Summary: Jaune and Ruby talk by the campfire.
Coffee by the Campfire
"Caffeine right before bed?" Jaune looked down at the steaming cup of coffee. "Isn't that unhealthy?"
"You'll need the caffeine. Long night, right?" Ruby said with a wink. She knew Jaune had been training at night.
"T-thanks," said Jaune. He wasn't sure if Ruby knew or not. It was a bit embarrassing. Then again, did it really matter? "What about you? You'll get restless."
"It's fine. Tonight's the clearest sky in weeks. It'll be a good night to look at the stars."
"You like looking at the stars?"
Ruby nodded. "It's fun to point out the constellations," she explained. "First Brother, The Ursa Twins…"
"I never knew."
"Nobody ever asked," she shrugged.
They were both sitting on a log, waiting for more stars to peek out.
Jaune hadn't admired the stars much lately. He was too busy pouring over maps and figuring out landmarks. Natural disasters and Grimm attacks can have quite the effect on the local geography. In fact, the last time he really looked up the stars was… with her.
"Hey Ruby, do you miss Beacon?" Jaune laughed. "You know… before the fall?"
"Yeah," Ruby thought wistfully. "I miss how we used to play pillow forts between our dorm rooms."
"I still think it's unfair you were an unstoppable pillow raider. How could we stop you when you kept attacking our pillow mines?" Jaune pouted. He had lost a many good Ren's defending the pillow mines.
Ruby giggled. "Yeah! Remember the board games we played in the library? You had like, the worst luck out of all of us!"
"Heh, if it wasn't for Weiss I'd lose every game. Skill trumps luck anytime!"
"Yeah! And when we got too loud, Pyrrha would come over and-"
As soon as her name slipped Ruby covered her mouth. The neurons in her brain had fired too quickly, unaware of what she had said. She slowly turned over to Jaune, who was smiling wistfully into the sky.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought her up-"
"I know it's still a sore point! And- and you know- we all knew how much she meant to you-"
"It's okay, really." Jaune's voice became quieter.
"-and she meant a lot to all of us. But I know that out of all of us she really loved yo-"
"RUBY!" Jaune shouted. His fury boiled over. "I. said. It's fine! So stop! Just…"
The campfire flickered in the wind. Nora rolled up with a snort. Ren, wearing his blinders and earplugs, stayed perfectly still.
Small buds of tears formed on the corner of Jaune's eyes. Ruby felt tears well up in her own.
Jaune threw her arms around Ruby.
"Sometimes when I think of her, I just…" Jaune held her tightly. "I just want to…"
"If you want to blame me… I understand…" Ruby buried her face into Jaune's shoulder. "It was my fault… if I'd just-"
Jaune only tightened his hold.
"It's not your fault… it's… nobody's fault… but theirs." Jaune's breath felt cool on Ruby's ear. Somehow, in the warmth, she felt safer than even the tightest of blanket cocoons.
Slowly, Jaune released Ruby. She missed the warmth already.
"We'll find them and… and…" Ruby struggled to find the words Pyrrha would have said. 'Defeat them!' 'Make them pay!' 'Kill them!' What would Pyrrha say? Ruby bit her tongue trying to find the words.
'... and we'll bring them to justice," Jaune finished.
Ruby nodded in agreement.
"We've both lost someone dear to us…" Her thoughts drifted. She thought of Penny, and of a mother she barely knew. "Maybe we're just a pair of broken things…" She smiled at the thought. "We're like broken records… always returning to the same tune. Then we got smashed and then taped together."
"I don't mind being stuck to you. Probably the safest place actually."
Ruby laughed. "You're the one with the shield. You should be protecting me!"
"Says the one with the sniper-scythe."
"I'm a long ranged fighter! I'm like the quick-attack damage dealer. You're the tank-y hero."
"I think that's Nora…"
"The strong and resolute warrior following a chivalrous code of conduct?"
Ruby tapped her lips in thought. What was Jaune then…? He wasn't much of a strategist… nor was he a fighter… he wasn't even a chef… Ruby shrugged. Did it really matter in the end? Jaune was Jaune and Ruby really loved having him around. Ruby smiled. The thought of Jaune's presence was pleasant.
"Hey Ruby." Jaune's voice barely carried in the wind.
"Mind if I watch the stars with you tonight?"
"Sure!" Ruby said, taking Jaune's hand into her own. "I'd love the company."
"Thanks," he murmured.
He tried to pull away his hand, but Ruby wouldn't let him go.
"Stay," she commanded him like a dog.
For the rest of the night, Jaune and Ruby, resting their heads on each other, stargazed in perfect silence.
Their coffee was cold and forgotten. They didn't need it.
Coffee by the Campfire Fin