Okay, this is a message to my old readers for this fic. I messed up the one of the stats for Jaune: dexterity – which translates to how fast your hands are. When I was creating this story, I had believed that DEX revolved around defense. A reviewer pointed out my mistake and I'm grateful for that. As such, I corrected Dexterity with Constitution (CON). Alright, that should be it, I guess.
"Hey, scumbag!" Jaune called out to Cardin as he approached him. Actually, that sounded a lot better in his possibly insane head than when he actually blurted it out. But it was too late for Jaune now.
By the time the bully had moved his head, Jaune was standing in front of him. Cardin gave Jaune a bewildered look, blinked multiple times, stared back at Velvet, and then looked back at him again. "Do I know you from somewhere?" He asked in a condescending voice.
At that moment, Jaune just gaped at him in astonishment. He's kidding, right? There's no way a punk like Cardin would forget someone like him! Jaune was literally his punching bag during his first ever semester here at Signal! What the heck! Has everyone gone crazy?! "Are you serious?!" Jaune spoke in exaggeration, "You really don't know me?!"
Cardin scoffed at Jaune's questioning before he let out a sickening laugh. "Did you hit your head on something Arc? Of course I know who you are! I'd be a complete idiot if I couldn't recognize one of my buddies." His grip on Velvet's arm tightened and in response, the tears in her eyes became more apparent.
The Rugby Captain just chuckled at Velvet's pain. "See, here's the thing," Cardin began in a slow manner – the kind mirroring a businessman about to fire one of their employees. "The Jaune Arc I know is nothing more than a spineless coward who has the tenacity to hide behind that blonde bimbo Xiao Long and her group of misfits. He's the kind of guy that runs away when everything begins to close around him – kinda like being trapped in a room with the walls closing in to crush you."
"But the Jaune-y boy standing in front of me? Right now, you look like you finally decided to grow a spine." Cardin howled in amusement when he finished that sentence. Jaune wasn't sure whether or not if that was an insult or a compliment. Then again, it's Cardin, so it's definitely an insult. "Oh, who am I kidding, I bet that bimbo finally had enough of you stalking her and she punched the sanity right out of that pathetic peanut you call a brain!" Cardin laughed.
Jaune's legs began to tremble as his face twisted into a grimace. His arms that hung by his sides suddenly felt limp, as if some imaginary force was dragging them down. Out of all times, why now?! All the painful memories with his experience with Winchester slowly began to resurface in his mind. He could only imagine the message that his eyes were giving off right now. His resolve that he believed was powerful was beginning to cave in on him. 'Why am I doing this again? Why the heck am I following the instructions of this absurd "quest" that had appeared out of nowhere?!' Jaune inwardly screamed at himself.
The revolting thought of running away and proving Cardin right was beginning to seem prosperous right now. But it immediately dissipated the instant his eyes caught a glimpse of the pained expression that Velvet wore over her face. Her eyes were pleading him for help. It was so faint, quiet and unnoticeable even. Yet, at the same time, her mute cry for help was deafening beyond reason.
Jaune gulped the figurative fear down his throat. His hands balled into a firm fist; he could feel a burning feeling in his palms as his fingernails dug into them. He was going to save her. Not because some imaginative RPG quest was telling him to. No, he was doing this because he was tired of running away. Not from Cardin, but from his very own morals and beliefs. This time – this time he was going to be true to himself and –
Recognizing and acting on your moral stance has increased your WIS by 1!
'Oh yeah, that's right. I'm insane,' he answered himself.
"Listen Arc, how about you run along to your video games, and I'll pretend that this embarrassing moment never hap -" Cardin couldn't finish because Jaune sent a fist into his face. His head leaned back from the force, and Jaune, using all the strength he could muster, pulled Cardin's arm away from Velvet, releasing her from his grip. He gave the brute a good push, hoping that Cardin would be reeling unto the floor. Except all that accomplished was the muscular boy moving a couple steps back before he quickly regained his balance.
'Maybe Yang wasn't joking when she said that I had spaghetti arms . . .' he thought.
"Well, that's just great. . ." Jaune muttered sarcastically. He looked over to the gardening club member. Velvet just stood there staring at him with an unreadable face. Jaune swiftly charged at Cardin, enclosing his arms around Cardin with his feet planted into the ground, in an effort to better distance themselves from Velvet.
"Well don't just stand there, run! Get away from him!" Jaune yelled in hopes that it would shake her out of her gaping daze.
"B-But what a-about you . . .?" she whimpered to the blond. Jaune glanced over to Cardin; his face directed at Jaune was seething. There was no doubt in Jaune's mind that Cardin was going to tunnel-vision towards him and his unbruised face. Chasing after Velvet was the last thing that appeared to be on Cardin's pissed-off mind at the moment.
Cardin scoffed at the blonde's attempt and slowly began forcing himself forward. Jaune was beginning to lose ground.
"Look, uh . . . Velvet, don't worry about me. Just . . . just go find help. I'm going to try and hold him off for as long as I can." Honestly, there was no point in running away from someone like Cardin. Jaune knew that much. He'd hunt you down and, like an animal, eat you alive. Besides, the sooner Cardin takes out his anger out on him, the better chance Velvet will have of not being his physical punching bag. Jaune wouldn't know how to live with himself if the bullying became worse because of him.
Fortunately, his words managed to reach her. Velvet gave him a weak nod and quickly ran away from the scene. He prayed that it was actually his doing and not the Speech skill.
All Jaune could hear moments after Velvet fled was the roaring of Cardin's laughter. "Oh man, that was rich!" He cried out, "I don't know which was more pathetic: you acting like some sort of knight in shining armor or thinking that you actually have a chance against me!"
"Yeah, in hindsight that really wasn't one of my brightest ideas," Jaune said. But it wasn't one of the worst either. Whether it was a good plan or not, the blond successfully managed to free Velvet from Cardin's harassment, so it was worth it in his opinion.
Jaune's legs dangled in the air as Cardin lifted him up from his shoulders. "Well then, let's see how much of a man you really are." He spun Jaune around before his grip around Cardin broke free and was sent hurling into a nearby hedge. Jaune coughed out a leaf as he got up, he wasn't going to back down from him. Jaune brought his hands up, mimicking a faux fighting stance of a character from one of his fighter games.
Cardin chuckled, cracking his knuckles as began walking over to him. "I'm not sure if that was smart or you're actually insane Jaune-y boy. Doesn't matter, I would have pummeled you to death even if you lied there playing dead." Jaune ran forward, his arm pulled back ready to punch Cardin across the face. To his surprise however, the brute just stood there and took his attack straight on. His head turned ever so slightly from the impact, but that was the only thing achieved.
Jaune's eyes narrowed in irritation 'Stupid low attack stat, why couldn't I have started with 50 ATK or something?! Is it my luck? It's my horrible luck that I got such a weak RPG system isn't it?! Do you honestly think I'm some sort of scrub who would bother investing in useless stats like Wisdom?'
Cardin must have noticed Jaune's expression since he gave him a loud snicker and taunted, "Aww don't feel bad buddy, it's not your fault you don't know how to throw a proper punch. But since I'm such a nice friend, I'll personally teach you."
Before Jaune could even react, Cardin's fist collided into the right side of his jaw. Pain erupted through his face as the Rugby Captain's blow sent him rolling on the ground. A grunt escaped Jaune's lips as he hurryingly tried to get back up. However, the grunt transformed into a breathless wheeze as soon as Cardin swung his foot into Jaune's gut. He could feel the air abruptly escaping his lungs while his stomach groaned in pain from the kick. Jaune fell back down, his back resting against the surface.
Physical pain has increased your CON by 1!
"Not . . . helping right now . . . game. . ." he spoke through a series of coughs. His azure eyes widened in surprise, noticing that Cardin's raised foot was about to descend upon him, Jaune rolled out of the way. This time, he was able to get up without being interrupted by Cardin's attacks. Jaune went back into his stance. "Observe," He said, disguised as another pant for air.
"To dominate the weak I must become strong so they can cower over me!"
"Damn . . . looks like those muscles aren't just for show," Jaune muttered with a hint of annoyance in his voice upon reading his Health. He must have invested a lot of time into building up his Constitution. Not like Jaune would know the exact value of the defensive stat; there was a good chance that he would have to level up the Observe skill further if he wanted to look at a person's status.
"What was that, Arc? If you're trying to beg for my forgiveness, forget it! I'm going to crush you until you won't be able to move anymore!" he sneered.
Jaune simply rolled his eyes. "As if I'd apologize to a scumbag like you," he called back loud enough for the bully to hear. Cardin's twisted scowl was the only thing needed for Jaune to realize that he further agitated him. Just fantastic.
It felt weird, Jaune couldn't exactly describe it, but everything felt off. Jaune could feel the lasting pain in his scrawny body and even the very intensity of Cardin's anger. That should make his mind go haywire, moving in all directions at once. But right now, the only term that Jaune could describe the state of his mind would be 'clear'. It wasn't like his emotions just disappeared; Jaune could still feel the anger and fear fighting against Cardin, it was just that his chain of thought appeared to have organized itself.
Could it have been that warm feeling? Jaune will have to test out more of these mechanics afterwards if he survives.
Cardin let out a war cry as he lunged towards Jaune. He swung his fist, but Jaune was able to dodge it by quickly ducking. He proceeded with a counter-strike to the face, but Cardin just shrugged it off. The blond jumped to the side to dodge another punch, he leaned back to avoid the Rugby Captain's backhand swing. He jumped even further back when Cardin tried to get a cheap-shot at him by trying to kick him in the groin. 'Man, what a scumbag!' he complained inwardly.
Successfully dodging attacks has increased your AGI by 1!
'Dodging huh? I always thought I had to do something like running 10 kilometers every day to increase Agility', Jaune thought, taking another step back to avoid another attack. He winced as pain suddenly returned throughout his body. Even if his mind was thinking clearly, Jaune's body was having difficulty keeping up. The pain around his abdomen still lingered and a part of his mouth felt numb. "Status," he whispered.
Name: Jaune Arc [Conditions: Normal]
Class: The Gamer
Exp: 0/ 25
'I only lost 11 HP and my body's already sore. If this is an RPG system then where the heck is my health regeneration?!' he complained; what a stupid game system. The screen closed itself automatically the moment its built-in timer hit zero. Jaune couldn't keep dodging forever, his stamina was beggining to wear out and Cardin wasn't even breaking a sweat. He couldn't help but question if the 6 level difference was really that significant or that he was that weak to begin with.
The first option would be a really good excuse for his lack of masculinity.
Jaune twisted his body to move away from Cardin's attempted tackle, he extended his leg, effectively tripping the bully. But by the time Cardin regained his composure, Jaune had retreated further back, using the few seconds to regain a steady breath.
Cardin chuckled, "C'mon, is this really all you got Jaune-y? Running away from my attacks won't do you any good! " The cocky grin that he was giving him really infuriated Jaune, but there was nothing he could do about it, sadly. It was pathetic, but fighting Cardin was possibly the only thing close to physical exercise for an indoor gamer like him.
Jaune remained still as Cardin advanced. He hurled a jab to his face, Jaune's brain informed his body to dart to the left but his movement became sluggish from the lack of stamina – Jaune got punched straight in the nose. He stumbled back, a coppery taste enveloping around his lips as a red liquid dripped from his chin. Great, out of all the possible moments, Jaune had to get a nosebleed now.
Stupid 1 Luck stat.
Before Jaune could react, Cardin grabbed him by the collar and lifted him up. He couldn't help but skip a breath staring at the ginger up close and personal. "You know, I take it back. Tell ya' what Arc; if you promise to become my personal slave for the entire year, I might reconsider about you getting out of here with only a couple of broken bones." There was that disgusting smirk on his face again. "It's really simple – even for an idiot like you to understand – all you have to do is ignore that animal's existence and obey my every command." Jaune simply stared back with a glare. "And hey, if you do a really good job, I'll even let you help me, ah mingle with my other 'buddies'."
The burned in memory of Velvet's face was present in his mind during the whole time Cardin was talking. Jaune couldn't – no, wouldn't do such a thing to her. The very thought of it made his stomach feel queasy.
"So what do you say, friend?" Cardin questioned sarcastically, a nasty grin on his face. Jaune simply spit his blood-mixed-saliva at his forehead in response.
"As if I'd ever be friends with a scumbag like you. . ." he weakly smiled in triumph. Jaune recalled Yang's words to him during one of her failed pranks, 'Life is short and sweet Jaune. So if Ms. Goodwitch is going to take me down, I might as well go out in style!' The poor girl was stuck in detention for an entire month for dying the teacher's hair blue. Still, they were words to live by, Yang, words to live by.
Cardin narrowed his eyes in fury, "big mistake Arc. . ." he declared through glaring teeth. He raised his hand into the air; Jaune could literally see Cardin's knuckles becoming whiter by the second. The beaten blond simply closed his eyes in accepting defeat. If he somehow got out of this alive, his Constitution stat better go up as some form of compensation.
And so Jaune waited for the inevitable with every counting second transforming into an eternity.
But the fatal blow never came. Instead, he was greeted with a familiar voice whose breath held the faintest scent of alcohol (or possibly a strong scent, Jaune couldn't tell with blood running out of his nose). "I don't think that's a good idea, Mr. Winchester."
Jaune opened his eyes, a hand grasped around Cardin's extended arm, just inches away from his bloody face. The look on Cardin's face held an expression of pure shock, his eyes wide like a deer in headlights. His gaze moved towards his savior. He was a middle-aged man wearing a dark gray dress shirt with black pants. The button to the collar was undone revealing a silver cross-shaped necklace around his neck. His black, yet graying, hair remained motionless as a gust of wind flew by the group. His crimson eyes had a slight hint of annoyance as he stared at the Rugby Captain.
Jaune couldn't help but inwardly relax. Even if Signal's gym teacher had one of the most ridiculous titles floating above his head, Jaune couldn't care at this point.
"M-Mr. Branwen, I-I can explain!" Cardin stammered, quickly releasing Jaune. The blond lost his balance and stumbled onto the ground, but they didn't pay attention to him. He wasn't sure whether to be glad or insulted that he was left in the background. Mr. Branwen let him go and simply stared him down.
"Oh really?" He grinned. "You mind explaining to me why Mr. Arc has a broken nose, and why you had your fist raised ready to send him to the afterlife?"
"Um . . . I-I . . . uh," Cardin muttered in a panicking tone, "Jaune-y boy tripped and fell on his face!" Jaune shot him a hateful glare in the bully's direction.
'Out of all the things you could have said, me tripping face forward on grass was the best you could come up with?" he thought.
"Uh huh, and about the other part when you were going to punch him square in the face, what was that about?" The man asked sarcastically.
Cardin returned a sheepish smile, "Um . . . C.P.R?"
At that point, Jaune couldn't help but smack his face at Cardin's ability to lie.
He held back a cry of pain as he quickly regretted his decision to face-palm himself. The blood rushing out of his nose had increased. Fan~tastic.
"Of course, Mr. Winchester, that makes perfect sense." His sarcasm was becoming more apparent. "Why don't you head down to Ms. Goodwitch's office? I'm sure she'll love to hear your concern over Mr. Arc's safety." Cardin shot Jaune a scowl before dipping his head and begrudgingly obeying Mr. Branwen. As he walked away, the only sound coming from his mouth was inappropriate ramblings about Jaune. "I'll be joining you in 10 minutes, Mr. Winchester. For your sake, you better be there before me." Cardin sped up his pace when he heard that.
When the echo of doors slamming was heard, the teacher relaxed his shoulders before he began to rub his temples and let out a long sigh. "God, I just woke up from another hangover and I already have to yell at some brat," He grumbled, this time with no authority in his tone. No matter what anyone in this entire school says, Jaune will never see Qrow Branwen as an "Ordinary Person". The man was basically the male version of Yang, minus the blazing temper and desire to constantly harass Jaune. He was a decent man – always looking out for social underlings like the blond, and making sure that his family stayed safe.
The only quality that cast an enormous shadow over possible normality was that Mr. Branwen was . . . well-
"Aw well, might as well have another. . ." he said, reaching into his back-pocket and pulling out a silver flask. He leaned back and took a swig out of it.
. . . Always drunk.
A small hiccup escaped his lips as he placed his alcoholic beverage back into his pocket. "Kid, don't take this the wrong way, but you look like the vomit I threw up in the toilet today." Jaune rolled his eyes at his usual antics. It wasn't that Yang's uncle enjoyed harassing him; he just had a very strange sense of humor.
"But sir, I can explain-"Jaune was cut off by a released burp from the teacher.
"Jaune, how many times do I need to tell you, we're on a first-name basis here." He shook his head in disapproval. He fixed a smug smile on his face. "It's not sir, mister, or Mr. Branwen, it's just Qrow. 'Badass' works too, but say that name in front of my nieces and I'll snap your neck for spewing that inappropriate language in their innocent ears."
That's the thing. When Qrow made sure his family stayed safe, he made sure every possible wall was checked and accounted for. It was basically an unmentioned rule throughout the entire school that asking out Yang and her sister were off-limits. Heck, just being able to talk to them required a full-body and background check from the old drunk himself.
Fortunately for Jaune, his "approved" friendship between Qrow's nieces at the very beginning of his first year had allowed the blond to develop a good relationship with their drunken uncle. Turns out he's a great listener when Jaune wanted to preach his philosophy about glass cannons.
Then again, he had to water it down and compare glass cannons to extreme body builders for Qrow to understand. But nothing less, it was still nice to have someone show attention for his passion, even if they were piss drunk while doing so.
"R-Right, I'll keep that in mind sir- I mean . . . Qrow." He said. Jaune grabbed Qrow's offering hand and stood up. "But seriously, do I look that bad?"
Qrow replied with a chuckle. "Well, you'd be considered handsome if we're comparing you to what I look like after a weekend hangover in one of Vale's bars."
He placed a hand on the blond's shoulder. "But you did good kid – real good."
"I wouldn't consider getting my nose broken by Cardin a good thing," He replied wryly, wiping his sleeve over his nose.
"That's not it, kid. You stood up for another person against that bully. And it's not only that. Jaune, what you just did there was the last thing I'd expect from you out of all people."
"Actually, you quitting video games would be the last thing I'd see you do, but you know what I mean." Qrow was about to continue before another burp erupted from his throat. "Excuse me for that. Ahem, now where was I... oh yeah, what you did was the right thing, and I'm proud of you for that, Jaune. I think you're well on your way to becoming a man. Maybe not awesome of a man like me, but you're going to get far."
Despite the last remark, Jaune couldn't help but smile after hearing all of that from Qrow, who didn't even seem fazed that Jaune's teeth were stained with red.
"Well, I'll be seeing you around. I got alcohol to refill and a brat to take care of." Qrow turned away with his hands in his pockets, stumbling towards the nearest exit.
Jaune's eye twitched in annoyance. "H-Hey! Isn't it your job to take me to the nurse's office?!" he called out to him. He winced as a jolt of pain ran through his body. Ok, maybe raising his voice wasn't such a good idea.
"It kinda is, but I'll let her take care of you. It's technically her fault that you got into this mess in the first place." Qrow waved a good-bye before he quite literally walked right through a garden hedge. Jaune wasn't surprised. By now he was already accustomed to the unpredictability of intoxicated people.
As Jaune spit blood filled saliva out of his mouth, he couldn't help but wonder who Qrow meant by "her"-
"U-Um. . .A-Are you alright?" he turned around to gaze upon Velvet emerging from behind a hedge sculpture. She had a concerned look in her brown eyes, whom of which were slightly red from the experience with Cardin earlier.
"Were you watching the whole time?!" Jaune suddenly demanded, a hint of embarrassment warming in his cheeks. Velvet flinched at Jaune's unexpected outburst, shock with a mix of fear added to her expression. Jaune instantly regretted his decision. He could feel the twinge of guilt stabbing into his heart.
"S-Sorry...I-I didn't mean to o-offend you. I'll just go leave you alone-
"Velvet, wait!" he called out to her. Her shoulder tensed even more; his guilt had now become a lump in his throat. "Sorry, sorry – I-I'm not mad at you" – Jaune unexpectedly raised his voice – "ah I meant I didn't mean to yell at you! Dammit, I did it again!" Velvet's features morphed from alarm to curiosity, 'Oh God, she probably thinks I'm some sick weirdo by now!' his inner thoughts screaming from the abyss of his mind.
"No wait, I didn't mean that either!" Trying to explain himself while blood was dripping down his chin really didn't help ease the situation he was in. "Look, it's just that me and Qrow – eh, I mean Mr. Branwen – have a friendship that's better than just "student-teacher bond". You know, actual friends." Jaune took a brief moment of pause to think of what to say next. "But I'm the type of guy who prefers to keep it um . . . less apparent, if you know what I mean."
He really hoped Velvet would understand. Jaune didn't want people around the school come to the wrong conclusion that he only became "friends" with Qrow just to have an excuse to hang out with Yang. Plus his parents would send him straight back home if they found out he was hanging around with an alcoholic.
It took a couple moments before Velvet could process the blond's words. Her posture relaxed, and she just shyly looked to the grass beneath her feet. "W-Well, I guess I can see where you're coming from. Y-You wouldn't want people getting the wrong idea about favoritism. You shouldn't w-worry; I'm not a fan of gossiping." Jaune let out a sigh of relief. "B-but for a moment, I really thought you were angry at me. . ."
"Why would I be mad at you?"
"Well . . . I mean just look at you . . . it's m-my fault that you got hurt." She whimpered.
"What? Velvet what are you talking about?" Jaune asked. "It's not your fault-
"Yes it is!" Velvet cried, her composure beginning to crumble as her delicate shoulders began to shake. "If I wasn't so – so weak you wouldn't be gotten that bruise and the bloody nose and - and – "she fell down to her knees and began to sob.
Jaune immediately kneeled down and placed both hands on her shoulders. "Velvet, Velvet, just calm down. Listen to me, it is not your fault, ok? It's not your fault, it's Cardin's – he's the one who did this to me, not you. So please, don't cry. No one blames you, and you shouldn't be blaming yourself either."
He let the words sink in. It was after a couple minutes for Velvet to hold back any more tears, but Jaune had a sinking feeling that the girl was still upset about herself.
"B-But Mr. Branwen even said-
"Qrow – I mean Mr. Branwen just has a weird sense of humor. Plus he's drunk – drunk people always spew stupid stuff out of their mouths." Jaune reassured. Inwardly, he was promising himself that the next time he saw Qrow, he was going to have a long, nice conversation about the do's and don'ts of what to say when exiting a scene.
Velvet replied with a faint smile. "W-Well, that's t-true."
"Y-Yeah! And they do stupid things too! Did you see the way Mr. Branwen just walked through that hedge?" he joked, hoping to raise her mood.
This time, she quietly giggled at what Jaune said. "Well, they are drunk after all."
"Fin~al~ly, someone who actually gets it! Seriously, do you-
'Speech' level has gone up by 1!
'Please let this skill be fake, please let this skill be fake, please let this skill be fake . . .' he mentally pleaded. He had a sense of humor, right?
. . . Right?!
"Is something wrong Jaune?" Velvet asked, breaking Jaune out of his mental loop. That concerned expression in those chestnut eyes was back again.
He rose up and offered Velvet his left hand, the one that didn't have blood on it. She accepted politely, but her anxiety was still present.
"Y-Yeah, I'm f-fine" he lied. "I was just thinking . . . um . . ."
'Dammit! Think Jaune, think!'
". . . Did you bring Mr. Branwen over here?"
"O-Oh, y-yes I did. I was lucky enough to find Mr. Branwen wandering around the halls. When I told him you were in trouble, he told me to stay away from the garden and he just ran ahead." She broke eye contact from Jaune. "B-But, it just felt so wrong. You put yourself in Cardin's way just to protect me; I wanted – no I had to make sure you were ok. So I took another route to the garden, and when I got there, Mr. Branwen had already sent Cardin away."
"Ok I get that, but why were you hiding?"
"W-Well . . . I didn't want to disobey Mr. Branwen, so I thought it would be best if I just stayed over there and let him take care of you. But somehow, he already knew that I was here." Velvet responded.
"Well, drunk people are unpredictable after all," he shrugged. He wiped his nose with his sleeve again, "hey, do you have a tissue I can borrow or something? This nosebleed is getting really annoying."
Velvet's rabbit ears shot up as she put her hands over her lips. "Oh my gosh, I was so busy crying that I forgot that you're hurt! I'm so stupid!"
"H-hey Velvet, I –
"Go sit on that bench over there right now." She declared, pointing towards an old wooden bench a couple of feet away from him. "There's a first aid kit in the shed –
"Velvet I don't think you have to do all of this for me –"
"Please." Jaune felt a soft warmth as she wrapped her hand around his. "You helped me. I-I think it's only fair that I return the favor." Her concern had now become determination; Jaune couldn't find it in himself to protest.
"O-Ok." Was all he muttered before walking towards the bench.
. . .
They sat there in silence. Velvet wiping the blood off Jaune's face with a wet cloth, while he just sat there staring off into the sky at nothing in particular. In order to stop the blood from flowing out, Velvet told him to pinch the bridge of his nose.
He placed his other hand on his abdomen, feeling around for the area where Cardin had kicked him. He slightly winced when he found the region, the pain appearing and disappearing immediately. As much as he hated this feeling, Jaune was smiling inwardly. It reminded him that he actually did it. He finally stood up for what he believed was right and faced his fears head on.
Granted, he got beat up by Cardin, but it was still something to feel good about it in the end.
"Alright, the blood should stop running out of your nose by now." Velvet suddenly spoke, lightly tapping the blond's hand, informing him to let go. "Your face is clean too, so all that's left is to take care of that bruise near you jaw."
Jaune replied with a hum in agreement. He watched as the rabbit faunus reached into the first-aid kit and pulled out a swab.
"There's a small cut on it, so I'm going to have to disinfect it first. This might sting a little." He simply nodded before tensing his body, preparing for the burning sensation from the alcohol swab. She reached forward but her hand suddenly jerked away. "S-Sorry i-it's just that . . ."
"Velvet, we already talked about this. There's no point in beating yourself up over something you're not responsible for." He assured.
"No, it's not that. It's just – it's just that I never really formally thanked you for standing up for me. Jaune, I'm really grateful for what you did for me. Y-You're actually the first bystander to actually help instead of just walking away . . . s-so" She stared at him for what seemed like an eternity, ". . . Thank you."
"Ah it's ok Velvet, it's –
". . . Alright." He muttered while staring at the screen.
He thought it was just a coincidence with Weiss, but the timing of the message box in front of him erased all doubts.
Terrific, out of all of the possible quest systems, it had to be this one? See, there were the kinds of quests where once you completed the condition, the rewards would magically appear out of nowhere. But the quest system that he had? If Jaune wanted to complete a quest, he would have to confront the quest-giver, which was completely stupid considering the fact that it was his conscience that gave him this quest! And the worst part? The quest-giver had to give some "closure" phrase in order for the quest to be fully "completed".
He felt dread thinking about what would happen if he ever wanted to complete a quest for Mr. Port.
You leveled up!
Would you like to edit your stats now?
Jaune extended his arm, pretending to stretch but really aiming to click on the [Later] button. He was sure that the girl sitting beside him would question his sanity if he suddenly began poking his finger randomly in the air. That would probably lead to a one-way trip to the hospital, which will then lead to a very annoyed Weiss for not making dinner.
'I wonder if investing another 6 points into ATK would make me punch as hard as Card-' his thoughts were cut off as the feeling of fire burning his flesh abruptly emerged around the bruise on his face. He let out a yelp from the surprise of pain.
"Shhhhh . . . it's ok Jaune, the stinging should stop very soon." Velvet whispered into his ear. She gently placed a fairly large band-aid over the injury, and in that moment, the lingering pain just vanished. Another message popped up in front of him.
The majority of your injuries has been treated thoroughly! + 10 HP Restored!
He immediately reached for his stomach. The pain was still there, but it felt weaker. As if some unknown force had injected a numbing drug into that area of his body. It couldn't have been that 10 HP . . . right? Now he's even more curious about these mechanics.
He jumped up from his seat and looked back at Velvet, her eyes wide with shock. "Woah, I feel better already! Thanks a lot, Velvet!" he declared.
"J-Jaune?! U-U-umm I don't know what to say..." she looked down meekly.
"You don't have to say anything if you don't want to. But wow, Velvet where did you learn to do all that?"
"O-Oh, I've just been learning as I go . . . I mean, my f-family has a habit of g-getting um... s-small injuries, so I'm pretty much the medi – caretaker around the h-house." She spoke in a weak tone, her eyes avoiding his. Jaune didn't press any further, he can judge from Velvet's expression that she doesn't like talking about her family.
Silence filled the garden again, the two students staring at each other not knowing what else to say. Jaune gave a small cough before saying, "w-well, I guess I'll see you around Velvet."
"Wh-what, you're leaving already?" she almost appeared dejected from the look she had on her face.
"Yeah, I got dungeons to grind and monsters to slay," He replied. Velvet simply returned a confused stare in his direction. "Sorry, I just got a new video game and I really want to test out its functions." He sheepishly grinned.
"O-Oh. . .ok." One of her faunus ears drooped.
"Hey don't feel bad, I'll be here again tomorrow!" he smiled.
Velvet seemed surprised if anything. "Really? I just thought that with everything you experienced, the garden would be the last place you'd visit again."
"Nah, this place is . . . well . . ." He scratched the back of his head, trying to find the words. "I can't really describe it, but being here is just . . . nice."
"So you're really coming back here tomorrow?" her eyes glistening with hope.
"As my dad always says: 'An Arc never goes back on his promise' . . . plus this is the only place in the entire school where I can nap in peace." He said. A quiet giggle escaped from Velvet's lips as he said this. "Well, guess I'll head on home then, later Vel- "
"J-Jaune, wait!" she called out to him. He raised an eyebrow in confusion. "I just remembered, but, can you stay right here for a second? There's something in the shed I need to give you"
"Um . . . sure Velvet."
Several minutes passed before Velvet returned. Except she was currently holding an object that made Jaune's jaw drop out of sheer bewilderment.
"It's dangerous out there, please take this." Velvet presented the object for Jaune to take.
"Velvet...is that a..." – Jaune rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't hallucinating – "...baseball bat? Why do you have a metal bat in your hands?"
"Jaune, I've seen Cardin's friends and I just know he's going to get his revenge on you, even if it's not on school territory. I wouldn't know what to do if you got hurt on your way home. So maybe they'd leave you alone if they saw that you had a weapon." She explained.
"I can understand that, but why exactly do you have a bat stored in your shed?"
"W-Well, it all started after watching a movie with my friends – b-but I think we'd be standing here all the way to sunrise if I told you the whole story." She responded.
"Well, maybe next time you can tell me about it." He accepted the weapon from her. The handle felt cold in his hand as he lifted it up into the air. He saw his partial reflection as the sun gleamed off the steel. In a silent whisper, he observed the weapon.
Metal Baseball Bat
A tool that has only one purpose: Hitting stuff. If you've been using it as a shovel, then you should go see a therapist or something.
He gave the girl a grin, "Thanks, Velvet, I feel stronger already!"
Her face lit up when Jaune expressed his gratitude, "A-Ah you don't have to mention it, I just wanted to help some more, t-that's all. But I think it would be best you left now, by now Cardin should be in Ms. Goodwitch's office, so a head start should help you a lot."
"You take care of yourself Velvet," He said before turning towards the exit. "Oh, and before I forget, if that scumbag starts picking on you again just talk to Yang. She'll do a way better job at kicking Cardin to the ground than I can."
As he walked away with a smug smile on his face, his inner self was frowning. 'It only has 10 damage? Man, this thing is a disappointment!' he mentally growled.
The building of Signal lied in the very heart of the large town of Patch. His apartment, however, rested at the outskirts. Thus, meant that Jaune had a long way to go to get to his destination. Fortunately for him, the blond didn't encounter any of Cardin's goons.
But the weird looks from the people who called this place home made him feel very uncomfortable. He wouldn't blame them. He was a teenager holding a baseball bat with a white bandage over his face. They all must be thinking that he was some delinquent ready to break some unfortunate soul's knee caps. Heck, he even saw a cashier, through the display glass, tense up as he walked by the store.
It wasn't until a couple steps along the sidewalk that the realization finally hit him. In hindsight, maybe ditching a girl to play video games seemed like a horrible thing to do.
But Jaune's curiosity over this "Game" was beginning to take hold of him. Up until now, all the mechanics he discovered could easily be classified as hallucinations or rather, manifestations of his subconscious. What he needed was a sign, something would confirm whether or not his mind has finally snapped.
"Is that so hard to ask, world?" he muttered to himself. "Is it so hard to present me a sign to indicate if I've gone insane?"
And as if the world had ears, it responded to Jaune's plea. A strange noise echoed from the shady alleyway beside him. It wasn't some cat screeching or a tin can falling. No, it sounded like a vacuum cleaner trying to suck in a bed of corroded metal.
Now, any normal person would get the hell away from there at that instant. However, Jaune's questionable sanity put him in a situation where he actually wanted to find out what was happening in that alley.
Besides, he had a baseball bat, what's the worst that could happen?
As he cautiously approached the narrow pathway, Jaune gulped a lump down his throat in anticipation. With each creeping step he took, the sound became louder, and the grip over his weapon became tighter. Standing at the sight before him, Jaune couldn't help but lower the bat in awe.
In front of him was what he would describe as a black hole. Like, literally the purest shade of black he'd ever gaze his eyes upon. Except instead of sucking everything in, it was actually sucking something out. Mere moments passed, and a small, glimmering, floating dark orb manifested out of the hole. It was no bigger than Jaune's fist, and no brighter than the lighting in his room in the morning.
And then the black hole that gave birth to the sphere vanished. It was as if the process reversed, causing it to suck itself into non-existence rather than everything surrounding it.
Jaune couldn't comprehend what he just saw, his eyes wide with shock and his skin growing colder by the second. But that wasn't all. By using Observe's passive, Jaune read the text floating above the radiant orb.
"What . . . the . . . hell?"
Oh my God, I actually did it. 7000 words...like that's the most I've done so far. So what were your thoughts about the Cardin fight? Too short? Too long? Any feedback would be nice. It's funny, during my first draft, I had Jaune one punch Cardin. Then I realized that it was a horrible idea considering our hero only has 11 ATK 0_o. And that last part? Well, I originally planned for the chapter to end with Jaune slipping into a bunch of rose thorns, and then proceeding to say something witty. But I think 3 chapters without the supernatural would feel a little. . . slow, not to mention I haven't even finished showing the basics of Jaune's ability.
Ok that's it, hope you enjoyed this chapter, see you in 2 weeks or next month.