Chapter 22: Pre-Exam Stress
"What… the absolute hell… were you two THINKING?!"
When they had last seen each other in Ozpin's office, Professor Goodwitch had made it perfectly clear that Farran was to arrive at her office no later than six o'clock, and yet, while he nervously shuffled down the hallway to get there, the sound of her thunderous voice reverberated off the walls, shaking the door to her office on its hinges. Curious, but still wary, he crept over to the door, making sure to duck under the window, trying in vain to listen to her conversation. The door would prove too thick for him to hear whoever was in the room with her, but Goodwitch's voice soon rang out again, slightly more composed this time.
"No, I'm fairly certain you don't understand," she hissed. "With more students from the other Academies arriving by the day, we are already limited when it comes to classroom space! But now… Now, we have to deal with the fact that an entire floor's worth of classrooms are buried underneath a solid wall of chalk dust! How the two of you even managed that goes beyond all logic and reason."
"Chalk dust?!" Farran muttered under his breath, thoroughly befuddled.
There was a brief pause as the other person evidently tried to plead their case, but Goodwitch soon cut them off, "Oh no. You are NOT pushing this all off on me. I'm already stuck with a mountain of work I have to do, which just got another heaping pile of paperwork thanks to you! No, you two will be overseeing and helping out Physical Plant while they clean up this mess. Do I make myself clear?" She paused, waiting for an answer, "Good. Now get going. Physical Plant should be arriving any minute now, and we need this taken care of tonight. You do not want to know what will happen if I have to make arrangements for classes to be moved if those rooms aren't usable by morning."
Whomever Goodwitch was talking to seemed to understand her chilling message, as two sets of footfalls hurriedly began to approach, forcing Farran to leap backwards to avoid being crushed against the wall by the slamming door. When he finally got his wits back about him, he saw, much to his surprise, Professor Port and Doctor Oobleck speedily walking in the opposite direction, unaware of his presence.
"I can understand that she's stressed, but she doesn't need to get so bent out of shape about all this…" Oobleck muttered, "She's downright terrifying when she gets that angry."
"You have no-one but yourself to blame." Port apprehensively stroked his mustache, "you're the whole reason we're in this mess."
"Hardly. I told you specifically not to use any kind of weaponry."
"You said that while brandishing that vacuum you engineered to spray dust!" Port growled incredulously.
"A vacuum cleaner hardly counts as a weapon, Peter. Especially compared to the devices you brought to the battle. Why, if we're going by true conventions of war, you would certainly be…" Oobleck's voice trailed off as the two rounded a corner.
Farran watched them go for a few moments, stunned into complete silence, until his dread-filled mind reminded him why he had come in the first place. He took a long, deep breath to steel himself, then briskly stepped into the office. Inside, Goodwitch was seated at her desk, her face buried wearily in her hands, some strands of her normally pristine hair left poking out from her tight bun. Sitting beside her was undeniable proof that her earlier comments were not exaggerated, as a veritable mountain of papers standing almost taller than her sitting height loomed high on her desk. Once she heard Farran enter, she reached down for her glasses and slid them gently back into place, giving him a blank look.
"What was…" Farran stopped himself, "I don't really want to know what that was all about, do I?"
"No, Mister Park. I believe you really don't." Goodwitch closed her eyes, gently rubbing her temples, "If I weren't in a position where I had to know, I'd gladly go without that knowledge myself. But that's my problem to deal with, not yours. Might I ask what brings you here?"
"Well, you told me to be here at six for my detention today, so…" He grimaced.
"Oh. Yes, that was today, wasn't it?" Goodwitch sighed. "Alright, Mister Park. I'll find you a seat, and you can sit in here and study for your exams, I guess…"
Farran blinked. "…That's it?"
Goodwitch pinched the bridge of her nose, "I already told you when you were first assigned to serve your punishment with me, Doctor Oobleck is the one who normally handles detention. I'm sure I could find you something else, but as you can quite clearly see…" She gestured towards the enormous stack of papers, nearly causing the entire heap to topple over, "I am quite busy with my own work at the moment. I'm not sure if this is what Ozpin had in mind when he decided I would be the one to handle this, but you know as well as I do that this whole punishment is a farce anyway."
"I mean, I'm sure as hell not gonna complain about getting off easy, but…" He kept a wary eye on the papers, "Isn't there anything I could do to help you with all that?"
"Are you seriously volunteering to help me with paperwork?" She raised an eyebrow, her lips curled in a faint frown.
"I don't see why not," he shrugged, "Honestly, if I'm going to be stuck here anyway, I'd rather my time be spent doing something useful."
Goodwitch frowned, "I certainly hope you are not implying that being prepared for your exams is useless, Mister Park."
"Ordinarily, I wouldn't say that at all. But at the same time, I've had Weiss beating me over the head with everything we've gone over in class for the past two weeks. We already had our study session today, and I swear if I don't get some kind of a break from it, my brain is going to explode," Farran said, "and I don't mean any offense, Professor, but you look like your brain might do the same if you're stuck doing much more work as it is. So seriously, are you sure there isn't something I could do to help?"
She paused for a moment, before letting out an amused chuckle, "You certainly are a strange young man, aren't you? Very well. There isn't much you can do with regards to the paperwork itself, but if you would be willing to help me with filing it all, it would be much appreciated."
With that, Goodwitch pulled a chair from a vacant classroom, and together, the two got down to work. While his part of the process didn't prove to be too difficult, it soon became extremely monotonous, and he could not believe how, or why, Goodwitch would have taken it all on herself. In fact, if it weren't for her nearly immaculate filing system, which he had no idea how in the world she managed to keep up with it if this kind of workload was anywhere near regular for her, he wouldn't have been able to make heads or tails of where any of it all went. Every time Farran looked back at the pile of papers, it didn't seem to shrink in the slightest, and, on a couple of worrying occasions, it even seemed to grow somewhat. Finally, after about an hour straight of working, they had finally managed to put a pretty sizable dent into the pile, when Goodwitch's scroll began to buzz.
"Well, Mister Park. I think that will be all for today." Goodwitch flipped open her scroll, eyes darting across the screen, "I should be able to handle the rest by myself."
"You sure?" Farran finished sliding one last form into its proper place, "There's nothing else you need me to do?"
"No, I can't be keeping you here any longer." She pulled off her glasses, reaching up to rub her eyes, "You've already done plenty. I accomplished far more tonight than I thought I was going to be able to. And, in any case, I think it would behoove me to not keep you from your studies any longer. Have a good night, Mister Park."
Knowing there was no point in debating with her, Farran bid Professor Goodwitch goodbye, and, after returning his chair to the empty classroom he had taken it from, began to navigate his way back out of the building. When he finally emerged from the front doors, he found that the sun had already begun setting, allowing the school grounds to cool off from the otherwise muggy, mid-spring day. He let his head lull back a bit as he started his trek back to the dorms, watching the cloudless sky and enjoying the cool breeze rolling by. However, he didn't make it far before he felt a tap on his shoulder, dragging him to a halt.
"Oi, buddy!" A woman's voice came from behind him, "You a student here?"
He spun on his heels to face the voice, finding that it belonged to a tall, blonde woman dressed from head to toe in a dark grey postal worker's uniform. In one arm, she carried one of the shipping containers frequently used by the staff, while her other hand was gripped tightly around her opened scroll. One of her two mouse ears that poked out from either side of her cap twitched anxiously as she sized him up.
"Uh… Yeah?" Farran had no idea what to make of this woman, "What's up?"
"Finally!" She groaned, clicking her scroll shut, and sliding it into her pocket, "See, I work in Beacon's mail room, right? I'm kinda new down there, an' all I do is sort the letters an' packages an' junk like that. Well, this here package got down to us late today, and by it got to us late, I mean it got lil' misplaced. So my genius of a boss sends me all the way up here, tellin' me to deliver the damn thing, on account of me bein' the one who misplaced it. Problem is, I got no idea where a damn thing is around this place, an' everyone I run into is from one of the other Academies. So tell me, d'ya know where a…" She looked over the shipping label, "Ms. Glynda Goodwitch's office is, so I can finally be rid of this thing?"
"Professor Goodwitch? Yeah, I just came from there, actually. You're gonna want to go in those doors, and…" Farran went over the directions through the labyrinth of hallways inside the building to get to her office, but before he could finish, the Faunus cut him off.
"Oi, oi, buddy! Ain't no way I can remember all that. Tell you what," She held the box out towards him. "You ain't got nothin' better to do, right? After all, you were just lollygaggin' out here, starin' at the sky an' all that. You know the way down there, so how's about you do me a favor an' run this over to her for me?"
"Aww, it ain't no problem, bud!" She forced the package into his hands, "You don't even need to sign for it or nothin'! Just go on ahead, an' take that to your Professor, an' you can get right back to doin' nothin'. Thanks a million, buddy!"
Before he could retort, or do much of anything, the Faunus mail worker dashed off like a bat out of hell. He stared down at the shipping container in his hands with a grimace, "Heaven help me if I'm ever stuck forming a bond with that one… Let's just get this over with."
With a sigh, Farran retraced his steps back into the school, maneuvering through the halls to Goodwitch's office. The building had been empty for quite some time, and even the members of the maintenance staff that had quietly made their way about their duties when he had originally left were now absent. As he drew closer to the last corner before his destination, he heard the sounds of two voices; those of Professor Goodwitch and Professor Peach. Curious, and not wanting to interrupt them, he quietly flattened himself against the wall, listening in to their conversation.
"Come on, Glyn!" Peach whined. Farran could almost picture her pouting as she talked, "I'm not asking you to come out and get completely plastered. You've just been so stressed out lately. Why not just come for one little drink so you can relax and unwind?"
"I'm sorry, Momoko…" Goodwitch sounded completely drained, even more so than when Farran left. "Believe me, I would love to go with you for a quick drink or two. There's just still so much work I have to do…"
"So leave it. Oz can't expect you to get all of that done in one day, Glynda. It'll still be there tomorrow, and it'll get done when it gets done. And if he does have an issue, tell him to stick it where the sun don't shine, and he can do it himself. You haven't taken any time for yourself in months, Glyn…" She paused for a second, her voice dropping low, "Don't tell me you're planning on just sleeping here in your office again."
"Again?" Farran mouthed to himself, silently, "Is it really that common for her?"
"If it takes that long, then yes. I may not like it, but I can't leave until it's done." Goodwitch clicked her tongue, "And Ozpin has nothing to do with it. As a Professor and Deputy Headmistress of Beacon Academy, it is my duty."
"Glynda Goodwitch, I swear…" Professor Peach huffed, "One of these days, you are going to work yourself to death. I'm a professor too, and you don't see me burying myself in triple my bodyweight worth of paperwork."
"I'll be fine, Momoko, I promise. And while I may not be available for drinks tonight, perhaps once exams are finished and graded, you and I can have a night out on the town. How does that sound?"
There was a slight squeak as Peach spun on her heels, her voice almost singsong, "Just as long as you promise, I suppose I can forgive you."
"Good. Now then… Mister Park!" Goodwitch called out, making Farran jump, "I would assume you have some reason to be here?"
Shit! How does she do that?! His cover blown, Farran slinked around the corner to find the two professors standing there, waiting for him. Professor Peach stared at him, her eyes full of contempt, as she tapped her foot impatiently.
"And just what do you think you're doing, eavesdropping on your professors?" She shot an accusatory finger at him.
"Hey, I wasn't eavesdropping!" Much… "I just didn't want to interrupt you two by butting in. That's all."
Goodwitch waved Peach's hand away. "In any event, I was under the impression you were leaving, Mister Park. What brings you back here? Did you forget something in my office?"
"Oh, sorry. No, some Faunus from the Academy's mail office stopped me on the way back to the dorms." He raised the box a bit, "She said she was trying to deliver this package to you, but then she just foisted it on me and ran off."
The moment she saw the container Farran was holding, Goodwitch's eyes shot wide open. She stood there, frozen, her hands trembling slightly. A deep blush started in her cheeks, spreading until her whole face was a shade of red that would rival Ruby's cloak. For the first time since he had met her, Goodwitch completely dropped any sense of composure and ripped the container from his hands.
"It wasn't supposed to come for two days…" Goodwitch muttered in a small voice, clutching the container tight. She glared at Farran, very clearly mortified about something. "Mister Park… Tell me you didn't look to see the contents of this package."
"No, of course not! I-"
"Thank you for delivering this to me, Mister Park. Now, I do believe it is time for you to go." She stood up stiffly, rambling words off at a Doctor Oobleck-esque pace, "Momoko, I deeply apologize, however I cannot come with you tonight. Now if that will be all, I must get back to work, IBIDYOUGOODNIGHTGOAWAYGOODBYE."
In the blink of an eye, Goodwitch turned into a blush-shaded blur, disappearing back into her office, slamming the door shut behind her. Before either Farran or Peach could react further, the unmistakable sound of the lock clicking came from the handle. Professor and student shared an equally bewildered glance at Goodwitch's extremely unusual behavior.
"What… What the hell was that all about?" Farran gaped at the door.
"Kid…" Peach just shook her head, "Believe me, I wish I knew. I got no idea what goes through that woman's head sometimes…"
Even after Professor Peach sulked away, most likely heading out to have her drink alone, Farran stood there in the hallway, head tilted and a dopey look on his face. Before today, he hadn't really ever spent much time one-on-one with Goodwitch. The only times he'd really seen her outside of classes were the few meetings he'd had with Ozpin, and in all of those occasions, she'd always appeared as his poised, beleaguered, stern but fair assistant. But now… Even if she always seemed to have a bit too much on her plate, Farran never would have pegged Goodwitch as the type to bury herself in so much work that one of her friends and coworkers would be worried about her health, or enough that she would have to stay overnight in her office to get it done, had he not been right beside her as she struggled through that pile of papers. Not to mention, her absolutely bizarre reaction to the package Farran had given her. He shook his head, turning to leave and finally head back to the dorm, but as he did so, he could feel the world freeze around him, as a voice in his mind began to ring out.
"I am thou, thou art I…
Thou hast acquired a new vow.
It shall become a Beacon in the darkness
to lead you down the path to your own justice.
With the birth of the Temperance Persona,
You have obtained unforeseen power
that will allow you to remake your Fate anew."
Galão (Moon II)
"Thank you so much for helping out on such short notice, Farran." Velvet said, blowing on a piece of steamed broccoli, "You were a really big help tonight."
Farran and the members of Team CFVY sat around a small table in the apartment Coco used for her photoshoots, quietly munching away at the small containers of Mistrali food they ordered. After classes had let out for the day, Velvet tracked down Farran as he made his way back to the dorm to ask him to help with their photoshoot. Unlike the last time, where Coco actually needed him as a model, this shoot was simply for a number of glamour shots, as Coco planned on modeling a number of items from her mother's upcoming line to generate a bit of hype around it. Instead, they needed Farran as an extra hand to adjust the lighting and set pieces, and sometimes helping Velvet get into position so she could get some different angles, all of which he was more than happy to help with.
"No problem." Farran plucked a piece of chicken from his own meal, "It's been a while since I had the chance to hang with you guys."
"I just wish I had thought of this much sooner!" Coco pressed her wrist against her forehead, leaning back dramatically, "I would have asked mother to send some of her male line along for you as well. Heaven knows my female followers certainly appreciated your appearance in our last series. Although, I still think we could have sold a lot more…"
Fox rolled his eyes, "Coco, behave."
"But did they sell alright, at least?"
"Oh yes, of course they did, hun. My shoots always sell well, and this one was no exception. Relatively speaking, of course. It's not like we get the kind of numbers that your typical fashion magazine would. Just a few of my loyal fans providing me some supplementary income for various odds and ends, and some extra coffee." She shot Farran a wink, "And thanks to you, I was even able to go for an extra shot of espresso. Now, maybe next time, if we work in some more sex appeal to your outfits, we could-"
"Yeah, sorry. Gonna have to take a hard pass on that one."
"And you wonder why you can't get anyone to model with you." Fox snarked, "You seriously sound like a creepy old man."
"Well, excuuuuse me for wanting to bring in an untapped demographic!" Coco huffed, "Besides, I shouldn't have to go looking so hard. You two are my teammates, aren't you? You're supposed to be helping me out here!"
"Not happening, Coco."
"You always seem to forget that your mother's company does not make big and tall men's clothing." Yatsuhashi slowly lowered his bowl of udon noodles, "You cannot seriously act like I am at fault, when I'm physically incapable of modeling with you."
"Aww, I'm sorry big guy! I'll tell you what, after exams are over, we'll get working on a costume for you. What do you say?"
"Traitors, the lot of you!" Coco blustered. "Fine. In that case, after exams are done, you all owe me fifty laps around the school, in your underwear, for making me feel bad!"
"Speaking of exams, how's studying going for you, Velvet?" Farran felt his eye twitch at the very mention of the upcoming tests. "You think you're gonna be ready?"
Velvet let out a quiet, nervous laugh, "Well… Honestly, I'm still a little nervous, but everyone's been a big help with studying so far. I should be fine." She turned away, muttering in an almost inaudible voice, "I hope…"
"You're taking both first and second year exams this year, right? How is that supposed to work if you have two different ones scheduled for the same time?"
"Yes, I am. I talked with Professor Goodwitch about it a few weeks ago. She told me that there are a few I'm going to have to take after I'm done for the day, which she'll be the proctor for." She let out an apprehensive sigh, "I'm just glad I've only got one scheduled for Friday…"
Does Goodwitch ever take a freaking break?! "I see… Man, that sucks…"
"You have nothing to worry about, hun." Coco cooed. "My dear Honey Bunny will be just fine. The question is, however, how are your studies coming? You know, if you need any 'tutoring', you need only ask. I couldn't just let an underclassman of mine struggle without offering a good helping hand."
Fox just gave her a flat look, "I will never understand why you choose to phrase everything in the creepiest way possible."
"I think I'll be alright, Coco. As long as my bum knee holds up, I shouldn't have much trouble with the physical or combat exams." He tapped his knee for emphasis, "And about the only thing Weiss hasn't done to help me study is straight up embed my textbooks in my head."
"Slave driver, huh? Trust me, I know the feeling." Fox said between mouthfuls of rice, "At least yours doesn't have you going on missions the week before exams."
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" Coco grumbled, "I was under the impression you wanted to go on more missions, considering you were the one bitching up a storm about being cooped up in the dorm for so long before we got Velvet."
Farran blinked in surprise, "You guys are still going on missions, even though we're this close to exams?"
"We went on one mission, yes." Yatsuhashi took a long sip of his tea, "Coco decided it was for the best for us to take one last mission last weekend, before we had to focus on exams. I know it wasn't exactly ideal, however after as long of a layoff as we had, we have to make sure we stay in the best possible shape."
"The extra Lien didn't hurt either…" Velvet said, quietly, "I even got enough to buy a new lens for my camera."
"And, might I add, any experience we can get for Velvet out in the field is a big plus." Coco's face lit up, as she clapped Velvet on the shoulder, "After all, if we didn't go on this mission, then she wouldn't have gotten her first kills, now would she?"
"Wait, you got your first kill, Velvet?!" Farran blurted excitedly, "That's awesome!"
Velvet laughed nervously, "Well, it wasn't my first, per se… I had a few when I was still in primary combat school. And it's not like the ones I got were all that impressive anyways."
"Nonsense!" Coco gasped, "Velvet, you really shouldn't be so modest. Honestly, I think that Creep would have had my hide if you hadn't put a few bullets in the back of its head."
Farran leaned forward, "So, what were you guys doing, if you don't mind me asking?"
"It wasn't anything all that special or heroic, since I wanted something we could do in a day. So, we ended up taking on a job to clear out an outpost owned by the Carrara Mining Company." Out of the corner of his eye, Farran noticed Velvet's face scrunch up a bit as Coco said the name 'Carrara'. "The place was supposed to be where their trucks can get maintenance and fuel on their way in and out of town, but it had gone dark a little while ago. Before they could figure out what was going on, a pack of Creeps that had broken off from the main group in Mountain Glenn took over, so that's where we came in. We broke off into two teams to start clearing out the buildings, Fox with Yatsu, and Velvet with me. While we were clearing the mess hall, one of the bastards had managed to get up into the rafters and got the drop on me, but before it could really do anything to me, Velvet plugged its head full of bullets."
"It was just luck, really." Velvet's lips curled into a meek smile, "It dropped in between Coco and I, and I just happened to have the perfect shot on it."
Coco shrugged, "You call it luck, I call it instinct. Either way, it doesn't really matter. You saved my ass, Velvet."
"I wonder what happened for it to go dark in the first place…" Farran mused, "I mean, I'm no expert, but shouldn't places like that be really heavily guarded against Grimm attacks? Doesn't sound like the kind of place just a few Creeps could take over on their own."
"Ordinarily, you would be correct. Even more so, because the Carrara Mining Company is a subsidiary of the SDC, and they have been making major increases to their security all along the process of mining and refining Dust." Yatsuhashi said, "However, there was speculation among our employers that it had been targeted by a White Fang raid. We found signs that someone had been there prior to the Grimm's arrival, however whether they were White Fang or just a group of bandits, it's impossible to say."
"The White Fang, huh…?" Farran muttered darkly.
"Still, can't really blame them for thinking it was the Fang." Fox shook his head. "They've been really doubling down lately on going after every speck of Dust they can get their hands on. Like that whole raid on the Vale docks last weekend. Trying to steal a whole shipment of Dust in plain sight. It's crazy…"
"Farran? Are you ok?" Velvet laid her hand on top of his, "You're shaking."
He hadn't even realized it, but when he looked down at his hand, he noticed that they were shaking, just as she said. It took him a moment to steel himself, but he finally managed to brush it off. "Yeah. I'm fine. Hey Guys… Would it be alright if I asked you all a favor?"
The members of Team CFVY shared a brief, confused glance with one another, before Coco responded. "Uh… Sure, Farran. What's up?"
He took a long, deep breath, before looking up at them with a bold fire in his eyes, "I want you guys to train me how to fight."
There was a long, still silence as the five of them sat there, no-one really sure what to say. After a while, Velvet finally managed to get her wits about her. "I'm not sure… Farran, what are you-"
"Have you guys ever heard of Roman Torchwick?" He grimaced.
"Roman Torchwick…?" Coco chewed her lip, "I think that name sounds familiar… Might have seen in in the paper a while ago… Doesn't he run a gang somewhere here in Vale or something?"
Farran nodded, "Exactly, but more importantly… He was down at the docks with the White Fang this weekend. I don't really know how or why, since he's a human and all, but he was the one calling the shots."
Yatsuhashi stared at him, "A human leading the White Fang? I'm not saying you're lying, but how would you even know about that, Farran? Wait… Don't tell me you were-"
"One of my teammates was the one who originally found them in the middle of their operation, almost on accident. The rest of us came running when the fighting started."
"Wha- Are you serious?" Fox stammered, "Farran, that's amazing. But, if you were part of the group that stopped those guys from the White Fang, why are you asking us for help?"
"I was there, but I didn't really do much. Blake, a guy from Haven that was with her, and this other girl from Atlas did most of the heavy lifting. But me… I ended up fighting against Torchwick. No… I can't even say it was a fight. It was a slaughter. Torchwick just toyed with me until he got bored, then he destroyed me. He could have easily killed me too, if he wanted." He gritted his teeth, the words tasting like ash as they came out. He hated admitting just how bad Torchwick managed to beat him. He felt similar about the fight against the cognitive version of Adam, but at least he could find solace that Blake's cognition had made it unbeatable. Over the past week, he had watched his teammates take strides to improve themselves, all except him.
"Farran, I can appreciate where you're coming from, but you're just a freshman." Coco frowned, "You don't need to take it so hard that you were outmatched by a career criminal. Besides, you have four years to get stronger."
"That isn't what this is about… If it was just the fact that I got beat, that would be one thing, but that isn't why I care so much. Hell, I probably wouldn't have any pride left, considering Pyrrha routinely kicks my ass whenever we're paired up together in combat class. It's just that…" He sighed, "Do you guys remember what Richards said about me on the day he threatened to expel me?"
Fox squeezed his eyes shut, "You mean about how you were thrown off an apartment building?"
"Right… See, the thing is, I can't remember a damn thing about my life before I woke up in the hospital. Who I am, where I'm from, whether or not I have a home or family to go back to. To make things worse, there's no record of me ever existing that the police, or even Ozpin, could find. There were no clues or leads to help me find out about my old life… Until now."
"…Torchwick." Yatsuhashi stated simply.
"Yes. At least, that's the way he was acting. He talked like he used to know me, and more importantly, he said he knew the guy that tried to kill me." Farran balled up his fists. "When I told Ozpin about all this, he told me not to go after him. I get where he's coming from, but I can't just let this go! I might not get another lead like this ever again… If the Academy isn't going to give me any help, then I'm going to have to do it myself. Training with Pyrrha and everyone else in my year helps, but you guys have actual experience out in the field. So… what do you say?"
"I…" Coco hesitated, pain evident in her face, "I don't think that's a good idea, Farran. I'm sorry, but I think you should listen to Ozpin."
Fox scowled at her, "Are you kidding me, Coco? Why in the world wouldn't we help him?"
"Look, I never said we wouldn't help train the kid." She held up a hand to stop him, "Farran, I can understand why this is so important to you. If I were in your situation, I don't know if I would have even gone to Ozpin about it. I might have just chased after the bastard to begin with. But at the same time, you need to realize exactly what you're dealing with here. You said it yourself, the guy could have killed you if he wanted. Even if you train with us, it's going to take a while. You're not going to be on his level after just a few weeks. Hell, it'll probably take months, maybe even longer. So, if you want to train with us, you're more than welcome to, but I want you to promise me that you will not go after him."
"Farran." She cut him off before he could protest. "Promise me."
Farran didn't want to do anything of the sort, but Coco held her fierce gaze on him, letting him know there was no room for debate on the matter. Either he made her a promise, or she wouldn't allow him to train with them. "Fine… I promise."
"Good." Coco perked right back up, scrambling up to her feet, "Right then. I think it's about time we finish up for the night. Velvet, you still up for helping me touch up those pics?"
Velvet nodded, and the group began to get up to clean up the remnants of their meal. Coco and Velvet headed to the apartment's other room to begin putting the last finishing touches on their photographs, prompting Farran to bid the group goodbye for the evening. The walk back to the airfield left Farran feeling a mix of emotions. On the one hand, he felt bitter at Coco. Even though he had explained why he needed to go after Torchwick, why it was so important to him, she still had the gall to make him promise that he wouldn't go after him. However, at the same time, any feelings of resentment that he had were fleeting. Despite just how intense Coco's gaze was while she stared him down, there was something else there, feelings of sadness, worry, and even regret, that made it hard for Farran to be angry at her. Farran wasn't the type of person to break a promise after he'd made it, but even if he was, that look in her eye was enough to stop him. Something had happened to her in the past, something that had resurfaced when he talked about pursuing Torchwick, and the last thing he wanted to do was drag up those feelings again, for Coco or anyone else.
Despite the fact that he would always be grateful to be forever rid of the hospital bed in which he had spent the first ten days of his new life, there were still times that Farran could feel nothing but hate for his bedroll in Team RWBY's dorm room. One pre-exam anxiety-induced nightmare was all it took to force him awake before the crack of dawn, but it was his bedroll, providing minimal separation from the floor below, that ensured he was just uncomfortable enough for him to not be able to roll back over and go to sleep. He lay there, glaring as small streaks of sunlight began to crack through the inky night sky, listening to the gentle sounds of his teammates sleeping. Finally, after the clock on his scroll ticked over to 6 a.m., Farran gave up on the idea of falling back to sleep, and quietly made his way to his feet. Making sure to keep quiet as he meandered about the room, Farran got himself ready and ducked outside.
This early in the morning, Beacon's campus proved to be very little more than a ghost town, as no-one but the earliest of early risers milled about the campus greens, and the only sound to be heard were the faint chirping of faraway birds. With nothing better to do, and considering the dining hall would not be open for quite some time, Farran decided to take a walk around the campus gardens, hoping some exercise in the crisp spring air would be enough to wake him up for the day, or at least allow him to fall back asleep when he returned. The wind rustling through the trees and flowerbeds mixed well with the sound of the winding gravel footpaths crunching beneath his feet in a relaxing duet, and soon the pre-exam anxiety that had been haunting Farran since he awoke drifted away.
After quite some time, the path led him to a tiny alcove in between the flowerbeds that held an interesting sight. Lie Ren, the always stoic member of Team JNPR, sat cross-legged in the grass, his hands gently folded atop of one another. To Farran, the serene scene before him seemed as if it had been torn straight out of a stereotypical children's movie; the only thing missing from the whole thing being a menagerie of woodland animals surrounding him. Farran turned to leave, not wanting to interrupt Ren's meditation, but was stopped before he could move a muscle.
"Good morning, Farran." Ren remained completely still as he spoke, his eyes still shut, "You're up awfully early today."
Farran nearly leapt out of his skin at the sound of Ren's voice, "Uh... Morning, Ren. Yeah, I woke up early, couldn't go back to sleep. Sorry if I disturbed you."
"Nothing to worry about." He chuckled, "I'm Nora's partner, after all. I've grown used to it by now. I take it you're nervous about the upcoming exams, then?"
Is this guy a mind reader or something? "…Yeah, actually. How did you-"
"Nothing that special, I assure you." Ren smirked, one of his eyes lazily drifting open, "It's just been a common theme around campus for the past week. The air has been heavy with everyone's building anxiety, and it's gotten worse every day. So for someone who isn't much of a morning person, from what I've noticed at least, to be up wandering the gardens so early in the morning, it isn't that big of an assumption to make." He patted the grass next to him. "Come, sit. A little relaxation here where it's peaceful will help calm you down, and I certainly won't mind the company."
"Ok…" Farran did as he said, plopping down next to Ren and mimicking his pose, "So, is that why you're out here meditating? Because you're nervous about the exams?"
"Not really, no. I've spent plenty of time going over the materials for the past few weeks, and there's still today and tomorrow left to study. I suppose the way I see it, I've done the best I can to prepare. There's no point in worrying now."
"I suppose that's true…" Farran muttered, "But then what brings you out here so early?"
Ren leaned back, staring at the now golden sky, "Oh, I've always been a morning person. I grew up in a town outside of the Kingdoms, you see. One of my favorite things when I was young was to watch as the local hunters as they left every morning." He smiled nostalgically, "Now, I'm left with that old habit, but with nothing to do this early besides meditating for a while before I make some pancakes for Nora before she wakes up."
"She has you make her pancakes every morning?" Farran raised an eyebrow, barely resisting the urge to make a whipping sound.
"I've known Nora for quite some time now, so it's rather easy for me to tell when she is depressed or anxious. It isn't much, but my pancakes always seem to cheer her up, so while it may not be a daily thing, especially now that we have access to Beacon's dining hall instead of having to feed ourselves, I'm more than glad to make them when the need arises." He grimaced, "At least, it's a lot less destructive than how she used to cope…"
Farran felt a chill run down his spine. "That's a little foreboding… Dare I ask what she used to do?"
"She had a bad habit of cheering herself up with the adrenaline she got after shocking herself." Ren said flatly, sounding like a long-beleaguered parent.
"Sticking forks in light sockets, grabbing hold of exposed wires, you name it." He smiled weakly, "I had to put a stop to it after I caught her trying to sneak a toaster in with her to the bathroom. Probably would have blown the breaker in the whole building if I didn't catch her."
"Or, you know, she probably would have died!" Farran stammered incredulously.
"Don't worry, Farran. I know exactly how it sounds. Anyone else, and I probably would have agreed with you, but not Nora." Ren said, "Her Semblance allows her to absorb electricity, and use it to energize herself. Hence why she would use it to cheer herself up. However, it doesn't do much to protect anything else around her, which is why it's up to me to stop her habit from causing a Kingdom-wide power outage. When you think about it, having to make pancakes every so often isn't so bad in comparison."
Farran let out a deep breath, "Damn, man… You know, it almost sounds more like you guys are family, not teammates."
"I can see where you're coming from, but I don't know if I'd go that far. Nora and I… I'm the only one she has to rely on, and vice versa as well."
"What do you mean?"
"It's a long story, and not one I wish to bother you with at the moment." Ren stood up, stretching out his back. "In any case, I believe it's about time I got back and started Nora's pancakes. Would you care to join me? Word through the grapevine says you've been learning how to cook from Yang lately. I would greatly appreciate your help if you are willing."
While he wanted to object and say it would be no trouble, there was an unexpected coldness in Ren's voice, and even without having formed a bond, Farran could tell it was best not to pry. Instead, he just nodded, and the two began to make their way back to the dorms, making small talk as they walked. Once they had arrived at the kitchenette, the two began to busy themselves with preparing everything for Ren's recipe for pancakes. However, it seemed that with every step, someone else from their dorm would enter and approach Ren, whisper something to him, hand over stacks of Lien, and leave. The whole display made Farran extremely confused and curious, but given that he still didn't know Ren all that well, he didn't want to pry into his business. That is, until he heard one of these newcomers whisper something that sounded like "Weiss" before handing over a thick bundle of cash. Once he had left, Farran had had enough, and knew he had to speak up.
"Alright, alright, stop!" Farran stopped Ren as he was about to dip a scoop into the pancake batter, "What the hell are you doing?"
Ren blinked, "What? I'm just going to start cooking them. If I stir them any more, they'll start to develop gluten, which makes the pancakes tougher. Nobody likes tough pancakes, Farran."
"No, not that! What the hell have you been whispering about with damn near every person that's come through here? You can't just be pocketing all this cash and not expect me to ask what it's about."
Ren paused for a moment before a lightbulb went off in his head. "Oh, that's right. I forgot you wouldn't know about it. I'm sorry, Farran. This…" He reached inside his tailcoat, producing a rather thick pocket notebook. Farran couldn't quite place why, but it seemed to give off a very official and awe-inspiring aura. "This is the Book of Beacon."
"What's it for?" Farran gawked at its black leather bindings.
"I'm sure you've probably realized that most people we go to school with are a little more than ultra-competitive. It doesn't take much for people at the Academies to start debating who is faster, stronger, better…" He set the book down on the counter, flipping it open. The pages seemed to all be covered with lists of names, numbers and ratios, among other things. "That kind of environment makes bets and gambling all the more popular, and anyone can make quite a bit of Lien organizing things, if they know what they're doing."
"So you're a bookie?" Farran eyed him curiously, "Can't say I expected that. No offense, but you really don't seem like the type to be into that kind of thing."
Ren chuckled, "Don't worry, I can hardly blame you. In all honesty, I'm not even particularly fond of gambling."
"Alright, now you lost me." Farran furrowed his brow, "You don't like gambling, yet you decided to start up an on-campus betting ring?"
"Pretty much." Ren shrugged, "How do I put this… Before Nora and I enrolled into a primary combat school, the two of us were forced to travel for quite some time. Outside the Kingdoms, the most affordable lodging you can find are at inns that attract a certain type of people. It was at one of these inns that I learned how to make competitive, yet still fair, odds, and more importantly, just how much money you can make. I used that knowledge to help the two of us get by."
"So why do you keep doing it now? We have the dorms and the dining hall on campus, and we're going to be cleared to start doing missions next semester."
"I can't really go into much detail, but I need a lot of Lien… More than I can get by taking the missions we'll be cleared to do while we're still students, at any rate."
"Geez, man. How much cash do you need?!" Farran flinched.
Ren clapped both hands on his shoulders, dropping his voice low. "Trust me, Farran. You don't want to know."
"Yikes..." Farran winced, watching as Ren turned and poured a generous glob of pancake batter on the skillet, "So, what were those guys betting on? It sounded like one of 'em said 'Weiss', but I wasn't quite sure.
"You heard correctly. As I'm sure you can imagine, betting on who will get the top exam scores is particularly popular right about now." Ren flipped through his book, making marks next to various names. "Weiss, unsurprisingly, is the odds-on favourite to get the top score. Even if she does horribly on the physical portions of the exams, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that she will flourish during the written test. Then you have Pyrrha as a rather close second, and so on."
"Dare I ask where I rank?" Farran grimaced.
"Oh, pretty much right in the middle. You're a relative unknown to most still, so nobody really knows how to feel."
"Ngh! …Well, at least I'm not last… Wait, hang on. What's-" Farran almost immediately stopped his lamenting, plunging his finger into the pocketbook to stop Ren from turning the page. His finger came to rest just below where Ren had written, "Jaune – Pyrrha", on a page labeled "Relationships".
He turned to Ren, giving him a flat look. "Dude… Don't tell me you're serious."
Ren put his hands up defensively, laughing nervously. "Like I said, people here like to bet on anything. The betting pools for relationships among students are much bigger than you might think. Pyrrha and Jaune extremely so."
"But they're your teammates." Farran shook his head incredulously, "Are you really ok with taking bets on if two members of your team are going to hook up?"
"Yes, they are my teammates. But because of that, I am stuck dealing with them on a daily basis. On top of that, Nora is adamant about helping to make it happen, which means I am always dragged into their nonsense. You've spent enough time with them to know how it is. It's madness!"
Ren seemed to realize that he was starting to raise his voice, however slightly above his usual calm tone. He cleared his throat, turning back to the skillet, and flipped over the now slightly more than golden brown pancakes over. "All I am saying is that everyone can see there's something there, except the two of them. Pyrrha loves Jaune, Jaune admires Pyrrha. All it takes is one word from either of them. As long as people want to bet on how long that takes, I'm going to oblige, and hopefully be compensated for it all."
Farran thought back to the day he had forged his bond with Pyrrha, and how asinine of a plan she had concocted that day. Gotta believe that dealing with all that day in and day out has to be grating as hell… Whether from being forced awake or from this unbelievably bizarre conversation, Farran could never tell, but he suddenly felt very tired.
"Well, I suppose I can't blame you there. Those two really are out of their depth…" He stifled a yawn, "Alright, man. I'm gonna head back, try to catch a few 'z's' before the girls decide they're gonna get up. But before I go, do me a favor, yeah?"
"Hmm? Yeah, sure."
Farran dug through his pockets, and pulled out a few Lien. "Put me down for twenty that she jumps him before the end of next semester."
Ren took the money with a sly grin, marking Farran down in his book as the two bade each other farewell. By the time Farran reached the dorm room, the morning sunshine was already pouring in through the window, illuminating the forms of his still sleeping teammates. He carefully crept his way back to his bedroll, collapsing on top of it with a soft thud once he got within distance. The past hour or so since he had woken up felt like an absurd, surreal blur. He had gathered that Ren was a good guy from his limited interactions with him before, and it proved to be true today. It was rather endearing that he was willing to make pancakes for his longtime friend, just because she was having pre-exam jitters. At the same time, he was blown away that someone so languid was capable of coming up an idea that was so… ludicrous? Goofy? Farran wasn't even sure what the right word to describe it. The longer he lay there thinking about it, the heavier his eyelids became, but before he drifted off to sleep, he could hear a voice ring out in the otherwise silent room.
"I am thou, thou art I…
Thou hast acquired a new vow.
It shall become a Beacon in the darkness
to lead you down the path to your own justice.
With the birth of the Emperor Persona,
You have obtained unforeseen power
that will allow you to remake your Fate anew."
I Need To Focus (Chariot V)
The dusk of early evening had already started to be cast across Beacon Academy, and with it, an uneasy silence began to spread across the campus. It was the last day before midterm exams were set to start, and for most, it was the last chance to cram in any last minute studying and review. Given those circumstances, it was odd that most of the members of Team RWBY decided to go against the status quo, instead choosing to use this time to run a few errands. Ruby and Blake had left to take care of some business on campus, while Farran had left quite some time ago to pick up some things from a convenience store nearby the airstrip in Vale. Despite her usual mantra of putting her studies above everything else, Weiss decided to go along with him. However, she was still not one to waste her time, and so the two spent the entirety of the trip to the store and back quizzing each other on the material.
"What size herds do Goliaths normally travel in?" Farran shifted all the bags he had been carrying over to his left hand, using his now free hand to pop open the door to the dorm room.
Weiss closed her eyes, her head drifting back slightly as she seemingly mulled over the question.
"Hmm… On average, a herd will contain twenty to thirty Goliaths. However, some cases in the Great Sanus Migration have been observed to have upwards of five hundred. Now for you… How much Aura do you need to expend to activate a gram of Dust?"
They stepped inside, and Farran set the bags he had been carrying down on one of their desks. "Depends. What quality of Dust are you using?"
Weiss did the same with hers. "Always assume perfect quality unless they state otherwise, Farran."
"Alright, in that case…" He paused, trying to call the information from the depths of his mind, "If you're using a more volatile type, like fire or lightning Dust, you'd need to use twenty kilojoules worth of energy. For a more stable kind like earth Dust, it takes eighty kilojoules to activate it."
"Correct! Very good, Farran. I must say, you are learning the material at such a satisfactory rate. Wait a second…" She scanned the otherwise vacant dorm room, "Where's Yang?"
Farran shrugged, "I dunno. I thought she said she was gonna stay here and study. Maybe she got bored and went to go do something else?"
"I certainly hope not. Exams start tomorrow! If she expects to come anywhere near to accomplishing her goal, she better not be goofing off just because she got a little bored."
There was the sound of rushed footsteps out in the hallway, before suddenly, the door to the room was forcefully kicked open. As if on cue, Yang came strolling through the door, grinning from ear to ear, almost bouncing with Ruby-like excitement as she carried a package that looked almost half as tall as she was.
"It's here!" She tittered, making a beeline for her bed, "It's here, it's here, it's finally freaking here!"
"Yang! Would you please not do that to our door? The last thing we need is having to explain to Professor Goodwitch that we need it to be replaced. Again." Weiss tapped her foot impatiently, "And more importantly, where have you been? You told us you were going to be studying while we were gone."
"I know, Weiss, I know. But I can't help it!" Yang continued to beam, not allowing Weiss's demeanor to dampen her spirits, "It's finally here!"
"What is here, Yang?"
"My guitar!" She carefully laid her package down on her bed, kneeling down beside it. With almost childlike glee, she tore the package apart to reveal an acoustic guitar made of beautifully polished rosewood, steel strings that glinted like silver running its length. "I almost forgot all about it until I got a notification from the mail room that it got delivered today." Yang reached in and delicately lifted the guitar out, throwing the box off her bed. She plopped down on her bed, cradling the guitar in her arms, looking at it as if it were her newborn baby. A moment passed, and she looked up at Farran expectantly, a cat-like grin crossing her lips. "So, how do I play it?"
"Well, you have to tune it first." He sighed, "Here, let me see it."
Yang looked reluctant to hand over her guitar, but in the end she did as he asked. Farran pulled up a chair, and sat down, getting a good feel for the guitar as he tuned it, plucking the strings and gently turning the tuning keys until each note sounded just right. He couldn't quite explain why, but having a guitar in his hands made a wave of nostalgia wash over him. He strummed a few chords, trying to pull any song from his lost memories that he could play, but nothing came. However, he did remember a song that he had heard much more recently, one that always seemed to play whenever Team JNPR was around.
"We'll swim through lakes and climb up trees, catch fish, bugs, bears, and honey bees. There's endless possibilities, and no, that's not hyperbole! Our motto's Campe Diem, and that means I'm telling yooooouuuuuu! We've got-" There was a clang as the guitar was forcibly ripped from his hands. "Wha-HEY!"
Yang glowered at him, hugging her guitar as if he had harmed it in some way. "Hero, I swear to God. You try playing that on my baby again, and I will end you."
"I have to agree, Farran." Weiss winced, rubbing her temples, "It's bad enough that Jaune insists on using such a maddening song as his ringtone AND his alarm. I would prefer it if I wouldn't have to worry about hearing it when he isn't even around. In any event, I wasn't aware you even watched the show it came from, let alone enough that you would try to learn how to play it."
"Honestly, I've never actually seen the show." Farran said, "I've just heard it enough of the song from whenever he's around that I kind of picked up how to play it."
"Oh, so you're saying you can play music by ear." Weiss put on an obviously forced smile, as the corner of her mouth started twitching. "Isn't that just lovely…"
Yang folded her arms, "Is it really that rare for someone to someone to learn how to play songs by listening to them?"
"Not rare, no. In fact, before sheet music became popularized, that was the only way for people to learn how to play new songs. However, it does take quite a bit of study and practice to master it. It took a few years for me to be able to do it. So for Farran to just happen to be able to do it out of nowhere is rather…" Weiss let out a deep sigh, "Loathsome, I suppose."
Farran just shrugged, "Hey, it ain't my fault. It's like when I realized I knew how to play the guitar in the first place; I don't know how I'm able to do it, I just am. If you want to blame anyone, blame the past me. I didn't get to choose what I'm good at, so I'm just rolling with it."
"Oh, I'm well aware it isn't your fault. And yet, if I ever did get the chance to meet your past self, I'd be sure to give him a piece of my mind for making you the absolutely vexing enigma that you are today." She pinched the bridge of her nose, "What kind of a person you must have been to be so skilled in some areas, yet so lacking in others that are much more common, is completely beyond me."
"Ah, don't let this dork get you upset, Weiss! I got something that will cheer you right up…" Yang pulled out her scroll, fiddling with it. "I finally got that playlist I was working on for you all finished up today. Again, I know you probably won't like everything on here, but at least it'll give you a taste of other kinds of music. There's pop, rock, ska, metal, rap, dubstep… I think about the only thing I didn't fit on here is country, but I've never been too big on it anyways. Here, I'll send it over to you."
"Oh, I'd almost forgotten! Thank you, Yang." Weiss slid her scroll open, waiting for the information to be transferred. When the screen began to display just how much data was incoming, she let out a low whistle, "This must have taken quite a while… Whenever did you find the time to work on this?"
She shrugged, "Oh, you know. A little here, a little there. Whenever I would listen to my music, and a song would come on that I thought you would like, or at least would be a good introduction to the genre, I'd write it down. I was just putting the finishing touches on it when I got the notification to go get my guitar."
"So… You were working on this while we were gone?" Weiss asked pointedly.
"Meaning…" Weiss started tapping her foot again, "Instead of studying, like you were supposed to, you were working on this?"
"Oh…" Yang blinked, realizing her point. "Y-Yeah…"
Weiss frowned. "Yang, I don't mean to sound as if I don't appreciate the effort you put into this. It means the world to me that you worked so hard on something that would further my musical expertise, when I don't really have anything worthwhile to repay you with. Having said that, if you are really that set on acing these exams, you need to be fully focused on your studies."
"I know that! I…" Yang sighed, "Can I be honest with you guys?"
Farran furrowed his brow. "Of course, Yang. What's wrong?"
"I just… God damnit!" She buried her face in her hands, "I freaking hate this! I haven't been able to focus at all when I've tried to study over the past couple of days. Every time I go to sit down and read through our books, I just keep on freaking out about the tests! I start to stress, and nothing really sticks…" Her hair started glowing slightly, "Then, I try to go do something else to take my mind off things, but all that does is make me stress out about it even more because I'm not studying! I've tried everything! Even the trick Summer showed me when I was a kid hasn't helped… I just… I want to do this so bad. I know it's not the end of the world if I don't, so long as I pass at least, but if I can ace these tests, if I can prove that I can really do this, it'll be proof that I'm finally turning a corner in my life, and finally moving away from my mom's bullshit."
"Yang…." Farran put a hand on her shoulder, "You should have told us earlier. Didn't we agree to be honest with each other? We could have at least been there for you."
"I know…" She grumbled, plopping down on her bed. "I'm just still getting used to this whole 'being open' thing. I'm so used to having to push through shit on my own."
"Well, I suppose it can't be helped…" Weiss folded her arms, "There is no point worrying whether your time spent studying was effective or not, it's all sunk cost now. What remains is for us to make the most of what little time we have left. Having said that, I believe Farran and I may have already come up with a suitable solution to this dilemma."
"W-What do you mean?"
As if on cue, the door swung open, allowing Blake to step inside with Ruby right on her heels. "I managed to get the lounge down the hall reserved, Farran. Thankfully, it doesn't look like anyone was planning on using it, so we have it for the whole night."
"And I got those books you asked for from the library… You could have told me they were so heavy…" Ruby whined.
"Says the girl that can twirl around a scythe that probably weighs more than she does." Weiss huffed.
"Here, Ruby… Maybe this will make you feel better." Farran dug through one of the bags he had been carrying, pulling out a pack of strawberries. The mere sight of them made Ruby's face light up, and with a powerful gust of wind, she dashed forward and snatched them from his hand before anyone could blink.
"Wha-What are you guys even talking about?" The display caused Yang to finally notice the bags, all almost spilling over with a wide array of snack foods and drinks that accommodate the team's decidedly varied tastes. "What's all that for?"
"Well, it's the last day before exams, so we decided we should all have a last minute cramming session and review party." Weiss smirked.
"It was Farran's idea." Blake added, "We're all going to just spend tonight studying like everyone else, so why not at least make it somewhat enjoyable?"
Ruby beamed, "We were going to tell you about it too, but the thought of surprising you with it was just way better!"
Yang turned to Farran, "You planned all this?"
He shrugged sheepishly, "Well, yeah. I mean, we'll get more accomplished if it's all five of us working together. And, you know, it's easier to remember stuff you learn when you're feeling a strong emotion, and…"
Yang softly rapped him on top of his head with her knuckle. "You idiot. You should have said something! I could have at least helped out doing something."
"Yeah, and if you told us how stressed you were, I probably would have!"
"Quit arguing you two." Ruby snuck over to the grocery bags, and proceeded to start digging through them for more snacks. "That's not what tonight is about!"
Weiss caught ahold of her wrist, "And in case you forgot, this food is supposed to be for us to eat while we are studying. If you scarf it all down now, I don't want to hear you complain when you don't have any later."
Blake just shook her head as she watched Ruby stick her tongue out at Weiss. She nonchalantly slid her arm through the loops of a few of the bags. "Then in that case, let's start moving all this to the lounge. We only have a few hours left to work with, since you said you want us all to have an early bedtime tonight, Weiss."
Everyone nodded, and together, they got to work moving their provisions down the hall to the lounge Blake had reserved for them. If anyone were to ever press Farran as to where he came up with the idea for this party, he would have had to admit that he had somewhat stolen it after his conversation with Ren the day before. He had to agree with Ren's statement that a heavy feeling of anxiety was everywhere around campus throughout the past week, and even if he hadn't known the just how stressed out Yang had been, he wanted to do something special for the team to make them feel better. He had originally planned on it being a surprise for the whole team, not just Yang, but Weiss had caught him the first time he had tried to go out and prepare things, and while they were discussing the idea, Blake and Ruby had come into the room and overheard the conversation. Still, while things didn't go quite according to his plan, he could hardly complain once he saw the look of joy and relief on his teammates' faces as they spent the night working together. After about two hours of studying, Yang managed to catch his eye, mouthing a silent "Thank you." to him. He gave her a knowing nod, turning back to his notes as he felt a surge in his heart, telling him the bond between the two had grown stronger.