a/n - light white rose (ruby/weiss) content

If she had to compare where they were today to where they had been just a few months before she would have to say that she vastly preferred the present. There was hardly any competition, really, when you laid the two together side by side.

When she would make a mistake before Weiss was on her quicker than a hungry cat on an injured mouse. Ruby would endure the scolding and yelling, although, in the end, the actual point of her mistake was never shed light upon and she could hardly think of what to fix and how to rectify her wrongdoing. To her, it seemed as if Weiss had it all wrong. The heiress and her righteous indignation - her holier-than-thou demeanor - all of it served to push Ruby to the brinks of frustration in ways no one had ever pushed before.

Now, though, Weiss would still call her names and at times raise her voice, but there was an underlying gentleness to her chiding. Ruby could see the outburst as more of a sign to be alert to the fact that she had messed up. And now, if she asked, Weiss would point out her error and may even be so generous to lend her assistance in finding a solution. Ruby only applied this system, though, when it came to her homework. It seemed to benefit her most in ways that overshadowed her educational progress.

It made her heart race, the way Weiss would lean over to look down at the textbook in her hands. Their arms would press together every so slightly - a less-than-satisfying taste of the feel of her body. She would often pray in her head that Weiss would not take notice of the way her hands shook as the heiress traced a finger delicately along the lines in her textbook, highlighting with a scholarly tone what she should be reading and paying attention to in order to find her answers. Ruby tried - tried so very hard to commit those words to memory and apply them despite the distraction of Weiss's face so near to hers and the scent of her drawing away any of her concentration. But all the words fell away in a cloud of admiration and nerves.

Still, she made the attempt, yelping when Weiss's sharp eyes caught her staring.

"Are you paying attention?" Her brow wrinkled, accusations hanging on her every word. Ruby swallowed hard.

"Yeah, of course, Weiss! I heard everything you said!" A nervous chuckle escaped her, Ruby fully alert to the way her voice hinged on an octave higher than the norm.

Weiss seemed to have her reservations, but allowed it to slide without a word. She began to file down her nails again, something that she did in the span of time it took for Ruby to find the answer and pipe up for help again.

Unfortunately, she had lied. Weiss's words to her before were simply a jumbled mess of gibberish swirling around in her head. She could grasp the tail end of some words, but none of it made sense when strung together in a sentence. Even trying to pick out key syllables by skimming her textbook did not help her much. A long silence passed between them and she screamed internally, furiously working for the answer to no avail.

"Ruby? Are you stuck on something else?"

"U-Um, actually, Weiss, could you repeat what you said before?" Ruby raised her book up to her face, peeking out over the spine at Weiss, awaiting an oncoming scowl.

Weiss appeared ready to deliver. She clicked her tongue, raising a hand and plucking the textbook from the younger teen's hands. She set it aside and regarded her with an impassive stare; Ruby could see a muscle in her jaw twitch.

"Were you not paying attention when I asked if you were?"

Ruby rubbed the back of her neck and avoided the cold gaze. It felt as if a lump of iron had fallen into her stomach and a bitter taste stained her tongue. This whole ploy to have an excuse to be close to Weiss under the guise of studying coming down on her in a wave of guilt.

"Uh... nope?" She flinched when she thought she saw Weiss move, but the heiress, as far as she was aware, had not budged from her spot. "Are you gonna yell, Weiss?"

"If you aren't going to take this seriously, then why are you wasting my time asking for help?" Ruby felt as if she could have been frozen over from the ice in her words alone. "I'm not here to goof off! I have my own things to do too."

She could see how it would look that way to Weiss. Ruby tripped over her tongue in an attempt to rectify the misunderstanding, but what would she say? Sorry, Weiss! I was too distracted by your beauty, your pretty voice and the way your arm felt against mine. Haha! Funny thing, right? There was no way - she'd probably think she was being mocked.

Weiss stood up in a hurry, her back to Ruby and ready to leave the scene.

"You know, sometimes it feels like you haven't changed at all."

Ouch. Ruby would have rather been subjected to yelling than hearing that.

She had been demoted. Downgraded from Ruby Rose leader with potential! To the show-offy brat that took nothing seriously about their predicaments. The Ruby that Weiss did not care for or wish to know. That was the last person she wanted to be.

"Wait!" She scrambled to her feet, taking hold of an edge of the sleeve of Weiss's jacket, heart nearly dislodging itself from her ribs when her fingers brushed the palm of her hand by accident. Weiss turned her head over her shoulder to look at her with narrowed eyes. That glare was her indication to say what she needed to and to say it fast.

"That's not how it is at all!" Ruby pushed herself to say what was required of her, abandoning shyness and discomfort in favor of reconciliation. She released Weiss's sleeve and grasped her hand in both of her own, hoping that her palms weren't sweaty enough to notice; if the heiress did feel it, she graciously ignored it.

"It's just..." The words got stuck. Weiss stared at her. "It's just... ugh!" She whined, unable to spin any clever excuse that was close to the truth.

"If you have nothing to say then just let go!" Weiss's patience had grown thin and she attempted to shake off Ruby's hand, but it only prompted her to hang on tighter.

"It's you, okay?!" And there it was. "It's all your fault, you big... jerk!" The truth. Revealed in all of its undignified glory. Ruby prayed that if she ducked her head low enough, her fringe would conceal her face from view. Maybe, if she was lucky, a sinkhole would appear right under her feet and she could get sucked away from this whole ordeal.

A peek at Weiss got her a glimpse of a wide open mouth and equally wide eyes.

"Me? Me?" Oh, she sounded angry still. "Are you really trying to blame your lack of concentration on me right now, Ruby Rose?!" It did kind of sound like that, huh?

Ruby groaned, cursing the social skills she had developed. Where were their teammates when she needed them?!

"Well, kinda! It's... you... I can't focus when you're around!" Ruby let go of her hand and threw her own hands up, fed up with her inability to properly articulate these feelings.

Neither of them spoke for a moment after that. That was it for her. Ruby knew she had said something embarrassing and had no idea how Weiss would receive it. She could only chew on her lip and watch as the other processed her words, arms folded now and, thankfully, appearing less agitated.

"Ruby are you..." Ruby braced herself. "... intimidated by me?"

If someone had punched her square in the solar plexus, the reaction would have been much the same as the impact of those words on Ruby.

A long stream of air escaped her then, allowing her to empty out all the hot air she had been holding onto all this time. Well, it wasn't particularly untrue and wasn't this conclusion better than an embarrassing one? ... she'd tell her the truth one day, maybe. Especially since with one look at Weiss, she couldn't tell whether or not she was slightly smug at the idea of the leader of team RWBY feeling intimidated by her or pitied her for it. Either way, she could throw her a bone if it appeased her.

"K-Kinda? Yeah..." Ruby fidgeted with the rose upon her belt, a small pout shaping her lips.

It was Weiss's turn to sigh before she walked over to her and placed a hand upon Ruby's shoulder. She applied pressure until Ruby sat upon Weiss's mattress once more. Once again, most of Ruby's concentration was lost to the proximity of Weiss's face to her own, the clearness of her skin and the shape of her lips. Ruby tried to tell herself not to focus on her face so much and become sidetracked less she want a repeat of what had just transpired.

"You dunce," she began softly with a shake of her head, "We're teammates! We're on an even playing field so don't be intimidated!"

Weiss seemed to contemplate her words with a tilt of her head.

"Or, if you're going to be, at least use it as motivation to surpass me!"

A scoff.

"Not that I would let that happen."

Ruby wanted to laugh and flop backward with relief all at the same time. She didn't really need to hear those words, but it was nice all the same. There were things about Weiss that did not change, but if you asked the younger of the two, she would tell you that the girl two years her senior, with the wonderful white hair and the scar on her eye, who much resembled a princess of ice, was vastly different from when they had first met. A change for the better had occurred for her and she only grew everyday. With a smile, she dared to wrap her arms around Weiss's waist and pulled her close, burying her face into her stomach. Weiss tensed with every muscle in her body, but Ruby did not relent; she simply nuzzled her cheek against her midriff and made her signature noises of contentment.

"Thanks, Weiss. I'm sorry I made you mad."

Weiss rested her hands upon Ruby's shoulders and pushed her away slightly, allowing Ruby to look up at her, eyebrows raised.

"Finish your homework and I'll forget that this happened." That was a lie. Ruby just had a feeling that Weiss would keep it as an ego trip for a while.

"Right! Are you still gonna help me?" Ruby released her partner, reluctantly, smiling even wider when said girl took up a seat next to her once more.

Weiss crossed one leg over the other and took up her file once more, working at her nails with the diligence of someone dedicated to keeping up appearances.

"I'll help, but at least try to do most of it on your own."

"Hey! Don't I always?" Ruby pouted, but Weiss was not moved. "Oh, all right, all right..." She propped her textbook back in her lap and opened it up, glancing at the contents once before her gaze traveled back over to Weiss beside her. The heiress met her gaze once and then twice when she realized it was still upon her.

"What is it?"

Ruby smiled warmly, leaning over and bumping her shoulder to her companion's.

"You look pretty today, Weiss!"

Weiss rolled her eyes, but did not bother to push Ruby out of her bubble. Rather, she went back to her task, expression softer than before.

"Get back to work, you dolt."

It seemed flattery would get her nowhere.