FF was having issues with uploads that, for now, seem to be fixed. The story was updated as of Halloween but didn't actually post itself on time.
... I'm still going to count it seeing as how I got this done on Halloween. We can pretend.
Hey. Happy Halloween to everyone. You remember how I'm a lazy sack of shit who doesn't write?
That hasn't changed. But despite this being extremely late, here is the next chapter! Of a story! That I wrote! It'd be a Christmas miracle if not for the fact that it's Halloween.
Long story short I don't know when I'm going to be updating this again, but this story does have plans for the future if I get around to it, and I think about it fairly often. It rents space in my head and hasn't missed a payment yet so no kicking it out as of now.
Disclaimer: I don't own RWBY or Monster Musume. That's all.
In honor of Halloween, have some monsters of the less frightening and more cute variety.
Lie Ren was not the type of person to be easily surprised, living with one Nora Valkyrie had a tendency to beat such things out of a person, but he would admit that seeing a blonde girl with golden scales and antlers answering his neighbors door had given him a bit of a start.
Jaune lived with his fiance, Blake, and no one else in their house. It would almost seem like a waste for such a large place to belong to only two people, but Ren was well aware that Jaune had a rather large family so it made sense considering that, as otherwise they would need to book a hotel to visit.
What didn't make sense was the clearly extra-species girl who answered the door.
There was a moment of pause before the surprise wore off and he spoke up. "Is Jaune in?" Ren asked simply, opting for the direct approach rather than allowing the silence to become awkward.
The girl perked up immediately at the mention of his neighbor's name, so thankfully he and Nora hadn't just wandered up to the wrong house somehow.
"Yeah, you're the neighbors right? Loverboy mentioned you guys come over on Fridays for lunch. Come on in, I'll let him know you're here. Name's Yang, by the way." She replied, stepping out of the doorway and gesturing them in.
Nora wasted no time, stepping through the open door as though there wasn't anything peculiar about a dragon-girl opening their neighbor's door or referring to him as 'Loverboy', but that was simply her way.
She did briefly pause when passing by the other girl, though, glancing up to her deerlike horns. A mischievous smile that he recognized all too well appeared, and Ren noted her silent declaration.
'Mine are bigger.' She didn't say, but judging by the glance she shot him and her waggling eyebrows it wasn't difficult to figure out.
It was hardly a fair comparison, considering the difference in their species and the shape of said horns, but Ren made no comment and merely offered Nora a small smile which she took to be conspiratorial and a sign of her victory.
"I don't know if Jaune has already mentioned us by name..." Seeing her gesture with her hand in the rather universal 'more or less' motion, he decided proper introductions were in order as he made his way into the house, slipping off his shoes at the front door out of courtesy. "Lie Ren. Please, call me Ren. This is..." He didn't so much as trail off as it was that he fully expected Nora to use the opening to butt in.
She did not disappoint. "And I'm Nora Valkyrie! Call me Nora. I'll also answer to 'you sexy thing you'." Hands finding her hips, legs braced heroically as though she was posing for the front page of a comic book, Nora looked exceedingly proud of her introduction.
It was not a false declaration, either. She would, and had, responded to such many times before even if it had not been addressed to her necessarily. Such was also Nora's way.
The blonde girl, Yang, she grinned in response, almost challenging as her own hands found her hips. "Oh? That could be confusing, then, since I answer to the same thing." Lilac eyes sparkled in amusement, and she looked his childhood friend up and down with an appraising gaze.
Unhindered by the challenge, Nora instead seemed to brighten even further, returning the inspection with her own, turquoise eyes coming to rest on the other girls prominent bust. "Is it too early in our relationship for me to say you have a nice pair of gazungas? Cuz' Renny always says that isn't how I should lead a conversation, but wowie-zowie are those something else."
That seemed to catch the dragon girl off guard, at least for a moment. Ren sighed deeply, just barely managing to keep from palming his face at the immediate disregard for what he had told his childhood friend numerous times now.
After a second, Yang just laughed, and Ren barely held back his sigh of relief. Thank goodness, this wasn't going to be another incident like Nora and Blake's first meeting.
First impressions meant a lot, especially with that girl as it turned out, and unsurprisingly Blake did not appreciate being told that she had an amazing ass immediately after she had dropped one of her books and bent down to pick it up. Even worse that Nora had been the one to startle her into dropping the book in the first place.
"Loverboy, the neighbors are here. And you're not the only one who likes my rack!" She called out, puffing her chest out proudly and shooting him a glance as well, as if to ask if he disagreed.
If there was one thing he had learned from living under the same roof as a satyr, it was when to just go along with things. So Ren just shrugged his shoulders with a small, guilty smile on his lips and Yang seemed to accept that before turning towards the kitchen as Jaune Arc made his appearance, entering the living room they had all found their way into.
"Nora, did you have to get her going?" Jaune asked with a little grin of his own as he strode through the doorway, arms out to receive the flying tackle-hug the enthused satyr launched the moment he came into view. With little more than a loosed breath at the impact, he met her charge and wrapped his arms around the ginger girl to reciprocate her energetic greeting.
"I'd love to get her going if you know what I mean." He heard his childhood friend declare against Jaune's chest, muffled only slightly.
The pink that tinged his neighbor's cheeks was exactly the reason why Nora continued to say such things to him, but Jaune never did seem to figure that out and so simply continued to walk into these things.
But that was fine. Nora was happy to have someone she could tease so easily, considering Blake was nearly hostile and he himself was desensitized to her shenanigans by this point.
Yang, though, was a new player in this game. Ren couldn't help but want to gauge her reaction to Nora's antics, to see if he would need to keep her in line a bit more as he did nowadays around Jaune's fiance, but she seemed to be grinning quite widely at the sight of Jaune struggling to stand as Nora tried to transition their hug into an impromptu wrestling match.
She stepped up next to him, and Ren nodded to acknowledge her presence. "She always like this?" Yang asked him, not particularly quietly but it was drowned out in the ruckus Nora was causing and Jaune was inadvertently stuck in the center of.
"Yes." He really didn't need to say much more to that, honestly. Nora was a satyr, plain as day, from the hooves to the pointed, furry ears. Their reputation among the world after the big reveal of extra-species to the world at large was very well known, and it was not exaggerated whatsoever.
Yang just smirked again, a gentle shake of her head conveying exasperation, but she didn't seem particularly put out. "Well, Loverboy there wouldn't be putting up with her if she wasn't a good sort, so I don't mind it... uh, should we break them up?" Her sentence trailed off in the middle as she noticed the ruckus the other two were making seemingly spiraling out of control.
Ren glanced back towards the writhing mass of limbs that was Jaune attempting to pry Nora off of him while the girl continued to nuzzle her face into his chest, refusing to be removed quite vocally and occasionally making comments that completely threw the target of her affections for a loop and set fire to his face.
"Wait for it." He commented softly, his own lips quirking upwards as Jaune finally decided that he didn't need to accept his fate and he could, in fact, fight back.
The process of fighting back involved his hands reaching Nora's flank, much to her sudden and vocal consternation as she knew full well how this was going to end, having been on the receiving end of it from him numerous times by now.
Her protests and pleas for mercy were ignored as Jaune turned the tables by proceeding to tickle the living daylights out of her, their position now completely reversed from when Nora had been straddling him.
If anyone walked into the room at that exact moment, without the context of the situation before, it would probably look incredibly erotic.
... well, honestly, it did anyway considering Nora's shirt had rode up during her assault, which is what even exposed her weak point to him in the first place, but Ren had context and honestly he'd done far worse things to his childhood friend just this morning to get her out of bed. Nora was lucky Jaune hadn't just gone straight for her ears, considering he knew full well how easily that would shut her down.
Next to him, Yang couldn't hold back her snickers at the sight, though she had a light dusting of pink on her cheeks from the image of Nora's flushed face and Jaune looming imperiously over her. "Wow. Loverboy and her really do get along well. I've never seen him like this." She seemed to be quite enthused by the events unfolding, a wide smile on her lips. "He's usually so... good. It's fun to see him acting like this every once in a while." Jaune was a nice guy, almost too nice sometimes, so it was likely a new experience for her.
"Nora brings out the worst in us all." Ren replied with a soft chuckle, unable to keep his own amusement off his face either. "It's uncanny, really." Some people thought it was a satyr thing, but he was quite confident that Nora was uniquely talented at beating any sense of stoicism out of people with her sheer force of personality.
The next couple of minutes consisted of the two of them just idly chatting while Nora and Jaune's impromptu wrestling match continued, but with Nora now refusing to surrender as the tables turned on her. Attempts to squirm away from Jaune were met with immediate pursuit and far more tickling. Their conversation mostly consisted of Yang speaking or asking questions, while Ren himself just gave short answers or occasional questions himself. Thankfully, Yang didn't seem to find his less talkative nature to be bothersome, which was a plus.
Soon enough, the two on the floor were yet again in a compromising position, this time with Nora on her stomach and Jaune straddling her hips while tickling her still exposed sides. Nora, despite her eyes watering from the forced laughter and her struggles, had still not surrendered, instead interrupting the conversation of the other two to demand their assistance.
Ren just shrugged in response, shooting her a helpless look as Yang threw an arm over his shoulder to 'restrain' him.
He ignored her shouted accusations of treachery with a skill born from years of experience.
This went on for a while, honestly. Today, Nora was in rare form, clearly quite motivated to throw Jaune off and... well, in all honesty, Ren would admit that her plans for Jaune should she have him under her were most certainly not of the platonic teasing nature. Truth be told, all of her struggling to get free and the tickling itself probably had Nora worked up enough that not even the arranged marriage would keep her from trying to jump him if she got the chance, and then they would need to pry her off of him physically, which would be all kinds of difficult for multiple different reasons.
Thankfully for the collective sanity of all present, Nora finally surrendered... on the condition that their lunch would include pancakes.
Sure. Why not?
It wasn't the most difficult request to fulfill, and it got their lunch plans underway with minimal added fuss, so it really was a minor sacrifice all things considered.
That lead to now, where he and Jaune were in the kitchen whipping up a meal for them. "Jaune, could you pass me the... ah, thank you." He accepted the offered whisk, putting it to use upon the pancake batter. "Sorry again for Nora. She seemed excited to have a new friend."
Jaune just laughed in response, currently in the middle of slicing some strips of beef for the stir fry they'd decided upon for this week. "It's not a problem, Ren. You know I love Nora. She reminds me so much of my sisters sometimes it's uncanny. I should be apologizing for getting so rowdy with her." He had the decency to look sheepish, as though he was the troublemaker of the two rather than Nora.
"Don't." The dark haired teen replied immediately, unable to keep the small grin from his face. "She'll use that as an excuse to try and have her way with you. Believe me, I would know." She had a one track mind and never forgot anything she could use to get what she wanted, even if she could and very much would forget damn near everything else.
That got a blush out of him, and Ren couldn't help but chuckle. "You know, if you could just get used to it she wouldn't tease you as much." She would still do it, just out of habit, but he'd have a lot less embarrassment to deal with if he could just stop giving her the reaction she was looking for.
"Easy for you to say. You've lived with her for how long now? And that's not counting the time before you guys were under the same roof." Jaune countered, still flushing from the insinuation.
Ren just nodded, accepting that point as fair. He did, in fact, grow up with Nora, not to mention the rest of the satyrs that resided near the property his family had owned for generations now. They had been nearly inseparable growing up, and not just because Nora had attached herself to him. He appreciated her much the same way, even if she could be a handful sometimes.
Not every person in the world was surprised when the revelation of their mythological counterparts came out of the blue three years ago. The number of stories people had of earlier encounters, even many legitimate relationships which already existed, it was quite significant. But even a thousand such experiences or stories didn't make up the entire world, after all. To many people in the world, the existence of these extra species was world shaking.
To Ren it just meant he and Nora could move to the city and have their own place finally. She had been very excited that day, and the two of them hadn't left his room until evening.
The two of them returned to their cooking in relative silence, only broken by the occasional request to pass some implement or another. It was peaceful, a routine they had easily fallen into many times before.
Ren really did appreciate that they could just have a peaceful silence between themselves. Living with Nora, such a thing was practically unheard of. He wouldn't trade her for the world, but some quiet every now and again was a rare blessing which he could fully take advantage of.
Eventually, lunch was finished and the table set. Beef stir-fry and consolation pancakes, which Nora accepted far more gracefully than she did her loss in their earlier match.
The fact that this grace consisted of shoving said pancakes into her mouth at frightening speeds was a testament to how much of a sore loser Nora could be at times.
Mealtime passed smoothly, though. No one had particularly much to say other than just idle chatter, aside from the occasional inquiry from Yang about their lives or Nora about hers.
"So... all those stories about satyrs are basically true?" Yang asked, after hearing a particular tale from Nora, one which had left Jaune bright red in the face and Ren palming his own.
"Yep!" Came Nora's enthusiastic reply, immensely proud of her people and their culture. "Heck, some of them are downplaying it. We do what we want, who we want, when we want, and that's life for us. It's great!"
"Huh. Yeah, back home it's kind of a might makes right thing, y'know? So like, you can get away with just about anything as long as you're willing and able to fight down anyone who goes against it." The blonde shrugged her shoulders. "Like, I mean, obviously there are some things that you can't get away with, cuz' nobody can take on everybody going at them all at once. You kill somebody or do something nobody is cool with, then you're basically screwed."
Ren found himself nodding, interested in the culture of a species he was fairly unfamiliar with. The ryu-jin were pretty isolated, despite Patch being practically a stones throw from Vale. No one had ever really gone there because there were rumors of dangerous wildlife and nothing worth the effort of dodging or fighting your way through them, rumors which turned out to be government cover-ups to hide and protect the ones already living there. And even after their reveal to the world, still not too many people went to Patch because the dragonfolk living there were either aggressive or aggressively friendly depending on who you asked, and combining either of those with their natural strength was asking for trouble.
"So the laws of your tribe are essentially based entirely around who is willing to enforce them?" He asked after a moment of thought.
"Kind of, yeah. Like, so, for territory and stuff like that? You have what you can protect, basically. If someone fights you and beats you, they can take it. But if you leave someone without a home at all, the rest of the tribe isn't gonna just take that sitting down because then it could happen to them later and they'd expect the same treatment." She laughed a bit at the looks that got her, raising her hands up to hold any interruptions about how messed up it sounded.
"Don't get me wrong, most of the time people don't fight over territory. Patch is plenty big enough for all of us, and especially now that we get to use modern technology over there we've had less and less stuff like that come up." She quickly explained, grinning a bit as the others at the table calmed. "Used to be you'd have to fight for a good spot on the island, something near a lake for fresh water, or something with good hunting grounds, and so on." Yang paused for a second, blinking her lilac eyes as she realized something. "Oh, and you can't just, like, beat the shit out of someone."
She started to laugh, seeing the confusion and moving to explain herself further. "It's gotta be a challenge issued, they have to know it's coming. And if you're just going out of your way to bully someone weaker than you for whatever reason you're eventually gonna have to answer to the rest of the tribe. A fair fight is one thing, and if someone weak is challenged by someone strong and still gives it a shot, if they lose that ought to be the end of it. Just picking on someone who can't fight back is an easy way to get the whole tribe after your ass."
Given that explanation, it didn't sound quite so barbaric. Still a bit violent, but things could have been far worse. "So basically you can do whatever you want, but if it gets enough people mad you're gonna have to deal with the consequences?" Nora asked, snickering into her hand. "That's kind of like everywhere else, except you guys deal with it by punching things."
"Yeah, pretty much." Yang agreed, nodding her head lightly. "What better way to solve a problem than with your own two hands, y'know?"
Jaune shrugged his shoulders in response, pointedly ignoring Nora as she waggled her brows in response to the tail end of Yang's query. "I mean, if that's how you guys live and it's been working for you I'm not going to tell you it's wrong or anything. And if it didn't work I figure Patch would probably have burned down by now."
Another nod from Yang. "Yep. It's a system and it works. It's just a really hands on system. On the bright side, I got to beat up a lot of guys that were eyeing me ways I didn't like, so that was a plus." She paused, glancing to Jaune, who was giving her a concerned look of his own. "... don't worry, Loverboy, I like the way you eye me." She patted him consolingly on the shoulder, grinning slyly.
"That's not why I'm giving you this look and we both know it." He said simply in response.
Yang sighed, waving her hand around dismissively. "Yeah, yeah. I know I can't just beat up anyone for looking at me weird here. Don't worry, just cuz' I like fighting doesn't mean I'm gonna go swing at the first guy that looks at me funny. Besides, they'd be way too wimpy. I'd feel bad about it." Humans just didn't have the same kind of strength her race did. The peak of human condition was just barely at the lower end of her own species physical abilities.
Jaune's sigh was much deeper, putting his head between his hands. "You know, Yang, the scary part is that I believe you because of that last part way more than the rest." He'd seen her do things that should be physically impossible for someone with her body type. Hell, physically impossible for anyone not the size of a car. She could actually lift a car if she wanted to, swing it around and toss it at someone with enough effort. So he believed her when she said beating up a human would just be overkill.
Nora, through all of this, had just been nodding to show she was following the conversation. "Yeah, usually I just ignore people looking at me like that. Unless they're cute, that changes things. And Renny doesn't do threesomes with other guys, so it's gotta be a cute girl, but then they've gotta be bi or at least curious cuz' I'm not going to invite someone to Renny's house unless he's gonna get some too, and that opens a whole other can of worms..." She shrugged, ignoring the scandalized looks from one half of the table and the resigned exasperation from her best friend as she continued to ramble. "Honestly, other cultures and their sexual preferences are such a pain to handle, so I even ignore some cute ones that look my way rather than trying to navigate that whole mess. It's way easier to just do it with Ren, especially since Jauney won't put out."
Jaune, by this point, was afraid that he would pass out from the blood rushing to his face, trying and failing to keep thoughts of his neighbors doing the dirty out of his head. Unfortunately, due to gym trips with Ren and Nora being Nora, he knew full well what the two of them looked like unclothed and that made it even more difficult. As if that wasn't bad enough, she had many times made it quite clear that she wanted a piece of him in that same way, and that the very instant he wanted to she would, in her own words, rock his world.
For her part, Yang managed to keep her composure a bit better, just a light dusting of pink across her cheeks as she looked at Nora in a new light.
Having never met a satyr before, she had nothing to go on but stories of their legendary libido and lack of what damn near every civilized species in the world called modesty. According to Nora, clothing was always optional in satyr society, and the only time you'd see mostly everyone in a satyr grove clothed is in the dead of winter when they'd otherwise be freezing their tits off in a literal sense.
That painted a picture already, but actually being subject to the thought process of a natural hedonist like that was something that stories and hearsay couldn't compare to. What she just said came off like she was talking about the weather rather than something just about any other culture considered intimate.
Ren cut through the silence after a few moments, drawing the attention away from Nora and her rampant hedonism and lack of common decency. "If everyone is finished, I can start on the dishes." Everyone had mostly stopped picking at what scraps remained on their plates, with exception to Nora who had of course licked hers clean.
Jaune made to offer his help, Yang interrupted him midway through. "Nah, you go relax Loverboy." The pat she landed on his back almost sent Jaune tumbling as he had been halfway through standing up, but her long tail wrapped around his midsection to steady him just as he would have gone down. "Sorry, sorry. Still gotta get used to everyone being so squishy." She laughed a bit at the look that earned her.
This lead to an intense bout of giggling from Nora, which all present ignored.
"Are you sure, Yang?" Jaune asked, glancing between her and Ren. "I can do the dishes. Ren and I usually do anyway."
Lilac eyes rolled. "Look, Loverboy, if it weren't for the government stipend you get for taking me in I'd basically be a freeloader. I can at least wash some dishes every now and again."
Ren found himself smiling just a bit as Jaune was left without a good response, before making his way into the kitchen. "I'm going to assume everything is where it usually is, Jaune?"
Snapping out of his daze, the blonde replied. "Oh, uh, yeah. Nothing really moved, but the dish soap was a little low so if you run out just let me know, there is a whole new bottle in the hall closet."
"Like I said, we'll take care of it Loverboy." Yang unfurled her tail from around him, using the long appendage to gently shove her fellow blonde in a shooing fashion. "I'd tell Nora to show you a good time but I'm scared she'd take the joke literally."
Jaune blushed bright red and was immediately set upon by the overly enthusiastic satyr, who snagged him by the arm. "C'mon, isn't it about time to water those plants of yours on the balcony?"
"Last time I brought you along to do that you needed a change of clothes by the end of it." Jaune accused the girl lightly, allowing himself to be dragged along.
"Don't worry, Renny brought a spare shirt today."
"That's exactly what I'm worried about!"
And with that, they were gone, out to the balcony where Jaune kept a variety of different potted plants as a hobby.
Yang released a small sigh, wiping away imaginary sweat from her brow with one hand. "Dodged that bullet. Good grief, Nora is nice, but kind of..."
"Overbearing." Ren replied simply, setting up the dishwater. "Would you mind gathering the plates?"
She nodded, moving to do just that. "I don't mean anything bad by it, but being alone with her almost makes me feel like I've gotta be careful or she'll take something I did or said as an invitation." There was a touch of humor in her tone, but not enough that he could dismiss it as just a joke.
"She's not quite so bad, but I don't fault you for being worried." He checked the bottle of soap, finding that it was likely enough for a sink of dishes. No need to crack open a new bottle just yet. "It's a bit of culture shock, I would say. Jaune went through something similar at first, but Nora doesn't mean anything by it. It's just how she is."
Yang eyed him oddly for a moment, and Ren had to admit he was a bit curious about the sudden scrutiny. "How the heck can you keep up with her?"
"Years of physical training for competitive sports, for one. My father is an archery champion in Mistral, so I've been learning since I was young myself, and I've also taken to running races." He paused, unable to keep himself from chuckling at the next thought. "The running, though, that was mostly just to keep up with Nora. I don't think I could survive living with her if I hadn't."
Yang flushed a bit, and Ren had to take a moment to really consider how much Nora and the other satyrs had changed his own worldview by their influence. He would definitely not be the same person if it hadn't been for the close relationship their family had with the satyr grove they had stumbled upon generations ago.
"Well, at any rate, Nora does understand that there are some things she can't do. Your chastity is safe from her unless you're willing to surrender it." He wasn't really making a joke, but the laugh that his statement earned did bode well. As long as people understood that Nora would make comments and insinuation, but wouldn't force herself on someone, things could be kept civil.
"Okay. Yeah, alright. I'll admit that I wasn't exactly scared of her, I can more than take care of myself, but it was just... kind of an awkward thing to worry about." She replied after a moment, carrying in all of the dishes in her arms. "Sorry if it was kind of rude. I just like to know where I stand with people, y'know?"
Ren didn't fault her for it, not really. Satyrs were a bit much for normal folks, and Nora was a bit much for anyone. "It's not a problem, honestly. I'm just glad you were upfront about it. If you're ever uncomfortable, just let her know. Nora may be a bit of a handful, but she does care, and she will respect boundaries if you set them. You just have to be clear with her about it." Otherwise, she would have tied Jaune to a bed by now. At least once. Probably more, honestly.
Yang seemed to mull that over in her head, before shrugging and placing the dishes into the sink where they disappeared beneath the suds. "I'll keep it in mind. For now though, you wash and I'll dry?"
"I can do that." He replied with a small smile.
Just as he was about to start on the dishes, though, Lie Ren found himself quite surprised a second time that day.
"Guys! GUYS!" The sound of frantic shouts accompanied by the stamping of hooves on the floor announced the arrival of Nora, soaked from head to toe. At first Ren wanted to tell her to be mindful of their neighbors home, but the look on her face stopped him. She seemed genuinely panicked. "JAUNE-JAUNE'S BEEN NEIGHBOR-NAPPED!" She shouted, coming to a stop in the kitchen after nearly slipping on the tile floor. "We were watering the plants and then SWOOP! A red blur came out of nowhere and snatched him right up, then went flying right off with him!"
This explanation did not in any way go over why she was soaking wet, which made Ren believe that part was something she had done herself, but that could wait until later. "Which way did they fly off to? We should alert the authorities." The situation was definitely not good, because anything that could fly would be nigh impossible for them to actually pursue.
Yang cut in. "Wait. You said it was a red blur? Swooped down and snagged Loverboy, then took off with him?"
"Yeah! It would've been super cool if they hadn't swiped Jaune-Jaune, but they did! So it doesn't matter if their cape was super cool, that balcony is a no swooping zone! Swooping is bad!"
Ren looked to Yang as Nora continued to ramble, her confusion and concern over their neighbor sending her into a frantic rant. "You sound like you know something." He noted simply.
"... yeah, I think I might have an idea. Damn it, she couldn't even make it a single week?"
Jaune woke up to the cool summer breeze on his cheek. Normally, this would mean he had taken a nap in the yard, or on the balcony.
But when his blue eyes opened up and took in the scenery, the blonde quickly found himself waking right up. Glancing around and trying to knock the cobwebs in his skull loose, he inspected the area a bit more closely.
Trees all around, bushes on all sides, and not a path in sight. But he could still spot some of the skyscrapers of Vale through the gaps in the trees, just splashes of grey that let him know he was still inside the city limits. That was reassuring, except he had been on his balcony arguing with Nora about how it was okay to pour water on the plants, not on them.
Seeing no sign of the bubbly ginger satyr, alarms went off in his head immediately, and that was when Jaune noticed the girl that was there with him.
She was... little. Well, she was clearly a few years younger than him, crouching on the ground. Black hair with tints of red throughout, fair skin, wearing a red hoodie and black skirt. The hoodie was sleeveless, probably to make it easier for her to wear it since she seemed to just have a set of rather large wings in place of arms, and she was wearing... a red cloak? Which also had a hood. That seemed redundant but who was he to judge?
The sleep addled brain of one Jaune Arc finally pieced together that humans did not have wings, and so the natural reaction was to blink and look again.
She was still there, sending him a baleful glare that looked like it wouldn't be out of place on an angry puppy. Her eyes were a really unique shade of silver that stood out against her pale skin, dark hair, and crimson red scales. Much like Yang, she seemed to have patches of those scales across her body, with some scatterings visible near her neck. Her legs were humanoid until about thigh level, where skin gave way to scales, the digitigrade limbs ending with three dangerous looking claws each.
Behind her, a long tail swished about anxiously, red scaled with a grey underside.
Seeing him awake, the girl raised from the squatting position she had taken, quickly stepping towards him and drawing his attention to a pair of rather sturdy looking horns on her head, that thankfully were swooped backwards in a way that would make goring him pretty impractical.
Jaune couldn't help but wonder just what was about to happen, seeing her practically stomp his way. He glanced around once, then twice, before sighing aloud as he realized that there wasn't anyone else around to help out with this situation. He was stuck in a park somewhere in Vale, probably well off the beaten path, alone with a dragon girl advancing on him like he'd gone and stolen something from her.
Just another day.
He was broken from his musing as something poked him in the chest. He noticed that she seemed to have a digit at the end of her wing, probably for grasping, but it was currently being thrust against him repeatedly.
Looking from the wing to the face of the girl, his confused face was met with her pout. "You're not Yang." She poked him again, accusingly, as though he had deceived her and posed as the girl.
"... no, I'm not." He found himself saying after a second, unsure what else to say. She seemed to know Yang, which was probably a good thing he supposed, but he was pretty sure he remembered something about a red blur falling from the sky like a meteor, crashing into him, and then taking off again all while Nora watched with a slack jaw and not enough time to interfere. So he'd been abducted by this girl who seemed disappointed he wasn't Yang.
Okay. Sure. He didn't really know what was going on, but she seemed civil enough. "Were you looking for Yang?"
"Yep." She replied simply, cocking her head to the side. "You're both blonde, so I guess I grabbed the wrong one. Hard to tell when I'm moving that fast." Judging by the way she said that, the girl saw nothing wrong with her actions other than the fact that she had nabbed the wrong person.
"Uh. So you were trying to kidnap Yang and not me?" This was the strangest conversation he'd had today, and that was a real achievement considering he had been hanging out with Nora.
"Nope..." The girl deflated a bit, silver eyes downcast. "I missed her, but she always wanted to try living off of Patch, so I wouldn't ever make her come back even if I could." She fell back onto the ground in a slump, pulling her knees up to her chest and wrapping her tail around her for good measure. "And we don't have good scroll connection on Patch since they're so new for us, and she doesn't write, and... I missed her." Repeating what she had said earlier, as though to emphasize her point, the girl sighed deeply into her knees. "But I grabbed you instead. Sorry."
"It's fine, I guess." Jaune shrugged, moving next to the girl. She looked up at him strangely, but he just settled in next to her on the ground. "I don't really appreciate being snatched up like a mouse, but I didn't get hurt so I guess I'm not complaining. If you want to talk to Yang we could just head back to my place? I'm guessing you're a friend of hers from home?" He should have been angry about being abducted by a girl who seemed to treat it as only a minor inconvenience rather than an actual crime, but it was difficult to stay mad at this girl, and that was before knowing that she was from Patch.
From what Yang had been saying just earlier today, this wasn't too far out of left field for someone born and raised on an island where might made right.
"... she'll be mad, though." The girl mumbled into her knees. "I'm not supposed to be here, because of the extra species laws and stuff. That's why I was trying to snatch her to talk, but..." She let out an aggravated whine, clearly annoyed with herself. "... I got the wrong blonde."
That... would be a problem, yeah. Extra-species people who wanted to travel could get licenses to go through or visit human cities, and a lot of smaller towns had even passed local laws to allow them license or no. But Vale was a big city, and the risk was just way too high that an unlicensed extra-species could cause damages, which would then lead to a diplomatic incident because corporations and city officials were less forgiving of accidents than the small towns scattered throughout Remnant. They'd want reparations paid, the individual responsible probably wouldn't have any means to pay, and then it'd become a huge mess.
The licenses made them credible, made their accidents the issue of the Cultural Integration Authority. It gave people someone to point fingers at when a mistake was made.
Her snatch and grab, if she'd done it to practically anyone else in Vale, could be a huge diplomatic incident between Vale and Patch. If he wanted to make a fuss about this, Jaune absolutely could. Judging by the cautious looks the girl was shooting him, she'd figured that out herself.
But there was no way he was going to do something like that over a misunderstanding. He reached a hand out and gently ruffled the girls hair, leading to a squawk of surprised indignation from her. "Don't worry, people make mistakes. I'm not going to make a big deal of this. If we just head back to my place and you act natural, no one will ask for your ID or anything. You and Yang can catch up, then when you're ready you can just fly back home. Sound good?"
The girl looked up at him like she was seeing him for the first time, silver eyes wide and hopeful. "R-Really? You're not mad?"
"Of course not. If I got mad every time someone started manhandling me, hanging out with Nora would be way less entertaining." This confused the girl, judging by the way she scrunched up her nose at him. "That's the girl who was with me on the balcony... oh, crap, they're probably freaking out." Jaune finally realized, frantically starting to pat himself down in a search for his scroll before realizing he'd left it on the table at home. "Well, double crap. We should probably get going like now, actually. Everyone back home will think I got kidnapped or something, so this might be a bit of a bigger deal than I thought, but I'll try and smooth things over." He stood up, reaching one hand down to the sitting girl. "I never actually introduced myself in all the confusion, but I'm Jaune Arc."
She smiled brightly up at him, flushing a bit from the reminder that she had basically kidnapped a man, and accepted the offered hand with her wing. He clasped around the end, carefully ensuring he linked his fingers with the grasping digit at the end of her wing, and helped the girl to her feet. "I'm Ruby Rose. Yang and I are sisters."
"Wait, seriously?" They looked nothing alike, at all. Hell, they were a different species entirely.
"We have different moms." She replied easily, tail flicking about behind her happily. "My mom is a wyvern, so I got these!" Ruby spread her wings out wide, showing off her impressive wingspan and drawing his attention to the almost gunmetal grey flesh between the fingers. Combined with her vivid red scales, shining silver eyes, and the almost regal horns on her head she looked pretty damn majestic for a girl who only came up to about his chest.
She seemed really proud of her wings. Jaune could see why, though. Flight, not with a Bullhead or some kind of Dust technology, but true blue unassisted flight was something incredible.
Seeing him staring, Ruby grinned wide. "They're awesome, right? C'mon! You know they are!" She hopped in place for a moment, unable to contain her excitement at getting to show off.
Jaune couldn't keep the smile off his face. She probably didn't get to brag too often if she lived on Patch, since just about everyone there would have already been well aware of her wings due to the relatively small community. Getting to show off to a human, someone who had none of the crazy strength of the ryu-jin or any magic abilities other species possessed, he figured that was a novelty to her.
"They really are, yeah." He replied, inspecting her unfurled wings closely, though making sure to keep personal space in mind. "Being able to fly must be incredible. And you're strong, too; you carried me through the air without any trouble?" She wasn't quite half his size, but it wasn't too far off. He was pretty fit, just a bit muscular even, and weighed a fair bit.
Yang could, obviously, lift him with no effort. But to be able to lift him as well as fly while carrying him, for a girl who was clearly younger? That felt like it was pretty impressive, but maybe it was typical for her species. Jaune didn't exactly have the best grasp on every extra-species in the world, after all.
"Yep!" She preened, her smile only growing wider. "I might not be as strong as Yang, but I'm no wimp! And I'm way tougher, too. Yang might be super strong, but even she can't stop me if I fly at her as fast as I can. Even Dad has to struggle to stop me... he still can, but every time we try it the skid mark on the ground gets longer and longer! One of these days I'm gonna knock him right off his feet!" Her excited rambling only continued from there.
Jaune couldn't help but question how much fighting seemed to play a part in the culture of Patch, but she seemed so happy about it that the strangeness of the situation barely even phased him. He just continued to let Ruby ramble on while they started to walk back to his house, with the girl basically trailing alongside him, a skip in her step as she continued to chatter at him.
He made sure to keep an ear open, though. While she was talking kind of fast, he tried to keep up with her and acknowledge what she said when he could. They had made it back to the path of the park now, and Jaune recognized it as Verdant Park, the closest one to his house. Seems like Ruby had noticed quickly she got the wrong blonde and set them down in the first forested area she found, so they would be able to make it back to his place pretty quick. The only issue there being that however quickly they got back, he'd definitely been gone for more than half an hour.
Considering his kidnapper had been flying, that was actually a really long time for him to be missing. It was plenty enough time for Ren to have called the Cultural Integration Authorities, who would be investigating at that very moment.
But as long as they acted natural and didn't draw much attention, no one would stop him or Ruby since it would be thought to be an abduction.
Captor and captive don't just calmly walk side by side down the street. At this point, he looked more like Ruby's homestay host than anything else; nobody would question a thing.
Like dad always said, all you really need is confidence. It worked like a charm.
Before he knew it, the two of them were out of the park and walking the streets. Ruby, now paying attention to the city, was gawking at the sights with wide silver eyes and a smile so bright Jaune felt like he needed sunglasses. It was honestly really funny to him, considering how different Yang's reaction to the city was compared to her sister.
Yang had been like a fish out of water, but Ruby was like a puppy in a new place for the first time. She stuck close, but was constantly interested in things nearby, and her original rambling had turned into questions about things she saw.
They had some limited access to the CCTnet, much more after they stopped hiding from the rest of the world, but there were plenty of questions that internet browsing couldn't answer or that she had just never even thought to search for in the first place.
"So I know about those car things, they move people around like wagons but they run themselves right? But what about those really big, long ones?" She asked, pointing towards the vehicle in question.
"That's a bus, Ruby." Jaune replied, happy to try and satisfy her curiosity. "Usually people own a car and drive it, right? But a bus is something that isn't owned by a person, it's owned by the government. People own cars and drive them wherever they want, but buses have a driver that gets paid to drive a certain route and pick people up. So people who don't have cars can still get around the city faster."
"Oh! That's cool. Patch isn't big enough for us to have to worry about that kind of thing, but I guess it would be important for a place as big as Vale. Hey, what about those big buildings there? Some of them look like people live in them, but a bunch of them are just kind of there."
"I'll be honest, I couldn't tell you what all of them are for." He replied with a shrug and a small laugh. "But, like you said, some are apartment buildings people live in. Others are offices for companies, or sometimes different floors of the building are rented by different companies to use, some are big department stores... the list kind of just goes on."
"Huh." Ruby replied lightly, pursing her lips in thought. "I guess I kind of get it? Space is kind of at a premium for you guys, huh?" Staring up at one building in particular, she seems deep in thought. "It's kind of crazy that there are so many people here! I mean, Patch was like... all we ever knew, you know? Now I'm in Vale, and it's just one of the kingdoms. The world is just so much bigger than I - OHGODSI'MCOMINGDON'TDIE!"
Jaune, for his part, was smiling as he listened to Ruby ramble, happy to share the experience with her. All the way up until she suddenly wasn't next to him anymore, and he was instead flat on his back looking up at the sky and a swiftly shrinking blur of red.
He managed to just barely spot the bright red figure collide with something... was that a person? Holy hell, did Ruby just grab someone falling out of midair?
Wow. That was impressive. He couldn't help but wonder why the heck someone was falling out of a building in the first place, though.
"Uh, mister, are you okay?" A young girl asked from nearby, glancing down from the sky to see him still on the ground. The other adults in the area all seemed to collectively realize it as well only after the child brought it up, some glancing his way with concern and others pretending nothing had happened and moving on with their day.
"... Uh. Yeah, yeah. I'm fine, I think. Just..." Blinking up at the red dot that swooped down onto a rooftop near where the other person had fallen, disappearing from sight in the process, he nodded to himself. "I guess I should probably go get her, huh." Quickly picking himself up off the ground, he offered a wave to the little blonde girl. "Thank you for asking, though. Bye!"
"Bye bye mister! Oh, and tell the dragon girl I like her cape! It's so cool! I was gonna tell her but then she flew off!"
Aw. What a cute kid. "Don't worry, I'll tell her!" He called back, waving again over his shoulder and running off towards where he had seen Ruby land.
Jaune really hoped she hadn't gotten herself mixed up in some kind of trouble.
Ruby really wasn't sure how she could have gotten mixed up in all of this trouble.
First, she spotted some guy right as he broke through a window from one of those really tall buildings. He was well over a hundred feet in the air, and he didn't have wings.
So being the good person she is, there hadn't been even a second of hesitation from her when she flew up to catch him.
"Urk!" But he was way heavier than she expected, what with being a full grown man falling out of the sky. Immediately after her talons latched on to the leather straps on his back, she'd been dragged down with him with a squeak of surprise.
"Ah, birdie no!" The man squawked in a confused panic, turning himself to take a look at what he assumed to be a very large bird having tried to snag him out of the air like prey.
Instead, he saw a pair of silver eyes attached to a girl who was struggling to regain her lift. "Don't worry, I've got you!" She called out, finally managing to stabilize herself in the air. "Phew. That was close. Are you okay?" She asked the man clutched in her talons. "I didn't break anything when I stopped the fall, right? Do you need a... what do they call them again, uh, an amberlance?" Her face scrunched up in thought as she tried to remember what those doctor vans were supposed to be called.
He blinked up at her, realizing quickly that he'd been caught by a dragon-girl. His expression shifted from surprise to something more serious. "I'll be fine. Thanks for the save, girl. Quickly, put me down on that building over there, please." Pointing towards one of the smaller buildings nearby, about half the size of the one he'd leapt from, the man continued to speak. "We have to hurry, we're running out of time."
Ruby, unsure of just what was going on but noting the urgency in his voice, dove straight for the building. "Okay! I won't drop you so just try to stay still, I'll put you down slowly."
"No time for that!" His reply surprised her quite a bit. "I can stick the landing, just give me at least ten feet."
Again, Ruby wasn't sure what was happening. This whole situation seemed surreal to her. "Oh, uh, okay! Got it! Just, uh, be careful?"
"Thank you, kid. You're a huge help!"
Well, that made her feel warm and fuzzy, so Ruby ignored the misgivings of the strange situation and flew low over the rooftop. Hitting about the ten foot mark, she did as told and dropped the man, who rolled spectacularly with the landing and sprung up into a ready stance. She took in the sight of his loose martial artsy looking red shirt, black cargo pants with a whole bunch of pockets, and very fit build for a moment, just to make sure he wasn't actually just toughing out some injuries.
She landed on a nearby air conditioning unit, perching and looking at him curiously. "You okay? Need that amberlance now or..?"
"No, no, I'll be fine." The man replied, grinning with a set of pearly white teeth. "You've been a big help... wait." His eyes, a sort of brownish green Ruby noted, narrowed as his smile was toned into a grimace. "No, already? Girl! Can you fight?" He called out to her with a deadly serious tone.
"Yes!" Ruby immediately replied with a grin of her own, wings stretching out proudly. "I'm one of the best on Patch!" There was a pause after his bizarre question finally hit her. "But, uh... w-why though?" They weren't actually on Patch so she was kind of under the impression that fighting wasn't, like, a thing people did just all the time. She was down for it, though.
"Get ready then. I've got something on my scroll that they don't want getting out. And they've already caught up!" As if summoned by the mans shout, several black-clad hooded figures began to appear from behind various nooks and crannies of the rooftop. Around walls, behind vents, and even one clambered over the side of the roof opposite from them from a fire escape. "If you fly away quickly you can escape." He added, as an after thought, as the hooded men took their own battle stances.
Ruby just grinned widely, eyes almost alight with excitement as she extended her wings to their full and impressive width, tail lashing about behind her with force enough to make an audible movement of wind. "As if! This is the coolest thing I've done all day!"
Did she know why this guy was being chased? Nope. Did she care? Also nope. She was going to fight ninjas. If the guy with the thing on his scroll was also a bad guy she would fight him too, but fighting ninjas was on Ruby's bucket list and she was damn well going to check that off if presented the opportunity.
Which happened to be now. Take that, bucket list!
But, before she got the chance, yet another interruption came... this time in the form of a loud shout.
Ruby blinked. "Um. What?"
Jaune wasn't exactly sure just what he'd been walking into when he watched Ruby snatch a grown man who had been falling to what was presumably their death, but a movie set? That wasn't even on the list.
There had been security out front, but after a quick explanation and a scroll call they'd let him in.
That lead to now, where he was being escorted through the set; a whole city block had been cut off for their use as a set, something that made Jaune realize he was not walking into some small indie film but instead a larger production that had some lien to throw around.
But this still didn't prepare him to see Ruby animatedly chatting with Spruce Willis himself, surrounded by a bunch of smiling workers and extras as well as the guy who had to be Spruce's stuntman considering he was wearing the exact same outfit as the man himself.
And then they spotted , Ruby specifically had spotted him and after she nearly knocked one of the nameless baddie extras he could spot from a mile away over with her wing by waving at him, everyone else spotted him too. Jaune felt his breath hitch for a moment as his eyes met with those of the Spruce Willis.
"Hey! Are you the girls homestay host?" A shorter man, with a graying beard and a wide, wily-grandpa looking smile asked, walking up to him and drawing his eyes off of his favorite movie star.
It took him a second to recognize the man as John McPearnan, a director who had worked with Spruce on almost all of his most well known films, but it did take only a second; Jaune had, after all, watched all of the commentaries included with the physical copies.
He was a little bit of a film nerd. Just a bit though. That was also how he knew that the stuntman was named Dudley Brock, and had been working with Spruce almost exclusively since their first film shoot together way back in Mayhem in Mistral. McPearnan, meanwhile, had a great working relationship with Spruce and managed to snag the celebrity for just about any new film he put together. They had become a power trio in the cinema industry, and it was their combined work that made the phrase "Spruce Willis Movie" household lingo.
Jaune blinked at the hand offered to him, shaking it as if he was on autopilot before the question registered and he realized that now he was, in fact, being called out on the exact thing he'd told Ruby no one would ask about.
She didn't seem to realize the situation, though, apologizing to the man she'd almost sent flying while said man just laughed at her worry and assured he was fine.
"Uh, yeah. That's me." Jaune replied, against his better judgement, because Ruby didn't have a homestay host and that was not an answer he was willing to give since she also had no paperwork to permit her roaming without one. "We were on a walk and she saw someone falling, she was gone before I knew it." That part was at least true. "Uh, sorry about any trouble she might have caused. That was a stunt, right?"
McPearnan waved it off. "No worries at all, kid, that was gold. The look on Duds face there, we caught it on camera and that right there is the real winner. Course it'll get touched up in post to make him look more like Spruce, but hell, that is a blooper if I've ever seen one."
"Honestly, John, I was just coming over here to ask if you wanted to use that one for the final take." A familiar voice cut into the conversation, though Jaune only knew the voice from film, as Spruce made his way over with Dudley and Ruby in tow. "I think it'd be a hit."
"Wait, what?" Jaune couldn't help but ask, the surprise cutting through his awe at being so close to Spruce Willis.
The director's eyes lit up, a huge grin coming to his face. "Oh, I hadn't even thought of that, but you're right. That was so out of left field I don't think anyone would expect it, and we could finally manage to squeeze some extra-species representation into our films."
"Is it hard to get extra species in movies?" Ruby couldn't help but ask, not nearly as starstruck as Jaune simply due to her much lesser immersion in film culture. She'd seen action movies, and even some with Spruce Willis in them, but the fact that he was a movie legend among human culture just didn't really hit the same when she was from an entirely different culture to begin with.
Spruce answered that one, groaning a bit and rubbing at his head. "Like you wouldn't believe, kid. Usually in the film industry you can throw lien at problems like that and they'll go away, but the way the extra-species laws are all set up is just killer. It's so much red tape, and no amount of money is going to get you through it. Not to mention, most of the extra-species in the first place aren't actors to begin with, at least not by industry standards, so they'd need to be put through schooling for it in the first place..." Spruce grimaced. "And even if you skip that part and use a total newbie, hope for the best, you'd still need to dig your way through mountains of paperwork to even grab one just to shoot a short film, not to mention the C.I.A guys hovering over your shoulder the whole time for filming... It's a nightmare."
As Ruby's eyes began to turn to swirls from information overload, McPearnan turned back to Jaune who had followed the conversation more effectively. "Long story short, me and Spruce have been wanting to open up the film industry up to extra-species and make it more inclusive. We've been looking to represent them, even just a little bit, to sort of ease folks into the idea. But, like he said, the red tape just makes it impossible."
"Uhm... then how does it work now?" Jaune asked, wondering where they played into all this. "Wouldn't you need to go through the same hoops here?"
"Not if their homestay host approved it." Dudley, the stuntman, chimed in as he threw an arm over Spruce's shoulder, which the man playfully tried to shrug off to no avail. "See, we'd have used a homestay earlier, 'cept there ain't many who fit the bill. If we weren't makin' a movie from the ground up for them, kinda' hard since Spruce here..." He trailed off, giving the man in question a playful shake. "Is the sellin' point. Then we'd need to fit them into the role and not the role into them. But then Ruby here swoops in and snatches me outta' the air, and we've got ourselves a seamless introduction for at least a scene or two, cuz' anything can happen in these action movies."
Laughing, and finally managing to squirm out of the embrace, Spruce picked back up. "One scene isn't much, but it'll do something, especially coming off one of our movies. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but Spruce Willis is kind of a big deal, right?"
Absolutely he was. Jaune was pretty sure that anyone who owned a T.V. or a scroll had at least come across his name at one point or another.
He was also really, really impressed with their goal here. Extra-species had only just made their splash to the public, so a lot of people were wary of them, they were unfamiliar and alien. Even giving leeway for the first year when films would've already been in production and couldn't drop everything to include them, the following two years didn't see a single extra-species in a role outside of documentaries sponsored directly by the Cultural Integration Authority. And once the novelty wore off, those got less and less exposure.
The one issue here was that he was not, in fact, Ruby's homestay host.
That should have stopped him from signing the papers McPearnan handed him, but he was kind of already in deep by that point and figured he would hope for the best.
"Alright. So, we're gonna use the footage we got of her nabbing Duds out of the air, that's gold. The landing on the roof and the scene there, great job following cue by the way boys!" The director broke out of his monologue to congratulate the ninja-henchmen. "Seriously, good on you; I was slack jawed but you all hit that one perfectly once Duds started rolling with it. Anyway, yeah, we use that scene, we'd still need her to shoot one last scene, the fight scene, before we could call it quits. You sign these papers, we can roll her into the next scene, do a couple runs low contact so we make sure she's used to it, then shoot the final fight scene with her and Duds, finish it off with you." Jaune blinked, pointing to himself. "Yeah, you. You're gonna come up after all the chaos is over and they come down from the roof, Spruce'll take over that scene and thank her for saving him from his fall, and then we'll get a scene of you two walking off before we cut back to Spruce in the next scene. And of course, you and Ruby here both get your names in the credits. Sound good to you?"
Jaune balked for a moment, realizing that he was going to have a part in a Spruce Willis movie. A minor part, sure, but seriously? Him, in a Spruce Willis movie?
He really shouldn't have signed the papers, but that didn't stop him.
It was early evening by the time they reached his home and Jaune had only just realized that somehow, through their entire time working with the filming crew, he had forgotten to borrow someone's scroll and call Ren to let him know that he was fine.
There didn't appear to be any officials or police outside his house, though, so he wasn't entirely certain what was going on in that regard, but it did occur to him that maybe Yang recognized Ruby somehow. Nora probably told them just what kidnapped him, right? And how many flying red blurs wearing hooded capes could there feasibly be in Vale?
He was almost put at ease by that, but not quite. Things never really seemed to just end cleanly like that.
"Well, lights are still on, so Yang is here at least. I don't know if Ren and Nora stuck around." Jaune sighed ruefully, walking his way down the path towards the door, Ruby at his side.
"Sorry..." Ruby mumbled, the fun of their trip set aside for a moment as she remembered that she had caused quite a bit of trouble for him. "I really didn't mean to snatch you. I was gonna just drag Yang off for a chat and have her right back. We do stuff like that all the time."
Jaune just chuckled, reaching out to ruffle the younger girls hair. "Hey, don't worry about it." He laughed more as her wings raised up to ward his hands away with an indignant squawk. "I won't say I approve of you kidnapping me, but you didn't mean anything by it so I'm not going to make a big deal of it." Still, though, he really wished that his scroll hadn't been left on the table. He'd left it there specifically because of Nora and her roughhousing, to keep it from getting wet, but that turned out to be the biggest mistake he'd made today.
The two of them made it to the door, and Jaune reached out to open it. "So, yeah. I really don't know what we're walking into here. If Nora and Ren panicked and called the authorities, I don't see any sign of it, so... that's good. But Blake should be home by now, and..." He paused, sighing. "Actually, never mind that. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't actually care." Kind of hurt to acknowledge that out loud, but it was the truth. Jaune could disappear for a week, come back, and Blake would probably be disappointed to see him return. "Anyway..." He opened the door, poking his head in. "Hey, guys? You all here? I, uh, well we are back."
"In the kitchen, Loverboy!" Came the reply from a familiar voice. Yang, okay, she was here. And she seemed calm enough.
He invited Ruby in, and she shuffled through the doorway, looking around the house curiously as she entered. "So this is what human houses look like? Most of the stuff on Patch is, like, log cabins. We only just started getting electricity and stuff all over the place a couple years ago."
"Yeah, I've heard things are a bit more rustic out that way." Jaune replied, slipping off the sandals he'd worn to the balcony next to his shoes. "Did Ren and Nora go home? I know I probably worried them." He called out louder, this time questioning Yang.
"Yeah, they're good. They left about an hour ago, after... well, Nora was freaking out, so Ren said he'd calm her down, and considering he dragged her into one of the guest rooms I'm pretty sure I know how that went."
Yeah, that sounded about right. "Yeah. You probably do." He replied simply, gesturing Ruby towards the kitchen. "Well, I brought your sister back. Or she brought me back. Whichever one of those sounds right."
Ruby skipped into the kitchen, and immediately afterwards Jaune was treated to a loud clattering noise and an indignant squawk as Ruby instantly glomped her older sister.
He didn't even need to see it to know. He'd been subject to many tackle-hugs in his life.
Entering the kitchen himself, he couldn't help his laughter at the sight of Yang, flat on her back, with Ruby practically attached to her front and just nuzzling against her like a dog whose owner had just come back after a long day at work. "I missed you, I missed you, I missed you so much!" She repeated over and over again, hugging the blonde who was torn between exasperation and fondness at the gesture.
"Geeze, sis, I get it! I missed you too, but come on, it's only been a week! I told you I was gonna see if I could work things out, and you didn't even give me a couple days to try before you flew yourself over here and caused a scene!"
"But I missed you!" Ruby replied with a pout.
"Agh... how do you do this! Why does that work! You're just repeating yourself! You can't just keep 'nope'ing yourself out of this crap!" Yang growled, clearly having been on the receiving end of this exact situation many times.
"I'm sorry..." Ruby mumbled, face falling in a way could move even the coldest heart. "I just couldn't help it. I missed you."
"DAMN IT, FINE, I'M NOT MAD!" Yang finally cracked under the assault, turning away from her little sister as the girl brightened and returned to hugging her.
"Ahem." A third voice interrupted, nearly startling Jaune out of his skin as he had been paying too much attention to the sisters. Turning, he saw Ozpin settled at the other end of the table, his usual calm gaze looking the situation over and a thermos of hot coffee in one hand. "While this is certainly a heartwarming reunion, there are still some things which must be addressed."
Ah. This was it. This was the moment where everything fell apart and his entire day of flying by the seat of his pants caught up to him. "Oh. Hi, Ozpin."
"Hello, Mr. Arc. It's a pleasure to see you again, though circumstances are far from ideal." The man replied, cordial as could be. "You see, we were given a call about a 'red blur' flying through the area. No flying homestays or licensed individuals live in or travel this area, so we maintained monitoring. It is hardly a crime for a flying extra-species to pass through an area, provided they don't harass air traffic, but the presence was simply unusual. Imagine my surprise when Ms. Xiao-Long contacted me about her hosts abduction by that same red blur."
"You tattled on me!?" Ruby shrieked, appalled. "Betrayal!"
Yang rolled her eyes. "Rubes, I told you over and over again, you can't just do whatever you want out here. We can't. There are rules we have to follow. I probably skipped a couple of them by just going to Ozpin instead of actually calling the main C.I.A. line for help."
"You did, yes, but I won't fault you as I am your coordinator. If you prefer to deal directly with me rather than call the main line, that is perfectly fine." The man took a sip of his coffee. "Regardless, Mr. Arc, this incident would have been something we could simply brush aside. It was minor, and provided you have no issue with doing so, we could simply ignore the infractions Ms. Rose caused."
Context clues allowed him to piece together that 'Ms. Rose' was Ruby. He couldn't help but wonder if there was a story there, but now was hardly the time for it. "I'm feeling a 'but' coming on." Jaune couldn't help but say, as the wording of that sentence really didn't sit right with him. He settled into one of the seats across from the coordinator.
Ozpin allowed himself a smile, eyes brightening a tad behind his spectacles. "Indeed. If not for a certain request the main office received regarding one Ruby Xiao-Long and her involvement in a certain upcoming film."
Ah. Right. That.
Judging by the knowing look on Ozpin's face, his own reflected guilt quite easily. "... Right." Jaune gulped, the reality setting in quite harshly that what he had done was blatantly fraud. Posing as a homestay host was basically the biggest screw up you could have against you right now, short of actual legitimate abuse of an extra-species.
"Fraudulent homestay claims begin with rather hefty fines at the minimum, but in this particular case such a thing would be more extensive as multiple organizations are involved, not to mention the paperwork signed and finalized, submitted to our office for approval." Each word from the mans mouth made Jaune feel smaller and smaller, knowing he'd seriously screwed up.
"Yeah. I just... I didn't want to tell them she wasn't a homestay. Then they would've had to report her, and it could have caused a big mess... but I guess now I'm just stuck in that mess too, huh." He mumbled, running a hand through his hair nervously. Honestly, he wasn't sure what he would have done differently though. Even going back, Jaune wasn't sure he would have the heart to just abandon Ruby to that mess herself. He could probably have declined to sign the paperwork while still claiming to be the host, just so it didn't get sent to the office, but they would probably still find out he'd made the claim in the first place.
The C.I.A. was notoriously thorough.
"As I said, Mr. Arc, fraudulent claims of homestay are a serious infraction. If you had committed such a thing, it could land you in very serious legal trouble. I'm certain you would be well aware of the extent to which these things can be prosecuted."
Yes, he was actually intimately familiar with how far these particular cases could go. There had been the case of an arachne whose homestay family had signed her away to an unfit caretaker without consulting the C.I.A. whatsoever. The whole thing had been something of a fiasco after the uncertified caretaker had attempted to use her to make a profit off selling her webs, gotten caught up in the red tape surrounding distribution of extra-species material, and found himself in hot water. The family had been fined, though they got off fairly lucky, while the man who had taken in the arachne was still in prison for a multitude of different charges. All of the guys up at the gym had been following it really closely as things unfolded.
So, that was how things were going to end for him, huh? That was a shame. He was kind of more shocked numb than anything.
But then something Ozpin said caught up to him. "Wait. You said 'if' I had done that?" Jaune asked, blinking out of his stupor, not so much hopeful at that as confused.
"Indeed. It would be a very serious crime if you were to do something of the sort." The man smiled, tapping his fingers on a folder that had laid inconspicuously on the table. "But thankfully, your paperwork was simply late. I must apologize, we were so busy at the office that it slipped my mind; ah, and don't worry, we corrected the name on the paperwork for Ms. Rose so that she will be credited properly when the film comes out. Congratulations on that, by the way; the restrictions on the film industry are quite strict, but we are working to try and loosen them. It's simply a very sensitive matter, considering how... difficult the entertainment industry can be to work in, be it film or music."
Jaune brushed by the last portion, focusing entirely on the paperwork Ozpin had mentioned. "Wait. You... have homestay documents for Ruby?"
"Indeed. She had been on the list of requests for quite some time, and we had simply never found a suitable host before you, Mr. Arc."
"The grump already said yes. She signed off on some paperwork herself, actually." Yang cut him off, having finally pried Ruby off of her and returned to her seat, though her sister was seated right next to her and attached to her side like a leech. "Yeah, I knew you were gonna ask, after the little fit she threw when you took me in. Ozpin called her up and let her know, she gave the go ahead, and she's been hiding up in her room ever since she got back from work."
Well, in Blake's defense, she really ought to have some say over whether or not he lets strangers stay in their home. But Jaune wasn't about to get into that particular topic, bigger fish to fry, and especially not if Blake already consented to it. He wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"So... I can stay? Here? With Yang and Jaune?" Ruby asked, finally catching up to the situation as her glee at reuniting with her sister was put aside. "Really? Really really?"
"Provided Mr. Arc allows it, then yes, really really." Ozpin replied with a sip of his thermos. "It is, after all, Mr. Arc who will need to sign off on the paperwork. Ms. Belladonna was quite clear she wanted no part beyond simple sharing of residence, so any and all responsibility in regards to the program will fall on your shoulders." He nodded towards Jaune, whose confusion was evident. "That particular clause was more intended for those living in shared housing, to give residents in apartments and condominiums adequate protections. Essentially, it makes the landlord the equivalent of a homestay host and the other residents are considered to be uninvolved unless they themselves consent to enter the program as well." The man chuckled, shaking his head. "Ms. Belladonna invoked that same clause, and there were no rules disallowing it." He shrugged ruefully, seemingly amused by the development even as Jaune balked. "We certainly never expected a situation like this, but by word of law Ms. Belladonna is entitled to these protections. Aside from simply refraining from any outright criminal activity towards these girls, she will have no responsibility towards them."
Yeah, that... that sounded like Blake alright. She had washed her hands of the situation completely by finding a neat little loophole in the still developing extra-species laws. Honestly, he was more impressed by the ingenuity than anything. It had been less than a week and she already found a way to absolve herself of all the downsides being a homestay host came with.
A shame she couldn't find a loophole to work with in regards to their marriage, but Menagerie and the isolationist policies it practiced had been around for much longer and while archaic they were robust. Far more so than the extra-species laws.
There just wasn't an easy way to connect their family businesses at all outside of a political marriage with things as they stood now, so the two of them were still stuck together despite neither really caring for the idea. The only way out was to say they wanted out, but he and Blake both had their reasons not to back down.
"Right, what papers did I have to sign?" Jaune asked, shaking himself out of those depressing thoughts and turning instead to the positives. Honestly, he had really missed the atmosphere of having so many people in the house after growing up with such a large family. So having Ruby around wasn't any kind of an inconvenience, really. Actually, he looked forward to it.
A manila folder slid across the table, again stopping perfectly at the edge. Jaune wondered if Ozpin practiced that or if he was simply that good, but there were no tells on his face as the coordinator continued to sip at his coffee. Opening it up, Jaune found several lines marked neatly and plainly showing where to sign. There was little print and none of it fine, so he glanced through quickly and saw it was much the same as what he had already consented to with Yang. Nothing in particular stood out. Seeing that, he went ahead and signed off on all of the papers.
Ozpin caught the folder after he slid it back, stopping it from falling off of the table, and chuckled as he reviewed the documents. "Well, it all seems to be in order." Reaching down to the floor, he popped open a briefcase, withdrawing from it another folder. "Miss Rose." He announced, drawing the younger girls attention. "This one is for you. It contains all of the same documents as what I had provided to your sister, including a card with my personal contact information if you need to reach me. Mr. Arc or your sister can put the number into your scroll as a quick contact if you have any issues."
As the two sisters began to celebrate and Ozpin started to put away his various documents, something he said clicked for Jaune.
"Wait... you have a scroll!?" He shouted, turning shocked blue eyes onto Ruby who simply blinked her own silver back at him in confusion.
"I mean, yeah? Why wouldn't I?" She asked, pulling the red device out of her hoodie pocket with only a bit of difficulty. "Gotta make sure I can call dad or Yang or someone if I need help or get lost. And it plays music, too! How cool is that? Pretty much everyone on Patch has them now."
Jaune could swear he heard Ozpin chuckle on his way out, but the man was cool as a cucumber when he shot a glance his way, simply offering a wave goodbye. "So... you could have called Yang at any point when we were out, to let her know we were fine, but you didn't?"
"Was I supposed to? You didn't call or say anything about it so I figured it wasn't a big deal." The wyvern replied innocently. "I would've let you use my scroll if you had said something."
Yang, by this point, was not nearly as cool as Ozpin and was covering her snickers with her hand, as she knew exactly what kind of aggravation he was feeling at the moment.
Jaune, for his part, had nothing he could say to that. Ruby was, technically speaking, completely correct. He hadn't once complained about his lack of a scroll or mentioned calling because he had just assumed it was a lost cause. Ruby hadn't mentioned having one either, but for her this was a normal day and not a potential international incident.
"... let's just get you to your room, Ruby. You're fine with the one next door to Yang?"
"Yes!" She replied, her smile lighting up the whole room as she darted forward and glomped Jaune, much to Yang's amusement as he immediately fell back onto the floor with a crash despite having been prepared for the tackle. "Ooooh, this is so cool! I've always wanted to see Vale and now I get to live her with Yang and with you and I don't know who grumpy is but if they let me stay then they have to be nice too! Oh this is gonna be awesome and I just can't wait! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!" There was a brief pause, the rampant energy that had been radiating off of her suddenly calming. She blinked, a cute little yawn slipping from her lips. "... m'kinda tired..." She announced groggily.
And with that, she was out like a light. Complete and utter dead weight, situated right on top of him and pinning him to the floor.
Despite being such a small girl, Ruby was surprisingly heavy, something he hadn't expected considering she could fly. "Uh... is... did she just fall asleep?" Jaune asked, looking towards Yang for answers.
"Yeah... she did fly from Patch to Vale, probably flew around the city a bunch until she found the neighborhood I told her about, then carried you off, then she snatched some dude out of the air in that film shoot that you are definitely going to tell me more about tomorrow, so yeah." Yang shrugged, standing up and stretching her arms. "She's probably tired."
"Ah. Right." That... made sense, actually. That was the part that was most surprising, though.
From a scientific standpoint, Ruby shouldn't even have been able to fly at all. But just like Yang and her ridiculous physical strength, conventional understanding flew right out the window. Jaune hadn't really given it much thought considering how some extra-species did things that could only be called magic, so it was kind of funny to hear that Ruby actually got tired from flying in the first place. It made so much sense he hadn't even thought about it.
He blinked out of his train of thought as Yang walked by the two of them. "Night, Loverboy." She offered with a wave and a wide grin.
"Wait, hold on, aren't you forgetting something?" He frantically gestured towards the K.O.'d girl dozing on his chest.
"Nah, you'll be fine. See, funny thing about Rubes is that she's kind of a baby. She gets chilly real easy." Yang grinned back at him, leaning on the doorframe. "Seeing as how you're warm blooded and she's exhausted, she's not gonna let go even if I took a crowbar to her.
Almost as if it was spoken into existence by her words, Ruby nuzzled her face into his chest and released a blissful sigh. "Waaaaaarm...~" Came a soft, breathy mumble as the girl shifted on top of him, practically curling up on him like a cat.
Jaune fought down his blush, for once grateful that Nora had done far more intimate things with him on a regular basis. "Yang, come on, seriously you can't just leave me like this. I can't lift her! Not only is she way heavier than I thought, her tail would trip me even if I did manage to get up and try to carry her."
"I dunno, Loverboy, what's in it for me?" Yang asked, sounding very much like the cat who had eaten the canary and framed it on the dog.
By the time he finally convinced Yang to help him up, Ruby had latched quite firmly around him, even going so far as to wrap her legs around his waist and her tail around his legs. Between that and her wings wrapped around his torso, pinning his arms to the side of his body, Jaune was well and truly trapped in her embrace.
Yang hadn't even tried to wake her younger sister up, instead just lifting the two of them like it was nothing, and carrying them up to his room much to Jaune's protest.
Without any real grace or gentleness, Yang chucked the two of them onto his bed. "Don't worry, Loverboy. She'll go for the blankets on her own pretty quick, she's always been a blanket hog, but seein' as how you're right under her it'll work out. See ya' in the morning!"
Having long since given up on getting out of this situation, Jaune merely shot the ryu-jin girl an impotent glare as she left before sighing and accepting his fate.
"... waaaaaaarm..." Ruby mumbled contentedly, and Jaune used her wings moving to snag the blanket as an opportunity to shift to a more comfortable position just moments before they found their way back, blanket now firmly in place over the two of them.
This would be cute if it wasn't so inconvenient.
... okay, actually, it was still really cute despite that. Ruby looked so content that he couldn't help but smile.
Well, it wasn't how he planned for today to go, but it could have definitely turned out worse.
With that thought, Jaune just sighed and shifted a bit, getting as comfortable as he could before allowing himself to drift off to sleep.
The way things were going now, it seemed like life was bound to be getting more exciting in the coming weeks.
Jaune couldn't bring himself to mind, though.
K. Lot to unpack here, but lets start off first and foremost with me saying this: I did not forget about Blake, nor do I intend to use her solely as a plot device. She is a character and she is not going to simply be a punching bag who I don't allow to get her own story out. I cannot tell you when the next chapter will be coming out, but I fully intend for the next chapter to show Blake's side of the story more, show her daily life and who she interacts with, and give her more room to be an actual character. A lot of the appeal for the Monster Musume side of things is getting to show off the new homestay arrivals with their own chapters, and in this one we've introduced Ruby as well as showing off Nora and Ren. That's enough new faces to give me a bit of breathing room, and next chapter will be focused on the daily routines of Blake for one but also showing off Jaune and what he actually does for a living, because he does in fact have a job despite neither him nor Blake actually needing one due to their family situations.
Hm. Yeah, not much else to say here. I'll get around to writing more when I have motivation. I know it's not a good timeframe to work with based on my track record and I am sorry for anyone who likes my work, cuz' the time between my chapter updates has started to get to literal years now. But I just can't write unless I want to write, and lately that just hasn't been what I've been wanting to do.
Either way, again, happy Halloween.