Autumn Leaves

"The 'heiress' got in the way. Guess we're sunk, eh boss?"

"Hardly. We are simply switching to a direct approach."

"What the idiot isn't saying is that he blew his cover sky high."

"What can I say? I enjoy watching them squirm. By the way, think you can get a copy of the camera feed from that gate?"

"You're such a creep."

"After approaching the girl so openly, I doubt you would have gone unnoticed regardless."

"Hmph, still could have done it better."

"And you?"

"No one should suspect a thing, Ma'am."

"Good…Off you go then. It wouldn't do to miss your flight."

Just a Child—Part 3

Ruby felt relieved that the other applicants seemed content to watch her from a distance, as the airship took them all to Beacon. Though, Yang's death glare probably had something to do with that. She'd been in full mama bear mode since the port.

"God what an ass!" Yang told her. "You ever see that guy again, just let me know and—"

"Yang, no," Ruby said. "I… I mean yeah he wasn't very nice and everybody was just watching but I—it's my fault too."

"Autumn…"

"I let him walk all over me. I let everyone walk all over me." Ruby looked down. She stayed silent for a long moment, before drawing herself back up, hands smoothing the ruffles of her skirt. "I'm… I'm a regional combat champion. Maybe I should start acting like it?"

Yang blinked. Then a slow grin slipped over her features. "What happened to being 'normal', Ruby?" She slipped one arm over Ruby's shoulders, pulling her sister into a tight hug. "Huh? Weren't you all 'Yang! Nothing's gonna change okay!' "

"Yaaang!"

Yang laughed.

After a second Ruby stopped squirming so much. She huffed. "Well, if everyone's gonna make a big deal about it, then things are different anyway right?" she said. "So I should just roll with the punches!"

"Sounds like a great plan!"

"Yeah?"

"Of course! So what's fist on your to do list?"

"… Yang, no."

"Yang, yes!"

Ruby slumped. "Weiss didn't make fun of me like this."

"I dunno, Rubes, she was kinda looking at you like you an infinite dust dispenser. Or a vibrator made out of lien."

"…Sooo, before I puke on your shoes because of that… does this mean you don't think I should take any sponsorship deals?"

Yang shrugged. "Do you want to give up Mom's emblem or just your first born?" She grinned. "And if you get any on my clothes I'll kill you."

Ruby took a deep breath, before letting it out through her nose.

The video screens, which until that point had been running a news article about the recent rise in dust thefts, switched to the image of a severe blond woman. "Greetings, Beacon Applicants," she said. "I am the deputy headmistress, Glynda Goodwitch, and I would like to be the first to welcome you to Beacon Academy."

"Woah, sweet." Yang said, moving to the window. On the horizon, the green tipped spear of Beacon tower rose over the bluff. Students one and all moved to get a better look.

In the back of the crowd Ruby Rose, looked over her potential classmates. She'd seen Beacon, had flow out for a tour at Headmaster Ozpin's request, and she knew that the students, rather than the school, would be the first challenge she would face. Taking a deep breath, she moved towards the front of the ship.

The landing at Beacon itself passed in a blur. Yang and Weiss both vanished into the crowd, and Ruby had enough people circling her as she made her way to the great hall. She barely heard Ozpin's speech, and navigating her sleeping arrangements in the ballroom seemed both to take a small eternity and end the moment Ruby put her head to her pillow.

She didn't talk to anyone more than a simple exchange of pleasantries, there were too many new faces, people who wanted a glimpse of the Giant Slayer, for Ruby to do anything more. The next morning she found herself on the edge of Beacon Plateau, overlooking the Emerald Forest as Ozpin laid out what was expected of them.

"Your teammates," Ozpin continued "will be with you for the rest of your time here at Beacon. So it is in your best interest to be paired with someone with whom you can work well."

Ruby held back a small shudder. Yes teams were scary, but… she could make it work. She knew she could make it work.

"That being said...the first person you make eye contact after landing will be your partner for the next four years."

Something shattered in Ruby's chest. It felt like hope.

But then, she took a deep breath, she hadn't held a hope of beating Pyrrha Nikos either… and that turned out okay in the end. She let out that breath, running over Ozpin's last words. Get to the temple, grab a relic, and get it— and her as of yet unknown partner— back to the cliff in one piece.

The man in green sipped his coffee once. "Any questions?"

For a moment Ruby wondered if she could ask for a partner do over. Some of the people the people in the line looked kinda sketchy… but then, that probably wouldn't go over very well.

The blonde guy next to her raised his hand weakly. "Uh, about that landing strategy part…?" he said. Ruby cocked an eyebrow at his nervous tone. Wasn't he the one who started flirting with Weiss this morning like some big shot?

"Good, it appears that you are all ready to begin," Ozpin said.

With a heavy clank, the platform all the way to Ruby's left fired, launching a green haired girl into the air. Professors Ozpin and Goodwitch didn't so much as blink.

Ruby sank into a ready stance as the next platform activated, then the one after. Crescent Rose extended with a comforting whir. For a moment she was caught up wondering how the launching mechanism worked. Was each pad separate, or were they connected by gears?

Another student went flying over the forest, and Ruby pushed those thoughts of her head. As the seconds counted down, however, she couldn't help but notice the guy standing next to her becoming increasingly nervous. She frowned, had the guy somehow made it all the way to Beacon without ever using a landing strategy?

Then the felt the platform vibrate under her feet, as the catapult mechanism winched into place, and there was no more time for those thoughts.

Ruby pushed off, flaring her semblance just as the launching system activated. She needed to get to the ground fast as possible. Crescent Rose thundered in agreement, each round pushing her down towards the canopy. Suddenly, she was falling more than flying.

Flipping in the air, Ruby spun the haft of her darling in rapid circles. Fire erupted from the weapon in a tornado like burst. The nearest leaves were charred black.

With a dozen feet to go, she sensed that her speed had slowed to something manageable. From there it was a short drop, hooking her scythe's head around a sturdy branch, and landing on her feet at the top of the tree.

"C'mon, c'mon…" She muttered, turning her gaze skyward. Deeper into the forest, she could already see patches of displaces birds taking to the air. If she had to guess… Yang would probably be the one with the most fallen trees and Weiss… the farthest away? She had no idea how to pick out Pyrrha, so it looked like those were her—

"aaaaaAAAAAAAAAAA—"

Ruby's head snapped up, silver eyes flashing as she picked out the form of that blond kid who'd been standing next to her. Unlike Ruby, he tumbled head over heels through the air without an ounce of control. Falling faster now, there was no way he'd be able to right himself before hitting the trees. If that didn't shatter his aura, it would no doubt drain it to the point of exhaustion.

If he hit the ground wrong, he would die.

Ruby crouched before she even realized that she'd made a decision. But then, Hunters were supposed to be heroes, and what kind of hero would she be if she let someone fall to their death right in front of her?

He was going to die.

"AaaaaaaAAAA—"

He'd accepted that from the moment the stupid metal plate had thrown him off the cliff.

"AAAAAAAaaaAAAAA—"

He was going to die, and his body would be shipped back to his family in a bag.

"AAAAAA—"breath "Aaaaaaa—"

In multiple bags, actually, like bits of slurry.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA—"

It was fine, right? It was expected, right? Everyone had told him that he didn't have the skills to be a hunter. Everyone had told him—

Something slammed into him from the side. Blue eyes met silver.

The girl who caught him smiled. "Just dropping in?"

Jaune jerked in surprise. Silver eyes widened, and suddenly they were both spinning again.

"Oh crud!" the girl shouted. "Oh crud, oh crud oh crud!"

"I—" Jaune started. Then the wind shoved the words back down his throat.

"Just—I got this just hold on!"

They jerked once, as a thunderous retort echoed through the forest. Then there was another, and another. Out of the corner of his eye, Jaune caught a glimpse of the girls black combat boots braced against a blade as her weapon fired again and again.

They were still going too fast. Even a dummy like him could see that.

Half flailing, he managed to get his shield arm out behind them. Crocea Mors snapped open, catching the wind like a sail. His entire body jerked, arm burning like he'd dislocated a shoulder, but he kept the shield steady. It should be enough, it had to be e—

"Brace yourself!"

"WhaaAAA—!"

Suddenly he was ripped out of the girl's grasp. He spun through the void for a timeless second, everything around him blurring into a single strand. Jaune curled inward just in time to hit something. A cry of pain tore itself out of his throat. Then he crashed through a small forest of branches, landing on the ground with a heavy thud.

For a moment he lay there, unmoving. His breath came in short, frantic gasps. Each time he tried to move, a lance of agony would shoot up his shield arm. Somehow Crocea Mors hadn't flown out of its sheath, but its added weight only made it harder from Jaune to lift his arm.

Maybe if he was lucky, the girl would come back and chop it off, so it wouldn't hurt so much.

With a gasp, Jaune managed to collapse and remove his shield, forcing himself into a sitting position. "Ugh…" he muttered, "how, exactly, did I think that this was a good idea?" He hissed as the movement jostles his arm, before cradling it to his chest. "Still—nothing for it now… right?"

"Hey!" The girl's voice came. "Hey, where are you?"

Jaune looked around. "I'm over here!" He called, then he winced. "Dang, is everything going to hurt now?"

In a second the girl landed in front of him. Now that Jaune wasn't falling to his death or crashing into trees, he could finally get a good look at her. She was dressed in black, with red accents to match her bright cloak. It looked a bit short on her, but in that super cool hunter way he'd always envied.

"Hey," he said, slowly raising his good arm. "I'm Jaune Arc. I guess we're partners?"

"Yep!" The girl said. She bit her lip, Jaune blinked. "Um, are you okay though? We kinda need to get moving…"

"Ah you see… um,"

"Oh! I'm Ruby, Ruby Rose." she said.

Well, Michele always said to be honest. "Ah, hey. I'd love to get moving, but I, uh, think I broke my arm." He gestured to it, before wincing again. "Or maybe dislocated it?" He tried to hold back a groan he ran his fingers over his shoulder. The skin was already swelling.

"Um…" Ruby tilted her head. "Do you think your aura can fix it?"

"…Aura? What's… tch, that?"

Ruby blinked once. "Uuuummm…" She started at Jaune for a long moment. "You don't… know what Aura is?"

Jaune felt a drop of sweat that had nothing to do with the pain slide down the side of his face. "No?" he said. "I—ow! Oowww!"

"Jaune how did you get into Beacon without knowing about Aura?" Ruby almost shouted.

No, don't ask that question! Don't ask that question! Somehow he managed to keep a blank face. "You should'a seen my transcripts," he bit out.

For a moment, Ruby said nothing. Then she started pacing back and for rapidly, muttering under her breath. After a few minutes she stopped. "Okay," she said, "okay. I know what to do. I'm, going to awaken your aura. She stopped "Ooh… how did the chant go? Does that part even matter?" Ruby wrung her hands. "Uh, uh, It is in parting… no passing… it is in passing that… that we—"

The howl of a beowolf cut her short. Jaune's gaze snapped to the trees, where he could make out shadows and darkness. This time, however, the darkness had eyes. He swallowed once, good arm scrambling for his sword.

Even… even if he was going to die here…

"Oh crud no time." In a flash of rose petals Ruby was kneeling next to his side, both of her hands placed over his chest. For the third time that day, their eyes met. Her silver orbs seemed to glow with an unquenchable inner fire.

"Live!" she said.

And then his entire body was awash with light.


A/N: Hey everyone, I'm back! I'm going do my best to give some attention to this story, in between real life and the other projects I've been working on. No promises on update rate, but hopefully I won't vanish off the face of the planet again, yeah?

Brief side note, for those that have read my other RWBY Story and are wondering about it's status (especially as I'm back on the RWBY horse). I'm... revisiting it. But that's going to be a long time coming, there's a lot that needs to change for me to feel satisfied with that story. For the time being, I hope you all can at least enjoy this one.

Thank you all for reading! Don't forget to leave a review and fave if you like the story!