Salt and Cherries.

Jaune doesn't know how long he sat, slumped against the wall.

A minute, maybe two? His voice was still raw, burning and hoarse after he had screamed his desperation to Weiss. "Damn it, Pyrrha." He cursed, hurt and scared beyond measure. He hadn't had anything to drink in what felt like hours, and his throat was bone dry. His mouth was much the same, filled with the taste of dust and blood.

But his lips? His lips taste like salt, from his tears or Pyrrha's, he doesn't know. They taste like cherries from that little tube of lip gloss he was surprised she carried with her always - 'I'm a celebrity, and that means I have an image, even if it isn't really me' - and he hates it. He hates it because he can remember her lips, so warm and soft, he remembers putting his hand around her, remembers feeling her pulse, feeling her. Vibrant and alive and so inescapably beautiful.

Then she smiles, smiles as she cuts out his heart.

'I'm so sorry.' She says, and he believes her, because tears make tracks through the grime on her face even as she punches in co-ordinates for the launch.

He believes her, but he can't forgive her. He licks lips and the taste of cherries lingers on his tongue, he recognised his surroundings. A suburb of the City that housed a high population of the Hunters stationed in Vale, it was almost immediately declared a safe zone as hundreds of immensely skilled and experienced warriors tore in the Grimm near their home with fury unmatched. He was safe.

He was miles away. He would never make it in time to help her, no matter what he did. She would have known. He can't forgive her.

He groaned as he made his way to his feet again. His Aura was low, barely healing his wounds, too much fighting, and the crash landing he endured hadn't helped. He figures his left ankle is fractured. It hurts, but it should be fine. He stumbles forward, heading for the glow of his scroll.

He trips, and ends up scrabbling in the dirt, cursing under his breath. It hurts, but he manages, propping himself against the wall again, the cracked but still whole screen of his scroll glowing back up at him.

It is oddly peaceful. The night is full of the screeching, hateful cries of the Grimm. The rumble and crack of firearms respond in kind. The roaring, echoing thud of explosions plays staccato in the background. But here? Here in this alleyway there is nothing but him, the dust, the dark, and his scroll.

His lips still taste likes salt and cherries.

He musters his courage, and selects an option on the touch screen. Instantly, four familiar portraits stare back at him. Himself, Nora, Ren and Pyrrha. The level and strength of their Aura, measured through a chip that was implanted in their thigh at the beginning of the school year.

Nora was in the red, but stable and rising. She was obviously exhausted but uninjured, and seemingly had found a place to rest. Good.

Ren's situation was more worrying, despite his Aura still being at near fifty percent. It was dropping, very, very slowly. That meant injuries, the rate at which his Aura drained told him it wasn't mortal, but serious none the less.

Jaune himself was in the red, almost yellow, slowly climbing as he sat against the wall.

Pyrrha's was still in the yellow. He almost breathed a sigh of relief, until it dropped sharply. The breath froze in his lungs.

She was still fighting.

"Fuck." He said, unable to find the words for anything else. He locked up, toward the tower, only to watch as it was ploughed through by the gigantic, winged Grimm.

"Forty percent." He mumbled, worrying his lip with his teeth, his knuckles white on the scroll.

His breathing picked up pace. "Thirty four." The bar dipped ever so slowly, a sure sign of her using her semblance. Then it dipped into the red near instantly.

His lips tasted like cherries, salt and blood. "Twenty one."

He could hardly swallow, his chest ached "C'mon, c'mon, Pyrrha, c'mon you can do it, you can, c'mon..." He muttered to himself, a twisting, painful feeling forming in the pit of his stomach. He could see a number of floating shapes in the distance, and her Aura began dropping quickly. Then another, fast drop.

"Five." He mumbled hollowly and he felt like the world was falling away, nothing but him and the scroll, the taste of blood, salt and cherries, and his building dread.

Then, to his horror, her portrait slowly turned a dull grey, her Aura sputtering into oblivion, nothing, zero.

"No no no no, no no no!" The scroll drops out of his hands, and he feels nothing. Feels nothing but the empty, burning hole that her absence had already begun tearing out of his soul. His fingers curl around his throat, his tears falling freely, and he hunches over.

His scream of anguish is almost inhuman.

His lips taste like salt and blood.


I'm so sorry. Wrote this just after I watched Chapter Twelve, took me about an hour.