This is, I'll admit, going to be a bit of a weird chapter. It's the beginning of season two in terms of series timing, so it's necessary as a set-up for later events, but well, you'll probably see that it is a bit odd. Not in a bad way per se, but kind of random in the same way the start of V2 in the show felt random.


Beta: College Fool

Cover Art: Kegi Springfield

Chapter 22 – Lamb Roast


Cardin let out a long breath of relief as he and the team arrived back at their dorm. The morning lessons were over, the afternoon soon to begin – and he'd smashed some arrogant brat in combat class. That was always fun. Now, it was time to grab a shower and a new set of clothes. His team came with him, laughing to themselves about this and that. He ignored it all, throwing his uniform jacket onto the back of a chair and stretching his muscles. They popped and clicked.

"Finally," he groaned, sitting down on his bed, "some time to rela-huh?"

There was something squishy underneath him. It felt wet, slick, rubbery. It was between his ass cheeks. His eyes widened. With a scream, he threw himself off the bed, landing on the floor and crawling away.

Russel was up in an instant. "Cardin! What the hell, man. What's wrong?"

"Tentacle!" Cardin gasped, struggling up. "It's him! He's in my bed!" He reached for a weapon, and nearly whimpered when he realised it was back in his locker. He grabbed a nearby chair instead.

"Dude, calm down. Look, that monster couldn't fit in your bed – the sheets aren't exactly bulked up."

Cardin followed his partner's gesture. True to Russ' words, the bed was messy and unkempt, as he'd left it, but there was no way a human-sized person could have been underneath the sheets. There wasn't enough room.

The chair came down with a soft click, an embarrassed silence filling the room as he tried to think of a way to explain off what just happened without sounding like a complete fool. There was none, and he grunted instead. "I must be more tired than I thought I was."

"Yeah." Russ let it go at that. "You're probably worn out from trashing that runt in class." The others agreed, laughing at the memory.

That was why he loved his team, even if it was a dicey thing at times. They knew the way things worked. They didn't push the issue. Cardin laughed with them, then wandered over to his bed and dragged the cover off. He'd get to the bottom of this mystery.

He whimpered.

Tentacles… there were tentacles in his bed. Smaller than the ones that haunted his nightmares, but oh so similar nonetheless. The others saw them too, for Sky gagged on his hands. It wasn't anything disgusting – at least not normally – but being in his bed made it worse.

It was an octopus… or rather the tentacles of one. It looked store-bought, instead of freshly caught. It still didn't belong. Cardin's body shook.

"What the hell?" Russel murmured, moving forward to prod and poke at them. They didn't move, obviously. "How did these get here?"

"H-How else…?" Cardin gasped. "He's here."

"Dude… no one's here."

Cardin rounded on them. "Not now!" he snapped. "Before, earlier – he was here! Don't you see?" He pointed to the tentacles, eyes wide. "This is a message. It's a warning!" His back hit the wall. "He could come at any time. My room isn't safe. Nowhere is safe! He's going to find me… he's going to shove his tentacles up my-"

A slap echoed through the room.

"Cardin!" Russel hissed, gripping his shoulders. "Snap out of it. No one. I repeat, no one, is going to get to you, man. We won't let them."

"D-Do you mean that?"

"We do."

"Yeah," Dove echoed. "Team CRDL stands together, man. If that monster wants to mess with you, he messes with all of us."

"The room isn't secure," Sky said. "He couldn't have gotten in the door without a scroll, but…" He trailed off, looking towards the window. A moment later, he was pushing a wardrobe into place, cutting off much of the light, and blocking the entrance entirely.

"Good idea," Russel nodded. "We'll barricade the door at night as well. Remember, we're in this together. He could take any of us – and trust me, I've seen that Mistralian shit. You don't want to be a part of that."

The others nodded, going about the task of fortifying their room against a Grimm invasion. Through it all, Cardin shivered and shook – but his eyes were hard chips of ice. Arc. That bastard. Did he think he could scare Cardin Winchester, proud scion of the Winchester line?

"I'll get you, Arc," he whispered. "I'll prove to everyone what you really are."

/-/

"You don't think that was a little much?" Jaune asked.

Ruby laughed. "Nah. Trust me, that's pretty much a time-honoured prank."

"Leaving a dead animal in someone's bed?"

Okay, when he said it like that, it sounded bad. "Bits of one," she protested. "We didn't kill anything. It was already food. Besides, I saw a movie with Yang and Dad once where something like this happened. This guy left a horse head in another's bed."

"A whole head? That's horrible!"

"I know, but when I asked, they told me it was a fake horse head." Ruby giggled. "Dad said it was because this one group wanted to prank another group, and Yang said it was because they wanted to send a message. Apparently, they were all really close friends and no one got hurt."

"Did that actually happen?" Jaune asked. "I haven't seen a movie like that, but it doesn't sound normal."

"Psh, don't worry. I've seen loads." They all used to watch them as a group of three back home in Patch, and in her distant memories she could remember that once being four of them with Summer. "I didn't always understand the movies, especially when I was younger, but Yang and Dad explained them for me. Like there was this one with a deer, and it goes out with its mother, then there's a gunshot – but the mother dear gets lost." Ruby smiled. "I thought she'd died at first, but Yang told me there's a sequel movie where the mother comes back. Dad agreed. They just said they'd lost the sequel but that I didn't need to worry about it." Ruby laughed. "Didn't stop Yang from crying and holding my hand through it. She's so sensitive!"

"Huh, sounds nice." He rubbed his chin. "So, this horse head movie was just a light prank movie?"

"Pretty much. They were all part of the same family anyway. They kept saying that, and about how family is important and no one should disrespect the family."

"I'd like to see that film sometime, it sounds good." Jaune looked her way. "Do you think we could go sometime?"

"Sure, I-" Ruby froze. Was he… was he asking her to the movies? Her eyes widened, mind clamping down on her mouth before she could say anything else. Oh no, she'd forgotten about his feelings for her. She could feel her cheeks darkening, but took a quick breath and let it go. Okay, it was fine. She just needed to play it cool. "A-Actually, you should take Yang to the movies," she said. "She knows way more movies than I do and she can explain them better."

"Yang?" Jaune didn't sound against the idea, and that gave her the courage to continue. "I suppose I could."

"Yeah! The two of you are dating, after all. It's been a while since you went on your last date."

"It's been barely over a week," Jaune said. He paused, suddenly looking a little nervous. "Is that a lot? Should I have asked her sooner? I don't know much about dating."

Ruby didn't either. Dating wasn't exactly her forte, but she probably knew more than Jaune, maybe, and she didn't want him and Yang to run into trouble this early in their relationship. "It can't hurt to ask," she said. "It'll show her you haven't forgotten. Yang deserves the best, so you've got to shape up, okay?"

In her mind, it was perfect. If Jaune took Yang to see that movie, the one with the deer, then Yang would go all blubby like she normally did. Whenever that happened, she liked to hold Ruby's hand for comfort. If she wasn't there though, then Yang would hold Jaune's hand.

That was second base! At least she was fairly sure it was second base. When Yang explained the base system, she made sure Ruby knew a home run was when you had to bring the boy home so he could meet her and be judged. That was just before you were allowed to kiss them.

Oh, maybe she should try and make it so that Jaune and Yang kissed too. Ruby imagined that. Something bubbled in her stomach. For some reason she didn't like the picture in her mind. She wasn't sure why. I'm probably just a little sick. It's fine. Jaune and Yang will be a great couple. It would be great, awesome.

It definitely would…

Jaune scratched his cheek. "Well, I guess I should ask her out some time then. Still, that doesn't mean we can't go and see a movie, right? I want to go with you as well."

"J-Jaune…" Ruby looked away, face aflame. How could he be so blunt? Her heart hammered in her chest, and she honestly felt faint. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Uh-oh, she was hyperventilating. She had to change the subject, and fast. "S-Shouldn't we be more focused on the task at hand, Cardin?"

"Huh? But you were the one who brought up Yang."

"N-never mind that," she said, "the point is, our prank was awesome!" She wouldn't let anyone take that away from her. They'd not been able to find fake tentacles, but these would do, and they'd been cheap. "I'm not sure what the store clerk said about eating them though. Who would want to eat tentacles?"

"Exactly. right!?" Jaune crossed his arms, an almost offended look on his face. Frankly, she was just relieved he'd forgotten about the asking her on a date thing. "Do you think that's what tentacle hentai is? Eating them?"

Ruby hoped not, since that would have meant something a little awkward around when Hentacle had her in his grasp. The thought still sent a strange, not unpleasant, tingle through her legs. "I don't think it's that," she said. "I still really want to find out what it is. Haven't you had any luck?"

"None at all… I think we need to find someone who knows a little more about it."

"No one will tell us," Ruby griped. "Whenever I ask Weiss, she says to ask Pyrrha, and when I ask Pyrrha, she says to ask Yang."

"What does Yang say?"

"Don't ask anyone," Ruby grumbled. Her sister could be a pain like that.

"We need to ask someone who knows more," he said, "someone a little more… well-read."

"Blake?" Ruby asked, earning a nod. "We could try. I mean, we'd need to get her alone and not with Yang, but she seems nice enough. Nora always talks about how shy she is and how she desperately wants everyone to be her friend."

"Worth a shot," Jaune said. "Are you feeling better after yesterday? I know you were feeling down after your loss."

"Eh," Ruby glanced away, stifling her pout. "I'm fine. I feel loads better."

"Really?"

Eh, he actually believed her?

"Yeah, sure. I mean, it's just a loss, right? It's not like I want to get back at her or anything." Not like she wanted to show that big-breasted woman what happened to people who stole other's teammates, right? Not like she wanted to prove to everyone how strong she was, one foot atop the defeated woman's back, right?

Right!?

"That's great. I was really worried for a moment there. You looked really beat up."

"Ha ha, yeah well, you know me – always bouncing back. Pyrrha was training me last night anyway. I'm going to get stronger so I can-" Whoops. "Do… things…" She laughed. "Yeah."

"Things…?"

"Yeah. Oh, you know, fighting Grimm, defending myself, proving… things." Ruby had the feeling she wasn't getting through to him, or that she was at least raising his suspicions. "Hey look, there's the others. Let's go!"

"H-Hey Ruby, wai-" Jaune yelped as she caught his hand and dragged him toward the cafeteria. Once inside, it didn't take long to locate their team, sat as they were on a table to themselves.

"Hey guys," Ruby cheered, sitting down and letting go of Jaune. He staggered for a moment, but sat down on her left.

"Hey to yourself," Pyrrha smiled. "Where were you?"

"Yeah, Ruby?" Yang asked, huge grin in place. She pointedly looked down to Ruby's hand, and when she realised why – she dropped Jaune's like it was made of molten lava. "Where were you and Jaune? You definitely looked like you had somewhere special to go when the two of you snuck off after class. Care to share it with the rest of us?"

Oh crud. What did she say? They knew about the prank war, but Ruby doubted Weiss would at all be pleased if she found out the two of them were doing it between lessons. Pyrrha would give her the disappointed look too! "Uh… we were…" Sweat beaded on her brow. "Oh wow, where were we, Jaune? I can't remember."

"We went to get some tentacles."

Dead silence met his proclamation. Ruby slapped a hand into her face. Really, what had she been thinking inviting him to answer for her? Okay. It was fine. She just needed to do some damage control. Yang looked the worse. Her eyes were wide. It looked like she'd been stabbed through the chest.

"W-Why?" she croaked.

Jaune coughed. "I can't tell you."

"WHY?" Yang demanded.

"It's private."

"Like hell it is!" Their plates rattled as Yang slammed her hands down on the table.

"Yang, calm down," Ruby hissed, aware that they'd drawn some attention. "We didn't do anything, sheesh. We were just…" Okay, go with a half-truth. "We were trying to find out what that tentacle hentai thing is. We went and bought some octopus tentacles, but it was just food."

"Octopus?" Yang swayed, and then collapsed down into her seat. "Thank God… I thought… no, wait. You did eat it, right?"

"Ew, no. I wouldn't eat them after what we did with them!?"

"W-What you did with them?" Yang's face was pale. "W-W-What did you do?"

"Nothing," Ruby lied. "We just looked at them. Why? What did you think we did?"

"Nothing! Nothing at all. I just… I need a moment to not have a heart attack." She waved a hand. "Ignore me, please. I'm just nearly dying over here."

"So…" Ruby began, wondering if this was the right moment.

"I'm not telling you what it is," Yang growled. "Ask again when you're fifty."

Bah! That was unfair. Ruby crossed her arms and pouted, and looked to Jaune to see if he would do the same. He didn't. He scratched the back of his head and laughed nervously, which felt like a complete betrayal. She was trying to take a stand against injustice here. The least he could do was stand with her.

Maybe he was right. They should ask Blake when they had a chance. Ruby looked toward the girl, then paused and lowered her hands. "Uh… what happened to Blake?" she whispered. The dark-haired girl looked like she hadn't gotten a single second of sleep, and for once it looked like it wasn't Nora's fault. She was buried in her scroll, looking for something as she whispered to herself. "Is this normal?" Ruby asked.

Nora sighed. She looked… not upset, but worried. "Blakey is kinda focused on something at the moment. Don't worry. I'm keeping two eyes on her!"

"It's not a new thing," Ren added, nodding to Ruby for her concern. "Do not worry. We can handle this if it gets much worse."

If they said so. It was nice to see them all getting on as a team. Besides, she had her own problems to deal with, most of them revolving around a very shapely, very mean, and very doomed dark-haired witch. Well, that and her naughty dreams, which still hadn't gone away, no matter how much she tried to ignore them. She had to find out what this tentacle hentai thing was – for her own sanity.

It might hold the key to stopping her over-active imagination.

For now, she needed a distraction. Yang made a convenient one. "When are you and Jaune going on your next date?" she asked.

Yang spat out her soda across the table.

"W-What?" she coughed.

"Your date," Ruby said, wiping some grape juice from her shirt. Great. Now she'd need to go and get changed before class. "You've been on two, right? Aren't you going to go on more?"

"Ah, well…" Yang looked to Jaune, eyes wide. "I don't know if… well, it's not so easy."

"Did I do something wrong?" he asked. "If so, I'm sorry…"

"No, no. You didn't do anything bad." Yang waved her hands to calm him down. She bit her lip and looked to Ruby. "I was just thinking that it might be unfair, you know? You've been out with me twice. Why not go out with Ruby a bit?"

What… the… hell? Ruby's mouth fell open. What was her sister doing? "I'd never do that!" Ruby yelped. "What kind of person do you think I am?"

"Ruby!" Yang hissed, "It's fine. You can-"

"No, I can't. Jaune, you need to take Yang out on another date, one where it's just the two of you."

"You don't, Jaune. It's fine – the last one was great."

Jaune looked between the two bickering sisters, each trying to foist him off on the other. "I… don't really understand what's going on," he said.

Weiss patted his arm. "I think that's for the best."

Ruby ignored them, focused on Yang. Why her sister kept trying to sacrifice her own happiness, she had no idea, but she wasn't going to let it happen. When Yang next opened her mouth to argue, Ruby shoved a muffin into it.

Yang's eyes widened, and while she instinctively chewed and swallowed it, she glared at Ruby afterwards.

"What?" Ruby asked innocently. "You looked hungry."

"Yeah?" Yang growled and reached for an apple. "Well, maybe you need to get a little vitamin, dear sister. How about I force it down myself."

"Stop, stop, stop!" Jaune appeared between them, one foot on the table. He had one hand on Ruby's shoulder, and the other on Yang's wrist. "Come on you two. I don't know why this is such a big deal, but there's no reason to fight over it."

"Jaune is right," Weiss sighed. "You're both being incredibly childish. Look at you, throwing food at one another. You'd think this was a preschool instead of a huntsman academy."

Shame pooled in Ruby's stomach, forcing her down with a cringe. Weiss was right. She was acting like a child. Cinder wouldn't shout and throw food around like a kid, a treacherous part of her mind reminded her. How was she supposed to prove her maturity if she kept getting worked up like this? "You're right," she said, deciding to be the bigger person. "I'm sorry, Weiss."

"And you, Xiao-Long?"

"Tch. Yeah. Whatever." Yang sat down and crossed her arms. "I suppose there wouldn't be much challenge in it anyway."

Ruby's head shot up. "Excuse me, dear sister?"

"Hm? Something wrong with your hearing, Rubes?"

Oh, Yang was going to regret that…

/-/

Mercury wasn't used to being the centre of attention. It somewhat went against the whole point of being an assassin. With him having to blend in with the general population, however, and with Cinder's ire a possibility if he didn't, he had no choice but to respond when the rabbit-eared girl called his name in surprise and waved. Luckily, he did remember hers. The people with her, on the other hand, he had no idea.

"Hi Velvet."

"Hey Mercury." She smiled shyly. "I just saw you and thought I'd say hello. Where are you headed?"

"To the cafeteria." He jerked a hand in the direction. "My team are having lunch, but I needed to get something from my room."

"Oh right. Well, we just came from the-" Velvet didn't get a chance to finish, on account of how the girl beside her stepped in front, a hand on Velvet's shoulder.

"Whoah, whoah, girl," she said. She flashed Mercury a cocksure smile. "You never said anything about getting cosy with another first year. Who's tall and silver over here?"

"Tall, silver and cool, thank you," he replied.

The girl in the beret grinned. "Cocky too, but does he have something to back it up with, hm?"

She knew how to play the game. Mercury crossed his arms and tilted his head to the side, a clearly challenging gesture. She mimicked it, but with a long look up and down his body, one that might have left a more uncertain guy blushing. "You tell me," he said. "You've gotten a good enough look."

"I dunno, that uniform hides a lot… maybe I should take a look under it just to be sure."

He raised an eyebrow, then met her smug smirk with a grin of his own. "The pants stay on, but you're welcome to check the rest… if you've got the guts."

"That a challenge, big boy?"

Mercury grinned back. For a moment, he'd forgotten anyone else was there, but an awkward cough from the taller guy brought things back into reality. It also broke Velvet out of her shock, and the rabbit-eared girl covered her face with both hands.

"Coco!" she cried, scandalised. "Oh my god, Mercury. I'm so sorry. She's always like this!"

"Chill it, bun," the girl – Coco – laughed. "He can take it, can't you, hot-stuff?"

"I can take anything you've got and more."

"Really?" Coco leaned forward. She let her glasses slide down her nose a fraction of an inch, just enough to show him her eyes. "Care to test that?"

"I dunno." He leaned forward. "Do you?"

Coco laughed and straightened up. She slapped his arm. "Oh, I like you. You're good. Bun, really, you need to quit hiding all these boy toys you keep finding. Damn, you came out of your shell hard this year. Does your thirst know no bounds?"

"Coco, please stop talking," Velvet whined.

"Heh, bun?" Mercury asked.

"Please don't you start." She shook her head. "She's always called me that. A-Anyway, I'm sorry about her – and what she said. If you haven't figured it out, this is my team. There's Fox and Yatsuhashi," she gestured to the two guys beside her, and while they fixed him with considering looks, neither seemed too affronted.

"Hey," he greeted. "Name's Mercury."

"You are Velvet's boy toy?" the tallest asked. His voice was deep, and also a little threatening.

"Yatsuuu!" Velvet whined.

"I'm not, no." He laughed. "We're just friends." Well, as close as he could ever get to having a friend. She was more of an informant or a contact, but she'd been a pretty useful one before. Maybe she could be again. "I take it the last one is Coco. She always like that?"

"Unfortunately," the large man sighed. He nodded at Mercury, apparently pleased with the answer he'd given. "I will apologise for her as well. Alas, we've tried our best to limit her more... difficult tendencies."

"How cruel…" Coco chuckled. "My own team turned against me. I should keep an eye on you. You're dangerous."

"More than you realise, babe."

She paused, some of her teasing evaporating as she looked at him a little more closely. "Still," she continued, "it's rare for Vel to be so casual around someone. She usually has trouble making friends. Level with me, kid. You got some ulterior motive?"

"Coco!" Velvet hissed and pinched her teammate's arm.

"Have I got an ulterior motive for her calling me over?" Mercury waggled his eyebrows, and Coco relaxed with a smirk of her own. "Not really," he said. "Right now, I'm pretty hungry, hence me heading to the cafeteria."

"Well, we wouldn't want to keep you from growing up big and strong," Coco mimed a mother's voice for the last bit, slapping a hand against his chest. "Sadly, bun's going to have to come with us. She's more thirsty than hungry. It's been getting worse lately."

"Coco, I hate you so much…" Velvet sighed and rolled her eyes at him. "Ignore her. She's not had enough oxygen to her brain today."

"Me?" Coco asked. "Or you? You looked like you could hardly breathe when you saw Arc coming straight out of a wet t-shirt contest."

"Coco! Stop talking, please!"

Velvet looked mortified, but Mercury's attention had been grabbed the moment the name was mentioned. "You know what happened to him?" he asked. Coco and Velvet stared at him. "I'm an old friend of his," he explained. "I know someone threw water all over him. I had to lend him my shirt to wear back to his dorm. Did you see who it was?"

"Cardin," Velvet replied. "Cardin Winchester. I overheard him a day or so before saying he was going to do something to Jaune, but I didn't know what. He said…" Her cheeks darkened. "He said he wanted Jaune on his knees, and that he would do something to him."

"Do… something?"

"Winchester's a fruit," Coco explained. "At least that's what I hear. Nothing against it myself, but he seems pretty focused on a guy who doesn't return his feelings, an' that rubs me the wrong way. Bun and I came across Arc soaked to the bone. I'm pretty sure he said Winchester did it."

"He did," Velvet confirmed.

Heh… well, it looked like his new contact was proving even more useful than he'd first thought. Mercury grinned. "Thanks for letting me know. It's a real help." Cinder would want to know. With that in mind, maybe it would be a good idea to keep Velvet on his good side. She was nice enough, not a pain in the ass like Emerald, and her partner was pretty fun too. "Anything I can do to help you out in return?"

"Ooh, is that an offer?" Coco teased.

"For you? Any day."

Coco cackled.

"Ugh, you two." Velvet was more reserved. "Um, well… maybe you could help me with something," she said, "When you've got time, that is. You said you're an old friend of Jaune's, right?"

"Yeah."

Sort of.

"Then maybe you can… uh… help me… later." Velvet's cheeks flushed, but she waved a hand. "Maybe it would be easier if I just let you know via scroll. Can I get your number?"

"Moving fast, bun."

"Coco. Shut up."

Mercury snorted, but went with the idea. It wasn't a bad one. He let Velvet add her name and contact to his scroll, then sent her a blank message so she could have his in return. He'd never had an actual contact before, but he knew from Cinder how to deal with them. Give them what they want, keep them happy, and they would keep you happy in return. In this case, if he helped Velvet, she would be his eyes and ears.

It was perfect.

"I'll message you later," she promised. The look on her face said she didn't want to say it in front of her team, not that he thought they were fooled for a moment. "Anyway, we'll leave you to get some food. It was nice seeing you again, Mercury."

"Yeah, you too," he said, and found himself surprised that he actually agreed. They brushed past, and jumped when a hand slapped his ass.

"Nice try," Coco laughed, "but I got the last laugh."

He watched them go, shaking his head. Heh. What a character. He'd have to make sure he won the next round. Well, if there would be a next round. There wouldn't if he kept Cinder waiting any longer. He jogged the rest of the way to the cafeteria, grabbing some food from the cooks before bringing it to the isolated table Cinder, Emerald and Neo had chosen to sit at.

"You're late," Cinder said.

Emerald shot him a smug look.

"Sorry about that. I was talking to one of my contacts."

"You have contacts?" Emerald snorted. "Don't make me laugh."

"Careful, Em. Your jealousy is showing again. Don't worry. I won't leave you alone, just because I have better people to talk to."

"Tch. Like I care."

"If you two could stop for even a moment," Cinder interrupted. "Mercury, we were just discussing our responsibilities in Beacon." Her eyes drifted left and right, a subtle warning to watch their words. Mercury nodded. "How are you integrating with your new friends? I hope things fare well."

"It goes," he said, and then went into more detail when her eyes narrowed a fraction. "I'm closer to Jaune than most of the others, but they all seem okay enough with me. I'd say Nora, Yang and Jaune are the ones I get on with most." That wasn't to say the others suspected him, so much as they were shy, standoffish or otherwise not interested in him.

The latter applied to Nikos and the Schnee in equal measure, though with how polite Nikos was, he had a feeling there was a deeper reason behind it than simply not trusting him. Ren and Blake were just quiet. He didn't talk with them much.

"That's good to hear, Mercury. I'm pleased you're making friends outside of our team."

He nodded, message received. He was to continue as he was doing, and wouldn't get quite so many orders from her as a result. Presumably, that was to free him up to spend less time with them and more with Arc. He sighed. This was going to be a pain. Emerald sniggered at him, but Cinder turned to her before he could even think to reply.

"How about you, Emerald? Have you been able to find out what I asked you?"

Emerald winced, and that was answer enough. Suddenly, the shoe was on the opposite foot, and Mercury took immense pleasure in leaning back, crossing his arms, and making it abundantly clear that he wasn't in the firing line. "Yeah, Em. How goes it? I mean, I've done my job easily enough. You've done yours, right?"

"I-It's not that simple," Emerald said, and winced when Cinder raised a delicate eyebrow. "I-I'm sorry, ma-Cinder. I'm trying my best, and I've narrowed things down too." She tried for a confident smile. "I've done some asking around and narrowed down the potential culprits to less than a quarter of the school's population."

"Hm… I suppose that is adequate. There are a lot of students here." Cinder nodded, letting the issue go.

Emerald looked relieved.

"How much longer do you believe it will take?"

"Not long, I promise. I think I've found someone who knows who did it, but he's afraid to talk to me for fear of repercussions. I just need to meet with him." Emerald's smile took on a cocky edge. "I won't let you down, Cinder. I'll find out who assaulted him and left him soaked."

Mercury's ears perked up. "Oh, that? It was Winchester."

Cinder's head snapped to him.

Emerald's mouth fell open.

"What?" Cinder asked. Her eyes narrowed. "Mercury, if this is one of your games…"

"No game," he said. "I told you I was meeting one of my contacts. Well, she told me how she witnessed first-hand Jaune walking down the corridor in a wet shirt. He told her face-to-face that Cardin Winchester did it to him."

"Is that so?"

Emerald shook her head back and forth. She looked mortified, angry – and more importantly – jealous. It didn't take a genius to figure out why, and Mercury leaned forward on the table, smelling a chance to make her squirm. Well, with a face like that, there was no way he wasn't going to milk this for all it was worth.

"Oh yeah," he said. "I trust her, and she was certain of it." He smiled and shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. "I know you didn't ask me to look into it, but I figured I'd do my bit to help. You did ask me to keep an eye on him, after all. This is just me going a little further to keep him safe."

It was complete bullshit, of course, but it was just plausible enough to be possible – and Emerald knew it. She glared at him, hands clenched into fists. He could feel her anger, her frustration. What now, Em? he thought. You've always been Cinder's favourite. I wonder how it feels to play second fiddle now.

His attention was brought back to his leader as she cupped his cheek in her hand. Once more, there was no heat, no pain. Just soft, sensuous skin. "Well done, Mercury," she whispered. "You've impressed me yet again. This contact of yours… she was able to provide such information?"

"Absolutely," he said, basking in the ill-deserved praise. "I figured Beacon was new territory for us, and I've seen you do this before. I thought I'd make life a little easier and try it for myself. Of course, if you want something finding out, I can ask her. I have her number."

"Excellent." Cinder leaned back, a pleased smile on her face. "For now, we'll focus on the task at hand. I want as much information as can be found on this Winchester man. I want to know his reasons, his motives."

"I'll find out what I can," Emerald hurried to say.

Cinder looked down on her. "Hm… I should hope so. You would do well to take a leaf from Mercury's book, Emerald. He sets a good example."

"I try my best," he demurred.

Emerald's bitter snarl was music to his ears.

"Don't let me down this time, Emerald." Cinder said. "I won't abide failure."

"I understand. You can rely on me."

"We shall see…"

His partner looked horrified. The simple words, spoken with a complete lack of faith, blew apart her world. She'd always been Cinder's favourite, the one that could be relied on. Now, she was second best. She wasn't special. She'd been replaced. Her eyes shifted to him, the rage behind them clear.

Mercury smirked back. `Get cucked,` he mouthed.

"Well," Cinder said, rising to her feet, "until then, we'll carry on as normal. The two of you should-" She cut off.

The room descended into silence.

Mercury's mouth fell open.

Cinder Fall, easily the deadliest woman he'd ever known, stood with both hands on the table from where she'd pushed herself up. Her eyes were shut, mouth twisted in a deep frown. Vegetable, gravy, and the remains of a slice of beef slid down her face.

It fell onto the table with a wet slap, leaving a long, greasy streak down her cheek.

Cinder's eyes opened. They blazed with fury.

"FOOD FIGHT!" someone screamed.

/-/

It was a disaster. How had it become like this? Jaune stood in the middle of a culinary apocalypse, one hand held towards his team, the other towards Team RYBN. It might have been a symbol of defiance, of bravery and peace.

The fact they utterly ignored him somewhat ruined that.

A cabbage bounded off his head, knocking him down, and he only had half a moment to wonder where someone had found a whole cabbage from before he was yelping and crawling away as two people nearly fell on him. They landed hard, students he didn't recognise, and one pushed the other's body down, wielding a cabbage like a dagger. The first blocked it, and what followed was a terrifying struggle for dominance.

"I don't understand," Jaune whispered in his mind, fighting to get back on his feet. Ruby and Yang had just been arguing – and he didn't even really get what that was about. "Since when do people fight with food? This is ridiculous!"

"I think you mean amazing!" Remy cheered. "Yeah, stab him – go on, beat him to death with that croissant, I dare you!"

"REMY!"

"What?" The parasite somehow managed to sound defensive. "I'm a Grimm. This is what I do."

"Hold a food fight!?"

"Well, when you think about it, all fights between humans and Grimm are food fights."

Ugh. Forget it. Jaune slipped past two struggling girls, one pulling the other's hair, the second smothering ketchup on her opponent's shirt. They crashed into a table and rolled onto it, disappearing over the other side in a crash of cutlery. Things were only more confusing since several people had discovered hitherto unrealised applications for their Semblances, and were now putting those to terrible use.

Eventually, he managed to reach the only bastion of calm he could see. "Weiss," he gasped.

His partner spun, eyes narrowed. "If you're about to even think of touching me with something, I'll-" She paused, and quickly realised he wasn't armed or trying to attack her. "Finally," she sighed, "a modicum of sense. What's gotten into these idiots?"

"I don't know. What do we do?"

"Loathe as I am to admit defeat, I think we should leave them to it." Weiss side-stepped a curry and glared at the person who'd thrown it. They quickly re-evaluated their targets and looked elsewhere. "Frankly, I'm just pleased to see my partner has some common sense. Let these idiots deal with this mess, and the inevitable punishment." She huffed. "I won't be dragged into such a juvenile display of-"

She was cut off as a can of soda struck the ground before her. It went off like a grenade, showering Weiss with purple drink. He tried to cover her, but wasn't fast enough. Weiss stood there, eyes wide, uniform soaked. Her hair hung beside her, sticky, lank, and now a little purple as well.

"W-Weiss…"

"Those… those…" Her hands curled into fists, teeth fritted.

"Weiss, let's just get out of here. You can get a shower in our roo-"

"Whoever did that will pay with their life!" Weiss roared. She turned, grabbed a baguette from a nearby table and brandished it like a rapier. With a scream, she charged into the fray.

Jaune watched, one hand extended as though to stop her. His last chance was gone. "But… But I thought you said you wouldn't be dragged in…"

"Yeah! Kill, kill, kill!"

"Defend your Queen!" Nora screamed from the side. The orange-haired girl had managed to somehow build a fort out of tables, and now balanced atop it, a watermelon on a stick by her side. At the base, Ren stood with crossed arms and a beleaguered expression. Blake was beside him, and she looked just as eager.

Well, it was somewhere where the open warfare wasn't happening, at least. Jaune jogged over, yelping as he nearly caught some soup with his face. Even his Grimm form wouldn't have helped much, other than allowing him to throw more food around. "G-Guys," he yelled, rushing up to them. "What's going on?"

"Halt, knave!" Nora looked down on him. "You are not part of this Kingdom. Knight Blake, divest this man of his weapons!"

Blake sighed. "He isn't armed, Nora."

"Ahem…?"

"I'm not calling you your majesty."

"The High Queen senses treason in the ranks," Nora's eyes narrowed. "Your High Queen watches and knows all."

"The `High Queen` ought to stop referring to herself in the third person…" Blake groaned. She turned to Jaune, eyes flat. "I'd escape while you can. You won't find any sanity here."

Jaune looked between them, not quite understanding what was going on, but getting the idea that this `Kingdom` was a damn sight less likely to get him smothered under a chicken dinner than the wild melee going on elsewhere - sanity or not. Well, if Nora wanted to act the Queen, he knew how to deal with someone like that.

He fell to one knee, head bowed. "Oh High Queen," he called, "Your humble servant begs clemency and protection. Please allow me into your Kingdom, oh beloved and wise monarch."

"Ooh, the High Queen likes what she hears," Nora crowed. "Royal Consort Ren, the Queen want this man in her Kingdom! Make it so!"

Ren rolled his eyes but probably figured it would be easier to go along with it than not. He strode forward, but was quickly swept off his feet as a red blur shot by his legs. He fell with a cry, crashing down onto a salad. Lettuce flew into the air, his olive oil seeping out onto the floor.

"REN!" Nora cried. "Who dares attack my consort!?"

"I do!" Ruby cried. She leapt back to stand in front of him, a chocolate muffin in her left hand, a can of soda in her right. "You can't steal my teammate like that. It's… it's cheating! He's my teammate, so he's on our side."

"Ruby," he whispered, "Actually, I-"

"Who's side?" Yang asked. She sashayed forward, standing opposite Ruby and in front of her allies. The blonde's uniform was stained, her hair a little out of place. It was clear she'd been fighting hard, and since the whole thing started between her and Ruby, Jaune felt confident in saying they'd been locked in a culinary struggle ever since. "I don't see anyone with you, Rubes. Besides, Jaune's going to side with me, right Jaune?"

"Uh…"

"What? NO!" Ruby looked back to him, eyes wide.

He squirmed, not quite sure why he was suddenly the centre of attention, but fairly sure it wouldn't lead to anything good.

"He's my teammate," Ruby growled. "Besides, I have Weiss and Pyrrha with me."

"I don't see them," Yang teased.

"Weiss!" Ruby yelled. "Ren was the one who threw that soda at you!"

"Huh?" Ren looked confused. "No, I didn-"

"RARGHHH!" Weiss charged him from the side, and whatever Ren was about to say went unspoken as he cursed and had to defend himself with a stick of celery. It didn't do much against the baguette, and Weiss drove him hard, a flurry of blows that pushed them both away.

Jaune wondered if Weiss hadn't seen the can in Ruby's hand.

"Meh," Yang waved one hand. "My partner will be fine. He's stronger than he looks."

"Help me!" Ren cried.

"Stronger than he sounds too." Yang sighed when Pyrrha appeared on the scene to see what was going on, and then was immediately attacked by Nora – who no doubt thought the champion was there to hurt Ren. "Besides, that still leaves the three of us against you."

"You mean a two on two," Ruby countered. "Jaune's on my side."

"I think he can make up his own mind, right?" Yang fluttered her lashes at him, and he suddenly found his cheeks flushing. She looked really pretty when she did that. "Come on, Jaune," she cooed. "Don't you want to fight beside me?"

"Jaune, no!" Ruby grabbed his hand. "You can't give into her. I'm your teammate, I'm your friend!" She looked up to him with wide silver eyes. They didn't exactly help her case. "We're… we're comic buddies, we're prank buddies – we're going to go on see movies together!"

Jaune blinked owlishly. "I thought you said I should go with Yang?"

"I changed my mind!"

"Wow, talk about mixed messages, sis. Ten minutes ago you were busy trying to force him onto me."

"That was ten minutes ago!" Ruby clutched his hand tighter, pulling him back with her. "Things change. He's on my side. He's mine!"

"I am?"

"Yes!" Ruby's eyes wavered. "Yang, you always steal things from me. You always steal my friends. You can't do this again. Please, Yang…" She sounded so broken, her voice weak and quiet.

"Ruby, I…" Yang's face fell.

As did her guard.

"HA!" Ruby cried as the muffin slammed into Yang's face, smearing chocolate all over her. "I love the guilt trip. It works every time!"

Yang wiped a hand across her face. Her eyes flashed red. "Ruby…" she growled, lowering herself down.

"Uh-oh…"

"Can I maybe suggest…"

"Already moving, Remy," Jaune said, having subtly distanced himself from his teammate. It proved the right choice for Yang dove toward her sister, arms extended. The two disappeared in a cloud of steamed rice, and he heard Yang scream something about Ruby paying for making her feel bad.

That left Blake and he alone. He turned to her, hand falling to a breadstick.

"I don't want to fight," Blake said, hands held up before her. "Let's just say we both defeated one another. That should make things easier."

Relief flooded him. "Oh, thank God," he said, calming down. "Finally, someone who isn't going to-"

"Jaune, move!"

His instincts kicked in, not sensing the threat, but knowing Remy wouldn't have screamed a warning without reason. He swayed back, eyes going wide as he saw the baguette flick less than an inch in front of his nose.

Blake cursed, holding the stick in one hand. He'd dodged only just in time.

"B-Blake…!?"

"I wasn't lying," she said. "I don't want this. It's childish and foolish, not to mention a waste of my time." She advanced on him, eyes narrowed. "If I don't fight, however, then Nora would hound me for months. I'm not putting up with that. Don't fight me, Jaune. Make this easier for the both of us and give in."

Oh, come on! Jaune danced back, or at least he linked to think he did. In reality he fell on his ass, slid on a metal tray, and crashed into a table. It still helped him dodge Blake's attack, but she charged after him. It was like the docks all over again, except this time he was weak and unable to defend himself. He yelped and brought the tray up in front of him.

Blake's baguette snapped on it. She cursed and planted a hand on his shoulder, vaulting over his form to land on a table behind him. Her hand caught a bowl of peas, flicking them towards him like miniature missiles.

He hated peas.

"Hey. Ow. Stop that!" He fell back under the onslaught, eyes closed. One of his hands slapped about on the table next to him, seeking something he could use as a shield. His fingers touched something. He dragged it in front of him.

"Argh! WHY!?" the thing said.

Jaune cracked an eye open, cringing as he realised his shield went by another name – a person – and that said person had taken the barrage for him. "Sorry," he whispered. His eyes widened when he saw Blake grab a cucumber and rush in. He twisted to the side, blocking it.

"Argh!" the shield cried. "You don't sound sorry! Stop using me!"

"It was an accident! I didn't mean to, I just-" Jaune yelped and shifted again, instinctively placing the poor guy in front of another attack. "Oh God, I'm so sorry."

"Let go of me!" the figure whined. "Blake, help me."

Blake paused. "Do I know you?"

"Y-You're joking," the man in Jaune's arms whispered. "H-How do you not know me? You left me. You abandoned me!"

"Not ringing any bells," Blake said. Her eyes flicked to Jaune. "Do you know him?" she asked.

He did, but he couldn't say that. With his blonde hair, open shirt and short blue jeans, Jaune knew he'd seen him before, even before he felt the monkey tail trapped between them. Only his Grimm form had met the guy though, so he couldn't say that.

Besides, what was the homeless guy from the docks doing at Beacon?

"I don't believe this!" the guy growled. "Sun. My name is Sun! I'm the guy who told you about the White Fang at the docks. I fought alongside you. You left me there!"

Blake blinked, but the realisation seemed to dawn on her. "Ooh," she said, slapping the cucumber into her open hand. "You're the stalker."

Sun nodded. "Ye- NO! Damn it, I'm not a stalker! How is that the one thing you remember!?" He struggled and flailed, catching Jaune in the face with an elbow. Once free, the faunus ducked, leaving him open.

Blake took the opportunity. She closed in, batting the unfortunate man aside and stabbing toward Jaune's head. He caught her wrist, twisted it to the side, and tried to get her to drop the cucumber. Her knee caught his stomach, winding him.

"Sorry," she said. "I'm just trying to avoid Nora being a pain."

"Ow," Jaune ducked a stab. "It's fine. I'm-ow, can you not hit me there?"

"I didn't mean to. Sorry about that. Ah- mind the hair please!"

"My bad!"

The apologetic melee continued, until Jaune was knocked back against a table. She came in for the kill. In a blind panic, he grabbed the first thing he could and flicked it toward her.

Blake cried out in surprise, tumbling to the floor. "N-Not again," she gasped.

Jaune opened his eyes. Before him, the girl lay, tied and bound with a linked chain of sausages wrapped around her legs. The other end was in his hand.

"Get me out of this!"

"Don't do it!"

As if he would be so stupid. Jaune leapt forward, catching her arm and using the sausage chain to bind that as well. The cucumber fell, kicked aside so she couldn't use it on him. Jaune stepped back once he was done, to look over his achievement.

Blake growled up at him, cheeks crimson. "You tell no one," she hissed.

"Uh, sure…" Jaune shrugged and lifted her up onto the edge of the closest table. "I'll leave you here until you break out. At least it's not on the floor, hey?"

Blake sighed. "Thank you. I appreciate-"

"Argh!" Yang cried, thrown back by Ruby. She landed on the other end of the table, knocking it down. The momentum acted as a lever, turning the wood Blake had been sat on into a see-saw. The girl flew up into the air, her last words turning into a wail.

Crap.

Jaune rushed over, hoping to catch her, but her speed was too much, and with Blake's body tangled up, she wouldn't be able to do much to save herself. His eyes widened as her velocity turned downward, her hair whipping up as she hurtled toward the floor.

A pair of arms caught her.

"Got you," Ren said. He landed easily, crouching slightly with Blake in his arms. "Are you okay?"

"Y-Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks." Blake breathed a sigh of relief. She untangled herself from the sausages, and whispered another thank you as Ren stood her back on her feet. With the three teammates together, and Weiss, Pyrrha and Jaune on the other side, it looked like a meeting of the teams once more.

Except for the fact Nora was staring at Blake. "Bridal…" she whispered. "Caught… Renny's arms… none for Nora. Never for Nora." Her eyes narrowed. "Traitor!" she roared, and swung a chicken leg at her partner's face.

Blake fell back with a yelp. "Traitor? How am I a traitor? You're the one who's attacking me!"

"Betrayer, thief!" Nora continued her onslaught. "Take your punishment!"

Jaune watched it with a vague sense of detachment. "What's even going on anymore?" he asked.

"I have no idea, but this is our chance," Weiss growled. "Pyrrha, if you and Jaune focus on attacking Blake and Nora while they're distracted, I can finish off the dead man who covered me in grape."

"Weiss, I really don't think that's his fault," Pyrrha said. "Actually, maybe we should get out of here while we have the chance."

A great explosion of food behind them interrupted that idea. Jaune's eyes widened as he saw a full table fly in towards them, and it was only his panicked squeak – and Weiss and Pyrrha's reaction times – that prevented them being hit by it. It smashed down behind them. Come to think of it, what had happened to all the other fighters? This had been an all-out brawl, but the cafeteria was just about silent.

The woman that stalked through the smoke answered that question.

Jaune whimpered.

Cinder's eyes blazed, his Big Sis striding through the remains of all who had dared stand against her. She had no food in hand, but considering the look on her face – and the gravy – he doubted a `food fight` was what she had in mind. It looked like she wanted to murder someone.

"Who did this?" she hissed, pointing to her face. "Who threw their food at me?"

Jaune's eyes shifted to Ruby. There'd been a lull in her fight with Yang, mostly as the two tried to figure out who had thrown the table. Ruby's face was just a little too smug as she looked at Cinder. A little too self-satisfied… "Yang did it," she said.

Jaune didn't believe her. He didn't think Cinder did either.

"Weiss," Jaune whispered. "I think we… Weiss?"

"She went after Ren," Pyrrha said. "He was distracted."

True to her words, he heard a loud yelp as Ren was knocked into a nearby pillar by a battered haddock. Weiss then froze her fish solid with some ice dust, chasing after him with her improvised shiv.

Damn it, Weiss. You were supposed to be the normal one.

"Help Ruby," Jaune said, suddenly more afraid of what might happen than he had been before. This was bad. A food fight was one thing, but he'd always known it wouldn't lead to real violence or injury. With Cinder this angry, he wasn't so sure. He didn't think he'd ever seen her so furious. He rushed over to stand before her, a wide smile on his face. "Hey Cinder. Wow, you look great toda-urk!"

"Not now, Jaune," she said, lifting him by his throat. "Be a good boy and wait here. I shall be back in a moment."

He gasped when she let go, falling to his knees. The second it took him to regain his breath was all she needed to move past him, eyes focused on Ruby – who was caught in a brawl between Yang and Pyrrha.

A pair of hands helped him up. "You've got to stop her," Mercury hissed.

"Don't you think I'm trying?"

"Well try harder." The silver-haired teen looked to Cinder and swallowed. "I'm not getting in the way of that. I doubt she'd normally do anything to break her cover here, but right now, I'm not so sure."

That wasn't a good sign. Jaune nodded, looking over to his friend. "You're normal, right?" he asked. "You're not going to go and attack me in the back the moment I try and stop her?"

"Why would I do that?"

He sighed in relief. Thank Salem for Mercury. At least someone wasn't going to completely lose their mind. "Never mind," he said. "Let's go."

Mercury nodded. "If you distract and try to reason with her, I'll go get that Ruby girl and get her out of here. Then we can-"

Mercury never got to finish. A whole turkey bounced off the back of his head, knocking him down onto one knee. He gasped and rubbed his head, then looked back with wide eyes. "Emerald? What the hell!? We're on the same side here!"

"Are we?" Emerald growled, lifting up a fork menacingly. It looked like she'd gone straight from fighting with food to contemplating actual murder. "Think you can upstage me, huh? Going to make a fool of me in front of Cinder, Mercury?" Her eyes flashed. "I think not!"

Mercury howled as he was knocked over, the smaller girl straddling him as she lashed out.

Everything had gone to hell in a hand basket. Weiss was throwing Ren around the room. Yang and Ruby were locked in an eternal struggle. Pyrrha was crying out beneath them, having somehow gotten stuck. Nora was chasing Blake. Mercury was begging him for help. Neo was beating an already defeated student over the head with a candy cane. Remy was having the time of his life.

Cinder was going to brutalise Ruby.

He couldn't let that happen. Jaune's feet carried him forward. His eyes narrowed, muscles tensing, even as his mind – and Remy – screamed that this was a bad, bad, idea.

He knew. He just didn't see a better one.

Cinder didn't see him either. His shoulder hit the back of her waist, drawing a loud "oof" from her, even as she was lifted from her feet entirely and carried forward a few paces. They hit the ground as one, his Big Sis turning into a hellcat as she twisted, clawed and slammed the palm of her hand into his jaw.

"Ow-hey, Argh!" He cried out. "Cinder, wait. You can't. Think of your cover!"

"I'm not going to kill her," Cinder growled. "Just injure her a bit. Accidents happen. It's a combat school. She'll live… maybe."

"She's my teammate!"

"You can get a replacement!"

"I don't want a replacement." Jaune tried to pin her shoulder down. Cinder moved at the last moment, however, and his hand landed on something far softer.

He froze.

So did Cinder.

Crap, crap, crap. Jaune swallowed. There had to be an excuse he could give for this. There just had to be. He looked down at his arm, then his wrist, then his hand, and finally Cinder's round breast, cupped in his palm. It was incredibly soft, yet also firm. Against his will – honestly – his hand squeezed it.

Cinder gasped.

"I-I-I…"

"Jaune…" she warned, eyes narrowed.

"I-I'm sorry!" he gasped. "I-I didn't mean to." He'd just been trying to stop her, and then it was there, and then he couldn't stop – and it was instinct, and now his hand wouldn't come squeezed again.

Cinder's eyebrow twitched.

At first, he thought it was his life that flashed before his eyes, but a moment later he realised it was the ceiling and floor as he somersaulted through the air, his stomach in agony from where Cinder had planted both feet and kicked violently. As he descended, he caught sight of Pyrrha, looking up at him with wide eyes.

She was going to catch him! She was going to save him like Ren did Blake.

Pyrrha yelped and dove out of the way.

"I'm sorry!" she groaned, realising what she'd done a second later. The apology came a little late for Jaune, however.

It also came too late for Ruby and Yang, who'd been engaged with one another, and only noticed his approach around the time he started to scream. Their eyes widened, but when they tried to move away, both forgot that they had hold of one another, by collar, cuff, and in Yang's case, hair. He whimpered as he flew towards them.

The impact was far less soft than it had been with Cinder. He hit them face-first, and the three of them crashed into a nearby table, causing a trifle to explode. The bundle of limbs and bodies flopped over it, slid on the runny chocolate, and then slipped off the edge and crashed back down to the floor.

Jaune's back hit first. Ruby landed atop him, face-down, and buried in his chest. She might have pushed herself up were it not for Yang landing atop her, pinning the smaller girl to him, and also smashing her breasts into his face. In an effort to complete the trilogy of being unable to breathe, her face hit the remnants of the trifle, plastering the three of them in chocolate and cream.

It was that scene Glynda Goodwitch walked into, along with the wholesale battlefield the cafeteria had become. She wasn't pelted with food as she stepped through the door.

She was pelted with a Ren.

He slumped and fell to her feet groaning. Weiss froze a moment behind him, suddenly aware – and terrified – of exactly who she'd knocked him into. The teacher's arrival was a death knell to the combat. Everyone froze, some of the more enterprising students trying to crawl away, only to freeze as well when Miss Goodwitch's eyes turned to them.

If nobody moved a muscle… she might not see them.

The figure beside her was beholden to no such rules. It was a tall and ragged looking man with grey-black hair and a face that looked like it hadn't seen a razor in a while. Hadn't seen sleep either, apparently, for the eyes were bloodshot. They took in the scene, and then located two specific girls within it.

Jaune squirmed as the man looked at him, smothered in chocolate, and with both Ruby and Yang draped across him.

"I'm too late," he groaned. "It's already happened. I don't believe it… on the cafeteria floor as well? Tai, Raven and Summer never did that. Whipped cream, chocolate… someone kill me, please."

"Uncle Qrow!" Yang gasped.

"Uncle Qrow!" Ruby echoed.

"Uncle Qrow?" Jaune asked.

"Oi!" the man, Qrow, growled. "You don't get to call me that. Not yet anyway. Not ever if I have my way," he added under his breath. "Ugh, I need a drink."

"And I need a bigger office for all the detentions I'm about to hold," Miss Goodwitch growled. She stormed forward, flicking one hand and causing the room to rearrange itself. With a groan of concrete and metal, the cafeteria was slowly repaired. "Would somebody care to explain what happened here? Or should I just start handing out detentions left and right?"

"Hentacle did it," someone yelled.

"Detentions it is."

"Aww..."


There we go. Well, it was an odd chapter. In terms of pacing, one could say nothing happened, but I needed Qrow here, and didn't want to introduce him without at least a little scene for himself. It also sets up a few other themes which are important going forward. You probably all spotted a few of them.

Was it shounen-esque? Maybe… but this fic is supposed to be a lot lighter than ones like Not this time, fate and Professor Arc.


Next Chapter: 22nd June

P a treon . com (slash) Coeur