Author's Note: It was a slow day at work during my weekend job. Took the time to pull out my notebook and jot down a rough draft before I came home, refined it, added stuff, proofread, then got ready to post! My own hand at Blake's past and a certain revelation with a twist.
(Edit: With more sleep and a more awake mind, I cleaned up some grammatical errors and replaced words that I felt I was using too often)
Stopping when she felt herself back into her partner, Blake was forced to stand her ground, her one hand tightening around the hilt of Gambol Shroud which lay in its sheath at her back. In front of her was a Beowolf which, if its size was any indication, had to be the Alpha of the pack that had tracked the two of them. That and how it now stood on its hind legs to offer a larger profile, intending to use that size as intimidation and to establish dominance.
All it did was offer Blake a better angle at its soft, unarmored belly as none of the bone-like spines protruded there. She would've made full use of the opportunity had she not felt a gauntlet grip her shoulder and push down.
She allowed herself to drop on a hand and knee at the silent urging of her partner just in time. A second Beowolf, smaller but no less dangerous, leapt over them with claws swiping at a space their heads no longer occupied. It landed and then immediately bounded aside to get out of the way of its pack leader.
The Grimm were dark, violent creatures hell-bent on humanity's destruction but it was a mistake to consider them as simple, stupid creatures. Especially when it came to Beowolves. A successful pack was one that was able to organize, ambush, and place their prey in suitable positions to be overpowered by numbers and guile. Considering Blake to be in such a position, the Alpha's hind legs tensed before it jumped at her, intending to bring her to the ground with its weight where it would tear her to pieces.
Instead of making a move to defend herself, Blake waited when she felt that hand on her shoulder shift its grip, months of training allowing her to conclude that she would entrust this to her partner. Her trust was not unfounded. Using the extra leverage on her shoulder, Yang sprang into action. Leaping over Blake's still-kneeling form, the brawler met the Alpha head on.
Just as the monster's mass failed to deter Blake, it failed to do as much with Yang who willingly stepped in between its extended arms. She expertly avoided the claws and bony spikes so that she could slam her armored fist directly into its face. Her own natural strength - as well as a mighty blast from Ember Celica – not only stopped the Alpha in mid-lunge but sent it flying back.
With no hesitation Blake switched targets, now directing her attention on the smaller Beowolf that turned just in time to see its leader's limp body slam into the bark of a large tree. Before it had time to realize what went wrong, Blake had shot forward as she drew Gambol Shroud from her back and directed the sharpened edge of the sheath towards its exposed neck to behead it.
Even with her focus being solely on her opponent, Blake still took note of a familiar, dark whisper that made itself known within the back of her mind.
If she had known, she would've stepped aside and let the Beowolf take you. To bring you down. Maul you. Kill you. Just like the insignificant creature that you are.
"Blake, you took down notes yesterday on Professor Oobleck's lecture, right?"
Blake stilled her pencil so that she could look up at Weiss. For the evening, the two of them had taken to the library where they procured a table for themselves. Books – some piled atop of one another, others left open at designated pages – were scattered all along the surface. In front of each girl were a growing collection of sheets of paper that contained the writings for a report.
"I did," Blake confirmed, already reaching for her notebook in anticipation of the heiress's request.
"Can I take a look?"
With a nod, Blake opened her notebook and flipped to the page that had yesterday's date marked at the top corner. She slid it across the table before turning it around so that Weiss could better look at the contents.
"Thank you." The smile that Weiss gave her was appreciative. Genuine.
Blake found her own lips curving into a smile before she went back to her report, her pencil moving again.
If she knew, she would have you in chains. You would be sent into the deepest, darkest hole where her family has doomed so many others like you.
The cheery, high-pitched voice was partly to blame for causing her to jump in surprise. That and how her team leader was suddenly at her bedside in a flash. When it came to speed, she had thought few could match her. But Ruby Rose was full of surprises.
Mentally marking her current place in her book, Blake turned to gaze upon sparkling silver eyes and a wide smile beneath them. "Yes?"
"I got a package from home!" To prove it, the young girl unveiled a parcel that had already been ripped open. "They're cookies!"
Blake felt a stroke of amusement. Like any other fifteen-year-old, Ruby was still innocent and easily excitable when it came to something like sweets. Not to mention still having the metabolism to sufficiently process the calories that such treats carried.
Peeking within the package, Blake could see that it did contain a variety of cookies; from chocolate chip to frosted oatmeal, mint, and others that she couldn't recognize right away but could safely assume were just as unhealthy.
"I'm sure they won't last long," Blake humorously remarked, bringing her book back up to resume reading.
The offer took her by surprise. Lowering her book again she saw that Ruby had stretched her arms to bring the package closer to her to make it easier to see if anything enticed her and then grab it. Silently, Blake craned her head to take a look, amber eyes scanning the contents before she plucked a frosted oatmeal cookie.
Seeing the lone cookie she delicately held between her fingertips, Ruby pouted. "Just one?"
The childish expression on her face was too much. With a small grin, Blake dipped her hand back into the pile, taking two more.
"Thank you, Ruby." Under the light of Ruby's bright smile, Blake finally returned to her novel with her prizes in hand.
If she knew, she would be horrified. She would run, screaming, calling you a filthy Grimmspawn.
Grimmspawn. It was a cruel name that had been given to people like Blake; conjured up by the blackest of minds belonging to those who saw little difference between her kind and the Grimm.
They were human. At a glance, all a person would see was their humanity. Their bodies possessed two arms and two legs. They had mouths that spoke words, eyes that saw color, and when combined they could express volumes of human emotion whether it be joy, anger, or despair. They even had human ears. When they were cut, they bled. When they felt the pain, they cried.
Everything about them was no different from any normal human until attention was brought to their heads and what protruded from the top. Then they became inhuman. Monsters.
They became shunned. Hated. As soon as others saw what made them different, they became abominations that could've only been spawned by the same darkness that had produced the Grimm. To be born with such a mark was to be born with no future. Your life, your soul, was in the hands of the majority – of the so-called normal – who did what they pleased.
If you were lucky, they would kill you. Your suffering would be over right then and there. If you were unlucky, they would enslave you. They would enshroud your life in darkness where nothing but everlasting fear and pain awaited you. Whatever dreams you conjured up in a foolish attempt to bring some light of hope was swiftly snuffed out. There was no hope for you.
And yet, Blake did not know why she continued to be led by such a misleading entity. Hope was nothing more than a brief solace that only existed to be ripped away from you and leave yet another gaping wound within a soul that was already withering away.
She had tried others. When she first experienced the harsh realities at such a young age, she had given in to fear. In response to the blows – physical, emotional, mental – she curled up and closed her eyes. Giving in to fear meant the possibility of avoiding the vicious language and savage strikes of your masters.
When she got older, she had been convinced by others to instead turn to anger. The suffering that she faced was due to those same masters who she had been afraid of. By striking back, by turning that fear of death and loss upon them, she would force them to understand what she felt all her life.
That didn't work either. Even now, Blake didn't know what went wrong. Maybe she didn't have enough of the rage that she thought she had. Or maybe it was the other way around: by witnessing how anger had consumed those closest to her, she had seen too much of it.
Now? Now she didn't know what she was doing. She was hiding but she didn't believe it to be due to the fear that she had originally known. While she was afraid of being found out, it was not fear that drove her here. She had just wanted…normalcy, she supposed. To see what that was like and, perhaps, claim a piece of it for herself.
Was that hope?
She was fooling herself. She was seeking something that she knew she could never have.
They can call you friend. You can think of yourself as their friend.
You can fight with them, work with them, live with them.
But whatever you do, whatever you think, is nothing more than a fabrication.
I want it to be real.
You are only hiding what you truly are.
If they find out…
They will turn on you. All that trust and love will crumble in the wake of the hatred that will come to bear on you in an instant.
It can be different.
You know in your heart that this is not so. Whatever you had come to hold dear had always been taken from you.
What I have now…
Nothing but the delusions of a naïve little girl.
She had never allowed herself to be so naïve before. Her innocence had been lost to her such a long time ago. No…she had never had a chance to be innocent. Not in this world.
The bonds she had were fragile as all things were especially as these had been built upon a lie. Such bonds would only be demolished upon the revelation of the truth. She was fooling them just as easily as she was fooling herself.
To hope that she could hide it forever was nothing but sheer stupidity. Hope had no place here.
Standing in front of the door to their dorm, Blake steeled herself for what she knew had to come. Behind it, she could hear the muffled voices of her teammates. They were all there. Good. At least this way she could do it all in one go. That was one of the few ways that she knew how to deal with pain: to make it quick.
Yet, as her hand slowly rose to the knob, Blake found herself hesitating. It had been months now and they still didn't know. How much longer could she make it last? Another few months? A year? Years?
Blake bit her lip hard, nearly drawing blood. The stab of pain was a small reminder and a punishment to keep her from allowing her thoughts to go so horribly astray. Forever? They could find out the very next day. Did she seriously believe that she could hide it forever?
Hope. What a disgusting thing it was.
Strengthened by that thought, Blake's hand gripped the door knob and gave it a turn. Despite her need to finally cast aside this illusion that she had unwittingly drawn herself into, she did not allow haste to take control and lead her to throwing open the door and storming right in there. Instead, she slowly opened it, stepped inside, and just as slowly closed it behind her.
The effect was still the same as she got everyone's attention. Before she entered, Weiss had her back propped against the headboard of her bed so that she could comfortably read from her textbook. Ruby, trying to get her to take a break and relax, had that parcel of cookies outstretched towards her but the white-haired girl was doing an admirable job of ignoring her. Yang was sitting on her top bunk, her legs hanging over the edge while she watched the other two members of their team.
When the door opened, the two sisters turned to look at her while the heiress peeked over her textbook to do the same.
"Hey, Blake!" Yang greeted, waving her hand. Sliding off the edge of her bed, she let herself drop and land on the floor in a crouch. Straightening, she turned a grin to her partner. "We were wondering where you were!"
"Blake!" That was Ruby. Ignoring Weiss now that she arrived, Ruby also directed her attention to her. "We've been trying to think of things to do for the weekend! There's supposed to be a carnival at Vale and, well, you mentioned before that you didn't know much about the city! We could use this opportunity to show you around and have fun!"
Next to her, Weiss gave an unladylike snort, her face having disappeared behind her textbook. "Really? A carnival? How childish can you be?"
"Good thing we weren't planning on inviting you," Yang replied. The ever-present grin she had said otherwise.
"Come on Weiss!" Turning back to the heiress, Ruby shook her arm. "You and Blake can stay at our house for the night! It'll be like a big sleepover!"
"Ruby, I'm trying to study. And don't we do that every night here?"
"Well…yeah…I guess. But it'll be so much cooler if it's at our house! I could even have Uncle Qrow come visit! I still need to tell him all about my time at Beacon and I could introduce you!"
At the display, Blake felt her resolve falter once again as that temptation came into view. She could agree. Right here, right now, she could forget about telling the truth and go to this carnival. Spend the night at Yang and Ruby's, maybe meet their family. Allow herself to remain in this dream for a little while longer before she was forced to wake up.
…Nothing but a deluded little girl.
No, she couldn't do this anymore. To indulge in something that wasn't real held no meaning. If she didn't do this now, it would become more painful and she would hate herself all the more. Silently, with her head bowed, Blake drifted towards the center of the room.
"…Blake?" Noting her partner's silence, Yang looked to her, her grin disappearing.
Ruby didn't say anything but her attention was undoubtedly on Blake. The young leader of Team RWBY stood on her feet, the package of cookies still held in her hands. A concerned frown marred her young features.
Weiss shifted the textbook in her hands, enough so that her scarred left eye could look at the black-haired girl curiously.
Waiting until her feet were firmly planted in the carpet that dominated the middle of the dorm room, Blake lifted her head to face the lilac eyes of her partner before looking over her shoulder to Ruby and then Weiss. She had their attention.
"There's…something I need to show you," Blake spoke hesitantly. "To all of you."
All eyes remained on her, curious but patient.
Blake swallowed and became aware that her hands were starting to shake. She felt a spike of anger for it. What was she afraid of? This was nothing new. It would happen just like it always would. She had seen that sudden realization that had quickly been replaced with contempt and hatred all her life when someone found out what she was.
She started to reason that this was because they were her friends. However, that reasoning proved meaningless when she reminded herself that they weren't her friends. They never had been.
She controlled the shaking fast enough or so she thought; at least fast enough not to rouse any unnecessary curiosity and questioning that would prolong this suffering. Everything would be answered once she revealed the truth. All she had to do…
Her hands now steady, Blake lifted them, took hold of that black bow she had always worn, and pulled it off.
No longer blocked by the covering, her ears were allowed to spring up. Well, the left one anyway as the right would never be able to rise as high ever again. She was still able to hear with both just fine…which allowed her to easily listen to the gasps that issued all around her.
Yang was directly in front of her so she was able to see her reaction first. It was nothing new. Those lavender eyes flicked towards what was now exposed on top of her head. After a second, that familiar realization flashed through them as they widened considerably. Blake watched the blonde's mouth drop open, horrified, before her hands sprung up to clasp over it.
Something fell to the floor and scattered behind her. Her inhuman ears twitching in that direction – and eliciting another gasp from Yang -, Blake looked over her shoulder.
Ruby's arms had dropped to her sides, allowing her present to fall from her hands and scatter cookies all over the floor. Those silver eyes that had always been full of innocence and cheer were now wide with disbelief and fear. She took an involuntary step back when those ears twitched again.
Blake only had to glance over to see Weiss's reaction. Having dropped her textbook, the heiress was sitting up straight in her bed. Her usual pale face somehow managed to achieve another shade of white.
"I-I know." There was a slight stammer in her voice but, like her shaky hands, Blake managed to control it. She looked back to Yang and, unable to look at her face, Blake's gaze drifted down. "They're hideous, aren't they? It's okay. I know how you must feel about this."
"Blake, what happened?"
Her brows instinctively lowering in puzzlement at the odd question, Blake's eyes moved back up so that she could look at her now former partner. What happened? She had been born, that's what happened.
Yang had lowered her hands from her mouth, showing that she had gotten control of it but the horror still remained in her wide eyes. Instead of taking a step back like Ruby did, the blonde had taken a step forward. One hand slowly, shakily rose towards Blake.
She eyed the golden bracelets around her wrists, knowing that they could transform into the more armored form of Ember Celica. She wondered, now that the truth was out, if Yang would wish to use them. To administer punishment on this foul creature that had dared to trick her for this long.
She would be fine. One or two or several punches – even from a shot gauntlet – were something she could handle. Pain was something that she could handle. She had always tried to find ways to avoid it but Blake understood that it was really the one true companion in her life. And she knew it very well. Avoiding it for a length of time just made it hurt more which made the timing of this revelation even better: what would come this very moment would hurt far less than if she had allowed herself to go to some silly carnival.
Nothing could've prepared her for what happened next.
When that hand drew closer, Blake closed her eyes, waiting for what she was sure was about to come.
The hand grasped her left ear. Not her human ear but the inhuman one. Instinctively, Blake tensed up, expecting the pain to come rolling in shortly when Yang would cruelly pull on it.
She had not been expecting the gentle caress.
She didn't let her guard down, not that quickly. There had been tormenters who had put up such a caring façade to lull her into a false sense of security if only to enjoy taking it from her when they employed physical abuse. With her eyes sealed shut, Blake waited…and waited…and waited. Still all she felt were the light, comforting strokes of Yang's fingers.
Blake felt those fingers run along the burns of her left ear. At certain points they came across small patches of black fur; the only survivors of the red hot brand that had been pressed against her appendage. It had burned away the rest, revealing the skin beneath that it had seared with its touch.
Blake only opened her eyes when she felt those fingers travel to her right ear. After another pause, she looked up at Yang.
There was still some of that horror within those orbs as the blonde surveyed the damage. But with it was…something else. An emotion that caused a glassiness to come over Yang's eyes as her finger glided over the jagged skin of her right ear. Unlike her left ear, the fur remained relatively intact. However, the tip – a whole third – of the ear had been cut away, leaving behind the pink scar tissue as a reminder of the blade that had sliced through.
"What happened, Blake?" Yang asked again. Except this time her voice was quieter. Almost a whisper. "Who did this to you?"
Confused by this turn of events, Blake couldn't help the stutter that came back. "W-what do you mean?"
"This is horrible."
Something about that whisper forced Blake's heart to twist within her chest. However, what caused Blake to lose her nerve was what she saw on her partner's face.
A tear. One, single tear that fell from her eye and slid down her face.
That was wrong. Everything was wrong.
At first Blake was confused. Then she became scared. Unable to help herself, Blake jerked back, pulling her ears out from Yang's caring grasp. Taking two steps back, Blake stared at Yang. Her partner looked startled but her hands remained outstretched as if they were still holding on to those mutilated cat ears.
"T-this is wrong," Blake spoke. She couldn't understand what was going on. This wasn't what was supposed to happen. Yang had been supposed to hit her, to knock her to the floor with a vicious slap or punch. She wasn't supposed to be gentle. She wasn't supposed to be pitying her.
She was starting to shake. Not just her hands but her legs. No, her whole body was shaking! Wanting to stop it, Blake wrapped her arms around herself and squeezed tight as if that alone would do the trick.
"Y-you're n-not supposed to look at me like that," she continued, finding that that stammer persisted despite her best attempts of stopping it. She didn't understand any of this and now she just felt so uncertain that it scared her. "You're n-not supposed to…t-touch me like that. Not a G-G-Grimmspawn!"
The shriek at the end caused Yang to jump.
Blake allowed one arm to leave her body so that she could raise a hand up and touch her right ear. As if mimicking Yang's odd touch to prove that that was what she had been feeling, Blake gently stroked that ear. Even as she did it, she still found herself confused. Yang had done that?
Her hand slid down, this time to her face. Her vision was getting blurry. She didn't understand why but when her hand went to her eyes she felt droplets of water drip onto it. She closed her eyes, squeezing out more of the water that was gathering in them and soaking her hand.
She didn't understand. What was going on? Why was she acting like this?
No, it wasn't her. It was Yang. Somehow Yang was making her do this.
"N-no," she whimpered, taking an extra step back from Yang and shaking her head all the while. "J-just stop. Just…l-leave me a-alone."
Someone grabbed her from behind. A pair of small, thin arms came around her waist, crossing over her stomach before squeezing tight. Something soft pressed against her back. Panic had Blake releasing a startled gasp before she whirled her head around, wondering who-
Blake saw the cloak before she saw the head topped with red and black.
It was Ruby's face that was pressed against her back. Her arms that were around her and squeezing so very tight. Looking down, shocked, Blake watched as she nuzzled her face as if to bury it deeper into her back. Her leader's shoulders were shaking and Blake's heightened hearing could make out some strange noises that, while muffled, she heard clear as day. She also noticed a patch of wetness starting to form where Ruby's face was.
Pulling her head away, Ruby looked up at her.
Blake's breathing stopped.
Red was rimmed around those silver eyes that were unusually puffy. Tears, like the one Yang had shed except much more massive in number, formed wet trails that slid down Ruby's cheeks. The odd sounds that Blake detected earlier had been Ruby sniffling followed by a hiccup.
Two hands came to either side of her face, cupping her cheeks. At their gentle urgings, Blake turned to face Yang who approached her again when she had been distracted. That single tear had turned into two rivers of its own. While they were not the waterfalls that fell from Ruby's eyes, the sight of them surprised Blake all the same.
Yang still had that voice. That strange, soft voice that started this whole thing. "It's alright."
…Is this real?
Blake had no strength to resist. When Yang removed her hands from her cheeks so that she could bring her arms around her neck, Blake could do nothing against the gentle pull that brought her head against Yang's chest. This close, she could hear her partner's heartbeat. Above her, she could hear Yang's shaky breathing.
And those words.
This is real.
The revelation stunned her if only for a moment. Just as she realized it, another gush of tears poured out. Soon she was willingly pressing her face against Yang's chest, quickly soaking her jacket and shirt. Her arms came up and around Yang's back where her hands clutched fistfuls of her clothing.
Then she cried. Shoulders and chest heaving, Blake sobbed uncontrollably. The strength in her legs gave out entirely, threatening to drop her. The two sisters who held her slowly lowered her down so that she could rest on her knees. Neither of them let go, instead following their teammate down so that they could still hold her.
Even though she had given herself up so willingly – so totally – in their embrace, Blake was able to sense one last presence that knelt down next to the sobbing trio. Moving her head just enough so that she could see what she already knew, Blake rapidly blinked her eyes just enough to clear her vision to see the pale visage of Weiss Schnee.
Someone who has as much to be blamed for for your misery. Someone who could so easily take this all away from yo-
That voice was silenced. As soon as the heiress lifted a hand and wiped at Blake's wet face with the cloth of an unraveled black bow, the voice was silenced forever.
Because with those glassy eyes, Weiss quietly spoke, "It's alright."
For the rest of her life, Blake could rest assured that all of this was real.
Author's Note: Welp, an angsty fic that needed a happy ending. Been seeing too many of the opposite nowadays but that's my opinion (and those fics are still really good so don't get me wrong). The words came easy for me; four hours and I was done with the whole thing. Didn't even see the time fly so fast!
This will obviously put a delay on Recurring Dreams but if you enjoyed this piece then, hey, mission accomplished either way! I was certainly proud of this work! As always, critiques, reviews, yadda yadda yadda: all welcome here!