A RWBY "Ladybug" present from Jessica X and Yinyangbangbang
All characters ©Rooster Teeth, story content ©2014 Jessica X and Yinyangbangbang.
NOTES: No time to jaw, gotta get other things done! Merry Christmas to all and everyone! (And there's a line in here for Puck, heh heh)
"We're making cookies, not mountains of sugar, Rubes. You're using way too much – and the Ice Queen won't have any left for her tea!"
It was the weekend before Dustmas, one which Ruby and Yang had chosen to spend together, to attempt to make cookies with their dad's old recipe. Soon they would be going back home for the holiday but it seemed like a nice gesture to whip up a batch to distribute amongst their friends at Beacon. They'd always agreed in the past more sugar was needed, but the amount the red-headed girl was pouring into the mixture was ridiculous.
"Sweeter is always better, Yang!" Ruby protested as she set the bag down, frowning. "And I don't know why Weiss always likes to drink tea anyway, her company makes Ol' King Cold!" Then she wiped her face, smearing more flour across one cheek. "Can you just help me?"
"Alright alright, flour face, here." Grabbing the flour and another egg, Yang quickly poured a little more into the mixture, enough to even it out so it wasn't monstrously sweet, but also so they had some to spare. "Now we can get extra fat!"
At that comment, Ruby frowned down at her stomach before glancing back upward. "B-but I thought you said I wasn't fat, I just had chub-chub!"
"You do have chub-chub..." Yang then poked Ruby's belly, smirking as she looked back up at her. "And now you can have flub-flub! Alright, I think this is ready to go in the oven."
Giggling, Ruby squirmed away from the assailing finger and went back to the mixing bowl. "Are you sure we don't need to add more sugar or something? They are supposed to be sugar cookies. Y'know, for Dustmas."
"That's why we add icing on the top of them, dingus," she called from by the oven, turning it to the right temperature and allowing it to warm up. Of course, with the shared kitchen's cooker being gas rather then electric, that wouldn't take long at all. "You need a hand making the shapes from the dough? Or are you eating it raw?"
"I..." She quickly retracted her hand from the bowl. "Nooo, we're going to cook them. They are cook-ies, after all. Right?" Her eyes filled with hope that Yang would approve of the joke she had made. The older sister paused for a moment, until smugly grinning.
"Not bad, but you got a ways to go until you can make it hap-pun on my level."
Within a few minutes, the girls had placed the cookies on the tray in the various shapes for the Dustmas holidays; the two stars of Vacuo, a snowflake, a Dustmas Bush, and so on. All it needed was twenty minutes in the oven, which by now was to full heat. Just as she was about to place the tray in the oven, however, Yang's scroll vibrated in her pocket, making her place the tray back down so she could check it.
"Something wrong, Big Sis?" Ruby asked as she put the eggs and butter away in the refrigerator.
"Oh shoot! Weiss is gonna kill me..." She quickly shoved it into her pocket. "Sorry Rubes, I gotta dash. Promised Her Royal Frostiness that I'd train with her today, and I've let her down twice already. Gotta give her this raincheck in person or I probably won't survive."
As she was speaking, she started to undo the apron he had worn for the moment, hanging it up the side of the door. Though soon it swung open anyway, as Yang's Faunus partner, Blake, came in.
"Oh... sorry, am I interrupting? I just want some milk."
"No, no!" Ruby piped up as she wiped her hands on her pants. The tall, lithe brunette was still something of a mystery to them, but Ruby had always hoped they could get along a bit better, and tried to take every opportunity she could to ingratiate herself. "Have all the milk you want! It does a body good!"
"Kitty wants milk; I shouldn't be surprised." The two swapped places as Yang began to head out, ignoring that Blake headed to the fridge right away to get her own carton of milk. Before leaving completely, she leaned back in from behind the doorway. "Oh, Ruby – don't start baking them 'til I'm back. You know the stove is finicky, and unlike me, you ain't fire-proof."
Ruby let out a little snicker, waving a hand at her sister. "Oh Yang, I think I can handle a sheet of cookies! What do I look like, some kind of klutz?"
"Just, wait for me, okay? I'll be ten minutes, tops. But if I'm longer, call the cops." And with that little impromptu rhyme, she dashed off. All that was left in the room was a small girl with a plate of uncooked cookies, and a feline Faunus happily sipping away at her carton of milk.
"Why's she in such a hurry?"
"Late for a date with Weiss." Then she started. "I m-mean, a battle date! Fighting! Umm, practice-fighting, not real fighting! Ergh..." Frowning, she turned back to the oven to open it and place the sheet of cookies inside. "Sorry, nevermind me."
"So training?" Blake asked, hoping to allow Ruby some wiggle room away from her verbal fumbles, leaning back against the counter as she was about to take another sip. Though when Ruby had opened the door to the oven, she remembered Yang's words. "H-hey, shouldn't you wait for her to get back? You know how sometimes the gas is a little funny."
"Not you, too!" Ruby pouted. "I can handle myself, I'm a big girl! This is a piece of cake for m-"
The random explosion from the inside of the oven seemed to speak to the contrary. Flailing, Ruby fell back against the floor, waving her arms around trying to put out the small fires that had caught on her sleeves.
"AAAAAAAAH!Help, it's- ow! What happened?!"
When Blake looked over she was in for a huge shock. Ruby's sleeve was on fire. It was a tiny amount, one that could easily be smothered, but for Blake this was a far more serious matter. Dropping her milk carton, she rushed to Ruby's side, taking off her scarf to quickly bat the fire on her sleeve, eventually putting it out before it had a chance to do any real damage.
"Ahhhhggghhh," Ruby groaned, staring at her ruined sleeves. "I'm gonna need a new shirt for sure! Yang's gonna kill me, we don't have a lot of money! But thanks, Blake, I really..."
However, when she looked over at Blake, she was in for a surprise. Why did the Faunus girl look so alarmed? Even once the flames were out, the girl still stared down at her team leader. Eyes wider then she would have ever seen, while her breath was quite short. Clearly, her mind was off somewhere else, as could be seen when her pupils flicked back and forth.
Snapping her fingers in front of Blake's eyes, she said in a softer voice, "Uhh, Remnant to Blake? You in there?"
Once blinking a couple of times, she looked back to her leader, and to her burnt sleeve. She was safe, unharmed. Not even the tiniest burn. Beyond her control, she quickly wrapped her arms around her, cuddling her close. "You're okay, you're okay. Oh thank God, you're okay!"
Instantly, Ruby froze. This was an unexpected turn; how did the normally standoffish member of their team come to be embracing her? Why? Patting along Blake's long hair, she whispered, "Yeah, I'm okay, Blake! Honest! Are you?"
"Am I okay?! You were on fire! I should be asking you, but I... oh, Ruby!" She could only hug her teammate even harder, her hands clutching at her clothing tightly. As she held on, her eyes began to wander once again. Dotting back and forth, anyone could tell her mind was elsewhere.
Something in the way Blake had said her name made Ruby blush. Why was she still hugging her? It felt wonderful, though; something like when Yang held her close, but different in a very subtle way she couldn't quite place. Very hesitantly, she laid her cheek against Blake's shoulder, not sure if this was what she was supposed to do or not.
When feeling the contact from their younger leader's cheek, Blake snapped back to the present again. Or at least, back to reality. Upon realising how close they were, the hands quickly dropped away as she darted back, looking about as shocked as Ruby did. "I... uhh... I'm sorry, I don't know why I..."
"Oh!" Now Ruby looked like a small, frightened animal. "I- wh-why are you sorry, what happened? It was my fault, I wasn't paying enough attention and lit myself on fire!"
"But that was... I..." Before she could even explain herself, the Faunus girl made a dash for the door, running straight down the corridor and around Yang, who had just made her way back. There was no explanation for her sudden disappearance, and so when Yang was back in the room, she was met with a frightened looking Ruby, clouds of dissipating smoke, and cookie dough and milk covering the floor.
"...Did I miss another food fight?"
~ o ~
Slow drags of boots heralded Ruby's return to the dorm room. Yes, Yang had shouted at her about nearly burning herself and helped her clean up, and they had finally finished the cookies and they were all ready for Dustmas. Alas, none of that seemed to matter when she was so worried.
Blake had looked terrified. Of what, she had no idea. Of her? Of her being hurt? They were just teammates, not even really friends beyond those bounds. Sure, if Blake were on fire she'd help put it out and ask if she was okay and everything, but that display of affection was above and beyond. It worried her.
When she pushed open the door, she saw Blake sitting on the windowsill, staring out into the sky. The window was shut, otherwise Ruby wouldn't have said anything; there had been enough near-death experiences for one evening.
"Huh?" She turned to the direction of the voice. Out of all the people it could have been, this was the worst outcome. Sure, she hadn't fallen out with Ruby, but she felt she had made enough of a fool of herself for one day. Her eyes darted between her, and the door. Could she slip past her?
"Blake," Ruby repeated as her eyebrows knitted, "are... you okay? You took off like that, and I-"
"T-took off? Yeah, I'm fine, why wouldn't I be?" Of course she would question it; her teammate ran away without any comment on why. There was no way she could escape, despite getting to her feet and readying to try.
Shrugging, Ruby dropped her eyes. "I dunno, but you seemed freaked out. Y-you don't have to tell me anything, though! Just, if you wanted to tell me, I have ears. Well, I mean I know I have them, and you know I have them, and even though you have twice as many, mine still work!" Squirming, she followed up with, "Is that species-ist? Did I say a bad thing? Oh God, I'm making this way worse, aren't I?"
"Ruby... I..." She scrunched her eyes shut, shaking her head side to side. "I did not freak out, okay? You were on fire! Of course I was worried!"
"No, but you helped put it out! I'm fine! See?" Flapping her arms up and down, she grinned at Blake. "Totally A-okay!"
"I know that now! It was just.. scary... to see you like that, that's all," she insisted, but all the while she continued to gaze back at the door. Any moment...
"But... we're Huntresses. Aren't we supposed to be in harm's way all the time, anyway? Why was this such a bigger deal than usual?"
"Because... I... You..." She was stuttering more and more. Ruby was right, this was normal for them. In fact, such an incident was ridiculously minor. But her reaction was more suited to if one of them had her arm torn off. Unable to think of an excuse, she made a run for the door.
"Wait!" Before she could more properly think through her actions, Ruby dove for Blake. Being that her semblance enabled her to pour on a burst of speed, she was able to catch the taller girl around the midsection and pin her somewhat painfully against the surface of one of their desks.
"O-oh! I- sorry, Blake, that wasn't what I meant to do, I just... panicked! Are you okay?"
Blake was more startled by the younger girl's strength then any pain that came against her back. She attempted to struggle against the grip of the younger girl, but found herself completely pinned. "R-Ruby, let, me, go!"
"Sorry!" she whispered again, backing away from the desk with a pained look on her face, again feeling odd at having been in such close contact with the Faunus. "J-just please, don't run away, I... I want to talk this out!"
"There is nothing to talk out!" she insisted, finding herself glaring down at the smaller girl below her. "What was I supposed to do? Let you burn?!"
"NO! No, I'm so thankful, seriously, b-but why are you upset? I don't understand, and I want to, really badly!" There was a hitch in her voice as she added, "Because you're my teammate and I don't like thinking about you being sad, or hurting, or anything!"
It was no use. Her leader was one of the most stubborn people she knew. There was no way she would get out of this without letting her know the truth. "Listen, I just saw your sleeve on fire and it reminded me of a horrible memory. That's all."
Like a puppy, Ruby cocked her head to one side. "It did? I... oh." Shifting from foot to foot, she glanced toward the window, then down at her boots. "Um... do you w-wanna talk about it?"
"No!" Blake snapped, managing to push Ruby back just enough so she was free to move again. "Why do you think I ran off? These are memories I want to leave behind! Memories I would rather forget forever if I could!"
"S-so that's a no?" As Blake's golden eyes blazed with indignation, she waved her hands back and forth and squeaked, "I'm sorry, it was just- look, I'm g-gonna go away now, and not be here where I'm just making a bigger mess, so um, bye!" And with that, she sped from the room, leaving a flurry of rose petals in her wake.
"W-wait! I didn't mean-" But it was no use; Ruby was gone. Once again, another silly mistake had made Blake look like a fool stuck in the past. Heavily sighing, she returned to her spot on the windowsill, staring outward and to the people on the grounds.
Only a few minutes had passed before she saw Ruby stumbling to a halt next to tall, leaning tree and sinking to her knees in the grass. It didn't seem as if she was crying, but she was certainly not doing her absolute best. Beneath her bow, Blake's ears folded downward. All Ruby wanted to know was if anything was wrong, and she'd shoved it in her face. 'What's the harm?' one part of her mind thought. The other kept shouting, 'She'll tell everyone, you can't let her know!'
But there was no other way to fix the mess. And so, reluctantly, she headed for the door.
~ o ~
Out on the grounds, Ruby took deep breaths. The last thing she ever wanted on a daily basis was to inconvenience her friends in any way. Weiss and Yang, she didn't mind so much; they brought it on themselves in certain ways. But Blake? She was one of the last people she wanted to hinder in any small way, much less actually cause her heartache like this.
"I'm a jerk," she whispered to no one.
"No, I'm the jerk." The voice of the raven-haired Faunus reached her ears from the shadows. Having finally found her laying back against one of the trees, she smiled faintly as she stepped into the moonlight, then nodded to the space by Ruby's side. "This seat taken, leader?"
On instinct, Ruby scooted away. "AH! It's- hey, Blake! How ya doin'? Read any good books lately?" Clearly, she was nervous beyond all rational thought, and her fingers clenched in the grass.
Blake paused for a moment. Anyone could tell she was on edge; they didn't have to have Faunus senses for that. Poor Ruby, so young and sensitive. She really was an absolute jerk to her. Head hung in shame, she sat down by her leader's side, looking over to her with a sorrowful expression.
"I was wrong to run off like that. You were only trying to help, and I shoved it in your face. And I'm sorry. Really sorry."
"No reason to be sorry. It's my fault; I kept needling you for more info even after I could tell you were freaking out. Why am I so dumb?" Frowning, she drew her knees up against her face and stared down at the grass. "Sorry, I... you're in a bad place and I'm complaining about me. Talk about self-centred!"
"You're not self-centred! You were worried! That is the opposite of self-centred. And..." She paused, looking back down to the grass herself. With a deep sigh, she confessed, "And rightfully so... I did overreact. Seeing you like that, it just triggered something."
Chewing on her bottom lip for a second, Ruby finally whispered, "Blake, it's okay to be scared sometimes. Just don't forget that the rest of us are your friends. We wanna help you fight the scary stuff, not make fun of you for it or whatever."
Blake looked up at her friend. The one who she had practically pushed away completely when all she wanted to do was help. And she was still helping now. The least she deserved was an explanation for her behaviour.
"It reminded me of the protests that went bad. The ones that turned into riots. I know it was such a small thing but... I think of you as kind of young and innocent, and seeing someone your age like that, I just... couldn't cope."
Without hesitation, Ruby reached over to take Blake's shoulder firmly in her hand. "Hey, it's... understandable. But I'm okay, okay? Nobody burned me to the ground, nobody's dying. We're completely fine."
"Y-yeah... we are." She looked back to the grass again, but now there was a small smile where she was once a haunted scowl. "Thanks."
"Do you wanna check my arms to make sure?" After she said that, she looked down, a bit shy. "That probably sounds weird, but I mean, that way you can know for sure that I'm fine. Maybe that won't help..."
"N-no no it's... it's fine." Although pleased by the gesture, Blake too felt a little bashful. Yang and Weiss had spoken with her slightly more, but she had barely had more than a five-minute conversation with her own leader. Mainly her own fault; after all, the Faunus had always been very distant with people. Ruby included. But that was going to end, and she'd make sure of it.
Besides, how could she ignore someone being so cutely awkward?
"Just... next time your sister says 'no', please listen before I have a heart attack."
"I will, but it's really okay," Ruby laughed, rolling her sleeves all the way up to the shoulders. "Here." Then she took up one of Blake's hands and rested it on her forearm. "Totally not burned or anything at all, check for yourself!"
When her hand was taken, Blake's eyes instantly widened, but when her hand fell to the arm she found herself pleasantly surprised. Ruby's skin was so soft, despite all the battles they had been through and the recent proximity to searing heat. It was rather nice to stroke her skin, which she did so once or twice, but it was even nicer when she placed her fingers by her wrist to feel a heartbeat.
Ruby couldn't help but snicker again. "Yeah, I didn't get, um, heartburn either. Get it?"
At that, she just froze, looking up to Ruby completely silent for a moment. "...No, that was bad."
Deflating, Ruby patted the hand on her arm. "Yeah. I'm trying, though! One day maybe I can make jokes and they won't be rotten!"
"Maybe you and Yang will have a pun war..." Blake finally drew her hand away from the thin arm of her friend. Thinking back to what she had confessed earlier, she squirmed. "Y-you won't tell anyone I freaked out about the fire, right?"
"Nah. Well, I'll have to figure out something to tell Yang, since she saw the end of it and I wasn't sure what to say... shouldn't be a big deal." Dipping her head down, she gazed back into Blake's eyes to see they were still full of worry. "You sure you're okay now?"
Blake let out a huge, cleansing breath. "Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just glad you are."
Grinning, Ruby rolled her silvery eyes as she said, "Eh, I'm always fine. Head like a rock and body like a crash test dummy."
"Can't be anymore of a rock-head then your sister. At least you read books!" she chuckled, before finally getting to her feet again, offering a hand to her friend.
"Yep!" Without hesitation, she took the strong hand and allowed herself to be pulled upright... and found she doesn't feel like letting it go just yet. "Can I say something that might be kinda weird?"
"I'm really glad you don't hate me." Realising that didn't sound quite right, Ruby swiftly followed up, "Th-that is, after we first met and you wanted me to go away, I was worried about being on a team with you, especially you having to deal with me as leader, and... and I just really thought you were awesome and wanted you to like me a lot, and maybe that's silly but I'm so happy we're friends now, so... so yay!" Her free hand gave a feeble fist-pump to punctuate her last word.
Blake was stumped. Ruby enjoyed her company? And thought she was cool, nonetheless? Even when they didn't talk much, Ruby looked up to her in a way no one had before. Within the silver eyes of the smaller girl, she saw a past version of herself. Young, happy, full of questions... innocent. She'd fought no end of monsters and people, yet was still so naive to the world. In a way, that was heartbreaking. But that wouldn't stop her from smiling, drawing her hand away from the younger girl's.
"I'm sorry I gave you that impression... but you're a good person, Ruby. And an awesome leader."
Bouncing up and down on her heels, Ruby beamed from ear to ear. Blake had truly delighted her with such simple words. "This calls for a celebration! You, um, you want to eat some of those Dustmas cookies? We can have them with milk!"
"Oh, the milk!" She realized that in her haste, she had in fact dropped the carton on the floor, which had more or less wasted it all. "I'll... get some more."
"Okay!" Ruby laughed, turning to head to the kitchen... but her feet halted a few steps along. "Um... Blake, could I go with you to get it? Makes more sense than splitting up."
"Sure. Sounds great, actually..." Blake locked arms with Ruby, already turning toward the main school gates. There were worse ways to celebrate a holiday.
~ Merry Dustmas ~
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