Here is the next chapter, have fun.
It was either testament to Vale's skilled medical practitioners, or the quality of the painkillers he'd been stuffed with, but Jaune didn't even feel his shoulder being pushed back into place. He heard it, not to mention that he felt the vibrations running through his body, but there was no pain or discomfort, and the whole thing was treated more like a routine than anything else by the doctor. That kept him calm, at least, since the middle-aged man either knew exactly what he was doing, or was an expert at faking it.
"And there we go, Mr Arc," he said, stepping back with a soft smile. "You'll need to keep your left arm in a sling for a while, but there doesn't seem to be any torn tissue or fractures. You're rather fortunate on that front, I expect."
He didn't feel very fortunate, but nodded anyway. His arm felt stiff and lifeless, but that was probably the drugs speaking. He made to move it, but the doctor caught him by the elbow before he could.
"I'd prefer if you held yourself back from moving it too much. The dislocation was clean, so your arm is technically healed. That said, it will be sore for a few days, and it would be for the best if you didn't exert yourself too much."
"How long?" he asked.
"I would say two to three days before you can remove the sling."
So soon? Jaune smiled stupidly and let out a long breath he wasn't aware he'd been holding. That would mean a lost day of revenue, but it was Tuesday tomorrow, and he had Wednesdays off – so there wouldn't be any losses that day. If he could get back to work after that, it would be like nothing had ever happened.
"You'll need to rest your arm for several weeks after that," the doctor continued, settling behind his desk as he typed something into the computer – presumably updating his medical records. "I'd say around ten or so weeks to recover entirely, but you should regain mobility rather quickly. Heavy lifting and sports are off the cards, and I'd advise you to push yourself out of bed with your other arm if possible. You'd be surprised how many people pop the joint again like that." The man looked up, and quickly realised the rapid-fire instructions weren't quite penetrating his drug-muddled brain. "I'll write you up a pamphlet you can take away."
"Thank you." It took a force of effort to not move his left arm. It wasn't the discomfort, but rather the fact he'd been told not to, which paradoxically made him want to. "I only work as a barista, so it's not like the work is too strenuous."
"And can you tell me you don't have to lift any heavy boxes?"
Jaune bit his lip. There were crates to move when an order came in, not to mention milk and water to be poured into the machines, along with the cakes he had to transport from the bakers to his display cases. The list went on, but his silence was all the answer the doctor needed.
"As I suspected. While I have no right to tell you how to live your life, I believe it would be in your best interest to hire some help to handle several of those tasks – at least until you've regained your mobility."
"I'm… not quite settled in enough to afford that," Jaune admitted. His cheeks flushed as he did and he looked away. No one liked to admit they were broke. "I'll think of something."
"I'm sure you will." The doctor tapped his pen on the table. "As I said, I cannot force the issue. You need to take some time to think about your health, however. If you strain yourself, I'll be seeing you again, and the damage might be greater in the future. I'll advise you to think long and hard on this, Mr Arc. You only have the one body."
"Yeah, I know…"
The Doctor regarded him for a second, before he nodded and went back to typing into his terminal. He paused occasionally to fill him in on several things, from how he should wash himself with the sling, to what exercises might let him ease any discomfort he felt. Come the end of it, he'd been provided with a printed-off list of information he could refer to should he need it. Before he could stand to leave, however, the man stopped him.
"There is one more matter. I understand this injury was caused by a Huntress."
"That's right. It was an accident."
"Are you sure of that?"
Jaune paused. The mood in the small office suddenly felt a lot less comforting. "What do you mean?"
"I am a Doctor, Mr Arc, which means this meeting between us is confidential. You need not fear of anyone finding out or hearing anything from me. Should you wish to press charges, I can-"
"What? No!" He shook his head. "No charges. I don't want to press anything. It was an accident, and probably my fault for not explaining things. Yang is a friend of mine." Sort of. She was Ruby's sister, so that was close enough. "There wasn't anything malicious about it."
"You are certain?"
The man watched him for a few seconds, before he nodded. All of a sudden, the tension that had filled the air dissipated, and he typed something into his computer again. "I'm glad to hear it," he said. "I apologise if the question distressed you in any way. I am just doing my job."
"It's fine, but… why ask in the first place? I already told you how it happened."
"Yes, but it is not uncommon for people to feel they cannot speak out. When the person who harmed you is so powerful-" the Doctor's words trailed off. "Never mind, it's not relevant if you're happy this wasn't intentional. You are free to go, Mr Arc. If you feel anything unusual, or need any further advice, please feel free to seek me out. I have also provided a prescription for some painkillers. You can get them at the front desk."
"Thank you." Jaune took the slip of paper and bit his lip. Despite his attempts to keep his voice even, it wavered a little. "How much do I owe you?"
"The bill has already been paid."
Shock flitted through him, and his mouth fell open. "How?" he gasped. "By who?"
"According to my records, there were two parties who attempted to cover the bill. The second was rejected as there was no account remaining. The costs were covered by Beacon Academy, however, and processed by one Glynda Goodwitch." The Doctor looked up and smiled at him. "I'm sure she will be able to explain in full. I believe she is waiting outside."
The minutes ticked by with a torturous lack of haste. A bland tune played out over old speakers that clicked and fizzed occasionally, while other people in the waiting room occasionally coughed or shifted on plastic seats. The only other sounds were the occasional whispered conversation, before even those died out. Yang wished there were some bratty kids playing on the toys, if only to offer a distraction.
She hated waiting. She'd never been good at it. Not in the past, and certainly not now, as she sat with her knees apart and her hands clasped between them. Her eyes were locked to the blue carpet, picking out individual pieces of thread, and the dust that littered them.
Each tick of the clock echoed loudly, while the stupid thing's plastic, smiling face continued to mock and gloat.
She hated it.
None of the others spoke, either. Yang wasn't sure if she was relieved about that or not. Team RWBY had received the garbled message from her an hour ago, and rushed over as fast as they could. There hadn't been so much as a word shared between them, and that hardly improved when Miss Goodwitch arrived, her face set from granite. They'd been waiting ever since.
One of the speakers crackled to life. "Miss Goodwitch of Beacon. Miss Goodwitch of Beacon."
The seat to Yang's left creaked as the woman rose. She felt a hand fall on her shoulder, and she flinched. "Come along, Miss Xiao-Long. The rest of you stay here."
Ruby looked up. "Can't we-"
"O-Okay…" Ruby shot Yang a worried look.
Yang wasn't sure if she would be fine, so didn't bother to say so. She stood as best she could, suddenly aware of how weak her legs felt, and followed the older woman through the glass and plastic doors. A nurse met them there, and quickly led them into a pristine, white room with a single desk. Jaune was nowhere to be seen.
"Take a seat," the nurse said, doing as much on the other side. "Mr Arc has given permission for us to fill you in on what happened, and as the ones covering his medical costs; you are entitled to a basic explanation."
"Is he well?" Glynda asked.
"There were no complications. Mr Arc suffered from a dislocated shoulder, but it was clean and quickly set. I would not expect any lingering issues so long as he follows the Doctor's instructions. I've been advised to tell you that he has chosen not to press charges."
Yang's body didn't relax, even if she let out a quick breath. Beside her, Glynda nodded, somehow calmer in the situation. Maybe she'd been here before. Maybe this was nothing new. To Yang, it was. Her eyes clenched shut.
"You're free to see him," the nurse said.
"Before we do, may I borrow your office for a moment?"
The nurse looked down to Yang and back up to Glynda. She didn't answer, but slowly pushed her chair back and moved to the door. It closed behind her with a soft click. Only the two of them remained, and Yang's shoulders bunched up even further.
"Look at me, Miss Xiao-Long."
She tried. She really did. In the end, it was the hand reaching below her chin which forced her to meet her teacher's eyes. Guilty, frustrated tears stung at them.
Miss Goodwitch sighed.
"I-I-I'm prepared to f-face anything," Yang stammered. She hated how close she sounded to crying. She clenched her eyes shut to try and ward off any outburst, and swallowed the breath that caught in her throat. When she spoke again, she sounded a little calmer. Sounded, not felt. "I know what I did, and… and I'm prepared for the consequences."
"Prepared, indeed," Glynda sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. "You will have several detentions with me."
Yang waited for the rest.
"And…?" she prompted, when nothing came.
"And that will be it."
"What!?" Yang made to stand, but wasn't quite able to. Her knees hit the desk, rattling it, and she fell back into her seat. Her eyes were wide, however. Wide and angry. "How can that be it? I dislocated a civilian's arm! I broke an innocent person. How am I not being expelled, or suspended, or – or something!?"
"Do you wish to be expelled?"
"No. Yes. Maybe…" Yang gripped her head. "I don't know. I just… I don't know."
"You want to stop feeling guilty for what happened, and feel that if you are punished it might go some way towards achieving that. Am I correct?"
Yang nodded after a moment's hesitation.
"Would that guilt could be assuaged so easily, none of us would dwell on it. Even so, I do not believe you need to hold yourself quite as accountable as you do. I certainly don't. I doubt he does, either."
How could she say that? How could a teacher make it sound like it was okay for her to hurt something like that? She was supposed to be training to become a Huntress, someone who protected people who couldn't protect themselves.
But who was going to protect people like Jaune from her?
"Miss Xiao-Long…" Glynda paused. "Yang," she continued in a softer voice. "The differences between a Huntress-in-training and a regular civilian are many. From how we think, how we act, even to the culture we have and what we think. Huntresses and Huntsmen react to stimuli in different ways. We even react to things like grief and excitement differently. It is to be expected that there will be clashes at times… and yes; sometimes this can take a physical nature as well. I have had the misfortune to be in this position before, and I will tell you now that what you did is far less than what I've seen before."
"What kind of things?"
"You are a teenager. You all are. I have seen drink and drugs temporarily addle the minds of the most gentle and caring of students, turning them into dangerous idiots. I've seen a moment of weakness driving someone to lash out at another who didn't deserve it. I have even seen jealousy over a scorned lover create conflict that has led to broken bones and shattered friendships. These happen naturally between Huntsmen, but also between civilians. People fight and people are hurt. It only becomes a serious problem when it mixes between the two. A Huntsman or Huntress can cause grievous injury to someone who isn't trained." Glynda placed a hand on Yang's shoulder. "Yours was an accident, and from what I understand caused more from concern than malicious intent."
"I still hurt someone who couldn't fight back," she whispered. "I broke my sister's best friend. Literally."
"And you'll likely continue to feel guilty about that for some time, or at least until the memory fades. I suppose my telling you not to blame yourself will have little effect. Goodness knows no one can be as critical as we can in our own minds."
"You need to practise your control," Glynda continued. "Like many of our students, you've spent your life surrounded by people who not only have aura, but who are hardy from training. You have a Huntsman father and a Huntress mother, while your uncle is a Huntsman that teaches at Signal. Your friends were probably students from there, and later from Beacon. Tell me; how many civilian friends have you had in the past?"
None. Their cabin was out in the woods of Patch. Those forests could become infested with Grimm at any given moment.
"As I thought. Dogs learn to moderate the force of their bites through play with other dogs, and children do the same when interacting between themselves. Given that you've grown up almost exclusively with Huntsmen or those training towards that, it's understandable that you might underestimate your strength, especially given your particular skillset."
"You are a melee fighter who relies on strength and physical fitness," Glynda explained. She pinched Yang's bicep, and made a point of how the skin did not depress much. "You have higher muscle mass than any of your teammates. Miss Rose is effectively reliant on her scythe, so unless she was to attack Mr Arc out of hand, or crash into him via her Semblance, she would likely be unable to injure him. Miss Schnee and Belladonna are the same, though not quite as frail. They could hurt him, yes. But that would need to do so intentionally. You, on the other hand, are stronger than the average person by far. Even an accident on your end can prove dangerous."
Yang swallowed and shrank in on herself, or she would have if Miss Goodwitch hadn't gripped her arm a little tighter and prevented it.
"That is not something to feel ashamed of. Accidents happen, and they were almost always more likely to happen to you. That is a disadvantage you have had to live with, and one which has now taught you a valuable lesson. That it hasn't until now is a sign of how well you have adapted up to this point. Remember it, and feel grateful for the fact you learned it now where no one was overly harmed." The woman rose, gesturing for Yang to do the same. "Come, let us go and meet with Mr Arc."
Meet him? The mere thought was enough to make her stomach twist, but at the same time she knew it couldn't be put off forever. She nodded woodenly and followed after Glynda, through the door and out into the corridor, then further down and back to the waiting room. To her surprise, Jaune was already there, and was surrounded by Ruby.
How that was possible was mostly due to her Semblance and the fact she was rapidly circling him, checking every angle for injuries as she rattled off questions not even Oobleck would have been able to keep up with.
"Give him some space!" Weiss snapped, catching Ruby by the hood as she made to streak by again. The younger girl came to a screeching halt. "If you keep up like that, you'll make him dizzy. I'm glad to see you're okay, Jaune." The latter was directed to him. "Are you in pain?"
"N-No…" He looked a little dazed, probably from trying to keep up with Ruby. "I have painkillers, so I'm okay. Where-" His eyes caught hers across the waiting room and his words trailed off. Yang shrank back, but was prevented from fleeing by Miss Goodwitch, who pushed her forward with one hand.
She came to a nervous stop in front of him. "H-Hey, Jaune."
He smiled a weak smile. "Hello, Yang."
Her words clogged in her throat. He didn't look upset, and for some reason it was she who was afraid to meet his eyes. She focused lower instead, which proved a mistake as her eyes settled on the blue cloth that made up his sling. His arm was concealed by it, but she could still hear the sound of it cracking. Could feel it coming apart like dry twig in her hand. She shivered.
Blake coughed meaningfully.
"I'm sorry for what happened," Yang gasped, eyes closed. "I didn't mean to and it was wrong, but… but I understand if you can't forgive me. I was out of line and shouldn't have been so rough. I'm sorry."
"It's not fine!" she snapped, and for the first time looked up to glare at him. "It's not fine, and I wish everyone would stop acting like it is!"
"Quiet, Ruby." She pushed her little sister away and squared up to the civilian in front of her. "I broke your arm! I ignored everything you tried to say and forced you to do what I wanted. I thought I knew better, and because of that, I've gone and crippled you. How is any of that okay? How is that not a big deal? Why aren't you angry with me!?"
Jaune stared at her in surprise, and Yang let Weiss and Miss Goodwitch pull her away, even if she continued to stare at him. Why? How? It didn't make sense. Huntresses helped people against Grimm and criminals, both of which sought to hurt the innocent civilians of Vale. Where she now stood in that equation was obvious.
"It's dislocated, not broken."
"Ah, I guess." He laughed nervously and made to scratch his head, only to wince as his arm didn't move. When Ruby looked like she might rush over to help – maybe even to scratch his head for him – he stepped back and out of the way. His eyes returned to Yang's a second later. "Look, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to be angry at you," he said. "Annoyed, I'll admit, but that's more at me for not explaining things better. I mean, maybe I'm a little mad, but not to the level you're suggesting."
"Why not?" Yang practically begged. "I attacked you."
"You grabbed my hand and tried to pull me to one side," Jaune pointed out. "My sisters do that all the time. Hell, anyone could do that."
"Not everyone could pull your arm out of its socket."
"No, but I could have tripped and done it to myself just as easily. Or I could have been accepted into Beacon and died when the initiation thing happened." He shrugged with his good shoulder. "There are way worse things that can happen just as easily. I think I'd be upset if you meant it. I'd probably be afraid of you, too," he admitted. "I mean, you are all much stronger than me, so I know you could probably all kill me if you wanted to. There wouldn't be anything I could do about it if you did."
She wasn't the only one to look uncomfortable at that. In fact, Miss Goodwitch was the only one who not showing some kind of distress. Ruby had her eyes on the floor, while Weiss had hers closed and Blake looked positively agonised.
"But the thing is, anyone could do that if they wanted to badly enough. Any of my customers could bring a knife or a gun and kill me, but it's not like I can spend the rest of my life being paranoid about it." He grinned lopsidedly. "If you ever punched me, I would. I think I'd probably ban you from the diner. But for accidentally doing this when you didn't mean to? When you didn't even think it was a possibility that could happen?" Jaune sighed. "I don't think I could do that if I tried. Kids accidentally break their best friend's arm in primary school. It doesn't mean one has to go to prison or live a life of eternal shame."
No, but she wasn't a kid, and this wasn't a playground. She should have known better.
"How long do you have to stay like that?" Ruby asked, filling the uncomfortable silence that had settled between them. Ruby looked worried still, but better than she had when she first arrived. There hadn't been any accusations, but Yang had seen the fear. Ruby had been terrified she'd gone and accidentally killed her friend.
"Two or three days for the sling to come off, and two or three months until everything is healed."
"What's going to happen to the diner?"
"I can still run it once the sling's gone," Jaune said. "I can't do much heavy lifting, so I might need to ask for help with that. I think Miltia and Melanie will spare some of their guys to help in the mornings, though. They're always offering." He laughed awkwardly at that, and no one noticed her flinch. Those two were friends with him, and she'd gone and acted like it was the opposite. If only she'd listened. "Anyway, this isn't really going to affect me. If anything, it'll be a convenient excuse for any slow service."
"You might even get higher tips out of pity," Blake teased.
"Hey, I'll take whatever I can get."
"What about tomorrow?" Yang interrupted.
"You said you can continue working after the sling is off. What happens tomorrow?"
There was a moment or two before Jaune answered, and when he did, his voice was quiet. "I guess we'll be shut tomorrow. It's just one day. I'll be fine." He said it so calmly, so easily, that she almost believed him.
Almost. He was Ruby's friend, which meant he shared more than he probably should with her, and Yang knew he still had to gather as much as he could to see whether he could stay in business. Her actions – her stupid, foolish actions – would cost him a day's earnings. Worse, he'd still have whatever costs he had for that day.
Guilt tore through her. It would be her fault if he went out of business. Even if he didn't, he was going to suffer because of her. Already was suffering. Her head rose before she could stop it, her mouth opening. "I'll do it."
Ruby, Weiss and Blake turned to stare at her.
"I'll run the diner," Yang said. "I'll work for you tomorrow and keep it open."
"Yang," Ruby whispered. "You don't know the first thing about doing that…"
She clenched her teeth together. "I can learn. I'm not stupid."
"And what of your lessons?" Miss Goodwitch asked. One of her brows was raised, but she didn't look against the idea… more like she wanted to see what Yang would think up.
"I could study outside of lesson-time," she offered. "Or I'll take detentions where I can study. It would just be the one day until he's able to move around again."
"You realise those would have to take place in your free time?"
She was actually considering it? Shock warred with surprise across Yang's face, but she forced herself to nod. "That's fine with me. Whenever and wherever."
"I'll help!" Ruby chirped, hopping up to stand beside her. She wilted a little when Glynda crossed her arms, but struggled on. "I-If that's okay, I mean? I want to help…"
"It might be better with more of us working together," Weiss said, stepping forward.
Yang's mouth fell open.
"Weiss…" Ruby whispered, either awed or afraid. Who was this, and what had she done with their prickly teammate!?
"Don't look at me like that," said teammate hissed. "The two of you know nothing about customer service, and Yang's knowledge on coffee extends to hot water on beans." Weiss smirked when Yang's cheeks coloured. "I am already his business consultant and I won't see him go bust while I'm here. My reputation would be ruined. I would never live it down!"
"Is that the only reason?" Blake asked.
Weiss snorted. "Of course it is. You're coming as well?"
"Might as well. I can't be the only one on the team not to."
Yang's voice almost broke. "You guys…"
"Ahem," Miss Goodwitch coughed, drawing attention to her. "While this is all very inspiring and such, I can't help but think you've missed my point about lessons. Your desire to help Mr Arc speaks well of you all, but your education is just as important, if not more so."
"Please, Miss Goodwitch," Ruby begged, hands held together before her chest. "Please…"
"I am not going to be swayed by begging, Miss Rose."
"Then how about reasoning?" Weiss offered. "Look at Yang. She isn't going to be able to concentrate in class if she's thinking about how someone can't earn the money they need to live because of her. She'll be next to useless. Would it not be better to let her handle this? People have days off school for sickness and they're able to catch up. We can, too."
Yang nodded eagerly. "I'll catch up. You know my grades are good, professor."
"They are," Glynda conceded. "Despite your behaviour in class…"
Yeah, well, how she acted and what she submitted were two different things. Her Dad and Uncle were teachers, and while you didn't want your parents to know you were getting low grades, you definitely didn't want to hand in crappy homework to your family. Like it or not, she was smart. Ruby wasn't the only hard-worker in the family.
Glynda looked to them, and then looked over to Jaune, who had been cautiously silent the entire time. There was no telling what he thought of the idea, but the fact he hadn't interrupted probably meant he liked it. That or he had no choice. He needed to stay open. He couldn't afford not to. Perhaps she saw that in his expression, for the teacher pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed.
"One day," she said.
Yang and Ruby cheered.
"One day!" Glynda went on, "And no matter what Mr Arc's state, no more. You will also have detentions with me this weekend to catch up on the missed work, and I will personally test you on it at the end. Should you score anything less than ninety per cent, I shall keep you in for consecutive weekends. Am I understood?"
Yang nodded. She didn't care. She was too happy, too relieved, too many things and all of them confusing. Either way, she had her permission, and with everyone else helping her as well, this was bound to be a cinch. "Thank you, Miss Goodwitch," she said. "I won't let you down."
"We won't," Ruby amended. "Ooh, this is going to be so cool!"
"We'll need uniforms," Weiss pointed out.
"Those will come out of your own expenses," Glynda said, "and I do mean yours. Mr Arc has trouble enough without being forced to clothe you."
"I can handle it," Weiss said easily, and she could with her finances. Four uniforms probably wouldn't make a dent on her weekly allowance, let alone her bank balance. "Thank you again, Miss Goodwitch. I'm sure this won't happen again."
"It won't," Yang promised. Her eyes traced over to Jaune's arm, and she swallowed once more. It wasn't just the knowledge of what she'd done – that had faded with his easy forgiveness. It was more the feeling and the memory, both of which haunted her still. Even if she hadn't meant it, she could still remember the exact moment it happened and what she felt.
She'd never experienced anything like it before. It was like taking a plastic doll and snapping it in two, except knowing that this was a real person – someone you genuinely liked, and who your little sister genuinely cared for. It was sickening. I never realised how strong we are. One mistake and I could kill someone. Gods, why did I never think of that when I caused that scene at Junior's bar? I unloaded in the air to make the customers run, but what if they'd trampled one another to death in the doorway?
She'd have been a murderer. Even if she didn't pull the trigger, people had a tendency to run wild when panicked. If a single person has fallen, the others would surely have crushed them. The thought made her shiver.
Jaune noticed. "Yang, it's fine," he whispered. "You didn't mean it."
"I didn't, but that doesn't really excuse me." She sighed and flipped some hair back. "I think I need to apologise to those two, as well."
"Miltia and Melanie?"
Yang grimaced, but managed a nod. "They're friends of yours, right?"
She closed her eyes. "You know what they are. Don't you?"
"I do…" Jaune swallowed loudly. "They're not bad people. Or, well, maybe they are, but not to me. They've helped me out a few times, and they're customers." He sighed. "It's complicated."
"Eh, you don't really have to explain yourself to me. They're your friends, not mine. Still, I messed up and you got hurt. Helping you out like this is the least I can do." Her smile faltered. "If that's okay, I mean. We didn't exactly give you much of a choice in the matter."
His smile washed away her doubt. "It's more than okay," he said. "I was worried what being closed tomorrow would mean. If you guys can help out, even if it's just with the heavy lifting and stuff, that would be amazing. I really appreciate it."
"Ugh, how can you make it sound like I'm the one doing you a favour when I put you in this spot in the first place?"
"I told you-"
"It's fine, I know." She smirked and made to flick his forehead, then thought better of it. "I still think you should be a little more pissed at me, but maybe this is part of your charm. I basically assaulted you."
"Well Ruby knocked me out the first time I met her."
"JAUNE!" Ruby cried, cheeks aflame. "You said you wouldn't tell them!"
"Ah, I forgot!"
Ruby groaned. "Jauuune!"
"Knocked you out?" A tiny laugh escaped her, and like a damn, that washed away the fear and guilt she'd felt. A quick glance at Ruby showed her sister under Weiss' suddenly demanding gaze, and she couldn't help but snort. "That's two for two on us injuring you. I wonder when Weiss and Blake will get a turn."
"Probably the next time I make a bad business decision for Weiss."
"Or if you go out of business." Yang grinned and drew out her scroll. "Anyway, give me your number in case you need us for anything. What time do we need to be at the diner tomorrow? Seven?"
"Five," Jaune replied, laughing awkwardly. "In the morning."
The scroll slipped from Yang's limp fingers. Deep inside, a part of her whimpered. Being in Vale for five meant waking up at four, maybe earlier if she wanted a long shower – and Weiss would definitely enforce them all looking their best. Did that mean three or three-thirty? Either way, sleep would be nothing but a distant dream.
Still, it was just manning a shop for the day, and there were four of them to do it. Jaune did it most days on his own.
It couldn't be too hard.
"And that's how the day went," Jaune finished, slumped over one of his tables as he nursed a cup of tea in one hand. His only hand, really. He thanked his lucky stars she'd dislocated the left, because he didn't fancy his chances with his off-hand.
"Sheesh, tough break," Roman commiserated, sat on the other side with his own mug in hand.
Neo was off by the display cabinets helping herself to ice-cream. He'd have normally done it for her, but she'd taken one look at him – zeroed in on his injury – and then practically forced him into a seat, and silently growled at him every time he made to stand. The one time he'd tried, she'd somehow managed to launch a knife from behind the counter and stick it into the table by his hand.
He hadn't tried again.
"I warned you, though. Huntsmen and civilians don't mix."
"I know," Jaune groaned. "I also just knew you were going to rub that in. You couldn't resist an `I told you so` moment, could you?"
"Nope. So, what're you going to do now?"
"Well, I have Team RWBY helping out tomorrow."
"And you expect that to go well?"
Admittedly no, but it couldn't be worse than not opening at all. He hadn't been lying when he said he didn't blame Yang, but it wasn't the entire truth either. There had been an immediate spike of panic when he saw her, but that had been buried under so much guilt the second he saw her expression, that he'd suffocated it.
Fear was normal, especially after something hurt you. It was nothing but an automatic reaction, and there was no way in hell he was going to let that take over him – not when it came to dealing with someone he knew and liked. Even beyond being Ruby's sister, Yang was a good person. She had that older sister vibe he instantly recognised. He could tell she was the kind of girl to relentlessly tease Ruby on one hand, but come to her defence the moment anyone else tried the same.
She reminded him of his sisters, and if he'd seen any of them look so miserable, he'd have done everything he could to help them.
"I think they'll try their best," he said. "I'll be keeping an eye on them, so it'll be enough. I just need them to help with lifting and stuff. I'll still be here mixing the drinks."
"And what about afterwards?" Roman asked, poking Jaune's dislocated arm. He winced, but more on instinct. He was still hopped up on so many painkillers that he barely felt it. "Injuries like that take time to heal. Twelve to fourteen weeks, I think."
"The Doctor said ten to twelve."
Roman rolled his eyes, and Jaune flushed. The difference was negligible, and didn't really answer his point anyway.
"I guess I'll have to get a new employee," he said. "I just need someone to work the mornings and help me get ready. I can clean up with one hand. A part-timer would do."
"Shouldn't be too hard," Roman said. "There are plenty of people looking for work."
"The problem is cost. I'm not sure I can afford it."
"Depends who you hire. You can get away with paying certain people less."
Jaune grimaced. "You mean faunus?"
"Nah, not that. I could tell from looking at you, you're not the type to try exploiting that. I was thinking more underage part-time. Being a waiter or waitress is like every kid's first job. Well, other than a news round."
"That's true…" Back home, some of his sisters had worked in restaurants. Sure, it didn't pay well, but the work was fairly simple and it was kind of meant to be an introduction to working life. In fact, most of the restaurants and diners in Ansel hired either family members or teenagers. You could pay them less, too.
"If you decide to recruit, might want to do it around the schools in the area," Roman suggested. "Kids like that don't have the time for full-time work, but love a little bit of part-time on the side, especially if they need it for partying or stuff."
"I'll see how it goes with Team RWBY first," he said. Despite his caution, the idea had already started to take root, however. Team RWBY were only covering for the single day, but if he could get someone to help him with the heavy work in the morning, they could get back to whatever school they had later. He only needed two, maybe three hours. Less if he handled the lighter stuff. If someone worked five through seven, they could probably get back to in time for school. And then there were weekends, where he could give extra hours and maybe have a break or two of his own. Jaune laughed and downed his tea. "You've put the idea in my head now. Thanks."
"Roman Torchwick, always here to serve." He polished off his own coffee and popped a slice of cake in his mouth. He spoke around it, gesturing with one hand. "You're – hm – doing pretty well here." He swallowed. "For where you are, I mean. I know you're not sure how much you'll have made until the end, but I can't see you going out of business. Most waiters and waitresses make their money off tips anyway, so you wouldn't be losing that."
"Alright, alright, I get it." Jaune chuckled. "I'll put some fliers out. You sure you're not trying to lump a certain someone on me?"
The two of them turned to look at Neo, who had just pressed a button on an espresso machine. It spat and hissed wildly, and Neo leapt back, drawing a long, thin sword and holding it at the ready. When the machine failed to grow legs, arms, and sentience to try and kill her, she sheathed it awkwardly and glared at them.
They wisely pretended to have seen nothing.
"Even I wouldn't be that cruel," Roman said. "No, she's with me, heavens help me. I'm just worried the only place I can get a proper cup of coffee will go bust on me. Can't have that."
"There are probably over three hundred different restaurants, diners and cafes in Vale," Jaune said with a roll of his eyes. "I'm sure mine isn't the best coffee out of all of that."
"You'd be surprised. Besides, I'm here for the customer service."
"That doesn't even make any sense." Jaune sighed and gave up, especially when Roman started to laugh himself silly. The guy was pretty weird like that, but it felt nice to have someone to wind down with at the end of the day.
Funnily enough, Roman and Neo always looked like they were just waking up.
What kind of removals business operated at night?
The best kind of removals business, naturally. So, I'm happy last chapter received so much positive feedback, even if it was quite the tonal shift. Like I said before, this is going to be episodic in nature, covering one issue and then moving onto another. Some may seem more serious than others, while some might be more comedic in nature.
On Yang's `ability` to dislocate his shoulder – which some questioned – I would point out that just about anyone could dislocate someone's shoulder by swinging them around by the arm and then not letting go. So long as the one doing it has a strong grip and makes the shock sudden enough, it's a dislocation. It's more the sudden "halt" in motion that causes it.
Yang, being as strong as she is, definitely wouldn't be budged. I imagine her grip would be like a vice. Meanwhile, Jaune isn't exactly the buffest of people (cough, noodle, cough). Even Weiss calls him scraggly the first time they met.
Next Chapter: 17th October
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