A/N: Nice to see you again. This chapter is a bit more on the filler side of things, but it will expand on Fenrir's arsenal of abilities. Nothing else to say, enjoy the show.
When Fenrir stumbled into class early in the morning, he did so with a sluggish, zombie-like pace. His hip bumped into several desks and chairs on the way to his own spot, and when he sat down, he promptly collapsed his head onto the desk.
"Good morning Fenrir." Blake commented, looking ten times more alert than the Grimm, despite her indifferent demeanour.
"Rgghrgghrbbrllrrrgg." Fenrir garbled back, causing the bow wearing Faunus to quirk an eyebrow at him.
"You okay?" She asked.
"Rrrgghh niht…" Fenrir slurred, before clearing his throat and going for another attempt, "I had a rough night. It's been getting hotter at night, it's too uncomfortable for me to get to sleep."
It was late May now, and the temperature was ramping up with every passing day. Summer couldn't be any more than a few days away, and as some kind of cruel, twisted joke, the students couldn't discard their blazers and sweaters until June.
"Not to sound insensitive," Weiss spoke up now, her appearance as immaculate as always, despite the muggy atmosphere, "But you have an Aura that generates cold Fenrir. Why didn't you just activate your Aura to chill your room down for a few minutes."
"I can't keep it running when I'm sleeping Weiss." Fenrir replied, trying not to sound irritated despite his exhaustion, "Plus, the boiler just warms it all back up, then I have a room covered in water, and that's just an invitation for mould."
"Wait so that rumour is true?" Jaune asked, looking up incredulously at Fenrir from his desk, "You DO live in a boiler room?!"
Fenrir gave another deep sigh, and slumped his head back on the desk, bangs falling in front of his face.
"Next to a boiler room." Fenrir emphasised, "I actually live in a storage room. I think the janitors used to use it before I showed up."
Blake frowned upon learning this new bit of information about the Beowolf, leaning forward in her seat a bit.
"Professor Ozpin just stuffed you into a cramped, dusty storage room, far out of sight from everyone else?" She asked suspiciously.
Fenrir just gave a tired shrug of his shoulders.
"I prefer it." He answered simply, "It means I'm bothered by fewer people. Plus, I wasn't really looking to bunk with a Human when I first got here."
That answer seemed to satisfy the concerned group. If Fenrir wasn't complaining, then they had no reason to get up in arms about it. A sudden chortle from Yang put a grimace on Fenrir's face as he anticipated what was coming.
"I know someone you could bunk with…" She said, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.
The Beowolf, slowly turned his head to the Blonde, staring at her with lifeless, dull eyes. Yang seemed completely unfazed, continuing to grin cheekily at the tired Grimm.
"Yang, it's too early for this." Fenrir said, "Can you at least wait until the afternoon before you start flirting with me."
It truly baffled Fenrir. Yang knew what he was, so why did she keep acting like this around him? It wasn't just her either. Sometimes, whenever he was walking down a hallway, and Coco happened to be going the other way, she'd pull her shades down and wink at him, sometimes even click her tongue at him. This would always cause the dumbfounded Grimm to stop in place, look up at the ceiling, and just ask Oum himself: Why?
"Or better yet just stop flirting altogether." Weiss grumbled, sharing Fenrir's sentiment.
"There has to be better things to do with your time Yang."
"Yeah, but his reactions are always priceless." Yang said, giving a wide smirk.
Fenrir just rolled his eyes, immensely thankful that professor Peach chose that moment to enter the classroom.
"Alright, settle down everyone." She called out in her airy tone, "We have an important lesson ahead of us today, so you'd better pay close attention."
Removing a roll of paper from underneath her arm, Professor Peach unrolled the new item, to reveal it was actually holding a vast and varied assortment of Dust crystals.
"Now, I'm sure everyone here already knows what Dust is." Peach continued, turning to face the class, "Almost all modern Huntsmen and Huntresses incorporate Dust into their weaponry. Whether that's through simple Dust ammunition, or harnessing the elements to their will, these small crystals provide a great deal of uses for both Huntsmen and civilians alike."
Fenrir sat up straighter in his seat. He had found himself growing more intrigued with Dust ever since his mid-term exam with team JNPR. Especially after his body had such an intense reaction to the liquid Dust in that pit in the ruins.
"Today, I'd like you all to more closely analyse a Dust crystal of your choosing." The young professor instructed, "There are too few people who actually sit down and really look at the main fuel source that creates the back-bone of our modern society."
While a lot of the student's groaned at being given such a boring task, Fenrir was slightly eager to get started. For all his life, he, like all Grimm, had avoided those bothersome crystals. They were toxic to Grimm in large doses, so it was in Fenrir's best interests to steer clear of them.
Now though, that didn't seem to be the case.
After the muted complaining started to die down, the students gradually began to drag their feet towards Professor Peach's desk.
"I don't really see how this is gonna help me much." Jaune whispered to Fenrir as the two queued up to grab a crystal, "I just have an old sword and shield, no Dust whatsoever."
"Maybe you could get some Dust implemented into your shield?" Ruby suggested from behind the pair.
"That's not a bad idea," Jaune commented, rubbing his chin with a finger, "I'll think about that."
"I have standard Dust rounds in my revolvers." Fenrir mumbled, grabbing a light blue Ice crystal, "Maybe I should use other types of Dust. Expand my arsenal maybe?"
"Yeah, you should totally do that!" Ruby agreed with a vehement nod of her head.
Once the group of friends had each grabbed a lightly glowing crystal each, they returned to their seats. Fenrir, casually opening his nearly full notebook to a clean page, stared down at the small chunk of rock in his hand.
"This is the substance that gave Humanity the edge it needed to survive against my people. The fuel source they've used and abused for their own survival, and now even, for profit."
It boggled the Alpha's mind that all this trouble could be caused over such an innocuous thing. He knew Dust could be found practically everywhere if you looked hard enough, so the idea that this was the thing that kept the Human race going in almost every meaning of the word, it was both infuriating and humbling for the young Grimm.
"My people dismiss Dust as just a cheap trick that Human's use to get an easy win out of a real fight. Hell, I used to think much the same. But now that I'm on the other side of things, maybe the Human's truly had no choice but to use this stuff. It's definitely more powerful and useful than I realised."
To his left, Weiss had already started taking notes, her handwriting small and precise and not at all like Fenrir's own untidy scrawls. To his right, Blake held a much smaller Gravity Dust crystal up to the light, the crystal catching the light and casting a deep purple shimmer across the cat Faunus's desk.
Rolling his own Ice crystal between his fingers, Fenrir observed in quiet fascination as the sunbeams caught the inside of the Ice crystal and illuminated it in a bright blue glow. Squinting his eyes, Fenrir paid attention to every little detail he could spot. All the small imperfections and blemishes the crystal carried purely from how it had formed in the ground. He noticed the way the light seemed to shift and change shape unnaturally inside the crystalline surface. Bringing it close to his ears, Fenrir could just about hear a low humming noise coming from the crystal.
What really captured his fascination though, was the small, barely perceptible spots where the pads of his fingers brushed up against the sides of the crystal.
"It's just like the pit back in the forest." He thought to himself, observing wondrously as the miniscule white dots travelled up to the very tip of his fingers, before going back down to be concealed by his pale skin.
The liquid Dust in his body was reacting to the presence of the crystal Fenrir was holding. Not as strongly as it had in the forest, but still enough for Fenrir to spot it. Immediately, his mind became a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas as he pondered over the tiny chunks of raw energy that had once been his people's deadliest poison, yet were now responsible for keeping his heart beating.
Finally managing to tear his eyes away from the rock that had him enraptured for several more minutes than he'd realised, Fenrir began sketching in his notebook. Drawing a rock was far easier than drawing a person, the Beowolf quickly realised. Though rather than grow lax because of that fact, Fenrir decided to try being a little more intricate. Constantly darting back and forth between the object in his hand and the pencil on the page, Fenrir bit his bottom lip as he continued to quietly work.
"I… am… looking… at this rock…" Jaune whispered above Fenrir, his tone clearly broadcasting how utterly soulless the young knight was in this moment, "It… Is… Shiny..?"
Fenrir's ears drooped as he felt a mild wave of second-hand embarrassment. He knew Jaune had no prior Huntsman training like himself, but even he could grasp how it was important to know as much as possible about these powerful stones.
Off to the side, Blake looked away from her own notes, to give a curious glance at the Grimmborn's notebook. What she saw caused her normally narrowed eyelids to widen just a tad.
"You're shading has really improved Fenrir."
"Huh?" Fenrir looked back towards Blake, then noticed where exactly she was looking.
On instinct, he snapped the book shut before anyone else could spy on his work. He didn't fully understand it, but he really didn't want anyone else looking at his messy drawings. For some reason, it just felt like a private thing that he did not and should not have to share.
"Ah, it's nothing special." He mumbled, already feeling eyes on him, "I just think it's easier than writing down words."
"Oh, you draw Fenny?"
Ruby asked with such childlike innocence and curiosity, that the mad part of Fenrir's brain was half-tempted to show the young Huntress. Of course, he quickly reigned that part of himself in when he saw Yang was also bearing down on him.
"Show us Wolfy," She said, already reaching a hand out to grab Fenrir's notebook.
In response, Fenrir shot Yang an icy glare and held the Notebook tight to his chest.
"No." He said simply, his voice laced with restrained anger, "Back… Off."
Seeing how they were actually starting to annoy the young wolf, the others graciously backed off, Yang offering an apologetic smile and Ruby looking mildly disappointed. Seeing the small reaper's pout, Fenrir's scowl softened a little and he lowered his hands onto his lap.
"They're not good." He said quietly, looking straight at Ruby, "Whatever image you have in your head, I can promise you, none of my… drawings, are that good."
"Oh, Okay." Ruby replied, "That's alright Fenny, sorry for bugging you."
Once Ruby turned back to her own work, Fenrir grimaced and sank down in his seat a bit. Once again, his anger had gotten the best of him, and he'd lashed out at some of the only people in the whole academy that actually might care about him. The sensation of guilt [Which he was increasingly becoming more familiar with] wrapped around his chest and made his tail curl around his waist.
"They offer out a hand, and I just bite it. Oum above, why am I so bad at this?!"
Because she had been the one to accidentally start that awkward display, Blake felt the need to try and remedy her mistake. So, once she was sure the others had gone back to their work, she lightly nudged Fenrir with her knee and spoke in a much softer voice.
"Sorry about that." She said, "But, I really do think you're getting better… and I don't just mean your drawings."
That comment stunned Fenrir briefly. Before he could ponder what the disguised Faunus meant, she tilted up her own notebook to show the Beowolf.
"And hey, you're not the only one." She said, the right side of her mouth tilting up ever so slightly.
Fenrir's eyes slowly roamed across the pages. Blake it seems, had also taken up drawing, though he could quickly see she was much better than he was. Her sketches had a lot more detail than his own, and she had a much better grasp on perspective than he did.
"They're uh… they're very good." Fenrir said honestly.
"Thanks," Said Blake, "Keep it up Fenrir. Who knows, maybe one day you'll be even better than me."
The Beowolf doubted that, but the tense energy he'd had before had largely faded away now. Even so, he couldn't ignore the lingering, unnecessary guilt permeating from directly behind him. Knowing it could only be Ruby, Fenrir frowned as he had grown to dislike Ruby feeling negative about something, especially when it wasn't even her thought.
So, despite his bestial side saying that he shouldn't care about some insignificant Human's emotional state, Fenrir turned to one of the last pages in his notebook, and began a new drawing. Blake, now choosing subtlety as the wisest course of action, kept her eyes flicking between her own work and whatever the Beowolf was working on.
What she saw caused her amber eyes to sparkle with delight.
Giving a quick check to make sure no one was watching him [Blake appearing inconspicuous just in the nick of time], Fenrir ripped out the page, crumpled it up into a ball, then threw the ball over his shoulder. The paper ball bopped Ruby right on her nose, causing her dazed expression to change to a more alert one.
At first, she was confused as to why Fenrir had decided to throw a ball of paper at her, but she soon unfurled the mysterious object and took a look. On the page, was a crude drawing of a Beowolf, a line across its chest implying the presence of a scar there. The Beowolf appeared to be waving at whoever was observing the drawing, and underneath the Beowolf were a few untidy words.
Sorry for shouting.
Fenrir tried really hard not to look; he didn't absolutely need to see Ruby's reaction. But that curious side of himself just couldn't be contained, and he chanced a quick look backwards. Ruby was practically glowing as she beamed down at the Alpha. A quick nod, and she tucked the sketch neatly inside her own textbook.
Fenrir's lips began to curl upwards all on their own as he nodded back. The warmth in his chest burned in a slow, soothing manner. It wasn't an overwhelming sensation in terms of intensity, but it's slow persistence and lingering comfort, made the Alpha give his cheeks a quick slap to come back down to Remnant.
"Come on get a hold of yourself. Can't be acting stupid in class!"
Whilst the Beowolf tried to reign in his rebellious emotions, Blake was staring intently at him, having witnessed the whole thing, along with the small smile on Fenrir's face.
Soon after, Professor Peach began talking again, going into a long lecture about all the various uses Dust had in the modern world. Though, it could really only be called a long lecture because as always, Professor Peach kept getting lost in her own daydreams.
While Fenrir was never one to draw attention to himself unless he had to, a thought entered his mind as he remembered an encounter a few years back that had left him puzzled at the time. Given how he was technically here to learn, he supposed now was a good time to receive some clarification on that old quandary of his.
"Professor?" He asked, brow furrowing when she once again appeared too absent-minded to hear him, "Professor!"
The Professor jolted as she finally heard the wolf demons gravelly voice. Fenrir's tail bristled subconsciously as he already sensed quite a few people glaring in his direction, but he did his best to ignore it.
"Ah! Yes Mr Lupus?"
"I…" Fenrir paused minutely, before soldiering on, "I remember facing off against some Huntsmen a few years back."
The others around him were watching intently. Fenrir so very rarely talked about the things he did before coming to Beacon. Thanks to his fight with Ren, they now knew why he was so cagey about it. Even after all of that, he still wouldn't pipe up about any aspect of his past.
Almost like he was trying to forget he had a past before coming to the academy.
"One of the Huntsmen he… He sent out lightning bolts from his hands. He wasn't carrying a weapon that I could see, and it looked like his jacket was… glowing somehow."
"Ah, sounds like that Huntsmen was practicing a more old-fashioned form of Dust manipulation." Professor Peach nodded in understanding, "There are still some Huntsmen and Huntresses who use Dust in such a way. Weaving it into the fabric of their clothes, some even inserting Dust crystals straight into their bodies."
The class murmur rose in volume as the students talked amongst themselves. Many of them knew about Dust being used in clothing, but they'd never heard of just straight up shoving a Dust crystal into their very skin.
"That sounds awesome!" Yang said, excitement gleaming in her eyes, "My Semblance already makes me red hot, think of how cool I'll look if I'm shooting out LITERAL fire!"
"If fires what you're going for, why would you want to be cool?"
Yang seemed confused for a second, before she saw the toothy grin Fenrir was sporting and quickly catching on to the Beowolf's joke.
"Ayyy." Yang shot finger guns at Fenrir as he quietly chuckled, more than a little proud with his snappy response.
Weiss only gave him a long-suffering look.
"It would be cool Ms Xiao-Long," Professor Peach said, bringing everyone's attention back to her, "Were it not for the fact that without proper focus and concentration, your arms would be turned to ash in a matter of moments."
That brought the jovial mood down quite suddenly.
"There's a reason such methods of Dust application are considered out-dated. They're simply too dangerous for most people to handle on a day to day basis. Even just a brief lapse in concentration, could have disastrous consequences for any Huntsmen or Huntress attempting to use Dust in this way. I would recommend that you all stick to using Dust for just your weapons only, and not on yourselves."
While almost everyone seemed to take Professor Peach's words to heart, Fenrir frowned and looked down at his desk.
"But I used Dust." He remembered, "In the cave, when I was escorting team JNPR."
He could recall, with crystal clarity, the overwhelming surge of energy that had enveloped his whole being when he'd absorbed the pit of liquid Dust. The intensity was so great, it had started to become painful, before Fenrir quickly unleashed it on an unsuspecting cavern wall.
A cavern wall that no longer existed after just one blow.
"Never felt power like that before. It certainly could have turned out bad if I hadn't expelled that energy right away. But other than that, I don't think I suffered any other negative side effects in the long term." The Grimm blinked as a realisation came to him.
"Actually… My Aura was completely replenished afterwards. I always used to avoid Dust because it was so dangerous to my people, but now?"
Fenrir's eyes were drawn back to the ice crystal lying down on his desk. The simple, pale blue chunk of rock that the human race had used to beat back his people for millennia. If liquid Dust was able to provoke such a strong reaction in Fenrir's new form, he couldn't help but wonder what regular Dust would do to him.
The rest of the class passed without incident, and the bell quickly signalled its end. As everyone began steadily shuffling out of the classroom, Fenrir quickly walked over to where Professor Peach was wiping off the chalkboard, humming a tune under her breath.
"Professor," Fenrir called out quietly, hoping he wasn't catching any unwanted attention, "Can I take this with me?"
"Hmm?" Professor Peach responded, looking her usual dazed self before focusing on the young Grimmborn.
"Oh, Mr Lupus. Um, I don't suppose there's any harm in it, but may I ask why?"
"I just have an interest in it." Fenrir bluntly answered, already starting to fidget from the feeling of eyes watching him.
"Well…" The Professor debated over it for a moment before nodding her head, "Yes, I don't see any harm in it. Keep the crystal Mr Lupus."
"Thank you." With a final nod, Fenrir turned and joined the girls as they walked out of the room.
"Everything okay Fenny?" Ruby asked, head tilted up at Fenrir questioningly.
"Yeah, just… got a lot on my mind." Fenrir answered vaguely.
In the cafeteria, Fenrir continued to scrutinise the small Dust crystal, twirling it absentmindedly between his fingers. He could almost sense the power emanating from within the crystal, causing a tingling sensation in his fingertips. He was so deep in thought; he didn't even realise the others were giving him odd glances every now and then.
"Man, Fenrir's really eyeing up that ice Crystal, isn't he?" Yang asked the others, keeping her voice low so as to not unintentionally break the Beowolf out of his trance.
"Do you think he's planning to eat it?" Nora asked in even more of a hushed whisper.
Sadly, the question was so odd, it did rouse Fenrir out of his stupor. He gave a befuddled grimace towards the smallest member of team JNPR, who just grinned impishly back at him.
"No Nora," Fenrir said slowly, "I am not going to eat it."
Shaking his head at the absurd statement, Fenrir tapped a clawed finger along the side of the crystal. There was an idea forming in his mind, but uncertainty kept him from acting on it.
"When I absorbed the liquid Dust, I took in its power and my Aura was fully replenished, almost like I was healed by it. I don't know if this regular Dust will have the same effect. There's also what Professor Peach said about the harmful side-effects of absorbing Dust into my body."
"Hey Weiss, you hear we're going back into the Emerald forest again." Ruby asked, nudging the heiress with her shoulder.
"Wait a minute… Weiss!"
"Of course I have." Weiss snipped, "It'll apparently involve some form of team-building exercise."
"Do you really think we need that though?" Yang asked, "I mean, we've been doing a lot of team-bonding all on our own."
"There's always room for improvement Yang." Blake responded.
"Weiss!" Fenrir cut in suddenly.
The rest of the table all jolted a little in surprise. They'd all expected the Grimm to go back to staring at his glowing blue rock.
"Um, yes Fenrir." Weiss said slowly, looking at the others briefly with an unsure expression.
"The Schnee Dust company," Fenrir started, "It is the largest distributor of Dust in the world, yes?"
"Yes, it's been that way ever since my grandfather started the company." Weiss answered, sitting up a little straighter now that she was given a chance to talk about her family's business.
"Do they have any dealings with liquid Dust?"
Weiss took a moment to think over the boy's question.
"We do, but that kind of delivery is usually reserved for only the highest paying clients." She said, "Liquid Dust hardly ever occurs naturally, and it's extremely difficult to manufacture. These two factors combined, equals a product that is significantly more expensive than the more common varieties of Dust."
"Hmm." Fenrir hummed in acknowledgement. He already knew that Liquid Dust was scarce, and from what Weiss was telling him, it was also very pricey. Fenrir doubted he would ever be able to scrounge up enough Lien to purchase more liquid Dust from anywhere, let alone the Schnee Dust company, so that was one option eliminated.
So that just left option two, currently sitting in the palm of his hand.
"Jaune!" Fenrir turned now to the Blond knight who was currently engrossed in a comic book.
"Huh?" The young boy looked up bewilderedly, before quickly noticing the unnervingly severe gaze of the Beowolf teen.
"Do you remember when we were in the Emerald forest?" Fenrir asked, "When I absorbed the liquid Dust from that pit?"
"Uh, yeah, I don't think I'm ever gonna forget a sight like that." Jaune said, letting out a breathless chuckle at the memory.
"Wait, hold up." Yang exclaimed, "Fenrir absorbed Dust?"
"Indeed," Pyrrha answered the dumbstruck Blonde, "A whole pit of it. Afterwards he appeared to experience an incredible power surge."
"The guy was literally glowing." Jaune added, "And then, before anyone could do anything, this guy just destroyed an entire cave wall with one punch!"
The group traded looks of disbelief and awe between Jaune and Fenrir. The Grimm himself was feeling just a little uncomfortable at the looks he was getting.
"Jeez," Yang finally broke the silence, "And I thought my strength was insane when I'm all fired up."
"Anyways…" Fenrir continued, eager to return the focus to where it was supposed to be, "I wasn't just empowered by the Dust. When I checked my Aura afterwards, it was restored back to a hundred percent."
"That makes sense," Ren now decided to speak up, "If you already have liquid Dust circulating throughout your body, then it stands to reason that you would be able to absorb the reactive energies of more Dust."
"Oh I get it," Ruby leaned forward, silver eyes gleaming, "You're like a walking Dust battery now."
"It would seem to be the case," Fenrir nodded, his tail swaying behind him as the gears in his mind steadily worked up a rhythm, "But I do not know if regular Dust will have the same effect… And there's only one way I can know for certain."
While his mind was now set, he winced internally as he thought about what was coming next.
"You know, it really isn't healthy how you're completely willing to hurt yourself to find the answer to things." The soft voice commented, also aware of his plan.
"I've always been too curious for my own good."
Shoving his inner monologue [Or was it a duologue?] aside, Fenrir set the Dust crystal down on the table and picked up his knife. While most of the group had no idea where Fenrir was going with this, Blake had needed only to spot the look in Fenrir's cold, blue eyes as he stared down at the piece of cutlery that he was now gripping tightly.
"Fenrir, do not…"
Her quiet plea fell on deaf ears as Fenrir, in one fluid motion, raised the knife up into the air and stabbed the pointed edge straight into the palm of his hand.
"GGGRRRGGHH… AAHHHSSSHHHHFFRRRRRRR! ! !"
The Beowolf grit his teeth as the metal tore into his skin. His movement had been so quick, his own Aura hadn't even had a chance to react to his moronic idea. He literally didn't give himself time to think about his actions.
"WHAT THE HELL!" Jaune screeched, jumping up from his seat as Fenrir had apparently lost his mind.
"FENRIR, WHAT IN GODS NAME…!?" Weiss was beside herself with outrage as she leaned forward to try and stop the brainless Alpha.
Fenrir just lurched backwards out of his own seat, refusing to let anyone stop him. Droplets of blood fell to the floor as Fenrir had successfully cut a moderate gash into the palm of his hand. Deciding that was good enough, Fenrir ripped the knife out of his hand and looked at the fresh wound in his hand.
"If this doesn't work, I will be unspeakably mad!"
Deaf to the cries and questions of his companions, Fenrir now picked up the Dust crystal in his injured hand. His blood coated the light blue gem, and already a reaction was visible. His blood glowed as it dripped down the crystal's surface, the tiny white dots visible against the murky red of his blood. A twisted sneer adorned Fenrir's face as he enacted the final phase of his experiment.
The Dust crystal started to crack and splinter as the Grimm started applying the pressure. The others could only watch in morbid fascination, though Weiss looked as if her head was about to explode, as Fenrir gave one last clench of his hand, and the crystal shattered.
Instantly, swirling blue energy started to course up Fenrir's arm, veins lighting up as the Dust energies became infused with his blood. Fenrir grit his teeth as he felt the biting cold and sudden surge of power race through his body. With his eyes tightly shut, the Beowolf couldn't see his whole body was now enveloped in a pulsing blue glow, his veins alight and visible against his skin.
While it felt like an eternity for the Alpha, after a few seconds the glow faded, and the pain quickly ebbed away. A blast of ice-cold mist billowed out of Fenrir's mouth as he let out a deep exhale, eyes shining bright blue for a second before returning to their normal dark navy. A patch of frost had formed at his feet.
There was silence for a moment, everyone just taking a moment to process what had even just happened. Before Weiss could regain her momentum and absolutely lay into the Beowolf, somebody beat her to it.
"What the hell do you think you're playing at?!"
Fenrir turned his head to see that he had unknowingly drawn the attention of quite a few people. Actually, it was more like the whole cafeteria was now staring him down.
"And it's witch girl again, of course it is."
Other than a stern glare, Fenrir said nothing as he took his seat back at the table. After a long, painfully drawn out moment, the crowd stopped staring at the Grimmborn, quickly realising he wouldn't answer any questions they might have had. As much as they clearly loathed his existence, most of them still weren't brave enough to try and confront him, especially when it became increasingly obvious that Ozpin was keeping a close eye on him.
Sadly, Fenrir's intimidation factor failed in the presence of a certain heiress.
"Well then," Weiss said, her voice clearly portraying barely contained fury, "Would you care to explain what in all the four kingdoms possessed you to stab yourself In the hand and then crush a Dust crystal?"
"Yeah, I'm all for being a daredevil Fenrir, but that was random even for you." Yang said uncomfortably.
"I know right!" Nora spoke now, appearing indignant, "Being the random one is my thing. You trying to steal my thunder, cause I warn you; I won't relinquish my crown without a fight!"
While Nora's statement did cause Fenrir some confusion, his mind was quick to recollect why he'd done all of that in the first place. Taking a quick look down at his injured hand, Fenrir's eyes widened when he saw just what had become of his wound.
"Well?!" Weiss asked again, growingly increasingly more irate, "Are you going to answer us Fenrir Lupus?"
Remaining silent, Fenrir instead opened up his palm for everyone to see what had become of his injury.
Namely, It had completely vanished. Where once had been a bloody wound, now there was no trace that Fenrir had inflicted any kind of self-harm upon himself.
"Woah." Ruby said quietly, marvelling at Fenrir's perfectly normal looking hand.
"There's not even a scar." Jaune whispered, mouth slack in awe.
"Now I know for certain." Fenrir mumbled, the corners of his lips beginning to turn upwards to form a smile, "Dust heals me. It didn't feel the same as when I absorbed the liquid Dust, which felt much stronger. But still if I ever need a quick Aura boost, a Dust crystal will do the job nicely."
"Ahem!" Weiss coughed into her hand, catching the Grimm's attention, "While it is good that you're learning more about your new body, I would like to reiterate that you just stabbed yourself, in the hand, in the middle of the cafeteria!"
Fenrir leaned back; ears flat against his head as Weiss was firing on all cylinders now. He'd figured that once she saw he'd done no permanent injury to himself; she'd calm down. Clearly, it seems he had thought wrong.
"I just, wanted to find out what would happen." Fenrir tried to explain, voice low as he struggled to understand why Weiss was still angry with him.
"And you didn't think to just wait until you weren't in a public place?!" Weiss asked rhetorically, rubbing her temple with one hand.
"I swear, just like Ruby you don't think before you do things. Your reputation is already in a tenuous state as it is."
Fenrir's face suddenly shifted to an affronted scowl, and he very nearly launched himself out of his seat again as he glared at Weiss.
"Don't!," Fenrir growled, putting a stop to whatever Weiss was about to say next, "Do not ever say that! I am not like Ruby!"
"Woahwoahwoahwoah." Ruby quickly sprung forward to de-escalate the situation, "Easy Fenrir, it's okay, you know that's not what she meant."
While everyone else was confused by Fenrir's sudden mood shift, Ruby understood instantly. Fenrir was still uncomfortable with the fact that his Aura, his body, even some of his mannerisms now. They were all because of Ruby's rose petals still encased in his heart.
"I…" Fenrir shut his eyes, took a deep breath and sat back down, frown deeply set on his face, "Sorry."
The damage had already been done unfortunately; Fenrir had once again allowed his temper to lash out towards the wrong people. Weiss had stopped her chewing out, but now she appeared apprehensive, withdrawn. While it had been a fair while since Fenrir's Beowolf freak-out, the memories were clearly still prominent in the heiress's mind.
The atmosphere around the table was no longer warm, but awkward and hesitant. Fenrir, having lost his appetite, glared down at his half-eaten lunch.
After a painfully long and silent time, the bell finally rung, instructing all students to make their way to afternoon classes. Fenrir was slow to rise, his mind now back to thinking about Dust, and the new effects it had on his body.
"If I took some Dust crystals with me in the field, I could bolster my Aura and stay in the fight longer. Yeah, yeah and not only that, but I'll also decrease the risk of accidentally turning."
Even after all these weeks since the incident, Fenrir could clearly remember how hard it had been to remain in control. The toll of having to battle his own kind while also ignoring the primal urge to eviscerate Weiss had been immense. For as much as Fenrir longed to return to his old body, he could recognise that to do so now, would put his new… companions in danger.
As Fenrir joined the throng of students making their way throughout the labyrinth of corridors and stairwells, his face darkened as he couldn't help but think that there was still more he could be doing with these powerful crystals.
"I've seen Human's use them so many times, bending the elements to their will. I want to do that too, but that's gonna be hard to do if all that happens when I take in Dust, is it's just absorbed into my Aura pool."
"If I might make a suggestion, perhaps you could use different types of Dust for your revolvers."
Fenrir's eyes widened as he processed the soft voice's idea. Now that he thought about it, his revolvers had only ever used standard Dust ammunition. But that was so… basic!
"What was I thinking? Limiting myself to just one form of attack?" Fenrir almost wanted to slap himself for not thinking about this sooner, "Humans found a way to bend the very elements to their will, and I HAVEN'T TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF THIS?"
Despite his own lack of imagination or initiative, now that the idea had been planted, he grinned at all the new possibilities this would give him.
Fireballs, lightning bolts, ice shards, boulders. The building blocks of nature at his beck and call. His inner nature, his Grimm desire for power was practically salivating at the sheer temptation of it. Of course, there was still the matter of actually figuring out how to modify his revolvers to accept the new supply of ammunition, but he already knew a way to solve that minor issue.
So, with an excited energy fuelling his body, he strode forward to match pace with Ruby, and gently tapped her on the shoulder.
"Hey Ruby." He whispered, leaning forward so as to bring Ruby further into his secret plan.
"What's up?" Ruby whispered back, thankfully quick to catch on that this was something Fenrir wanted kept private.
Fenrir flashed a fang-filled grin before running a hand along his forearm.
"I think my guns are due for an upgrade."
In an instant, Ruby's eyes were shining with gleeful, child-like excitement.
"You want to use different types of Dust don't you?" She said at a speed that nearly rivalled her Semblance.
"Uh, yes." Fenrir answered, pleasantly surprised, "How'd you get that so quickly."
"Well you did just use Dust to heal yourself just a few minutes ago." Ruby answered like it was obvious.
Fenrir wilted a little as he could find no fault with the logic, but he picked himself up quickly as he dove into an on-the-fly brainstorming session.
"Okay, so you remember earlier in class when I was talking about using different Dust types for my revolvers…"
As the pair were now quietly but quickly whispering to each other, Weiss cast the two a backwards glance over her shoulder, frowning slightly. She had more or less forgiven Fenrir for nearly traumatising her several weeks prior, but just now, when he'd snapped at her for comparing him to Ruby, her mind had been quick to remind her of being pinned underneath the massive beast that was Fenrir's true self. Such an unpleasant experience it seemed, would still linger in her memory, and always leave her just a little bit cautious around the wolf.
"It isn't what I would call ideal, but as long as we have only minimal interactions, I shall have no problem conducting myself properly."
"Alright Fenny," Ruby said, eagerly bringing forth her latest idea, "Let's see what you think of this."
The young weapons nerd deposited several bullets into Fenrir's open hands. Unlike his standard revolver rounds however, these bullets had a clear, see-through base, with only the tip being solid metal.
"So here's how it works." Ruby explained, pressing her shoulder against Fenrir's due to their sudden closeness, "These bullets have been designed to be universal to all the different types of Dust. All I need to do is make a few itsy-bitsy tweaks to your guns, and they should be good to go."
"Hmm, guess it's a good thing I brought them along then." Fenrir said, bringing up his other hand to present his gauntlets, arm trembling slightly from the weight of them.
Catching the tenseness in Fenrir's arm, and remembering that the Grimm's weapons were far heavier than they outwardly appeared, Ruby quickly gestured for Fenrir to set the weapons down on the workbench they were currently occupying.
The heat of the academy's forge was just as stifling as it had been the last time Fenrir was here. Just like before, Ruby had arranged for them to meet at night, so they wouldn't be bothered by any nosy classmates of theirs. The young Alpha had barely gotten past the doors when he'd been near enough tackled by a rose-coloured blur, eyes gleaming with excitement.
Once he'd put the heavy weapons down on the table, Ruby had immediately gotten to work, bringing out the revolvers from inside their casings and started fiddling with the cylinder. Fenrir would have offered to help, but he knew he wouldn't be of much assistance here. This kind of work was too precise and complex for the Grimm's usual ham-fisted approach to life's problems, so he'd just have to hang back and let Ruby handle things from here.
"Gotta say," Ruby continued to speak while she was working, "It's nice to work on someone else's weapons for a change. I mean, I love Crescent Rose, but I pretty much know everything about how it works, so nothing's really surprising about it anymore. There was one time I tried to see if I could maybe add some upgrades to Yang's gauntlets, but she uh… She wasn't really happy with the modifications I made."
"And just what kind of modifications were they?" Fenrir asked.
"Oh you know just some minor stuff," Ruby said, pointedly not looking Fenrir in the eye, "Extra space for ammunition, Reinforcing the outer-shell… Flamethrowers."
The Grimm blinked, then blinked again, then shot his head towards Ruby who was currently trying to bury her head into the folds of her cloak.
"Flamethrowers?" He asked, blinking owlishly.
"Yeah," Ruby began scratching the back of her head with one hand, even as the other continued working on Frostbite, "She was nice about it, even made a pun about how she's 'Fiery enough already', but I could tell she wasn't happy with me messing with her things."
"I suppose that makes sense; Yang does have some possessive traits."
Fenrir had been made aware of these traits when he had become curious about Yang's hair one day. The Grimm had never given much thought to Human hair and all the assorted styles the Dustlings could fashion it into, but now that he was one, so to speak, he had found himself curious about how Yang's hair in particular always looked so vibrant and shiny.
His fingers hadn't even come into contact with Yang's golden mane, before the girl had snatched his hand out of the air and, with blazing red eyes, shot the Grimm a glare that would have sent a Sphinx packing.
He was in no hurry to go through that again.
"Well, I've got no problem with you upgrading my weapons." Fenrir said, having shaken off the unpleasant memory, "I've got no technical expertise to speak off, and there still aren't that many people at this academy I trust. With all that in mind, you're the only person here that I would let near Frostbite."
"Oh thanks!" Ruby replied, a gleeful series of giggles following this before her head turned down ruefully.
"You know, before long you'll be able to take care of your weapons all by yourself. I mean, they're extensions of yourself, remember? Soon you'll know them as well as you know yourself."
Fenrir unconsciously winced at that last part.
"Maybe you're right," He said slowly, "But I would still feel better if you gave them a look every now and then."
Ruby suddenly stopped what she was done, and faced the young Grimm with an unreadable expression. Her eyes carrying the barest glimmer of hope within them.
"Really? You don't mind if I get all rambly and nerd-out over how cool weapons are?"
Fenrir cocked his head to the side, perplexed by such an odd question. When the two had been making Frostbite, the girl would occasionally ramble on about several topics that would always relate to either Huntsmen and Huntresses, or weapons. Fenrir wouldn't pretend that he understood even half of what she was talking about, but he was hardly offended by it. Actually, he'd quite enjoyed it. For one thing, it broke the silence of the forge, and though he couldn't quite grasp all the technicalities of what the younger girl was talking about, he'd liked seeing the sheer passion in Ruby's eyes. It was clear she was well-versed in the career she was working towards, and Fenrir found it admirable.
"No Ruby." Fenrir said simply, offering a small but genuine smile, "I don't mind it at all. You possess a well of knowledge that I do not, and my parents always taught me to seek out those who have qualities I don't, so that I can make myself better through them."
And that was true. Many times over, his mother and father had warned him of the dangers of trying to be a lone wolf and go it alone. Many young Alpha's were cut down because of such arrogance, and Fenrir was in no rush to follow their lead.
"An Alpha of one, is no Alpha at all."
"And also," Fenrir continued, feeling a strange sensation that made his grin a little bit wider, "I like it when you talk about weapons. You have this… passion in your eyes whenever you talk about it, especially when you're talking about Crescent Rose. I… I like it."
Ruby was stunned. Throughout her entire time at Signal, whenever she'd started gushing about the weapons of her favourite Huntsmen and Huntresses, people had always looked at her as if she was speaking in tongues. It was the reason she hadn't made that many friends, unlike her sister who was far more of a social butterfly, and the few friends she did have, had never shared her enthusiasm for the wild and creative types of weaponry that existed in the world.
So to have Fenrir say what he said, with such a comforting, honest smile on his face, filled Ruby with a sense of happiness that she hadn't felt in quite a long time. It also made her face feel uncomfortably warm, and she suddenly found it hard to look the Grimm in the eye.
"Umm, wow, thanks." Ruby mumbled, quickly turning back to carry on working on the gauntlets, and adamantly ignoring the strange fluttering sensation in her stomach.
Unbeknownst to her, Fenrir was feeling a similar sensation at seeing the sudden shyness on the young reapers face. There weren't many things the Beowolf would call cute, but it would seem shy Ruby Rose was something he could add to that brief list.
"Hmm, stomach feels strange all of a sudden," Fenrir frowned as he pat his gut, "Must've eaten something bad at lunch."
"Yes, of course you did." The soft voice commented, and Fenrir swore she was stifling a knowing chuckle.
Giving a small frown, Fenrir paid his subconscious companion no more mind as he stood off to the side, and watched in silence as Ruby continued her work. After a brief period of awkward silence, Ruby was able to recover and resumed conversing with Fenrir as she continued making minute adjustments and modifications to his revolvers. Fenrir as usual, was brief with his replies, but he did make a bit more of a concerted effort to not come across as rude to Ruby. It seemed that Fenrir would never be much of a big talker, but thankfully Ruby didn't seem to mind.
Before long, Ruby pushed herself off from the desk and gestured with her hands to the now upgraded revolvers.
"And there we go, all done." She said with a flourish as Fenrir leaned forward to inspect her work, "Now your guns have been modified to accept all types of Dust, all you have to do now is fill up those special bullets with the types of Dust you want and then BOOM, you'll be even cooler than you already are."
While Fenrir appreciated the compliment, he couldn't stop a fittingly wolfish smirk spread across his face as he realised what Ruby had inadvertently done.
"Even cooler huh?" He asked slyly, "I thought you didn't like those ice puns I keep making?"
Ruby's eyes instantly widened in horror, and she flailed her arms around wildly.
"NO, PLEASE NO MORE! YOU'RE ALMOST AS BAD AS YANG!
"Oh no, it's alright Ruby," Fenrir spoke over Ruby's protests, grin growing ever wider, "You don't have to pretend. Now that I know you like them; I'm going to come up with even more just for you."
Ruby groaned loudly, holding her head in her hands as she regretted everything she'd just said. It was made even worse when she heard Fenrir laughing at her misery.
"And after I was so nice and upgraded your weapons for you." Ruby pouted.
Fenrir's mirth died down and his smile turned to something more genuine as he affixed his Gauntlets to his arms.
"I suppose that's true. Thank you Ruby, this will be a big help to me. All I have to do now is find some Dust to use."
Fenrir's eyes drooped as he realised he didn't actually know where to get Dust from. He'd seen plenty of shops in Vale that sold Dust, but he wasn't feeling up to going back in the city again.
"Uhh, is there somewhere around here I can get some Dust?" He asked Ruby, whose expression also dropped.
"Well, they do a keep a small supply on campus buuuuut…" Ruby started, scratching the back of her head, "We're generally expected to supply our own Dust for our weapons. The most they'll give us is standard ammunition. But if you want full crystals like the one you had at lunch, you'll have to order it up to the academy like me and the girls do."
"And let me guess, that costs money?" Fenrir asked, even though he already knew the answer.
When Ruby just nodded her head, Fenrir sighed and shook his head.
"Why do Humans place so much stock in Lien. If you had to trade Dust for, food or something, that I would understand, but it's just small cards, YOU CAN'T EAT PLASTIC!"
For a moment, Fenrir was lamenting that he would likely have to go back into Vale and see if he could find Dust on the cheap, but then he remembered something that gave him pause. Suddenly grinning, Fenrir started rifling in his jacket pockets, making Ruby look at him in confusion. Before she could ask what he was looking for, he quickly opened his palms and showed Ruby a sizable stack of cash.
"Well then," Fenrir mumbled, fangs poking through his lips as he gave a small smirk, "I guess I know what I'm spending my first pay check on."
"Six ice crystals, five fire crystals, five electricity, two gravity and two dozen empty Dust vials."
Weiss listed off to herself as she made sure all of her order was accounted for. The Schnee Dust company was arguably the biggest and most well-known distributors of Dust in all of Remnant, and they wouldn't have got to where they are today if their deliveries were not always 100% to the buyers specifications. Still, Weiss always had been a perfectionist, and she saw no harm in double checking to be sure.
She wasn't the only one that morning. All around her, several dozen students across all four year groups were picking up packages and mail. Either messages from family or, like herself, restocking their supply of Dust. All that Beacon would provide was the standard ammunition cartridges, the rest the students had to get themselves.
Once she was certain she'd gotten exactly what she'd paid for, Weiss gave the SDC courier a polite nod and picked up the large, white briefcase. So abundant in wealth was her family's company, that they even had their own personal delivery service to provide a more interpersonal relationship between themselves and their clients. However, to receive this personal delivery service was not cheap, not that the Heiress ever needed to worry about that. While her father had not wanted her to attend Beacon, he was at least for the moment, holding true to his word and providing her a substantial allowance during her stay at Vale's Huntsmen academy.
And it didn't seem like anyone else could afford the service, though Weiss couldn't take any pride in that. In her innermost thoughts, she didn't like that it cost almost as much as the Dust itself to get the SDC to personally deliver your energy propellant, but there was no point in arguing against her father when he'd already made a decision.
But then, to the surprise of herself and those who noticed, there was a second courier, decked in the pristine white uniform of the SDC, carrying a significantly smaller briefcase.
"Odd, I'm certain I didn't order any extra outside of my usual purchase." Weiss wondered.
Before she could ask if there'd been some sort of mix-up, the second courier brought out his Scroll and squinted his eyes as he tried to read a name.
"I have a delivery here for a… Mr Lupin?"
The sudden gruff voice from behind her made Weiss jolt slightly. Out of nowhere, Fenrir had seemingly appeared, hair in its usual wild mess and face set in its default frown.
"And it's Lupus." He commented as he took the offered case.
Once more, the Alpha Beowolf was the centre of attention as all the students in the area began whispering amongst themselves, all curious as to how Ozpin's experiment was somehow able to afford Dust from THE Schnee Dust company. Even Weiss couldn't help but be shocked, as far as her and her team could tell, Fenrir held little interest in money.
"Cash in hand?" The courier said, extending a hand towards the teen who he had no idea was secretly a monster.
"Hmm?" Fenrir asked before suddenly remembering, "Ah, right yeah."
And then, to further add to everyone's shock, Fenrir put a hand into his jacket pocket and then offered the older man a stack of lien.
"Where did he get that?!" Weiss asked, eyes wide and mouth slack.
"That should be enough, yeah?" Fenrir asked.
The courier responded with a small nod.
"Thank you for your purchase," The courier responded automatically, "We at the SDC hope for your continued patronage."
Without waiting for Fenrir's response, the courier turned and walked off. Fenrir stared after him, before shaking his head and turning back to his newest acquisition. Undoing the clasps, Fenrir opened the lid of the briefcase and grinned wickedly as he saw what lay inside.
Vials of Dust, in seemingly all the colours of the rainbow, sparkled in the early morning sun. Next to them, four crystals nestled comfortably in their moulds. Fenrir made sure to cover all his bases with this purchase. The vials were for his new Dust rounds, but the crystals would serve as his own personal Aura boosts when he was out in the field.
Fire, ice, water, and electricity. Fenrir was already looking forward to getting the chance to use these in a fight.
His good mood diminished somewhat when he noticed everyone was staring at him. Not wanting to stick around and listen to their usual hushed whispers about him, the Grimm decided to take his leave, he wanted to get in a few minutes of practice with his new upgrades before classes started.
Spotting Weiss among the crowd, Fenrir gave a quick greeting as he passed by her.
The heiress only continued to gape after Fenrir, even long after he'd left. Her mind just couldn't fathom the idea that Fenrir, a Grimm who by all accounts didn't have even a penny to his name, was able to afford Dust from one of the most influential Dust manufacturers in the world.
"Hey, whatcha staring at Weiss?"
"BUH!" Weiss, jumped, before quickly masking her shock with a scowl as her leader had somehow managed to sneak up on her.
"What are you doing here?" She asked, wilting slightly as her answer was already given to her in the form of the bag Ruby was now carrying.
"Just refilling my Dust supplies." Ruby answered, eyes widening as she remembered something, "Oh hey! Have you seen Fenny around here, he's expecting a delivery today too."
"You just missed him," Weiss responded, fighting to maintain her composure even as she felt her eyelids twitching, "He walked off with a briefcase full of SDC Dust. He even paid for it, in cash. Wherever did he find the money to pay for a delivery of Dust?"
"Oh yeah, Fenny has a job now." Ruby answered offhandedly, slinging her recently acquired goods over her shoulder.
"Ah, that would explain it." Weiss relaxed.
"… WAIT, WHAT!?"
Ruby recoiled as Weiss was suddenly right up in her face, face a mixture of outrage and complete disbelief.
"Fenrir has a job?!" Weiss continued, eyes wild, "How? When? Who gave him a job?"
"Uh, I don't know," Ruby said uneasily, "He wouldn't tell me when I asked, and you know how he gets when he doesn't want to talk about something."
In truth, Fenrir actually had told Ruby where it was he worked, but he'd asked Ruby not to tell anyone. It occurred to her at the time that Fenrir had never liked being the centre of attention, despite his prideful nature. It reminded her of herself in a way, she took pride in her abilities as a Huntress hopeful, but the thought of being the centre of attention in a crowd terrified her. So, out of respect for their shared dislike of being thrust into the spotlight, Ruby assured the boy she wouldn't tell anyone, unless he wanted her to.
"But, but that's… how did he…" Weiss leaned forward a little, head hurting from trying to process all of this sudden information first thing in the morning.
Eventually, she decided to approach it from a different angle and refocused back on her partner.
"Okay, fine," She said deliberately, "But why did he pick Dust from the SDC, surely someone like Fenrir would try and go for a cheaper option."
"Not really," Ruby countered, "Fenny actually doesn't really care what he spends his money on. Buuut, he did say that you always talked about how your dad's company is the best in the biz."
Ruby suddenly squared her shoulders, gave an exaggerated frown, and spoke in a mockingly deep voice.
"A Grimm must always be at their best, so when it comes to Dust, I must pick only the best. If Weiss says her family's company is the best, then that's the one I must choose."
Weiss's reaction was delayed slightly as she struggled to understand Ruby's bizarre impersonation. When she finally processed what she'd been told she felt… strange. On the one hand, she felt touched that Fenrir had truly been listening when she'd spoken of her family's accomplishments to him, and apparently decided to use her company's brand based purely on her recommendation.
But on the other hand, she couldn't shake a lingering unease that buzzed around her head with all the annoyance of a fly.
"Just yesterday, Fenrir nearly bit my head off just because I lightly scolded him. I know he isn't as bad as some people here make him out to be, but his temper can switch at any point, with almost no warning. I know what he's capable of when he's angry."
She would never tell anyone, but she still could not shake the image of those searing red eyes glaring down at her like they were trying to penetrate through her skull. Sometimes, she could even feel the ghost of the Beowolf's hot breath across her face.
Ruby's smile fell as she saw her partner had not reacted in quite the way she had hoped, instead the Heiress looked even more troubled, gaze following the lone Grimmborn long after he'd left their line of sight.
To Ruby it was clear, those two still had things they needed to discuss with each other. But considering both of their stubborn, prideful natures, she worried it might be a long time before either side would admit to fault.
And even then, there was no guarantee it would go smoothly.
Fenrir had his eyes gently closed as he took long, deep breaths, the light wind delicately brushing his face. The scent of dew and late-spring flowers hung heavy in the air. The warmth of the sun washed across his whole body and warmed him to his core. The distant sound of a murder of crows cawing caused his ears to wiggle a little on the top of his head.
"Ah, nice and peaceful. Just as it should be."
"Mr Lupus!" A strict voice shook Fenrir out of his dreamlike state.
"And the peace is gone."
Frowning, Fenrir turned around and moved to re-join the group of first-years, some of whom were gawking at him in confusion. They were all back in the Emerald forest, but unlike last time, it wasn't raining. Instead, the sky was a clear, refreshing blue with not a cloud to be seen and the sun hovering high overhead. Most people would see a day like this, and spend it doing something relaxing or leisurely.
For the students of Beacon academy however, it was just another training day. Though there was a key difference this time around, that being the first-years weren't the only ones out here today. Standing alongside professor Goodwitch was a small collection of second-year students, though Fenrir had no idea why they were here.
The one that immediately caught his eye was, of course, the purple-haired witch girl, who hadn't stopped glaring at him since they'd all disembarked from the Bullheads. What was different was the Blond boy wearing white Armor next to her who'd also been giving him weird looks, yet his negative energy output was considerably less than the witch's.
"Whatever that means, I can't afford to worry about it now. I'll let them make the first move, if they ever make a move at all that is."
"Glad you found time to stop daydreaming and join us Mr Lupus." Goodwitch remarked dryly.
Fenrir winced as some of his classmates started giggling at that, Ruby being among them, and he shot her a sidewards glance that made her quickly cover her mouth. He suspected she was still smiling underneath.
"Now class, as you may have noticed, you are not alone for today's lesson." Goodwitch continued, "Behind me are a selection of second-year students who are completing their own assignment. Their task today is simply to watch and monitor over all of you. At the end of the day they will evaluate your overall performances.
The gathered first-years regarded their seniors in a variety of ways. Some were trepidatious like Jaune, others waved to them cheerily like Yang, and then there were those like Cardin who were trying really hard to look confident and unfazed by their upperclassmen. Fenrir was just content to stare blankly ahead, pointedly ignoring the witch girl who was still glaring at him.
Not that any of the other second-years looked too happy to see him either.
"As for what you'll be doing however," Goodwitch then gestured with a sweeping arm towards the great, verdant expanse of the Emerald forest, "Today will be a very different type of combat exercise. Instead of simply battling creatures of Grimm, today you will be participating in a race, against each other."
This stirred up the crowd somewhat. Even Fenrir seemed curious to see where this was going, it certainly wasn't what he expected when he heard they were going to the forest today.
"Remember students, a Huntsman is more than just the strength of their sword-arm. They must also be swift on their feet, capable of rushing into danger at a moment's notice. More important than that however, they must also be able to work well with others, which is why this will not be just a simple race, but you will all be racing in pairs."
Fenrir had to put in a substantial amount of willpower to not start laughing as he saw the once buzzing with energy Ruby Rose visibly deflate. Ruby had told him in one of their talks that when she first came to Beacon, she had very little interest in working with others. It's not that she disliked other people, she just was very aware of her own awkward tendencies and reasoned that it would most likely not be worth the effort. Of course, that was before she became the leader of her own team, now she was a little bit more open to the idea.
"Guess you can't go top speed now, huh Rubes?" Yang remarked, crooked grin proudly adorning her face as her younger sister turned red in the face at being called out.
"How fast can you go Ruby?" Fenrir asked, intrigued at what the maximum output for Ruby's Aura could possibly be.
"You know, I actually don't know." Ruby answered, wide eyes looking up to the sky in thought.
"I just hope this goes better than our last joint venture Ruby." Weiss commented, staring down at the forest canopy below with a mixture of nostalgia and annoyance.
"Before any of you get too comfortable however, there is one last thing you need to know about this exercise." The light of the sun glinted harshly off of professor Goodwitch's glasses, obscuring her eyes from sight, "While this academy is focused on teaching you how to best work with your assigned teammates, it is important to remember that there will be times when you are outside the kingdoms walls, and your teammates may not be around to help you. There may be times where you will have no choice but to cooperate with a Huntsman or Huntress that you have never met before, a total stranger. To prepare you for this eventuality, I will be assigning your pairs today, pairs that will be entirely random."
That caused an upset among the first-years.
"WHAT!?" Ruby yelled, not unlike the first time she had been up on these hills two months ago.
"Oh boy." Fenrir was already not looking forward to this, "If it's anyone other than the girls or team JNPR, I'm not gonna get along well with my partner, and something tells me Goodwitch might just do that to test my patience."
"Heh! To whoever gets Jaune, see you tomorrow!" Russel said, snickering to himself.
Jaune wilted next to Fenrir, causing the Beowolf to scowl and turn to face the mohawk teen. Bringing his left hand up, Fenrir closed it onto a fist and hit the pressure pads on his gloves, bringing the blades out of their gauntlets loudly.
The second years tensed instantly, whilst most of the first years took a wide step backwards from the Grimm. Russel gulped as Fenrir's lips peeled back, smile wide and showing off his razor sharp teeth.
"Let's just hope you don't get me, eh Russ?"
"Mr Lupus!" Goodwitch's harsh tone cut through the tension like a knife, making Fenrir's grin vanish just as quickly, "The purpose of this exercise is to improve your cooperation skills with other people outside of your teammates. So while this may be a race, attacking fellow classmates is unacceptable and will reflect poorly on your overall grade for this exercise. So unless you plan to use those blades to fight some Grimm, weapons down, now Mr Lupus."
Fenrir scowled, but relented, retracting his blades, and putting his arms back down by his sides. While miffed at being told off again by professor Goodwitch, he was at least a little relieved to hear that attacking fellow classmates was prohibited for this exercise.
"Still though, I wonder how many of these idiots are going to obey that rule where I'm concerned?"
It was a vast, dense forest full of trees and shady areas, with no signs of human civilisation for miles. If one or more of them were daring enough, they could try to attack him in the forest, and not even Goodwitch would be able to stop them in time. The Grimm didn't doubt that some of the people here would be willing to take a bad grade if it meant they could take some pot-shots at him.
"I will call your names now, so pay attention students as I will not repeat myself. Once you have been assigned your partner for this exercise, make your way over to the launch platforms and get ready."
Looking at where Goodwitch was pointing, Fenrir was mystified to see what looked like metal squares with Beacon academy's symbol engraved onto them, embedded into the earth.
"Oh no, not those things again." Jaune said with palpable fear in his voice as he stared down at the large grey tiles.
"Uh oh," Yang snorted, "Let's hope you've been working on your landing strategy Jauney."
"Landing strategy?" Fenrir questioned, feeling the bundle of nerves in his gut begin to tighten as he already didn't like where this was going, "What landing strategy, what do those things do?"
"You'll find out soon Fenrir." Blake commented, one of her rare smiles showing on her face as she saw Fenrir's expression become more panicked.
Fenrir's downward spiral of dread was thankfully cut off when Goodwitch quickly started rattling off names, not even glancing up from her register to see if the students were paying attention. True to her word, the pairs selected were all people who had never worked with each other. Blake got paired up with Pyrrha, Yang begrudgingly made her way over to Dove, Nora practically slumped down to the floor when she was paired up with Russel.
Because of Fenrir's inclusion to the first-years, the numbers weren't exactly even, which meant someone was inevitably going to be placed in a group of three. Which was why it came as a surprise to Fenrir that he was not part of that outlying group of three, though he felt immense pity for those who were.
"Ruby Rose, Jaune Arc and Cardin Winchester." Glynda called out coolly.
"WHAT?!" Cardin's loud voice cutting off any protests the other two might have had before they could even voice them.
"Well, today's just going to be a delightful little adventure, can't wait." Jaune muttered, looking both tense and tired at the same time.
"Professor," Cardin walked forward, trying to contain his outrage for fear of getting in further trouble, "Those two dorks will just slow me down, can't you pair me up with someone else."
Goodwitch narrowed her eyes at Cardin's impetuous request, before suddenly striking the air with her riding crop, the Disciplinarian, making most of the students flinch in surprise, Cardin included.
"Mr Winchester," Professor Goodwitch said slowly, quiet yet impossible to unhear, "You couldn't even beat a Beowolf, it is my professional opinion that you need all the help you can get."
Fenrir snorted loudly, catching the ire of many students in the area.
With the Huntress's statement making it clear she wouldn't change her mind anytime soon, Cardin grumbled and walked back to where he had been standing earlier, almost crashing into Ruby on the way.
"You better not slow me down runt." He muttered down towards the smaller girl, causing Ruby to retreat into her cloaks hood slightly.
Before Fenrir could even raise his hackles, Jaune stood before Cardin, blocking his path, and hitting him with a stern expression not too dissimilar from the one he'd shown at the forest of Forever Fall.
"Be nice Cardin." He said simply, "Don't make this harder than it has to be."
Cardin outwardly continued to posture like a Peacock, but Fenrir could sense the change in the thuggish leader of team CRDL. Despite being bigger, Cardin seemingly could not look Jaune in the eyes, and soon relented, backing away from the two. Fenrir made sure to give Jaune an approving nod for that display.
"With that out of the way," Goodwitch continued, "The last pair is…"
"Wait a minute, my name hasn't been called out yet." Fenrir realised, "And the only other person's name who I didn't hear was… Oh no."
"Fenrir Lupus and Weiss Schnee."
As was becoming annoyingly commonplace, the moment Fenrir's name was brought up, all attention was brought back to him. This time however, the attention was divided between him and the heir to the Schnee Dust company. The Grimm's ears twitched as he caught some of the second-years whispering to one another.
"The Grimm and the Schnee huh? Poor girl's gonna have her work cut out for her that's for sure."
"Haven't those two been hanging around each other though?"
"Doesn't look like she's too happy about it though. Look, she's all tense now."
Taking a look for himself, Fenrir was surprisingly disheartened to see that their seniors comments were right. Weiss had always carried herself with a more dignified poise than her teammates, but now her back appeared more stiff and upright than normal. For a brief moment, the two's eyes met, and Weiss instantly looked away.
"Guess I was a little too optimistic to think we'd moved past that awkward moment in the cafeteria."
Still, Fenrir could think of far worse options for a partner in this exercise. So, in an effort to try and get things off to a good start, he quickly sidled up to Weiss's side and tried going for a welcoming smile. It was a good thing Weiss wasn't looking at him in that moment, because she just would have been put more on edge by Fenrir's multitude of sharp teeth.
"Guess we'll be working together on this one." Fenrir started awkwardly, "Uhhhh… Let's both… ummm… do our best, okay?"
Weiss just gave a miniscule nod, looking like she was chewing on something particularly bitter.
"Alright everyone, you have your partners, now take your positions." Goodwitch instructed, to the relief of one Wolf Faunus.
Quickly, all the first years took places on the launching platforms, some talking amongst themselves, devising ways to best work together and get a good grade. Cardin, Jaune and Ruby had to get uncomfortably close to one another in order to fit on one platform, which caused the larger boy to start complaining again. Fenrir gave Ruby a quick look of sympathy when she briefly glanced his way.
"Those two will have it rough with Cardin." Fenrir surmised.
"I'd worry more about your own troubles right now." The soft voice said.
"I don't get it." Fenrir conversed with this strange passenger in his brain, frustration present even in his inner voice, "Weiss said she was over what happened between us. For weeks we've gotten along warmly, but now thanks to that small spat in the cafeteria, it's like everything's reset and I have to tiptoe around her."
"Trauma is not something easily dealt with, no matter the constitution of the individual." The inner voice responded sagely, "Something about you clearly still unsettles her. But like you she is also prideful. She may attempt to deny, or push back against her own fears, but in a way that hinders both of you. Keep your wits about you young wolf, and try to help her move past her mental block. Trust me, it will benefit you both greatly if you do this now."
The Grimm gave a small, imperceptible nod to show he had heard the voice, and moved on to the platform next to Weiss. It was almost laughable, at the start Fenrir had regarded this weird voice of his as some sort of sign that he was completely insane, but now he listened to it, even started heeding it's counsel.
Just when exactly had life taken such a strange turn for him?
Once Fenrir's boots touched solid metal instead of spongy earth, the young Alpha's expression grew tense with dread. From the way everyone was getting into low-profile stances around him, it seemed his worst fear had been confirmed and these platforms were indeed designed for launching oneself up into the air.
"Uhh, so exactly how powerful are these things?" Fenrir asked, trying to break the ice with his partner whilst also trying to block out the gnawing sensation of something about to go very wrong.
His query was met with only silence.
"Weiss?" Fenrir asked.
The Heiress jolted upon hearing her own name, clearly having been just lost in thought. Seeing that it was Fenrir addressing her, Weiss quickly gathered her wits and brandished her rapier before herself.
"Um, yes Fenrir." Weiss answered, not actually having heard Fenrir's question, "Now get into position, we need to put on an exceptional display right from the start."
Fenrir frowned, seeing Weiss stare straight ahead, going right back to ignoring him. Goodwitch would start the exercise any moment now, so there was no time to discuss things now. Steeling his resolve, Fenrir bent his knees and looked towards the forest canopy, preparing for what was sure to be a long and exhausting day.
Weiss, meanwhile, was dealing with her own troublesome thoughts. She was acutely aware of how unbecoming her behaviour was. She knew Fenrir was trying to move past that tense moment the two had shared a few days ago, but every time she looked into those dark blue eyes of his, she half expected them to turn blood-red suddenly. This realisation only served to anger the Heiress, that one, singular Grimm was able to affect her in such a negative way, especially after she had already told said Grimm that she had moved on from her fears. Determined to cast off these unwanted emotions that would only weigh her down, Weiss would take charge in this exercise, prove that she was above such irrational, fear-driven responses. It would most likely put her at odds with the Beowolf, but Weiss couldn't afford to care.
"I'm a Schnee. I will not succumb to stupid fear."
"First years," Goodwitch exclaimed loudly as behind her, the second years started making their way back to the Bullhead's that had got them all here in the first place, "You are to traverse through the Emerald forest, use whatever methods you see fit to find the finish line and cross it before your classmates. Remember, you cannot attack each other, and both you AND your partner must cross the line. Prepare yourselves, and do your best."
With that, Goodwitch turned and walked off to join the second years in the Bullhead's. A faint sound of whirring cogs could be heard amongst the deafening roar of the Bullhead's engines. Looking down, Fenrir noticed the faint sound was coming from beneath his feet. The Grimm gulped before clenching his jaw and preparing for what was to be an altogether unpleasant flight.
Soon, in quick succession, the entire group of first years were catapulted straight up into the air by the platforms they had previously been standing on. For most of them, they were quick to adjust to the sudden and rapid movement, having been through this once before. Ruby quickly used her Semblance to catch Jaune and envelop him in a rose-petal laden vortex. Yang used her gauntlets to increase her air-time and sail across the tops of trees. Blake flung Gambol Shroud's blade towards the ground, embedding the blade into the trunk of a healthy looking pine tree, and then used the weapons ribbon to pull herself down towards the earth far quicker than simply letting gravity do the work.
Fenrir tumbled and spun through the air, too disoriented from the sudden launch to try and correct his equilibrium. The ground disappeared and reappeared from sight at regular intervals, leaving the Alpha with no clue which way was up and which way was down, wind whistling past his ears disorienting him further. Beside him, Weiss was able to pull herself together far quicker than Fenrir was, using her glyphs to slow her descent.
Unfortunately, Fenrir didn't have any fancy glyphs, and he'd used his Semblance all of one time before today. So when he saw the ground was rapidly approaching, it was all Fenrir could do to brace his arms in front of his head and prepare for what was sure to be a rough landing.
He hit the ground hard. Chunks of earth and dirt were tossed up into the air as the Grimm bounced off the ground, limbs flying all over the place. The wolf was lucky he didn't collide with a tree, though with the way his head was pounding, he didn't want to rule it fully out yet until he saw the damage he'd made.
After what felt like far too long a duration, Fenrir's world eventually levelled out and he came to a stop, face firmly planted in the soil and right foot snagged on an unearthed root. His whole body ached and throbbed, his arms feeling worse off because they also had to deal with the weight of Fenrir's weapons.
"Think I'm gonna just… Lie here for a bit."
If left alone, Fenrir might have just stayed there all day. So what if he was supposed to be winning a race, he'd just been launched off the side of a cliff and crash landed into a forest. He was battered and woozy, and it wasn't like winning would actually help his social standing in any way, hell it might just make things worse, get people to see him as more of a threat.
A few meters behind Fenrir's crater, Weiss touched down daintily on one final glyph, before dispelling it and staring down scornfully at the prone Beowolf. Were it anyone else, she would have criticised them harshly for completely failing to come up with a landing strategy and just letting themselves crash into the floor.
"Get up Fenrir." Was all she said instead, looking around to make sure no other Grimm had been attracted by the commotion, keeping a tight grip on her weapon just in case.
With a grunt and a groan, Fenrir rose out of the dirt, shaking out bits of debris from his hair and jacket. Staring around, Fenrir eventually saw the path of destruction he'd caused from his rapid descent. Multiple points in the earth had been decimated from where Fenrir's body had crashed into them. Wide, thick grooves in the dirt detailed the Grimm's path of destruction, and as the Beowolf had feared, a tree had met an unfortunate end due to his tumble, the elm now lying on its side with the lower half of its trunk blown to pieces.
"Damn," Fenrir muttered aloud, wincing, "Probably should've thought of a safer way to land, eh Weiss?"
In what was becoming an unfortunate and admittedly annoying trend, Weiss yet again ignored him, choosing instead to look up at the sky. Before Fenrir could even question why Weiss was doing this, the sound of an aircraft's engine gave him his answer.
Directly above them, several Bullheads were cruising through the clear blue sky. Fenrir was willing to bet Goodwitch was in the lead vehicle. The two watched the Bullheads until they disappeared from sight, obstructed by foliage.
"Hmm, seems simple enough. If we just follow where those ships are going, we'll make it to the finish line in quick time."
Not even seeming to acknowledge Fenrir's words [Or even his presence from the looks of things], Weiss turned and walked off… in almost the opposite direction.
"Weiss?" Fenrir asked incredulously, "Where are you going?"
Finally did the heiress turn to look at Fenrir, though she gave him a look like she was staring at a rabid animal, simultaneously disgusted and afraid. The look alone caused Fenrir to instinctively bristle up, make himself look bigger, more threatening.
Which was not what he ultimately wanted.
"There's a mountain range that way," Weiss pointed towards the direction she was heading, Fenrir looking and spotting the collection of rocky mountains in the distance, "From there, we'll have a full view of the entire forest and we'll most likely be able to see where the second-years landed. Just because The Bullheads are headed that way, doesn't mean they'll definitely land in that direction."
The logic made sense to Fenrir, but he just couldn't shake the feeling that Weiss wasn't really explaining herself to him, and more talking down to him. It was a feeling Fenrir didn't like, and made him increasingly concerned about how well the two of them would fare together if this tension between the two of them wasn't lifted.
"We're wasting time." Weiss carried on walking away, steps brisk and impatient, "We're going to those mountains, find where Professor Goodwitch landed, and then we're winning this race."
Already disappearing into the bushes, Fenrir couldn't stop a small growl of annoyance escaping from his lips. It wasn't that Fenrir had a thing against taking orders from someone, he'd had to do as he was told when travelling with packs before. But in those situations, it was from Alpha's who were older, stronger, and more experienced than he was. Even if Weiss was older than him, Fenrir reasonably guessed it wasn't by much. And yet here she was, ordering him around, barely taking the time to even acknowledge his presence, much less his input.
"Thought we were supposed to be working together on this." The Grimm thought bitterly, still trying to shake off the kinks in his muscles.
"Keep your wits about you Fenrir." Was all that the soft voice offered in the way of advice.
With a weary sigh, Fenrir finally set off into a light jog, quickly catching up to Weiss.
"Fine." Fenrir said, as both an acknowledgement to Weiss's orders, and his inner voice's counsel.
The Bullhead jolted slightly around professor Goodwitch as it touched back down onto uneven floor. Being this deep into the forest was more than a little risky, what with all the roaming Grimm just waiting to attack any unsuspecting Human that crosses their path.
But Goodwitch was confident in both her, and the second-years abilities to fend off any potential threats that might come their way. It was the first years who were being judged here, and if they were to be judged properly, they needed a way to properly observe them.
"Everyone, Scrolls out." Goodwitch instructed, bringing out her own Scroll as well.
"You already have your assigned teams to view, I want you all to take note of everything that your pair does, how they work with each other, and how much they've improved since the start of the year."
This exercise was primarily for the first-years benefit, but this was also an opportunity to see how well the second-years would do at evaluating the skills of their juniors, not just their own. While the second years were busy tuning their scrolls into the feeds provided by the various drones that were flying high above the Emerald forest, monitoring the unsuspecting first-years below, Glynda turned to her own Scroll, which unlike the second-years, showed her all of the first-years that were currently making their way through the dense foliage.
Due to her almost constant surveillance of him, it was hardly a challenge to find Fenrir and Weiss amongst the other students. By this point, Glynda wouldn't be surprised if she started seeing black and blue hair and faded leather jackets in her sleep.
Goodwitch drew herself up, watching with a critical eye as Fenrir and Weiss jogged through the forest, the young heiress in the lead and seemingly, subtly trying to put as much distance between herself and the Grimm as possible.
"Now then Grimm." Goodwitch thought as she tilted her glasses, catching the sunlight slightly, "I've seen how your power and control has improved, but let's see how well you can adapt."
Fenrir was never very patient, a fact well documented by almost everyone at Beacon. He couldn't stand this human custom of waiting in lines, sometimes when people were talking for way too long, he'd find himself fidgeting and his scowl would become more pronounced. More than all that however, Fenrir couldn't stand being lead around with little input as to the destination or the journey.
By rough estimations, Fenrir and Weiss had been traipsing through the Emerald forest for close to half an hour, and in that whole time Fenrir's [Supposed] partner hadn't said a single word to him. Near the start, Fenrir had tried to start a conversation with the girl, only to get scathing silence in response.
If things didn't improve soon, the Grimm worried his temper would flare up and he'd bring them both to a halt, just to try and clear this uncomfortable air between them.
"Would she even realise I wasn't with her if I just decided to stop now?"
Eventually, the ground beneath them began to tilt up at an angle. They were approaching a series of stony cliffs and craggy hills. If they went to the top, they would definitely get a clear view of all the surrounding forest, potentially even see where the second-years and professor Goodwitch were located.
Of course there was quite an obstacle between them and the summit, and funnily enough it wasn't Grimm. It was the terrain, the ground was uneven, littered with small cracks and crevices that one could easily trip and fall over, or even get their foot stuck in if they weren't careful.
But in this case, Fenrir wasn't worried about himself, he could easily deal with uneven floor, if he couldn't then he wouldn't have even made it out of infancy, growing up in the woods as he had. His more immediate concern was how Weiss would deal with the treacherous terrain. No disrespect, but the heiress didn't strike him as someone who did a lot of outdoor activities such as hiking. The fact she was wearing high-heeled boots also didn't help.
As always though, Fenrir forgot that Humans could effectively cheat the whole system with their fancy superpowers. All Weiss did was simply summon another glyph beneath her feet, and then she was propelled up into the air and gracefully landed at the summit of the hill.
"Ah, right," Fenrir said slowly, shaking his head, "Why do I keep forgetting about that?"
Fenrir took a little longer to join Weiss, preferring to not use his Aura until he absolutely had to. Despite his slower pace, Fenrir was an expert at navigating the rocky terrain that stood between him and Weiss, his feet aiming precisely for the best spots to ensure he didn't trip or even stumble once. Gusts of wind tousled the Grimm's hair as he moved up to Weiss's side, the high altitude making this light breeze just a touch more powerful than it would be at ground level. Once at the summit, Fenrir's eyes widned at the enormous, breath-taking view beheld itself to him.
All of the Emerald forest, looking all like a painted, verdant green tapestry, was fully unveiled for the two teens to absorb from their elevated position. If he squinted, Fenrir could just about spot the dull grey stone of the ruins, nestled in-between the great old trees.
"There they are." Weiss said, startling Fenrir slightly as he almost forgot she was there, too busy taking in the sights, "That looks like… the North-west side of the forest, just where the tree-line ends."
Looking where Weiss was pointing, Fenrir also spotted the small collection of airships, and even smaller multi-coloured spots of various hairstyles, which could only be Professor Goodwitch and the second-years.
"That's quite far," Fenrir mused, frowning slightly, "And who knows how close the other teams are to that area already. We'll need to be quick."
Fenrir turned towards Weiss, hoping to discuss some kind of strategy that would get them quickly down the mountain and towards the finish line in as short a time as possible.
Instead, he was greeted with empty air as Weiss had seemingly disappeared. A few seconds of wildly looking about, and Fenrir didn't even try to cover up his growl as he saw the Heiress already walking down the mountainside.
"TIVAR… Weiss hang on!" Fenrir shouted, his old tongue grating on even his ears as he bounded down the rocky incline.
Weiss, instead of stopping or even turning around, just kept walking. In fact, it looked like she was subtly trying to speed up her pace.
This was the last straw for Fenrir, his mood shifting from annoyed to fully angered as he was now being constantly ignored.
"Weiss!" He called out, long strides quickly closing the gap between himself and the heiress, "Weiss… WEISS..! WEISS GODSDAMMIT!"
Incensed at Weiss's stubbornness, Fenrir roughly grabbed the girls arm, yanking her back and forcing her to look at him. He instantly regretted it as he saw Weiss's expression briefly turn fearful, before she quickly attempted to mask it with an annoyed pout.
Her acting skills were impressive, but ultimately useless against someone who could sense negative energy. Just like with the Dust crystal back in the cafeteria, Weiss's emotional state was back to being afraid of the Grimm in front of her.
"Crap, I'm making it worse." Fenrir chastised himself, only just noticing Weiss had yanked her arm out of Fenrir's grip.
"What do you think you're doing?" Weiss asked, focusing all her effort on keeping a treacherous warble out of her voice.
"What am I doing, what are you doing?!" Fenrir retorted, trying with all his heart to reign in his temper.
"I'm trying to make sure I succeed at this task." Weiss said, turning her nose up in an attempt at looking haughty, "That means not standing around, doing nothing but have meaningless conversations that will not serve us getting closer to the goal."
"You succeed?" Fenrir arched an eyebrow at all the choice words his 'partner' had used, "We have to finish together Weiss, or it won't matter. Oum's sake we're supposed to be a team on this, why are you avoiding me?"
"I-I'm not avoiding you!" Weiss bit back, stutter betraying her as she tried backing away from the Beowolf, "I'm trying to make sure I come out of this academy with the best possible scores so I can go on to become one of the best Huntresses that Beacon has ever seen. How am I supposed to achieve that if I'm being slowed down by… You?"
Weiss's rant was cut short as she finally noticed that Fenrir's whole countenance had changed. His jaw had turned slack, and his eyes were now looking over the top of Weiss's head. As quick as a snap, Fenrir's whole expression morphed to one that looked downright murderous.
The barest flash of red in the Grimm's cold blue eyes kicked Weiss's fight-or-flight into high gear. On instinct, her hand travelled to her rapier, mind not even registering that Fenrir wasn't even looking at her.
"Fenrir?" She didn't even try to hide the tremors in her voice as Fenrir's hands balled into fists at his sides.
"You wouldn't dare." Fenrir said lowly, eyes now burning with rage as his whole body tensed up.
Weiss wanted to run. The Grimm's whole form was radiating malicious intent and his fangs glinted in the midday sun as he growled fiercely.
Just like they had back then…
An instinctual yelp burst forth from Weiss's lips as Fenrir suddenly lurched forward and grabbed her by her jacket.
Visions of claws and fangs tearing into her flesh invaded her mind. Her back on the floor and hot breath fanning her face, as the sun was blotted out by a monstrous shadowy form. The only colour that could be seen through the haze, were two red, staring eyes that promised nothing but pain and death.
The Heiress didn't get time to take in air into her lungs to scream before Fenrir threw her off to the side. The sound of air being quickly displaced filled her ears as she tumbled clumsily through the air, followed by a deafening explosion that shook the ground beneath the pair and sent rocks and stones hurtling through the air. When Weiss finally stopped tumbling across the floor, she looked up to see a smoking crater where Fenrir had just been.
"What, did someone just shoot at us? But that's against the rules!"
Looking wildly around, Weiss eventually spotted a pair of first-years she didn't know the names of. One with forest green hair was currently reloading a vicious looking rocket launcher.
A pained grunt brought her attention back toward the crater. Fenrir was currently trying to get back on shaky feet as loose gravel tumbled off of his singed clothes.
"This is just what I need right now." Fenrir muttered, an unnatural growl coiling in his throat as he stood defiantly, looking down at his assailants.
Weiss, mind scrambling to find a way to defuse the disastrous situation playing out before her, clambered to her feet. As the dust cleared, Weiss quickly spotted a second person behind the one wielding the rocket launcher, a girl with hair that could almost rival Yang's with how golden it was. A twitch broke the flawless countenance of Weiss's features when she realised that this second person had drawn an arrow, with the arrowhead pointed squarely at her chest.
"have the two of you lost your mind?!" Weiss exclaimed, her cutting voice briefly disrupting the staring contest between the boy and the Grimm, "This is a race you imbeciles, we were specifically instructed not to attack each other."
Rather than cowering from the heiress's cold, disparaging tone, the pair took several steps forward, weapons primed at the both of them.
"Can it princess!" The boy shouted, sneering hatefully at the Grimm who glared back with equal animosity.
"I came here to be a Huntsman; Huntsman are supposed to kill monsters. That THING is what we're meant to be fighting against, we shouldn't be sharing a school with it!"
"We all saw that monsters Semblance," The girl continued where her partner had left off, determination burning hot in her eyes, "He's too dangerous to be kept alive, Ozpin's experiment or not."
"If we get expelled for this that's fine," The boy levelled his weapon at Fenrir, "As long as this animal gets put down for good, and never gets the chance to hurt anyone again!"
Somewhere, deep in the back of Fenrir's mind, a hushed voice frantically tried to get him to approach this calmly, that there was still time to stop this from becoming a messy altercation.
Fenrir couldn't hear much over the sound of hot, anger-fuelled blood rushing through his ears.
"You fire one more rocket at me," Fenrir growled, "I'll carry you across the finish line in a blood-soaked bag!"
The threat, while venomous, did little to dissuade the attacking. If anything, they looked more convinced than ever that they were going to put a stop to Fenrir's continued existence.
Weiss made to step forward again, to try and make her classmates see reason, but it was all for naught as a second rocket whooshed past her head and crashed into the rocky floor above her.
The blast narrowly avoided hitting Fenrir directly, but it was still close enough to send him stumbling sideways, chunks of rock pelting him from all sides.
"RRRAAAAHHHH!" Fenrir, enraged by this second attack, wildly flung his arms to clear the smoke obscuring his vision. When he could see the pair of idiots again, an animalistic snarl twisted his features into a nightmarish sight.
Without thinking, Fenrir raised his right arm and primed his revolver, chamber spinning as he got ready to unload a torrent of bullets towards his new foes.
At his command, the first bullet exploded out of the barrel of his revolver… and was instantly halted by the blade of a rapier slicing it out of the air.
The attack was so sudden that Fenrir couldn't move, to stunned to do anything other than blink dumbly at who had decided to stand in the way of his targets.
White hair tied back in an asymmetrical ponytail. Two ice blue eyes, so much brighter than his own with a scar running down the left eyelid. A dress as pure and brilliant white as fresh fallen snow. A sight that would no doubt shock the anger and irritation out of any man through just pure beauty alone.
Clearly Fenrir just didn't have an eye for these things.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?"
Fenrir's voice boomed so loudly that one could almost think he'd used his Semblance to project his voice. Weiss certainly felt a few degrees colder as she stared up at the looming form of the Grimmborn teen, fangs bared and grinding against each other.
"W-w-w-we can't…" Weiss muttered; confidence lost briefly as her mind betrayed her by going back to that dammed day when Fenrir had accidentally revealed his true form to everyone.
"WHAT?!" Fenrir barked, too far lost in his rage to stop now, "NOW I'M SUPPOSED TO JUST LIE DOWN AND TAKE IT WHEN PEOPLE TRY TO KILL ME, WILL THAT MAKE YOU FEEL SAFER AROUND ME, HUH?! SHALL I JUST PULL OUT ALL MY TEETH AND CLAWS IF THAT'LL GET YOU TO TRUST ME, TO STOP JUMPING AT MY SHADOW AND BITING MY HEAD OFF WHEN I'M JUST TRYING TO TALK TO YOU?!"
Emotions were riding high now. So much so that Weiss was caught up in the current and finally responded with outrage. The two were so caught up in their argument that they didn't notice their attackers were now coming up with a plan to get rid of both of them.
"Talk to me!?" Weiss asked indignantly, "All you ever do is scowl and grumble and sneer at people. You want to be treated like a person, yet you constantly act like a beast!"
"Don't you dare tell me to change who I am. That's all you damn humans have tried to do since the moment I got there, change me, twist me up and shape me to be more like you!"
"Because you can't just act however you want all the time. We're trying to get you to control that reckless rage of yours!"
"RAGE IS ALL I KNOW HOW TO DO RIGHT!"
This final outburst shocked both of them so much, the argument came to a sudden halt. Weiss was further stunned when she noticed how much Fenrir was shaking. She wasn't sure if her eyes were tricking her but, she swore Fenrir's eyes looked a bit more watery than usual.
Wolf ears twitched, and Fenrir looked up, perplexed as a new sound grabbed his attention.
Looking around, Fenrir was confused when he saw about five or six arrows sticking out of the ground above them. What was even more confusing was how they were beeping.
"You know what," The boy spoke up, catching Fenrir and Weiss's attention, a new cocky swagger in his tone, "Maybe we'll just leave you two to kill each other. In the meantime, we're gonna win this little race."
With a nod towards his partner, the girl clicked a button on her bow.
"Oh." Weiss said, expression wilting as she quickly figured out why those arrows at the mountain's summit were beeping.
They were beeping because they were full of explosive Dust.
A series of loud explosions shook the ground beneath their feet. The cacophonous noise of stone rolling downwards, made clear what their attackers strategy was.
They were going to try and bury Fenrir and Weiss under a rockslide.
With no time to think, the Grimm and the Heiress took off in a dead sprint, cascading boulders hot on their heels. As it turned out, there was quite a lot of ground to cover before they would arrive at the forest floor. One side of the mountain range did disappear into a sheer drop, but it was much too high for either of them to attempt leaping off, the risk of injury from the fall too great.
Weiss stumbled and nearly fell multiple times as her foot caught on crags and cracks in the ground, leading Fenrir to be in the lead. A small rock, the size of a fist, smacked into the back of Fenrir's skull. The Grimm collapsed to his knees, then franticly scrambled to his feet, ears ringing from dizziness.
Just when it seemed like they might get away from the rockslide, the other pair of first years interjected yet again. A combined assault of rockets and explosive arrows obliterated the ground ahead of where Fenrir and Weiss were running, opening up a large fissure in the mountainside.
Fenrir's boots skidded as he tried to stop his forward momentum, coming to a stop just at the lip of the drop. Weiss wasn't so lucky.
With a startled yelp, the girl plummeted into the fissure.
"WEISS!" Fenrir cried, before a chunk of rock slammed into his back, dooming him to the same fate as his partner.
"This is uncomfortably familiar." Was Fenrir's only thought as he tumbled through the air, wind whistling past his ears.
The key difference this time though, was that when Fenrir eventually came back into contact with the ground, he didn't hit a liquid Dust pit.
He just crashed into more rock.
A pained scream echoed off of the high walls as Fenrir's shoulder throbbed painfully from where he'd landed on it. His Aura had taken a substantial hit for sure. He wasn't given any time to recover however, as the avalanche of stone now rained down on him.
A little off to the side, Weiss was holding a glyph above her head, using it as a shield to protect her from the shower of rocks. She too had taken a large hit to her Aura pool, and it was taking every ounce of her concentration to keep the glyph active. Her eyes widened in horror when a boulder the size of a car dived towards her.
"The glyph will break," Weiss was absolutely certain, "I'll be crushed!"
A black blur suddenly appeared, standing in front of her projected protection. Fenrir's legs wanted to collapse, but he stood firm as a single command echoed within his mind.
"Blow it away!"
A quick, deep inhale, and then the Beowolf let loose a thunderous roar. Weiss clasped her hands over her ears as the shower of stone was halted by the dark blue soundwaves. A build-up of frost covered the rocks as they were slowly pushed back up into the air. When Fenrir finally emptied all the air in his lungs, the boulder fell downwards again, but now it had no chance of hitting either of them as it hit the ground to their left instead.
The Alpha groaned as he sank to his knees, exhaustion and soreness piercing every muscle in his body. He didn't need a scroll to tell him his Aura was probably dangerously low right now. Looking up, Fenrir was further disheartened when he saw just how far they had fallen. It would take them a long time to get back up to the top.
"Time those two morons can use to get far ahead of us. Dammit all!"
As if summoned by his thoughts, the two peered down at them from atop the fissure, faces blacked out by the sunlight above them.
"If you know what's good for you, you'll stay in that hole forever Grimm!" The girl shouted down.
"Look at it this way beast," The boy followed up, tone snide and grating on Fenrir's ears, "At least we gave you a snack to chew on while you're down there."
"Wha-HOW DARE YOU!" Weiss yelled, looking aghast at the implication that she would become mere food for a single Grimm.
Before she could offer any kind of scathing retort, the group of two had already left, cackling amongst themselves, taking joy in their victory over the Heiress and the Grimmborn.
"Just perfect!" Weiss fumed, getting up into a sitting position, "I thought it couldn't get any worse than the day of my initiation, but it seems I was mistaken."
"We need to find a way out of here." Weiss was quick to get back to her feet and take charge again, already looking for the quickest way out of this whole they were in.
Fenrir, however, didn't move.
"Fenrir?" Weiss asked cautiously, belatedly noticing how deeply Fenrir was breathing, shoulders rising and falling in erratic, random intervals.
Looking down, Weiss balked when she saw the white knuckles of Fenrir's balled fists, arms shaking like leaves caught in a gale.
A low growl could be heard that turned Weiss's blood to ice. Fenrir's head was bowed down as rage and hatred flooded through his entire system, blocking out sight and sound as his mind began to deteriorate.
"They… Attacked me… Tried to kill me… And I did nothing! I lost! THEY THINK THEY'RE BETTER THAN ME, THINK THEY CAN TREAT ME LIKE DIRT! THEY'RE THE TRASH, NOT ME! I… I… I!"
Fenrir shot forward and slammed his fist into the wall in front of him. The wall shook and deep cracks spread out from the impact zone. Weiss didn't even get time to think about just how much force Fenrir had thrown into that punch, before he struck the same place again.
The first three, Weiss had practically jumped a foot into the air. After that, Weiss just looked on in equal parts concern and exasperation as Fenrir punched the wall over and over again. Chunks of stone flew all over the place as Fenrir roared and raved like a madman, seemingly not even noticing when he was now standing inside of the wall he was currently gouging a hole into.
"I suppose I'll just… wait for him to tire himself out." Weiss reasoned, not wanting to interrupt Fenrir's little meltdown in fear of it being turned on her.
"Well, the Grimm's lost his temper again."
Professor Goodwitch could only shake her head mournfully as Ozpin's little project flew off the handle yet again. She was a little thankful that at least this time the Grimm was taking out his frustrations on an inanimate piece of the environment and not a living person, but it was still a shameful display. Something had to be done about that anger of his, that much was clear in Glynda's eyes, but the Huntress was at a loss on how to even approach someone so volatile and unpredictable in their temperament.
Though she had to admit, Mr Lupus's anger was at least a little bit justified. Mr Moss and Miss Morada were in for more than just a stern lecture when they arrived at the finish line. What part of no attacking other students was so hard to understand?
Still, this was hardly anything new. Many times, Glynda had been standing off to the side, able to do nothing but watch as another student [Or sometimes even a parent] unloaded on the headmaster. Ozpin had gotten all manner of insults and threats thrown his way ever since Fenrir's true nature had been revealed, students from all four year groups proclaiming how they would leave if Ozpin didn't get rid of his "Experiment."
It was through this, that Glynda was once again reminded why Ozpin was the headmaster, and had been for many years now. He never once reacted to the venomous words chucked his way, never once showed a hint of irritation or tiredness. Instead he'd remained calm and diplomatic, explaining softly, but firmly that he was keeping Mr Lupus under close observation, but he would not be getting rid of the Grimm unless there was no other option that could not guarantee the safety of the students of Beacon. He truly had a way of words that the Huntress could happily admit she'd never be able to match even if she lived to be a hundred years old. By the time he was done speaking, the red mist would have disappeared from their eyes, and their troubles would be assuaged, for the most part.
She would have liked to have seen someone like Lionheart try and quell that angry mob. The man probably would have passed out at the mere sight of them.
Ironwood would have either shot them, or himself.
Looking around, she saw the second years were carefully watching their assigned pairs. From the brief looks she spared to their scrolls, she could see that most of the first-years were still trying to get their bearings, stumbling through the thick, dense foliage of the Emerald forest. It would probably be a good half an hour or so before this race would start to ramp up the intensity.
Eventually she found what she was looking for. Miss Cinarum had her usual demeanour when looking at the Grimm, pure disgust. Her and her teammate, Mr Arcadia were the ones watching Mr Lupus and Miss Schnee. They did not look too impressed with their performance so far, though the young Blond did look a little amused as he watched the Beowolf rip and tear chunks of solid stone out of the fissure.
"I suspect those two will not be kind in their evaluation. Not that they'd be wrong to do so."
Seeing all she had needed to, Glynda turned back to her own Scroll and continued swapping between all the various camera feeds.
"I really hope I don't have to retrieve those two when this exercise is over."
Eventually, Fenrir did start to tire out, or at least that's what Weiss assumed. The intervals between when his fists were colliding with the walls gradually grew longer and longer. From inside the hole in the wall, Fenrir was still snarling and hissing, but also panting heavily. If she strained her ears, Weiss could guess that Fenrir was also cursing in his old tongue.
Just when it seemed like the Grimm had finally stopped his vicious assault on the landscape, the Grimm let out one final bellow, ripped a chunk of rock out of the wall and threw it as far as his arms could allow. The echoing crash of the boulder hitting the other side of the narrow ravine they were both stuck in, made Weiss's ears hurt.
A deafening silence followed afterwards, broken up only by the sound of Fenrir taking in great lungful's of air. Stumbling out of the hole, Fenrir glanced towards his downed partner. Sweat poured off his brow, skin dirtied by mud and rubble, and his eyes were glazed over and unfocused. Looking at his hands, Weiss was certain Fenrir had broken at least a few knuckles in his anger induced haze, if the fact he couldn't close his fists was anything to go by. Not long after, Fenrir's back hit the wall and he slowly slid down it until he was sitting on the floor, eyes still weakly trying to focus on Weiss who was now sitting up across from him.
The air between them now felt way too stuffy for both their liking. Weiss felt like she needed to say something, but in the face of cold blue eyes and black and white gauntlets, Weiss felt her tongue become uncharacteristically heavy in her mouth. After witnessing such an incredible, yet ultimately pointless and more than a little childish display of the Grimm's strength, Weiss could only think of one thing to say with any actual clarity.
"Fenrir… I think you may have a few anger issues."
Fenrir jolted a little, almost as if he hadn't expected Weiss to speak. When he realised what had been said to him, Fenrir tried to be annoyed, but he'd used up all his pent up frustration, and now he just felt a sore numbness envelop his body and mind. A deep sigh was all he could muster before he finally broke eye contact with Weiss to stare down at the floor.
"Yeah… I know…" Fenrir huffed, looking down at his banged up hands.
Defeated. That was the best word to describe how the Beowolf felt right now. He'd hoped that this little excursion between the two of them would provide him an opportunity to repair his strained relationship with the ice queen. Instead it seemed like he'd just torpedoed it into oblivion with his own inability to control his emotions.
"Screwed it all up… again. Just like the first time I transformed. Just like in the cafeteria with team CRDL. Dammit Fenrir why can't you just not lose your temper, just once!"
The silence continued, Fenrir resigned to accept that he and Weiss were probably never going to make amends or come to an understanding. At seeing Fenrir's dour expression, Weiss couldn't help but recall some of the things he'd said at the top of the mountain.
"Rage is all I know how to do right… What did he mean by that? And why did he look so… sad?"
Seeing the Grimm's sudden change of expression at that moment had thrown Weiss for a loop. It had the tone of someone who was not only admitting defeat, but also admitting that something was wrong with them. Considering her background, Weiss had always judged that an impossible thing to do. For someone like Fenrir, who even her own teammates had told her rivalled her in stubbornness to admit any kind of fault, that was not an easy thing for him to do.
Since neither of them were up to any kind of activity that involved getting out of this crevice they were in, Weiss decided to see if Fenrir would be more willing to talk about what he'd just blurted out, now that he'd exhausted himself.
"What did you mean?"
Weiss's sudden question startled Fenrir back into the present, absorbed in his own loathing as he had been.
"What?" He asked back.
"Up on the summit. You said, 'Rage is all I know how to do right.' What did you mean by that?"
Fenrir seemed surprised the girl had remembered any of what he'd said. Hell, he barely remembered what he'd said. Sighing, Fenrir leaned his head back against the stone, seeing no reason to hide the truth from the Heiress. At the same time, a small spark of hope flickered away inside of him. Maybe, this could be the opportunity he was waiting for. With a deep breath, Fenrir began his explanation.
"Do you know how you humans like to say that we Grimm are soulless?" He began, "That we're not capable of feeling any emotion, other than rage and hate?"
Weiss gave a small nod as her answer, eyes completely focused on her partner.
"Well that's… Not far from the truth." Fenrir admitted, "Anger is the one constant emotion we always feel. It's also the only emotion we truly understand, everything else is… muffled, clouded like fog over our brains. For almost all my adult life, I was just angry all the time, anything else didn't matter, it wasn't important to me or to my mission."
Another deep sigh followed this explanation, before a bitter smile crossed his face as he showed Weiss his hands, as if presenting a gift.
"And then this happened," Fenrir muttered, "And now it's like that fog has been lifted away. I feel… everything now! And it's all so new, and strange and… terrifying. Even happiness is such a foreign feeling, that it's nearly impossible for me to process."
The Alpha's claws clicked against each other as Fenrir fiddled with his fingers.
"I don't know how to cope with all these new sensations Weiss, you've had all your life to develop and control your emotions, I've had a month and a half. I…"
Suddenly Fenrir halted, looking Weiss in the eyes. His eyes grew solemn again as he bowed his head down to the floor.
"But… That's no excuse." He confessed, "None of that is any excuse for losing my temper at you the way that I have. You and the girls have all tried to help me and I… I haven't done a great job at showing that… That I am grateful for that."
Giving a final nod of affirmation, Fenrir's expression became more sure as he looked back at Weiss.
"I do not wish for things to be awkward between us Weiss, I really don't. The only thing I would ask of you now is just… Try to be patient with me. I'm still figuring all this human business out. I can't promise that I'll always get it right, in fact I'm almost certainly going to mess up again… But I'm trying Weiss."
Since the Grimm was finished talking, the young girl took a moment to process all that had been shown to her. When she had finished, an altogether unpleasant sensation settled in her gut. In her desire to not show any kind of weakness in front of the Alpha Grimm, Weiss had also acted unfairly towards a boy who was still trying to figure out his place in a world that didn't want him.
"I see.." Weiss began, drawing herself up a little even as she felt horrible inside, "Then… I would like to take this moment to apologise to you Fenrir."
That shocked the Grimm, eyes wide and jaw slack to prove it.
"I lead you to believe that that… incident that occurred between us was in the past. But the truth is… a part of me has always been cautious around you. I realise now that, I haven't been fair to you, I didn't think about how you're coping with all this."
A thoughtful expression adorned Fenrir's face, before it was quickly replaced by recollection.
"Do you remember…" He started, "When I first came to Beacon, and I spoke to you for the first time?"
A quiet huff was quickly offered by the Heiress, alongside a small smile as she recalled the memory.
"You asked me to help with the history work we were assigned." She answered, "You didn't even know the names of the four kingdoms. I thought you were very strange… and also a little annoying at how you seemingly didn't know anything at all.
Anyone else might have been insulted by that admission, but Fenrir actually chuckled at that. It wasn't like he could deny her words, he had known basically nothing about anything regarding humans when he'd first stumbled onto the Huntsmen academy.
For Weiss, she could still picture that strange looking boy who'd jabbed her in the shoulder with his claws just to get her attention. She remembered the pale face, the beat-up looking leather jacket, and the expression that was some awkward combination of surly and pained.
Nowadays, Fenrir looked different and yet much the same. His skin was a much more healthy looking colour, the jacket in much better condition, and the expression showing a great deal more intelligence and thoughtfulness than it had been all those weeks ago.
"…And then you helped me." Fenrir said, voice deep and rumbling in his throat, "You were one of the first humans to help me, Ozpin and Velvet being the only ones before you. Even Ruby, I hadn't talked to her once before you. Ever since that day… I guess… I've always admired you, respected you. Your intelligence, your fierceness, how you won't let anyone look down on or talk down to you."
Weiss was touched by the Grimm's sincere tone, but she couldn't resist a roll of her eyes at all the sudden praise. It reminded her of all her father's business partners and associates who would offer such empty words to her and her siblings.
Though, this felt a bit different than all those other times. Perhaps because it seemed like Fenrir actually meant it.
"I did not know Grimm were capable of being sappy." Weiss said, earning an amused huff from Fenrir.
"That, you can entirely blame on Ruby."
"You know," Weiss wondered, "As her partner I can understand the worry a little bit, but is it really such a large fear of yours that you'll become like Ruby."
That had been what set Fenrir off last time after all. When Weiss had compared Fenrir's impulsiveness to her team leader's, it was like the most cutting insult Fenrir had ever heard in his life.
"In many ways I already am." The Beowolf admitted with a sigh, "Think about it. I haven't killed ONCE since I became Human. And I constantly feel this urge to help people, for no reason other than it's the right thing to do. Add to that a whole bunch of other little habits I definitely didn't have before this, and I guess… I just don't want to lose anymore of myself, I don't want to become just some copy of another person."
Weiss nodded her head. It was a valid fear she supposed, there was so much about Fenrir's new form and abilities that everyone still didn't know. If Weiss started to lose her own identity and become someone else, she'd be beside herself with fear.
That's the whole reason she'd come to Beacon in the first place. So her father couldn't shape her into something he found desirable.
"I can assure you Mister Lupus," Weiss said with practiced dignity and poise, "You and Ruby Rose are nothing alike. You take things far more seriously than she does."
"Heh, thanks." Fenrir chuckled, and then looked up towards the heiress, hope shining in his eyes, "So… is everything good between us now, can you forgive me?"
"How is that even possible!" Weiss wondered incredulously, "Fenrir is normally the most terrifying, intimidating person in the room. But now, he looks so uncertain and hopeful… it's almost adorable."
Weiss got back to her feet, dusting off her skirt and giving a delicate smile to the still dirt-covered Grimmborn.
"Yes Fenrir, I forgive you. I hope you'll forgive me as well, for not giving you a proper chance."
Fenrir didn't answer right away, too preoccupied with seeing the rare sight of Weiss smiling. Many times, Fenrir had watched the other girls call Weiss an 'ice queen,' but in this moment Fenrir couldn't help but be reminded of the princesses he'd read in the stories.
"Woah… Didn't know one little lip movement could change so much. I mean… just woah."
Quickly, Fenrir shook off his wonder and gave a big, toothy grin to his revitalised partner.
"Yeah," He assured with a nod, "It's all good Weiss."
Getting back to his feet, the two took a moment to bask in their mutual reconciliation. Gone was that uncomfortable, twisting sensation in Fenrir's stomach that had been present since the start of the exercise. Now there was a sense of ease, of relief that he had miraculously managed to clear the air between Weiss and himself. Now they could focus on actually getting a good score in their mission.
Speaking of which…
"Now then, I believe we've wasted enough time in this landslide. Let us leave this place and actually focus on winning the race."
More than on board with this idea, Fenrir rolled his shoulders and looked up at the wall in front of him, figuring out the quickest way to scale the stone and get back in the race.
"Let's," Fenrir answered with a grunt, "How's your Aura?"
Weiss frowned as she registered her partner's question. Unlike Yang, Jaune and even Fenrir himself, Weiss wasn't a damage sponge, and thus couldn't soak up too many blows to her Aura. And she'd just gotten a literal boulder tonne of damage done to her.
Looking at her scroll was done more on instinct than anything else. Looking at it only confirmed what she had already guessed, her Aura was squarely in the red zone. If they waited a few minutes, she might be able to recover enough of her Aura to use her glyphs to propel both her and Fenrir out of the ravine, but in that time who knows how far ahead the other students would be.
In addition, her somewhat privileged lifestyle meant she hadn't done a lot of rock-climbing in her life.
"Very low," Weiss answered Fenrir, who was likewise looking down at his scroll, "How's yours?"
"About the same." Fenrir answered with a frown, seeing his Aura was at less than half full.
And then his frown disappeared, and in it's place was a wide, fanged grin that was positively brimming with excitement. The Beowolf then spread out his jacket with a flourish, and Weiss's eyes were instantly drawn to two new additions.
The first addition was a belt that Fenrir had apparently acquired somehow, the second addition was what was attached on the back of the belt. On one side, four long Dust crystals glowing with elemental power, on the other side, several pairs of revolver cylinders all subtly glowing a multitude of colours.
Fenrir unclipped the yellow crystal from his belt and was about to proceed ahead with what he was doing, but then he remembered that Weiss was watching him. Reminded of all the heiress's comments about him being overly hasty, Fenrir decided to put the brakes on for a little bit.
"I can use this Dust crystal to replenish my Aura." He explained, giving a pause to see if Weiss had any objections to his idea.
Instead, Weiss just offered a quick nod of her head, taking a few steps back in preparation for what was about to happen.
"I suppose it's a good thing you tested out that theory yesterday." Weiss commented, and then pointing an accusatory finger, "Though I still think that was dangerously impulsive of you."
"Yeah, you have a point." Fenrir conceded, ears folded back a bit to show he did feel a little bit guilty, "I'll work on that in the future. Promise."
Getting a firm grip on the crystal, Fenrir looked down at the shimmering, golden lightning Dust.
"Didn't expect to have to use one of these already, but we're on a tight schedule as is. Need to get a move on."
With little fanfare or build-up, Fenrir crushed the crystal in one hand. Instantly, the potent energies of the Dust surged through his body, lighting up his veins and leaving the air thick with ozone. The Grimm clenched his teeth and shut his eyes as he felt raw power flood him. Instantly all the aches and soreness from the avalanche of boulders and assault of rockets he'd suffered, all vanished as the Dust replenished his Aura in record time. Once the initial rush passed through his system, Fenrir shook his head wildly and grinned manically.
"WHOO! That is a rush!" He cried out jubilantly.
"Nice to see you enjoying yourself," Weiss commented with light sarcasm, "Any side effects we should be concerned about?"
The Grimm pondered for a moment, mentally checking to see if anything felt off.
"Umm… I can kind of taste electricity on my tongue. But other than that, I'm all good."
Seemingly satisfied with his answer, Weiss moved to stand next to Fenrir as he turned back to face the rock wall.
"Alright, climb on my shoulders," Fenrir instructed, "I'll get us up to the top."
When Fenrir didn't immediately feel any added weight on his shoulders, he looked towards the heiress, who appeared to still be in thought.
"I think I have a better idea." Weiss said, pointing down at Fenrir's belt, "Those Dust revolver rounds you have, are any of them filled with wind Dust?"
Curious on where his partner was going with this, Fenrir looked down at his waist and sorted through the various different elemental Dust types he held.
"Let's see here," He mumbled, "Wind Dust, that's the… the white ones right?"
When he offered a pair of glowing white revolver barrels to Weiss, the white-haired girl nodded her head at Fenrir's correct guess.
"Yes, those are what we want."
When Fenrir still looked confused, Weiss elaborated on her idea.
"I'm just thinking, we still have a long way to go to get to the finish line. It would be for the best if we conserved as much of our Aura's as possible for the final stretch."
"You mean like what you were doing earlier?" Fenrir couldn't stop the light jab before it had already passed his lips, recalling all the glyphs Weiss had used just to keep away from him.
"I wasn't thinking clearly earlier, I thought we'd already established that." Weiss retorted back indignantly. Fenrir offered his hands up in surrender, which seemed to work in calming Weiss's ire.
"Anyway, rather than using your Aura to get us out of here, you can use those wind Dust rounds to launch us out instead."
"OH!" Fenrir exclaimed, now on the same page as Weiss, "Yes, that actually does make sense."
"I'll admit, it does feel good, now that we're finally, actually working together."
With a new plan set in motion, Fenrir ejected the standard ammunition from his revolvers, stuffed them into his pockets, and inserted the new wind Dust barrels in their place. Once they were secured, Fenrir bent his legs in a low squat and gestured his head towards his shoulders.
"Remember, keep your arms straight down by your sides, and your head up towards the surface." Weiss instructed as she gingerly clambered onto Fenrir's back.
The heiress let out a quiet, slightly undignified squeak as the Grimm's arms instantly hooked under her legs to bring her more up onto his shoulders. Fenrir, as always, didn't notice.
"I've got this." He told himself, as much as he was telling Weiss as he stared down at the pads on his gloves.
"Alright Fenrir, just like Ruby told you. Hold down the pad, and once enough charge has built up, release it."
Another feature the silver-eyed gun nut had added to Fenrir's gauntlets was the ability to charge up his shot for one big, powerful blast. Now seemed as good a time as any to test this new feature out. Once Fenrir held his fingers down on the centre pads of his guns, instead of firing off a shot, Frostbite's barrels began to slowly spin. Gradually, the barrels rotations increased, and the glow of the specialised Dust bullets steadily intensified. Soon, unnatural winds began to swirl around the two teenagers, causing Weiss to instinctually tighten her grip on Fenrir's jacket. As his arms began to tremble and shake from how fast the barrels were spinning, Fenrir brought them down so the revolvers were pointing straight down at the floor.
"Here goes nothing."
With the charge finally built up, Fenrir released the pads.
The pair rocketed up towards the lip of the ravine so fast, Fenrir's eyes were forced open, and Weiss curled up into a ball on the Grimm's back. Under Fenrir's feet, two miniature tornadoes swirled and span, the updraft they created sending the two students up through the air.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Fenrir screamed as they flew upwards at a blindingly stupid speed, the sky growing closer and closer by the second.
In no time at all, Weiss and Fenrir had shot completely over the surface and still flew a good ten meters up into the air.
Finally, the revolvers rounds were completely spent as the whirlwind dissipated beneath them, allowing gravity to swiftly take it's place. Fenrir flailed his arms about wildly as he started to feel himself fall back down.
"Oh this is so much harder when I'm carrying a whole other person!"
Luckily, Fenrir was able to regain control of himself just in time to land. He collided with a heavy thud, the ground underneath him cracking from the sheer weight.
But they had done it, they were out of the ravine.
Weiss was quick to dismount from Fenrir, legs a little unsteady, but the heiress was quick to recover her composure. Fenrir, meanwhile, stayed in his hunched over position, panting a little as he slowly craned his neck to look back around to where they had just exited out from.
His face showed only shock for a time, before quickly morphing into an expression one could only call, 'Evilly childish glee'.
"OH YEAH!" He roared, all but pounding his own chest, "HELL YES, THAT WAS AWESOME! WEISS, DID YOU SEE THAT, WE JUST DID THAT!"
"Volume Fenrir!" Weiss said, wincing at being in such close proximity to Fenrir's shouting.
At her discomfort, Fenrir quickly reigned himself back in, though he still couldn't fight the toothy grin that wished to adorn his face. Once her ears stopped ringing, Weiss did find it a little endearing how happy Fenrir seemed to be.
"I think I'll keep to myself how much it reminds me of when Ruby's excited though."
Once the Grimm got back to his feet, he looked down at his now empty revolvers. Seeing no visible signs of damage or strain, he concluded they were still fit for duty, and ejected the spent barrels, swapping back in the standard Dust rounds from earlier.
"Well, we should get moving right away." Weiss said firmly, "There's no telling how far ahead the other teams have gotten."
"Agreed," Said Fenrir, "If we want to win, we'll need to move quickly. Do you remember where you saw Professor Goodwitch and the second-years?"
Fenrir was really hoping Weiss did remember where it was, because in all the chaos and confusion of the past few minutes, he'd honestly forgotten.
"I do." Weiss commented, Fenrir giving a silent breath of relief as the girl peered over his shoulders.
"And from the looks of it, they still appear to be there."
Looking where Weiss was, Fenrir could indeed just make out the clearing where they'd spotted the finish line earlier.
"Fenrir?" Weiss asked, returning the Alpha's attention to her, "How well do you know this forest?"
Perplexed, Fenrir gave a noncommittal shrug of his shoulders.
"Pretty well I guess, this was the place of my birth after all. Why?"
"I'm thinking, we'll probably get through the forest much faster if you take point. You'd know better than I would which areas to avoid, along with any potential shortcuts we could take." The heiress concluded with a nod.
The logic made sense to the Grimm. As a show of compliance, and a secret way to test if their bond had truly mended, Fenrir folded one arm behind his back, brought the other arm up to his chest, and stood pencil-straight as he took a deep bow.
Exactly how Weiss had taught him.
"It would be my pleasure, Miss Schnee." He said clearly.
Weiss could not stop a scant few chuckles from escaping her lips, nor could she help the fluttering warmth filling her chest as she saw just how much this outwardly thuggish Beowolf, had actually listened to her and tried to follow her example. It was an odd thing, to earn the respect and possibly even admiration of a Grimm, but she certainly didn't hate it.
"Why thank you Mr Lupus." She responded with all the practiced grace and elegance of an Atlesian elite. She even threw in a simple courtesy to really sell the bit.
Grinning up at her, Fenrir rolled his shoulders before jogging down the mountainside, Weiss trailing just behind him. With no more emotional conflict or interpersonal relationships to navigate through, Fenrir could now properly focus on the task given to them. And this time, the Grimm was determined to leave everyone else in the Dust.
"Brace yourselves Second-years." Fenrir's fangs gleamed alongside his blades as he dived back into the forest, "Weiss and I are winning this race!"
A/N: So… It's been quite a while. Well over a year in fact. And what a year it has been. I don't think any of us truly understood just how much 2020 was going to suck, I certainly didn't. I won't go into details as I don't want to make this a pity party, but these past several months were just really rough for me. My mental state took a hit, and I lost my motivation to continue writing . But after making some lifestyle improvements, as well as all the encouragement I got from all of you guys, I was able to get my groove back. Like a lot of chapters, this one wasn't meant to be this long, but I just kept coming up with new ideas, and now It's gonna have to be a two-parter. If for no other reason than, I've made you guys wait long enough.
I am truly sorry that there was such a long gap this time around but rest assured, I'm back and I'm here to stay.
So yeah, this chapter established the final piece of Fenrir's skillset. Alongside his standard Dust rounds, he can swap in different Elemental Dust types, and charge it up for one huge blast. Also to clarify, Fenrir can't do what some characters like Hazel can do where they insert Dust into themselves, and can then fling fireballs or lightning bolts from their hands, the Dust is instantly absorbed into his Aura. So the only way he can use Dust conventionally is through his revolvers.
Leave a review to let me know what you thought of this chapter guys, it really does help. Next time will be the final chapter of this race through the emerald forest. Hope to see you all there! Bye!