Disclaimer: RWBY and its assorted cast of characters do not belong to me. I am simply writing this because the idea has been hounding me now for weeks.
The bar was a dump. It was small, dark, and there were stains on the wood that looked like they had been there ever since the place had come into existence. It was also, besides the single bartender and the one young woman nursing a glass of milk, completely empty at a time when most bars would be full of chatter and life. That suited Ruby just fine, though. She had picked this bar precisely for that reason: it was empty. It would stay empty, and that made it perfect for her plans.
That, and it served milk. So few bars in the city served milk as a beverage. Ruby took a sip of the cold liquid, and couldn't resist the smile. What a perfect way to kill time before a mission.
"Ruby." The voice that echoed through her head had just a hint of exhaustion. "This is a horrible idea. Please tell me you realize this is a horrible idea."
Ruby sighed at the distraction, lowering her glass. She absently tapped her earpiece, smirking when her partner hissed at the minor headache the action caused. One of the downsides of earpieces that linked directly to the brain for mental conversation. "Relax, Weiss. I know what I'm doing."
"I really don't think you do. You invited our target to meet you in a bar—may I remind you, by sending him a message that not only revealed yourself to him, but told him that you know the full extent of his crimes. And then you offered to meet him for drinks here. Do you really not see how this can end badly?"
The younger woman rolled her eyes, now. "The bar is empty except for me and the old man, and he knows who I am and what I do. This area is in a bad part of town, so not many people will be out. And I have you as my back-up in case something goes wrong. We'll be fine."
"Yes, well, what you seem to be missing is I don't want this to go wrong!"
Ruby was about to respond, mostly because she was picking up on the hint of panic in Weiss's voice, but at that moment the small bell over the bar door rang, indicating the entrance of a customer. She absently lifted her glass to get a view of who had come in before she took a sip, steeling her nerves. "Can't talk now. He's here."
She tapped the connection again, this time to silence it entirely. She found her partner's concern touching, but at the moment she couldn't afford to be distracted.
The air around her shifted subtly, then dropped several degrees. Not to the point of freezing, but enough for Ruby to feel the chill as the man grabbed a seat and slid in next to her. Despite her best attempts, she couldn't quite suppress the shiver, and took one last gulp of milk to hide her grimace. Feeling as prepared as she ever would be for this, she shifted slightly to look at him and grinned. "You actually came."
The pale-skinned, white-haired man beside her snorted, lifting his hand to get the bartender's attention. "After the way you called me out? I couldn't resist meeting you," he said, smirking. "I have to give Beacon credit, their agents have some serious balls."
His drink came shortly, and he lifted it up to take a long, deep gulp. Ruby tried her best to ignore the way ice webbed along the glass the moment his fingers touched it.
Yuki onna, or as they were more popularly referred to in English, snow women. Contrary to the legend about one woman, they were a species of snow spirits that were capable of taking on human form, always female. Left on their own, they naturally reproduced asexually to give birth to a child, always a daughter, once their powers had reached a certain point and could support such a thing. In general, they wanted little to do with humans, and in the modern day had established communities of their own in order to avoid humanity.
True to the legend, however, they were capable of reproducing with human males. The children that resulted from such unions were always half breeds, and nowhere near as strong as their pureblooded mother. And they always, with very few exceptions, inherited the two defining physical features of the yuki onna: white hair the color of snow, and unnaturally pale skin.
The man who currently sat beside her had both features. The fact that he was male made it painfully clear that he was a half breed.
"Beacon has quite the file on you, actually." Ruby picked up her glass and leaned back in her chair, studying the bottom of it. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the bartender slip away through the back door and heard the lock quietly click into place. "North Anderson, twenty-seven years old. Your mother was a yuki onna, but wasn't involved in your life. You awakened to your own powers only two days ago."
"Ah, yes." He closed his eyes, a small smile curving his lips upward. "I remember that day fondly, Ms. Rose. Thank you for reminding me of it."
"You killed three people when your powers were triggered," Ruby said flatly. "Which really, wouldn't even be a problem. Beacon covers for that kind of thing all the time. It was an accident, you didn't mean to. We would have helped you." She set her glass down. "But then you had to go and murder seven other people who had nothing to do with what happened."
"Nothing to do with what happened? Really, now?" Something dark and dangerous bloomed in North's eyes, and Ruby had to resist the urge to immediately reach for her weapons. "They were human, Ms. Rose. The yuki onna at least ignored my existence, but humans… I wanted humans to ignore me, and they never did. Because I looked different. Because my skin was always a bit colder, a little paler. Because of my hair color. Because people who knew what yuki onna were knew my mother had been one." He took another gulp, setting the glass down with a slam that made the bar shudder. "My only crime was being different, Ms. Rose. Humans are the real villain here, not me. Why don't you go after them instead?"
Ruby was very, very quiet.
North paused for a moment, contemplating something, before he blinked, as if baffled.
"… Also, was it really only seven? I could have sworn I murdered more."
Ruby stayed very quiet for a few minutes longer. Seeming to think that was the end of the conversation, North finished his drink and pushed his chair back. "Well, Ms. Rose, this was an extremely entertaining conversation, however—"
"I was thinking of talking you down, you know," Ruby said, almost conversationally, and the cheerful tone of her voice was enough to make the man pause in what he was doing. "My partner is half yuki onna, and she's gotten discrimination from both sides. So I get where you're coming from. I'm officially supposed to kill you, but I figured it was just as good if I could get you to peacefully surrender.
But, after listening to you? I think I'm just going to follow orders and kill you."
North's eyes widened. In a flash he was on his feet, the chair clattering to the floor, and heading for the bar's front door. It seemed that even in his madness, he knew that a one-on-one fight against an agent of Beacon was out of his league. Especially when that agent had been ordered to go in for the kill.
Unfortunately, when the bartender had taken the time to slip away from his bar, he'd also gone around to lock the front door. There would be no easy escape for him, not this time, with the door so heavy that it couldn't be smashed down after being frozen.
And Weiss thought my idea was horrible.
Then Ruby had no more time to think as North turned back around to face her, his face twisted in an animalistic snarl, and the world froze.
Yuki onna generally operated at the level of being able to control and cause blizzards at will, once they were old enough. A half breed was nowhere near as powerful as that, but they still had control over ice, and North was riding high on the raw burst of power, rage, and panic over being so thoroughly trapped. It all happened so quickly that Ruby was almost unaware of the ice trail aimed in her direction—in fact, she was unaware of it, until she jolted to her feet and felt a cold pain in her leg. "Oh, son of a bitch," she breathed.
The bastard had frozen her in place. Judging by the wild look in his eyes and the sparks of ice and snowflakes coming from his fingertips, she only had seconds, maybe a minute, until he went further and froze her entirely from her foot up.
She didn't even need to think. The reaction was pure instinct.
Both hands flew down to the holster strapped at her waist, grabbing at her guns. One aimed at North as he closed in on her, while the other aimed at her foot and the ice that encased it. Normal bullets couldn't penetrate that kind of magic, but that was the beauty of Dust-laced bullets.
Sometimes, Ruby really loved her job. Even when it led to moments like this. She grinned. "Crescent, Rose," she whispered, "let's dance, girls."
She pulled both triggers at once, and the reaction was instantaneous.
Ruby didn't stick around to see if her shot actually hit North, or if by some fluke she hadn't hit him; his roar of rage and confusion was enough to tell her she'd at least thrown him off, and she immediately vaulted over the bar once the ice around her leg shattered, repressing a sharp cry as the movement sent a sharp, cold flash of pain through her body. He was good, damn him; she'd only been frozen for a few seconds and already he'd had this effect on her.
She needed to end this quickly.
She grabbed a few bottles of alcohol and threw them as hard as she could out into the main area of the bar, yelping when spikes of ice broke through the wood. She stumbled, slamming her back against the cases, and hissed as the floor under her began to ice over. She fired another shot over what was left of the bar in the hopes of distracting him before scrambling out from behind her cover.
She'd set up as much of the stuff as she could on her own. North's rampage would do the rest of the work for her. What she needed right now was a different set of Dust bullets, and to duck back behind the damn bar to reach the back door. Thankfully, she'd been smart enough to let Weiss stock her up with ammo before the mission tonight, and when it came to Dust, her partner was the expert.
Reluctantly, Ruby holstered one of her guns and dug her free hand into the little pouch there, digging around until she found the clip she was looking for. She ducked her head as a spike of ice flew just inches over her head, loading the clip quickly. She grabbed one of the few intact bottles left, exhaled, and threw it up in the air.
For a moment, North paused in his rampage. The look of confusion on his face was almost comical. "What are you—"
Then Ruby fired a single bullet into the bottle. On its own, it would have just broken the bottle and spilled the liquid everywhere with no effect, but Weiss hadn't let her down. It immediately burst into flames, and those flames rained down onto the ruined remains of the bar.
On its own, it wasn't very impressive.
But then those sparks landed in the alcohol that was spilled along the bar, on the alcohol that partially drenched North.
And then, there was fire.
The roar of it, the heat, was enough to make Ruby choke. The force of the flames blew out the windows, and with plenty of material to burn, it quickly spread throughout the bar. Ruby was on her feet in an instant, fumbling with the lock on the back door, trying her best to hold her breath and ignore North's screams.
Then she wasn't moving, wasn't thinking at all, as she became aware of a faint chill in the air, an unnatural sensation as everything burned. She had only a split second to realize what it was.
As the world turned to ice around her and the air sparkled with snowflakes, Ruby threw herself against the door, no longer heeding the lock. The panic and the adrenaline was enough for it to crack under her weight, and she tumbled out into the back alley with a cry of pain as she tumbled down the stairs, cracking her back hard against the concrete outside. She found the pain mild, compared to the sparkling, large, sharpened piece of ice that had driven itself through the wood as the floor had frozen over, aimed right at her heart.
North was over her in a moment, still steaming from the effects of the fire, parts of his body iced over and a panicked look in his eyes. He didn't even seem to see her, simply stumbled into the alley and ran.
Ruby lay there for a moment, dazed, before she slowly shifted over onto her side and forced herself up onto her hands and knees, coughing. Lifting her head, she saw the whole interior of the bar was completely frozen over; even the fire was iced in place where it had once burned.
"… Great. Just great," she sighed. "He's got that much raw potential. Lovely. Why didn't any of the reports mention that? I had a good plan, dammit."
She lifted a slightly shaking hand, relieved when she found that her earpiece was still in place, and tapped her finger against it to reconnect with Weiss. "Weiss? Are you there?"
"What the hell did you DO?!" Weiss roared, her voice slamming through Ruby's brain. The shock of it was enough to give her a blinding headache, and she dropped onto her back with a groan. "The bar just exploded!"
"Yes. Well. You remember how you thought I had a horrible plan?"
"… Your plan was to blow up the bar," the white-haired woman said, sounding far too calm about the situation. Ruby took that as a bad sign.
"Set it on fire, not blow it up. And he was supposed to be inside."
"You say that like it's supposed to be better."
"It would have worked!" Ruby yelped. "But the guy who runs our info messed up. Anderson's way stronger than I expected. I think it just pissed him off."
"And now he's heading my way." Weiss sighed. "This really was a horrible idea."
"Can you stop him?"
Another sigh, this one less exasperated and more tired. "Of course I can stop him. Just stay there, okay? You probably hurt yourself."
She had, and not for the first time, Ruby wondered how Weiss could pick up on that fact when they weren't within seeing distance of each other. She grimaced, rubbing her eyes. "Weiss?"
"What? I have to focus."
"… I'm sorry you have to finish this."
"… Don't worry about it," Weiss murmured. "Stay still and don't aggravate your injuries, okay? I'll ask Goodwitch to look at them when we get back to headquarters."
She cut the connection.
North was no stranger to pain, of course. He had weathered the absence of his mother, the ignorance of the yuki onna, the bullying of humans. He had felt pain before. He had hurt before, over the course of his life. But none of it had ever hurt like this.
Then again, he'd never been set on fire before.
But it didn't matter. The attempt at his life had failed, and now all he had to do was go into hiding. He needed to wait for things to die down, for Beacon to shuffle his case aside as unimportant and move on to other things. Once that happened, he could come back out, could focus on his powers again.
He heard the footsteps before he saw anything, and he reacted instinctively; the ball of ice formed in the palm of his hand, and he threw it with as much force as he could manage. Aimed at a normal person's head, impact would have killed them instantly.
He waited for a moment to catch his breath, pausing to hear the dull sound of flesh making contact with a hard object. When all he heard was the sharp sound of ice cracking against something metal, his head jerked up, eyes wide with confusion.
The first thing North saw was white; hair, white as snow, tied off in a ponytail that fell to the right side of her face. Her skin was pale, unnaturally so for a human, but with enough color to indicate she wasn't purely yuki onna, either. Her icy blue eyes were unreadable, the ball of ice he'd thrown at her a shattered mess where it had smacked a lamp post only a few inches past her.
She turned, for a moment, to study what was left of the weapon he'd thrown. "Sloppy," she decided. "Then again, I'm not shocked. You only awoke to this two days ago."
North opened and closed his mouth several times, but no sound came out. The shock of seeing another half breed like him was soon drowned out by rage over the realization that she was against him, was with Beacon, and he couldn't speak. The only sound he was capable of was a growl as the ice appeared in his hand again, sharpened to the point of being capable of murder, and he threw it without thinking.
And stared, dumbly, as he saw only the slightest flicker of her eyes before she responded. It was a small shot, just a gleam of ice in comparison, but it hit his spear with such precision that the weapon was split clean in half, falling apart harmlessly on either side of her.
All he could manage then was a shriek, a wordless cry of anger as he hurled shot after shot at her. It had always worked before, this had never failed him before, why couldn't he hit her? In his panic, his rage, he didn't think to try and ice over the whole alley, or to freeze her in place as she slowly but steadily got closer, deflecting his every attack like it was just a fly to be swatted away. He wasn't even aware of the fact that he was stumbling away from her, not until he felt his back press up against the wall of the alley.
He froze. It was all he could do. He couldn't think, through the roar in his brain that told him it shouldn't have happened like this. He had awakened, he had power, he had been able to get through this all so easily before, so why? Why was it failing now? She was a half breed, she was like him, surely he'd suffered as he had, so why was she so different?
North could only whimper as he felt something cold and sharp against his throat, against where his life blood flowed. His breathing came in shallow pants, his eyes focused on the icy depths of hers as she looked up at him. It struck him, then, how small she really was. "For what it's worth," she said softly, "I'm sorry it came to this. I would have helped you."
"I don't want it to hurt," he whispered, and swallowed. "It always hurt."
"… It won't hurt, I promise. Just close your eyes and focus on the cold, okay? For us, cold is home. It'll be like going home."
North closed his eyes.
Ruby didn't know how long she lay there on her back, staring up at the cloudy sky. It had occurred to her at some point that she probably should move, considering that the bar was on fire and she was right next to it, but it didn't seem to be spreading. She assumed the thick layer of melting ice Anderson had used in the room had mostly suppressed it. She didn't know, and she didn't feel inclined to get up and look with the way her back ached.
She could have lain there for minutes, or for an hour. She honestly wasn't sure; she'd never been very good at keeping track of time. At some point, though, she heard the sound of footsteps, and sighed. "Did you finish him off?"
"Of course I did." Ever graceful, Weiss folded her legs and sat next to Ruby, making the gesture look lady-like the whole time. "I contacted Ozpin to let him know we accomplished our objective. A clean-up team should be there shortly."
"It was a good idea," the younger woman muttered. "It would have worked if our information on his potential had been correct."
"It was a horrible idea, and I'll remind you again that I'm half yuki onna. I'm specialized to handle this kind of thing, so next time, just let me handle it, okay? Your back will thank you for it."
So she'd picked up on the fact Ruby's back was sore. Of course she had.
Ruby shrugged, putting a hand behind her head. "Yeah, but… you always get like this whenever you do it by yourself."
Weiss was quiet.
"I don't like it, is all."
After a moment, the shorter woman sighed. "You worry about others too much. Has anyone ever told you that? I'm sure Yang has told you that. Several times."
"She has." Ruby grinned up at her. "You love it."
"Endure it. I endure it because we're partners." But Weiss was smiling, even if it was a small, slight smile, and Ruby would take would she could get. She got to her feet, offering the other woman her hand. "Come on. I'll help you get home."
Ruby took Weiss's hand, grimacing at the brief sting that shot through her back as she was pulled to her feet. "Why don't we stop for ice cream on the way?" she suggested. "We need to hammer out how to present this to Goodwitch anyway for tomorrow."
Weiss gave her a blank look.
"Ice cream. Because it's cold, you know? And you're always going on and on about how focusing on the cold is like going home, or something."
"Ruby. Are you trying to delay the fact that we have to tell her you blew up the bar?"
"Set it on fire. I didn't blow it up!"
"That doesn't sound better!"
Ruby groaned. "Look, I just, I need time to compose the after mission report properly so she doesn't chew me out, and you always like cold stuff like that. So do you want to get ice cream, or no?"
"Are you buying?"
"Yes, yes, I'm buying. There. Happy?"
Weiss smirked, falling in step with her partner as Ruby started to leave the alley. "Couldn't be happier."
So. Yes. This. Clearly AU. An AU that morphed on me, actually, while I was thinking about it. It was originally supposed to just be a buddy cop story, but I was reading some of Moczo's original short stories (which are really good! You should go to Amazon and buy them!), and somehow Urban Fantasy leaked into the idea along the way. And here we are now.
Might or might not do a one-shot in this AU for Blake and Yang, if I get an idea for them.
Read and review, please!