Chapter 1: Never a Frown
Blake Belladonna was no stranger to waking up amongst others. So the day had started out like no other day.
Then her Faunus senses began to tingle.
There were no Faunus in her immediate area, but there were people. They were Humans, and they were all around her.
Blake tensed and rose from her bedding, reaching for her weapon, only for her memory to remind her of where she was.
Sleeping bags all around her, kids her age in various positions sleeping soundly, and only a few being really loud about it. She loosened the tension in her shoulders, then laid back down onto her sleeping bag, sighing in relief.
It was fortuitous that she didn't have her weapon nearby. She might just do something that would get her into trouble.
This was not the White Fang.
This was Beacon Academy.
Thoughts of Adam came back to make her reminisce. More and more, she found it difficult to remember his face, his true face, not the one that he presented to the White Fang, and not the one he presented to her.
His true face… what was it?
Where was the man she once cared for so much?
Gone apparently. As much as she didn't want to concede to that fact, she had to. He died a long time ago.
Whatever he was now, it wasn't the Adam that Blake wanted, the Adam that Blake had once known to be a bright idealist, a champion of Faunus freedom, a person who wanted to do the right thing with the right means.
How was that man lost?
Best not to think about it. Blake sighed a great sigh. I made my choice as did Adam, and I must stand by my decision. It's been months. I made myself promise not to get dragged down by his memory.
She needed something else to think about, but in this moment, she felt very restless.
Initiation wasn't going to start for another three hours, which meant she had time to kill, but what to do that wouldn't wake up anyone else? She could try and read some more, though she'd finished the book she was reading. She needed to get a new one.
Blake folded her arms by her head and let her eyes close again. All of this lull in activity was something that she needed to get used to. Even with months of transitioning into society, her nerves hadn't completely calmed. She was ready to defend herself at a moment's notice, an instinct ingrained within her mind.
Her hands clenched tightly, only to loosen again.
Well, I suppose I could get some morning training in. It's not like I've got anything better to be doing.
Staying light on her toes, she carefully tiptoed around each and every person that was in her path. It was a good test to make sure she was just as stealthy as ever, and if anyone saw her doing this, they might question her, which motivated her to not be caught.
Then she had a thought as she had reached the main entrance: she had no idea where she was really going.
Stupid me. Blake slapped herself in the head. That's what I get for being a paranoid runaway.
Regardless of her thoughtlessness, she opened the doors carefully and made her way to the locker room. She knew at least where that was, and once she had a map of the school, she would remember where everything was in a week's time.
Leaving Gambol and Shroud in her assigned locker, she showered and dressed as she normally did. Checking to make sure that her bow was secured snugly and that no one could see it easily, she made her way back to the auditorium.
Now that she thought about it, she looked a weird person walking through these hallways aimlessly.
This wouldn't be such a problem if there was someone she could talk to. There was only the problem of Blake being who she was. It wasn't that she was incapable of making friendships, but being social was not one of her better characteristics either.
In the end, she had no one to blame but herself, she knew. In another life, she would have been different, that was a certainty. Living as a Faunus and a being a former member of the White Fang made her view of the world somewhat negative.
Times like this made her miss Menagerie.
But negative or not, there were teams and partners at Beacon. She was going to have to work with someone, and so far, what she had seen was not what she desired necessarily. A lot of these kids were so outgoing, a lot more than she was ever use to seeing. Some were so quirky that getting along with them, in her opinion, would be very difficult, particularly the ones that were very outgoing.
Discounting initial personality observations, there was also the fact that she hadn't witnessed anyone in combat yet either. All of the potentials had varying skill levels, and Blake didn't want to be stuck with someone who was incompetent, but then again, wasn't this Beacon Academy?
She returned to the hall, where virtually all of the students were asleep.
Almost all of them.
Somewhere in the middle of the room, there was someone else sitting up, and without proper lighting, she could only see that it was a boy. He didn't say anything, but she heard a distinct sigh, a sound that no one asleep would make, or seldom would make. She didn't pay the person much mind as he settled back into his sleeping bag, paying her no mind.
He's definitely Human. Blake had seen no Faunus traits nor did he react to her when he was looking at her. He would've seen me if he were Faunus.
It wasn't long before Blake settled back into her spot and leaned her head against the wall, deciding that clearing her mind was probably the next best thing to do. She'd get up when everyone else did, then head out to grab her weapons.
Just do what everyone is doing, and you'll be fine.
Two hours later...
Jaune Arc was no stranger to waking up amongst others. He had seven sisters, and even with separate bedrooms, he still found the younger ones sleeping against him when he woke up. Why him, he wondered.
Then he heard the sound of multiple voices talking, none of them familiar.
So he rubbed his eyes and sat up.
He was at Beacon Academy.
Progress was good so far to him. He'd made contact with at least one person. Ruby was her name, and she was interesting to say the least. He looked around to see if she was anywhere around.
All around him, most of the prospective huntsmen and huntresses were sleeping, but some had awoken, and were chatting.
Now that he thought about it, his choice of pajamas probably wasn't the most suave of fashion. Looking around, none of the other students wore sleeping ware even close to what he was wearing. Sure, none of them dressed very extravagantly, but none of them had anything outrageous on either.
Compared to them, he looked goofy.
He'd have to fix that. Shorts and a t-shirt would work just fine.
Curse his sisters for telling him that his PJ's were fine in public. That was the last time he was going to take advice from them.
Ruby was sleeping with that blonde girl claiming to be her sister. He didn't see any resemblance, but who was he to judge? All of his siblings had distinctive features and looks, and besides, he wasn't one to be suspicious. He was too trusting too fast, his parents often said, but it wasn't his fault. He didn't have many friends.
Jaune wasn't going to get any more sleep with his mind like this, so it was time to get ready for the day. With luck, nobody would remember what he was wearing right now. Was that too much to ask for?
Grabbing his sleeping bag and his bag, he made his way to the locker room. Along the way, he found his eyes trained on a girl with a black bow. She was staring at something. She looked… intense.
He then ran into the door, and only quickly let out a sound of pain before opening it and leaving the ballroom.
His shower was quick; he'd already showered yesterday night, so today was a simple touch up. Dressing quickly, and responding to his stomach, the boy journeyed to the cafeteria, only losing his way four times.
Although it wasn't a wholesome breakfast, Jaune settled for a box of Pumpkin Pete's. They were just so tasty, he couldn't help it. He felt justified in his choice of food given that he was going to be initiated as a huntsman.
Three bowls later, and a half-hour later, he was good. Now he had to find the locker where his armor and weapons were being kept.
Now which one had his stuff?
He reached into his pocket to find where his stuff was.
Why didn't he remember getting that locker number?
Okay, so maybe things weren't going in his favor after all.
As he passed by other students, he couldn't help but admire all of them. They all looked so strong and with such a variety of weapons. He could only imagine just how good they were given that some weapons looked too outlandish at face value.
This only served to remind Jaune about how he'd gotten here, and now he felt so tiny, though he did his best not to show it.
After fifteen minutes of wandering, he found the locker and gotten his things. Armor first, belt and pouches next, then Crocea Mors last.
Now he was slightly less pathetic.
Noticing a pair of girls nearby, he decided to try his luck. His father had said that confidence worked.
Didn't he just get done telling himself that his sister's advice was pretty much totally not cool? Did that apply to his father too?
Dammit, he didn't want to disrespect his family, but he didn't want to disrespect himself any more than he had already done over the past sixteen hours.
Now here he was, staring at two girls, trying to decide if he was ready to sacrifice his pride once again (he'd done more than his fair share of that too). He probably should stop staring lest he wants them to think he's some kind of creep.
One was dressed in a snow-white dress while the other had donned what he thought to be more appropriate battle gear. The red one looked… familiar.
She was on that cereal box.
Whoa. That. Was. AWESOME!
If these girls were talking, they had to be someone famous.
That thought made the blond-haired boy pull back.
Ah, who am I kidding? Jaune pulled back, his anxiousness keeping him from doing anything daring. They look leagues above me even taking out the famous part.
This whole thing was making him question whether or not he was really ready to become a huntsman. Just this display of students in training was enough to put him off. So he turned away. At least he didn't look creepy anymore.
He took another glance around to see who else was here. It looked like everyone here fit here. They had earned the right to be here.
"This was one of my worst ideas yet." Jaune banged his head against his locker. "A forged transcript can't cover for me forever. I'll be found out soon or later."
"You okay, Jaune?" That voice, he knew it.
Gathering his thoughts and putting on a pleasant face, he smiled for Ruby. "I'm fine, Ruby. I'm just a little anxious."
"No time for that, vomit boy." Yang slapped him on the back. "You're a huntsman in training now. It's time to act like it now."
"Yeah…" That didn't sound very convincing. "Are you guys going out to the cliffs?
"Yep!" Ruby flashed a thumbs up. "You comin' or what?"
"I'll catch up." He flashed a smile as best he could. "Just gotta do some last-minute checks."
"Sure thing." Ruby gave him a pat. "See you out there."
He watched them, leave, staring back at his locker.
Then he turned to follow.
Only to see a familiar black-haired girl with a bow and golden eyes.
"What's this I hear about a forged transcript?" Blake stepped closer. "You faked your way into Beacon?"
"What?" Jaune stepped back. "I-I don't know what you're talking about."
"Liar." She took another step towards him. "I heard you."
"How?" He looked distressed.
"That doesn't matter." She crossed her arms. "What matters is what I'm going to do with this bit of info."
Jaune's face looked agonizingly painful, and more than she let it show, Blake felt a part of her brain beat her up. Never again, she had promised. Never again would she use such immoral methods to achieve something.
But judging from his reaction, he could be easily persuaded and shaped. So if he was as terrible as she thought he was, then she could easily train him too. She'd never taught anyone how to fight, or taught anyone to do anything for that matter, but how hard could it be? He had to at least have some rudimentary training.
Now it was too late for regrets.
"Please don't tell anyone." Jaune was begging now, because he didn't know what else to do. "I just… I can't leave." He even held his clasped hands in front of him.
"Hold on there, partner." Blake pushed his hands down. "I don't need a show here. What I do need is a friend."
"...say that again?" He abandoned his fear for confusion.
"Look, let's just say I'm not a social butterfly, and I can tell that you're not exactly the most suave of people." She eyed him up and down. "So I'll look the other way… if you agree to be my friend."
"But that's not how friendship works." Jaune argued back. "It's a mutual relationship, not blackmail."
"Fine, then I can go ahead and tell Professor Ozpin." Blake hardened her look.
"NO!" Jaune grabbed her. "I'll do it!"
"I want your word." Blake stared him in the eyes. "I want your word that you will be my friend."
"I swear, upon my honor as a member of the Arc family, to be your friend through thick and thin." Jaune even raised a hand.
Blake looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "That sounds like an oath carried down in the family."
"It is, and my family takes oaths very seriously." Jaune lowered his hand only to put it in front of him. "The name's Jaune Arc. It's short, sweet, and rolls off the tongue, and … never mind."
"What?" Blake still shook his hand. "I don't bite."
"Nothing." That was all that he had to offer as answer. "Just forget it."
Pickup line probably. Blake almost cringed. Well, at least he knows when to keep a lid on it.
"Okay…" Blake let go of his hand. "I'm Blake Belladonna."
"It's nice to meet you Blake." Jaune couldn't feel any more awkward than he felt now.
"And you, Jaune." Blake felt really unsure now.
"All first-year students please report to Beacon Cliff for initiation." And there was Professor Goodwitch. "Again, all first-year students report to Beacon Cliff for initiation."
"Time to get moving." He gestured to the exit. "You first."
"No, after you." She offered him.
Friends were nice like that…
Predictably, both Jaune and Blake ended up standing next to each other during the run-through of initiation.
It was simple and straightforward, but there were a multitude of things that Jaune was worried about. For one thing, they needed a landing strategy, which he didn't have. For another thing, they needed partners and teams, and the means was arbitrary. And finally, there were a lot of Grimm, and he hadn't killed one before.
Blake had no quarrels about anything. As far as she was concerned, she had a plan, and she wasn't about to let anything or anyone get in the way of it. Landing strategy? No problem at all. Partner? That was already known to her. Teams? She'd cross that bridge when she and her partner got there. Grimm? Bring 'em on!
There were so many other students to choose from, but which ones would work the best? Which teams would have the best synergy? Who would be the easiest to get along with? Who would be hard to get along with?
This is going to be tough. They shared a look. But… at least I've got someone to depend on?
Yeah… they'd have to work things out on the battlefield, then they could start saying that they were dependable.
Although both the knight and the ninja were full aware of the fact they were already partners in all things but official records, as Ozpin said, teams were made up of four people, not two.
One thing at a time. The most important thing was that they already knew their partner. Teammates would come later.
The sound of the first student being launched into the air made Jaune instantly tense up, his whole body going stiff.
No, he wasn't ready for this. How in Remnant's name did students survive jumps like that. It was so… not normal.
"Relax, Jaune." Blake whispered to him. "I've got this."
Another student was launched.
"Blake, you're asking me a lot." Jaune shot back.
There went another.
"Just trust me. I know what I'm doing."
The sound of rushing wind.
"I don't even know you well yet, so that doesn't help."
Blake just motioned her head.
"Just don't worry about it."
Jaune just looked at her like she was crazy.
Then she was off.
"I still have questions."
And he was next.
Had they still been there, they would have noticed Ozpin staring at the two spots they were once standing on, followed by their figures shrinking in the distance.
It would seem that Miss Belladonna and Mister Arc had already formed an alliance of sorts if their interactions he witnessed were anything to go by. That alone wasn't interesting, but the way they interacted, there was something going on there. Their expressions were revealing of something beyond mere acquaintanceship.
"Very interesting indeed." Ozpin sipped on his coffee.
"Is there something the matter, sir?" Glynda stood next to him, her scroll in hand. "You seem distracted."
"I suppose I am." Ozpin said in a nonchalant way. "Though not for any distressing reason."
Blake landed on a tree, keeping an eye out for the blond boy that was suppose to be right behind her.
A scream told her what she needed to know. Her eyes tracked his fast-approaching form as he barrelled through the air with absolutely no control of his own path.
Unsheathing Gambol Shroud, she unwound her black ribbon, tied it to one end of her blade, stabbed it into the tree, then stood posed to throw.
Here he comes. Wait for it.
Wait for it.
Blake threw her ribbon out to catch Jaune. Her target was his leg, which she hit. Once ribbon had run out, Jaune was cast downwards, hitting tree branches as he descended clumsily. He saw the ground approaching and he closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable head trauma that he was going to suffer.
Only for him to stop. He felt himself swinging. He opened his eyes only for his face to meet a tree. He covered his nose as it was bonked harshly.
"Ow!" Jaune rubbed. "That hurt."
He was about to sing to the other side when he felt a hand land on his face. His eyes adjusted to see just who had saved him.
Blake removed her hand and smirked as she stared at an upside down Jaune.
"So, Jaune?" She put her hands on her hips. "Do you have a partner?"
"Ha ha." He wasn't in the mood for attitude. "Funny."
"You know, it's not nice to backtalk, especially to a person who just saved you." Blake frowned at him. "I could leave you up there."
He sighed angrily. "Please let me down, Blake. And thank you for saving my tail."
She patted him on the chest. "Better."
Jaune couldn't see Blake as she ascended the tree, but there were some sounds before he felt himself fall again, only moving his head in time to avoid any injuries to that part of his body. It still hurt though.
"Thank you." He called out to his partner.
"Sorry." She called back to him.
By the time he was done checking himself over, she'd rejoined him back on the ground. She brushed herself off.
"We ought to get moving." Jaune began to walk. "This way."
"So you were paying attention." Blake walked by his side. "I thought you were paralyzed with fear."
"Hey, I've got poor judgement, but I'm not stupid." He defended himself. "Besides, even without Professor Ozpin's instructions, I would still go this way."
She felt a sort of apprehension gnaw at her. They were suppose to be friends (it was by no means, blackmail), but what did that mean? How was she to be a friend with a boy like Jaune? She'd never met anyone like him before.
What did a person like him want to talk about?
"Look." Jaune tapped her on the shoulder. "Tracks."
Seeing that he was right, the Faunus girl kneeled down to check the type of track. Judging by the size and the shape, it looked to be an Ursa.
"Grimm nearby." Blake stood up. "Keep your guard up."
With their weapons drawn, they continued on their way. Blake used her years of training within the White Fang to stay on alert. Jaune relied on his years of wilderness experience to keep himself focused. If either of them commented on the other's attention to their surroundings, they didn't show it.
They arrived at a cliff, and without any wasted time, Blake began to scale down the cliff. It wasn't that big of a cliff, but instinct kicked in, and she was already down at the bottom before she knew it.
She turned to see Jaune's progress only for him to land back-first on the ground next to her.
"That's gonna leave a mark." Jaune sat up. "Or maybe a bit of a cut."
"Or both." Blake stepped over him, offering him a hand. "Here."
"Ow." He muttered lightly. "This is gonna take a while to heal."
"Why don't you let your aura do that?" Blake asked him.
"You… don't know what aura is?"
"Should I, Blake?"
"Well, yes." She stood a meter from him. "It's one of the most important things a huntsman or huntress will ever need to fight Grimm."
"Oh… I knew that!" He replied instantly. "Just a bit of brain lag, that's all."
"You are an idiot." She slapped his shoulder. "Did you seriously not do any sort of research or training before deciding to become a huntsman?"
"Well…" Jaune smiled weakly, patting the back of his head. "I…"
"Never mind, I don't want to know how bad you are." Blake stepped up to him. "What matters now is that you get your aura."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up a second." Jaune sidestepped his partner. "What exactly is aura?"
There was a complicated and thorough explanation, but right now, it wasn't appropriate right now, not when Grimm were around. Blake was never one to talk much less lecture, and she didn't want to bore Jaune.
She kept her distance as she explained
"In layman terms, aura is like a force shield that protects us. Only beings with souls have it. The Grimm don't have souls-"
"So they don't have it. So is it only a shield?"
"It can be offensively and defensively. I can get into the details later, but for now, you need it to protect yourself. So let me unlock it for you."
"You can do that?" Jaune looked surprised.
"Do you trust me?" Blake felt the slightest of anxiousness.
"I don't know anything about this stuff, and I'm taking you word for it." He shrugged his shoulders. "So yeah, I do."
"Good, then this will make it easier." She looked around, making sure they wouldn't be interrupted. "Okay."
Physical contact with another person was something Blake wasn't completely comfortable with, but pushing her dislike aside, she stepped right up so that she was facing Jaune.
"Close your eyes. Try to calm down." Blake gingerly touched her palm to his face. "Don't think too hard."
"U-u-uh, o-okay." Jaune, with some effort, tempered his mind.
She began to call upon her aura and connect to his soul. She was actually not sure what she was doing, but she had been told that if she needed to unlock aura, it would be a simple thing to do, instinctive almost. So she was initially disappointed when she couldn't feel anything at first.
Steeling her resolve, she delved deeper, reaching out further. There it was, a feeling of familiarity. It was aura, but it felt closed-off, completely untapped.
That had to be it.
Just a little more pushing…
"For it is in friendship that we achieve strength. Through this, we become more than we are alone and ascend to greater heights. Eternal in will and bound in life, I release your soul, and by my shoulder, embolden thee."
"Blake?" Jaune almost grabbed her as she sagged. "Are you okay?"
"It's fine." Blake waved him off. "I just gave your aura a jumpstart."
Collecting her thoughts, she used her aura again to try and "see" him. She didn't have to use much effort, because his presence within the forest was unmistakable.
"Your aura is very strong." She gave him an impressed look. "Stronger than mine."
"Thanks, I guess." He looked flustered. "Even if I'm not quite sure what that means."
"Well, what matters is that it protects you. How are those back injuries doing?"
"Um… wow, I don't feel anything at all."
"Nothing at all?"
"Okay, so your aura is quite potent if you can heal injuries so quickly." Blake pointed in the direction of the temple. "We should get going though. We can discuss the finer details later."
"Right." Jaune immediately took lead.
The next few minutes were spent in silence, as the two of them kept their pace consistent. All the while, in both their minds, was the thought of their relationship. They called it a "friendship," but it wasn't that, not yet at least. Blake was feeling a bit guilty of having put Jaune in this position and Jaune, in a way, wanted a relationship, and right now, Blake was his best chance.
But they weren't exactly hitting it off.
"So, where are you from?" Jaune thought of the most generic way to begin a conversation.
What he didn't realize that by asking that question that he was already poking at something that she didn't want to talk about period, something that she hadn't thought about in some time.
"I don't have a home." Blake looked at the back of his head. "I get around from place to place. What about you?"
"Mistral." He began. "My family and I-"
Without his permission, Blake abruptly launched herself and pushed Jaune out of the way. They both collapsed to the ground just in time to miss the claws of an Ursa major slicing the air where they'd stood moments ago.
"Don't thank me yet, partner."
The Ursa struck again. This time, it was Jaune who reacted faster and rolled them both to the right, all the while bringing up his shield to block the strike. He struggled for a moment before pushing back.
"Nice one, Jaune."
"Once this thing is dead, then we'll trade compliments."
"Read my mind."
Both of them began to backtrack and the Grimm followed them.
"How good are you with that shield?" Blake asked.
"Better than my sword." Jaune responded.
"Then distract it." She retrieved her ribbon. "I'm going to get it from behind."
"Um, not a good idea." He pointed his sword. "Look."
"What do you mean… oh for love of…"
They were now surrounded by lesser Ursai, too many for them to be making ambush attacks. Completely cut off, the two of them met back-to-back.
"I don't suppose you've got a plan?" Blake looked over her shoulder.
His silence made her tense up. She felt him moving, but did he hear her?
"Cut off the head?"
"I mean the big one. It seems to be leading them. Kill the big one, and the others might think twice."
"Or at least be derailed. The only question is how do we get to it?"
"We don't. You do."
"Excuse me?" She glanced at him.
"I'm not fast, but I think you are. I'll keep these guys busy." He sounded a little too casual about running into death. "I can buy you maybe thirty seconds."
"You won't survive." He was an idiot.
"I'll survive long enough." Scratch that, he was beyond idiotic.
Their banter made them vulnerable as Ursa began to throw themselves at the two hunters in training. Blake responded by firing several rounds, two of them killing via headshot. Jaune swung his sword and clumsily damaged one that got too close.
Seeing the opening, Blake threw her ribbon with her blade attached to it and swung it in an arc, severing multiple heads off at once. Jaune ducked and watched the carnage, eyes wide. He didn't stare slack-jawed for long and brought up his shield to block another clawed hand before deflecting and almost missing an impale to the head.
Blake then tossed her ribbon to impale the Ursa in the head, only for it to shift and the blade dug into its back. Seeing and feeling the weapon in its skin, the Grimm tried to shake its enemy off.
Before she could be flung around, Jaune grabbed her by the waist and dug his sword into the ground. Seeing what he was trying to do, Blake worked with his strength and pulled against the Ursa. The Grimm hit the ground head-first.
Gritting her teeth, Blake pulled back her ribbon to her, dragging the blade along the blade of the Ursa and splitting its head neatly in two.
If the Grimm around them weren't hesitating before, they were now, and they were clearing out like the devil had come.
"What did I tell you?" Jaune nudged Blake. "They're spooked."
"And so am I." Blake looked down at his arm still wrapped around her midsection. "Now could you let go?"
"Sorry!" He retreated instantly. "Heat of the moment action."
"Just… warn me next time." She sheathed her weapon.
With quiet returning, the two of them eased the tension in their bodies, and resumed their perilous journey.
So by popular vote, my readers wanted to see a Blake x Jaune story, and here it is. This story is going to be focusing less on battle scenes and more on character development. Fights and battles will serve as a reinforcement of relationships rather than be a main focus.
With that in mind, I need a beta-reader. More specifically, I need a person who can help me with the details of the story such as character interactions, character development, and story-telling. I don't need you to have a psychoanalysis of the characters, but knowing the characters well would be a big help. I will also need a person to grammar-check, or if you think you can do both, then awesome.
Excuse the cover art. I didn't have time to come up with anything better.
I can't promise stable updates, but I can promise chapters to the best of my ability.
Oh, and guess what song I was listening to as I wrote this chapter? Hint: chapter title.
So what's the vibe? Good? Bad? Meh? If you all want to see this thing take off, then leave a review, favorite and follow.
I hope you enjoyed reading this chapter, and remember:
"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."