Yang let out tortured groan, pulling the blankets over her head in an attempt to block the sunlight streaming through her bedroom window. Though she'd had fun last night, the pounding headache she was currently experiencing left her questioning her decision to spike the punch bowl with vodka. Her primary target hadn't even touched the damn stuff!
"Damn it…" the blonde muttered as she began hearing several clamoring voices coming from downstairs. "Could they be any louder?" She grabbed her pillow and wrapped it around her head in an attempt to block out the noise. It worked for a minute or two before the voices began to steadily increase in volume.
Yang let out a low growl in the back of her throat, her eyes turning to glare at the door murderously. "Oi!" She shouted, but all she succeeded in doing was worsening her headache. After heaving an aggravated sigh, the girl threw the covers off and stumbled her way to the door.
"-ever do something so dangerous again!" her father's voice carried upstairs as her bedroom door swung open. "Do you understand me, Ruby Rose?"
"Yes, Dad…" her little sister's voice said in a surprisingly demure tone. Yang frowned as she began making her way down the stairs. What did Ruby do this time? After several minutes of alternating between descending and grasping her head in pain, the blonde finally made it to the kitchen, where Ruby, their father and — to Yang's surprise — their uncle Qrow sat around the dining table.
"Old Man Qrow?" Yang questioned as she dragged herself into the room.
"Why, hello, Yang," the older man said with a bemused smile. "Rough night?"
"And you!" The girls' father suddenly turned his wrath towards his eldest child. "You told me there would be no alcohol at that party! You're lucky Kyousuke was there to drag you home! Do you have any idea how dangerous that could have been for a young woman like you?!"
The girl let out a groan as she sat down next to her baby sister. "Yeah, yeah," she muttered, rubbing her forehead wearily. "I'm sorry."
"One 'yeah' is enough," the man said sternly.
His name was Querv, the father of Yang and Ruby. A widow, twice over, he had dark hair and matching eyes. He wore a black sweater and a pair of brown trousers.
Sitting next to him was his older brother, Qrow. Although he once had hair as dark as his sibling, just a few years ago, it had begun turning gray at the sides. Now, the majority of his hair was gray, with just a few streaks of black remaining. Unlike his brother, however, Qrow possessed a pair of sharp blue eyes. Dressed in a dark suit, he looked every part the dignified professor.
"I'll be dealing with you later, young lady," Querv said sharply. "When you're not as indisposed as you are now."
Yang rolled her eyes and pulled a plate of pancakes over. "Yes, sir," she grumbled, chewing on the bread roughly. "So, what was all that yelling about earlier?"
"Well, look at the time," Ruby suddenly stood. "I better go…!"
"Sit." Querv commanded. The girl did so, a stricken look on her face. "Well, Yang. Last night, your sister deemed it necessary to attack a well-known criminal and his gang of thieves."
"You what?" the blonde demanded, staring at her sister incredulously.
"Well, you see, I - uh…"
"How could you just attack a dangerous criminal—"
"And not invite ME?!" the blonde roared, pounding her fist into the table and nearly causing it to collapse.
"Yang!" their father snapped.
Ruby's face melted in relief before grinning at her sister happily. "You should have been there!" she exclaimed. "I was all, waaaah… hiya!"
"Man, you have all the luck," Yang grinned, bringing a fork-full of pancakes towards her mouth.
"And then, Kyousuke whips out his gunblade and starts kicking butt, too!" Ruby gushed. "It was awesome!"
The fork fell back onto the plate, creating a harsh noise that caused all three of her family members to flinch. The red-haired girl turned to her sister in confusion. "Sis?" Ruby questioned. The blonde girl simply stared at her in mute shock. Her mouth moved, but no words came out.
Finally, after several minutes of silence, Yang spoke. "H-He used it?" she asked urgently. "He used his gunblade?"
"He used Blazefire Saber?"
"Yes," Ruby smiled eagerly. "It was just as beautiful as you said it was. Not flashy or intricate. It just had a simple elegance about it."
"I-I don't believe it…" Yang whispered, shaking her head. Her breakfast sat forgotten before her. "Kyo actually used it? It's been… three years..."
"And I believe that there was something else you should inform her about?" Qrow suggested. Beside him, their father scowled slightly.
"That's right!" Ruby exclaimed, practically bouncing in excitement. "Yang, guess what! I'm going to Beacon!"
"I still don't think she's ready," Querv grumbled. Qrow clapped a hand on his shoulder comfortingly, though he still wore an amused expression on his face.
"Seriously?" Yang was broken out of her reverie and turned to stare at the younger girl in shock. "But, how?"
"Well, during the battle, we ran into Ms. Goodwitch, Professor Ozpin's assistant," Ruby explained. "The Professor saw our performance and offered us a place at Beacon!"
"Wait," the blonde broke in, her eyes widening. "Did you say… us?"
"That's right!" the redhead beamed. "Big Bro got in, too! We'll all be going together!"
Yang just stared at her for several moments before a grin slowly made its way onto her face. The blonde girl broke into a fit of giddy laughter as she pulled Ruby into a hug. "Oh, this day just keeps getting better and better!" Yang exclaimed. Suddenly, she stood up, a gleam in her eye. "I gotta go see Kyo!"
She spun around and made to leave, except…
"And where do you think you're going, young lady?" Querv demanded. "Did you forget I have yet to assign punishment for your little mishap last night?"
Yang flinched and slowly turned to face him, a pout on her face. "Pleeeaase, Daddy?" she sniffed, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. "I-I promise never to do it again."
Her father cringed at the expression on her face. Finally, after several moments, he sighed. "Fine," the man said wearily. His daughter cheered and gave him a kiss on the cheek before dashing out the door.
"Hey, Yang!" Ruby called as she chased after her. "Wait for me!"
Querv watched as his children ran out the door to go see their friend. Qrow chuckled at the look on his face. "Hmm, you're getting soft, little brother," he said at length.
"Shut up," Querv muttered, shaking his head. 'They look more and more like their mothers every day.'
They were silent for several minutes before Qrow brought up something he'd been wondering for a while now.
"Hey, wasn't Yang hungover just a few minutes ago?" The girl had seemed perfectly fine when she left.
The two brothers shared a puzzled look over the strange phenomenon before shrugging. It was Yang they were talking about, after all.
Across the city, another person, despite being awake for several hours now, was just as disheveled as the blonde girl in question. "Those damn brats," Roman Torchwick muttered to himself as he fingered a soot stain on his once-pristine white jacket. "They ruined my brand new suit."
The red-haired man strode through a labyrinth of industrial transport boxes until he came upon a small workbench, upon which lay a large map of the Greater Vale Area. "Honestly," he continued under his breath. "Notorious criminal, Roman Torchwick: robbing Dust stores? Just what the hell does that woman need with all this Dust, anyway?"
"That's for me to know and you to carry out, Roman," a sultry voice said from behind one of the boxes. "Like the good little foot soldier you are."
Roman noticeably jumped at the voice, quickly spinning around to see a young woman approaching him. She had dark brown hair that fell to her shoulders and a pair of amber eyes. The woman wore a dark-red, off-the-shoulders, v-neck mini-dress with yellow designs that reminded him strongly of flowing lava.
"Whoa…!" the red-haired man exclaimed, backing away from her nervously. "Cinder! I-I thought you took off already!"
"I just wanted to… clarify a few things with you before I take my leave," the dark-haired temptress said as she began to slowly walk circles around him, every step she took oozing sensuality. The red-haired man swallowed. "You'll take care not to have a repeat of last night, won't you?"
"Of course," Roman murmured, following her movements anxiously. "Those brats were an… unexpected factor. If they get in my way again, I'll kill them myself. You can be sure of that."
"Ah, yes. About that…"
It happened faster than Roman could have possibly reacted. Cinder threw her hand forward, whipping it across his face harshly. The crack of skin contacting skin echoed off the walls and the redhead was nearly sent flying into the desk behind him.
"If I find out that you've done so, I guarantee you'll join them soon after." Her voice was positively glacial as she sneered at his still-staggering form.
Roman looked up at her, his vision still reeling. "Those brats?" he asked incredulously. "And just what's so special about them?"
"I couldn't care less about the girl," Cinder scoffed, turning on her heel and making her way towards the parked Bullhead. A henchman sat in the cockpit, ready to fly her wherever it was she planned on going. "Do as you wish with her. But the boy is mine."
Roman watched in mild shock as the woman climbed into the large machine. The Bullhead rose up from the helipad and through the open roof of the warehouse. Finally, with a roaring boom, it took off into the skies above. The red-haired man shook his head.
"I don't know what you did, brat," he muttered, turning his attention towards the map of Vale once again. "But it looks like somehow, you ended up on Cinder's bad side."
And if this was the case, the boy would need all the help he could get. He almost felt sorry for the kid. Almost.
"I hope he's training his ass off." Roman placed a cigar in his mouth and quickly lit it with his zippo. "Cause God knows he's gonna need it."
Kyousuke blearily opened his eyes as the sunlight began to stream through his windows. Yawning slightly, he made to get up, only to feel a weight against his shoulder. Glancing to his left, he saw his beloved little sister sleeping peacefully beside him. Smiling slightly, he
1. Gently hugged her close.
2. Pulled the blanket over her without waking her.
3. Kicked her out of bed without question.
"What the hell are you doing?!" he shouted, violently kicking the slumbering girl out of his bed.
"Gaah!" the real Kyousuke exclaimed as Kirino punched him in the nose.
"What the hell is wrong with you?!" his sister roared. "Look, you made Shiori-chan cry! You... You monster!"
"Why are you making me do this?!" Kyousuke shouted back, gesturing wildly towards his computer, on which an eroge was currently running.
"Unbelievable!" Kirino muttered, ignoring him completely. "Who could kick an innocent, sleeping girl out of bed like that?"
'Says the bitch that slaps her brother in the face to wake him up,' Kyousuke thought snidely, remembering the incident from last night. Kirino had woken him up at a godforsaken hour to show him her extensive collection of eroge and anime. In his sleep-deprived stupor, he'd promised to help with her hobby, but he certainly didn't remember agreeing to this!
"G-Gomen ne, Onii-chan…" Shiori said pitifully.
"See?" Kirino demanded. "Don't you feel sorry for her?"
"She's a cluster of pixels sitting on my computer," Kyousuke said bluntly. "So, no; not really."
His sister looked ready to spit out an angry retort, but was silenced as a loud banging noise suddenly began reverberating throughout the house. It sounded like it was coming from downstairs...
"Kyo!" a familiar voice shouted from outside. "Open up!"
"Yang?" Kyousuke exclaimed.
"Ugh, what is she doing here?" Kirino muttered, irritation seeping into her voice.
"I don't know," he replied, a slightly confused expression making its way onto his face. "I figured she'd be stuck at home with a hangover." Kyousuke turned towards Kirino with a glare. "But, whatever. I'm gonna go greet them. Eject that eroge and take it back to your room."
He didn't wait for her to respond, instead jogging towards the stairs. "Kyo! Hurry up and open the door!"
"I'm coming!" he roared, as Yang continued to pound on the front door. "Just hold your horses!"
Kyousuke opened the door to see Yang grinning at him. "Hey, Kyo, I'm here to Yang out!" The door immediately slammed shut. "No, wait! I'm sorry! No more puns, I swear!" A moment later, the door was unlocked once more and Kyousuke suddenly found his face wedged between two very soft objects.
"Kyo!" the blonde cried, having captured him in a bone-crushing hug. "I heard the news!"
"Nwws?" he asked, his voice muffled by Yang's shirt.
"That you're coming to Beacon with me!" she elaborated.
"And," With a great heave, Kyousuke freed himself from her ironclad grip, gasping for breath as he did so. "Where did you hear that?"
"I told her, Big Bro," Ruby said from behind her older sister. The black-haired boy turned his gaze towards her, slightly irked. "Are you… angry?"
He continued to stare at her for several moments before sighing. "No," Kyousuke sighed. "She would have found out sooner or later." He blinked however, and took another look at his childhood friend. "Isn't that the same dress from last night?"
Yang glanced down at her attire. It was indeed the same dress she'd worn to the party last night. "Ahaha," the blonde chuckled sheepishly. "I guess I was a little too excited with the news and all. I still have some spare clothes here, right?"
"Some?" Kyousuke repeated, raising an eyebrow at her. "You realize that half the clothes in my closet are yours, right?"
"You never know," Yang shrugged, a grin on her face. "You have thrown my stuff away before."
"That was last week," he snapped. "And in the time between then and now, you still somehow managed to fill my closet with your stuff again."
"That's just me showing you how much I care, Kyo!" The blonde threw him a thumbs-up and a wink before walking past him and making her way upstairs.
"Bro!" Ruby suddenly shouted, causing him to jump in shock. Kyousuke turned to see her practically bouncing where she stood. "Can I see it?"
"See what?" he asked in confusion.
"Blazefire Saber!" the redhead exclaimed, barely able to contain her excitement. "Can I see it? Pleeeease? I promise I won't break it!"
Kyousuke rolled his eyes and sighed. "It's on my nightstand," he replied. "Go on ahead. I'll go grab us some drinks."
Ruby wasted no time in brushing past him and bounding up the stairs. However, before she could make it to the top, she found herself face-to-face with Kyousuke's sister. "Oh!" the red-haired girl squeaked. "H-Hi, Kirino!" The other girl didn't even bother responding, deliberately brushing past her and down the stairs. Kyousuke's eyes narrowed as he spied Ruby's crestfallen expression.
"Oi!" he snapped. "The least you can do is say 'hi' back."
His sister merely threw him a dirty look. "I'm going out," she said bluntly before walking away from him and out the door.
"That little…!" He glanced up the stairs to see that Ruby had already left. With a sigh, he made his way towards the kitchen and retrieved three cans of Yang's favorite Ol' King Cold and three glasses of ice, placing all of them on a small serving tray. However, as he made his way back upstairs, he noticed there was a very suspicious lack of noise coming from his room. Usually, whenever weaponry was involved, Ruby would be gushing very loudly and Yang would be attempting to calm her down.
But as he approached the semi-closed door of his room, Kyousuke heard none of this. Just an eerie silence.
Eyes narrowing, Kyousuke pushed the door open. The first thing he noticed was several articles of female clothing on the floor, including - embarrassingly enough - a pair of yellow panties and a matching bra. The second thing he noticed was that Blazefire Saber lay untouched upon his nightstand. The third and final thing he noticed was that the two girls were currently sitting at his computer, transfixed with something on the screen.
"Hey," Kyousuke called. "What are you-"
"Ahn!" A very erotic noise came from his computer. "Onii-chan… d-dame…!"
Kyousuke immediately went pale. "N-No!" he shouted, his voice going up an octave.
"Wow, Kyo," Yang said, a look of surprise on her face as she glanced up at him. "I didn't know you were into this kind of thing." Ruby, meanwhile, refused to make eye contact with him, her face completely red.
"This isn't what it looks like!" Kyousuke cried hysterically. "I swear!"
"Onii-chan… I-Ikuuuu!" He nearly lost it as the two-dimensional girl on his computer cried out. If possible, Ruby's face grew even redder while Yang had a shit-eating grin on hers.
"It's alright, Kyo," the blonde said slyly. "Or should I say... Nii-san?"
"Y-You are at that age…" Ruby added, shyly bumping her two index fingers together. She still wouldn't make eye contact with him. "O-Onii-chan."
Kyousuke simply fell to his knees, sobbing brokenly.
In downtown Vale, in a small laboratory, two adults sat conversing. The light from a nearby lamp was all that prevented the room from being engulfed in darkness. "I see," Yoshino hummed, smiling happily as she fiddled with a microscope. "So, that's what happened, huh?"
"Yes." Daisuke nodded from his position leaning against her desk. "He'll be attending Beacon next month."
"I always knew my baby had it in him," she said, a hint of pride entering her voice. "And what about Torchwick?"
The large man frowned. "The search is still on," he said gruffly. "Goodwitch and the children said he escaped in a Bullhead with a dark-haired woman. The goons we arrested were useless. They were just hired muscle. No information to be found there."
"There, there," Yoshino said, patting him comfortingly. "You'll get him eventually. You always do."
Daisuke smirked and opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by a beeping noise coming from his wife's scroll. Yoshino reached into her coat pocket and retrieved the small communications device. "Rachel?" she questioned, raising an eyebrow at the brown-haired secretary that appeared on her scroll.
"Professor Kousaka," the woman squeaked, uncharacteristically nervous. "Y-You've got a call on line two."
"I see," Yoshino raised an eyebrow at her before sighing. "Thank you, Rachel."
"I'd better get going then," Daisuke checked his watch. "I should get back to the station anyway."
"I'm sorry," his wife said apologetically.
"It's fine," he chuckled, leaning down and kissing her on the cheek. "I know how busy you are."
And with that, he took his leave. "I'll try and come home tonight!" she called just as the door began to swing closed. "We'll throw a celebratory dinner for Kyousuke!"
Daisuke nodded before closing the door behind him. Yoshino sighed tiredly and reached for her scroll once again. "Schnee Dust Company - Research Division," the brown-haired woman said tiredly as she answered line two. "Division Head, Yoshino speaking."
"Is this a bad time, Yoshino?" a well-dressed, white-haired man asked, raising an eyebrow at her through the scroll.
"Oh!" Yoshino exclaimed, her eyes widening in shock. "Mr. President, what a surprise!"
The man sighed and she could tell he had to physically restrain himself from rolling his eyes. "I believe we've known each other long enough to skip the formalities, my dear," he said.
"Sorry, Svernare," she said sheepishly. "So, what's your reason for calling? I already sent you my latest reports, so it can't be that."
"Is it so wrong to call an old friend?" the white-haired man asked.
"You never call without a reason, Svernare," Yoshino smiled knowingly. He merely stared at her for several moments before sighing.
"You know me too well," he admitted. "It's about your son."
Yoshino blinked at him, confusion plain on her face. "What about Kyousuke?"
Kyousuke sneezed. He blinked, rubbing his nose in confusion.
"Gesundheit," Yang called out from her lounging position on his bed. Beside her, Ruby was busy examining (read: gushing) over his gunblade. After their rather embarrassing encounter with Kirino's eroge, things had finally calmed down after Kyousuke had managed to convince them that one of his classmates had insisted he play it.
"It's dual cartridge compatible?" Ruby exclaimed as she ejected the magazine from the hilt of the blade.
"Yup," Yang grinned. "It also has an auto-adapter, so it can use any ammo you feed it. Unfortunately, it can't fire while in Blade Mode."
Ruby's brow furrowed in thought. "But, Big Bro kept his finger on the trigger," she said, remembering the encounter from last night. "Why do that if it can't fire?"
"That's where the dual cartridge comes in," Kyousuke said, looking up from his computer, where he was surfing the web. "The second cartridge is reserved almost entirely for Blade Mode. It's filled with special HF — High Frequency — rounds."
"The HF rounds make the blade resonate with high frequency vibrations," Yang elaborated, a nostalgic grin on her face. "But since it's vibrating at such high speeds, it becomes nearly impossible to control and takes years to master properly. The HF rounds trade control for pure power; increasing the blade's cutting ability tenfold. I've seen that thing cut through three feet of solid concrete like a hot knife through butter."
Ruby practically had stars in her eyes and she almost floated over to the older boy. "Bro!" she cried, grabbing his arm and drooling slightly. "Can you modify Crescent Rose to use your HF rounds?"
Kyousuke chuckled before removing himself from her grip. "Sorry, no can do, Ruby," he said. "HF rounds are incredibly dangerous in the hands of the untrained. They're a trade secret passed down to me by my teacher."
"Your teacher?" the redhead repeated. "Oh! Can you introduce me? Maybe he'll show me how…!"
The black-haired boy flinched, however. "Eheh," He rubbed the back of his head. "I don't think she'd take too kindly to me showing up at her doorstep."
"Huh? Why not?"
"Let's just say she's not the most accommodating of people," Yang piped in, shaking her head slightly. "I've only met her a handful of times. Strictest woman you'd ever meet."
"Not only that, but we sort of had a... falling out…" Kyousuke said quietly. "She didn't appreciate me giving up my training."
"But… why did you give up?" Ruby asked carefully, sensing the solemn atmosphere.
"Let's just say that something happened three years ago," he shrugged. "And as a result, I swore that I would never fight again."
"But… what about last night?" the redhead questioned.
"That was an exception," Kyousuke admitted. "I couldn't let you deal with them on your own. If you had gotten hurt, I never would have forgiven myself."
Ruby's mind drifted to the events of the previous evening. When Roman had tossed that Dust crystal on the ground, she hadn't even noticed it. But Kyousuke had. He could have easily avoided it himself, but he chose to protect her instead of himself…
"Big Bro…" Ruby said softly. "I never got to say it last night, but… thank you. You saved my life back on the roof."
"I didn't do anything," Kyousuke snorted. "It was Ms. Goodwitch who saved us from the explosion."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Yang shouted, eyes darting between the two. "Roof? Explosion?" She thought the two had just dealt with some run-of-the-mill thieves. She thought her dad was just overreacting, like he always did. But from the sound of things, the two had nearly gotten themselves killed.
"Well, when we were chasing Torchwick—"
"Wait, Torchwick?" Yang repeated. "As in Roman Torchwick? The guy that's been all over the news? That Torchwick?"
Ruby nodded meekly. "Yeah, him," she said.
"Ruby, why didn't you tell me any of this before?" the blonde girl demanded.
"Because I knew you'd freak out like this!" the redhead snapped. "You and dad are always like that. I'm not a little girl anymore. I drink milk!"
Yang's lip twitched, but she just sighed. "Alright," she said. "Sorry. You were saying?"
"Right…" Ruby muttered. "When we were chasing him, he threw a volatile Dust crystal at our feet. I was too distracted by the Bullhead to notice and I couldn't hear Kyousuke shouting at me to run. So, he tackled me to the ground and shielded me with his body." Yang looked at him in shock as Ruby grew visibly upset. "If Ms. Goodwitch hadn't been there, you… you would have…"
"But I wasn't," Kyousuke snapped, uncomfortable with the unnecessary attention they were giving to his actions. "No one died and no one was injured. That's all that matters."
"It's fine, Ruby," he insisted. "It's really no big deal."
Ruby opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a beeping noise coming from Kyousuke's scroll. The black-haired boy sighed in relief, glad for an excuse to cut this uncomfortable situation short. "Sorry," he said sheepishly. The two girls nodded and he opened his scroll. He blinked at who he saw on the other end of the call. "Mom?"
"Ah, Kyousuke!" his mother exclaimed. "Oh, is that Yang and Ruby I see back there?"
"Hey, Mrs. K!" Yang greeted cheerfully, her mood doing a complete 180°. Ruby simply waved at her, not feeling very cheery at the moment.
"What are you calling for, Mom?" Kyousuke questioned. "Aren't you really busy?"
"I'm never too busy for my children, Kyousuke," his mother admonished. "But, in a way, you're right. Something has… come up. It would be better if I explained in person. I sent someone to pick you up."
He raised an eyebrow at her "Right now?" Kyousuke asked incredulously. He gestured towards the two girls. "I'm kind of busy hosting at the moment…"
"I'm sorry," Yoshino said apologetically. "But it's rather important." She turned to the two girls in question. "I'm sorry, you two. But if you're willing to stick around for a few hours, we'll be throwing a small dinner party. You're more than welcome to join us."
"Thanks," Ruby said, shaking her head. "But—"
"Sounds great, Mrs. K!" Yang exclaimed, cutting her sister off.
"Wonderful!" Yoshino said, clapping her hands together happily. "Kyousuke, Rachel should be there any moment now…" Just as she said this, a black Rolls-Royce pulled into the driveway and honked. Yang let out a low, appreciative whistle at the machine.
"Since when do secretaries drive Rolls?" Kyousuke exclaimed.
"It actually belongs to the person I want you to meet," Yoshino said with a mysterious smile. "He insisted that you… arrive in a dignified manner."
"And why does he care how I arrive?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I'll explain when you get here," she said. "Don't keep Rachel waiting." And with that, she ended the call. Kyousuke merely sighed and closed his scroll.
"Sorry about this, girls," he said. Yang waved it off.
"No worries, Kyo," she grinned. "We'll just hang out in my room."
"It's not your room. It's the guest room."
"It might as well be my room."
"Whatever," he sighed, grabbing a coat from his closet. "There's food in the fridge. Take whatever you want if you get hungry." He grabbed Blazefire Saber and slung it onto a harness on his lower back. Then, with one final wave, he left. Ruby turned to her sister once he was out of sight.
"Why did you tell them we'd stay?" the redhead asked.
"Well, for one, Mrs. K is an awesome cook," Yang said with a grin. "And this also gives us a chance to snoop around. Let's see what other dirty things Kyo is hiding!"
Ruby flushed red but didn't stop her.
Outside, Kyousuke approached the parked car with a confused expression on his face. The person standing beside it was definitely not his mother's secretary. It was an elderly man wearing a smart black suit and a black chauffeur's hat. "Master Kousaka," the man greeted. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"Er, hi…" Kyousuke chuckled sheepishly. "Sorry, but I was expecting a woman named Rachel…?"
"I'm right here, Kyousuke." The backseat door opened and a mousy-haired woman stepped out. "I'm sorry, but we're running a bit late. Would you mind just getting in?"
"Yeah, sure." The black-haired boy slid inside the surprisingly spacious backseat. Rachel slid in after him. The elderly man closed the door behind her before taking a seat behind the wheel. "Rachel," Kyousuke said after they'd pulled out of the driveway. "What's going on? And who is this?"
"That's Piers," the woman replied. The man in questioned tipped his hat, smiling at him through the rear-view mirror. "He'll be our chauffeur for the day. As for what's going on, I'm afraid there's not much I can tell you that you don't already know."
The teen glanced out the window to see the scenery of downtown Vale passing by as they cruised down the street. "Well, can you at least tell me where we're going? This isn't the way to my mother's lab."
"To the Schnee Company Headquarters here in Vale," Rachel replied before reaching underneath the seat and pulling out a leather suitcase. "Now, I'm sorry, but I'm going to need you to change out of those clothes."
"Change?" he repeated, staring at the suitcase incredulously.
"Please, we don't have much time." Kyousuke spent the next several minutes in a wild flurry of flailing limbs as Rachel forced him into an expensive-looking three-piece suit.
"No!" he snapped, as Rachel procured a bottle of hair gel from the suitcase. The entire ordeal had left him very agitated. "You're not putting that crap in my hair."
Rachel glanced at her watch and sighed. "You're right, we don't have time," she said, prompting him to open his mouth to issue a hot retort. "We're here."
"Huh?" Kyousuke glanced out the window to find himself in the shadow of the single biggest skyscraper he had ever seen.
"Master Kousaka." The teen was broken out of his reverie by Piers' voice as the older man opened the door. Numbly, Kyousuke stepped out of the car, still staring at the absolutely massive example of modern architecture. He'd seen it hundreds of times before. Hell, he doubted there was a single point in the city where you couldn't see it. But standing before it now made him realize just how enormous it was; and how enormous the Schnee Company was as a whole.
But what really hit Kyousuke the hardest was how long it'd been there — and why. The building itself had only finished construction less than five years ago. The Schnee Company's main headquarters was in Atlas, after all.
However, its research division and more importantly, its Head was located here. His mother's presence here in Vale was slowly, but surely forcing the company to relocate. Such was the power and influence Yoshino Kousaka held. Kyousuke had known this fact for years, but his mother had always made it seem so insignificant… so trivial that he'd never given it much thought.
"Let's go, Kyousuke." Rachel urged, tapping him on the small of his back. The black-haired teen swallowed the lump in his throat and nervously readjusted his necktie before following the mousy-haired woman. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he slightly regretted not letting Rachel gel his hair.
They entered the building and Kyousuke found that the building's interior was just as impressive as its exterior. The two completely bypassed the receptionist's desk and — after Rachel scanned her ID card on a terminal — entered a large, spacious elevator. As they began to ascend to the highest levels, Kyousuke could feel his anticipation mounting. He wished Yang was here, if only to break the uncomfortable silence that had fallen between Rachel and himself. He hoped those girls were staying out of trouble.
Across the city, Yang sneezed. She blinked at the randomness of the occurrence before shrugging and continuing her raid on Kyousuke's stash of porno mags.
Kyousuke and Rachel continued their ascent in the elevator. The only sound disrupting the otherwise silent ride was Frank Sinatra's Fly Me to the Moon coming from the elevator speakers. Then, after several more moments of awkward silence, the elevator let out a ding. Kyousuke glanced up to see that they were on… the 131st floor! The elevator doors opened and he found himself looking through a long passage. On the far side was an intricate mahogany door.
"Your mother is in the conference hall." Rachel gestured towards the doorway. "Best not to keep them waiting."
"Wait, who is them?" Kyousuke demanded. The woman merely shook her head, an amused smile on her face as she gently pushed him out and pressed the 'descend' button. The elevator doors closed and Kyousuke suddenly found himself standing alone in the hallway. Taking a deep, calming breath, the black-haired teen strode towards the large double-doors, pausing only momentarily before reaching up and throwing them open.
What he saw was not what he had been expecting. Kyousuke had half-expected to find himself in a darkened room, surrounded by huge electronic monoliths, demanding that he pilot an Evangelion to save the world from the Angels. He would be lying if he said he wasn't slightly disappointed. Not everyone got to pilot a giant robot, after all!
No, what he found instead was a brightly lit room with a long conference table. Most of the seats were empty, as there were only three individuals present. One was his mother, still wearing her white lab coat over a simple purple suit. Another was a tall, white-haired man dressed in a pristine, white three-piece suit. The final person was a beautiful girl with white hair tied into a ponytail on the right side of her head. She had icy-blue eyes and wore a white summer dress as well as a pair of elegant black sandals.
"Kyousuke!" his mother exclaimed cheerfully. "Look at you, all fancied up! I told Rachel it wasn't necessary, but you know how she gets."
"Mr. Kyousuke Kousaka," the man said, standing up from his spot at the head of the table. "It's a pleasure to meet you at last. Or perhaps I should say, it's nice to see you again. I haven't laid eyes on you since you were a babe."
"Um, the pleasure is mine…?" Kyousuke muttered, shaking the man's hand.
"Kyousuke, this is Svernare Schnee," Yoshino said. "President and owner of the Schnee Company."
Eyes widening, the black-haired teen cleared his throat nervously. "N-Nice to meet you, Mr. President."
The man took a step back and looked him over once before nodding in apparent satisfaction. "You've become a fine young man." He gestured toward the girl, who'd held herself back from their introductions. "You've probably surmised, but this is my daughter, Weiss."
"A pleasure to finally meet you again." The white-haired girl gave him an elegant curtsy befitting a princess-figure such as herself.
"Nice to meet you, too," Kyousuke nodded, feeling incredibly out-of-place... Wait a second… "Again? Have we met before?"
Svernare blinked at him for a moment before turning towards Yoshino, a single eyebrow raised. "You… never told him?"
"Ehehe..." The brown-haired woman rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. "I wasn't expecting you to follow through with it. I realize that Yuki and I were close, but I didn't think she was being serious when we agreed to it…"
The man frowned at her. "You, more than most, should know that the Schnee family does not make such promises lightly," he chided, his eyes narrowing.
"So, you don't know about… anything?" Weiss asked, arching a single, delicate eyebrow at him.
"No…" the black-haired teen said nervously. "Should I?"
"One would hope," she replied, crossing her arms. "Considering that we've been engaged since the day we were born."
Ah, so that was all!