Eight to One
The room was the epitome of perfection.
The white walls practically shone with cleanliness. The slightly-less-white tile floor sparkled spotlessly. Even the fucking sheets seemed impervious to wrinkles, Weiss noted with disdain.
She hated it.
This impeccable, unbelievably tidy room that had become her prison cell. Of course, what could you expect when you were the president of the Schnee Dust Company?
The machine that was always by her side softly beeped a steady rhythm. Once upon a time not so long ago, she had found the noise comforting. A constant reminder that she was alive, still strong, still keeping on. But now it was a timer, a clock counting down what little time she had remaining.
This one could be the last, it seemed to say, as the tone sounded again. Or this one…or this one…
She sighed, leaning back against the pillows arrayed behind her, staring up at the impossibly clean ceiling.
"It won't be long now," they had told her. They needn't have bothered.
She knew. She could feel it. Slowly spreading through her body, rendering everything behind it incapable of function. She knew she was almost at the end. She was so tired.
Her affairs were in order. She had found, mentored, and prepared the next president of the company. He would do well, so she had no worries on that front.
Her family…she had made peace with them. As much as she could, given their strained relationship. Despite everything, in the end, she still hoped she had managed to make her father proud.
Her will was prepared, everything was in order. As far as ends go, it was neat and tidy. Weiss Schnee was flawless, even in death.
There was that word. The one she had been trying to avoid thinking about.
She was dying. Soon. Probably wouldn't even last the night, if her doctors were to be believed. It was strange. She had grown up with death. It had been a constant companion beside her her entire life. It had taken family, friends, mentors and enemies alike. She had always known that one day it would come for her. She had thought that she was prepared for it. She was a Huntress. Death could come at any moment. But in all the times she had imagined her death, she had never imagined it so lonely.
They weren't there. None of them. They were all gone. Weiss felt a pit form in her stomach, her eyes misting over as she found herself drifting back through memories she would rather forget.
Ren had been the first to go, to everyone's surprise. It had been a simple mission in their third year. Just clearing out a small infestation of Beowolves near a village far in the North. He had volunteered, claiming with a small chuckle that he needed a bit of alone time from his team. Weiss, at the time, couldn't blame him. Jaune had been pestering his whole team at the time about training, and Nora seemed even more hyperactive than usual.
She remembered when they had seen him off. It had been bright and brisk, the onset of Winter just around the corner. Yang and Blake had been out on a mission, but she, Ruby, and the remainder of Team JNPR had gathered at Beacon's gates to wish him farewell. Nora had been worried, uncharacteristically anxious, but Ren had assured her with a small smile that he would be back before she knew it. He had hugged her and planted a light kiss on her forehead.
"Look after her for me?" he had asked his teammates.
"Of course," Jaune had replied. He had grasped his best friend's arm. "Hurry back, alright?" Ren had nodded, and then boarded the airship and was away.
They began to worry after he wasn't back the day he was supposed to be, but they brushed it off as delays in travel. After the second day, Nora was pacing the dorm room, chewing her lip in worry. They tried to calm her down, telling her that it was probably just a bigger pack of Grimm than he had anticipated. Days three and four passed with nothing happening, but Nora was basically clawing her own skin off.
It was day five whenever Ozpin gathered them in his office. The second half of Team RWBY had returned by then, though they were thoroughly confused as to what was going on.
There had been silence in the room whenever Ozpin told them with a heavy voice that they had found Lie Ren's body half-buried in the snow drifts far outside the village he had been defending. He had been on his way back from the den of the Beowolves, and had been caught in an unexpected blizzard. He hadn't managed to find shelter, and his Aura had been low from his recent battle. He had frozen to death.
None of them could believe it. It was something so simple. Exposure. It was not a way any of them had ever imagined themselves going. Being eviscerated by Grimm, or blown apart in a Dust accident, sure, but not freezing to death. It took some sort of security away from them that they hadn't even realized they had had.
After that, everything had just gone downhill.
Nora had been next, never far behind her Ren.
She just vanished a few days later. They woke up and she was gone. Jaune freaked out, ripping the school apart looking for her. Team RWBY and Pyrrha joined him, but they couldn't find anything. It wasn't until they heard the reports of an incident at the edge of Forever Fall that they discovered her fate.
They arrived on the scene far, far too late to do anything for their friend. Her corpse, or what was left of it, was half-eaten and torn limb from limb. Ruby had outright vomited on seeing what had become of the hyperactive ginger. The bone white masks of Grimm littered the ground around her, too many to count. Magnhild lay shattered amongst the carnage.
They held their funerals together.
Jaune was never quite the same after that. None of them were, but Jaune blamed himself.
Life moved onward, and so did they, completing their education at Beacon and becoming full-fledged Huntresses and one Huntsman.
It was years before the next tragedy found them.
Blake's past finally caught up with her.
They cornered her in an abandoned parking lot on the outskirts of Vale late one night. Yang was with her, of course. She had never left her partner's side back then. And so she shared her fate.
They had fought until the end. Yang had gone first, a bullet through the heart that not even the indestructible brawler could live through. Blake had finished off the last remaining enemies before crawling her way to her partner's corpse, curling into her and bleeding out.
Ruby and Weiss had arrived just in time to watch the light leave her eyes and hear her final whispered goodbye.
In that one night, Weiss had lost her entire team.
For Ruby died with them. The Ruby she knew anyway.
Yang's death was too much, especially when coupled with Blake's, and the once energetic young woman slowly became listless and lethargic. She stopped talking, stopped going out, stopped eating. She was just wasting away.
Weiss tried her hardest to bring her back, with Jaune and Pyrrha's help, but their voices couldn't reach her. Ruby Rose was gone.
And then she actually was gone. Weiss had stopped by her apartment one day. She hadn't seen her in awhile, and she was worried about her partner. She found the place empty, and the landlord said that Ruby had left weeks before.
Alive or dead, they honestly didn't know, but she was gone, and it was clear that no matter what, she would not be returning.
The only thing that held the heiress together was the remainder of Team JNPR. The three of them were all that were left of the once proud group of eight.
Weiss threw herself into her job, working her way up the ranks of the Schnee Dust Company as quickly as she could. Anything to distract herself from the empty void that yawned in her chest every time she stopped and let herself breathe for a minute.
She had been started to get there, to a point where she thought that maybe she could face life again, whenever Pyrrha's turn came.
Dear, sweet Pyrrha, so strong through everything. Resolute and kind, always putting others before herself.
She had been doing a combat demonstration for Beacon, taking volunteers from the crowd for brief duels. None of them lasted very long against her, but she always offered them a hand up with a.
Her smile never had the chance to leave her face as the one opponent slipped the hidden knife between her ribs and twisted. She was dead before she hit the ground.
A deranged fan, set on the idea that if he couldn't have her, then she was better off dead, out of reach to anyone else. Weiss hadn't been there, but Jaune had, and she read the reports of how he had cradled her body, sobbing her name over and over.
She had been afraid that she would lose him after that as well. That he would go the same way as Ruby went, and she would be entirely alone. But he held on. He was changed, yes. Tempered and jaded by the world, but she couldn't blame him. She felt much the same. Their friends were all gone.
He remained, and they each became the only person the other could confine in. They supported each other as best they could, trying to fill in the holes left by their teammates.
"I miss them too," a soft voice said from beside her bed.
She blinked, clearing away the tears clouding her vision. She hadn't heard him come in or take a seat, but she wasn't surprised by his presence. She didn't question how he knew what she was thinking about. She reached out a hand, and he took it gently but firmly. Two deep blue orbs set in a handsome face framed by shaggy blonde hair watched her kindly.
"Jaune," she greeted.
"Hello, Weiss." A small smile tugged at his lips.
She turned her head, glancing at the clock on the bedside table. "You were supposed to be here fifteen minutes ago."
"I'm sorry, I got here as quick as I could when they called, but there was an accident on Main." He paused, seemingly considering his next choice of words. "How…how are you feeling?"
Weiss rolled her eyes. "Really, Jaune Arc? How am I feeling?" He shrugged, and Weiss sighed. Somehow, through everything, a bit of the original, lovable idiot that he had been had survived. "I'm feeling fine, considering the circumstances." They sat in a comfortable silence for a time, Jaune's thumb rubbing small circles over the back of her hand. She closed her eyes and breathed, refusing to acknowledge that this was probably the last time she'd share any moments like this with her friend. Eventually, she felt she had to break the silence. She didn't want to; she knew her words were only going to make her aware of the suffocating reality pressing down on her. "The doctors…" she swallowed. You are stronger than this, Weiss. "They said…" and still her voice failed her. She couldn't do it, couldn't put how long she had left into words.
"I know," he said simply.
"Of course." His grip on her hand tightened slightly. "I'll be here the whole time." Weiss marveled over how well they had come to understand each other, even without words.
"Thank you." She shifted, sitting a bit more upright. "How was Beacon?"
"Ugh," he threw up his free hand in exasperation. "Ozpin's working me to the bone, and Goodwitch's no better. I'm beginning to think I'm not cut out for this."
Weiss rolled her eyes. "You're going to make a great headmaster, Jaune. You just need to be whipped into shape."
"You really think so?"
She nodded. "I just wish I could…" and there it was again. Her throat clenched up and her stomach dropped. She had been preparing for this. She should be ready. And yet panic still clawed at her throat. This was it, oh god this was it. She felt Jaune's hand clench harder around hers, and she looked up to meet his gaze. He understood. She could see it in his face.
Weiss took a few deep breaths to calm herself. She would not spend her last hours alive blubbering like a small child. Jaune stayed silent the whole time, for which she was grateful. Eventually, when she felt she could trust her voice again, she whispered quietly, "I'm sorry."
Jaune's eyes widened. "Weiss Schnee, apologizing?" he let out a small chuckle. "What is this world coming to?"
She shot him the coldest glare she could. "I'm being serious here, you ass."
"So am I. What on Remnant could you possibly be apologizing for?"
The anger in her eyes melted away and she glanced at her lap, to their joined hands. "I won't be able to hold up my end of the promise," she said.
"Oh…" He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. He hadn't expected her to bring that up. Not now. He had already resolved that he couldn't think about anything after this meeting, anything after she was gone. He needed to be strong through this, for her. He couldn't let her worry about him. "It's alright. I'll be fine."
Her glare was back full force. "Don't be an idiot!" she hissed, causing him to flinch slightly. Her rage evaporated. "I'm sorry, it's just...we swore to each other…after everyone else was gone, we swore we'd never leave the other alone. And now I'm about to do just that."
Jaune just stared at her for a moment. "Weiss," he began carefully, "you have a terminal disease. I hardly think you can be blamed for that."
She shook her head weakly. A tiredness was beginning to creep over her. She fought it, knowing that if she went to sleep, the chances of waking up again were incredibly slim. "It doesn't matter. I shouldn't be leaving you alone. I know you. You won't be alright."
"You don't need to worry about me-"
"Jaune, I'm dying. Please, just, let me have this." Her voice shook, and Jaune's resolve crumbled a little. "I need to make sure you're going to be alright. Even if it's the last thing I do," she added with a watery smile.
Jaune tried to smirk, but he thought it probably came out as more of a grimace. "And now she's joking. Must be Armageddon."
Weiss suppressed a yawn and lightly pinched Jaune's hand. They fell into another silence, and she could slowly feel herself begin to fall into slumber. No, I'm not ready yet. She forced her eyes open despite the sandbags they felt they were weighed down by. The light coming through the window had grown dim, and she vaguely wondered how much time had passed. How much longer did she have?
"Ruby," she breathed quietly, her eyes on the ceiling.
Jaune started. He had been consumed by his own thoughts and had not been expecting her to talk so suddenly. "What?"
"Ruby," she repeated, bringing ice-blue orbs down to meet sapphire ones.
Jaune felt his heart skip a beat. There was no way she could have found out about that. He had told Ozpin to keep it between them. Weiss didn't need to know. He swallowed. "What about her?"
"Find her." His eyebrows shot up in surprise. "You don't have to be alone. Ruby's still out there somewhere, I'm sure. She was always tough. She wouldn't just die." The strength in Weiss' voice was fading with each sentence, and she was clearly fighting to keep awake. "Find her," she pleaded.
Jaune bowed his head, feeling a part of himself break inside. "Yeah," he said quietly. "I'll do that. I'll find Ruby." He didn't have the heart to tell her about the message he had received from Ozpin the previous week. The one with the attached report that detailed a severed human arm his scouts had found in the woods outside an outlier town in Vale. With it had been copious amounts of blood. Blood that Ozpin had confirmed only two days previous belonged to Ruby Rose. There was no body, but they didn't need one. No one could survive that much blood loss.
"Good." There was more silence, and she was so still that Jaune began to wonder if she hadn't fallen asleep, whenever she spoke up in the tiniest, most frightened voice he had ever heard from her. "Jaune?"
"I'm here, Weiss."
"I'm scared. I'm so scared."
Jaune blinked back the tears that threatened to spill. Strong, Arc. For her. "It's alright. I'll be right here. I won't leave you." He heard her inhale sharply, a small whimper spilling from her lips. He held her hand tighter. "Sleep. Everything will be better when you wake up. I promise." She gave a barely noticeable nod, and Jaune leaned forward, pressing his lips to her temple. "Goodnight, Weiss."
She took one final breath to prepare herself, knowing that this was it, and let unconsciousness take her. As she drifted off, she tried to whisper, "Goodbye, Jaune," but she didn't know if it actually came out.
He was awakened by the gentle touch of a hand on his shoulder.
His head snapped up, eyes open in an instant. Battle reflexes died hard. After gaining his bearings, he looked up into a pair of hazel eyes, half-hidden by a pair of dark-green glasses. Moonlight poured from behind the drapes across the window.
"Ozpin." The man wore the most somber expression he had ever seen.
"It's time, Jaune." The blond-haired man turned his attention to the sleeping girl before him, his hand still clasped tightly around hers. "It should be any minute now."
As if on cue, the monitor beside her bed began to grow quieter with each successive beep.
Jaune stood and leaned over his friend. It was time for his goodbyes.
"Weiss…" God what did he even say? "I don't know if you can hear me…I hope you can…" he paused, gathering his thoughts. "Thank you. For being with me all this time, for never leaving me alone." His voice caught, but he pushed through. Just a little more. For her. "For everything." He brushed a small strand of hair from her face.
"When you…when you see the others." He was losing it, and he knew it. He smiled weakly as the first tears dripped from the end of his nose onto her bed sheets. "Could you pass along a message for me? Just tell them…tell them I miss them." And he broke as it crashed down on him. He was alone now, completely. No one left to be there and help him along. No one left to comfort him whenever the nightmares struck. "Goodbye, Weiss."
It was like she had been waiting. The noise from the heart monitor became one solid tone, and Weiss Schnee was gone. Jaune planted one final kiss on her forehead, squeezed her still-warm hands one last time, and walked from the room without a glance back.
He couldn't be strong anymore. He was through.
Tears that he made no attempt to wipe away tracked down his face as he stumbled listlessly from the hospital.
Only one thought echoed through his mind.
And he was.
A/N: So, um, Merry Christmas!
...I got you sadness...yaaaaaaaaay...
Anyway, so that was a thing, a very sad thing. The saddest I've ever written to be sure
I'm not 100% sure where this idea came from, but I'm pretty certain I started with the line "Ren had been the first to go, to everyone's surprise" and I built everything up from there.
So, I hope you guys liked it, even if it hurt. Not gonna lie, writing a few of these lines actually tore me up, despite being the one writing
This was my first oneshot ever! Everything I've ever written before has either multi-chaptered or designed to be multi-chaptered. so yay for branching out
And no, this isn't a Jaune/Weiss, they're just two souls tightly bound together by shared tragedy
Leave me some reviews, let me know how I did. I really want to know what you guys thought
(cover image comes from the Weiss silhouette t-shirt from Roosterteeth)