Stress Relief here we go, I'd like to thank all my s for making this possible - as without you, this honestly might not have come out until June or July 2016 - so I hope everyone else will throw out a quick "thanks" to them. Do it right now, say it out loud.
So the typical first chapter warnings, this story is rated M for mature, and that comes with a few extra warnings. While there will be no detailed lemons in this story (I'll make some separate ones if people honestly want them) - there will be references to sexual intercourse and some foreplay elements. So if you're against that kind of thing you might want to try looking elsewhere.
Also I'm trying a bit of an experiment in writing entirely from one person's PoV - namely Cinder's. So you'll never get to see Jaune's internal thoughts, meaning I'll be trying to show them in his actions, words and how he reacts to things. So you'll need to read a little deeper to catch everything.
I'm also trying a few other experiments, but I don't want to list them all as it will spoiler things - you'll see in time perhaps. Another warning will be that if canon suddenly changes things with Cinder massively, I might be forced to ignore it. Consider this AU obviously anyway, in that Jaune and Cinder don't really talk in the show. But if Cinder suddenly somehow becomes a "goodie" then I am ignoring it.
Other than that I hope you like it, review if you enjoy xD - Though honestly, it'll take a chapter or two to get into it anyway...
Beta: College Fool
Sometimes, if you wanted a job doing properly - you just had to do it yourself.
Those were the words she used to comfort herself. A reminder as to why she'd chosen to submit to such mindless tedium. Not to mention the vast inconvenience. There were alliances to be forged, plans and schemes to be drafted, mulled over… and ultimately discarded.
There was work to be done, individuals to be monitored – others to be removed. The world shifted, as it was wont to do, and yet she was trapped at the one location where she couldn't affect it.
One of the premier schools for Hunters and Huntresses within the Kingdoms, and certainly the best in Vale. Future protectors were trained within these walls, and yet it was not them she had any real interest in. For Beacon held a treasure infinitely more valuable than the potential of a congregation of entitled youths.
Beacon held the CCT – the Cross-Continental Transmit Tower. The very device that enabled long-distance communication between Vale and the other Kingdoms. In a very real sense, Beacon was the gateway to the rest of the world.
It was also the one part of her plan that she could not afford to leave to anyone else. Even a single mistake at this stage would ruin what was almost a decade's worth of shady deals, underground movements and careful planning.
Assigning such a task to Roman – with his own peculiar way of messing things up? Not a chance. If she wanted the job done, then there was only one person on the face of Remnant she trusted enough to get it done.
Herself, Cinder Fall.
Securing her entry into the illustrious Beacon Academy have been the work of but a few days. One thing Roman was adept at, if nothing else, was forged documents – and a few generous donations to some of the admin at Haven Academy was enough to not only have her records added to the system, but even a few uniforms sent over for them to use. From there it had simply been a matter of waiting for the coming Vytal Festival, and the transferral of students to Beacon. With so many new faces in attendance, no one seemed to notice a few extra bodies.
How deliciously ironic that the very event that was supposed to promote international cooperation between the Kingdoms, would be what caused the fall of Vale.
She loved it.
It was just a little regrettable however, that she needed to remain in Beacon until an opportunity to sabotage the tower presented itself. For a woman as intelligent and experienced as her, the constant tedious lessons left her frustrated, while the incessant prattle of teenagers and children denied her any chance for peace and quiet.
"Can the two of you keep quiet for a single moment?" She snapped, cutting through whatever asinine argument her two subordinates were having at that moment. Talented though Emerald and Mercury might both be, she wished their relationship relied a little less on banter and squabbling.
"Sorry," the grey-haired boy said as he stepped back from his partner. Her golden eyes watched him as he shifted nervously in place, pleased to see he dared not defy her.
"See," Emerald crossed her arms and smirked at the boy, "even the boss wants you to shut up."
"I believe I said the both of you." She said with a silent snarl as the smaller girl flinched. Their dorm room, cramped though it was, should have been a sanctuary for her. Somewhere she could get back to the work necessary to run their little operation – and yet every day she was forced to sit through their pointless chatter.
It was enough to drive her mad.
"I have neither the time, nor the inclination for your witless banter," she let her eyes drift from one to the other, "did you find out anything interesting – or not?"
"We did." Mercury said quickly, his loyalty as much as Emerald's was a constant question for her. They were both dedicated to her cause - she'd made sure of that. But there was no telling how far either of them could be pushed. There never could be with criminals and murderers – but you worked with what you tools were available. "General Ironwood is going to be here on the day of the school dance, about a week from now. Probably intends to use it as cover for spreading his forces out over the school."
Ah, the good General, always so very eager – so very predictable. It would be just like him to stick his nose where it didn't belong.
"And the other matter," she said as she turned to Emerald, "the team that interfered with Roman?"
"Team RWBY." The dark skinned girl reported quickly. Cinder listened intently as Emerald rattled off what little information she'd gleaned on that group. Of course, with how high-profile some of those girls were, the information was easy to obtain.
An entitled rich brat, an idealistic idiot, a book-worm with a suspicious interest in the White fang – and a boastful party animal. The team sounded like a mess. Conflicting personalities and agendas. Just the sort of people Ozpin would consider putting together.
So they were the man's new pawns were they?
She wondered if they even realised it. It hadn't been difficult to find out what the initiation ceremony had been, and the use of chess pieces to represent their teams ought to have made it obvious. But if they were foolish enough not to notice? Well then, they deserved to be manipulated – and then thrown away like worn tools once their purpose was fulfilled.
Still… they'd interfered with Roman a number of times now, first at the dust stores – and more recently at the docks.
"Mercury and I could look to cause an accident, maybe remove on-"
"No." She cut into the smaller girl's suggestion, turning a fierce glare on the both of them. "You do nothing. I do not want another repeat of the book store – am I understood?" They nodded quickly, neither quite meeting her angry gaze.
She didn't care if they'd sought to help out when they decided to do that. They were to follow her orders to the letter, not gallivant off on their own little adventures. There was a reason she'd wanted Roman to handle that trifling little matter. His men had that special way of failing that would have served her purposes.
Now all she was left with was a dead faunus, and an alert police force.
"You will not do anything that might draw attention to us while we're here, do you understand?"
"We understand." They said in unison. She watched them for another second or two, looking for any signs of guilt or rebellion, before she turned back to her scroll – and the reports hidden there. Roman was still tasked with acquiring more dust, and thankfully seemed to be sticking to that task for now. Leaving him unattended while she dealt with the CCT had been a calculated risk – and one she didn't relish having made.
No one's loyalty was as weak as his. She would have to remove him in time, before he could become an even greater threat to her plans.
That little helper of his would need to be carefully watched as well. By far, she was the more dangerous of that duo. Cinder massaged her forehead, already she could feel a headache beginning to grow – as pain blossomed behind her eyes.
There was just too much to handle, too much that required her attention. And no one she could trust to look after it for her. Though even if there was, they would likely be just another threat she would need to guard her back from.
Being a criminal mastermind had never been easy, she knew that. She'd known it wouldn't be easy from the start, yet that hadn't stopped her. She just… just wished she could have a little peace and quiet.
"You look stressed," Emerald said quietly, almost uncertainly – as though she expected she might be incinerated for her temerity. When fiery death did not come however, the girl seemed to gather her confidence. "Maybe you should do something to relax – I'm not saying now," she rushed to add, as Cinder turned her gaze on the girl. "I just mean…"
"If you're stressed you won't be operating at full strength," Mercury chipped in, for once coming to the defence of his partner. "I think what Emerald is saying, is that you might want to take at least an hour or two off – just to rest."
Their words were true, she knew that. There was no use denying the stress she felt, it was a perfectly normal reaction to the workload she had – nor was she the kind of fool to punish her subordinates for speaking the truth just because she didn't want to hear it.
"Pray tell, what would you advise?" She questioned with a sigh. Her scroll dropped down onto the bed she was sat on as she regarded them both, one elegant brow raised. "The school week has just begun, and there's not much chance of me taking a Bullhead to Vale without raising suspicion."
Fine wine was hardly in abundance at the school either, and the ways the students might seek to relieve stress were not things she had an interest in. She couldn't even spar to burn off any energy, since she couldn't fight at full strength without revealing her semblance. Holding back in a fight for the sake of her charade would just frustrate her further.
"I don't know," the male member of their group said as he scratched his ear, "I just meant you might want to take some relaxation if you can – any stress relief is better than none, right?"
"And how would you relieve your stress?" She asked. The boy shifted nervously, he looked like he didn't want to provide an answer. Emerald laughed.
"Mercury would probably find some girl to try and make out with, or if no one would take him – just jerk off in a dark corner." Cinder rolled her eyes at their immaturity, even as the boy in question blushed tellingly. That wasn't something she'd really needed to know.
"It's a proven form of relieving stress!" He defended, even as Emerald fell onto her bed in laughter. "Shut up! At least I don't read shitty romance books like you."
"Of course, I forgot you prefer the artful masterpiece of X-ray and Vav!"
"Children," she chided with another sigh, before they could descend into yet another petty squabble.
Crude as their words might be, she couldn't deny the truth behind them. Migraines were becoming a common occurrence for her, and her temper was the worse for it. How long would it be before she snapped and did something she might regret? Or worse, failed to notice something and make a mistake?
Her mind had not betrayed her since she stepped foot on her path, and now – so close to the end - her body would not be allowed to falter either.
"Maybe we should get out of your hair for the evening," Emerald offered. And after a few seconds where Cinder pointedly did not dispute the suggestion, she rose to her feet and headed for the door. Mercury followed after her, though he turned before he left.
"You know boss, it might sound stupid – but maybe getting laid would help." She held up one hand, and he fled with a gulp – slamming the door behind him. With a tired sigh she let her arm fall back to the mattress, never once actually having summoned any fire. Not in Beacon, where the Deputy might recognise her.
No comforting heat or roaring flame to calm her frayed nerves. Without the heat coursing through her veins she felt cold – and so very tired.
So Mercury would get away with his foolish comment. No doubt he knew it too.
What a suggestion. She had not the time, nor the desire for a personal relationship – not to mention it would be yet another complication in her already busy life. She worked alone, the Queen of their organisation with no King to answer to.
He hadn't necessarily said a partner… had he?
Her head tilted to one side, as she glanced at her reflection in the mirror that adorned the nearby wall. Dark locks fell across her pale face, casting dark shadows over one eye. The other half of her face shone in the dim light, alabaster skin gleaming softly while two orbs of brightest gold shone with intelligence, and concealed cruelty. She was beautiful, she knew that. She was a woman in her prime, dripping with sensuality.
A predator. Filled with danger, yet oh so tempting nonetheless.
It was a weapon she'd used many times before, back when her power was not so assured – her resources not quite so vast. Seducing, subverting, killing… how many times had she played the black widow on her desperate climb to the top?
How long had it been since she'd felt the need to employ such measures?
How long… since she'd experienced that pleasure?
At least a month… two or three at the most.
Surely it hadn't been over a year…?
She found she couldn't answer, and that didn't bode well. Was there perhaps merit in what her underling had uttered?
One long finger traced patterns in the soft sheets by her thigh, before her fingers spread out into the fabric, clenching it. Perhaps it would be beneficial for her to indulge in a little of that carnal pleasure. Just for the stress-relief of course. To calm herself down and unload some of the frustration that bubbled within her.
It would be… pleasant, to relax like that once more.
And certainly it could not hurt…
Of course, the question was of whom she might take to her bed in that way. Mercury was the closest male to her physically, yet on that route lay hidden danger. His questionable loyalty aside, she didn't particularly like the idea of mixing business and pleasure in that way. Especially not when he might come to desire more… Those who worked for her needed to know their place, and her bed would only muddle the value he felt she had for him.
Roman was much the same, only many times worse. Unreliable as he might seem, she feared him more than any other within their group. He was resourceful, a mind born from experience with a callous disregard for anything that got in his way. While she was certain a night with Roman would be… interesting to say the least - there was no telling what might do with such leverage.
That already cut away many of the potential men in her life. Adam was a face she knew, and a figure she still needed to win over to their cause. Her men, those peons who worked beneath her – it would have been but the work of a moment to choose one visually appealing and then dispose of him. But those resources were not available to her all the way up in Beacon.
Nor was a professional escort.
She needed someone closer to home as it were, which meant a student within Beacon Academy itself – as the teachers were too much a risk. Younger than she liked, but beggars could not be choosers. She just needed them for a one-night stand, little more than a night of debauchery so she might satisfy her cravings and return to what truly mattered.
She needed someone weak. Someone who could be easily ensnared, and then tossed aside once she had finished with them. Who would not waste her time in dogged pursuit once she told them they were finished.
She needed someone… unimportant.
The first time Cinder Fall met Jaune Arc was not by design, nor was it for any nefarious purpose.
Wandering through the halls of Beacon Academy, the three of them had just made it through their latest set of classes. The lesson with that fat oaf had provided an easy opportunity to liaise with some of her contacts, and also peruse reports from Roman. She doubted anyone even noticed her activity, and even if they had it wouldn't have seemed out of place in a class where over half the students were either asleep or busy playing games on their scrolls.
The day, like the others, had been an effort in frustration. The act of waiting for the right moment was far more painful than people realised, and in the meantime she had to attend lessons for subjects she knew more than enough on. Every day that went by felt like further time wasted. It was enough to drive one mad.
So perhaps she might have been forgiven for the lapse of attention as she wandered the hallways. Maybe it was the stress, the frustration – or just the mind-numbing boredom. But as a blonde figure leapt around the corner in front of her, she only had the time to flinch as a body collided with hers, dragging them both to the ground.
It was probably for the best however, she couldn't help but think as she was knocked from her feet. Her typical reaction to someone catching her by surprise like that would probably have been violent, even worse if they were rushing towards her in a threatening manner. The last thing she needed was to have to explain why one of the Academy's students had been reduced to charcoal.
That tended to draw attention…
A small gasp was torn from her lungs as she hit the ground, the body of her assailant falling atop her with a loud thump. Her aura, and probably his, prevented any real damage from the impact - but still left her feeling more than a little sore. Bright blue eyes blinked slowly down at her, as blond locks tickled her chin, right before the young man was hauled off her.
Mercury offered a hand as she climbed to her feet, just in time to hear Emerald tear into the unfortunate teen with barbed words and insults. Cinder laughed softly as she dusted herself down, sparing the briefest glance to categorise him.
Blond, scrawny and clearly not a threat. All gangly limbs and hormones no doubt, he looked like any other bumbling teenager as he tried to stutter out some kind of apology to Emerald, who was having none of it. Mercury watched in amusement, no doubt taking more pleasure than was strictly necessary in his diminutive partner aiming her insults at someone else for a change.
It was times like those which reminded her of just how young and immature her subordinates really were.
She did not take pity on the young man. He was inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, and of no value to her or her organisation. He wasn't worth recruiting, and as far as she cared he could die with the rest when the time came. She was a callous and cruel woman, she knew that – but her cover as a student was not, and wouldn't share those same virtues.
So instead she smiled at him, the beautiful expression sliding onto her face like oil over water. A mask and nothing more, a game she had played many times before, and one she would continue to play - until searing heat and cleansing flame could be her true answers.
"There's no need to worry," she said as she stepped towards the young man. Her sharp eyes noted his armour, the plate across his chest and the smaller ones on his hands. Sifting them away in her memory for that moment he might prove himself an enemy to be disposed of. He wasn't in uniform, which doubtless meant he was en route to the training halls, or some combat related lesson. "We were not paying attention; we're just as much at fault."
"N-no, it's my fault," he sighed as he rubbed the back of his head and looked away, "I was rushing from the changing rooms. I shouldn't be running in the halls, less so when I'm carrying my weapon around." He shrugged as he hefted a long sword, still trapped within its sheathe. She thought she might have recognised the symbol on it, but family crests were a lien a dozen. Little more than doodles the arrogant used to suggest power or authority. "I'm sorry for bumping into you… uh?"
"Cinder," she gestured to her companions with one hand, "this is Mercury, and Emerald – who I believe you've had the pleasure of meeting."
The green-haired girl sniffed loudly, already forced into her role by the way she'd reacted to him initially. Ever the manipulative one, Mercury offered a lazy grin and a wave.
"I'm Jaune, Jaune Arc – and I don't think I've seen you around here. I mean I would definitely remem- well, I mean you er… new?" His blue eyes didn't quite meet hers, as he fidgeted with the fingers of one hand. She swallowed her laughter, instead letting her smile grow wider as she nodded.
"We're transfers," she nodded down to their uniforms, which while similar in design, were a different colour to Beacon's. "Our team is going to compete in the Vytal Festival, but our last member has yet to arrive. So for now we're studying here, to get used to the area."
Her contacts in Mistral were far stronger than the ones she held in Vale or Atlas, it had been the work of but a moment to have their details added to the student records for Haven. That school taught so many that an extra team would likely go unnoticed, and by the point they might start to notice – it would be much too late.
"Ah right," the young man cheered, "the Festival – yeah there's a few others from Vacuo around here too. Well uh – it's nice to meet you Cinder, I'm a first year at Beacon so if you need showing around, or any directions you can rely on me."
He held his hand out to her, and from the corner of her eye she caught the amused expression on Mercury's face. Really, she never cared for overly friendly types like this one apparently was. They were too trusting, foolish and idealistic – but yet again… her cover wouldn't be the kind of woman to ignore such a gesture. She wasn't a criminal, she was a student of Haven… and had to act as such.
"Thank you… Jaune," she managed to force out as she took his hand with an internal sigh, idly noting the rough calluses on his fingers. Now she knew Mercury was attempting to hide his laughter at her expense, but if putting up with the attentions of an amorous teenage boy was what she needed to do, then so be it. Thankfully she had already memorised the layout of the Academy, so actually being forced to rely on his aid was a non-issue. "Not to interrupt however, but weren't you rushing somewhere?"
"Oh crap, Goodwitch's lesson!" He gasped as he released her hand, "uhh, I need to go! Nice to meet you Cinder and uh…" he paused as he looked to the other two, and even he was unable to ignore the completely unimpressed expression on Emerald's face. "Er, yeah – sorry and bye." Cinder rolled her eyes as she watched him rush away, loud footfalls echoing in the hallway.
"What a moron…" Emerald sighed.
"Awww," Mercury cooed, "looks like someone's got a crush on you Cinder. And is widdle Emmy jealous?"
"Come now," she warned, the two going silent, "let's not cause any problems while we're here." It was hardly the first time some young man had been blinded by her beauty, and it was hardly his fault. It was a perfectly natural response to one such as her.
"Ugh, he's a complete idiot," Emerald kicked at the ground, an impressive frown adorning her features, "and to think he's the partner of someone famous like Pyrrha Nikos."
"Are they a threat?" She asked quickly. Childish tournaments and competitions were hardly dangerous to her, but there was no denying that skill mixed with experience made for a deadly combination.
"She's tough," Mercury sighed as he leaned back on a nearby locker, "was able to push me back, even if I wasn't giving it my all – didn't feel like she was either. But the team doesn't really do anything outside of Beacon. I'd just call them over-achievers."
"Apart from him," Emerald snorted, "the other three on his team are pretty good. He just rides their coattails as far as I can see. But Merc's right, they could be dangerous – but they just don't care for anything happening outside Beacon. Not like that RWBY team which keeps getting involved."
"That's fine then," Cinder said as they made their way to the next set of lessons. While she would never be so foolish as to dismiss anyone she met as harmless, neither would she let paranoia label everyone a threat to be removed. If this Jaune, and his team, were simple students as they said? Well then, there needn't be any problems between them. And if they turned out to be more?
Then they would be removed, just like the rest.
After all, they were nothing more than children - playing at a game for adults.
So... what did you all think? Cinder is an interesting character and I've tried to capture how I imagine her character being. Cruel, calculating, arrogant but also mortal. A woman who doesn't suffer fools gladly, but knows how to play the game and when she needs to pretend to be something she's not.
I'm sure no one was honestly expecting me to go all "lovey-dovey Cinder" but if they did... well yeah, I'm not. When I say "Romance" I still mean on-character.
I will be making what is perhaps an unpopular decision here however... *drum roll* - no omakes for this fic.
Gasp, why!? Well, this story is a serious one and I don't want to break the mood and tension with funny snippets at the end. Besides, this comes out alongside Staffroom Chronicles, which is pretty much two omakes anyway, a long one and a short one.
You can go there if you need your fill.
Otherwise, thanks for reading - I hope you enjoyed, and please leave a review if you're looking forward for more!
Want to see more fics, updated more frequently – or just support me for the pleasure and enjoyable reading I bring you? Please consider supporting me on – enabling me to bring you even more fics, updated as regularly as possible! There's even a goal where I would update a chapter for a different fic EVERY WEEKDAY. That's right – 5 days, 5 fics. Daily chapters.
. com (slash) Coeur
Next Update: 28th December 2015.