A/N: It's been over a year since I last updated this... QwQ Well here's the next chapter! Finally!
Watch me take another year to come out with the next chapter
Last time: Blake's secret is revealed. Marry asks if Blake killed anyone. Blake answers yes. Marry runs off.
"Blake? Is something wrong?"
Blake sighed and replied, "Everything's fine, Ruby."
Yang frowned at her. "You don't look fine. Did something happen between you and Marry?"
She resisted a flinch. "What makes you think that?"
"The two of you have been avoiding each other all morning," Weiss chimed in. "And Marry would always avoid your gaze… She's not exactly the most subtle of people."
"You've been acting like this ever since you came back from your talk with Marry," Yang continued. "It only makes sense that we'd think something happened between you two."
Blake stopped poking at her food. "Fine. Let's assume that you're right. Then what?"
"We want to help you, of course!" Ruby insisted. "We're teammates, aren't we? Teammates help each other whenever possible!"
She couldn't help but smile at that. "Sorry, Ruby, but this isn't something that you can help with. Any of you," she added, shooting a glance at the others. Yang in particular looked as though she was about to protest. "This is just between me and Marry. I'm sure it'll all work out eventually." She took her barely emptied tray and dumped it in the trash. "It'll settle down soon enough." She walked away, not once looking back at her teammates.
It'll settle down soon enough.
So why does it feel like I'm lying?
Kido stared at the unmoving lump of blankets on the bed. "...Marry?"
She sighed and laid her head on the desk. Should I… ask? About Blake's answer? I mean, since she's acting like this, then it must mean that Blake has killed someone before… right? To be honest, she couldn't see Blake killing anyone. Sure, she was a bit reserved and antisocial, but she was absolutely nothing like… the snake.
She shuddered and clenched her fist. It's over, she whispered to herself. Over. Her hands made their way around her stomach and tightened. Over.
She swallowed and looked back. "...Marry. You… you're going to miss class," she finished lamely.
The covers shifted, just a bit.
She stood and sat on the edge of the bed, resting her hand a few inches away. The questions swarmed in her mind, resting on the tip of her tongue, but never coming out. Are you okay? Are you alright? How are you feeling? What do you think of Blake now? Do you think you and Blake… could ever go back to being friends? Because she knew that Marry had a bond with her- slightly unnoticeable, yet strong- due to their shared traits. Their non-human heritage. The fact that they had both been separated from the rest of society due to how they looked. She had seen her as a close friend, and Kido didn't doubt that Blake saw her in a similar light.
"Do you want to say anything?" she whispered, so quietly that she almost didn't hear it herself.
The covers shifted again, and a voice filtered through. "I didn't… I didn't expect…" Her voice cracked, broken gasps punctuating the silence. "I didn't think… I didn't think someone like her… someone as kind as her would have…!" Muffled whimpers rang in the stillness.
Kido sighed and scooted closer to the girl, patting her head through the blankets. "Do you want me to stay with you?"
"Don't worry about that." A small smile flitted across her face. "Do you want me here?"
Kido rubbed her head, got up, and snatched her scroll off her desk. She tapped out a message for Kano and Seto before sending it. Placing it back down, she laid down next to Marry and guided her closer.
"Then don't worry," she murmured. "I'm right here." I should at least do this much, because I don't know what else to do to help…
Kano glanced over the message and smiled at Seto. "Marry's skipping. Kido's with her."
Kano sighed from beneath the illusion. Seto's eyes were furrowed together, and a small frown was etched onto his face. A hand was absentmindedly rubbing his neck, and his gaze was slightly downcast.
"You're worried about her, aren't you?"
"Like you aren't," he replied.
Kano fingered his bangs, the tips brushing against his forehead. "...This only proves my point, you know."
Seto sighed, hand still on his neck. "Yeah. I know." He met his eyes. "But you could still-"
"No," Kano scowled. "It'll only put her in danger, and I don't want to worry her. We've been through this."
Seto sighed. "It was worth a shot."
The bell rang, and the professor stepped to the front. Someone slid into the seat next to Seto.
"You know where Marry and Kido are?" Yang asked.
"They're skipping." Kano made himself look as carefree and unworried as possible. "Marry's been having a bad day, so Kido decided to stay with her."
"That so?" Yang eyed Kano with a frown. "Do you guys know what happened?"
"Kano." Seto turned to Yang and sighed. "Yeah, we do know what happened."
"So what does it have to do with Blake?"
Seto shook his head. "Sorry, but you'll have to ask Blake for that. It's something between her and Marry, so we can't tell you."
"Well, if you say so," she shrugged. "I hope they sort it out soon; Blake's been really down."
Seto hummed in agreement while Kano frowned. And here's yet another example of her humanity… is she really as bad as I initially suspected her? A few weeks ago, he wouldn't have believed it, but he almost regretted his decision to threaten Blake at the start of the school year. It was obvious- right now, at least- that Blake really did regret the actions she'd committed in the White Fang, and was trying to make amends.
And Kano wanted to help her. He wanted to help her accomplish what he had never quite been able to do on his own. He wanted to make sure that she wouldn't fall into the same traps as he did. Face the same failures. Take the same truths. They were both far from innocent, if Marry's avoidance of her was any indication, but he didn't want her to destroy herself like he did.
Her will is stronger than mine.
If he was younger, he would have resented that. But he had faced the snake's deceptions. He had faced his own fall from grace. He didn't want anyone else to suffer the way that he did.
No one deserved to have that happen to them.
It had only been a day, but she already missed her.
Marry knew that Blake wasn't a bad person. She had already spent weeks with her, after all. Months even. Her formerly being in the White Fang didn't change that.
But she killed somebody…
She squeezed her eyes shut. Blake wasn't the snake. Blake wasn't the snake. Blake wasn't…
She killed somebody… Just like the snake. Just like your mother's murderers.
The bat loomed above her head, her mother's white hair splashed with red…
She gasped and shot her eyes open. It was dark, a blue-ish dark that reminded her of where she was.
The dorm. Beacon.
Her heart battered against her chest, and her neck felt damp. She shifted upright and shrugged the blankets off of her.
"Just a dream…"
The clock read 1:24. She frowned and brushed away her hair.
It's been three hours? I don't remember falling asleep… She rose and slipped into the bathroom, taking care not to wake the others. Once inside, she shut the door and flicked the lights on. The sudden brightness caused her to squint and grope for the faucet.
Rushing water filled her ears. She exhaled and splashed water over her face, trying to wash off the sticky, clammy remnants of her dream. When she opened her eyes, a dejected little girl met her gaze.
Keeping her eyes forward, she pulled the collar of her shirt down. The little girl in the mirror had lines of scales stretching across her shoulder blades. She trailed a finger across them, feeling the ridges and smoothness of each one.
We're Faunus, aren't we? Faunus should stick together. She frowned and tugged the shirt back up. Especially since a lot of people hate us…
It wasn't fair. Even from the beginning, she had thought it wasn't fair. But that didn't mean people should kill to change it. That would only cause more suffering.
She dried her face with a towel, turned off the lights, and exited the bathroom. With the silentness of a snake, she grabbed her scroll and walked out of the dorm.
The night was dark and chilled her to the bone. She wrapped her arms around herself, heart beginning to race.
What if someone finds me? Someone who wanted to hurt me? Someone bad? She had walked out to try and calm herself, and she was regretting her decision. It would have been better to stay in the dorm, with her thoughts and the sound of her friends sleeping around her.
She stopped by a large window that nearly took up the entire wall. Outside, the courtyard was bathed in silver light, dark green grass gleaming and pale gray structures shimmering. The shattered remains of the moon glittered in the sky. She drew closer to the window and pressed a gentle hand on it.
She shrieked and whirled around, hands up and ready to lash out. She caught the sight of a hood and relaxed instinctively. Hoods were good. Hoods meant safety.
"Whoa!" Ruby held up her hands and inched away. "Um- I'm sorry for startling you?"
Marry blushed and wrung her hands. "No, no, I'm sorry. I'm… really on edge, I guess."
"What for?" The question was so innocent, and yet she couldn't help but hesitate.
"Er… Reasons." She blinked and eyed Ruby. "Why are you even here, anyway?"
"Eh- Ahahaha! Funny story actually…" She fiddled with her cloak, avoiding her gaze. "It's nothing, really. Just some silly dreams, you know how it is…! After that I really-get-the-need-to-just-do-something-you-know?"
"Anyway!" She shook her head and frowned at Marry. "Why do you keep avoiding Blake?"
Marry flinched. "...I…" I didn't think it was that obvious! What do I say- What do I say-?!
"Blake said that it would settle down… but it hasn't settled down yet, and you're still avoiding her! I- I mean, it's only been a few hours, I guess, but still! I don't like seeing two of my friends fighting… and I certainly don't like to see them sad! You haven't been to any of our classes! I'm worried! Both of you aren't acting like you normally do! A-and, I might be overstepping a bit, but can't you just talk out whatever problem you have? I'm sure if you just tell her what's wrong, everything would work out!"
Marry dropped her gaze to the floor. "It's not that simple, Ruby."
"It's none of your business!" she snapped. She lifted her head and glared. "Just stay out of it! Please!"
Ruby took a step back, eyes wide. "...I just-"
Guilt flooded Marry. She bit her lip and bolted the other direction, back the way she came.
Behind her, a child's voice drifted through the air. "I just wanted to help…"
Kido set down her lunch tray and resisted the urge to groan. The day had gone off to a horrible start, and she could feel a headache pound beneath her eyes. She had needed some space, so she had split from the others to try and find a quiet area. Unfortunately, the cafeteria was crammed full of students today, and the noise swarmed her. There wasn't a single quiet spot in sight. In the end, she had to settle for a semi-isolated area instead.
She rubbed her temples and nibbled at her food. As soon as she was done eating she needed to make up the work she missed. Just thinking about it wound knots in her shoulders. She didn't regret her decision though. Family was much more important than her own suffering.
"...Do you mind if I sit here?" Blake. It surprised her that she was even talking to her. She hummed an agreement and heard a tray clink on the table.
She lifted her head and watched Blake push around her food. Her bow was twitching slightly, almost irritably. She understood. If the noise was annoying for her, then how much worse would it be for Blake with her enhanced senses?
She swallowed and thought through her words, ignoring the awkwardness pressing down on her. "...You should talk to Marry."
Blake started and gaped at her. "W-What?"
She pursed her lips. "It's… not a problem with you. It's a problem with her feelings." I think.
"I… don't think I understand. You're asking me to talk to her?"
"It's hurting the both of you. Staying apart, I mean." She twirled her fork. "Marry is… down… without you. She really thought of you as close."
Blake frowned and stabbed her tray. "But she's avoiding me."
"She needs to sort out her feelings. You can help her."
"You think that me talking to her will help?"
She nodded. "You have to lay everything out on the table… so to speak."
"And this will help her sort through her feelings," she deadpanned. She paused and buried her head in her hands. "...Are you sure this will work?"
"It can't hurt to try."
Blake lifted her head. "Why are you helping me anyway?"
Kido blinked and averted her gaze. Why am I helping? She gnawed on the tip of the fork. "...That's what a leader does. That's what a Huntress does. Right?"
Blake huffed a laugh. "I guess you're right. I'll try. That's…"
"You can do it," she stated. "Even if you have to fake your way through, you can do it."
Marry pulled the hood tighter over her head, staring down at the fountain. She couldn't keep doing this. She was hurting the people around her, her precious friends. She couldn't keep doing this. She had to go to Blake and explain. She had to- she had to-
Her hands trembled. Her breath shook. The water turned crimson red, the color of blood-
She gasped and jerked away. The water was clear. A single leaf rested on its surface.
She couldn't keep doing this.
She liked Blake. She did. She did. But she couldn't muster up the bravery to even face her.
What are you scared of? A little blood? A friend? A killer?
She shook her head. If she was afraid of Blake because she was a killer, this would be simpler. But Blake wasn't a killer. She had admitted to killing people, but that didn't make her a killer. That didn't make her like the snake.
What are you scared of?
She didn't know why. She knew why. The answer was as clear as haze. Like dark days and lonely crowds. She knew why. She didn't know why. Why she was afraid-
She whirled around. Black hair and yellow eyes. Her heart thumped in her ears and pounded on her chest. She opened her mouth-
Her shriek caught in her throat. No- not yellow- amber. Blake. Not…
She exhaled. "It's just you…"
Blake's eyes were on the ground. "Can I sit next to you?"
Marry wanted to decline. For half a second, she wanted nothing more than to run. She couldn't do this. She couldn't…
What are you scared of?
Her hands trembled. She clenched them into fists. I'm a Huntress. I'm a Huntress. I'm a Huntress, she chanted. Huntresses don't get scared of their friends.
She gave a slow, tiny nod.
Blake slid next to her. They sat in silence. The fountain rippled, its sound a soft and soothing spray.
"I'm sorry," Blake said. "This is all my fault."
"No!" she protested. "This isn't your fault at all!"
"But it is," she argued. "If it weren't for… If I hadn't killed anyone, you wouldn't be afraid of me."
"I'm not afraid of you."
"Then why are you avoiding me? You think I'm a monster, don't you?"
"You're not a monster either!"
"Then why?" Blake yelled. "Why do you always run away? Why do you look so scared?"
She flinched. The fountain roared. It was warm and bright, like that sunny, illusionary day. Her mother was yelling, yelling for her to run. There was a spray of dark, luscious red…
Blake jerked away and hung her head. "Sorry."
"It's not your fault," she whispered. She was trembling. "It's mine. I'm being stupid."
"You're not being stupid."
"You're not," Blake muttered. "I was the stupid one, thinking that killing people would change anything for the better."
She couldn't face her, so she stared at the fountain. Her own face glanced back, hollow eyes and a sagging face. "Death only leads to more death. Killing only ever brings pain."
"I might know that now. I didn't know that then."
"Are you trying to justify your actions?" Her voice came out duller than intended.
Blake shook her head. "No. Never. I'm only saying that if you know that now, you're much wiser than I was."
"I'm not," she breathed. The reflection blurred. "I'm the naive idiot who got her mom killed."
The fountain's rumble washed over her.
"It was a beautiful day. Like this one. Bright and sunny and warm. Mom warned me not to go outside, no matter what. I didn't listen. I didn't think… I just wanted to play in the flowers. Then they came. They hurt me, called me the monster's child. I just wanted Mom to come. And she did. She saved me." Her eyes were warm. Damp lines skimmed her cheeks. "She saved me. And in the process, she was killed."
"...Is that why…?"
"It's stupid," she gasped. "I shouldn't feel like this. You're my friend, you would never hurt me. But every time… every stupid time…! I keep seeing the blood!"
A hand brushed hers. She latched onto it, sobbing. It hurt. It hurt so much. It hurt even more because that time they were so close, so close, and yet the snake took it all and smashed it to pieces. Their hope, their strength, their progress. She thought they would make it that time, she really did. And then everything was painted with blood, and they all fell, one by one, like her mom.
She had watched them all die. It was blazed into her nightmares.
Her awareness came in clumps. A hand shakily rubbing her head. Another against her chest. A soft warmth enveloping her. She was pressed against someone and clenching their hand in a grip of vice.
Her sobs subsided to hiccups. She opened her eyes and looked up.
Blake frowned back. Her eyes were amber, not yellow. "...Feel better?"
Blake gawked at her in the most bewildered expression she had seen. A slight blush crept on her cheeks. "I'm… sorry?"
Her lips curled up. "I really am an idiot."
"Don't say that," she grouched. Her face fell into a blank expression. "Can I ask…? Why were you… afraid? Of me?"
Her smile faded. "I was never afraid of you." She had to make that clear, make her understand that it wasn't her fault at all. "I was never afraid of you, because I knew you thought it would make the world a better place. I am afraid of people who kill, but I'm not afraid of you." She rested her hand on Blake's and squeezed. A reassurance to herself. "...I was afraid… because of what you could have become."
Blake turned her head sharply.
She kept her eyes down. "People can become monsters so quickly. I didn't want that to happen to you."
Haruka never wanted to be a killer. And yet, the snake manipulated him to become one before any of them realized it.
"I know what you mean," Blake sighed. "I understand."
"Sorry. This is all my fault."
"It's not your fault."
"Fine then," Blake huffed. "We're both at fault."
Marry smiled and slid closer. "Okay then."
She averted her gaze. "You already said this earlier, but… You're my friend too."
She hummed. "Yeah. Definitely." She paused. "...I never told the others about…"
Blake tilted her head. "About…? Oh. Do you want to?"
"I'm not sure… I don't want to hide it from them anymore, though. It's been a few months already. They're my friends too."
"Are you sure? Weiss is the heiress of the Schnee company."
"I… yeah. I'm sure. Even if it turns out badly… I'll have my other friends and family."
"It should be fine. Weiss might take a little time, but she's working on it. She has her reasons for disliking our kind."
Marry shifted on her feet. "Will you come with me? You and my team."
Blake smiled. "Of course. I'll be with you all the way."
Ruby made her way to TKSM's dorm room. Her, her team, and JNPR were called there by Marry. For what reason, she had no clue. She didn't expect what she saw when she walked in.
Marry and Blake were whispering to each other, heads tucked closely together. Marry's expression was nervous, and Blake's face was stoic, but there was no tension between them.
Ruby beamed and rushed them. "You finally made up! I'm so happy!"
Marry started and nearly fell. "Y-you're not mad?"
"Huh? Why would I?"
"I y-yelled at you. Last night." She ducked her head. "I'm sorry."
"Oh no, that's okay! I didn't really dwell on it." That was a lie, but she didn't have to know that. Besides, she apologized, so it was okay.
Marry relaxed. "Oh, good. I was worried…"
"Why did you call everyone here, though?" She looked around and found Kido, Kano, and Seto standing a little ways off, surrounding Marry. "Is something wrong?"
She shook her head. "Nothing's wrong. It's just… Well, you'll see when everyone gets here."
The door opened. Weiss, Yang, and JNPR filed in. "Are we late?" Weiss asked.
"I just got here early," she answered. "And Blake was already here."
Marry gulped. "This is everyone…" Kido and Seto rested their hands on her shoulders. Blake squeezed her hand.
Yang turned to Ruby and raised an eyebrow. She shrugged back.
"Right, um…" Marry cleared her throat. "I… haven't been completely truthful. Well, I've been hiding something that I think you guys should know."
"Are you a White Fang sympathizer?" Weiss interrupted. Kano tensed and Seto frowned.
Marry waved her hands. "Nonononono! I don't agree with what they're doing at all! A-and I lived in a really secluded place, so I never even heard about them until after we came…" She trailed off. "A-anyway! What I've been trying to say… is… I'm a Faunus."
"You're a Faunus?" Ruby gasped. "But you don't look like one!"
"I'm a snake Faunus." She unbuttoned her collar and pulled it down. Along her neckline and creeping towards her neck were rows of scales. "It's normally hidden anyway, since I avoid more revealing clothing."
"Why did you hide it?" Weiss asked.
"...I was afraid of people's reactions," she muttered.
Weiss's face twisted through emotions until it settled on her normal irritated expression. "You could have told us earlier. Well, at least you didn't hide it until it was dragged out, like Blake."
Marry gaped. "You… aren't going to yell at me? You're not going to ask more questions?"
She looked away. "You're fine. Someone like you could never do the things the White Fang are doing."
Ruby squealed. "Awww, Weiss, that's so sweet!"
"Shut up!" she snapped.
"Oh, and Marry," Ruby began. "If you're a Faunus, does that mean you're a ninja?"
Heads turned towards her. Marry squawked. "I- w-what?"
"Blake's a Faunus and a ninja," she explained. "And you're a Faunus. Does that mean you're a ninja, like Blake?"
"I… don't know? Um?" Marry turned to Blake. "Help?" Blake only shrugged.
Yang chuckled. "Only you, Ruby."
"Yang! It's a valid question!"
Kano laughed. "I'd say Kido's more like the ninja! She can turn invisible, after all."
"Kano," she growled, but her lips were twitching.
"Marry?" Seto called. "Are you crying?"
Marry let out a giggle verging on a sob and shook her head. "I'm not sad! I'm just s-so relieved… and happy…!"
Ruby hugged her. "Don't cry. We're friends! So you don't have to worry. In fact, we'll be best friends forever! Right?"
Marry's eyes glimmered. "Yeah. Forever."
Yang tackled them. "Group hug!" she called. "That means you too, Blake, Weiss, Kido!"
Soon they ended up in a big, tangled pile. Ruby somehow found herself squashed between Marry and Blake.
"Will we really be best friends forever?" Marry whispered in their ears.