DISCLAIMER: RWBY and its characters are the property of Rooster Teeth.

A/N: This one-shot may or may not be expanded. It will, however, occur within an alternate canon universe. I know there are more than a few fics out there where, for one reason or another, Ruby leaves her team and strikes out on her own. Some of them happening during the time at Beacon, others after. This will be one of the latter, and will involve a wolf faunus Ruby.

Lost

*beep* "Hey, Weiss, it's Ruby. Well, I guess you already knew that since I call you so much and all. Anyways, I'm in Vale at the café you like, so when you get out of the shower and dressed you can just come straight there, okay? See ya then, bestie!" *beep*

*beep* "It's been a couple of hours, Weiss. Are you feeling okay? You've never been late before, so I figure you must be sick, or really tired. You probably shouldn't study so much. Not that studying isn't bad, but you do almost all the time so maybe you just need to-" *beep*

*beep* "It's been a week since we've hung out. Since….since we've talked more than just things for school, or the missions we go on. I know you're avoiding me, but I don't know why. I miss my best friend, Weiss." *beep*

*beep* "I sometimes wonder if you're even listening to these messages. It's been a month since you missed our 'partner time,' and just as long since we've spoken. I remember, when Blake told us all about being a faunus, and, you know, being a part of the White Fang before, you said that we're all friends, and that we shouldn't keep secrets from each other." *beep*

*beep* "I found that card I gave you to feel better in the trash. Unopened. It hurt. You're acting like you did before, Weiss. Back during our first week at Beacon, before you started opening up and stopped hiding. Now you're hiding again, and it's worse." *beep*

*beep* "I'm in Vale. In the hospital. I got hurt helping someone. Yang and Blake are here. But not you. I still have hope that you still care, even though….even though I'm a faunus. It didn't used to bother you until a few months ago." *beep*

*beep* "I love you, Weiss. And not just as someone who used to be a friend, not just as my partner, but as someone I could see myself spending the rest of my life with. I wanted to confess in person, but you're never around except in classes. You're the first one up and gone in the mornings, and the last one back at night." *beep*

*beep* "I saw you with Neptune. Again. Even after that douche turned you down during our first year, and flirted around on you during our second year. I was always there for you, Weiss. And yet you don't see me anymore. Yang thinks I'm being stupid, persisting like this, and you'd probably agree with her." *beep*

{Several messages later}

*beep* "Graduation. Supposedly the best day of our lives, as it marks our turning point from students to full-fledged Huntresses. All I remember of today is how you ripped my heart apart and charred it. I could have handled a rejection, you know. Just a simple 'I don't see you that way' would've been fine. But you called me a bitch, a mutt, and every single derogatory slur towards my wolf heritage and my sexuality that exists. I used to hope you'd come around, and we could at least be friends. Congratulations on destroying that, Schnee. I hope you enjoy your life. Consider this my last goodbye." *beep*

Weiss stared at her scroll, tears streaming down her face as she – not for the first time since that day – once again listened to all of the messages Ruby had left her since she'd stopped talking to her partner. All the guilt, all of the pain, everything crashed into her as it always did every time she listened to those messages, those pleas, from her partner, her best friend.

Her secret crush.

That had been something she'd never, ever shared. As the heiress to the Schnee Dust Corporation, she wasn't supposed to be a lesbian. She'd chosen to be a Huntress, chosen to go to Beacon for it, in order to escape her father and his hold on her life. Yet when it came down to a choice that could have led to a path of freedom….she'd chose to remain in her gilded cage and began withdrawing from her team. She fell back on old, familiar behaviors because she was too scared, too cowardly, to own up to her own feelings and face the unknown. Ruby hadn't deserved what she'd done, the things she'd said. She had utterly destroyed the girl – young woman – whose only crime was caring for her. She, Weiss Schnee, had utterly crushed one of the most pure and kind souls that had ever existed, and for what? Fear of who she really was? A desire for approval from her father that never came no matter what?

Weiss's tearful and crying gaze moved from her scroll to a photo on her desk. It was a group shot of Team RWBY, back before Weiss began cutting herself off from them. Blake's expression was one of irritation, though there was a faint smile, as Yang was doing the 'rabbit ear' prank on her with a huge, boisterous grin. Ruby was grinning uninhibitedly, her wolf ears perked up and right arm extended for a 'V-for-Victory' sign with her left arm around the shoulders of a much younger heiress whose expression hinted at a hidden, yet genuine, smile.

Ruby had vanished the day of graduation. No one knew where she'd gone, no one ever heard from her. The only indication that she was even still alive was the reports sent in by her, or those who issued the contracts she took. Weiss knew that if it hadn't been for Blake, Yang would have killed her. As it was, it took a few years for Blake to resume talking with her again; Yang still refused to have anything to do with the current CEO of the SDC. Weiss, for those first years, operated as a solo Huntress – until a mission proved to be more than it was advertised as and resulted in her nearly dying. She'd completed the mission, of course, but at a price. The white-haired woman looked at her left arm and flexed it; the advanced bionic replacement was nearly indistinguishable from her flesh-and-blood arm, except that she had to remove it each night to recharge its Dust capacitators and whenever maintenance needed to be done. Her gaze drifted down to her abdomen, where a Nevermore's strike had nearly laid her open. That mission had been a metaphorical eye-opener; she'd that she was no good as a solo Huntress, as her combat style was suited to one-on-one engagements, not free-for-all melee combat or ranged attacks.

The other thing that she'd become aware of was just what the consequences of her choice two years before were. Her father attempted to marry her off again, to secure the Schnee line, and his chosen suitor had nearly raped her. She'd prevented it, violently, and had been chastised by her father. That action, as well as the memories of her time at Beacon and everything that had transpired there, had finally turned the small flame of defiance within her into a roaring blaze. In the end, when the figurative dust had settled, she was in charge of the SDC – and her father was in jail for life. She had then ruthlessly solidified her hold on her family's company, removing every person her father had placed in positions of power and replacing them with people who would actually do their jobs – half of which were faunus. That had been the biggest change for the SDC, and one that would've proven disastrous from a financial standpoint if her business savvy had been less than what it was.

In those early days of her takeover, there were more than a few assassination attempts from those loyal to her father as well as the White Fang. She weathered them, picking up a few more scars, before an attempt that would've succeeded if Yang and Blake hadn't been in the area on a mission. It was that occurrence that got Blake talking to her again, though Yang did speak to her; but only to say that she didn't like Blake talking to her (Weiss) but that Blake could make her own decisions – of course, she added that Blake talking to Weiss wouldn't affect things between the couple, or between Yang and Weiss. Weiss knew that would be all she'd get from the brawler, and still felt that was more than she deserved. Blake's decision to resume talking to her former teammate led to the creation of a group dedicated to establishing peaceful relations between humans and faunus – which was what the White Fang was originally meant to do before it became corrupted into the terrorist organization that Blake had fled years before.

"It just isn't fair," she whispered, still gazing at the photo – at the Ruby in the photo, specifically. "What I did to you….it wasn't fair at all. I should've opened up to you, at least, about my fears, my insecurities. But I let my pride get the best of me, and I have reaped the harvest of that choice. Wherever you are, Ruby, I hope that you've at least moved on from me. I don't know if you're alive or not, or if you'd ever return to anyone, but if you do….I'd just want a simple 'hello' from you. That's all. No amount of forgiveness in this world will absolve me of the guilt and regret I feel for that one day."

It had been ten years since Ruby had disappeared, eight since Weiss had taken control of her family's company, six since she and Blake had began talking again….and four since she'd gotten married. She'd married a woman, a fox faunus named Kitsu, who'd had a daughter from a previous relationship. They'd dated for a couple of years before that, Weiss reluctant to commit because she was afraid she was projecting her repressed feelings for her missing former team leader onto the woman, until one day when she'd sat down and had a long discussion with her about everything. Kitsu had confessed to knowing about Weiss's feelings for Ruby, and said that no one could ever take the place of a first love, but that didn't mean there couldn't be room for another. Kitsu's daughter, whose name was Vexa, had also helped Weiss realize her feelings were genuine and not shadows when she'd accidentally called Weiss 'Mom.' What really caused Weiss to fall in love with Kitsu was the fact that the woman accepted that the Schnee would always have a place in her heart for Ruby, even if she was moving on, and loved her anyway. Her gaze drifted over to the family photo she had set next to the team photo.

She sighed and put her scroll away again, having finished her daily ritual of guilt-tripping and regret. She began going over the reports that had come across her desk – unlike her father, she didn't try to run the whole of the SDC herself, letting the heads of each department and division run said departments and divisions, sending reports in to the management supervisors who then reported to her. Periodically, of course, she personally conducted an audit on each part of the SDC to ensure nothing below-board was going on. She would also contract an independent and objective company to perform an investigation each quarter for that same purpose, not wishing for the SDC to return to the way it was during her father's and grandfather's times. Some of the reports she was going over detailed attacks by the declining White Fang, most of which were repulsed. Of the successful ones, some seemed suspicious to her so she marked those incidents for more detailed investigation. She paused as she came across a leave request, going over it before signing it, a small smile on her face; she added a small bonus to it as well, in the form of a one-day all expenses paid spa trip for the woman. For unlike her father, she didn't see the point in turning a massive profit if it wasn't going to be used for those who helped generate it.

Just then, her desk's scroll rang and she switched on without pausing in her work.

"Weiss Schnee," she said.

"Hello, little sister," came the response.

"Winter!" she replied with a smile. "It's nice to hear from you again."

"Finish your moment of self-loathing already?"

"I don't know what you're-"

"It's not a secret what you do, Weiss, so don't deny it."

She sighed. "I can't really help it, Winter."

"I know. Just as I know that you don't let it affect your life and happiness. We all have a moment of regret in our lives, a bad decision that will forever haunt us. But that's not why I called."

"Well, I'm just about finished with my work for the day, so I've got time to catch up," the younger Schnee told her.

"Unfortunately, this isn't a social call, dear sister."

"Then what is it?"

"It relates to your daily ritual."

"What….what do you mean?"

She could hear her sister sigh. "Let me put it bluntly: Ruby's been found."

E/N: Dun-dun-duuuuunnnn! And that's that. Let me know if y'all want this to be more than a one-shot or not. And as far as my Punk Metal fic, Complicated, goes, it's not forgotten or dead; I've just lost my groove for it for now, but I do intent to get on with it one day.

E/N 2: I'm gonna put up a poll for this to stay a one-shot or be continued.