Chapter One: Confession

Written by: JayEmEl

Edited by: Cowjump

Check out the fully-casted audiobook on Youtube! The link is on my profile.


It was a beautiful day, perfect for a visit to the beach. The sun was bright and warm, there was a soft breeze that wasn't too cold or too humid and, most of all, it was the weekend – in other words, no classes to attend.

Going to the beach had initially been Yang's idea. Ruby had quickly supported her sister with much enthusiasm and, despite Weiss' protests, it had been decided that Team RWBY was going no matter what. The jubilating blonde even extended the invitation to Team JNPR, and all four members promptly agreed to come along as well. It was bound to be a fantastic day out, like it always was when the two teams got together, after all.

Truth be told, though...Blake hadn't said much. She never really said much.

It wasn't that Blake had anything against going anywhere or doing anything with the group of friends, but she wasn't a fan of water in great quantities. At least, that was the primary reason for her silence. The secondary reason was completely unrelated. Blake just made sure to bring along a book and her personal journal, in case she was inspired to write. That would most likely keep her entertained for a good part of the day, or for however long the two teams planned on staying. She doubted she would be left in peace to read for too long, knowing that her friends would want her to participate in any activities they initiated, but Blake could still try.

And, for the most part, she surprisingly was given her space. Comfortably seated in a wooden lounger in the shade of a vacant beach umbrella, the quiet girl had her golden eyes glued to her book, thoroughly intrigued with the development of the story. It was the tale of an impossible love amid a war born from racism and prejudice – a plot that hit close to home. Blake had barely been bothered, the sound of her friends laughing and enjoying themselves further off a sort of reassuring reminder that although she sought solitude, she wasn't actually alone.

Ren had tried to relax nearby at the beginning as well, but Nora had wanted none of it and had all but dragged him over to the rest of the group so he would play games with the two teams. And while Blake considered herself fortunate that the hyper girl was more interested in getting her partner involved than the bookworm, Blake was aware that there was someone else on her own team who probably wouldn't let her seclude herself all day. Probably. Realistically, never.

The inevitable eventually occurred.

"Blaaake! Hey, Blakey!"

Her cat ears perked up, making her bow twitch subtly. That voice. That one voice she could never tune out and could never ignore. Blake's gaze slowly shifted from the pages of her open book and up towards the approaching person, who had first been walking, but began an effortless jog on the white sand to arrive faster after seeing that they had Blake's attention.

Yang – the secondary reason for Blake's earlier silence – had ostensibly taken a swim. Her hair was dripping water and clinging to her skin all the way down her back. She was wearing a yellow bikini, the bottom piece tying together on each side of her hips and the top piece shaped more or less like a bra, one side displaying the blonde bombshell's flaming heart emblem in black. Her tanned skin was glittery with beads of water. To say the least, Yang looked good in a bathing suit, her strong and quite prominent muscles and tall, curvaceous figure on full showcase for all to see.

Blake focused her eyes on the beautiful young woman's face as she approached so she wouldn't be caught staring. Bright lilac met sharp golden, and Yang grinned as she came to a stop. "Hey, Blake. Team JNPR wants to battle us in a game of volleyball. You wanna? It won't be in the water, promise."

The Faunus considered Yang's invitation for a moment before glancing at the book in her hands. It was a really interesting story. And she was really comfortable where she was.

"C'mon, Blakey. You can't stay sitting there all by yourself the entire time we're at the beach! It defeats the purpose of being here. Come have some fun with us. I love it when you participate."

Blake legitimately believed that Yang wasn't lying when she said that she loved it when her partner decided to engage in the group's activities – that was one of the things about Yang, after all. She had an authentic care for others and, by nature, enjoyed seeing her friends getting along and having a blast. But it was the way she specified I – and not we – that made Yang's approach more personal and true. She was like that with everyone, and Blake had no reason to doubt that Yang sincerely did want her to join them.

But old habits die hard, and the reserved bookworm couldn't bring herself to say the simple words that would make the social butterfly's day in a heartbeat, no matter how much she wanted to see that thrilled glint in Yang's amazing lilac eyes.

"I think with Ruby's and my semblances, we would be overkill. Ruby might even be able to handle a game on her own. I'll join you guys later, if that's okay?" After looking at what their friends were doing for a moment, Blake met the blonde's stare apologetically.

Yang's beam had dimmed, disappointment evident. Nevertheless, she tried again. "Are you sure? It's not the same without you."

Blake had to smile a little at that. Leave it to Yang to make her feel like she was important. If only she knew how much of a difference that alone had made in Blake's life. "I'm sure. You don't need me to have fun. Like I said – I'll join you later."

Her partner hesitated, and finally acknowledged with a movement of her head. "Alright, then. But I'm holding you to that!" Her grin was back, and she winked before heading back off towards the others.

The Faunus found herself watching Yang as she walked away, and when the golden girl glanced back in concern, Blake gave her an encouraging nod before shifting her eyes back to the book. However, no matter how much the story had intrigued her previously, Blake now realized she was rereading the same sentence over and over again without processing or understanding the meaning of it. She sighed quietly and was forced to give up. The only thing on her mind was Yang. Always Yang.

She had attempted to halt her feelings so many times before, and she still was. But it was incredibly difficult to not fall harder every time Yang went out of her way to reassure Blake or get her to voice her opinion as if it mattered or to just generally make her feel valued. Blake knew that was just who Yang was, and it had nothing to do with attraction. There was no reason for Blake's feelings to be reciprocated.

The raven-haired girl bit her bottom lip, deliberating, and then marked her page before putting her book away into her bag and taking out her journal and a pen. For a moment she stared at the blank sheet before her, the breeze lifting the corner slightly for a few seconds. The white, lined page seemed intimidating while Blake attempted to form words out of her feelings, but, finally, she lowered the tip of her pen to the paper and began to write.

I remember the first time we met. I didn't think much of you back then, and still not for a while after that. You were loud, boisterous, and came across as shallow and not particularly smart. To put it plainly, you seemed like the typical, popular dumb blonde. You and your sister, Ruby, irritated me beyond words, and then you would get on Weiss' nerves, too. Between the three of you, there was enough bickering to make the entire academy lose its patience.

But the problem was never you. It was me. I had just severed my ties to the White Fang, and being wary of everyone was my norm. As much as I despised what the White Fang had become, I had remained long enough that it continued to exercise a certain influence on my thoughts and actions after I left. You were human, almost all of you at Beacon were. You couldn't be trusted. I was attending Beacon to pursue what the White Fang's original cause had been – to help people, to make the world safe for everyone, especially for the Faunus. And I was going to do that on my own. I didn't need anybody, not after being deceived and hurt and betrayed so many times before in the past.

Professor Ozpin's partnership method quite literally propelled a wrench into my plans, however. Your landing was loud and unnecessarily garish, just like what I imagined your personality to be. Back then, I wondered if you were also insane or if you had a death wish, as you would definitely attract Grimm with that display and your insistence on announcing your boredom to the entire forest.

I had no intention of letting you see me. You were the last person on my quickly fabricated list of tolerable partner candidates. I was going to leave you to your area and search for someone else. Truly, I was. But then...I didn't. I figured that maybe if I had no choice but to collaborate closely with another person for the rest of my time at Beacon Academy, it might have been preferable for me to choose someone I couldn't possibly grow fond of. I wouldn't develop expectations, wouldn't be let down again should something go awry.

I followed you, half convinced I was making a mistake. But the way you handled those two Ursai surprised me. You were strong, vigorous, and your fighting style relied heavily on your martial arts skills, using your body as a weapon. You were in sync with yourself, and I admired that about you. Most of all, though, your confidence was evident. You were fearless, even if it bordered on reckless with the kind of taunts you spouted.

My initial thoughts on your talent underestimated what you were truly capable of, though. I have met only one other person who could compete with the pure power you demonstrated when enraged. Unlike Adam's semblance, though, yours was a wonder to behold. Knowing my own set of skills and areas of expertise, and knowing how well I had worked with him, it was more than clear that being partnered with you would be advantageous to both of us – on the battlefield, at least.

At this point, Blake paused to gather her thoughts, the memory of first meeting Yang one that she now remembered tenderly, and maybe with a bit of regret for the kind of person she had been back then, over a year ago. Very cynical and distant. The brawler hadn't deserved many of the judgments the ninja had quietly entertained about her.

Blake's gaze gravitated to where her friends had set up their volleyball game. Yang was immediately apparent with her shock of blonde hair that had dried in no time at all – probably a result of her semblance. It appeared that Ren had decided not to play, preferring to watch from the sidelines. The teams were therefore equal. The speed at which the ball was sailing through the air between both sides was astounding. The gang was definitely enthusiastic, and Blake could see the elated grin on Yang's face, a clear sign that she was enjoying herself. Blake couldn't help but smile a little, too, glad that her partner hadn't allowed her refusal to dampen her spirits.

It wasn't like Yang needed Blake to have fun or be happy. The extravert had so many other people who loved and supported her and liked to spend time with her. Blake wasn't even sure she counted as a friend. She kept to herself so much and tended to always have a certain negative vibe about her person... She couldn't imagine being good enough to be a friend. But Yang had always been there for her, in contrast, reminding Blake that she had a team willing to help her and that she wasn't alone. Most of all, Yang had offered understanding and a shoulder to lean on. And that was more than Blake could ever ask for.

She sighed, returning her gaze to her journal, and continued writing.

Yang, you annoyed me at first not because you were boisterous, not because you were constantly drawing me from my want for solitude, not because you kept blurting awful puns, but rather because I couldn't concede that you were a deeply caring person and genuinely looking out for me. You most definitely were not a dumb blonde, and you were not shallow. You accepted everyone and surrounded us all in your warmth and attractive, jovial personality. Just the fact that you had made it into Beacon proved that you were intelligent and studious enough to achieve your goals.

All my life I struggled with my heritage as a Faunus. My parents died when I was young because of it. I was mistreated and tormented, learned to be ashamed of these animal appendages that marked me as different, as less than human. The White Fang was this collective hero that would save us from that kind of treatment and give us the same rights as humans. I was a fervent believer and defender of the cause. But I was young and still naive and taught to do things a child should not be adept at. Stealing, using the shadows to my advantage, infiltrating secure buildings and turning off the alarm systems, disarming opponents... I didn't understand at first. I thought it was normal. I thought it was just.

I wish I had left sooner.

I have a dark past, and that darkness followed me to Beacon – like a kind of permanent stigma – even if all I wanted was to extricate myself from it. But it practically defines me. I am shadow. My very semblance reflects this. I haven't done much good in my life, and I doubt I deserve the friends and the help I have received here.

But you, Yang Xiao Long, are like a bright light in my world of gloom. You pull me from my comfort zone and make me experience life as pleasant and new, the very pillar of any changes that have occurred within me – although I wonder if you even know it. I began to wake every morning and be inexplicably happy to have the sun, itself, by my side. Warm, reassuring, invigorating, joyful. But also powerful, dangerous, and explosive. And I never could have felt safer.

You're more than a social butterfly. There's a certain maturity and protectiveness about you that you gained from having to raise Ruby mostly by yourself. And, deep down, you have an intense drive to search for your mother, but you know where your priorities lay. You face your problems head on but don't let them control you – and I have admired that, for I have proven incapable of behaving similarly. By nature, you are a deeply passionate, generous soul. You forgive me for all the stupid decisions I make and continue to value me, as if you understand my plight and are trying to make up for all the lifetimes you couldn't be there for me. But that's ridiculous because I am well aware that I am not something you would miss, that I do not contribute to your happiness. That comes from within yourself, not me.

And I can't blame you for that, Yang. I'll never burn as brilliantly as you do or compare to your inextinguishable flame. It's only fair that I keep my feelings hidden, that I cherish you in silence and satisfy myself with what you do give me. You are my light, my sun, my warmth, a constant friend that I've found I can no longer live without. If you didn't exist, I would have found a way to invent you. Every day spent by your side makes it harder for me to silence the voice of my heart, but I have to if only to keep a chasm from opening between us. It would kill me, so I would rather grace your lips with a smile than with my own touch...

Blake had to stop writing when she realized she had tears in her eyes, blurring her vision. She blinked fiercely, trying to clear the wetness, suddenly feeling very self-conscious and a little foolish. That was enough, no more writing. She would not cry. After wiping her eyes in a few quick motions, she put her journal and pen away into her bag before carefully standing up. The young woman took the opportunity to stretch, maybe a bit languidly, and then began heading over to her friends. Even if Yang made it difficult for her to concentrate, these people had become an important part of Blake's life and she wouldn't take their presence for granted. She had lost too much as it was. She thought she knew better now.

She thought she knew how suddenly someone could be there one moment and gone forever the next.

Sunsets were a beautiful thing. They were especially breathtaking when the view was unobstructed, as was the case now. Team RWBY and Team JNPR had gone to a nearby restaurant for supper and hadn't left until a little later into the evening, choosing to return to the beach since the day "wasn't technically over," to put it in Ruby's words. Nonetheless, it had been a good idea, as everyone had proceeded to have as much fun as they had that same afternoon, if not more.

Well, that was what it sounded like, in any case, from where Blake was sitting on the sand, facing the water and watching the tide make its way in at a gradual pace. The waves seemed quieter somehow, the seagulls gone somewhere to rest. It was peaceful like this. Blake had taken her bow off, considering that there weren't very many people still present at this time and she doubted that she ran the risk of mockeries. She had her thighs up against her chest, resting her chin on her knees, observing, listening.

The sky was painted in vibrant colors of red, orange, yellow, and pink – a sight not even the most talented artist could render justice – and although not quite so bright anymore, the sun radiated a comfortable warmth that Blake allowed herself to quietly bask in. She had once again sought out solitude, preferring to relax after the animated discussions over supper than to engage in more physically demanding activities. Blake adored her friends, but apart from Ren and Weiss, they were all quite outgoing and excitable, and Blake couldn't always keep up with them together at once. Not when she was tired, anyway.

The young woman was aware that Yang was approaching even before the blonde sat down next to her without a sound. Blake had recognized the casual fall of her steps, the strong beat of her heart, and the slight increase in temperature of the air when she was around – all things that were exclusive to Yang. The energetic girl had apparently not taken another swim, guessing by how she was wearing the same clothes she had donned before supper – consisting of a beige jacket over a white tank top and a pair of jeans, completed with her usual combat boots and a purple necklace that complimented her eyes.

Yang didn't say anything at first, sitting cross-legged and watching the sunset next to her partner in silence. Blake quietly inhaled the mixed, subtle scent of vanilla and gunpowder that Yang seemed to permanently carry with her and had to resist leaning into her side. As much as Blake hated her feline urges, she couldn't help but sometimes be subjected to certain instincts that were clearly animal in nature. And there was something about Yang that made those urges surface more easily. For instance, her constant warmth made the cat Faunus want to perpetually cuddle up against her. Even Yang's scent prompted Blake to want to smell more closely. Both of those actions would have been weird in every circumstance, including the present one. So, Blake refrained.

After a while of sitting side by side without saying a word like this, Yang eventually murmured, "Do you want to talk about it?"

Blake raised her eyebrows. "Talk about what?" Of course, she could figure what Yang was referring to, but since Blake would have actually favored not revealing her feelings, she would see if she could somewhat change the topic of the conversation. Apparently, that comprised of also playing dumb. Blake had done worse things, honestly.

"Well, you know…" Yang hesitated. "You've been kind of distant today. Actually, you've been that way for a while now. Like, you want to have fun and participate with us – I can see that you do – but then you just...don't, and you tend to look sort of pouty after. Do you wanna, like…maybe talk about what's on your mind?"

There had been a reply on Blake's tongue even before the golden girl had finished speaking, something about pouty being a thing Blake didn't do, and she opened her mouth to speak, but then...nothing came out. Yang was looking at her and made it evident that Blake had her undivided attention. And with the fiery hues of the setting sun shining on the gorgeous blonde, bright lilac speckled with dark violet gazing intently into amber, Blake found that she couldn't even remember what she had been about to say. Her brain simply felt like it had melted into a pudding.

But she had to say something, because staring would give the wrong impression. "Um..."

Real smooth, Belladonna. The Faunus frowned, frustrated with herself, and shifted her head away from the breathtaking sight beside her, returning to watching the sky...which, in comparison, and despite the obvious impossibility, suddenly seemed like a lesser work of art. God, Yang. You are not making this easy for me at all.

"Blake? Hey…don't be angry. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to..."

Yang's voice was gentle and sounded so calming to Blake's sensitive cat ears, which automatically flickered towards her every time she spoke. The raven-haired girl would never be able to fully conceal that, and they would always betray a small part of her feelings. Exactly how many of the movements Yang interpreted correctly was a different matter, though – or if she thought there was something to interpret out of the motions at all.

"I'm not angry, and we both know it's going to keep you awake tonight if I keep my thoughts to myself," Blake replied with no particular intonation, which made Yang chuckle a little.

"Sure, but I'm only asking because I want to help. But if you're not ready, then I'll just sit here with you and watch the sunset. It's very...purrty." Yang's lips curved into a huge, deliberate grin.

Decidedly, Blake wouldn't even deign that last comment with a reply. She exhaled heavily through her nose, the only sign that she found the prankster's puns insufferable. Well, that was a lie, really. She didn't hate them. They were just never all that great, and instead of inspiring amusement, they tended to cause almost physical pain. But Blake didn't hate them. Maybe she was a masochist that way.

The two friends sat in a comfortable kind of quiet for a while, only interrupted by the noise their team and JNPR were creating further down the shore as they had some kind of playful beach war and the sound of the waves as they collapsed to reach the coast. It was still relaxing, and even if Yang was totally an expert at ruining the moment, Blake nevertheless cherished sitting by her side and ultimately being the focus of the lilac-eyed girl's attention, no matter how platonic. It was these rare occasions that Blake stored more preciously into her memory, to savor them whenever she was submerged with a longing she knew was senseless to feed but could no more help herself than the proverbial snowball in a pit of flames.

Yang suddenly broke the relative silence, uncurling her legs from beneath her and stretching them out, leaning back on her hands, hair swaying behind her. "It makes me sad that I'm the cause of whatever you're feeling right now," she stated softly, not meeting her companion's golden gaze, which had switched back to her when she began talking.

Blake's heart thudded harder in her chest. "Excuse me?" Had she heard that properly?

"I mean, it's pretty obvious this is my fault," Yang continued, appearing sorrowful – an expression Blake wished she could kiss away in another life. She controlled herself. "You don't get that look in your eyes with the others, when they turn away and you think no one is watching. You're okay. But when it's me, I see it almost all the time. It's been a few weeks now. I saw it several times today already. What did I do wrong, Blake?"

Wrong? Blake lowered her gaze in shame. She might have laughed if she wasn't so afraid she'd cry. You did everything right.

Yang had altered her position again, this time opting to face her partner entirely. Honest dejection in her lilac orbs, she added in a murmur, "I'm always trying my very best to be the kind of person you can trust and lean on when you need support. I thought I was helping to make a difference for you... You seemed to smile and open up more when I did that. But these days... I mean, it says a lot about my friendship skills if one of the people I care about the most becomes sad because of me and then doesn't even want to talk to me about it..."

Blake was able to calm herself at least marginally when she realized her partner hadn't truly figured out her feelings. Nonetheless, Blake wondered if this was worse. Her behavior had made Yang question her usefulness and trustworthiness. But that wasn't it at all. It was exactly because of how great of a friend – of a person – Yang was that had Blake slowly but surely falling head over heels for her. Again, the problem was never Yang. It was always Blake.

But knowing she was one of the people the brawler cared about the most warmed Blake's heart, even if she wondered how it was even possible and being all too aware that she was hardly worthy of the distinction. "There's nothing wrong with you, Yang," she almost whispered, looking down. "You did nothing wrong. It's me. Do not blame yourself over this." Her throat felt increasingly tight.

Long, calloused but gentle fingers cupped Blake's jaw and exercised a small pressure so that she would raise her head and meet Yang's shining eyes. Blake's breath caught at the touch and the intensity of her teammate's gaze. I can't keep doing this for much longer. This is going to break me.

"If it's you, then please, please tell me why." Yang's voice was so tender, her sincerity so evident, that Blake found herself overwhelmed with a force so powerful it threatened to blind her. She wanted to tell Yang. She wanted to tell Yang so badly. But Yang was already moving on. "We've done this before, Blake. I won't watch you run head-first on this path a second time."

And it's going to hurt.

The Faunus didn't say anything for a moment, internally waging a war for control over her feelings and urges and simply restraining them made her eyes slightly misty with tears. She wouldn't cry, but it had become painful to behave and she was only making her companion increasingly worried for her.

"Blake?" Yang murmured.

She extended her other hand to hold her partner's.

Naturally lured by the movement and enamored by the strength in those warm fingers, knowing that this mark of affection was so candid – so spontaneously Yang – and yet so inaccessible, Blake's heart cracked just like glass. This was it, then. Her breaking point, the beginning of the end. "I'm in love with you, Yang," she finally admitted against her better judgment, quiet and hopefully unambiguous. She felt as if her whole world were crumbling around her and that she, herself, was the sole cause. It was probably what Blake deserved anyway. She couldn't bear to look Yang in the eyes. "And I keep falling for you day after day, again and again, no matter how much it hurts. I love you with every beat of my heart, every breath I take, and in all my waking moments. And I – I just… I'm sorry… I'm so sorry."

If the situation hadn't been so serious, the pure openness of Yang's shocked expression might have been comical. But Blake couldn't bring herself to smile. There was nothing funny about watching Yang's expression shift from stun to acceptance and then to saddened apology, and from that, confirming that Blake's feelings were not reciprocated. It was no surprise, really. She had known this from the start. Yang had never shown a romantic interest in girls before – even Blake, at first, had been obliged to deal with a considerable amount of confusion about the way she felt before conceding to it – and any past relationships (however few and far between) Yang had mentioned had undeniably been with boys.

But Yang pulled Blake into her arms right there on the sand, making the Faunus' golden eyes widen and allowing her to bask in the subtle scent of vanilla and gunpowder, holding her tightly in one of Yang's signature bone-crushing hugs, the kind that was immediately warm and reassuring in a way that only she could convey through such force.

"I didn't know," Yang breathed into Blake's black hair, tickling her ear and nearly making her shiver. "I'm so sorry. I didn't realize I could have been affecting you that way. I thought... Well, it doesn't matter what I thought. I was obviously wrong. All my efforts...they meant that much to you?"

One of the things that made Yang incredible was that even upon such a revelation, she didn't inspire embarrassment or humiliation. She simply continued to show care and that she didn't want such circumstances to prevent them from being as close as they had been before. She effectively proved that Blake's fears had been unfounded and that the reserved girl should have just told the truth before it became a problem, a burden – and a heavy one at that.

Still, Blake was falling apart piece by piece, crying without crying, clinging to her partner with the strength of desperation. But this was only fair. Yang could be compared to the sun, itself, and Blake had absolutely nothing to offer the sun. If anything, she would only dim its light with her darkness. "I told you not to blame yourself," she whispered shakily, unable to refrain from burying her nose in her friend's thick mane of hair, fingers clutching the folds of Yang's clothes. "I'm the one who failed to control myself. And now that you know...can we please just forget about it? You don't feel the same, and I don't want to ruin our friendship. I would rather try to move on than lose you." Her voice hitched at the end. As true as the statement was, it did nothing but add more fissures in her heart to say it.

Uncharacteristically, Yang did not reply. She just kept the cat Faunus securely wrapped in her embrace for a while, waiting for Blake to relax as a cue that they could continue the conversation with more of a level head. Eventually, she pushed Blake back with care, enough that their eyes could meet at a comfortable distance. Yang looked thoughtful, if not maybe a little troubled, chewing on her lower lip and searching her partner's amber orbs for a sign of something. Blake had to look down, breaking the contact. She was still so ashamed.

"Blake," Yang finally said in a susurration, waiting for the girl to actually look back up before sharing what she had on her mind. "I care about you just about as much as I do Ruby, the only difference being the number of years spent together. I want Ruby to be happy, and that's normal because she's my family and I love her. But I also want you to be happy. I haven't genuinely wanted that for many people in my life, since very few of them have stayed long enough for it to matter."

Blake's cat ears were flat against her head. Her shoulders drooped.

Yang paused, collecting her thoughts. Subconsciously, her fingers began to tap against her thigh, giving the impression that she was reasoning out loud. "We have at least two more years here at Beacon. You're a part of my team, my partner, and you're my best friend, too. We've had our ups and downs, but I feel we balance each other out pretty well. I mean, I, for one, would want us to stick together once we graduate."

Blake tilted her head to the side a bit, showing that the beautiful girl in front of her had not lost her attention. She appreciated what Yang was saying about her, though, and her composed demeanor helped the Faunus recover from the previous painful emotions, although there was a lingering sadness Blake couldn't quite chase. She had never imagined that Yang considered them close friends, let alone best friends.

Yang's lips curved slightly into a small smile. "Like, I don't actually know about you, but even before this, I kind of figured that's how it would go. I have a hard time imagining a future in which Blake Belladonna isn't somehow present with me on missions. You know, like having you watch my back and strike in the nick of time, or just being able to talk to you about things after a long day is stuff I've grown used to. Plus, I think Ruby would agree with me when I say you've been a really positive influence on me with how calm and cool and smart you are. I mean, we've even learned to trust each other with our lives. So, I'd miss having that if we went our separate ways, you know?"

At this point, Blake knew Yang was trying to get somewhere with her speech, and based on what she had chosen to mention so far, a tiny flicker of hope – and along with it a healthy dose of nervousness – sparked to life within the quieter girl. Still, Blake wasn't entirely certain just what, exactly, her partner was trying to say, and she by far preferred listening over interrupting.

Except someone else did that for her. That someone had an authoritative – if not bossy and a little sarcastic – kind of voice.

"I don't mean to rain on the party you two seem to have going on here, but we're going to miss the airship if we don't leave immediately. Some of us don't particularly feel like being here until midnight, if you get my gist."

The two girls looked to their side and up, beholding Weiss standing with her hands on her hips and her slight signature frown on her face. They both simultaneously glanced behind her where, further down the shore, the others were packing up or talking while waiting. It was then that they also realized it had gotten rather dark out, the sun almost well below the horizon, and the grey-blue water was lapping at the sand only a few steps away.

Yang promptly jumped to her feet and extended her hand to Blake, who took it and stood as well. While they dusted off their backsides, the girl in beige and blue then addressed the Schnee heiress, "Weiss, tell Rubes and the others to start heading off without us. We'll catch up before the airship leaves."

Weiss creased her fine eyebrows even more, appearing as if she might have wanted to dispute that decision, but then rolled her icy blue eyes. "Whatever. Don't blame me if you miss it, and don't worry Ruby." With that, she turned on her heels and began walking back towards the group. The two huntresses in training watched her go, and once Weiss was out of earshot, Blake looked up at the slightly taller girl in concern. It must have been important if Yang felt the need to finish the conversation right then and there.

Yang hummed briefly, probably attempting to recall what she had been saying and figuring out a way to shorten it, before properly facing her partner and meeting Blake's gaze. "What I was trying to get at, Blake... Since we're most likely going to be around each other for a long while still, and because I want you to be happy, I thought that maybe..." She hesitated, and Blake's throat tightened again, her cat ears flattening once more. Yang noticed this, and continuing to look uncertain, she gently took the raven-haired girl's hands into her own warm and strong ones to keep Blake reassured. Yang's voice was just a murmur when she finally admitted her thoughts, "If you would like to give it a shot, I wouldn't mind seeing if...maybe, I can learn to reciprocate your feelings?"

Blake probably would have asked Yang to repeat that if she hadn't been so sure she had heard correctly. She stared at her friend incredulously, unable to form a complete logical thought for a moment or two. When it finally sunk in, what Yang was literally suggesting, Blake found that she wasn't immediately ecstatic, instead troubled and anxious. "Do you even know what you're saying? What that involves?"

Yang appeared mildly uneasy as she replied, "To be honest, maybe not entirely. I mean, I've never looked at any girls that way. I don't know if I could...really...romantically be interested in you or not one day. But I figure that if we do things a couple would do, and if I keep in mind that goal, it's something that I can develop, just like anything else...right? You're already a good friend, an awesome partner, and an attractive person in general. I don't see why I couldn't find it in me to see you as more than that."

Blake shifted her weight from one foot to the other, cat ears still flat against her head. She knew Yang was being authentic and believed her intentions were harmless, but... "Yang," Blake said, wincing at how distressed she sounded. "I want to say yes. I really do. But I hope you realize you can't spout stuff like that and then not seriously commit yourself to trying. My feelings for you are already well-developed, and saying yes would give you the power to truly hurt me if you were just...doing it to see if you could. I need to know that..." What did Blake need to know? This was so far past her wildest dreams. She tried again. "I need to know that if I agree to this, it's because you think you can benefit from a relationship with me, too. Committing yourself to this just to make me happy will be counterproductive to your goal, Yang." She was holding her partner's hands tightly, heart pounding, desperately wanting her to understand.

Yang instantly pulled Blake into her arms again, trying to convey through action what she couldn't say with words. This was the golden girl's usual tactile approach, the one that had proven extremely useful in the past when dealing with Blake. "I would never play with your feelings," Yang uttered sincerely. "Never. We'll find a way to make this work, and that is a promise I intend on keeping. Okay, kitten?"

If Blake hadn't been blushing before from being in the blonde's embrace, she definitely was now after being given that pet name. "O-okay. I'm going to hold you to it." She paused, wrapping her own arms around her favorite brawler to return the hug out of joy and disbelief that this was actually happening. She nuzzled her face into the crook of Yang's neck and breathed in her scent contentedly. "Don't call me kitten, though," Blake mumbled.

At that, the extraverted girl was back, laughing heartily and holding her companion tighter. "Alright, I won't...kitten."

Blake groaned but never let go or tried to move away. "You're incorrigible."

Yang only snickered more.

I want you all to know that Forlorn is complete, and I hope you will enjoy the ride until the end. I'm interested in anything and everything you have to say about my writing, so please, don't be afraid to leave a comment, even if it's just a few words!

And, again, check out the fully-casted audio version, music and sound effects included! It really brings the story to life! The link is on my profile.

See you in the next chapter!