Disclaimer: I own nothing of RWBY.
A boy no older than seven-years-old poked his head out from underneath his Pumpkin Pete bed covers. Wondering silently why his father was calling him and interrupting his playtime with his imaginary wolf friend Fenrir. Dinner wasn't for another few hours and he knew his sisters were busy totting around their grandpa to not have broken anything. So what could his parents possibly want? Could it be he forgot about something? Only two people knew the answer.
"Coming!" Jaune yelled a minute later before looking under his covers. "I'll be back soon, okay Fenrir? Don't go anywhere!"
He jumped down from his bed and his tiny feet led him to the living room where his parents were waiting with their hands hidden behind their backs. Jaune, of course, didn't notice this, being seven and all, so he missed the way their smiles blossom when he stopped in front of them, all impatient and need to get back to his friend. Ignatius and Julian Arc had to stop themselves from laughing at Jaune's adorable, frustrated expression.
"There you are!" his father bellowed, poking his son on the chest. "What took you? Battling dastardly Grimm in your room again?"
"No!" Jaune blushed. "Me and Fenrir were guarding our castle against the evil Grimm Queen. And I need to hurry before he's captured. He needs his leader!"
His father took the opening and leveled with his son, kneeling eye-to-eye. "Ah, that's all good, Jaune, all very good indeed, but speaking of leaders, your mother and I finally think it's high time we teach you about responsibility, seeing as you want to be a Huntsmen and all. So, we each have a special gift to give you that'll help you become a better leader."
His eyes went wide. "Really!"
"Absolutely!" his mother added, kneeling beside her husband with her hand no longer hidden. She held out her palm for Jaune to see a tiny little seed resting in the dead center, all meek and small. "I want you to take this seed and do you know what else I want you to do with it?"
"No, silly." Julian laughed, placing the seed into Jaune's hand. "I want you to go outside and plant this seed. And I want you to water it every day and help it grow until bears a beautiful fruit for you to eat."
Such a sweet boy. "So you can learn some responsibility. Think of the seed as someone you're leading, if you don't take care of the seed, it will die. And you wouldn't want the poor thing to die, would you?"
"No!" Jaune shouted, pressing the seed closely to his heart. "I'll take good care of it! I promise! No one's gonna kick the bucket as long as Jaune Arc's around!"
His mother smiled brighter before ruffling up her son's hair. Ignatius then took his lead and grabbed Jaune's attention, bringing out his hidden palm for his son to see. On it was a white Dust shard. A simple shard with no actual Dust properties and considered useless by everyone. The perfect stone to teach his son about the aspect of power and what happened when power was no longer available. Not to mention they did have this neat effect when they came in contact with Aura.
"This here is a Dust shard. I want you to take it and make it glow. The brighter and warmer the glow, the stronger you've grown." He demonstrated by adding some of his own Aura into the shard and it glowed brightly in response. "Just like that seed, I want to see it grow and turn into something truly mighty!" He dropped the shard into Jaune's other hand and his son stubbornly frowned. "And don't worry, the Aura trapped inside that Dust shard will naturally seep out. So it can't hurt ya."
Jaune Arc knew he was not the shiniest tool in the weapon locker, but even he knew something about Dust shards. "But dad! I need Aura to do that! And I don't have Aura?"
"That's true! But we can fix that!" Ignatius grinned, grabbing Jaune's shoulder as his son's eyes went wide with childlike recognition. "For it is in passing that we achieve immortality. Through this, we become a paragon of virtue and glory to rise above all. Infinite in distance and unbound by death, I release your soul, and by my shoulder, protect thee."
Jaune felt a slight burning sensation develop in the center of his chest before it died. A tiny light shined off him and he could feel a tug deep within his soul. Then the sensation was gone and he was left standing there with a seed in one hand and a white Dust shard in the other. Both his parents seem utterly pleased with his Aura and made a show for it by pinching his cheeks.
"Arg!" Jaune swiped their hands away. "Stop that!"
His father pointed at the Dust shard. "Ha-ha! Well? Let's see what you got! Try using some of that Aura of yours!"
Forgetting about the evil pinching, Jaune smiled brightly and tried all his might to get a hang of Aura. It took a while, about ten minutes in fact until a small glow got born inside the middle of the shard. It was very light and hardly noticeable unless someone was directly looking for it, and even then they could barely see it when they narrowed their eyes. Easy enough, Jaune was disappointed. Compared to his father's glow, it was nothing. Almost zero.
"Aw! I can barely see it!" Jaune pouted, folding his arms in a stubborn way. His father merely laughed and placed his enormous palm over Jaune's head, obscuring his vision.
"Well, what did you expect, my boy? You're just a youngling! Give yourself a few more years and it'll grow! Of course, you need to practice."
"Just like this seed..." Cooed his mother affectionately with a little poke to his palm. Her smile made her little boy smile. "If you take the time and show it love, it'll grow and reward you with a pleasant fruit. But you must be patient and never give up and always love it."
Jaune gripped the tiny seed in his hand and pondered over the words with all the might a seven-year could. The small glow from the shard had already died, but he wasn't concerned, too busy taking his parent's words to heart. His childlike imagination overpowered rationality and everything else, allowing his mouth to beat his brain to the punch.
"I promise to never give up on you! I give you my word!" Jaune smiled at the tiny little seed, already thinking of the delicious fruit it would bear. "Promise!"
He quickly ran outside to their backyard to bury the seed, leaving his parents behind to watch their son take his first step to becoming a responsible person. To teach their son responsibility they gave him a task that was both rewarding, learning, and even a little bit enjoyable. The perfect lesson for a small child, but what the Arc's didn't know was that Jaune took his family's name very seriously, even more so than candy and his grandpa's stories.
The fire in his soul burned far brighter than even their own.
When Jaune ran outside, he spent the last hour looking for the perfect spot to plant his seed, taking time to check if the dirt had a lot of sun and wasn't too far away from the house, making sure it was fertile and dark enough, and other boring stuff he learned growing up in a household as big as his. He knew from having watched some of his sisters and his mother tending to their own garden that plants needing sunlight and water and very dark dirt.
Finally, after finding the perfect spot near his room's window, Jaune dug up a hole with his own two hands before dropping the little seed inside. It was barely a few inches, but enough for the plant to grow. There was plenty of dirt and sun for the seed and he promised to water the little guy every day. He then patted the dirt a few more times and ran back to the house to get some water for his new friend.
He came back with a full glass of water. "You must be thirsty? Don't worry, I gotcha!" Jaune childishly dropped all the water over the patch of dirt, taking immense joy in the way the water got soaked up. "I can't wait to tell Fenrir about this!"
Leaving his seed to collect some much-needed sunlight, he reached his room and jumped under the covers to find his imaginary friend. "Guess what, Fenrir! Mom and dad gave me this seed and it's my r-r-respon-respon—duty! It's my duty to watch over it and make it grow! Oh... yeah!" Jaune remembered. "Dad unlocked my Aura and gave me this Dust thingy to practice with. Here! Watch!"
It took a while, and he hated every second of it, but a tiny glow peeked into the darkness under his covers, banishing some of the darkness away. No one was under the covers but him, however, his imagination filled in the gaps. Within the tight, confined space, he felt a pleasant warmth surround him. It took the little Arc only a few seconds to find out where the heat was coming from.
"This must be what my dad was talking about. It's... so warm?" His brain ticked a mile a minute. "Plants need warmth, right?" Silence. "Right! That's why they have the sun! So they won't get cold."
Glad he solved his own riddle, Jaune continued his quest to defeat the evil Grimm Queen and save the world from her rule. Occasionally, he pretended the white Dust shard was a sword of Aura and swung it around in the dark. His trusty companion Fenrir remained closed by and aided in the Queen's defeat and just in time for dinner, and then bedtime where his mother tucked him gently in.
"Night, baby." Julian kissed him on the forehead and shut the door with a soft click.
A few moments later and he almost fell asleep when he yawned into his cozy, warm blanket before he sat straight up in a clear panic.
It was cold! Really, really cold! Just thinking about how cold the night was made his brain hurt. But more importantly, his heart felt heavy and his innocence came forth at full power at the thought of someone else being cold.
"Uh oh!" Jaune threw off his covers and jumped off his bed to look out his window where the sun was no longer hanging around, but the useless moon. The cool air tickled his nose and he fought the urge to shiver. "My little buddy! He's going to freeze!"
Opening his window, he struggled to lean out the window, barely able to support his own body climbing up the two-foot height. His onesie ended up getting dirty from landing on the dirt, but he couldn't focus on that or his mother's probable onslaught the next day for getting his clothes dirty, the only thing registering in his childish mind was the thought of his buddy freezing in the chilly night air.
Running up to where he buried the seed, he touched the dirt and gasped loudly when he found the dirt cold, his seven-year-old mind not knowing the seed was perfectly fine. Jaune almost ran his hands to scope the seed out and protect it but didn't when his fingers almost clipped the dirt. He couldn't! Seeds needed dirt to survive. It couldn't stay in his room where it was warm and cozy!
Jaune panicked, shaking his head in frustration. "What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?"
Running in circles for a while, he suddenly stopped and jumped back into his room, climbing back outside a minute later with a large blanket. He tossed it over the dirt patch and sighed when the crisis was adverted until a nearby wind came by and blew the blanket back into the little Arc's face.
"Ugh! Can't. Breath." Clutching the covers, Jaune finally managed to rip them away from his face, glowering at the bunny logo. "Curse you, Pumpkin Pete! Your cereal stinks, anyways!"
Grumbling to himself, he threw his blanket back inside his room, filing away that plan as a failure. Of course, no had to know that. Meaning his track record was still spotless and no one could prove anything. Not even his mom. She was not that good.
Still. "What am I gonna do now?"
Feeling another wind pass by, he shivered and sighed with a defeated frown. He looked over to the patch of dirt and was surprised to see the white Dust shard lying on the floor. Must've gotten stuck in his blanket and then fallen out when the wind forced it to cover his face. Not one to litter, he was about to reach out and toss back in his room, when another heavier wind passed by and forced him to shut his eyes and wrap his arms around his body to keep his body heat in check.
Although, when he opened his eyes again, he was extremely surprised to see the Dust shard still in place, partially buried in the dirt. The sight made the little Arc's mind run a mile a minute until a sudden, new idea sprouted that only a seven-year-old could conjure up.
Running up to the Dust shard, Jaune concentrated with all his might to use his Aura until he finally saw a faint glow appear off the Dust shard. He then grinned widely and pressed the shard deep into the dirt, next to where the seed was, slapping his hands together in a job well-done.
"There! Problem solved!" Jaune ran to his window to escape the cold and almost climbed in when another wind picked up and make him shiver. Even his comfy onesie couldn't keep the cold away and that forced the Arc to think when he shut his window closed.
Sure, he solved the warmth problem, but for how long? A few minutes? Maybe an hour if he was lucky? That was not going to keep the dirt warm forever. It might keep the seed warm enough until the sun came up again, but who knew how long until his poor buddy died from too much cold?
Hiding underneath his covers, he frowned deeply and hugged his pillow to his chest. His heart ached at the idea of his new friend kicking the bucket and—no.
That wasn't going to happen! He made a promise on the Arc word that he would keep that seed alive until it sprouted a delicious fruit. Since an Arc never went back on their promises, he was left with only one logical choice!
He needed to get better with his Aura and Dust control for his Little Buddy.
During Jaune Arc's eighth birthday, Ignatius Arc had been very surprised and proud to learn Jaune wanted Aura lessons and not some useless toy. Never to look a gift horse in the mouth, he jumped at the opportunity and his son absorbed whatever he could; taking every bit amount of knowledge his young mind could take. Even going so far as to bring the white Dust shard his father gave him to practice his Aura control.
The glow had been weak still—child and all—but Ignatius could still see his son honestly trying to better himself and had decided to treat Jaune to a toy, anyways, only for his boy to wave off the cheap plastic and ask for more white Dust shards to practice with.
It had been enough to bring a manly tear to his father's eye.
"You make your old man proud!"
"Please stop pinching my cheeks."
Halfway through his eighth and ninth year of age, Jaune learned that plants survived just fine out when it was cold at night from one of his older sisters who were all into dirt and junk. His response had been accurately funny, but non-game changing, because he had already been too far set in his ways to change. Plus, he really liked waking up to a warm patch of dirt surrounding his Little Buddy every morning. It meant he was doing a good job. A good job meant his friend would sprout an appetizing fruit.
Pleasantly enough, he learned the better control he had over his Aura; the longer the white Dust shard lasted and the greater warmth it produced. This discovery only fueled the child's mind to go above and beyond for the seed, taking so much as to cut his playtime in half.
A true sacrifice.
"Just give up on that plant, dear brother. It's a dud. Even mom and dad said so."
Jaune didn't look over his shoulder to see his older sister glaring down at the patch of dirt he was watering. Ten-years-old now and so far the plant had yet to sprout and his sister wasn't lying, sadly, his mother and father did think the seed had already been dead after a full year of no results.
Didn't matter to Jaune Arc, never did.
"No!" his sister waited for a reason why and Jaune finished watering his friend. "What kind of Arc would I be if I gave up on a promise I made. An Arc never goes back on their word. I will continue to keep caring for this plant until it grows a fruit!"
"But the seed's hopeless! Just forget about it!"
Jaune sorely hoped his sister didn't adopt that attitude when she became a Huntress. What type of person gave up just because it seemed hopeless? A quitter, that was who, and Jaune Arc wasn't a quitter! He wasn't one when he was seven-years-old and he was not one now when he was ten. If everyone had his sister's attitude, the Grimm would've won a long time ago and humanity would be living in caves.
"Just go away."
"It's useless! The stupid thing was destined to never grow!" she growled and Jaune thought heavily over her words.
"If that's true." Jaune said after a long minute, patting the ground where his promise slept. "Then I don't believe in Destiny."
She huffed in frustration and stalked off. "Fine! You're just wasting your time out here in the dirt! I'm going to go play with your toys!"
Part of Jaune believed her, and the other part wondered what his old imaginative friend would've said. The thought brought a whimsical smile to his face and he reached into his pocket to find a Dust shard that released out his Aura trapped inside. Practice made perfect!
Sticking the shard into the dirt, around the seed, Jaune copied the movements with extra shards he'd collected over the past couple of years and created a little shrine of white Dust shards around the seed. Over the years he'd only gotten better at controlling his Aura and it showed how bright the crystals got now and how long they lasted. They were even warmer than before.
And honestly, Jaune Arc couldn't even remember the last time he played with a toy.
Julian Arc almost fainted when her baby boy asked for a book on Dust for his eleventh birthday. A book! Him! Not some lousy toy—not that there was anything wrong with that—but a book! For studying! Okay, sure, it was for that dead seed outside, but Julian Arc let it go because her son wanted to learn and not waste his time playing in the dirt. So she ended up getting him two and pinched her little boy on the cheeks.
"I'm getting too old for this."
The more Jaune read on Dust, the more he learned about their vast properties. Like how mixing two different elements, for example, fire and ice, created steam or lighting and water created a water vortex of pure pain. Lots and lots of mind-numbing pain. Kind of made him want to test out all the Dust that existed out there, but Dust costed lien and he was lucky the white Dust shards were so dirt cheap. Pun not intended.
That reminded him, he needed to go pick up more white Dust shards.
Flipping through another page of his new Dust book, he stopped at the image of a rainbow mine of Dust taken from some Dust photographer. Various colors littered the page and his energetic mind wanted to reach out and hold them all. He, then again, flipped to the next page and landed on an article about how each element of Dust corresponded to Aura and weapons designed over Dust usage. Like a flame sword that heavily relied on Fire Dust or an electric whip that used Lightning Dust.
So many options! Too bad their family's weapons didn't use fancy gimmicks. It would be amazing to use Dust in battle.
Oh well, an Arc could only dream.
During his twelfth birthday, Jaune had accumulated enough white Dust shards to keep the seed permanently warm night and day over a system he'd devised. Once or twice his parents tried to get him to drop the seed nonsense and Jaune waved off their concerns. They didn't fight him much on it, amazed by his devotion to keeping the silly promise he made when he was seven. It did make their son keep up with his Dust studies and practice a lot on his Aura control, keeping him ahead of the curve when it came to children his age. So the Arcs looked the other way and let him pester around the dead seed.
They'd put a stop to it when and if it ever got out of hand.
His grandfather, on the other hand, was perfectly pleased with his grandson's drive to never give up and constantly encouraged Jaune to keep moving forward. Which caused problems between the family once in a blue moon and it did happen more often than naught.
There were some days Jaune thought about giving up on the seed and then he remembered his grandfather's stories about his grandpa never giving up during the war when the odds were stacked heavily against them. So those thoughts were far and few. One day they'd become non-existent when he recalled his older sister's poor attitude toward hopelessness. However, from time to time, he thanked Monty for never letting him ever become a farmer or something. Everyone in the family knew he didn't own a green thumb. He would've starved a long time ago.
Nope! A farmer! Him? Jaune Arc definitely couldn't ever be a farmer. That was just plain suicidal.
His father was sitting him down in the living room with a heavy smile on his face one day and Jaune didn't get more than two words in before his dad pressed an envelope to his chest, an envelope for admission to a local combat school. He read the line on the paper once, twice, and even a third time over before he was hugging his father and running off to show his grandpa with shouts of joy echoing through the house.
Since it was so close to home, Jaune traveled back and forth and even occasionally got some extra practice in with his father and grandfather when they weren't busy. Sometimes, when they weren't too busy, his sisters trained with him and other times it was just him and his Little Buddy. Those days were strictly Aura control and Dust reading. Those days turned out to be the best.
Funny enough, turned out Jaune wasn't the best Huntsmen-in-Training when it came to swordplay, but he did show a lot of promise and heart which was more than enough for the older Arcs. Devotion was important for a Huntsmen and he was only thirteen. The next male Arc had plenty of time to grow and become his own person. It helped that Jaune had a vast amount of Aura from all the training and had learned to control the power to a very high degree compared to other the kids attending the school, and his knowledge on Dust helped, too.
Although his time spent schooling hadn't stopped him from taking care of his seed, in fact, he was more determined than ever, going so far to buy extra white Dust shards to plant in the dirt whenever he could.
"There you go... Little Buddy." Jaune grinned, patting the dirt purposely with the Dust shards surrounding the seed in a semi-perfect circle. "So you want to hear about my day today?"
Somewhere along the way, he learned plants responded to getting talked to. Of course, this led Jaune Arc to talk about his day to his friend almost every day. Ironically, this made getting through some of the tough days at the school much easier on his soul considering he'd spent the last six years trying to grow the damn fruit. Helped that his grandfather and some of his sisters supported his decision.
People made fun of Jaune at the combat school for using a handy down sword and shield instead of making his own weapons. Jaune ignored them all with stride, taking joy in his family's weapon. Who needed a high-tech weapon when durability came into a bigger factor during clashes? Not Jaune Arc, high-level Aura manipulator, and Dust expert. Crocea Mors was more than just a sword and he did prefer the classics. They were reliable, yet his fellow classmates didn't seem to understand his theories and reasons and teased him mercilessly for it.
He humiliated them back by getting hundreds on all the Dust midterms and finals, making the graded curve absolutely useless, ruining the average pass rate of Dust class by a factor of a lot! But he did show some mercy by not answering the bonus questions. So, there was hope.
Practically forcing a majority of the students to fail Dust class had robbed him of any opportunity at making friends at school. The final nail in the coffin came during his fourth-year when he happily decided to answer all the bonus questions to screw everyone over.
There had been a riot that day.
His acceptance letter to Beacon Academy arrived in the mail right after graduation from combat school and Jaune didn't even know how they managed to get his letter here so fast. His family celebrated the good news with lots of food. A party was thrown the night before he left and some family friends were invited to join in on the fun. Jaune did mingle with them for a while before escaping to the backyard to greet his old buddy for the past ten years. The white Dust shards he'd planted into the dirt were extremely bright and warm to even be near and he decided to drop some of the water in his cup for his old friend.
"Can you believe it, Beacon Academy, me? Ha!" he laughed, taking a seat next to the patch of overly bright dirt. "Who would've thought? And here I was planning to forge my transcripts to get in. Looks like those plans are a no-go, but don't tell anybody, I still have my perfect track record to keep."
Jaune finished most of his drink with a tiny bit of water still leftover in the cup and leaned back with his arms pressed back onto the dirt floor and legs forward. A sad smile blossomed on his face and he sighed. The broken moon's shine reminded him of the first night he planted that little seed. He still remembered getting whipped by his Pumpkin Pete blanket.
Good times. Good times.
Now, though, it looked like the good times were coming to an end. Beacon Academy wasn't close by like his old combat school. This place was in a whole other kingdom, which meant he was going to be far away from his Little Buddy, thus, in turn, meant he couldn't keep giving the seed Dust to live off of anymore. And he severely doubted his family would watch over the seed. Not with them having constantly told him to give up on the poor guy.
Saddened, he curled up slightly and wrapped his arms around his legs. "I'm sorry, I failed you. I guess I couldn't keep my promise after all." A chilly wind blew but Jaune didn't feel it with the warmth bouncing off the white Dust shards. "I'm leaving tomorrow to Beacon. I can't look after you anymore."
Jaune said nothing more and stayed out there until the party died down and everyone's heading off to bed. When his eyes get harder to keep open, he sighed a last time and got up with a purpose, a purpose to finally say goodbye to a lifelong companion. Just like Fenrir before it, the seed's time finally came to let go and Jaune wasn't going to deny it, his heart broke a little inside.
"Thanks for always being here." Jaune looked down at the remaining water in his cup and swished it around a few times before tossing the rest onto the patch of dirt. "I'll say goodbye in the morning. Promise. Get some sleep, Little Buddy. Big day tomorrow."
The next morning was filled with hectic panic as the entire Arc family got ready to see Jaune Arc off for the next step in his journey. His favorite breakfast was made and everyone was laughing at the dinner table, recounting stories of Jaune's youth. Of course, the main person hated all the attention, just wanting all the embarrassing stories to finally end. They didn't. Not for at least another hour until they realize if Jaune didn't leave now, he'd miss the airship that'd drop him off at Beacon.
"Blasted, we need to leave now!" Ignatius screamed, motioning for Jaune's sisters to hurry up out of the house. "Hurry up and grab Crocea Mors! We'll be outside!"
Jaune ran toward his room. "Alright! Just, just... just give me a moment... I have to say goodbye to my old friend while I'm at it."
His father gave him a knowing look and headed out the door. Jaune smiled soon after and grabbed Crocea Mors and the shield, testing them out for weight. He still remembered the first time he tried holding Crocea Mors and how heavy the blade-shield combo had been, and he thought transforming the shield into it was sheath form would lessen the weight. He had been so young at the time and a little naive. Ignorance was truly blessed.
Still, that memory warmed his heart to this day.
Shaking away the happy reminiscence, he turned around and ran toward the backyard with Crocea Mors and the shield in his hands. Perhaps seeing his friend off was a bittersweet moment, but Jaune couldn't help but smile at the thought of seeing the patch of dirt once more. Besides, he did make a promise. He at least planned to keep this one.
"Hey, Little Buddy! It's time to say... good... b-bye..."
Jaune Arc's weapons fell to the floor with him following on his knees as his breathing suddenly got difficult to control. Time seemed to slow down and he didn't know how long he was stuck there until his father came to check up on him a few minutes later, wondering to hell what was taking his son so bloody long.
"Jaune! We need to leave—?!" Ignatius's words get stuck in his throat the moment he saw what his son saw. "... It cannot be."
An elegant, white fruit that curved up, that was no bigger than Jaune's fist, was sprouting out of the ground with leaves poking out from underneath the dirt. There was a distinct, black pattern on the fruit that was jagged like the Dust shards surround it, which, by the way, have lost all their power! Not a single one had a juice of Aura left over. As a matter of fact, the fruit itself was glowing brightly and had a strange, pleasant warmth about it.
"Honey! Did you find Jaune? We need to go—?!"
Ignatius didn't need to turn around to know his wife, father, and seven daughters were gasping at the fruit-bearing before them. For years no one believed, including him, that a fruit would blossom from the spot Jaune nurtured every day for the past ten years with love, devotion, and strength. Yet, there it was, mocking them in a fashionable light that made them feel fantastic for being so wrong.
"Go on, Jaune!" Jaune's grandfather urged suddenly with pure excitement that made the old Arc feel twenty years younger. It was more than enough to bring Jaune out of his stupor. "What are you waiting for?! A blasted invitation?! Don't just gawk at it! Hurry up and eat it!"
"Oh!" Jaune jumped, grinning like a total fool now. "Right!"
The Arc couldn't control himself anymore and ran up to the fruit, practically sprinting the few feet of distance. He made sure not to slide on the dirt and carefully bent over to grab the mystical fruit. An honest surprise gripped him when the fruit easily came off the roots holding it down. The surprise only grew when the roots connected to the fruit, withered away right before all their eyes, the moment they detach themselves from the fruit.
No warning was given, Jaune quickly bit down on fruit at the thought of it withering away, ignoring the sudden blast of taste in favor of swallowing at least one piece. His eyes went wide from the aftertaste and winced harshly from the backlash, coughing as some of the juices ran down his chin. But the questionable taste didn't stop him this time from taking a slow bite in order to savor the flavor and he wasn't sure he regretted that choice just yet. The awkward chewing did give him time to appreciate the fruit's odd insides, which were literally a rainbow of colors, layers, and off-centered swirls greeted him.
"How does it taste, sweetie?" Julian Arc asked.
"Awful..." Jaune grinned into the bite, suddenly crying into each new chew. Awful was putting it lightly. "I feel like I could throw up my breakfast any darn second."
"Maybe you should—?" Julian was stopped by her husband when his hand blocked her path. He shook his head at his wife and allowed his son to continue eating.
Every bite Jaune took allowed more tears to fall and he forced the rest down into his mouth. "Blah! That tasted terrible! I waited ten-years to eat that?!" Even as he complained, he couldn't help but smile wholeheartedly. Part of his soul now felt alive again. "A warning would've been nice."
Not wanting to ruin the happy moment, Jaune's father looked at his scroll sadly and he toughened up. "Son... we need to go. You're going to miss the Bullhead."
Wiping away the tears stubbornly from his eyes, he grinned a rainbow stained smile. That may have been possibly the worst tasting food he'd ever eaten in his natural born life, but Jaune Arc wouldn't trade away the memory for the entire world. He never gave up and in truth, never failed at keeping his word. His Little Buddy didn't give up either and together they both got to leave to Beacon. No one got left behind.
"Yeah, okay, let's go!"
He went to pick up Crocea Mors, but his father beat him to it and handed Jaune the family weapons himself. "I'm proud of you son! Don't ever forget that! The Arc blood flows stronger in you than anyone else."
Jaune laughed and grabbed the weapons out his father's hands, fighting even more tears. "Thanks, dad."
Jaune waved goodbye to his family as the Bullhead departed toward Vale, feeling accomplished and complete for the first time since he was seven. What a crazy ten years it'd been for him and his family. All the studying and training were finally paying off and he could leave home with his head held high and confidence at the peak of what an Arc could feel. Although, the aftertaste of his fruit did leave a dreaded. almost vomit-inducing flavor in his mouth, but he was slowly getting used to it, and by used to it, he wasn't. Not really.
Looking away from his seat's window, he sighed to settle his stomach and eased back into his chair. More to settle his stomach and taste buds than actual airsickness. Even though airsickness had followed the young Arc like the plague, nothing could quite beat the awful taste of that fruit. It was enough to make a man forget he was flying countless miles above a sea in a metal deathtrap.
Taking a long pause to calm his nerves, his stomach finally settled down and he lifted up his head surprised when the terrible taste in his mouth suddenly vanished without a trace. Gone! Completely. Totally. Gone. The mystery puzzled the Arc for about a minute before he decided Fate wasn't so cruel and gladly accepted the good fortunate without reserve.
Bored, he looked around the airship and noticed something odd almost immediately. He made sure to rub his eyes just in case the fruit had a nasty aftereffect on him, but alas, no, what he was seeing was definitely real. Or as real as his mind made it believable. Which meant he was about ninety perfect sure he was not hallucinating because nothing was making sense right now.
Right there, in the middle of the airship, where a few mindless people were standing about, a multiple colors of glows radiated out of various spots on their outfits. Some from their weapons and others from their pockets. Others didn't have this glow and color variation was completely random. No two colors matched identical areas on a person except by coincidence and no one but him apparently could see the strange glow. He made sure to blink a few times and wondered if he was seeing spots.
Turned out he wasn't.
Destiny threw him a bone when one of the strangers actually reached into her pocket and pulled out the glowing object. A Fire Dust vial ended up being the prize. The girl in question was adamant in talking about the Dust vial in her hand to a couple of guys listening, none of them noticing the bright, fiery glow radiating off the vial. The strangeness of it all was enough for him to instinctively reach forward with his hand and attempt to catch the glow, confused and all, and from this moment onward, Jaune Arc's life changed forever the moment he pulled upon a strange force reaching out toward him.
The glow from the Dust vial diminished into nothingness and one of the guys commented about how the Fire Dust suddenly turned white in her hand, effectively rendering it useless. Easy enough to say, the girl got outraged and wondered what happened, but Jaune's attention was focused on the glow now resting within his palm. His attention was completely captured by the strange phenomenon, and before he realized what he was doing, he was moving toward that strange pull again and felt a fire burn inside his soul and then in his hand. It wasn't a bad burn, but a pleasant one.
Then it became a tiny fire in the dead center of his hand, floating just above his palm.
Of course, he was caught-of-guard and haphazardly attempted to pat the fire away, never noticing how his gloves or sweater refused to catch on fire. Panic was clear and he had to hide his embarrassment when the fire got reabsorbed into his palm and everyone was looking at him for all the random commotion.
Smiling innocently, Jaune ducked his head away from everyone's eyes and moved to a seat in the way back of the airship, where no one could see him. He was still very paranoid and overly cautious. Plus, he didn't exactly have the best social skills when it came to talking to people. Sure, his father gave him a few lines to say and whatnot, but combat school had virtually been a friendless battle.
Content and away from prying eyes, he tilted his head and narrowed his eyes down at his palm. "What was that?" He could still see the glow residing in his palm, only not as strong as before. "Was that... Dust?"
Not believing it was, and a firm believer in trial and error, he lifted up his head and peered around to see any other glow around. Cautiously, he raised his hand toward another source—this time it was blue and in a guy's bag—and centered around that same tug he felt in his soul. The glow in the man's bag faded and returned in Jaune's hand like before, only blue this time and the red one could be seen moving to some random part of his body. He ignored that enigma for the moment and focused on the icy chill building up in his palm. Just like before, by concentrating on the glare, something amazing happened.
This time his hand got slowly got encased in a very thin layer of ice. Unlike the fire, he was not freaking out, yet, and took the opportunity to observe the strange change happening with his hand in an acute fashion. He then added some of his Aura to his palm and was surprised to see the ice beginning to build up, float, and then break apart until an Ice Dust shard came into existence.
The glare from before centered back into the Dust shard.
"This is so crazy." He eyed the Dust shard critically, examining it to all purposes with an expert eye. In the end, it was an ordinary Dust crystal he was holding with no significant features of any kind. Jaune then experimented and decided to absorb the glow as before. Again, only the shell of shard was left behind with the color going back into his hand. "I'm so confused. How did all this happen?"
Oddly focused, he tried to will the blue glow in his hand again and didn't bat an eye when his palm got covered in a layer of ice. Jaune then recounted the low burn somewhere in his body and spent the next minute trying to focus it to move toward his hand, a very long process that was filled with error, but one that proved scientific for Dust purposes.
Eventually, both the glows found themselves stuck together in his palm and he willed the fiery one to live alongside the ice one. Steam slowly built up his hand the moment he did. Then he added Aura and the steam condensed to form a whole new Dust shard that fractured to life on his palm. It was a pearl in color, almost white, but not entirely, and the Arc knew he'd never read about a Dust shard like this one before.
"Okay... I don't know what's going on, but it's pretty darn amazing." Grinning to himself, he noted to learn more about how he got these strange powers later and held his hand toward another source of Dust, this time a green one. He stopped himself from tugging at the same force. "Hn? I wonder what happens if I try pushing instead of pulling?"
The answer came with the Wind Dust shard coming to life and causing a huge gale of wind to build up in the poor schmuck's bag. Things only got crazier as the aircraft tilted due to the influx of air pressures, changing randomly high in the atmosphere
"We're all going to die!" Someone screamed and Jaune rolled his eyes at the poor, clueless man.
Glad to have figured out the secrets of pushing a Dust shard, Jaune settled only on pulling them for now and reached out for a Water Dust shard and absorbed the glow from some random girl's weapon, instantly feeling a wet sensation spreading across his hand that later became condensation building upon his skin. Like if he just drenched his hand in a tub of water.
Jaune mockingly tried to wipe away the water building up between his pores and discovered yet another secret. Random movements equaled attacks and whipping his hand translated to becoming a water whip or something between those lines.
Some poor guy became the test subject for his water attack and was busy looking around for anyone with any Water Dust. Everyone else was laughing and pointing at him with the End of the World guy still resting in that fetal position on his seat. Meanwhile, Jaune took a moment and willed the glow to move inside his body while he spotted another potential target. A Lightning Dust shard in some guy's gloves.
Rinse and repeat and his hand was covered in a torrent of electricity. There was no discharge to hurt him and Jaune he thrust his hand forward in a fist shape at the empty seat in front of him. Like before, randomness happened and the electricity moved forward and clashed violently on the chair, short-circuiting any electronic devices within the furniture and leaving behind the sound of fabric sizzling.
Utterly amazed, his eyes widened and he looked down at his hands that were shaking with reserve and not static discharge. He had absolutely no idea what was going on, but he did know it was game-changing. Life changing even! And most of all, fun! Oh, gosh darn fun! And for a Dust lover such as himself, he was limitless. All of his imagination refused to sit still.
Glancing around the Bullhead, Jaune worried about the how and why for later. There was a torrent of Dust shards in the airship and he wanted to test the limits of these powers. Just thinking about it made his fingers itch, and before he knew it, he was reaching out and draining away all of a single color he could find to test out his new capabilities.
By the time the Bullhead reached Beacon, he drained away all the Fire Dust in the airship for experimental reasons, and it was only until he took his first step onto Beacon Academy, did he feel regret for stealing other people's Dust. That regret was short-lived, however, the second everyone rushed out the door and made their way toward Beacon's courtyard, forgetting about the fact that a string of odd incidents occurred on their airship. Alone that was more than enough for the Arc to shrug his shoulders and care less about the people who lived in sweet, blissful ignorance.
"Oh well, free Dust!"
Jaune stepped out the Bullhead and made his way toward Beacon, trying for his hardest to not reach out and absorb the onslaught of glows scattering the courtyard. His body was already partially filled with a huge torrent of Fire Dust and his skin burned with a heat that was neither troublesome or unwelcome. Nice would be a good word to describe the feeling.
The control he'd practiced back in the airship was partially good. Years of training at a combat school filled in the some of the void for learning and the rest he needed to discover for himself, and containing an encyclopedia of Dust knowledge didn't hurt. Physically describing the sensation of being a walking Dust shard took a lot to swallow and few words could accurately describe the sensation. Very less could explain the miracle. Not including himself. Jaune Arc had no idea where the power came from. There was a chance it could be his Semblance, but he knew there had never been a Semblance that directly affected Dust.
Crossing a few strangers, he stopped to see a commotion going on between a girl he could only describe as adorable and another as a Snow Angel. They were arguing—at least Snow Angel was—about the adorable girl's clumsiness, then she was shaking a vial of Fire Dust in front of the clumsy girl's face and the sneeze was almost impossible to prepare for. Only his quick actions allowed him to absorb the vial before the action finished, and it ended up with the adorable one only getting snot on the angry one. This led to another argument, but at least they didn't explode.
"Job well done!"
Jaune clapped his hands together, feeling awesome. He thought about going to break up the argument, but it ended with the Snow Angel shooing away the other. Part of him considered approaching the gloomy shortcake, but some third girl with a passive appearance was already beating him to it, so he took his departure and left. Having seven sisters had taught the Arc not to get mixed up in female drama.
Minutes earlier the Bullhead landed.
Weiss Schnee shivered the moment her feet touched the ground. Oh sweet, compassionate ground. How much she missed it! That Bullhead ride, while mostly tame, turned life-threatening in the last few minutes. Sudden water damage and unexpected wind turbulence had quickly shifted the mood in that death trap. Yes, death trap, that was an accurate description.
A death trap in the sky.
Shaking her head, she huffed and pulled her luggage toward Beacon Academy's Theater Hall. A quick rumble of her stomach tickled her nerves. The unexpected events must've upset her stomach. Motion sickness if anything. Nothing to worry about, but whatever plans she had upon landing surely wasn't coming to fruition.
She wasn't home anymore where mistakes weren't an option. Unprecedented failures happened in the real world. Winter made sure to drill that sense of logic the last time she spoke to her. If only the lesson hadn't come somewhat thousands of feet in the air, but beggars couldn't be choosers. Another lesson her strict but sweet sister had drilled into her before departing.
Quieting her stomach, she grabbed it gently with the hope that that gesture would somehow suppress it. Wishful thinking, clearly, but she groaned anyway. The painful sensation gripped at her insides, and she closed her eyes momentarily, moaning barbarically in the open. The appalling decision costed her, and she bumped into a spinning girl with a terrible sense of balance.
The Dust Heiress opened her eyes to see her luggage sprawled everywhere with a gothic girl sprawled just as haphazardly as her items. From the way she rubbed her posterior, the fall hurt. Dizziness, alongside clumsiness, revealed the culprit as her head spun. With the way she appeared to be grabbing her bearings, Weiss had time to inspect the damage, if any, was done to her supplies.
She swiftly turned her attention to the spilled Dust vials. Her eyes narrowed with her lip pouting. First a death trap in the sky and now this? Her upset stomach already had her nerves on edge. Didn't anyone know the consequences or implications of the mishandling of Dust? A spill or heavy enough collision could've sparked a chain-reaction and blew them up. Possibly worse!
Huffing, she glanced back at the downed girl, noticing her yelps. The scene heated her temper. Why her? Rage boiled in her blood and day hadn't even begun yet. The last thing she needed to do was educate this girl in proper etiquette. Granted, she had her eyes closed, but at least she didn't move backward. Who moved rearward? That was asking for trouble.
Still, eyes closed at the very least demanded an equal share of fault. So Weiss pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed.
Welcome to Beacon Academy.
"I'd watch where you're going next time. Your fall completely disorganized my luggage."
The silvered eyes girl gasped and stood right up in an attempt to fix her things. "Sorry!"
Weiss waved it off. An upset stomach made any attempts of being angry futile. All she wanted to do was find the auditorium and find a nice, quiet place to sit. Compared to a flying death trap, a delay in her plans, and motion sickness, this didn't even register on the radar.
"It's quite alright. Just watch where you're going next time. There's Dust in these cases. You need to be more careful. Any mishandling of Dust can have severe consequences."
The girl's eyes grew, and she backed away from her luggage, like if Weiss had coated it in lethal poison. However, that didn't last long with the girl attempting to fix her previous error by rushing over to her luggage in a swift attempt to fix her blunders. Sadly, she ended up kicking one of the containers, and a vial of Fire Dust flew out and hit Weiss squarely on the head before the Heiress managed to snag it in the air.
Yup! Now her anger reached the boiling point. Fire burned in her eyes, and it wasn't because of the Fire Dust clutched tightly between her shaking fingers. Her passion was evident with the other girl gulping like a goldfish.
"You dolt! I just told you to be more careful! What would've happened if this had gone off!" Weiss shook the vial in front of the petrified girl, not seeing the particles of Dust escaping. "Dust isn't something to be messed around with! It requires precise—!"
Both girls blinked. A sneeze? That did not just happen. Please, someone, anyone, tell Weiss that did not just happen. This girl, this pubescent did not just sneeze on her! Of all the—how in the world—when did—gah!
Undignifying or not, she stepped back and rubbed her face with the sleeve of her outfit, growling. Growling! Her! A Schnee did not growl, but considering how the day shaped up to be, she made an exception and bared her teeth at the girl. In the back of her mind, she truly wished that the Fire Dust had exploded instead. At least then her anger wouldn't seem so one-sided to anyone without the full context.
Justifiable anger, was that too much to ask for?
The prey immediately tried to make excuses, waving her hands aimlessly in the air. "I'm sorry! Here! Let me—!"
Her predator backed away, counting to ten. Exploding upon this girl, while most likely satisfying, would set her back further on her schedule. Against popular opinion, she had her reason for coming to Beacon Academy and not Atlas Academy.
Weiss Schnee had a plan—a mission—a goal as it was.
Find a suitable partner. Become a powerful leader. Command a history-worthy team. Change her company's image. Reverse public opinion. Fix Faunus-human relations between the workforce. Be a better person overall in both social standing and image. She came to Beacon Academy for all that and more. Being close to home would've soured that entirely. One unfortunate hiccup wasn't going to tarnish her reputation.
This girl standing before her was nothing but an obstacle.
So Weiss waved a hand at the girl, intention clear. "Back away from me! Get away! Shoo! You've caused enough trouble! Just leave me alone already."
Her prey opened her mouth, but closed it and turned with her shoulders hunched. "Sorry."
She ignored her and finished picking up her luggage. Humph! Harsh? Perhaps, but who enjoyed snot to the face? At least they avoided making the situation much worse. Damage control. A future Heiress' best friend. A lesson her father taught her. Among other things like plausible deniability.
Humph! Time to put this flask of Dust away.
Reaching the case, Weiss found the spot for the vial and pushed it in, coming to a complete stop when she noticed the shade of red all gone from the Dust flask. In its place was a white powder.
What the? When in the world? What happened to the charge in this Fire Dust? It was all gone. All of it! Whoosh! Empty! Maybe if this had been a Dust shard and not crystallized powder, it wouldn't warrant such a reaction, but powdered Dust left no shell casing behind. Particles of Dust essentially represented purified Dust, free from imperfections. Regular Dust had those imperfections, resulting in the remnants remaining after usage.
The white hue was the result of such properties.
Checking her scroll for any Dust related info on energy-less Dust powder, she grumbled in annoyance. The ceremony was about to commence. She'd to worry about it later.
Jaune Arc hated his sense of direction.
He got lost along the way but managed to absorb a few more people's Fire Dust before finally finding the auditorium. The color wheel surrounding him almost hurt his nerves and he was tempted to simply absorb it all to make it go away, but his Arc pride stopped him. He'd already taken too much that wasn't his. Even the excuse for learning about his new, strange powers didn't sound fair or justifiable. So he was determined to find the rest he needed to acquire on his own two feet or lose his Arc heritage.
Looked like he was going to need to use his hoodie to hide away some of the colors until he got better acquainted with it.
"Damn it." Hiding beneath his hoodie, Jaune was surprised he wasn't hot underneath his layers of clothes considering he was a walking heater. Maybe he should turn all the heat into a Fire Dust crystal? Monty knew that Dust shard would be on a whole different level compared to all the others. "Maybe later."
A commotion went on and he looked over his shoulder to see those two same girls talking again. Although their argument wasn't as heated as before, the Snow Angel didn't seem all too happy to be around the adorable one but made a blatant reason for staying, anyway.
Now that he was honestly looking at her, he wondered how he never noticed how much Dust that white-haired girl had on her. She was like a rainbow. A loud and angry rainbow, but a rainbow nonetheless! There wasn't an area on her that didn't have some spec of glow and Jaune had to squint when she pointed her thumb toward him, glare and posture strong.
"Must be part of her argument?" Again, seven sisters. Jaune just knew these things. Normally, he would be invested, but he was starting to get a slight headache from all the glows and would rather stay away from a shouting female. Better for his health in the long run.
"Ahem! I'll keep this brief..." Jaune looked over to see some gray-haired man talking on the podium.
"He must be the Headmaster?"
"You have come far and wide in search of knowledge..." the guy began, sounding all charismatic. "To hone your craft and learn new skills. And when you have finished, you plan to dedicate your life to the protection of the people. But I look amongst you and all I see is wasted energy." Could he see Dust too? No. Of course not. That was just part of his speech. "In need of purpose, direction. You assume knowledge will free you of this... but your time at this school will prove that knowledge can only carry you so far." Jaune begged to differ. His fighting skills weren't the greatest at his combat school, but knowledge got him here. "It is up to you to take the first step."
The Headmaster stepped away, and who Jaune could assume was the Headmistress, stepped forward with elegance and pose. "You will gather in the ballroom tonight. Tomorrow your initiation begins." What joy. "Be ready. You're dismissed."
Good. He needed to get away from all these bright lights. Every second he was here was only making him more and more want to absorb all the Dust just so all the glows would go away. He was actually kind of blinded and when trying to get away, he accidentally crashed into another person.
"Oh! I'm sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going!"
A hand helped him and he was pulled up by a fierce force.
"That's okay!" said an energetic girl. Her smile put his to shame and suddenly she was poking his wrist. "Oh! You're warm! Like really, really warm... are you sick? Ren! I think he's sick!"
A guy clad in green came up from behind and looked over Jaune with an impassive glare. "Nora, I don't think he's sick." He paused. "... Are you?"
Jaune quickly broke free from Nora's hold. "No! No! It's the sweater!" Lies! "I like being warm. I'm Jaune Arc by the way. Again, sorry for crashing into you. Totally my fault!"
"It's no big deal!" Nora laughed, grabbing his hood and freeing him from the darkness, only be blinded by the light. Damn the light! "Maybe next time you shouldn't be walking with your hood over your eyes! I tried that once with a paper bag and it didn't end well. Oh! And I'm Nora Valkyrie and this here is Ren!"
"Lie Ren, actually." Ren added. "Are you okay? You seem to be in a hurry."
Jaune took the opening presented, wanting to leave the area full of colors. "Yes, actually. I really need to use the bathroom. So if you would excuse me..."
"Okay, Jaune-Jaune!" Nora grinned, already liking the nickname she thought of. Once someone gave a person a name, it got harder to detach themselves from them. "We'll see you around! Will we?"
Even behind her energetic smile, he saw some small pain behind it. Similar to his own when he tried growing that little seed for years or whenever he asked his mother if his little friend would ever grow. The part of him that was all sympathetic made it next to impossible for him to say no. So he didn't, offering both Ren and Nora his personal number if they ever wanted to hang out. If Jaune didn't know any better, Ren seemed to smile a little the second he agreed. Though, the smile was gone the next second. On the other hand, Nora wasn't at all secretive about her emotions and squeezed Jaune in a bone-crushing hug.
"Nora..." Ren warned. "He needs to go to the bathroom. Hugging him may not be the best course of action."
"Oopsie! Sorry, Jaune-Jaune!" She let him go and grabbed Ren by the arm and began pulling him away. "Let's get pancakes later! Ren's treat!"
Jaune didn't know how to respond to that. He awkwardly waved his hand at the fleeting duo before actually heading toward the bathroom. Now that he considered it, he did kind of need to go.
Finding a bathroom a little more outside the general population to get away from the glow, he sighed and looked at the nearest mirror by a reflex of motions and stopped to blink at his appearance. Compared to all the other Fire Dust glows he'd seen, this one took the proverbial cake. Literally! His entire body was one giant, glowing, red glare. The Arc was actually amazed no one but him could see this. He was bright to the extreme!
Walking up, he checked if anyone was inside the bathroom before standing in front of the mirror. He lifted up his palm and concentrated to get some of the glow to come out. Almost immediately, a fire came to life right on top of his palm and the heat burned a light tingle on his fingertips. The fire didn't even spread out on his glove or sweater—a secret remaining forever lost to the realms of fairy tales—remaining stationary right on his hand. He experimentally whipped his hand across to see an arc of fire burst out and hit the bathroom mirror.
Luckily, it didn't catch on fire, but there was a burn scar that was pretty much impossible to ignore and his hand was still on fire. Minus a bit of the glow, not much, but some. On the mirror, he saw his body as bright as a beacon and wondered what was happening to him. He then lifted up his other hand and did the same experiment, not too surprised when the other hand caught on fire as well. Both of them were on fire now and it was odd he was sort of getting used to this. His Dust logic escaped him as he experimented, allowing his mind to explore.
Curious, he moved one of his hands forward and waved it out in an arc and a trail of fire bloomed forward. Unlike the previous whip, this one didn't spread out fast but instead vastly, covering a greater range around his vision. Almost like a possible shield? A barrier? One of those things. It was a wall of fire, damn it!
"This is just so crazy. Why is this happening—not that I hate it—but a guy would like to know! I'm kind of freaking out!" Great. Now he was talking to himself. Sigh. "This is going to take some time getting used to. I don't even know where to begin or what to do."
Grabbing the sink, he willed the fire away from his hands and glared seriously at his reflection in the mirror. He couldn't see anything wrong with eyes or hair. Nothing on his teeth, although, there were still tiny remnants of his Little Buddy with his rainbow stained teeth and—?!
No. Couldn't be? Could it?
"Wait a second... Little buddy... did you do this?" Jaune lifted up his hand on instinct and created a simple fire to stare at. It burned for a long moment before completely turning white and then red again in a blink of an eye. No matter how long Jaune waited or tried, it never changed again. But it didn't matter, he was smiling foolishly once more and a tear escaped him. "Hehe... I guess it's your turn to watch over me now, huh?"
Not even Fate could stop the fire from turning white a second time.
Author Notes: Obviously, One Piece inspired me. If I was to write a Dust-centric story this would be it.