A/N: Finally finishing this mini-arc that got way bigger than I thought it would. We'll go back to the others in the next chapter, and that IS a promise. Let's finish this, enjoy everybody!
Phthalo fidgeted nervously, tapping the end of Coal's club against the ground rhythmically. All around him, small groups of Faunus were huddled around each other, many of them just trying to keep warm due to their tattered clothing not doing much to protect them from the elements. Melanie and Miltia were keeping to themselves off to the side, their eyes occasionally drifting towards the ship.
Fenrir had been gone for about ten minutes now.
"When's he gonna come back?" The boy wondered; his face fraught with tension.
When his friend had told him he wouldn't kill that lady with the strange eyes, he trusted that Fenrir would hold true to his word. But even so, the boy had seen the anger, thinly veiled as it was behind those cold, blue eyes of his. And there was still the strange matter of that black smoke that came out of his very skin.
"How much longer is this going to take?" Melanie asked irritably, "You'd think at least SOME cops would've gotten here by now."
Theo had called the Sergeant the second he got off the ship, and now they were simply waiting for the man to arrive. Barley had sounded surprised when he heard the voice of a child on the other end of the line, but he got the gist of the situation once Phthalo had explained that he was the Wolf's friend.
"I'm going back to get him." Theo decided, his nervousness finally getting to him.
"Hold on a minute kid," Miltia warned, "We don't know what's…"
The girl's words were cut short when a lone figure made his way across the flimsy gangplank.
"Fenrir!" Theo cried out, relief making his shoulders sag when he saw the older Faunus was unharmed and smoke-free.
Though his relief was diminished when he noticed there was one thing different about Fenrir.
splotches of dark red stood stark against Fenrir's grey sweatshirt, and a faint dripping noise clued Phthalo into the knowledge that more blood caked his friend's fingers.
The crimson claws looked almost polished as they caught the fading light of the late afternoon sun. The wolf's expression was… relaxed, his eyes showing none of the rage that had been there previously.
Looking at both the twins and Phthalo, Fenrir rolled his shoulders and sighed contentedly. The faint snapping and crunching sounds that came from the action made Phthalo wince.
"That was…" Fenrir breathed, "… I needed that."
Doing what he'd done, had given a great sense of catharsis to the Grimm. For nearly two whole months now, he had gone without properly expelling his rage on anyone. Longer still since he'd taken a life. Hank was the last person he could really think of, but he didn't count in the Beowolf's opinion. Phthalo had literally been in the next room over, so Fenrir hadn't gone all out back then.
But with Cobalt, he'd shown her everything he had, every tool of terror he had at his disposal. Perhaps that made him a cruel being, quite frankly, he didn't care. It felt good, so he'd keep doing it. Better than trying to supress his anger and having it explode out of him at an inappropriate time.
Besides, he'd still kept to the promise he'd given to Velvet and Ruby.
"Oum…" Melanie whispered faintly, the twins also noticing Fenrir's bloodied state and instantly adopting defensive stances.
"Fenrir… did you… is she?" Phthalo asked, trembling slightly.
Sensing the boy's growing fear, Fenrir quickly wiped his hands clean on a nearby wall, zipped up his jacket to cover his shirt, and gave a small smile that he hoped held no malicious intent.
"She's alive," He assured, "As promised, back with the others, and nursing a headache I don't even want to think about."
The boy audibly sighed with relief, his shoulders sagging greatly. The twins, meanwhile, appeared sceptical, not getting out of their stances. It didn't seem like Fenrir was lying, at least, there were no obvious tells that he was lying. But still, that was a LOT of blood on his shirt just now.
Seeing that the two girls clearly had questions for him, Fenrir looked down at the boy and gave him a pointed look.
"Did you call the sergeant like I asked you to?" He asked.
"Yep," Phthalo replied, "He's on his way right now."
"Good. Keep an eye out for him would ya, I need to talk to the twins for a second."
Seeing no harm in it, the boy flew off, Coal's club weighing him down slightly but still able to keep airborne. As soon as he was out of earshot, the Malachite sisters surrounded the suspiciously relaxed Wolf.
"Listen dog," Melanie began snidely, "We're no strangers to getting our hands dirty. If you offed that crazy woman, just say it. We're not kids that need to be wrapped in cotton wool and told the world is nothing but rainbows and smiles."
Fenrir eyed the two, arms folded and face impassive. Melanie appeared the most impatient, while Miltia seemed content to let her twin do the talking. Realising that he had no choice now but to elaborate, Fenrir drew in a deep breath and spoke evenly.
"I spoke the truth; Cobalt is still alive. I did NOT kill her, no matter how tempted I might have been to do so."
Staring down at his hands, looking at the lingering splotches of dried blood that tinged his claws a cloudy red, Fenrir let his mind drift back to a few minutes ago. The memories alone brought an immense feeling of gratification to the Beowolf whose sadistic mind had ached for some form of pain to be inflicted on a wretched little Human.
The twins drew back as a grin grew on Fenrir's face. It was small, hardly noticeable if one were a reasonable distance away, but close up, it looked downright insidious. The Grin of a man who had taken a great deal of enjoyment out of something most people would look down upon. The sight sent a spark of genuine dread run down Melanie and Miltia's spines.
"I didn't like her eyes," Fenrir said, in a voice so cold, so detached, that it brought further shivers to the twins bodies, "I wanted so badly to Carve them out. But… I just settled for beating them until she couldn't open them anymore. After that, well, I still got to Leave my marks."
The twins could only stare wide-eyed in shock, a pit forming in their stomachs at such a twisted admission that the wolf didn't even look a little bit guilty about. Staring at his bloodied hands, and specifically his blood-tinged claws, the twins instantly knew just where those claws had been.
Fenrir walked off, his ears perking up as the sounds of sirens cut through the deafening silence that had formed around the trio. Melanie and Miltia stared at the retreating back of the boy, before turning to look at each other, one question on both their minds.
"Who… No, what the hell is he?"
Checking himself over to make sure he didn't look like he'd just indulged in some unsavoury activities, Fenrir gently brushed past the Faunus who were cramped together, many of them also looking towards the dozens of squad cars that were piling into the area, their red and blue lights glaring brightly in the fading light of day.
Quickly climbing out of the nearest car was Sergeant Barley himself, the lines on his face clearly showing how irritated he was. Keeping his posture rigid and firm, Fenrir walked forward to meet the disgruntled officer.
"Care to explain to me why you felt the need to go in, guns blazing, by yourself?" Jacob got straight to the point, his eyes quickly darting down to Fenrir's now zipped up jacket.
Instinctually, Fenrir drew his hands behind his back, clasping them together.
"Ozpin gave me this mission," Fenrir said, "I felt like I should be the one to see it completed."
"I somewhat doubt that this is what Ozpin meant by that. Even pro Huntsmen need backup every now and then."
As Barley continued to lecture Fenrir on his decision to take on the Red Hand on his own, Melanie and Miltia walked up to stand behind the Wolf, both of them still giving Fenrir wary glances.
"I'll just come out and say it; what you did was stupid Fenrir." Barley said harshly, "If anything had gone wrong, it wouldn't have just been your life on the line, but the lives of these civilians as well. I don't care if the Valean council members themselves gave you this mission, don't go into a high-risk combat zone by yourself."
Fenrir frowned, but otherwise said nothing. Barley was right, even when he was just an average Beowolf, Fenrir had known it was better to attack Humans as a pack. His parents had incessantly drilled into his head the foolishness of trying to be a 'Lone wolf' and fight the Humans just by himself.
But the Alpha was frustrated. Lately, it felt like all he'd done was lose to these Dustlings. Whether they were his friends like Ruby, or his foes like Grar, Fenrir couldn't recall the last time he'd been able to claim a victory purely through his own might.
"I… You're right," Fenrir sighed, "Next time something like this happens, I'll let you know. Promise."
Barley frowned, but otherwise relented. Though, he did quirk an eyebrow at something that stuck out in Fenrir's statement.
"Next time? Sounds like he wants to make a habit of this. Well, I was just talking to the chief about how we should try and get more Huntsmen and Huntresses to assist us in taking these guys down."
Rubbing at his temples, Jacob let out a long breath then looked around the area as his colleagues were already getting to work with assisting the freed Faunus.
"Well, at least this time things went okay. I don't agree with how you handled this, but I can't deny the results. The Red Hand were dealt a heavy blow today, I don't doubt they have more holes around the city to hide in, but this is a good start to taking them down. I… suppose I should thank you for your assistance today.
While Fenrir's pride would like nothing more than to take full-credit for what happened today, he couldn't help but feel like a certain pair of twins were being ignored right now.
"It wasn't all my doing," The Beowolf explained, "I had some help."
Seeing that they were being addressed, Melanie and Miltia drew themselves up, perfectly masking their previous discomfort regarding Fenrir. Jacob wilted when he finally recognised the two girls standing next to Fenrir.
"Ah yes, Melanie, Miltia," Jacob greeted glibly, "Always a delight to see you… so near a crime scene. Though let me guess, you had 'No involvement', right?"
Melanie and Miltia both frowned at the Sergeant's accusation.
"If you were actually listening to the Wolf," Miltia argued, "You would have heard that we just helped free all these people."
That actually seemed to surprise the officer. He'd never known the infamous Malachite twins to do something that wasn't inherently in their own interests. And he'd never known Junior to order them to do something so virtuous, so this couldn't be his doing.
"I…see…" Barley said hesitantly, before shaking his head, "Well, moving past that, I'm still gonna need to take a statement from you Fenrir. Tell me what happened here."
Fenrir had already gone over this procedure once already, back at the Heorot warehouse. He saw little point in the endeavour, but he figured he shouldn't try and resist the Sergeant right now, so he agreed.
What followed was a very quick summary from Fenrir to Barley, the Grimm once again choosing to leave out the more colourful sections of the story [Which was basically the entirety of what he did to Cobalt]. As Fenrir talked, Phthalo also joined the group, staring around at all the officers with an enraptured gaze. When Fenrir mentioned the one Faunus who 'Didn't make it', the older man's expression turned sombre and he offered the Alpha words of comfort.
"Don't blame yourself," He'd said, "You had no idea this place was even here until today. Sad as it is, we can't save everyone."
He knew the Sergeant spoke the truth, but still, he couldn't help but feel frustrated at himself for not arriving sooner. And that just frustrated him more when he thought about it, that a Human's loss of life bothered him.
"In the end, Vatn got away," Fenrir finished up, "There's no doubt in my mind that she and Grar are the ones in charge of this whole operation. If we catch them, we'll put down the Red Hand for good."
"Hmm, certainly looks that way," Barley agreed, looking over his freshly made notes, "I'll have to get my superiors to check in with the Atlas council, they'll want to hear about this. Plus, if they're not too busy tending to the poles up their backsides, they might actually grace us with their bountiful aid."
"…Right." Fenrir replied uncertainly, not entirely sure if Jacob was being sarcastic or not.
"These Humans can stuff poles up their backsides, that sounds incredibly painful. Although… it would be a good place to store a weapon."
"Okay, well I think I got all I need." Jacob said, closing his notebook, "You're free to go Fenrir. I imagine you're eager to give Ozpin the good news about your mission being a success."
At the mention of his mission, Fenrir retrieved his Scroll and checked the time. What he saw made him grin triumphantly.
"Yes. Mission complete, with just under an hour to spare. Not too shabby Fenrir."
Pocketing his scroll, the Grimm nodded to the officer.
"Yes, I have little desire to remain here," He admitted with a small scowl, "The air is… foul here."
"Not a fan of the sea?" Jacob asked, before shaking his head and dismissing his earlier question, "Never mind, anyways, you gonna head back to Beacon straight away?"
"Not yet," Fenrir shook his head, then looked down at the young boy next to him, "First, I have to get this one home."
Phthalo chuckled nervously as the Sergeant scrutinised him. The older man's eyes widned in recognition.
"Hey, ain't you the kid who called up about the first Red Hand base?"
The boy continued to shuffle awkwardly, finding it hard to meet the adults gaze. Seeing his discomfort, Fenrir spoke for him.
"He followed me here." He explained, "I figured it would be safer if I was close by to keep an eye on him until this whole mess was finished. I doubt his PARENTS will be impressed with him, but that's not for me to say."
The blue-haired boy looked up at Fenrir with an expression of betrayal, but it gradually changed to a more downcast expression as he nodded his head in agreement. As the wolf had told him earlier, wandering off by himself when there were men specifically targeting Faunus skulking about, was not only stupid, it was dangerous. Regardless of him helping him out of a tricky situation today, Fenrir felt the need to impress upon the boy that this wasn't something he could keep doing with no consequences involved.
Phthalo simply wasn't ready for this environment, not yet at least.
"Ahh, I see." Barley hummed, looking down at Phthalo with a disappointed expression, "Well, in that case, punishing him seems unnecessary, I'll let mom and dad sort that out. But listen up kid, don't go wandering off by yourself, this is a serious situation and you could very easily get hurt or worse. You won't always have a big bad wolf around to protect you."
"…Yes sir." Theo mumbled, rubbing at his eyes. Meanwhile, Fenrir looked up at the sky in contemplation.
"Big bad wolf… I like that one. Certainly sounds more intimidating than 'Fenny'."
"Thanks for your help today Fenrir," Jacob said, smiling a little, "We'll get these folks taken care of."
Nodding one last time, Fenrir beckoned for Phthalo to follow him and he set off to the steps that led out of the Harbour. As the Malachite twins passed by him, Jacob offered one last dry remark.
"I'd tell you two to stay out of trouble, but we both know that would just be pointless."
"Look Miltia, he's learning." Melanie retorted, grinning viciously as her twin let out a quiet chuckle.
The twins followed behind Fenrir in perfect synch with each other's footsteps. As they drew closer to the exit, Fenrir caught some bits and pieces of conversations from the police officers that had piled into the area.
"Oum, there's so many of them."
"First the White Fang, now this. Christ, when is it gonna end?"
"This world's never short of a few scumbags."
"It's all right Miss, we're here to help."
"Look into the light for me sir."
"Typical, the Huntsman comes in and wrecks the place, and then leaves us to do the clean-up."
"Would you shut up! He's the reason we found these guys in the first place. So stop complaining and do your job!"
The Alpha's progress was halted briefly when Rostig walked up to him.
"Mind if I join you sonny?" He asked warmly.
Fenrir thought about it for a moment, then figured that Rostig was the main reason he was here, so he should probably make sure he got back to relative safety.
"Sure, I was planning to take you back to Jade anyway."
"Heh, figured that girl had something to do with this. She's always been kind to me, too kind if you ask me."
The twins lips curled upwards in disgust as the homeless Faunus fell into step with them, but they made no comment. Just before the group left, Fenrir looked behind him to see if he could spot Lucy. After a few seconds of scanning the crowd, the Grimm spotted the young Mouse Faunus already wrapped up in a shock blanket and being tended to by an officer. When the girl looked up and spotted that Fenrir was looking at her, Fenrir nodded at her and offered a small smile.
Lucy responded in kind, her eyes no longer cloudy and lifeless and her posture no longer limp and corpse-like.
"She'll be okay." Fenrir hoped.
With nothing else to do, the group left.
Melanie and Miltia had initially planned on leaving the Wolf Faunus and heading back to Junior the very second they were out of the Harbour. Yet when they had tried to do that, the young Wolf had asked them to stay a bit longer, apparently there was still something he wanted to discuss with them.
Melanie had been against the idea, but Miltia was able to convince her moodier sister to hear the Alpha out. Fenrir appreciated Miltia's support, and to Melanie's surprise, the two actually started to converse as they walked.
"You held yourself well against those thugs. It was impressive to watch."
"Please, like I'd ever let myself be taken down by third-rate garbage like those morons." Miltia huffed, "And as for that Cobalt girl, knocking her teeth out was a joyful breeze."
"HA! Yes, it certainly seemed like you were enjoying yourself. So many Humans seem to think that revelling in battle is something to be frowned upon. I've always found joy in clashing against an opponent you despise."
"Oh is that what that was?" Miltia asked with an amused grin, "When we were fighting on the ship and you were roaring so loud my ears rung, that was you enjoying yourself?"
"Ehhh…" Fenrir shrugged, his expression sheepish, "Well, I enjoy it more when I'm winning. Nowadays, that has been hard to come by."
"Well, I think you can take today as a win. You… You were alright."
Fenrir grew curious when the short-haired twin suddenly seemed to find it hard to look him in the eye at that last part. His mind was taken off of it when he felt a small body reposition itself on top of his shoulders.
"Alright? Fenrir was AMAZING! I mean did you see when he lifted up and threw that huge metal box, that was SO COOOOOL!"
Phthalo had started to grow tired as they continued to walk back to his parents' house. The boy had denied it vehemently, but once the Grimm saw the boy start to trip over his own feet, Fenrir took matters into his own hands and propped Phthalo up onto his shoulders. To the twins, it gave them an amusing image of the brutish Wolf now sporting a pair of wings on his back.
"You saw that, did you?" Fenrir asked, fanged grin on display as he jostled the boy on his shoulders.
"Yeah! You were all blue, and glowing, and there was ice everywhere!"
"Wait, so that actually was YOU who threw that shipping container?" Miltia asked disbelievingly.
"Oh yes," Fenrir admitted, wincing a little, "And by tomorrow, I don't doubt I will be sore all over from the effort."
Theo chuckled and tapped his hands on the top of Fenrir's head. Melanie was experiencing whiplash at the sight. Mere minutes ago, both herself and her sister were… concerned over the potential threat this boy posed. On the ship, he'd displayed a level of aggression and sheer bloodlust that the twins had only ever seen in criminals who were truly psychopathic. His contempt, his disdain, his wrath. He'd shown it all as he'd fought the Red Hand. And that was all before he'd done… whatever he'd done to Cobalt.
Yet now, he was showing no anger at all. He was calm, docile, approachable even. Her sister even seemed far less tense than she had looked before. Someone who's whole temperament could change so drastically like that at any given time, was clearly someone who was mentally chaotic and emotionally unbalanced.
"He's dangerous, no question about that. But at least he'll be up at Beacon with those other brats from now on. Seems they really will just make anyone a Huntsman these days."
"Oh, look Fenrir!" Phthalo cried out, pointing forwards, "There's my house, see? The one with the yellow door."
"Ah, good." Fenrir nodded, hoisting the young boy off of his shoulders, "Then this is where we must part ways."
Phthalo looked at the door to his parents, then back up at the older boy with an apprehensive expression.
"Go on kid, gotta face the music at some point." Miltia said with a knowing smirk.
"Huh, oh yeah." Phthalo squeaked, turning red in the cheeks when he remembered that his parents were going to be furious with him.
However, that wasn't the only reason he was hesitant to leave the group. And a certain wolf with a certain sixth sense could tell.
"Something else is troubling you." Fenrir said in that blunt manner of his, "Out with it."
"Well, it's just that…" Phthalo hummed, wringing his hands, Coal's club strapped to his back, "Did… did I help today? Did I do a good job?"
Fenrir's eyes widened, but then his expression quickly shifted to one more neutral. Phthalo, for all his enthusiasm, was just a child. A child had no business getting involved in matters as serious as the one Fenrir had been involved in today. That said, Theo wouldn't stay a child forever, children grew up. Fenrir had grown up extraordinarily quickly, but that was true of all natural-born Grimm. So, Fenrir decided to go for a middle ground when answering the young Bird's question.
"You should not have gotten involved today." He started evenly, "And I don't want you to get involved with the Red Hand anymore. They are dangerous, if they catch you, they will hurt you, maybe even kill you. From now on, let the adults handle them, they are not your opponent to face. Am I clear?"
Phthalo looked crestfallen,, staring down at the floor once more and giving only a minute nod of his head. The Grimm crouched down and placed a hand on the boy's head, ruffling his hair affectionately.
"But that said, yeah, you did help me out a lot today." The Beowolf said with a smile, "You have potential Theo. In time, you could be a great warrior."
That lifted the kids spirits instantly, and he chuckled as Fenrir mussed up his hair.
"Not as great as you though." The boy said with utter assurance.
"Don't be so sure," Fenrir chuffed, "You haven't even used your Aura yet."
"I haven't had it unlocked yet." Phthalo explained, his expression turning pouty, "My parents keep saying they don't want to unlock it yet, but some of my friends at school already have theirs unlocked."
The Wolf hummed at that, his fingers tapping at his chin as he debated with himself. Coming to a decision in a very short amount of time, Fenrir smiled and beckoned the boy to move closer to him.
"Would you like to unlock it… Right now?"
Phthalo didn't react at first, his face frozen as his young mind absorbed the wolf's question. When he did, his eyes practically sparkled, and his wings flapped erratically in excitement. Behind Fenrir, the twins both looked shocked, before quickly regaining their composure. Behind them, Rostig also appeared apprehensive. The man had never had his Aura unlocked, but from the stories he'd heard, it was considered quite a big step in a young fighters life.
And immensely draining on the one who did the unlocking.
"You sure that's wise sonny?" The Boar asked, his aged voice giving a gravelly edge to his tone not unlike Fenrir's, "You just went through a big fight, you expend anymore energy and you might just pass out on the sidewalk."
"I'll be fine," Fenrir assured the elder Faunus.
"Really?" Melanie asked, her haughty tone back once more, "Have you ever even done it before?"
"Well… no," The Grimm admitted, "But I've read up on the subject, it doesn't seem that hard."
Indeed, it had been the only thing he had been able to read up on in detail, back when his Aura was completely unusable. From what he could understand, he simply had to use a piece of his own Aura to awaken the soul energy that lay dormant in Phthalo.
"So, Theo," Fenrir drew himself up, face completely serious as he looked the boy in the eye, "Do you want me to unlock your Aura?"
"R-really? You're gonna… is this… I-I-I…" Phthalo stammered, this whole situation happening so quickly he couldn't keep up.
But, once he saw that Fenrir was still staring at him, face stern and unmoving, he quickly found himself trying to emulate his friend and swiftly brought his emotions back under control.
"Yes… please." He said, throwing in a polite request at the last moment.
The Grimm nodded, and after checking the door to Phthalo's house to make sure they wouldn't be interrupted, he slowly brought a large hand up, and rested it gently on Phthalo's chest. Fenrir closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.
"Remember the forest," He told himself, letting all other thoughts fade away into nothingness, "Remember that place, that haven I wish to protect with all my being."
As the single, peaceful image encompassed his every thought, Fenrir's recovering Aura flickered back into life, the dark blue glow illuminating the street and seemingly muffling all of the background noises produced by the bustling city.
Phthalo jumped slightly, a tiny yelp escaping his throat.
"What's wrong? Does it hurt?" Fenrir asked, opening one eye so he could still keep his Aura pulsing.
"No it's just… really cold." Phthalo answered with a shiver.
"Try to endure it. I'll be as quick as possible."
Nodding to himself, Phthalo braced his little body as much as he could, and returned to Fenrir's hand. He still trembled as he felt the icy grip of Fenrir's Aura ensnare him, but he did not flinch away from it.
Figuring enough prep work had been done, Fenrir focused the energies surging through his body into his arm. From there, he tried pushing his Aura outwards, towards the small form in front of him. It was tricky, like trying to navigate a ship through a stormy sea at night. He could feel his Aura reaching outwards, but it wasn't latching on to anything.
Then, a tiny prickle of sensation started to make Fenrir's fingertips tingle. In the darkness of his eyelids, Fenrir could feel something calling to him. Like a blind snake feeling through the ground for its prey, it seemed his Aura had finally found what he was searching for.
Phthalo's soul. It was sleeping, unresponsive. But now, it was time to wake it up. Focusing on this single point, Fenrir willed the tendrils of his Aura to wrap around the formless soul and fill it with his energy.
Fenrir's eyes snapped open, a gasp emptying his lungs as more and more of his Aura was used to awaken Phthalo's. The boy himself also reacted, his wings stiffening and his muscles tensing. He could feel something inside of him changing as his soul was gently forced open. The cold of Fenrir's Aura was no longer biting, but soothing. He could feel power start to rise within him and enrich his body, a spark quickly forming into a flame that would never extinguish, not until the boy's final breath.
Soon, Phthalo too also started to glow. A blue haze far lighter than Fenrir's much darker Aura, pulsed rhythmically, falling into a pattern in synch with the Grimm's. A quiet hum travelled through the air, soft, but all-encompassing as the outside world all but disappeared to the two boys.
Off to the side, the twins and Rostig watched in silence. For the Boar-Faunus, it was his first time seeing this spectacle in person, and the stories he had heard had not done justice to the sheer ethereal majesty that he was witnessing at this moment. For Melanie and Miltia, it was something they had seen many times before, but it was still a sight they quietly respected. Every time they saw it, they always felt a subtle change in the air, as if the world at large recognised that something new, something special had been thrust onto the world.
And then, Fenrir spoke. He spoke ancient words that came to every Aura summoner unconsciously, since time immemorial.
"For it is in passing that we achieve immortality. Through this, we become a paragon of virtue and glory to rise above all. Infinite in distance and unbound by death. I release your soul, and by my shoulder protect thee."
Miltia moved forward, planning to catch the Grimm for when he inevitably collapsed. The ritual was finished now, the moment had passed.
Except… it hadn't.
Squinting, Miltia saw there was something else amongst the glowing blue light. What she saw made her jaw slack as tension seized her shoulders. A black tendril, smoky and angry looking, swirled like a python around Fenrir's arm and then burrowed into Phthalo's chest. The boy winced as he felt something else nestle into his soul. Something dark, and vicious, and wretched making its home deep within his body.
Fenrir spoke again now, but his voice had that warped, distorted tone from back on the ship that sent the hairs on the back of Miltia's neck bristling.
"KOMEYT FAAL TARBOHOM OB FAAL GRIMMR, FAEDA HIN ALDRNARI."
[Let the rage of the Grimm, fuel your fire.]
As quickly as this strange anomaly began, it ended, and the world returned to normal. The background buzz of the city formed around the group, as Fenrir and Phthalo's Aura's retreated back into their bodies.
Fenrir instantly fell onto his hands and knees, his body drained and weak. His vision was fuzzy, and it was difficult to focus on anything.
"Fenrir!" Phthalo gasped in alarm, quickly rushing forward to steady the Wolf Faunus, "Are you okay?"
"It's… I… I'm alright… Th-Theo…" Fenrir's speech was slurred, and his eyes were unfocused, but he willed his numb leg muscles to support him back to an upright position.
"Damn, I'm gonna sleep like a log when I get back to Beacon."
Once Fenrir was sure he wasn't about to pass out, he returned his attention back to the young boy whose Aura he'd just unlocked.
"How do you feel?"
Phthalo looked down at himself, testing out his limbs as if they were brand new.
"I feel… warm." He answered, his yellow eyes shining with giddy happiness, "And like I just ate a lot of candy. My hands and feet feel all tingly. I… I can feel it, my Aura! I feel so strong!"
"Well, I guess that means it worked then." Fenrir said with a tired smile, "This is the first step Theo. That is, if you truly wish to become a warrior."
"Absolutely." Phthalo said assuredly, "You just wait Fenrir, one day I'll be as strong as you!"
Fenrir laughed warmly at that, patting the boy on the shoulder. Perhaps one day, Phthalo may very well surpass him. One of the things his mother had taught him when he was a pup was that an Alpha's time as leader was not permanent. Eventually, a younger, more powerful Alpha would take his place. That was simply how nature worked, the younger generation surpassing the elder generation. All that said, Fenrir felt confident in the fact that he still had many years ahead of him before his status as an Alpha would be claimed by someone else.
"Hold on a minute," Miltia piped up, her face still showing confused apprehension, "What was that thing you did at the end? What did you do?"
Fenrir and Phthalo both looked confused at Miltia's question, looking towards each other to see if the other knew what the girl was talking about. When Phthalo simply shrugged his shoulders, Fenrir turned back to the girl with a frown.
"What do you mean, 'Thing I did at the end'?"
"You started growling or something, and this weird black tendril came out of you and went into Phthalo." Miltia answered.
To her frustration, the Wolf just looked even more confused, as if he had no clue what the twin was talking about.
"I… I do not remember growling." He answered slowly, "Uh, Theo, are you sure you're alright?"
"Y-yeah, I don't feel weird or anything." The boy assured them all, growing uneasy at the sight of the twins and the old man looking at him with worry.
"Does he really not remember that last part?" Melanie wondered, "I've seen this Aura unlocking process a dozen times, never once has it ended like that."
After a few tense moments where no one knew what to say, Fenrir decided to regain control of the conversation.
"Well, he seems fine, so I'm sure it's nothing." He said to mostly himself, "Anyways, we've got to be moving on. Phthalo, I'm going to give you my scroll number. Once a week, say, Sunday perhaps? Call me, and I'll teach you how to be a better fighter."
"Really!" Phthalo leaped into the air, eyes once again alight with excitement.
"I won't pretend I'm an expert." Fenrir warned the boy, "But I think I can at least give you a bit of a head-start over the other kids. It won't be easy, but if you can stick with it, I'll show you what it is to be a true warrior."
Despite the depressing and dark nature of the day, this was quickly growing to be one of Phthalo's best days ever. In less than an hour, he'd helped free a bunch of Faunus prisoners, had his Aura unlocked by a cool older friend, and now said friend was offering to train him.
"But wait," Phthalo wondered, "I don't have a weapon like yours. How will you…"
"You've still got that club haven't you?" The Alpha said, gesturing to said weapon, "I do not think Coal will be needing it anymore. It will serve a far better purpose in your hands, I believe."
The young Bluebird brandished the comically large club in his hands, giddy elation nearly elevating him off the ground as he took in the fact that he now had his very own weapon. Fenrir noticed the dull yellow crystal at the top of the club and frowned.
"Though, I will be taking that out." He explained, quickly wrenching the crystal free and tossing it over his shoulder, "Dust is a bit too much for you right now."
With everything all set up, Fenrir quickly exchanged numbers with Phthalo and sent the boy on his way with a final pat on the head. Once the boy reached his doorstop, Fenrir, Rostig and the twins quickly made a break for it, not wanting to be caught in what was sure to be an emotional and explosive reunion.
"You really gonna train that kid?" Miltia asked once she felt they were a safe distance away, "Don't you have your own studies to be worrying about?"
"I spent most of my life roaming the planet on my own," Fenrir informed the girl, "I know a thing or two about combat. There's nothing wrong with giving him a head-start over the other kids."
"So you honestly think he'll surpass you?" Melanie chimed in with a question of her own.
"I'm open to the idea. Anything's possible." Fenrir replied simply.
Taking a few more steps forward, the wolf looked over his shoulder at the girls.
"Now then. Before I take Rostig here back to Jade, I would like to have a talk with your boss. The one who calls himself Junior."
The nightclub belonging to Hei Xiong was just about to open for the night by the time the Malachite twins returned. There were no patrons, but the bar was fully stocked, and the dance floor was lit up by dozens of multi-coloured lights. It was fortunate that the DJ hadn't arrived yet to start the music, otherwise the twins were fairly certain Fenrir would have suffered a sensory overload. He was already wincing as his eyes tried to adjust to the harsh glare of the nightclub's lights.
Despite his obvious discomfort, he also appeared to be in awe at the overall look of the place. From the glass floor beneath his feet, to the black-and-white walls and columns that gave the place a chessboard aesthetic.
"Where's the smoke coming from? Are those trees? This place is very strange."
"Yep, definitely someone who spent most of his life outdoors." Melanie concluded, now believing what the strange teen had told them earlier.
"There you two are!" A loud voice grabbed their attention as a man even larger than Fenrir walked towards them, "This has been a hell of a day, so you two better have some good news for me or else I might just…"
The man's tirade fizzled out when he noticed the twins were not alone. Behind them stood an elderly, scruffy Boar-Faunus wearing tattered, brown clothes, and a far younger, leaner and fiercer-looking Wolf-Faunus behind him, wearing a bulky leather jacket.
"Who the hell are these two?!" Junior asked, his booming voice carrying through the whole room and instantly making Fenrir tense up.
"Ah, I see," Fenrir thought to himself, "So, the Sergeant was being sarcastic when he said this man was his 'Usual sunny self'."
The twins, both completely accustomed to Junior's fiery temper, confidently strode forward and made their faces the picture-perfect representation of the word: Boredom.
"You're welcome." Melanie said glibly as she tossed the briefcase full of stolen Lien at her boss.
As the older man fumbled to catch the briefcase, Melanie sauntered off towards the bar, planning to pour herself a strong drink to help combat the growing head-ache that had been steadily building all day. With the long-haired Malachite making a hasty, yet measured retreat, Miltia sighed as she realised it fell to her once more to explain the situation.
"Tommy was working for the Red Hand," She explained, eager to get a drink of her own, "We had to get rough with them to get our money back. They'll probably try to muscle in on our turf now, but considering the beating we gave them today, that shouldn't be too much of a concern for us right now."
Junior stared down at the girl as she talked, his face once again starting to redden in anger as he processed this new information. First, that one of his own men had turned on him, then that the Red Hand had been the ones stealing from him.
"That group of Faunus-haters did this?" He asked, already knowing the answer before sighing deeply, "Great, as if the White Fang weren't giving me enough problems. I swear I would have had an easier time if I just packed up my stuff and tried again in Vacuo. This whole damn city is impossible to get a grip on, and the people are even more insane."
Finished with his ranting, Junior held a hand up to his temple and massaged the throbbing area. Once he was sure he wasn't about to burst a blood vessel, the club-owner resumed his glaring at the unknown pair who were just staring right back at him.
"That still doesn't answer my question though. Who are these two Faunus with you?"
"Eh, I think I'll let you handle this one my boy." Rostig whispered to Fenrir who nodded his head in agreement, "I'm just gonna stand over there and warm up my hands. Being stuck on a ship in a cage is a mighty chilly place to be."
The older man shuffled off to stand next to a more heated area of the nightclub and did an admirable job of not sticking out despite his scruffy appearance. Determined to make this quick, Fenrir walked up to Junior and spoke in a tone that made sure all attention was now firmly on him.
"My name is Fenrir Lupus. I'm a student up at Beacon." The word 'Beacon' instantly made the older man tense up, so Fenrir quickened his speech, "I ran into these two on the way to tracking down the latest Red Hand base. Together we were able to trash the place, and recover your stolen Lien."
Rather than appearing impressed, Junior scoffed and walked back towards the bar, adjusting his tie as he went.
"So what you looking for, a thank you?" He asked rhetorically, "Expecting a reward of some kind? Lien I'm guessing, right?"
Fenrir frowned, not really caring for this human's attitude, but following after him regardless. From what the twins had told him about Hei Xiong on the way here, the man was greatly connected to the more unsavoury parts of this crowded city. Considering who his prey were, Fenrir figured it was best if he could be kept in the loop somehow. Anytime the Red Hand popped up, the Grimm wanted to know immediately, so he could rip them up from the roots and cripple their forces as best he could. In order to achieve this, he needed someone who was in Vale at all times and would be able to closely monitor any activities that were unusual in some way.
"I'm not here for that," He said simply, keeping his gaze locked on Junior's, "I'm here because I'm told you know pretty much everything that goes on in this city."
Junior side-eyed his two lieutenants, guessing that they'd already revealed quite a bit to this stranger. The twins, quietly enjoying their drinks, simply shrugged at their boss's scowl and resumed their hushed conversation between themselves.
"I might do," He replied shrewdly, "What of it?"
The Alpha looked down at the floor, sorting out the words in his head so he could sound as convincing as possible to this guy. He needed a finger on the pulse, this was his best shot to do that. So he had to make it count.
"The Red Hand will be coming after you now," He explained, "They've already shown that they're prepared to steal from you. And now, because of what myself and the twins did tonight, they will try to take you out of the picture, because you'll be a threat to their plans. I want to take them down; they are everything I despise about Humanity. We have a common enemy now Junior, and while I don't know you, I like those two well enough and I'd rather not see them meet a grizzly end."
As the young Wolf talked, Junior gradually began to show interest in what this boy was saying. Having another group trying to muscle in on his turf was definitely something Junior could do without, and it seemed like this kid didn't want them here either. What was perhaps more surprising, was that this stranger admitted that he held no ill will towards the twins.
"That's not like them, the only people they've ever worked well with is each other. I'll need to question them on this."
"So what are you suggesting?" He asked with an air of impatience.
"I want to use you." Fenrir answered with his usual bluntness that the twins simply rolled their eyes at whilst Junior appeared to bloat up like a toad, "Your information, you tell me whenever those Red Hand rats come up for air, point me in the right direction and I'll make sure that they never trouble you. Wherever they dare show their faces, I'll be there to destroy them."
"And why shouldn't I just let my own guys handle them. One little Pup taking on a whole terrorist cell by himself. Forgive my scepticism, but I'm having a tough time seeing this as anything other than bull…"
"He can do it Junior."
Whirling round at a surprising speed for a man his size, Junior stared in astonishment as Miltia looked back up at him, swirling her drink idly in one hand.
"What?!" He asked, flabbergasted at the normally stoic Miltia speaking up for someone who wasn't her sister.
"He's not like those wimps up at Beacon." She stated like it was fact, "He'll take care of them for us, so we can focus on getting the rest of our businesses squared away."
"You won't even have to pay me," Fenrir added, hoping to sweeten the deal, "Believe me, getting the chance to pound in some Human scum faces will be payment enough for me."
Looking in-between the short-haired twin and this stranger who was offering his services to him, for free no less, Junior started to weigh the pros and cons in his head. Junior had had dealings with Huntsmen and Huntresses in the past. Those seeking information that wasn't accessible through the proper, official channels and didn't mind touching on the moral grey-area of asking a criminal for assistance.
Still, establishing a partnership of sorts with a Huntsman IN TRAINING was a little out of his ball-park.
"He doesn't look like a wimp," The mob boss thought, looking the Wolf up and down, "And if Miltia of all people is willing to vouch for him, he's obviously not all talk. Still…"
Deciding he needed one more persons opinion before he came to a verdict, Junior stared down at Melanie who hadn't said a word thus far.
"Well," He said expectantly, "You got nothing to say Melanie? You were there too, so surely you must have an opinion."
This is when Junior got his second surprise of the day. Melanie… appeared uneasy, hesitant. Whereas usually, Melanie would almost always be the one making a snide or sarcastic remark, while her sister was content to remain silent, their roles were perplexingly reversed when it came to this surly-looking boy.
After a minute of uncomfortable silence, Melanie gestured for Junior to come closer, and began whispering in his ear.
"There's something off about him," She said in a hushed voice, "He saw a dead body, and he didn't even bat an eye. Plus, one of the Red Hand's flunkies tried to make a break for it and he… I don't know what he did, but afterwards he was covered in blood, so I'm guessing it wasn't good. I can't really explain it clearly, but Junior, something about this kid isn't normal, isn't human."
The large man's face became more troubled the more his subordinate talked. Few things could rattle the disinterested demeanour of Melanie Malachite, so for her to be so put off-balance by one Wolf-Faunus teen was downright abnormal.
Looking over his shoulder, Junior found himself further unsettled by the sight of the Wolf staring right at him. With his extra set of ears, Fenrir was easily able to follow along with what Melanie was saying, and was working very hard to keep his mouth shut.
Before Junior could yell at the kid to stop staring, Melanie tightened her grip on his shirt sleeve, and looked into Junior's eyes with an intense focus that he rarely ever saw the girl have.
"Which is why I think you should take the offer. It'll be better to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't become a potential problem in the future. Plus, my sis is right, he's not a terrible fighter, and he REALLY hates these White-Fang wannabee's."
Her opinion voiced, Melanie released Junior and returned to her seat next to her sister. The owner of the nightclub stroked his beard thoughtfully.
"Well, if both of the twins are vouching for him, perhaps I can use this to my advantage. I spent years building this organisation, I'm not about to let some Faunus-haters ruin it."
Having made a decision, Junior walked back towards the expectant Grimm, squaring his shoulders so as to look as imposing as possible.
"Alright, Fenrir was it?" He asked, earning a stiff nod from the boy, "Very well, if you're so sure you can take care of this little… problem, then I'll help you out. However, I'm not gonna let you do it for free, that's not how I do business; there are no I.O.U's with me. Now, it just so happens that with Tommy no longer in my employ, I'm down a doorman for this place. I know you said you're a student at Beacon, but I'm sure your professors won't mind you having a little part-time job over the weekends, and you certainly have the build needed for this kind of place and the kind of people that come here."
Fenrir was a little surprised by the sudden turn in the conversation, but he was also intrigued. Junior was offering him a job, so he'd not only be allowed to take shots at the Red Hand whenever they next appeared, but he'd get paid for it too.
"Lien doesn't hold much value to me." He rationalised, "But, having a more steady, consistent income may prove useful in the future. Certainly beats having to wait a month until my next payment from Ozpin."
Fenrir looked back at the entrance to the club, trying to imagine himself working here. The lights and sounds would be a little grating at first, but he was sure he'd get used to it. Plus, he'd be able to keep more in touch with the goings on in Vale.
"Well, what do you say kid?" Junior asked, "Think you're tough enough for this kind of work?"
"Well… I'm no stranger to guarding things," Fenrir admitted, smiling inwardly as he remembered that was his top priority as a Grimm: Safeguard the planet.
Then he frowned when he remembered one small caveat.
"But I'll need to talk to Ozpin first. I don't exactly have permission to come down here whenever I like."
"Well now," Junior exclaimed, "You got a bit of a mean-streak in you then?"
Fenrir looked over Junior's shoulder at the twins, shared a look with them, then resumed talking to the burly man.
"You could say that."
"Well, I'm sure you'll find a way to persuade the old man. Now if that will be all, I've got a club to get ready, and you're taking up space."
With his curt dismissal, Junior turned and made his way to a group of his suited Henchmen, no doubt preparing to chew them out for some egregious error they made, or just their sheer idleness. Fenrir combed a hand through his hair and let out an annoyed huff.
"Well, at the very least, I accomplished what I wanted here. This guy's attitude rubs me the wrong way, but if he's useful, then I can't really complain. Now I just have to figure out how the HELL I'm going to persuade Ozpin to let me come here at the weekends."
Deciding he should make himself scarce, Fenrir quickly moved towards the pair of Malachite's and said his farewell's.
"Thanks for vouching for me. I know we didn't get off to the best start, but you've been a big help to me today, both of you. There aren't many Huma… People in this world that I respect, but you two have proven yourselves to be capable fighters. I was truly impressed."
The pair gave Fenrir strange looks as he thanked them In his slightly awkward manner that he always seemed to have whenever he wasn't threatening someone or had his mind set on a goal or task. Nevertheless, the Alpha just about caught the corners of their lips tugging upwards, even Melanie didn't look as testy as she normally did when the Grimm addressed her. Of course, the smiles vanished very quickly, and a snide remark was already being formed on Melanie's lips.
"I'm so glad we meet your approval. Of course now, you'll have to meet Junior's expectations, and if you don't meet them, he'll cut you off right away."
"She's right," Miltia added, "You've promised to help us with our Red Hand problem, so you better make sure you deliver on that."
The Beowolf frowned, troubled by the sudden expectations he'd just put on himself. Rationalising that he'd manage fine, Fenrir mustered up his confidence and gave a smirk to Miltia.
"Don't worry," He said, his voice lowering to a husky, gravelly tone, "I will not disappoint you, in any way."
The sudden bass-ness in Fenrir's voice went quite a ways to throw the twins off. Miltia seemed to shudder as the reverberations rattled around her skull. Giving one last nod of farewell, Fenrir turned, caught Rostig's attention, and the two left the nightclub.
"Suppose we'd better get used to seeing that dog around here more often." Melanie tutted, swirling her drink in her hand, "Let's just hope the Red Hand aren't that big, and he takes care of them quickly. Him being here's just gonna put me on edge."
"Oh… I don't know," Miltia mumbled, shrugging her shoulders and averting her gaze, "Having him here might not be so bad."
Melanie was perplexed by her twin's comment, until she just caught a hint of red on Miltia's cheeks. Once she saw that, she immediately gave up on talking to her sister, and took a long swig of the colourful alcohol.
"Never mind, I'm not worried about that wolf now. Now I'm just worried FOR him."
It was ten minutes to six by the time Fenrir and Rostig returned back to the street where Jade lived, the lights of the lampposts weakly flickering to life as the sun began to descend past the roofs of the taller buildings. The streets were as sparsely populated as ever, and Fenrir had to occasionally remove pages of newspapers from his legs as they drifted in the breeze.
Jade was waiting for them outside her building by the time they got back. The second she laid eyes upon the exhausted pair, she sprung to life and embraced Rostig like an old friend.
"Rostig! Oh thank Oum you're okay!" She exclaimed with pure relief.
"Easy there little lady." Rostig chuckled heartily, returning the hug, "This old body of mines still a bit sore."
After staying in that position for a few seconds, Jade turned towards Fenrir who had just been standing off to the side awkwardly the whole time.
"And you!" She said, "You did it! You saved him, you're amazing!"
With this declaration, Jade wrapped her arms around Fenrir's torso and squeezed tightly. Like all the other times the Grimm had been hugged, Fenrir froze up as stiff as a wooden post, not moving an inch and looking increasingly uncomfortable.
"Why do Humans insist on this constant physical affection?" He wondered exasperatedly.
After a few, uncomfortable seconds of this, Jade finally released the Wolf and went back to fussing over the older man.
"Rostig I'm so sorry. I saw them take you… I was too scared to try and stop them…"
"Don't even apologise for that young missy," The Boar-Faunus admonished lightly, "What would you have honestly been able to do? Get captured yourself? No, you did the right thing by letting your friend here come and take care of things."
"Oh yeah, Fenrir," Jade exclaimed, turning back to the Alpha and wringing her hands, nervousness and relief making her fidgety, "Are you alright? Nothing uh… broken right?"
Fenrir made a show of flexing his arms and clenching his fists before giving the girl a reassuring smile.
"There were some complications," He admitted, "And I took a few hits, but I'm fine. The Red Hand are a lot more annoying than I thought they would be."
The mood turned sober at the mention of that radical group that had been the cause of all the days troubles.
"It was horrible Jade." Rostig mumbled quietly, his eyes trained to the floor, "There were so many of us, caged up like rats. Men and Women, old and young… and VERY young."
Jade covered up her mouth as she gasped in shock, Fenrir just scowled as he felt his rage bubble and froth in his core. Even now, he could still vividly see all those helpless, innocent people caged up and tortured.
"All because they are different." He seethed, catching the other two's attention, "They had done nothing, but those monsters, they locked them up and punished them for something they had no involvement in, for something they had no way of controlling."
"All Humans are like this." A dark voice whispered in his mind, "They have always tried to destroy that which they don't understand. They'd destroy everything if given the chance."
The Alpha was still uncertain about many things. His life had been tossed into the winds of change with no warning and no way of attempting course correction. But he did know one thing for certain.
"The Red Hand are everything I hate about the Human race." He declared; his face full of resolve as he held his fist up to the two. "They believe themselves superior, and slaughter those who they don't like because it's easy. They are vile cowards who prey on those who cannot defend themselves. They upset the balance."
Jade and Rostig frowned as they both caught the unnatural growl at the end of Fenrir's sentence. All the same, Jade couldn't help but feel inspired as the Wolf continued to speak. His anger, his indignation, Jade understood it because she had lived it. Every day of her life, she'd seen and dealt with petty Humans who felt entitled to everything for the simple fact they weren't born with any animal extremities to mock or ridicule.
"I will stop them." Fenrir said, "Wherever they dare show themselves, I will be there to knock them off their fragile pedestals and show them there's nothing superior about them."
The air seemed to pulse with energy as Fenrir stared back at the pair with his hardened, blue eyes. He had made his decision, as a Guardian, his duty was to make sure the balance of Remnant was kept. If the Red Hand sought to upset that balance, then it was quite literally, his job to stop them.
"That why you signed yourself up to work with that Junior fella?" Rostig asked after a period of silence, "I won't tell you not to do it, but I've heard things. The guy ain't exactly squeaky-clean."
The Grimm had already figured as much, and he already had his answer to this query.
"As long as he doesn't try to get in my way, or stab me in the back, then I don't care about his background. As long as he supplies me with information, I'll readily work with him."
Seeing the young man wasn't going to back down on this, Rostig let out a weary sigh and sat down at his usual spot on the sidewalk.
"Ah, kids." He sighed, "Always spoiling for a fight. Just make sure you don't burn yourself out kid. I've seen the anger in your eyes in plenty of Faunus your age, take care you don't get scorched by those flames."
The Grimm made no comment to Rostig's words. He'd lived with his anger and nothing else for seventeen years, he doubted it would start to hurt him now. Jade closed the distance between herself and Fenrir and gave a determined look of her own.
"I hope you give them hell." She whispered, "There need to be more people like you Fenrir. People who won't just lie down and take the abuse. And you know what, I'm going to see if I can do my bit too. The Red Hand don't stand a chance against us."
The feeling of warmth reared its head in Fenrir's gut as he saw the hope gleaming in Jade's eyes. Before, those eyes had looked so listless, forlorn. But now, this single Beowolf had inspired her to take up arms against the disruptors. The Alpha would always be grateful to those who would lend their strength to Remnant, so Jade's words were a welcome sound for the Beowolf.
With a nod of confirmation, Fenrir turned his gaze to the sky and rolled his shoulders.
"Well, I have spent enough time in this city. I must return to Beacon. If something like this happens again Jade, let me know, I'll be right on down."
"You got it." Jade said, as Rostig nodded his head behind her before giving a salute to the teen.
With his mission at last complete, Fenrir turned on his heel and walked back to the airstrip that would get him on an Airship back to Beacon academy.
"Well, it's not a permanent goal, at least I don't plan for it to be." Fenrir thought, head held high, "But for now, my path forward is clear. I will put an end to the Red hands schemes, and help the Faunus people in any way I can."
The ride back to Beacon was even more silent than the one down into Vale, mostly because it was just Fenrir by himself, and the lounge area was nearly empty, save for a few seniors who quite clearly didn't want to talk to the Wolf Demon of Beacon.
Which suited Fenrir fine as it gave him time to sort through the events of the day and deliver a report to Ozpin that he hoped would be quick and easy.
"When is anything EVER easy with that man." The soft voice said jokingly.
"Let me live in denial for a bit longer." Fenrir responded, lurching forward as the Airship touched back down on solid ground.
Letting the nausea pass through his system, Fenrir lumbered off the aircraft and began walking back to the tall, stone spires of Beacon.
He barely got the chance to disembark before Ozpin, once again, appeared behind him.
"Right on time Mr Lupus," The headmaster proclaimed, making the Beowolf jolt in surprise then growl in annoyance, "I trust your mission was a success."
Shaking himself of his desire to roar at the man for constantly sneaking up on him, Fenrir looked the grey-haired man dead in the eye, and spoke in his usual brief manner.
"Yes, I found Rostig, I freed him from capture, and I learnt more about the Red Hand and who's running the operation." He replied.
"Ah, wonderful." Ozpin said, a small, warm smile crossing his face as Fenrir told him exactly what he'd hoped to hear, "If that's the case, would you mind relaying this new information to me. I'm quite eager to hear it."
The pair walked across Beacon's grounds as Fenrir gave a detailed play-by-play of the day's events. Unlike with everyone else he'd talked to today; Fenrir made no attempt to hide details or omit truths. At this point, he knew the spectacled man would see through any secrets he tried to keep, so he wouldn't bother. Throughout the whole thing, Ozpin's face was infuriatingly neutral, the Beowolf simply couldn't get a read on him, even with his sixth sense. By the time the Grimm was finished, the two had arrived at the doors that would eventually lead Fenrir to his room hidden underneath the academy itself.
"Hmm, so Grendel and his mother are driven by revenge over the loss of Grendel's father." Ozpin said, mostly to himself, "I'll need to get in contact with the Headmaster of Atlas academy, he'll still have the records of both Grendel and his father if he did indeed serve in the Faunus war."
Fenrir waited patiently for Ozpin to be finished with his musings, knowing the man still had more to say. In truth, Fenrir had more to say himself, but he was a little unsure how to broach the subject. Ozpin didn't seem like the type to go back on his word. Today had been a one-time thing from the way Ozpin had described it to him. Would he really be okay with letting the Grimmborn go down to Vale, at night, by himself?
"This is a great deal of information you've brought to my attention Mr Lupus," Said Ozpin, "Hopefully, I will now be able to help co-ordinate a far more effective search for the Grendelson family, and stop them before they hurt anyone else."
Tapping his cane against the ground, Ozpin craned his head to look up at the shattered moon as it began its ascent into the night sky. Once more, Fenrir got a look at the man's face, a face that seemed both young and old at the same time.
"It's the eyes." Fenrir realised, able to see the man's brown eyes more clearly now that they weren't obscured by his glasses, "The eyes look so much older than the rest of him."
"There are some points of contention I have with the way you conducted yourself today Mr Lupus." The Headmaster stated like he was giving Fenrir a grade on a test, "Going in alone, even when outside help was available to you with the V.P.D, and your retaliation towards Ms Cobalt was… perhaps a touch extreme."
"No it wasn't." Fenrir denied, his scowl deepening.
"Oh, how so?" Ozpin asked.
"I could have killed her!" Fenrir barked, his tone becoming angered, "You have no idea how bad it gets Ozpin! All I can think about sometimes when I see you Humans is how much I want to kill them. It's like an itch in my brain that's screaming to be scratched! All I could think about, when I saw what that woman had done, was how much I wanted her blood to decorate the inside of that ship. I want it so badly sometimes, IT HURTS! DO YOU GET IT YET?! I'M A GRIMM, I WAS BORN TO KILL!"
Fenrir nearly keeled over as his sudden explosion of anger left him short of breath. Tha Alpha almost hoped that his rant would have gotten a reaction out of the Headmaster.
But all he got from Ozpin was his usual, passive expression that didn't hold a shred of anger.
"But you didn't Fenrir." Ozpin said quietly, making Fenrir flinch from the simplicity of it, "Why didn't you, if this desire to kill is as prevalent in your mind as you say it is?"
Fenrir looked away; his mind once again put in that unsure place that made him question the world around him. In his mind he saw the familiar silver eyes of the one who had set him on this uncertain path over a month ago.
"Because I promised Ruby I wouldn't," He whispered, "I take my promises seriously. I know that one day I'll probably slip up, but she's been kind to me, so I… I don't want to break my promise so soon."
Fenrir stared at the floor, his emotions cycling through his brain faster than he could process them. The revelation that he felt indebted to any human was comical in how sad it was, especially the Human who had come the closest to ending his life.
A sudden pressure on his shoulder brought Fenrir's head back up to face Ozpin as the man rested a hand on him. The Grimm felt a strange pressure in his gut at the warm, kind look this strange man was giving.
"That is all the proof I needed to know I can trust you." The man said, "I do not believe you are nearly as bestial as you believe yourself to be. You have a conscious now Fenrir, a soul that is becoming entirely your own. Disregarding the earlier points of contention, the fact remains you accomplished your mission. You saved that man, and many others tonight. You recognised that the Red Hands goals are cruel, evil even. A truly soulless being such as a Grimm would never have done the things you did tonight Fenrir. Moreover, the fact that you feel anger at the way the Faunus are treated, is proof that you're capable of displaying empathy. You're beginning to understand Fenrir… And I'm proud of you tonight."
I'm proud of you.
These words echoed in Fenrir's mind, playing on repeat over and over. The air rushed out of the young mans lungs as he continued to focus on that warm pressure on his shoulder and the sincere words given to him by the Headmaster. In all his time on Remnant, Fenrir had never once heard those words. Sure, these Humans had called him Hero, Huntsman, even some of the stranger ones were starting to see him as a friend.
But no one had ever genuinely expressed pride in his work. It was overwhelming for the young, solitary wolf.
Fenrir took a step back, breathing heavily as the warmth in his chest reached an intensity it had never reached before. It grew so large and warm, that he had to hold his chest to make sure there wasn't something actually wrong with him.
"I… I've never… What's… what's going on… why am I smiling?"
"Mr Lupus?" Ozpin asked, puzzled by Fenrir's reaction.
"I… Thank you professor." Fenrir said, getting a grip on his body but keeping his head bowed down so as to not tempt a repeat performance.
And it was then that Ozpin understood. Now, he no longer saw a Beowolf, a creature of hate and wrath that lived only for destruction, now he saw the truth. The truth that Fenrir was at heart, just a lonely boy who had never gotten any kind of positive reinforcement in his life.
"There is no doubt in my mind now. Fenrir Lupus, you are one of my students now, and like all my students, I'm going to help you become the best version of yourself."
"You're welcome Mr Lupus." Ozpin said, recapturing Fenrir's attention, "Now, it's been a long day, and you look tired. Return to your room and get some rest. Tomorrow, I'll see if I can clear a classroom for the two of us, and we can continue your training."
Fenrir nodded his head to show he'd heard him, and the grey-haired man took that as his cue to leave. Just before he disappeared from Fenrir's view, the Beowolf remembered something he'd been meaning to ask the Veteran Huntsman.
"Professor Ozpin, wait!" He called out, "There's something else I need to ask of you."
Upon turning around and noticing the unsure expression and fidgety posture the Wolf had just taken on, Ozpin already had a feeling he was going to have issues with whatever the Grimm was about to ask him.
"Yes Mr Lupus?" Ozpin asked, a smile of exasperation already forming on his face.
Fenrir took a deep breath to steady himself, and began doing his best to explain his proposition without coming across as asking too much.
"If this actually works, then maybe I'm not as terrible with my words as I thought I was."
The harsh glare of the nightclub lights combined with the pounding bass of the music being blasted from the DJ's station made Fenrir long for the peace and quiet of the wilds of Remnant. The sensory overload was way too much for the Grimm, and he'd had to spend the first five minutes of his shift looking at the floor and pressing his lupine ears flat against his head.
"Why and how do Humans find this fun? I feel like my brain is going to leak out of my ears."
No one else at the club seemed bothered by all the lights and noise, many of the patrons already dancing [Though to the Grimm it just looked like flailing] to the beat on the dancefloor, while others were crowded round the bar, loading themselves up with alcohol.
Fenrir readjusted the tie that was nearly suffocating him. This whole outfit was restricting in fact, consisting of a black shirt with the sleeves rolled up, black trousers, red waistcoat and an equally red tie. The only part of his original outfit he'd been allowed to keep were his boots.
Once his senses had finally adjusted to the oversaturation of sight and sound, Fenrir was able to actually begin his job of acting as a security guard for Juniors nightclub. It consisted of him just mainly walking around the entire perimeter, and watching everyone to make sure they weren't 'causing trouble' as Junior had put it to him. If they did, Fenrir was entirely at liberty to throw them out.
"Gotta admit, getting to throw around humans who annoy, and not have to talk to them? That sounds like a damn good job to me."
"You seem to be settling in nicely."
As Fenrir had continued to scan the area, Melanie had snuck up to the side of him. While she still wasn't too keen on the Wolf being here, she couldn't deny his effectiveness. She'd seen some of the guys spot him on the way in, and how they'd tensed up when they noticed he was built like an armoured truck.
Despite him being a teenager, Fenrir always seemed to give off an intimidating air wherever he went, and that presence was being to good use here.
"Eh, the noise was a bit much at first," Fenrir admitted, still keeping an eye on the club, "But it isn't too bad now. That or I'm just going deaf."
"So, you were able to persuade ol' Oz to let you work here." Melanie said casually, leaning against a nearby railing, "How'd you manage that?"
In response to Melanie's question, Fenrir rolled up his left trouser sleeve to reveal…
"Ankle bracelet." The wolf answered as Melanie stared down at the chunky piece of tech, "Ozpin's monitoring me the whole time I'm down here. If I do anything unusual, he'll know, and I'll be hauled straight back to Beacon."
"As the old man put it; One strike, and I'm out."
"Man, he's really keeping close watch on you." This time Miltia was the on to speak, appearing on Fenrir's other side, "Why are you so special to him?"
The Alpha winced as that was a question he couldn't possibly answer truthfully. So he decided, vagueness was the best course of action here.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
Fenrir knew both Melanie and Miltia were frowning at him without even looking. Thankfully, Junior chose that moment to join the trio and halt the twins probing.
"Hey, Wolf!" Junior called out over the music, sounding just as annoyed as the last time Fenrir had spoken to him, "You wanted Red Hand, well guess what? They're right outside the door, doing their usual routine of harassing my customers until they cave and take a leaflet from them. Get out there and 'request' they take their business elsewhere."
Grateful for a chance to escape the thrumming, pounding beats of the music, Fenrir turned and addressed the twins one last time, a wicked grin on his face.
"Well, if you two will excuse me," He said, trying to seem professional, "It sounds like things are heating up outside… I'm going to have to go out there and ask them to Cool down."
The twins gave looks of equal disgust and slight horror as they processed the terrible pun Fenrir had just made. When he didn't get the reaction he wanted, Fenrir's own wide smile vanished and he stomped off, muttering about how he'd 'Get it right one day'.
"He… He didn't honestly expect us to laugh at that did he?" Melanie asked, staring at her sister hoping she would enlighten her somehow.
"If he did, then maybe he actually is insane." Miltia muttered to herself.
Junior just stared after the retreating Wolf, noticing something that made his near-constant scowl deepen further.
"I asked the two of you to fetch a uniform for that Faunus, didn't I?" He asked his two lieutenants
"Yeah?" Melanie answered back as Miltia suddenly seemed very interested in the floor.
"Is there a reason it seems to be a size too SMALL on him?"
As he said this, Fenrir took that moment to arch his back, groaning in discomfort as the fabric clung tightly to his body and drew attention to his back muscles.
"Argh, why is this so tight?" He wondered.
"Is it small?" Miltia mumbled quietly, not looking at anyone, "I hadn't noticed."
As Melanie turned to chew out her sister for not keeping her eyeballs in her head, Junior walked off, rolling his eyes and sighing deeply. They were skilled, but sometimes the pair could prove too much even for him. Especially when one or both of them stopped thinking with their heads and started thinking with their hormones.
Oblivious to all of this, Fenrir had grabbed his trusty Gauntlets from behind the counter and was now walking to the exit, already sensing the negative energy that undoubtedly belonged to the Red Hand thugs outside. As he crossed the threshold, he fished a pair of deep red sunglasses out of his pocket and placed them on his face.
"Okay," He thought, flashing his fanged teeth as he grinned wildly, "Time for my real work, to begin."
A/N: Hello there! So yeah, been a while, but good news, this mini-arc is now all done, and just in time for 2020. My resolution for this year is simple: finish Volume 1 and possibly Volume 2 as well. While 2019 was a fantastic year for me, the 2010's as a whole were quite a trial. Here's hoping the roaring 20's will be a lot more productive for me, and I hope ou all have a good decade too.
So yeah, Happy holidays everyone, let me know your thoughts on this chapter, and I will see you all soon.
In the next chapter, Fenrir will receive more training from Ozpin, we'll learn more about Fenrir's childhood, and the Beowolf will finally get some answers about the White fang.