A/N: I've been wanting to write a story about Jaune and Pyrrha for quite some time now, but work has been getting in the way until now. I wish I have the perseverance to see this story through, so I need your encouragement if you like this story and want to see more of it. I have some vague ideas about where this story is going but I am fuzzy about the details, so ideas are greatly appreciated.
Your comments are all I can ask for. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: Long night
"You have to raise your shield higher. You would want to maximize the area covered by your shield."
The exhausted Jaune's brain could barely register his partner/teacher's words, and was able only to half-consciously raise his sore left arm fractionally. In the maelstrom of pain and exhaustion and semi-coherent thoughts that was his mind he braced himself for the next blow.
The blow came, perceived by Jaune as a flare of pain and heat that propagated from his left arm to his shoulder and then his whole body.
The leader of Team JNPR and his partner were sparring in a remote corner of Beacon Academy's vast school ground. Since the incident in Forever Fall, they had been sneaking out of their team room every night after lights out to put on the extra training Jaune asked for. They chose the place out of the hope that they would not be spotted so easily and start unnecessary rumours (Anyone with any experience with gossips could instantly see the flaw in their plan).
Pyrrha looked at the sweat-drenched form of her partner/student/crush (what gives you that idea? I'm just doing the part of a good partner and friend!) and knew from experience that he was at his limit. Any more and she would have to carry him all the way from this secluded area on the school ground to their room.
"Alright Jaune," said Pyrrha softly, lowering Miló, "You did fine tonight. I can see you are improving. Is there anything you want to ask or talk about?"
Jaune, leaning on a tree, sweat pouring from every pore, more breathed than said "Why, why does all we do for the past two weeks consist of you bashing me with your sword and making me do Aura training?" He paused to catch his breath, "I'm not going to kill any Grimm with my shield or regeneration you know."
Since they started their private training, Pyrrha had learned one thing: it was much harder to be a trainer than a trainee. Pyrrha herself had gone through some hellish training to get where she was – where do you think all the strength and skills came from – and during all that time she often wondered what an easy time her trainers were having, simply giving orders and shouting. Now she knew that getting others to get your ideas and follow your instructions was much harder than it seemed. Especially when half the time your brain wanted to do nothing more than admiring the lean but athletic physique laid in front of you and you only, what with those bulging biceps and sculpted back – no, she's not letting herself go down that path, not now.
"Answer me Jaune," Pyrrha said, "what do you think is your shield for?"
Jaune wanted to avoid the obvious answer, but he could only manage "Well… protecting myself?"
Pyrrha shook her head slightly, "I can't say you are wrong, but you only gave half the answer."
She walked closer and placed both hands on Jaune's shoulders, green eyes looking straight into his blue ones.
"Remember this, Jaune," if Pyrrhs usually sounded serious, she sounded downright solemn now, "The shield protects the Hunter, and the Hunter protects the weak. You come from a family of great heroes. Why are they heroes?"
Obviousness won once more, "They… killed monsters?"
"Again, a half-answer. They are heroes because they protected others. Killing creatures of Grimm was just the means to that end."
Pyrrha placed her right hand on Jaune's battered shield. "You are heir to this shield. Generations of Arcs have put themselves between the innocent and the menace of Grimm with this shield as their only protection, and many lives had been saved thanks to it. But a shield, however sturdy, cannot protect others by itself. It needs a wielder at least as strong as it is."
Jaune took a good look at his shield. It was obviously old, with the marks of countless scratches, stings and swipes on the surface. Numerous dents had been made and beaten flat again. Jaune imagined the heroics that his forebears performed. Now that Pyrrha mentioned it, the task of matching them seemed impossibly daunting. Surely he had directed his team to victory against a Death Stalker, and single-handedly (so he thought) taken out an Ursa Major (suck on that, Cardin), but was he good enough for the family crest on the shield?
"I don't know if I'm up to it." Jaune looked wistfully at Pyrrha's gloved hand, "What if I'm just not good enough, and shame my family?"
A smile spread on Pyrrha's face. It was a smile of infinite tenderness. Against the light of the shattered moon, she looked almost saintly.
"I've never doubted for a moment that you can do it. Just believe in yourself. Believe in… me."
Jaune looked back up at her, seeing the gentle firmness in her eyes, and said "…Okay."
The room shared by Team JNPR was dark and silent when Jaune and Pyrrha sneaked, almost on tip-toes, back from the showers. They were startled into almost giving out a cry when Nora maoned "Give me more, Ren…" only to find that their hyperactive teammate was sleep talking.
They whispered Good night to each other before sneaking back into their beds on either sides of the room, Jaune's next to Ren's and Pyrrha's next to Nora's.
Jaune lay on his side and could not sleep, the words and images from his night with Pyrrha still vivid in his mind. "The shield protects the Hunter, and the Hunter protects the weak." What does that even mean?
He closed his eyes, but Pyrrha's face, framed by moonlight, eyes green as emeralds, lingered in his mind's eyes.
Now, Pyrrha… Lately Jaune had found himself thinking more and more of his partner. Not just her patient instructions and kind encouragement, which he was immensely grateful for, but also… her. Pyrrha the girl. Pyrrha the charming, friendly and attractive girl. The girl with the most striking red hair and perfect figure and those large and firm – Jaune Arc you are thinking like a pervert. Stop it.
Jaune could not sleep for an hour.
Pyrrha laid on her side and could not sleep, the despondent form of Jaune still vivid in her mind. Self-doubt rose up, an unfamiliar sensation for her. Was she good enough a teammate/teacher/not-girlfriend (for the last time!) for him? He made great progress, for sure, but he still had a huge hurdle that was his inferiority complex to overcome.
There was also the problem of his Semblance. Given his potential Jaune should be showing signs of what his Semblance would be like already; yet so far Pyrrha was still only able to coax out of him the general kinds of Aura effects. Was she doing something wrong? Was she, four times champion, too confident in her ability?
Pyrrha's frustration at Jaune's training was compounded by frustration of another kind. When is he going to start acting like a normal seventeen-year-old boy in the presence of an attractive member of the opposite sex? Pyrrha had no conceit of any sort, but she knew for a fact that she was attractive; hot, if you don't want to put too fine a point on it. And she thought she was making her interest obvious enough. Why has Jaune not noticed?
Pyrrha could not sleep for an hour.
A/N: I'm taking some liberty with the canon regarding Jaune's Semblance. The same may happen to other elements of the story later, if I think they would make a more interesting story. Just so you guys know.
Until next time!