Heart Thief Chapter 18
I'm not dead. It's as much a shock to you as it is me that I'm updating this for the first time since… October? Yeah, listen, college happened, it sucked, except for all the bits that didn't suck. I did not mean to leave this hanging for as long as I did. And for that, I am sorry.
But you don't care about that, you just want fluff. And it's Christmas, so… fluff it is.
Ruby's eight, so Emerald's twelve. Though really this can work at any point in Ruby's life. You'll see why.
Snow was always something that was best enjoyed from a distance. Patch was always covered in a thick blanket of white come wintertime. Houses would peek out under their new white caps, footsteps, tire tracks and paw prints crisscrossed each other around the labyrinth of paths, carving a way for the next crowd to walk through. Aside from the brown of the denuded trees, the only other color was the vivid saffron staining around the base of each lamppost, tree and shrub. Snow was a beautiful image.
The downside, however, was living with the accursed stuff. Cold mornings, slippery roads, no direct sunlight and instead just an ever-present mass of grey clouds. The chill could have been far worse, Emerald knew. At least this year she was inside when the sun would set, and the night-time chills settled in.
In fact, there were many good things that came with the snow, so it wasn't all doom and gloom when it did come. Even if Emerald herself was mixed on the holiday, Christmas was a time of year where people were a little less awful to each other. Silly jumpers, cheap goods in stores, pretty lights everywhere (Emerald was a sucker for a good light show; she'd made use of enough of them as distractions in the past), and special festive food. Like Summer's cookies.
Summer's normal cookies were to die for- literally, Ruby could be fierce like a Beowolf if something got between her and those cookies ("I'm not that bad!" Ruby had pouted when Emerald had made the observation to Yang, her point undercut by how she was chowing down on a couch cushion in desperation). As such, for the most part, Emerald was content to live and let live- let Ruby have the cookies, while Emerald lived. It wasn't malicious on Ruby's part, so there was no bad blood as a consequence.
The sole exception was at Christmas. Summer added something to the cookies at Christmas; a mint, perhaps, or maybe she just used a different chocolate. Regardless, it was divine. If one looked up ambrosia in the dictionary, a picture of Summer taking out those cookies at Christmas would be found within. Ruby's usual kleptomania and rapid-fire thievery of cookies would not be allowed during December; Emerald would steal the cookies from the cookie master. It would be no small task. A war would be fought. People would experience salvation, and Patch as a civilisation would prosper when Emerald got to eat those cookies instead of Ruby.
Her plan was devised across several days in the lead up to Christmas. Emerald's room transformed into something out of a heist film; a large whiteboard with various plans adored a wall, the blinds were put in place to only let the light through in sharp angles (alongside all the Christmas lights Emerald had "borrowed" and tied to her ceiling), and Emerald began making sporadic appearances to the outside world. Appearing for food and required social meetings, she would dart back into her room swiftly after. Rudy had a place of honor, overlooking the board and acting as a soundboard for the young thief.
Three days of planning had led to this exact moment, this heist of ages that would see sweet crumbly goodness in the hands of Emerald and not the Crimson Reaper (as the board called Ruby). Emerald had devised a three-part scheme that would make a master thief weep with its simplicity and elegance.
Step 1- Immobilize the Reaper.
This part was the most complex- if Ruby learned that a batch of cookies existed at all, the plan was compromised. Thus, around when Summer would be creating the batch, Ruby would need to be distracted or unable to seize the prize for herself. But she obviously couldn't do anything too inhumane, so she resorted to an underhanded ploy.
She asked Yang if she'd mind taking Ruby out for a few hours so that Emerald could get some quiet in the house. A quick lie that she had a school project due when she got back was easy for Yang to swallow, and thus Ruby was out of the house for a short period of time. This had to be timed smoothly; Ruby had to gone just long enough for the cookies to be made, so Emerald had to send the message asking Yang to pick up Ruby at a precise time.
Step 2: Be ready for the arrival.
The next step was as simple as sitting on a couch and reading a book with a forced casual air. The perfect position to be ready to intercept the ambrosia and partake in that chocolate goodness.
"Emerald?" Summer's head poked out of the kitchen. "I'm making cookies, you want some?"
Emerald suppressed the instinctual jolt and thrill that ran down her spine at the words. "Sounds neat," she replied calmly, flicking a page.
"Have you seen Ruby?"
"Yang took her out for a little bit."
"Huh. Well, I'll just leave some on a platter for her. They'll be ready soon."
Emerald held back on the urge to punch the air with joy until Summer's footsteps went back into the kitchen. After that, the plan did allot for a short period of fist-pumping to celebrate the plan making it this far. Now it all came down to this string of good luck continuing for a little bit longer- and Qrow was out of town for a while so that particular miscalculation had been accounted for. Emerald was quite proud of this plan, it would go down as her finest moment. She was unable to beat Ruby's speed, so she used her mental acumen. Nothing could go wrong now.
Step 3. Intercept and enjoy.
The oven's ding could be heard from the living room. All earlier attempts at acting calm and rational were swept away like sand being swept like an oceanic wave. Emerald was almost vibrating with excitement, darting past Summer when she began to call for Emerald. She stood in the centre of the kitchen, eyes wide and agape at the fresh plate awaiting her. A siren's song that begged for her to not listen to the voice of common sense that pointed out that they were fresh out the oven and would be supremely hot to the touch. Shaped in a mixture of trees and stars, an eclectic but refined mixture of caster sugar, vanilla, icing, flour and other ingredients. Red and green sprinkles adorned the little treats, some of the sprinkles even shaped like stars and hearts to make the image all the more tantalizing. Summer's cookies could bring adults to their knees (she'd seen it with Qrow and Taiyang. Jokingly or not, they had both taken to one knee and begged for the cookies), cure famine and disease. And they were hers. A complete plate, all hers for the taking. Her plan was a complete success, Emerald mused as she reached out for the plate, from here the world was her oyster-
The door opened behind her. "Hey mom, I'm home- COOKIES!"
A red streak flew past Emerald, nearly knocking her off her feet. Where once there had been a plate that called to Emerald with the cookies it carried, now there was only a plate that was spinning in the wind without anything left. A trail of rose petals had circled around Emerald, flying upstairs where several doors and drawers could be heard.
Yang winced from the door. "She forgot her coat and wanted to get it before we headed out into the snow." A sympathetic hand clasped Emerald's shoulder. "Sorry Em, I tried to delay her."
"I… I was so close… I could almost taste them…" Emerald was muttering to herself, blind to the world around her.
"I can just make another batch?" Summer muttered. "I really do need to curb her diet anyway."
"It's fine," Emerald heard herself saying. She robotically got up and threw on a coat. "I'll be right back."
Emerald put on her boots and left via the back door, walking in a daze until she was several minutes from the house. Resting her head against a tree, Emerald let out a sigh as she mentally noted that she had forgotten the fourth part of her plan, and resolved to add it post-haste.
Step 4. Lament your existence and wonder what is even the point after it all goes wrong.
Emerald's skull met the tree. Slowly, she sank to her knees and groaned softly. What even was the point of life, of calling herself a thief, when she couldn't even steal a damn plate of cookies? What right did she have to refer to herself as the Master Thief when she was outsmarted by an eight-year-old with super speed? The years of training and scrounging, of analysing her marks… and she couldn't even best her adoptive sister. She was pathetic. A waste of a thief-
Emerald lifted her head, seeing a pair of concerned silver eyes. Ruby, now wearing her coat and holding an outstretched arm that had the plate on it, alongside some of the cookies.
"I just wanted to say I'm sorry." Ruby's other hand rubbed the back of her head. "I've been taking stuff without asking and that's wrong."
It was awkward as all hell. Emerald could practically hear Summer's gentle lecture echoing in Ruby's head as she asked Ruby to go apologize to Emerald. But heck, she'd take it.
"It's fine Ruby." Emerald swallowed. "I should've talked to you about it sooner. I mean, you do have a habit of just snatching food before anyone can react-"
"Hey, that's a charming flaw, not an irritating one!"
Emerald stared flatly at Ruby. "Try living with it," she replied drily, "but seriously, no harm no fowl. So long as I get that plate."
Emerald simply smirked. "Wouldn't you like to know?"
The plate swiftly made its way into Emerald's expectant hands. Within moments it was stripped to the bone of its contents. Even with the mild chill in the air, the cookies were… delightful. Emerald could see why Ruby was so possessive of the treats. Heaven on earth was a mildly accurate description. They were delicious, delectable, mouth-watering, tasty, delightful, gorgeous, lip smacking, yummy, wonderful in taste and aroma; never unappetizing, and other words that the dictionaries said could be used to describe good-tasting food.
Emerald was so enraptured that she forgot about the world around her, only coming back to reality when Ruby coughed uncomfortably. "I don't wanna be a sourpuss, but it is getting pretty cold out. Can we go back?"
Emerald blinked. "Uh, yeah, sure. Let's go." Tucking the plate against her side, Emerald grabbed Ruby and hoisted her up for a piggyback ride (thank the gods for growth spurts). Ruby giggled at the motion as the two trudged back through the snow, Emerald adding one final step to the plan as she walked.
Step 5. Realize that you still have a good life and the minor setbacks aren't too bad in the grand scheme of things.
God, she could almost imagine Yang's quip about reading too many thesauruses in the back of her head after she thought that.
Did I do it? I finally wrote a Heart Thief chapter. God, that took a while to do.
For the record, Emerald's plan was initially going to include a Mission Impossible style cable drop into the kitchen the snatch the cookies before I realized "oh right, Em could just ask Summer for some, so she doesn't need to sneak around Summer."
I wanna do another Christmas chapter with Weiss, so hopefully I'll get that done before March. In the meantime, I'm gonna be working on another project that's got my interest (alongside random oneshots that I do in the meantime like Applecider) called Rhinestone Heart- a steampunk thief AU that'll probably wind up with Emerald and Weiss hooking up (I'm predictable). Assuming of course that it suffers the same fate as Heart Thief and goes MiA over my college semester. Sorry about that again, BTW.
But anyway, hope you had a happy Christmas, see you in 2018.