uh, thanks, but I kinda knew your name already." She admitted why a shy, nervous smile. "You're… kinda famous around the Academy."
"…Because of initiation?" Ruby asked, although Velvet kinda felt it was rhetorical, breathing out through her nose and staring up at the floor in exasperation. "Never gonna live that down, am I?"
"Well… Initiation was being recorded and transmitted to the students of the other years like me and my team so… I don't think so?" Velvet offered hesitantly. "People have been calling you the "scariest rookie ever"…"
"Great…" The younger girl grumbled to herself, for once in the entire conversation sounding honestly embarrassed. "Really gotta learn to think things through better…"
"You seemed to have it well-handled enough when you helped me just now." The tiny part of Velvet that was prone to default to snark to deal with situation treacherously let slip through her lips, her eyes widening as the rest of her parts registered it and she immediately tried to amend. "I mean, you kinda seemed to have the guy pegged, and were very cool about it."
"Eh, meet one musclebound blowhard, you meet all of them." Ruby deflected the praise, rubbing the back of her head nervously. "I mostly just tend to think "what would Dad do" when dealing with situations like that, and then I act accordingly."
"…Your dad sounds terrifying." Velvet could help but comment, with a bluntness she honestly didn't know she had in her.
"I know." The younger girl easily agreed, a fond smile on her face. "Anyway, I should be heading back to my room. My sister will probably be wondering what's taking me and I could stand to not have the princess giving me grief. See you around, Velvet. Oh, and say hi to your nosy friend for me."
With that last, weird comment, Ruby turned around and walked away with a wave, Velvet only really replying with a shy little wave of her own.
As she then made her way to her own dorm room, she pondered the weirdness of the situation that had just occurred, the rumor mill that been going on about the "scariest rookie", Fox own comments about how there was something off about her… Honestly, she could see the truth to these things.
But in the end, she could only conclude that Ruby was a good person. If possibly kinda crazy.
"What took you so long?"
…Well, so much for avoiding the princess getting on her case.
Ruby had just opened the door to their room, and already the white-haired girl was staring at her disapprovingly. There was annoyance, frustration, and some confusion to the girl right now, but it felt different from Goodwitch's.
"Sorry." She drawled out boredly, in a tone that all but spelled out she really wasn't. "After detention, and you'll probably be happy to know I'm not longer going out of my way to piss Goodwitch off, I got caught up in handling a pack of bullies. They were picking on a girl just because she had rabbit ears. Can you imagine that?"
That got a reaction. Weiss' eyes widened slightly before narrowing sourly, while Blake suddenly snapped to attention from where she had been reading a book in bed.
"They were singling out a faunus?" The black-haired girl asked, a sense of righteous anger to her, though one that was accompanied by an unsurprised disappointment, followed by a curious confusion and just an inkling of… hope? "And you just… stepped in?"
"Yeah, four guys led by a big burly jackass, picking on a nice girl just because. Stupid, right?" Ruby confirmed, shaking her head in disbelief. "I've straightened them out."
"…Good." Blake replied after a moment of silence, showing her a genuine smile to express the pleasant surprise she was feeling, the biggest show of emotion that she had shown since they met. Ruby got the distinct impression that the her simple gesture had greatly elevated her status in the bowtie girl's eyes. She briefly wondered how it might be connected with whatever it was that the girl was trying to hide.
"Did anybody get hurt?" Yang then inquired softly, and Ruby blinked at the oddly pointed look from her usually meek sibling.
"I am capable of restraint, Yang." Ruby grumbled in reply. "Only thing that got hurt was that guy's ego. Though that might change if he doesn't take my polite warning and suggestions for improvement to heart."
"Can you please not?" Weiss all but groaned, looking like she was struggling mightily against the urge to rub at her temples. "Don't get me wrong, it was a good thing dealing with such cowardly miscreants, but could you please refrain from getting into further trouble? We're a team, everything you do reflects upon the rest of us. You're already the talk of the entire Academy, at least try to make it positive talk…"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say, Princess." Ruby dismissed without a care as she proceeded to walk into the room and plop down on the ground as if lying down for a nap, earning her a supremely annoyed glare from the white-haired girl if the twitching eyebrow was any indication.
"Alright, I really have to ask," She said, turning towards Yang. "How are you two even related? The differences are like night and day."
"O-oh, uh, w-well…" The blonde fumbled and fidgeted, caught completely off-guard but the sudden question. "W-we really are sisters. Well, h-half-sisters, but…"
Ruby did not even need her empathic abilities to see the pain and guilt that were radiating off the blonde in waves. This was never not going to be an uncomfortable topic for her, and so she decided to step in.
"We did not grow up together." She cut in, levelling an even, stern stare at the princess. "There was an accident when we were younger, and only recently did we reconnect. This is a sour topic for us, so we'd appreciate it if you refrained from probing any further."
That earned her a double take from the white-haired girl and a more reserved, but equally curious stare from Blake, but both of them seemed to get the message, if with differing levels of grudging acceptance.
"…Very well," Weiss conceded, her demeanour an affectation of haughtiness, but not without understanding. "Far be it from me to meddle in personal affairs. Gods know I'd love it if others extended the same courtesy…"
"Life as a Schnee's a life in the limelight, uh? Must be hard." Blake commented, her tone as dry as the desert.
"I'd appreciate it if you could keep my family name out of this, Belladonna." The heiress replied with what even to Ruby felt like a surprising level of frostiness. The sudden, tense stare off between the two supposed "partners", only added to the confusion she, and her sister if their shared glance was any indication, were feeling.
"Why's your name such a big deal again?"
And just like that, the tension was broken as two sets of incredulous stares fell on her.
"You… Actually don't know who I am?" The princess asked, sounding thoroughly confused.
"I mean, I figured by your "charming" personality and fancy behavior you'd probably be of high society in some way or another," Ruby shrugged. "I just didn't really care about the specifics until now."
"What-but- have you been living under a rock?!" The princess all but yelled, torn somewhere between flabbergasted disbelief and indignant outrage.
"In a cave, actually." Ruby's completely honest retort cut her off. "Outside the Kingdoms, remember? Related to that accident, but yeah. Not really in the loop here."
Honestly, that was something that had to be worked out fast. Those extra classes with Qrow couldn't come soon enough…
"Uh, Ruby," Yang shily interjected, feeling some second-hand embarrassment at having left the matter unattended. "Weiss here is the heiress of the Schnee Dust Company. T-they're the primary distributors of Dust throughout the Kingdoms…"
"…Ah, so it's a mercantile dynasty, then? Makes sense." Ruby nodded in understanding. Well-off merchant groups did have a huge tendency to be conceited pricks, though to be fair Weiss wasn't nearly as bad as some other examples she'd seen elsewhere.
"You… honestly didn't know about my family, did you?" The white-haired girl asked after a few moments of rather confused silence, as if just now understanding the concept, and going by the rising frustration and anger, she was not amused by the realization.
"…Didn't this entire conversation make that fairly obvious?" Ruby replied calmly, her entire demeanour turning serene as she glimpsed at the incoming storm.
"…So, it wasn't because of any grudge against my family name on your part that you've been so… difficult to deal with?" The older girl prompted further, some accusation in her tone.
"No, I am afraid that was all you." Ruby confirmed with honest, if blunt, politeness.
…For a long, long moment, the heiress did not reply, her entire primp and proper demeanour masking the whirlwind of emotions that was raging inside. Shock, confusion, indignation, some jealousy, a lot of frustration… And just as it seemed like it might reach a boiling point, it suddenly all stilled as she took a long, deep breath.
"…I am going to the library to requisite some books for our incoming projects and to study a bit." She said, her entire demeanour returning to its natural prim and proper state. "I would suggest that you start with your own studies as well."
With another word, she about turned and walked out the door.
All in all, that went better than Ruby had been expecting.
With this chapter, I sought to address some complaints and comments I got about Ruby's behavior.
If it wasn't obvious, because of the entirely different upbringing she had, this Ruby is observant and prefers to settle situations with brutally honest logic, often trying to emulate her Dad. The fact that… well, she's STILL Ruby, and a user of Red Mana to boot, means she's not always successful with this, and that's what I've been trying to convey all this time.
Anyway, I hope you still enjoyed it, (and if you did please go show some love on the TVtropes page :D). Next time, I do believe things are going to be quite a bit less boring.
But before that, next month we got Of Red Petals and Black Feathers, so look forward to that.
Cya all on the next one, stay safe and take care.