Jaune: The Strong (Volume 1)

From Shadows to Light

One of the Atlas kids raised a hand in an apologetic manner. “So you two are dating? Seriously? Sorry about that, didn’t mean to interrupt.” The second one backed away, no longer interested in apprehending Velvet.

“It’s alright. You two were just doing your jobs.” Jaune kept his arm around his ‘girlfriend’ and maintained a smile. “With all of this Faunus and Human tension going around, it’s tough to find better times like now. Isn’t that right, dear?”

Velvet nodded as she scooted closer to Jaune’s body. Her sweet scent reminded the blonde of a wonderful piece of cake he once ate. “Y-yes love and I’m sorry about this. I was persistent about us spending time together. Exploring our relationship may have been better at the city after all.”

Jaune felt his heart tear into two as Velvet’s words made it sound like she was taking the blame for creating this development. However, this act worked to their advantage as the Atlas members displayed signs of guilt.

“N-no, we have nothing against your relationship. We’ll continue our search elsewhere.” When the first turned to leave, the second remained still as he looked around one last time to survey the area. Once he was done, both boys left so the ‘lovebirds’ could be alone.

Once he was sure that the coast was clear, Jaune let out the breath he unconsciously held in his lungs. Taking in air, he felt calm as his impromptu plan worked out for the best. He kept in mind that he made this appear like a ruined moment between lovers, something the Atlas teenagers wouldn’t have known how to handle due to their inexperience with such relationships.

“There’s no rush, but you can let go of me now.”

Jaune looked at his side to see that he still had his arm around Velvet. Feeling embarrassed for not noticing sooner, he gently pulled his limb off and stepped away so to give some breathing room. “Sorry, didn’t mean to hold on for so long. Wasn’t sure if they’d be convinced without something to show for it.”

The boy felt stupid for his nervous laughter. His attempt to pass this off as a light matter didn’t make his awkwardness disappear. However, Velvet was the total opposite when she lightly smiled at Jaune’s exaggerated expression. “It’s alright. You actually did fine since I couldn’t think of a plan that could work so well.”

“Really? Alright, glad you understand,” Jaune said as he calmed down. When he tried to move over to see if Blake was fine, he noticed one of Velvet’s ears were crooked. Remembering the injury was from when the Atlas punk grabbed her, he aimed a finger up and asked, “Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes, this is nothing for me.” Velvet had her hands raised so she could stroke the damaged ear. Her pained gasp didn’t escape Jaune’s hearing. “There’s no concern, especially when this was simply an accident.”

“Accident or not, they should have been nicer to you.” The blonde’s eyes became sad as he realized there wasn’t much else he could do. He and his friend were too tired to use Aura from their long day of fighting. “A Faunus’s ears can be really sensitive because of the inside nerves. Wouldn’t that make yours the same, especially when they’re so long?”

Velvet’s other ear perked up, a sign that she was surprised. “Well, I can’t disagree that my ears are somewhat tender, but how did you know this? Not many people would care about such details.”

“I had several Faunus friends in the past.” Jaune shrugged his shoulders to show his past relations to a different ethnicity weren’t a big deal to him. “Even if we couldn’t stay for long, it was fun being with them and I got to know a lot like the thing about your ears.”

“So you’ve had Faunus friends when you were a child? Wouldn’t there have been riots back then?”

“Yeah, Human and Faunus relations weren’t really stable during those times. Still, it was good times because that’s when I saw Faunus weren’t exactly that much different from humans.” During his answer, Jaune wasn’t sure why Velvet appeared pleasantly surprised.

With a hand on her chest, the rabbit sighed, “That’s quite a peculiar past you have, Jaune. It may explain why you haven’t shown any discomfort when you’re around people like me.”

“That’s coming from the fact that you’re a good person, not just because you’re a Faunus.” Jaune smiled as he felt his being become empowered from his thoughts of camaraderie. “Getting to know you since yesterday has been great, Velvet. I just wish we got to know each other since I first came here. It would have been nice; we probably could have done something about Cardin if we were together more often.”

This spoken statement had Velvet slightly lower her head so her bangs could cover the eyes. “You couldn’t mean that. Back then, I wasn’t very useful to people. If I couldn’t even stand up to Cardin as his senior, then what good am I?”

“The good is that we would still be together,” Jaune quickly stated. These words were apparently enough to make his friend raise her head so the boy could see her eyes. “The two of us didn’t have to be the best at fighting or studying. All we had to do for each other is share our thoughts and concerns. We did just that a while ago. Thanks to you, I finally know what I need to do starting tomorrow morning.”

When the blonde talker let his comment sink in, he suddenly felt embarrassed for saying them. Part of this emotion came from the realization that several of his words were from said by an inspirational tv show, a fictional character. It’s this train of thought that didn’t prepare him for the hopeful gaze that Velvet sent his way.

“Really? That’s all you would expect from me as we spend more time together in the future?”

“Well of course not. That’s what friends are for, right?” After asking this question, Jaune saw Velvet cross her legs as her arms went across her full chest. To see her like this in her incomplete uniform ignited desire in the depths of the teenage boy’s heart. While the moonlight and starry sky could have been blamed for setting the mood, he couldn’t deny that his friend’s reliance on him brought out his confidence as a man. This state didn’t help how he was viewing the shy Faunus as a beautiful creature.

“It doesn’t seem fair for you to do so much for me without gaining something of equal value.” For some reason, the rabbit bit her lip as she finished, “If any kind of favor ever comes to your mind, then don’t be afraid to tell me. I’ll do my best to make sure the two of us come out satisfied from what we do together.”

Jaune knew this would have been a time when Lou would have given another lewd misinterpretation. Glad for the absence of the talking necklace, he still couldn’t respond as his own mind wandered to what he could really do with the Faunus’s willingness.

He stopped himself when his mind veered towards those of the indecent nature. Jaune blamed this thinking process on Lou as the boy never considered using anyone for such purposes. Unfortunately, he was only somewhat sure while another part of him felt blood flowing towards the lower regions of his body.

“Velvet, you may need to reconsider your statement.” The voice came from Blake as she climbed over the balcony’s railing and stood near the other teenagers. With hands on her hips, she continued, “Even if it is coming from a soft person like him, he could always take advantage of you as a guy.”

When Jaune made eye contact with the black cat, he could see that she was onto him about his troubling desires. Even if he did display good intentions, Blake was going to keep an eye on him as she also has some kind of relationship with her fellow kind and gender.

“Oh, Blake!” Velvet yelped. “I’m sorry, we forgot to tell you to come up. Are you alright?”

“I’m fine. Really, I wasn’t expecting the two of you to cover me since I had a different escape planned. Don’t trouble yourselves about my well-being.” Saying her strange form of a ‘thank you,’ Blake began to walk towards the balcony’s double doors. Wondering how the rogue Faunus got into trouble earlier, Jaune asked, “So why were those two chasing you? Did you do something wrong?”

“That depends. While Velvet here may understand, you’ll probably think otherwise since it’s going against your new Atlas friends.” With her small insult, Blake tried to walk on to make her exit, but Velvet stood in her way. Appearing frustrated, the cat said, “Can you please move? I have no intention of explaining myself.”

Velvet shook her head while her frown showed disapproval of her younger friend’s reaction. “If you’re going off to cause more trouble, then I can’t let you go. What had me more concerned is how you tried to break into a restricted area. Why would you do such a thing when Atlas is already suspicious enough of our people?”

Blake resorted to silence while her arms crossed to put up an emotional barrier. Unfazed by this, Jaune walked up next to Velvet and said, “If you tell us your reason, we might be able to help. I’m even more curious as to why you broke the rules when you don’t normally do so.”

“I said there’s nothing to talk about. Besides, if I achieve my objective, then it’s better if you two remain out of this.” Blake’s revealed concern had the others trade worried expressions with each other.

“Are you pushing yourself again?” Jaune asked. “If you are, you’ll end up worrying most of us like the last time.”

The cat Faunus shook her head. “This is different, and I don’t plan on doing this alone. You and Velvet shouldn’t be involved since the two of you have your own plans.”

Jaune shook his head. “Velvet does, but I’m free. And if we’re thinking on the same page, I might have a solution that could help you out.”

“Okay, let me rephrase that. Velvet can’t come because she’s busy. You, on the other hand, should stay out of my way.” When Blake saw her words surprised her listeners, her amber eyes glared at the blonde with sudden hatred. “People already consider you an attentive subject of sorts because you were at the right place and time to deserve that kind of attention. If you have this kind of status while meddling in my affairs, you’ll end up ruining something along the way.”

Jaune nodded as the reasoning was sound; his presence might end up attracting the wrong attention, especially if the Faunus was trying to do good. However, some part of him felt Blake’s issue involved something, or someone, else. “Is that really it? Aren’t you more bothered by the fact that Steele and Penny, people from Atlas, are kind of like my friends?”

“I…fine. Yes, that’s what is bothering me the most about you right now.” With an unusual tone of sass, the black cat sighed while Jaune felt some pride from his correct deduction. “I admit, my dislike of Atlas is obvious, but it’s based on good reasons. Do I need to remind you it’s them and the Schnee Company who made those killing machines? The worst is how their lack of supervision is letting criminals, the White Fang, get their hands on them to cause destruction like the one we dealt with today.”

Ever the insightful Faunus, Blake made points that also bothered Jaune for a while. He figured there were some things off, but he didn’t have enough information to consider who the bad guy was in this case. While he didn’t consider having such thoughts, he saw that his involvement with Penny and Steele disturbed the brunette enough to have her consider him a problem.

“Blake, would it bother you if I said that I’m not really on anybody’s side?” Jaune said this as he felt guilty that his intentions weren’t clear for people like Blake. “During the past few days, a lot happened to me. I tried to keep up, deal with each issue without causing too much trouble for the others. People saw this and apparently, a lot of them tried to label me as a guy fighting for one side and going against the other.”

The blond noticed he also had the rabbit’s attention. Seeing this had him turn his head towards her way and add, “Velvet also got caught up along the way. Seeing a friend in trouble wanted me to help her. Right after that, I got into a meeting with Steele and found out he attacked her out of a misunderstanding.”

“Get to the point. We can’t stay here for long,” Blake snapped as voices became audible from a distant area.

“What I’m saying is that if you’re trying to figure something out, I can help you since I’m not doing this to have one side get an advantage over the other. So…you can expect my help or at least trust me enough to support you in some way.” Jaune said his comment with pleading eyes as he didn’t want to have bad relations with the Faunus of Team Ruby. Another part of him felt the need to show his good side to the beauty of darkness, one whose mysterious origins and charming grace peaked some of his interest in her.

Finally, Blake said, “Alright, but under one condition. If I ever get into trouble in any way, I frankly don’t care because it’s my fault for trusting you.” Speaking with a low voice, she slowly came closer in a manner that reminded Jaune of a creeping predator. “My team, however, is a different case. If this ever gets back to them, you’ll regret for being a man who isn’t worth the value he’s carrying.”

“And the worst part is that you’ll never see me coming.” Stepping back, Blake raised up an arm to show she had a Scroll between her fingers. This made Jaune check his pocket to realize his was missing. Nodding to show he understood, he said, “I got it, you made your point. Can I have that back?”

When she gave the Scroll back to its owner, Blake stated, “Any lower and you would have permanently lost something precious. Just remember I’ll be going for that first if you disregard my promise.”

“S-sure.” Jaune unconsciously crossed his legs and wondered if Blake was always like this. His next thought wondered if his newfound friendship with Penny and Steele was worth keeping if it meant facing more of Blake’s wrath in the coming future. He glanced at the silent Velvet to see that she appeared frightened, meaning the cat didn’t show this dangerous side except towards the ones that may have pissed her off.

“Alright, there’s one more thing to take care of before we talk.” Blake got into a comfortable stance as she gave Velvet a soft expression. “Go back to your dorm. If Jaune helps me and we both get caught along the way, I’d rather not have you and your team bear the punishment with us.”

Velvet shook her head in a defiant way, something that even Jaune could tell wasn’t common for the timid rabbit. “Then isn’t it better to let me have the details? During or after the mission, you two can count on me to be a sort of backup. If that time is to come, I won’t let any of you down.”

Jaune felt glad that the member of Team Coffee was trying to be supportive, which reminded him of their recent conversation. He knew Velvet desired to be of help, an emotion he also shared since he wished to become a hero. “Blake, she has a point. She could help us as an older classmate. With her on our side, we can even take care of the matters that come after talking with the Faunus who rode that Paladin today.”

“So you did know I tried to sneak in to talk to that pilot.” Blake’s tone and her calm mannerism gave the impression that she was impressed by Jaune’s deduction. “Then is the solution you mentioned related to my problem? I…We need to talk to her. We have to know what she knows before things get worse.”

Jaune smiled as he heard not malice, but trust in Blake’s words. “Yeah, I do.” He lost his joy after remembering that his solution wasn’t going to be comfortable for the cat. “And to be clear, you trust me, right? Because this next part is a good option, but it’s not going to make you very happy.”

“That depends,” were the cold words that made the young Arc feel like he may as well be castrated the moment he said his plan. He didn’t like how Blake also sounded like she knew what was coming when she said, “I hope this plan of yours isn’t going to involve one of your new friends.”

“You may also want to consider your old friends too, Jaune.”

The new voice had everyone whip their heads around at an alarming rate. They saw standing at the balcony’s double doors was Pyrrha, who was wearing her red tank top and black shorts. With hair still down, she could have appeared lovely had it not been for the rifle she had in her hand. While the warrior wasn’t aiming the gun at anyone, the sight still made Jaune feel even more nervous than before.

“Well? Care to explain why your restroom time involves meeting two girls on the balcony alone?” Pyrrha showed no signs of cheering up as her frown slanted down to the point of no return. She was obviously looking for her partner, who she found to be safe and relaxed rather than in the expected peril. “And why are there Atlas people running all over the place? Did you start another fight with them again or is there more going on?”

Jaune could see he had more to explain to his partner who just arrived. He would have saved it for later, but he was stopped when Blake turned her attention back onto him with her eyes. The Faunus was still waiting for her answer; she didn’t seem to be in a hurry despite how she was still a criminal on the run.

Feeling trapped, the poor leader realized he was going to suffer one consequence after another. If things couldn’t get worse, his eyes managed to catch a piece of Lou, the necklace that was hanging from Pyrrha’s neck.

“I was about to congratulate you Jaune, but it looks like you’re deep in the crap hole. One advice, try to make the dangerous one happy so the other one could dish out the lesser pain.”

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