A Shocking Revelation
"Wait, WHAT?" Kyousuke cried, his eyes darting wildly between the three individuals before him.
"Kyousuke, sweetheart," Yoshino said placatingly. "Just calm down."
"Mom, how can you expect me to 'just calm down'?" the black-haired teen demanded. "I've just been told that I'm engaged to someone I've never even met before!"
"Not true," Svernare said calmly. "The two of you were nursery mates for the first few years of your lives. I suppose in a way, you could be called 'childhood friends'?"
Kyousuke just stared at him blankly. "That's not helping."
"It's not as though it's official yet," Yoshino offered.
"Also not true." The white-haired man shook his head. "The engagement has been formally recognized in Atlas for the past seventeen years."
"You can't be serious!" Kyousuke exclaimed incredulously, all traces of his earlier nervousness gone. He turned towards his supposed fiancée. "And you're okay with this?"
"I've had seventeen years to get used to the idea," Weiss said dryly. "As opposed to your seventeen seconds."
"This is ridiculous," he muttered, shaking his head. Kyousuke pulled back one of the conference chairs and collapsed in it. "I thought this kind of thing only happened in harem anime and bad fanfiction…"
He could feel a vague sense of irony here somewhere, but he ignored it.
"This indeed complicates matters." Svernare sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I was under the impression that you had been aware of the engagement your whole life, as Weiss was. It was my hope that our families would be joined soon after your graduation."
"But… why?" Kyousuke asked. "Why me?"
"Just 'Kyousuke', please."
"Kyousuke, then," the man began, watching him intently. "You realize the position your mother holds in our company, correct?" At the boy's nod, he continued. "Then, you realize that she exudes great power and influence in our world. Perhaps even enough to match my own. It is in our best interest to centralize that power."
"And by marrying me to your daughter, you would bind me — and more importantly — my mother to the company."
"Kyousuke!" his mother exclaimed. Svernare, however, just smirked at him.
"You catch on quickly." He chuckled. "That is the political reason, yes. But there are personal reasons that are just as important. Your mother and I have known each other for a very long time, Kyousuke. Truth be told, it was Yoshino who introduced me to my late wife."
Kyousuke picked up on his use of the past tense. "Late wife…?"
"Yes." The man nodded, growing somber. "Just a few short years after you and Weiss were born, in fact."
"I'm sorry," the black-haired teen murmured.
"Don't be," Weiss said, her voice cold. "It's hardly your fault. If anyone is to blame, it's those scum in the White Fang."
Kyousuke turned to her in alarm. "The White Fang?"
"Weiss," her father broke in. "There is a time and place for everything, but not now." When she nodded, he turned back towards Kyousuke. "It was one of my wife's last wishes that the two of you be wed, and for our families to become one. I would very much like to honor her memory."
"I... understand that," Kyousuke sighed, running a hand through his hair. "This is what you want... what your wife wanted. But… what about what we want?" He turned to stare at Weiss. "Are you really okay with this? Getting married to some guy you barely even know?"
"Like I said earlier," she shrugged. "It's in the company's best interest. I've come to accept that."
Kyousuke simply stared at her, his brow furrowed. He couldn't understand that line of thinking. This was her entire life on the line, and she was just going to give up and do whatever her father asked of her?
"You may have accepted it," he said, a little harder than he intended if the way she jumped in shock was any indication. "But do you like it? Can you look me in the eye and say that you want to marry me?"
Weiss turned to her father, eyes wide. "I-"
"Don't look at him," Kyousuke said. "It's not his life he's giving away. It's yours."
"If - If it's for the company-"
"I don't care what's best for the company!" he growled, his frustration finally getting the best of him.
"Sweetheart, please, calm down," Yoshino pleaded.
"Kyousuke-" Svernare began. The black-haired teen threw him a heated glare.
"She's your daughter," he snapped. "Don't you think your wife would care more about her happiness than some promise she made almost two decades ago?"
The white-haired man stared at him for several moments before turning towards the girl in question. "Weiss?" he asked softly.
"Well?" Kyousuke demanded.
"I can't hear you."
"OF COURSE NOT!" the white-haired girl roared as she leapt to her feet, glaring at the boy fiercely. "I'm only seventeen! I've never even held hands with a boy, let alone had a boyfriend! Do you honestly think I want to get married? I don't even know you!"
They were silent for several minutes. The only sound that could be heard was Weiss' heavy breathing as she attempted to regain her composure. Kyousuke nodded, a satisfied look on his face. "I think you have your answer," he said quietly.
"I… see…" Svernare murmured, staring at his daughter, who refused to meet his gaze. "Well, I must say I'm... slightly disappointed." He shook his head and sighed, causing him to miss seeing Weiss flinch at his words.
"I'm sorry," Kyousuke said sincerely. "But I think this is for the best."
"However," the white-haired man spoke up. "This raises another issue."
"What now?" the black-haired teen asked, a slight twinge of dread seeping into his voice.
"The engagement is… quite public information," the man elaborated. "If it were to suddenly be broken off for seemingly no reason, it would reflect rather poorly on all of us. It wouldn't be a stretch to say it would be quite the scandal."
"And what would you have us do?" Kyousuke asked. "I think we've made it quite clear that we don't intend to get married."
"Well, as far as the world is concerned, the two of you are courting," Svernare said. "I'm told that you will be attending Beacon, yes? Weiss will be attending as well."
"I don't like where this is going…"
"So, I ask that during your time there, you pretend to be courting her." The man calmly folded his hands before him. "After that, we can announce that the two of you simply found yourselves incompatible and things should fall into place from there."
"You can't be serious!" The boy protested. Svernare ignored him and instead turned towards his daughter.
"Weiss, would you be willing to agree to this?"
The white-haired heiress nodded. "Of course, Father."
"You're kidding," Kyousuke said, his voice completely deadpan. "What happened to the whole 'I don't even know you' spiel?"
Weiss just sent him a nasty glare. "My father has already agreed to break off the engagement," she snapped, causing him to flinch back, a startled look on his face. "I think the least we can do is help him save face."
Kyousuke stared at her in shock for several moments before swallowing and turned to face the expectant gazes of their parents. "We just need to be seen together a few times, right?"
"At a bare minimum, yes," Svernare nodded. "However, it would be best if you were seen doing typical couple-like things every once in a while."
"For the next… four years?" Kyousuke questioned, sneaking a glance at the still-glaring Weiss. The man nodded.
Kyousuke stared at him for several moments before turning to Weiss, who was still glaring at him. "And you're fine with this?" At her nod, he sighed. "I... I suppose it's better than the alternative," he said after a while. "I can tell my friends, right?"
"I would prefer you didn't." The man raised a hand at the look of protest on Kyousuke's face. "But, if you trust that they won't go blabbing to anyone, then I won't stop you."
"...Alright then," Kyousuke muttered. Inwardly, however, he was lamenting yet another large crack in his 'normalcy armor'.
"Excellent." Svernare smiled before glancing at a digital clock on the far wall. "I see that it's nearly noon. I believe this would be a good opportunity for the two of you to get acquainted in a more... relaxed atmosphere. You'll be together for the foreseeable future, after all. There's no sense in remaining strangers."
"There's a nice little bistro just down the street," Yoshino supplied. At that very moment, Kyousuke's stomach decided to remind him that it was empty by letting out a loud rumble. His mother giggled as he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Why don't you two head over there? It's on us."
"We'll do just that. Thank you." Weiss gave an elegant curtsy before roughly grabbing Kyousuke by the arm. "Let's go," she said, and proceeded to drag him towards the heavy double doors.
"Oh, and Kyousuke," Svernare called. The black-haired teen turned to see a small smirk on the white-haired man's face. "I'm curious to know what possessed you to scream at your mother's employer."
"Ah..." The boy smiled, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "You said it yourself, Mr. President. My mother is too valuable an asset to risk losing."
"That she is." The man's smirk widened. "You're quite sharp, young man. If it makes any difference to you, I think you would make a fine executive for the company — with a little training, of course."
"I'm just a normal guy, sir." Kyousuke shrugged. "I'm not cut out for that kind of thing."
"If you say so." The president waved them off. "Don't let me keep you, now. Have fun, you two."
Once the heavy, mahogany doors closed behind the two teens, Yoshino turned towards him with a sheepish grin. "Sorry about that," the woman said, rubbing the back of her head in a manner very reminiscent of her son.
"Now, now, there's no need for that." Svernare chuckled, a small glint in his eyes. "Your son is sharper than he gives himself credit for. I can see why Ozpin is so interested in him."
"Hmm..." Yoshino hummed. "Though, I'd be lying if I said that I'm not disappointed, perhaps this is for the best. I never wanted to force my desires on them, after all. It was just hopeful wishing on mine and Yuki's part."
"Oh, believe me," he said, a sly grin taking shape on his face. "This is far from over."
The brunette raised an eyebrow at him. "And just what is that supposed to mean?"
"Well, after spending so much time together with my dearest daughter, would it really be so odd for him to feel more open to the thought of marriage?"
"So, that was what you were really after." Yoshino snorted, a look of amusement crossing her face.
"But of course." The white-haired man smirked. "They wouldn't have to pretend if they were to fall in love for real. And we wouldn't have to break off the engagement, either."
"Conniving, as always." She chuckled for a moment before growing somber once again. "But in the end, the choice will be theirs to make. If they choose not to marry; the games must end, Svernare."
"Of course,. He nodded. "It was never my intention to force them either. Now, enough of all this. Why don't I send for lunch? It's been quite a while since we've had the opportunity to just sit and talk over a nice drink."
"You know I'm never one to turn down good Mistralan wine." Yoshino winked.
"That you aren't." Svernare chuckled and retrieved his scroll.
Yang frowned as she flipped through another of Kyousuke's naughty magazines. It seemed that his tastes had changed over the years.
Three years ago, his mags would have been full of supermodels wearing eyeglasses. She'd used to tease him about it relentlessly. Especially in regards to a certain someone. But… after what'd happened, perhaps it should not have been so surprising that his preferences had changed. However, the fact that it was so surprising… disturbed her slightly.
Three years ago, Yang knew Kyousuke like the back of her hand, and vice versa. However, in the time between then and now, the two had grown quite a bit. The blonde had truly blossomed upon entering Signal. She had no shortage in the looks department. That, coupled with her combat abilities and well-above average grades placed her rather high on the school hierarchy.
This newfound popularity had gained her dozens of new friends. But she always had a special place in her heart for Kyousuke, who — unlike her — had remained largely stagnant. He'd dropped out of the combat program a few months into their first year and his grades had fallen considerably. He wasn't failing by any means. But he wasn't excelling in anything either. He was just… average.
This left him solidly in the middle of the hierarchy. Kyousuke wasn't unpopular per say. To his classmates, he was just another face in the crowd. And he seemed content with this. But to her… seeing him like that hurt. He just drifted through life without any passion or zest. It was so different from the boy who dreamed of greatness; someone whom she cared for with all her heart.
Yang had tried to coax him out of it by spending as much time with him as she could. But try as she might, he never seemed to be affected by it. And as the day of their graduation grew closer and closer, she began to lose hope.
Then, just yesterday, all hope had been shattered by Kyousuke himself.
"He died that night three years ago, Yang."
Hearing him say that had hurt so badly. And to her shame, it was in this moment that she'd given up on him. She would be attending Beacon in just a month's time, after all. Kyousuke would become practically nonexistent in her life.
Yang decided then and there that their final night together would be the greatest of their lives. She 'procured' a bottle of vodka and set out for the party.
But of course, the plan completely backfired when Kyo — the idiot — didn't drink the damn punch. And although he'd probably thought she was pissed drunk, (okay, admittedly, she was…) she was still fully aware of what she was doing when she tried to kiss him. And of course her father had to walk in on them at that very moment. Watching Kyo walk away last night had been one of the hardest things she'd ever done. She'd nearly cried herself to sleep.
Then, just the next morning, she'd heard the news. The wonderful, glorious news. Kyo — her Kyo — had taken on a group of thugs and saved the day. He'd used Blazefire Saber for the first time in three years and his performance had still been good enough for Ozpin to invite him to Beacon. Words couldn't describe how happy she'd felt in that moment. The sheer joy… no, elation had sent her into a fit of uncontrollable, giddy laughter. He was still there. Her Kyo was still there.
Yang clutched the magazine in her hand, causing the pages to begin crinkling under the pressure. And as she stared at the model on the cover, she swore she would never give up on him again.
Hmm… It seems he fancies long, black hair now…
"Hey, Ruby?" she called out, fingering her golden locks.
"Yeah?" The red-haired girl glanced at her from where she was busy looking for (and failing to find) information about HF rounds on Kyousuke's computer.
"Do you think I'd look good with black hair?"
"A table for two, please," Kyousuke said to the hostess as he and Weiss stepped into the quaint little restaurant his mother had directed them to. The girl behind the counter just gaped at him for several moments, her eyes darting between the two teens with a look of awe on her face. Behind him, Weiss twitched in irritation as the girl continued staring at them without replying.
"Well?" she demanded.
"O-Oh!" The girl squeaked. "O-Of course! Right this way!"
As she led them to a vacant table, Kyousuke began to hear several whispers from the room's occupants.
"Wow! Look at that couple!"
"They're so beautiful! I think I'm jealous!"
Well, that explained the hostess' strange reaction to them. However, with every compliment he heard, there was at least one insult.
"Damn, that girl is hot!"
"The guy she's with though… What does she see in him?"
"He must be paying her. It's the only way!"
"What a tool…"
Kyousuke just rolled his eyes. Their pettiness meant absolutely nothing to him. Hell, he'd heard worse from his classmates. He was best friends with Yang Xiao Long, after all.
"Hello, there!" Another girl walked up to them, a pen and notepad in hand. "I'm Lily. I'll be your waitress today. Can I start by getting the two of you something to drink?"
"An Ol' King Cold, please," Kyousuke requested, glancing over the menu.
"An Earl Grey, if you would," Weiss said, staring out the window. "Two tablespoons of milk. No sugar."
"Got it." Their server nodded. "Whenever you're ready to order, just let me know."
"I'm actually ready right now," Kyousuke said, glancing at the girl across from him. "You?" She just nodded. "Well, I'll have the chicken parmesan."
"One chicken parmesan," Lily murmured, jotting it down. "And what about you?"
Weiss simply shrugged, still staring off at nothing in particular. "I'll just have what he's having."
"How cute." The waitress beamed. Neither of them said anything. "Your order should be ready in ten to fifteen minutes." Lily turned and strode towards the kitchen, leaving the two teens sitting in uncomfortable silence.
"So," Kyousuke said with an awkward laugh. "Crazy day, huh?" The white-haired girl didn't respond. She merely turned to him and arched a single, delicate eyebrow. "Hey. We just avoided being forced into a loveless marriage. Shouldn't you be happy?"
"My father is upset with me, my mother's memory was trampled on and my family's reputation is in danger of scandal because of you," Weiss said coldly. "And you want me to act happy?"
"Because of me?" Kyousuke repeated hotly. "If I remember correctly, you were just as against it as I was! Excuse me for trying to be considerate of your feelings!"
"And I… appreciate that," she admitted, somewhat reluctantly. "But you have to realize that sometimes, personal feelings must be put aside."
Kyousuke's eye twitched. He opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the return of their waitress. "Hey, you two lovebirds." Lily smiled, completely misreading the atmosphere. "Here are your drinks!" She placed their beverages before them and winked before taking her leave once again. Neither of them made a move to drink.
"Alright, look." Kyousuke sighed. "I apologize. I'm sorry that I upset your father and I'm sorry if I seemed insensitive about your mother's wishes. But we're stuck together for the next four years. I'd really like for us to at least try and be friends."
"Ha! Friends?" Weiss chuckled. "You realize what my father is trying to do, right?"
Kyousuke frowned. "What do you mean?"
"He's still trying to set us up," the white-haired heiress said. "He's been planning this for years. Did you honestly think he'd give up just because you threw a temper tantrum?"
"The thought had crossed my mind," he admitted. "But my childish side had hoped otherwise." Kyousuke looked her over curiously. "And you agree with him? You still think we should get married?"
"Yes," she said without hesitation. "Personal feelings aside; it is our best, most efficient option."
"But shouldn't your feelings take priority?" the black-haired boy prodded. "Why are you so willing to go along with what your father wants?"
"Well..." Weiss sighed, glancing out the window once again. "It's just… After my mother… passed away, my father grew... distant from us. He's always kept me at arm's-length. The only times he would look truly happy was when he would talk about mother. He always looked happy whenever he talked about our engagement, as well. It was her last wish, after all. He wanted it to be fulfilled."
"So," The girl took a sip of her tea. "I thought that if I could fulfill that wish for him, he could truly be happy once more."
"Well, if he really loves you," Kyousuke said quietly. "Like every father does, then your happiness is all he needs."
"Hmm..." Weiss hummed. "You know, you're not at all like I imagined you'd be."
"Yes." She nodded. "I thought you would be another self-entitled brat that just happened to be in my father's good graces."
"Well, I'm glad I proved that mental image wrong." Kyousuke chuckled.
"Indeed." Weiss smirked. "You're far dorkier than I imagined."
"Oi!" he exclaimed, but she just laughed his indignation off.
"Well, Kyousuke Kousaka," the heiress began. "Earlier, you stated that you'd like the two of us to be friends, did you not?"
"That I did." Kyousuke nodded. "Have you considered my proposal?"
"I have." Weiss held her hand out, palm facing downward. "And I've deemed it acceptable." Kyousuke rolled his eyes at her but played along regardless. He gently took her hand and brought it to his lips, laying a chaste kiss upon her knuckles.
As expected, the room burst into whispers once again; its female occupants with squeals of approval and its male occupants with ire.
"They're so cute!"
Once again, Kyousuke rolled his eyes. If this was how people would act whenever the two were together, then he was in for a long four years.
"Well, well..." A voice giggled from behind him. Kyousuke turned to see their waitress balancing two steaming plates of chicken parmesan in her arms. "I'm gone for ten minutes and you two are already going at it?" He flushed slightly, but didn't dignify her with a response. Lily chuckled and placed their orders in front of them. "Enjoy, you two." The waitress winked before striding away once again.
"Well," Kyousuke picked up his glass of Ol' King Cold and raised it as though in toast. "To the start of a very strange friendship."
"Yes…" Weiss murmured, gently tapping her tea cup against his glass. "Friendship…"
What Kyousuke didn't realize was that, while the white-haired girl had agreed to his friendship, she certainly had not given up on their engagement. Regardless of anything that was said or done, her parents' dream was still on the line. With Kyousuke's current line of thinking, all she had to do was make him fall in love with her. And that certainly wouldn't be too difficult. The Schnee family was well known for their charming ways, after all.
"GOD DAMMIT!" Weiss roared as her character once again suffered a very brutal death. The screen in front of her darkened and displayed the word 'FATALITY' in bright red letters.
"Wow," Kyousuke remarked, struggling not to laugh, lest he draw her wrath. "You're… really bad at this." The princess threw him a heated glare and he quickly raised his arms in surrender, gently placing his controller back into its slot."Why don't we try something else?" The black-haired teen suggested, gesturing towards the many rows of video games.
After their "lunch date" — as Yoshino insisted on calling it — they'd returned to headquarters only to be shooed away by the adults. Svernare told them that they had the rest of the day to themselves and suggested that Kyousuke show Weiss around town, since she'd never had the opportunity to do so on her father's business ventures to the city.
The two were currently at the arcade in downtown Vale — the single biggest gaming center in the city and Kyousuke was just now learning that Weiss had next to no experience with video games. "That was completely ridiculous!" The heiress huffed, tossing the controller haphazardly back into its slot. "It wasn't even close to a true combat experience! I have half a mind to sue for false advertising!"
"It's just a game, Weiss." Kyousuke chuckled. "A cheap, arcade fighter at that." He strode over to a nearby car-racing game and inserted his scroll. The machine let out a series of beeps as it accepted his credit. "Just sit down here. This is a pretty advanced racing game. The controls are exactly as you would find in a real car, so it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out." The white-haired girl, however, blinked at all the buttons and levers surrounding her. She then looked up at him, a blank look on her face.
Kyousuke raised an eyebrow. "You've… never driven before?"
"I've never had to!" Weiss snapped, her face flushing in embarrassment. "Usually, Piers just drives me wherever I need to go."
The boy facepalmed and sighed. "Alright…" He pointed at a pedal on the right-hand corner, near her feet. "That's the gas pedal. The one next to it is the brake…"
After nearly ten minutes of explaining the controls to her, the girl was finally ready to go.
"On your mark!" The game's announcer called. "Get set… GO!" Weiss slammed on the gas, sending her vehicle hurtling forward only to immediately crash into the sidelines at the first turn. "WIPEOUT!" The heiress turned and sent Kyousuke a venomous glare, since he was currently facing away from her in a poor attempt to conceal his laughter.
"Not. A. Word." She growled.
"S-Sorry!" He chuckled, wiping a tear from his eye. Kyousuke retrieved his scroll and inserted it once more into the machine. "Let's try again. Forget about speed this time. Just focus on keeping your car under control."
Weiss sent him one last glare before returning her attention to the screen. Upon receiving the signal to start, she gently pressed down on the gas and began to steadily move forward. "Ha!" The girl grinned triumphantly. "This isn't so hard."
"That's because you're only going ten miles an hour," Kyousuke quipped. He chuckled when she deliberately ignored his remark. The two sat in companionable silence for several moments before the black-haired boy decided to change the subject. "So, you'll be attending Beacon, right?"
"Correct," Weiss said as she made a rather sharp turn, frowning when she ended up crashing into another car.
"Can I ask why?" Kyousuke prodded.
"What do you mean, why?" she asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
"It's just, well…"
"I don't look the part?" Weiss questioned. Kyousuke shook his head.
"No. I learned a long time ago not to judge a book by its cover," he said. "My best friend is testament enough to that. What I mean is... You're the heiress to a multi-billion lien company. You're pretty much set for life. Why choose to become a Huntress?"
"...I do it out of obligation," the heiress replied. A slightly haughty smile crossed her face. "I'm a Schnee. For generations, we've always prided ourselves in being the very best. When I found out I could fight, how could I not become a Huntress?"
Kyousuke stared at her for several moments. "It's not a game, you know."
"Excuse me?" Weiss questioned, raising an eyebrow at him once more. He looked away, his eyes losing focus slightly.
"You… Yang… Ruby… even Kirino… you all say that you want to become Huntresses," he said softly. "But you always talk about it like it's some kind of game..." Weiss had no idea who any of these people were, but made no move to interrupt him. Kyousuke made a gesture to all the machines surrounding them. "In games… you can always just try again later," the boy continued. "But reality doesn't have that kind of luxury. Hunters especially don't have that kind of luxury. Because if you make one mistake… If you screw up once… someone might die."
Neither of them spoke for a while. Weiss seemed to be mulling over his words, while Kyousuke simply stared off into the distance absentmindedly. "You're right," she said after several minutes of silence. "It's not a game and you'd wrong to think of it as one… but…" Weiss turned and looked him in the eye. "If we do nothing, then people will die."
"That's true." Kyousuke chuckled, smiling at her. "So, you really think you're ready to be a Huntress?"
"I know I am." Weiss nodded and stood from her seat. "Better yet… Why don't I show you?"
"Oh?" He looked up at her. "Done playing games?"
"Yes." She nodded once more. "Come with me." The two teens stood and made their way towards the exit. However, on the way out, Weiss paused to look at something. Kyousuke stopped as well and followed her gaze to see a claw machine filled with Pikachu dolls.
"Ah..." The black-haired teen hummed, an amused grin on his face. "You want one?"
"O-Of course not!" Weiss huffed, grabbing his arm to pull him out of the arcade. "Why would I want something as cheap as that? Let's go." Her mouth said one thing, but her eyes said another. Kyousuke chuckled slightly and slipped out of her grip. He strode over to the machine. "Don't!" she exclaimed. "Even I know that those games are always rigged!"
Kyousuke simply smiled and inserted his scroll into the machine. Once it accepted his credit, he grabbed the control stick and maneuvered it over a particularly large doll before pressing the 'descend' button.
Out of Weiss' line of vision, he snapped his fingers. A small, almost imperceptible spark of electricity ran through the claw as it clasped onto the Pokemon doll, which gave off a similar spark. The claw rose back up, his prize firmly within its grasp and dropped it into the prize bin.
The black-haired teen grabbed the plush toy and handed it to the stunned girl. "Games are fun," he said with a small wink. "In moderation."
Weiss flushed slightly, though her lip quirked upwards as she looked over the small gift. "I… Thank you."
"Now, I believe you had something to show me?"
"Ah, y-yes." She nodded quickly, clutching the doll to her chest as she grabbed his arm once again. "Follow me."
"We're back at headquarters?" Kyousuke questioned as Weiss led him through the halls of the company building.
"Yes." The white-hair girl nodded, her new plush companion still tucked comfortably against her chest. "The Schnee Company has developed some of the most advanced training programs in the world. One of them is here at headquarters."
The two eventually came across a large, metallic sliding-door. On the left side of the door was an electronic scanner. Weiss placed her scroll upon the scanner and with a loud buzzing noise, the doors opened. Kyousuke found himself looking into what appeared to be a control room, with various computers and other such machines lining the walls. On the farthest wall was a window that peered into what appeared to be a large, darkened room.
A handful of scientists wearing white lab coats were milling about the room. Most of them seemed to be fidgeting nervously. "M-Miss Schnee...!" One woman squeaked. "You called only a few minutes ago. W-We weren't expecting you so soon!"
"Well, here I am regardless," Weiss said, crossing her arms. "Is everything ready?"
"Miss Schnee," the woman began. "Are you certain? The Giant Armor only just made it through preliminary testing. It's not scheduled to be released for months…"
"Wait, what?" Kyousuke asked, a concerned look on his face.
"It'll be fine." The heiress waved off their worry.
"Weiss, this doesn't exactly seem safe."
"You said it yourself. Hunters don't exactly have a cushy job, Kyousuke," the girl replied, rolling her eyes. "I'll be fine. I've been training for years."
"...Then you won't mind if I accompany you," he said, a neutral expression on his face.
Weiss shrugged. "Suit yourself." She turned to the woman once more. "You brought my equipment, like I asked, right?"
"Yes, Miss Schnee." The woman nodded. "They're in the dressing room."
"You guys wouldn't happen to have any spare clothes, would you?" Kyousuke asked, fingering the suit Rachel had forced him into earlier today. "These look expensive. I don't want to ruin them."
"You… You're Kyousuke Kousaka, right?" the woman questioned. "Professor Yoshino's son?"
"Well, to tell you the truth, your mother had a combat-ready outfit commissioned for you just this morning," she said, smiling slightly. "She already had the clothing in question, so all we needed to do was reinforce the lining. I can send someone for it immediately."
"That… is suspiciously convenient," Kyousuke muttered, thoughts of conspiracy running through his mind before shaking his head. "Can you have Rachel retrieve them? She confiscated my gunblade this morning and I'd like it back."
"Have them bring it to the dressing rooms," Weiss ordered before turning and striding towards a hallway on the other side of the control room. Kyousuke followed her. After several minutes of walking, they arrived in a large room with several curtains hanging from the walls. "I'm going to change first," the heiress said as she strode into one of the dressing areas. "Your mother's secretary should arrive any minute now."
True to her word, the brown-haired woman arrived just a few moments later with a large duffel bag slung over her shoulder. "Kyousuke," the woman greeted. The teen nodded at her in greeting.
"You brought Blazefire Saber, right?" he questioned.
"I did," Rachel nodded, handing the duffel bag over. "It, along with your new outfit, is in the bag."
"Thanks," Kyousuke said as he turned and strode over to one of the dressing rooms.
"And Kyousuke!" the brunette called after him. "Your mother wanted me to tell you something before you get changed."
"My mom?" the boy asked in surprise.
"She says 'Don't be angry with me'." Rachel repeated her employer's message. "Does that mean anything to you?"
"I guess we'll see." Kyousuke sighed. "Thanks again."
Weiss smoothed over the creases in her dress before stepping out of the room. She now wore her signature icy-blue bolero jacket over a white one-piece dress. She'd also exchanged her sandals for a pair of platform, high-heel boots. And hanging from her hip was her signature weapon; the Multi Action Dust Rapier, Myrtenaster.
She glanced around the room to see it empty, though she heard shuffling sounds coming from a nearby stall. It seemed that Kyousuke was still busy changing. Shrugging to herself, the white-haired girl made her way back to the control room, where the scientists and — to her surprise — her father and Yoshino were waiting.
"Father," Weiss greeted, giving a polite curtsy. "Professor Kousaka."
"There's no need to be so formal, Sweetheart!" Yoshino laughed. "Just call me Yoshino or Mrs. Kousaka, if you must." Her eyes glanced downward and raised an eyebrow at what she saw. "And what's this?"
Weiss blinked at her in confusion before realizing that Yoshino was staring at her hand. She glanced down and saw the Pikachu doll dangling in her grip. Her face flushing, The heiress quickly hid it behind her back. She hadn't even realized she was still holding it! "I— er, this isn't…"
"Did Kyousuke give that to you?" Her father smirked. "Good! I take it your relationship is moving along well?"
"I-I suppose," she muttered. Svernare nodded in satisfaction, but frowned, however, upon realizing that said boy was nowhere in sight.
"And… where is he?"
Weiss frowned as well and glanced back towards the dressing rooms. "Now that you mention it, he has been in there for quite a while. What's taking him so long?"
"I imagine he's still trying to come to grips with the situation," Yoshino said, somewhat demurely.
"What do you mean?"
The brunette turned in the direction of the dressing room. "Well…"
Kyousuke frowned as he stared himself over in the mirror. It was like he was looking through a window into the past. He currently wore a black, leather jacket over a white, deep v-neck t-shirt that parted down the middle of his chest. The jacket had white fur draping across the collar and fit snugly around his torso.
Covering his legs was a pair of dark black pants that also had strips of white fur on both sides of his hips. Wrapped around his hips was a dark brown belt with a silver, lion-shaped buckle that Yang had gotten him for a birthday long past. She'd said that it 'looked cute'. Several extra belts were used to secure a pouch containing gunblade magazines to his right leg, which he partially covered with a black sash.
On each hand was a pair of ultra-thin, black leather gloves. His feet were likewise covered by a pair of black boots. And as always, Blazefire Saber was slung across his lower back in its holster.
The entire ensemble was something Kyousuke would have worn three years ago. Hell, he was pretty sure that the jacket was the very same one he once favored. He'd asked his mother to dispose of them some time ago, but it seemed that she'd held on to a few and had them fitted to match his older form. The outfit suited his former, cocky self quite well, but nowadays was far too flashy for his tastes. He fingered the jacket once before glaring down at the expensive three-piece suit he'd been wearing earlier.
But, regardless, this outfit was made to be combat-ready. It would have to do for now.
Kyousuke heaved a world-weary sigh and strode out of the dressing room. A glance around told him that Weiss had already left, so he quickly made his way back to the control room. He found the white-haired girl waiting for him along with both of their parents. As he strode in, the room turned to stare at him. Svernare glanced at his daughter and smirked.
The girl had a flushed look on her face as she stared at him. He looked good in black, she noted. Her eyes also caught sight of two white crystal studs in his ears. Weiss had never noticed that he had pierced ears. Her gaze fell to his partially-exposed chest and (after she fought an embarrassed flush down) noticed a silver pendant around his neck.
Kyousuke himself was either oblivious to the attention or simply ignoring it. He instead glared at his mother, who began whistling innocently. "So, don't get angry, huh?" he asked her.
"If it makes you feel better," Yoshino offered. "I think you look quite dashing in it. It would have been a shame to just throw it away. Right, Weiss?"
Wordlessly, the girl nodded, prompting Kyousuke to roll his eyes and sighed. "Whatever you say, Mom." He crossed his arms. "So, how is this all going to work?"
"Well," the female scientist from earlier spoke up. "The Giant Armor is waiting in the training hall. Once you're ready to begin, we'll activate it remotely."
"Alright then." The boy glanced at his white-haired companion. "You ready?"
Weiss nodded. "Let's go." She walked passed him and down the hallway once more with Kyousuke not far behind.
Once they were out of sight, Svernare sighed and stood up from where he was leaning against the control panel, revealing the Pikachu doll. His daughter had made him watch over the plush toy in her absence. Honestly, less than half an hour and she was already so protective over it.
"Your son has quite a way with girls," he remarked dryly.
"Believe me, I know." Yoshino chuckled. "But he, of course, is completely oblivious of his affect on them." Svernare simply sighed, shaking his head as he turned towards the bulletproof window where their children were just coming into view.
"Seriously, though," Kyousuke remarked. "A dress?"
"It's a combat skirt!" Weiss snapped. "And I'll have you know-"
"Weiss, calm down." He chuckled. "I was kidding. I know. Skirts — while some might think them out of place on a battlefield — provide a remarkable range of motion in combat. The downside is that they might end up getting snagged when fighting in or traveling through rugged terrain."
The heiress blinked. "Uh… yes," she coughed. "That's it precisely. You seem to be quite knowledgeable."
"One of my friend's outfit of choice is a red and black dress," Kyousuke explained. "And she's explained this to me many, many times, so I like to think that I know what I'm talking about."
Weiss opened her mouth to inquire further, but was interrupted by the female scientist's voice speaking up over the intercom. "Commencing battle simulation in T-minus thirty seconds!" The white-haired girl quickly schooled her features and raised Myrtenaster, holding it perpendicular to her body in a fencing position. In her peripheral vision, she could see Kyousuke unsheathing his gunblade.
The room lit up with overhanging lights, revealing their opponent. An absolutely massive suit of medieval armor knelt before them. Bright red lights began to glow from beneath the robot's helmet, signaling its activation. "Five seconds!" the woman's voice called. The Giant Armor slowly stood to its full height. At over two stories tall, it easily towered above them. Kyousuke let out a deep breath, his grip over Blazefire Saber tightening.
"Begin!" Immediately, the armored knight drew a massive broadsword from behind its back and swung at them in downward arc. Weiss flipped backwards while Kyousuke dove to the side, falling into a roll as he did so. He shifted Blazefire Saber into Assault Mode and began raining bullets upon the knight. But his assault proved ineffective, as the standard ammunition simply bounced off its armor.
The white-garbed girl flicked her wrist, causing a white glyph to appear at her feet. The glyph sent her hurtling forward, her rapier extended. Sensing her rapid approach, robotic knight nimbly deflected her thrust with its own blade. Weiss didn't allow it time to follow through however, and ducked through its legs to its other side, stabbing at its leg joints as she went.
The knight immediately swiveled around, swinging its blade in a wide arc as it did so. Weiss leapt up, dodging the strike and moved in once again. Kyousuke quickly ejected the useless magazine and inserted one filled with fire-based Dust rounds. Weiss stabbed at their cybernetic foe, but its armor proved too thick to pierce. Reacting fast, she fell back to avoid a well-timed kick.
Her partner immediately took the opportunity she'd created and opened fire once again. Somehow, it seemed that the knight realized he'd switched ammo, and quickly brought up its sword to shield itself the incoming storm of fiery lead. But this left the behemoth wide open to attack.
Weiss, seeing her opening, charged forward once more, unleashing a flurry of thrusts at the robot's joints. For a few brief moments, it seemed that this would be where it ended. All too soon, however, Kyousuke's magazine was emptied. The knight quickly seized the opportunity and thrust its arm out, landing a direct hit on the surprised heiress.
"Shit!" Kyousuke shouted as the white-haired girl was sent flying across the room. Moving quickly, he rushed forward. The knight immediately closed in on the dazed girl as she attempted to regain her footing. Weiss looked upward, her eyes widening as the knight's gigantic sword came down upon her. She felt all the breath leave her body as she felt something impacting her stomach, sending her hurtling backwards.
A loud boom echoed across the room and the knight's blade was embedded deeply into the ground. Weiss blinked up at the ceiling, waiting for a wave of pain to wash over her. It never did. Sitting up, she glanced down to see a mass of black panting next to her.
Kyousuke clutched at his forehead, glancing behind him to see the knight removing its sword from the ground. "Y-You're bleeding," Weiss pointed out, seeing the droplets of red leaking past his gloved hand.
"I got hit by some debris," he remarked dryly, gesturing toward her left eye. "You don't look so hot yourself." The heiress patted the indicated spot and felt something warm and wet. He was right.
"Our auras should have protected us from the brunt of it," she murmured. "But if we're bleeding this much, they'll likely scar."
"We'll worry about that later," Kyousuke said, picking up his gunblade and shifting it into Blade Mode. "But first, we need to take this thing down."
"Kyousuke," Weiss spoke up, prompting him to turn to her. "I'm sorry."
The girl gestured towards the robot, who was brandishing its sword in a wild manner. "Look at its movements," she said. "See how it's jerking around erratically? It's malfunctioning."
"So… that means…?"
"All bets are off," Weiss said, her eyes hardening. "This isn't practice any more. If we're not careful, that thing will kill us."
"Can't they just shut it off?" he asked.
"If they could, they would have done so already." She shook her head. "We have to take it down. Now."
"Agreed." Kyousuke murmured. "But that armor may prove to be a problem. We've been giving it hell, but it's not even scratched."
"It was designed to be nearly impervious to all forms of attack," Weiss explained. "Standard weapons aren't going to cut it. I thought my Myrtenaster would be up to the task, but as you can see..."
"Then, it's a good thing my Blazefire Saber isn't a standard weapon." The boy smirked slightly. "I'll need to get close to it, though. Think you can cover me?"
"I can." The heiress nodded. Kyousuke nodded back.
"On my count, then," he murmured as Weiss raised her rapier once again. "Three… two… ONE!"
Kyousuke charged forward, Blazefire Saber held firmly within his grasp. From behind him, Kyousuke heard Weiss activate one of her glyphs and a wide assortment of different elemental Dust attacks began flying overhead, slamming into the mad knight. The robot raised its sword, slashing wildly in an attempt to strike them. Kyousuke ducked beneath its blade and shifted his finger. A loud gunshot rang throughout the training hall as he pulled the trigger of his gunblade.
Immediately, the blade began to resonate with high frequency vibrations. Kyousuke slipped beneath the wildly flailing behemoth and swung his blade, aiming for the knight's sword arm. However, the robot quickly raised its left arm, sacrificing it to protect itself. The knight let out a harsh noise, as though enraged and swung its sword in a wide arc. The teen, still attempting to regain his footing, raised his gunblade in a desperate attempt to parry the attack, only to nearly be sent flying across the room. Falling into a roll, he grit his teeth as the knight pounced upon him.
Suddenly, a white blur slammed into the robot's torso, forcing it back. Weiss landed beside him deftly and raised Myrtenaster once more, causing a white glyph to appear at the tip of her blade. Icicles shot out from the glyph like bullets, landing direct hits on the knight's legs and remaining arm. Thick columns of ice formed where the icicles struck, freezing it solid.
"Now!" Weiss shouted. Kyousuke nodded and dashed forward. With a great roar, the knight ripped its arm free and swung its blade at him in a downward arc. The black-haired boy deftly leapt aside, allowing it to embed itself in the ground. Seizing the opening, Kyousuke leapt atop the blade and ran along its length.
He pulled the trigger once more, and jumped, slicing the knight's sword arm from its body before grabbing onto its helmet. Beneath him, the robot thrashed violently, nearly causing him to lose his grip. With a grunt, he hauled himself onto its shoulders and pulled the trigger one final time. Snarling, he sliced its head clean off, exposing the circuitry within.
Twirling his gunblade into a stabbing position, he grunted out a single word.
Immediately, Blazefire Saber came alive, with electricity rolling off its blade in grand waves. His eyes took on an electric-blue glow and with a great roar, he thrust his blade downward, sending several thousand volts of electricity coursing through the robot's body.
The knight gave one last shuddering heave before collapsing; its circuitry completely fried. Kyousuke pulled his gunblade free and leapt off. However, as the boy landed, his vision flooded and a feeling of vertigo overcame him. He likely would have fallen over had Weiss not been there to catch him.
"You okay?" she asked softly. He could vaguely hear the scientists calling for a medic in the background, but he paid them no mind.
"Hah," he exhaled. "It's been a long time since I've done something like that."
"What was that?" Weiss questioned.
"That was my semblance," Kyousuke said. "I can generate, control and modify electricity. I figure that those glyphs are your semblance?"
The heiress nodded, her face thoughtful. "Back at the arcade… I thought I was imagining things, but… I saw some electricity when you were using the claw machine."
"Haha..." The black-haired teen chuckled. "There are quite a few things I can do with my semblance. That was me imbuing them with two opposite electric charges. Negative for the claw and positive for the doll."
"So you cheated!" Weiss accused, though her tone was playful.
Kyousuke winked at her just as the medics finally arrived. "Don't tell anyone."
"I want to apologize again," Svernare said solemnly as they stood next to Yoshino's car.
"Hey, I'm the one that insisted I help her." Kyousuke shrugged. He now sported a white bandage over the new scar on his forehead. Thankfully, his bangs would be able to cover it well enough. Weiss was sporting a similar bandage over her left eye, which — unfortunately — could not be hidden quite as well. "Malfunction or otherwise," he continued. "I knew what I was getting myself into."
Behind him, the sun was just beginning to set. It was getting late and the two Kousakas still had some grocery shopping to do before they went home. "Still," the white-haired man said. "Once again; I am sorry. And thank you for standing by my daughter's side."
"No problem, sir." The boy nodded before turning to the girl in question. "By the way, where will you be staying until we go to Beacon? And is there a specific way you'd like for me to contact you?"
The Schnee duo just stared at him in confusion for several moments before realization dawned on their faces.
"That's right," Weiss muttered. "Your mother never told you anything…"
"Ah, well." Svernare chuckled, clapping him on the shoulder. "You'll figure it out soon enough."
Kyousuke blinked, his face settling into a confused frown. He opened his mouth to question them, but was interrupted by his mother.
"Kyousuke, let's get going!" Yoshino called from the driver's seat. The teen shook his head and sighed. He shook hands with Svernare and — to his surprise — was hugged by Weiss before he entered the passenger seat. They waved at the two Schnee before taking off down the road. The mother/son pair was silent for several moments. It wasn't until they pulled into the supermarket parking lot that the brunette spoke up.
"Kyousuke," Yoshino began, prompting him to turn to her. "I just want to let you know how proud I am of you."
"Mom?" the teen questioned. "Where's this coming from?"
"From the way you stood up for what you believed in," the woman continued. "To the way you selflessly protected Weiss. You really proved yourself today."
Kyousuke just shrugged. "Anyone would have done the same were they in the same position."
"No, they wouldn't have." Yoshino shook her head. "Kyousuke, what you did today took courage. A special kind of courage that not everyone has."
He sighed. "Mom…"
"That's all I wanted to say." The woman smiled. "Now, come on. Poor Yang and Ruby have been waiting for us all day. I say that we apologize by preparing a grand feast for them. And to do that, we need food!"
Kyousuke rolled his eyes but followed after her as they made their way towards the market.
After finishing their grocery shopping, the two Kousakas finally made their way home. However, something was not quite right…
"Hey," Kyousuke spoke up, suspicion seeping into his voice. "Why is there a moving van outside?"
Yoshino, meanwhile, had frozen. "Ah..." she murmured. "That's right." The woman shook her head and threw him a cheery smile. "Well, I'm going to head in. Could you grab the groceries?"
"Wait, you never answered—" He sighed as she ignored him and strode into the house. Grumbling slightly, he opened the backseat door and grabbed the grocery bags. Kyousuke closed the car door and made his way towards the house. He frowned however, as he heard the sound of several people arguing inside. As he approached the front door, it swung open and a large, gruff-looking man strode out with an irate expression on his face.
"Hey, kid." The man grunted. "I take it you're Kyousuke?"
The man patted him on the shoulder. "I don't envy you." He shook his head pityingly before brushing past him and hopping into the moving van. Kyousuke watched it drive off before turning back towards the door. Taking a deep breath and counting to ten, he entered the house.
"I'm back…" Kyousuke called out half-heartedly. The voices were steadily growing louder and louder. Kyousuke dropped the bags off and warily opened the door to the living room. What he saw made him immediately want to close it again. The atmosphere of the room felt like a war-zone of some kind. On one side of the room was Yang and Ruby, glaring fiercely at their opponent.
On the other side was…
"Weiss?!" Kyousuke choked out. "What the hell are you doing here?!"
There she stood, glaring at his two friends just as venomously as they did to her. Yoshino was currently in the kitchen, pointedly looking away from him and in the corner, Kyousuke spotted his father calmly reading a newspaper, looking for all the world as though things like this happened every day.
"Kyo!" Yang snapped. "What the hell is going on? Ice Queen here just barges in with her U-Haul lackeys, throws my stuff away and moves her own crap into my room!"
"It's not your room," Weiss snapped. "Professor Kousaka specifically told me that it was a guest room!"
"It might as well be my room!" Yang growled.
"Weiss, why are you here?" Kyousuke asked, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
"You mean your mother still hasn't told you?" she demanded. "Didn't you see the moving van outside? Obviously, I'm going to be staying here until we go to Beacon."
"What?!" He choked. "Why?!"
"Because your mother offered," Weiss said simply.
"Why does no one tell me these things?!" Kyousuke shouted before turning to her with a sharp glare. "And why did you kick Yang out of her… the guest room? We have plenty of others."
"Because it's the closest one to yours, of course." The girl sniffed, turning her nose up at him. "Honestly... Less than twenty-four hours and you're already cheating on me?"
"Cheating?!" Yang roared. "What do you mean cheating?!"
"Weiss, I thought we agreed that we were only going to be friends." Kyousuke sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose once more. He winced, however, when he accidentally rubbed his wound.
Yang, it seemed, just now spotted the bandage on his face. Her anger quickly melted away and was replaced by concern. "Kyo, what happened?"
"Just a scuffle," he said tiredly. Yang opened her mouth to prod further, but was interrupted by Ruby.
"Whoa!" the redhead exclaimed. "I like the new look, Bro!"
The blonde did a double take. Her eyes widened as she realized just what he was wearing. "K-Kyo…!" Yang muttered, drinking in his appearance. It was like a blast from the past.
"Honestly, I think it's a little too flashy," Kyousuke said, looking himself over in distaste.
"No way!" Ruby grinned, throwing him a thumbs-up. "It looks great!"
"Whatever," Kyousuke sighed. He could feel the beginnings of a headache creeping through his skull. "Look. A lot has happened today. I'll explain it all later. But for now, can we all just calm down and—"
"I'm home!" another voice called out. Kyousuke immediately paled.
Kirino stepped into the room, freezing when she noticed the sheer number of people inside. She stared at all the room's occupants, her gaze landing squarely on Weiss before turning to Kyousuke with a glare. "You brought another of your bimbo girlfriends home?" she asked, a look of disgust crossing her face.
Kyousuke could only groan as this sparked yet another shouting match between all four girls. As he slowly collapsed into a nearby chair, he could only think one thing.
'I just want my normal life back!'