Follow-up to the last chapter, where we shall witness the impact of Jacques' death on Atlas, both for good and ill.
On with the show!
Chapter 1: Changes.
To the few people who knew him, Arthur Watts was many things, chief among them a Genius, a Gentleman and something of a perfectionist. And while all of these were certainly true, they were only the smallest parts of the complicated enigma that comprised his being.
Case in point, while the outward definition of a Gentleman, Watts was a self-made man in all the way that mattered. While a Genius, he could at least acknowledge the accomplishments of others and give credit where it is due, albeit not without some backhanded slight.
He also utterly, without question, despised children. No, perhaps 'despised' was too strong a word, as in all honesty he didn't deem children to be worth the effort of actually acknowledging, let alone devote enough of his attention to develop any form of emotional attachment to their presence.
However, for lack of a better word, 'Despised' seemed to do as a stopgap to define his stance in regards to children, particularly those who refused to learn their place, viz-a-viz, as a far away from him as possible or, failing that, out of sight, out of mind, and keeping their damn mouths shut.
Indeed, if his disdain for children were any greater it was highly likely he'd have chemically castrated himself just to ensure he never sired any of his own, had he not already resolved never to do so after being exposed to the disappointment that was the fruit of his younger brother's loins.
It should go without saying that most of his acquaintances would be rather surprised to learn that Watts possessed a sibling, or any family for that matter. Indeed, Watts would have been most displeased to discover they had done so, considering the lengths he had gone to bury any and all links to his past from the public eye.
It wasn't that he was ashamed of his origins, far from it, he wouldn't be the man he was today if he'd grown up among the soft, opulent sheep that comprised Atlesian High Society. Nor was it something as asinine as sibling rivalry, at least not so far as Watts was concerned. If anything he considered his brother's frequent attempts at one-upmanship to be amusing, if fruitless diversions from the humdrum of his daily routine.
No, it was simply because, given the nature of his work, and more importantly the identity of his current employer, Watts had deemed it necessary to make it as hard for the authorities to tie any 'unfortunate accidents' to him, when there were so many more useful scapegoats to take the fall. After all, one did not expect to sit within the Inner Circle of the Queen of the Grimm without getting ones hands dirty or bringing something of considerable value to the table.
While Watts was of the opinion that his mind was more than worth the price of admission, having several sources of disposal income, legitimate and otherwise, and a stockpile of resources to supplement their campaign certainly didn't hurt in the grand scheme of things, for unlike his fellow initiates, bar Hazel Rainart of course, Watts wasn't so delusional as to believe he wasn't replaceable in the Queen's eyes.
Setting aside Tyrian, who simultaneously worshiped the ground Salem walked on and cursed it for defiling her, Watts wouldn't be at all surprised if the only reason Cinder was counted among them was because of that ridiculous requirement to become a Maiden, as bereft of that the girl held no value outside her combat skills, which paled in comparison to Hazel's, and her strategic ability, which relied almost entirely on his information networks and whatever other resources Salem deigned to grant her.
Hell, even Tyrian, as insane as he was, outclassed the would-be Maiden in terms of sheer devotion, willing to sacrifice his own life to appease his Goddess' smallest whims. Indeed, the only resources Cinder could honestly claim as her own were those two charity cases she'd picked up for no other reason than to stoke her superiority complex, and even then she'd needed to rely on Watts to have their criminal records wiped clean, to say nothing about properly outfitting them and supplying the boy with top of the line prosthetic legs.
In short, if Watts was pressed to describe Cinder Fall in a word, the only one he'd deem appropriate would be 'Mediocre', a trait she ironically shared with his younger brother. Where the two differed, however, was that whereas Cinder was almost completely reliant on other people to accomplish her objectives, Watts' sibling at least possessed the mental faculties to land himself a cushy position as the head of the world's premiere supplier of Dust Based Products.
Of course, with that being said, that didn't mean he'd earned Watts' respect. After all, it was hardly as if he'd built his empire himself, he'd merely taken the reigns from the ailing family head after using that silver tongue of his to whisper sweet nothings into the ear of daddy's little princess, securing his position by virtue of ensuring the man's lineage would live on.
As repugnant as Watts found his siblings' methods, however, what truly earned his disgust was not his misplaced arrogance, as he'd always been a cocky little shit, but how quickly the fool had allowed power to go to his head, leading him to lash out at anything that might threaten his fragile ego, which in turn led to him turning to Watts when he couldn't just throw money at his problems to make them go away.
Still, as disappointing as his brother could be, he still had his uses, so while they continued to maintain as much distance from one another in the public eye, they at least managed to cultivate a professional working relationship behind the scenes, wherein Watts would use his connections to make his baby brothers mistakes disappear, in exchange for signing off on whatever research materials Watts demanded, no questions asked, no matter how steep the price tag.
Now it wasn't as if Watts was dependent on his brother's resources mind you, but acquiring them via legitimate channels was always preferable to relying on bribes and subterfuge to keep the all-seeing eye of Atlas at bay, especially after James Ironwood was promoted to General following the disgrace of Lagune. And so, for the time being, Watts deemed it prudent to ensure his brother remained in a position to provide said resources until the Queen had no further use for them.
With that in mind, you can probably imagine how vexed he was to learn that the little shit had gotten himself assassinated.
Not that he particularly cared about his brother's death mind you. Quite the opposite, he'd actually devised several intricate schemes to have the man disposed of once Salem's plans reached endgame. No, what vexed him was that he had lost access to one of his more lucrative supply routes all because the idiot refused to shell out the lien needed to hire his own damn security detail.
Still, no point crying over spilled milk as they say. While the loss of access to the SDC's resources was unfortunate, in the end it was but a minor inconvenience so far as Watts was concerned. One that, depending on how he played his cards, could even prove to be more beneficial to his employer than keeping his brother alive.
"Forgive me for disturbing you, Milady." He greeted, offering a deferential bow to eldritch horror that was levitating before him, the preferred means of communication between Salem and her agents "An issue has arisen that I felt necessary to inform you of."
"Ah, Good evening, Doctor." Salem's voice greeted cordially from the horror "I was just wondering when you would contact me. I presume this issue pertains to the changes I've sensed from the Grimm surrounding Atlas?"
"My sincerest apologies for not contacting you sooner." Watts offered "I deemed it prudent to monitor the situation to gather as much of the facts as possible, lest I waste your time with uninformed hearsay."
"Always the perfectionist I see." Salem chuckled, and for the first time since initiating the call Watts allowed himself to relax, albeit just a hair, as only a fool would entirely relax their guard around the Queen of the Grimm, even when communicating by proxy "Very well, what have you to report?"
"I regret to inform you that we will no longer be able to count on supplies from our contact within the SDC." Watts reported diligently "It seems someone finally decided that my brother had outlived his usefulness to society. The disturbance you sensed is likely the result of the citizens of Mantle celebrating his demise."
"Ah, hope." Salem mused, her tone almost whimsical, yet carrying a not so subtle undertone of mockery that Watts had grown used to hearing whenever she spoke of the follies of mankind "That most treacherous of poisons…so quick to turn to despair."
"As you say, Milady." Watts concurred "Even as we speak, General Ironwood is cracking down on the most vocal of the revelers. If my informants are to be believed, it's only a matter of time before he imposes Martial Law to restore some semblance of order so he can carry out a proper investigation."
"All the better for us." Salem noted approvingly "Indeed, his actions should only add fuel to the flames that will be Ozpin's funeral pyre…though will the added security prove a problem for you?"
"Not at all." Watts scoffed, waving a hand dismissively "I'll confess, the added security measures will make it harder to move about unnoticed, but the program I devised to hack the towers has already been completed." He waved his scroll for emphasis "Admittedly, gaining access to the Tower here in Atlas would prove a challenge, but why bother when any of the other Towers will suffice?"
"Indeed." Salem concurred, and Watts was relieved to hear she actually sounded pleased "Very well, I shall leave things in Atlas to you, Doctor. Please ensure Cinder receives the program as soon as possible."
"By your leave." Watts offered, bowing before the eldritch horror once again as it floated off to the hidden closet he'd set up in his personal study before straightening up and striding out of the room, his fingers blurring over his scroll as he brought up a list of contacts.
After all, contrary to his late brother's conceited belief, the world did not revolve around him, indeed, so far as Watts was concerned the death of Jacques Schnee (ne Gelè) wouldn't even warrant a footnote in the grand scheme of things.
Atlas, 1 Week post the Assassination
To say the assassination of Jacques Gelè sent ripples through society was an understatement. As despicable as the man might have been, no matter how many people clamored for his head, and believe me, there were plenty, the fact remained that, as CEO of the Schnee Dust Corporation, he was easily one of the most influential men of the planet, a position that Jacques had clawed his way to by lying, stealing, greasing palms and crushing anyone who stood in his way.
Needles to say, claiming the man had made enemies on his climb to the top would be as redundant as saying people die when they're killed. Be it the Faunus Workers or small-time dust store owners that got shafted by his cutthroat practices, or his less-savory 'business partners' that felt he hadn't cut them a fair deal, it was safe to say that Jacques Gelè had earned himself a healthy portion of the resentment that stewed within the melting pot that was Atlas.
With that in mind, you can probably imagine how confused the Grimm patrolling the city's borders must have felt when that mass of resentment, hate and blood-lust almost instantaneously transmogrified into elation, joy and merriment overnight. Probably put them right off their next massacre, the poor soulless murder machines.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there were parades in the street with people singing a drunken, decidedly more vulgar rendition of 'Ding Dong the Witch is Dead', but at the same time I'm not denying they were doing just that.
Heck the only reason there wasn't rioting in the streets was mostly due to the impressive efforts of General Ironwood, who showed impressive restraint by simply having the drunken revelers brought in to sober up in cells before sending them home, as opposed to simply throwing away the key.
However, even the General's patience had its limitations, and in all fairness, it was impressive that he was able to restrain himself for as long as he did. But every camel has its straw, and in Ironwood's case it came in the form of a certain red-haired, psychotic, soon-to-be-stalker-ex-boyfriend, claiming responsibility for the assassination in the name of the White Fang via International Broadcast.
Needless to say, even with Sienna Khan releasing a public statement denouncing the White Fang's involvement almost immediately afterwards, the ensuing backlash forced Ironwood to impose a curfew to get the revelers off the streets so he could focus on the investigation.
See, while Ironwood may not have particularly liked Gelè, tolerated him at best, but never outright liked, the man had been one of his more influential financial backers. It was for this reason, as well as a personal favour to Winter and Willow, that he'd deigned to attend the man's fundraisers despite knowing he'd only been invited to boost Jacques' own reputation.
Well, that and to cut the costs on hiring security by relying entirely on Ironwood's personal retinue, something Ironwood had long since given up calling the man out for, as the insufferable prick would merely scoff, citing what need had he to dip into his own coffers with 'Atlas' Finest' in attendance.
This, as you might imagine, put Ironwood in a sticky situation, as he couldn't demand Jacques provide his own damn security detail without implying his lack of faith in his own troops, but at the same time if anything did happen, the blame would rest solely on the General's shoulders.
With that in mind, you can probably imagine the quite literal bricks the good General shat the moment he saw Jacques lying in a pool of his own blood, surrounded on all sides by the Atlesian elite, the man's daughter looking on in shock.
I wouldn't be surprised if, in that moment, the General felt the same chill race down his spine a fresh-faced recruit would feel upon locking eyes with an Alpha Grimm on their first mission. At the very least he hadn't lost a limb this time, though not for lack of trying on the Media's part.
It was only to be expected really, after all, nothing got elitist pricks and media vultures hot under the collar like the hint of a scandal, and the fact Jacques had been murdered on Ironwood's watch was like blood in the water, drawing in every single one of the vultures looking to gorge themselves on the ensuing Media Shit-storm like the swarm of feces vampires they were.
Fortunately for Ironwood, there were considerable benefits to being the head of the Atlesian Military. Aside from their excellent health plan, guaranteed to get a man back on his feet, and back on the front-lines, within mere weeks of convalescence, the most important benefit afforded by his position was that he was also Chairman of the Atlesian Council, meaning he didn't need to go through the same amount of Red Tape his fellow headmasters had to deal with in order to, say, enforce a gag-order to keep the paparazzi from interviewing any of his subordinates that had been involved in the disaster.
Were it any other Kingdom, the people might have considered his actions tyrannical. Indeed, such oppressive actions against the public's freedom of expression had been one of the many reasons behind the outbreak of the Great War. But to the residents of Atlas, which was a Military State in all but name, it was simply the General's attempts at saving face after one of the greatest failures of his career.
Case in point, while Ironwood's authority made it so attempting to interview Military personnel would be about as effective, and considerably less pleasant, as attempting to interview a brick wall, he couldn't prevent them from asking their questions to those outside the Military without causing a full-on-riot.
Indeed, the only other person who likely could have pulled off such a feat was Ozpin, the Headmaster of Beacon Academy, who despite all his insistence on the importance of freedom of expression could hardly fault Ironwood's methods when he himself had often taken steps to ensure the Citizens of Vale remained ignorant of the seedier goings on within the Kingdom.
Suffice to say, when it came to being a magnificent bastard, Ozpin truly had no equal, the enigmatic headmaster managing to make the Council dance to his tune from behind the scenes whereas Ironwood had to rely entirely on force to get his way.
Not that there's anything wrong with a show of force mind you, however it seemed that Ironwood never quite mastered the 'speak softly' aspect of wielding the Big Stick, whereas Ozpin could whisper softly in the right ears and have other people with significantly smaller sticks unite to solve his problems for him.
But enough about Ironwood's failures, or lack thereof. You probably aren't here to be reminded of how pathetically two-faced the media can be or how power corrupts and all that bollocks, true or not.
No, you're probably wondering what effect Gelè's death had on four people in particular, namely his widow and children. You wouldn't be the only ones either, as when the media weren't trying to tear Ironwood's reputation to shreds, they were doing their damnedest to try and get even a passing statement out of the surviving Schnee family.
Winter's response, as expected of an Atlesian Specialist, was a politely worded 'No Comment' that translated into something decidedly less polite if you took her tone, expression, and the fact the only reason she wasn't physically threatening people with her sword if they didn't get the damned microphones out of her face was because it'd reflect poorly on the General.
However, if the vultures were hoping to have any better luck plying a statement out of the rest of the family, they were in for a decidedly rude awakening, as no sooner had the coroner confirmed Jacques' death had Willow put the entire estate on lockdown, the Schnee matriarch requesting an armed contingent of Atlesian Specialists from Ironwood to guard the grounds whilst dismissing the 'hired goons' her husband had employed, citing their incompetence.
In short, faced with the twin fronts of Ironwood's resolve and Willow Schnee's frosty demeanour, the vultures soon found themselves starving for a scoop, actively turning on one another to prevent the competition getting a leg-up, which only served to impede the General's investigations further.
I can only imagine how confusing it must have all been for the Grimm. Poor bastards were probably getting headaches trying to process the mess of emotions coming off the city, to say nothing of the ones raging within Schnee Manor.
Schnee Manor, Master Study.
"The matter is not up for discussion." Willow intoned, her features set in her usual cold mask as she stared out the window of her father's study, the self-same study Jacques had claimed as his own the moment Nicholas Schnee was in the ground, as evidenced by the massive portrait of himself he'd mounted on the wall behind it.
A portrait, it should be noted, that was one of many throughout the manor that were currently being taken down by several all-too-eager members of staff. What they intended to do with them I had no idea, but judging from the fact all the fireplaces in the mansion had been lit for the first time in ages, I could probably hazard a guess.
"Mrs Schnee, please listen to reason." Jacques' Secretary tried to wheedle on the other end of the scroll conversation, his hair in disarray and sweat dripping from his brow, a fact I attributed to the hammering coming from the door behind him "The board of directors-!"
"Have already been dealt with." Willow cut in, the ghost of a smile forming on her lips as she glanced at a news article depicting several of the aforementioned directors being frog-marched out of their homes, having been brought up on various charges incurred under Jacques' protection "Those that remain will either fall in line or they can collect their severance package at the door."
"You'll never get away with this!" the man insisted shrilly, though he was looking considerably less confident by the second as the hammering in the background intensified "The SDC will fall apart without us!"
"I sincerely doubt that." Willow countered, the Schnee matriarch turning from the window, cutting off the call just as the door behind the man slammed open to reveal several Atlesian Specialists, sinking into the comfortable leather armchair behind her father's desk with a sigh.
"I'd say they took that rather well." I mused, stepping forward from my spot in the corner to present the Schnee Matriarch with a freshly brewed cup of Vacuoan Blue Mountain Coffee "Winter seemed to be in high spirits at least."
"That she has." Willow mused with an undertone of maternal pride that complemented the small upturn of her lips at the memory of her eldest daughter's efforts to aide her in pruning the rot from their family's legacy and restoring the value of the Schnee family name.
See, Willow hadn't just been sitting on her laurels while Jacques ran her family name into the dirt. While the world around her assumed she'd become little more than a bitter drunk, and to be fair she'd given them no reason to think otherwise, she'd eventually gotten over herself after a sharp wake-up call drove home the fact that, if nothing was done to stop him, Jacques would destroy her family.
The nature of that wake-up call came several months ago, in the form of an attempted kidnapping courtesy of White Fang extremists. A kidnapping that could've been entirely averted if Jacques had afforded Willow the same level of security he did himself, instead of allowing her to be driven home with only a single elderly chauffeur for protection.
Needless to say, the old man, who had served Willow's family since she was in diapers, hadn't gone down without a fight. But gone down he eventually did, leaving Willow with no defence against the bloodthirsty terrorists that cared little for the fact she had no say in the way her husband ran her family's company, only that she was a Schnee and they had axes to grind.
Fortunately for Willow, there happened to be a third party in the alley that night, a third party whose intervention prevented her from becoming the driving force behind Weiss' transformation into Batman, though now that I think about it, that probably would've been awesome, Willow's murder aside.
Needless to say, that third party was none other than yours truly. I won't bore you with the details of how I found myself in the alley, as in all honesty you've probably heard it all before. Suffice to say the old standby of 'A Wizard Did It' holds true in this case, though I'd replace 'a' with 'The' and tack 'Marshall' onto the end for added clarification.
Lesson for the day kids: Don't buy anything from a Zelretch Cosplayer at an anime convention. Nine times out of ten it's the real thing and the remaining 10 percent of the time it's probably one of his many, many proxies looking to screw over some delusional punk hoping to live out his Isekai fantasies.
In any case, by the time my mind processed what was going on before me, and had forever burnt the image of Willow's tits, exposed courtesy of a soon-to-be-dead terrorist, into my memory, I was already moving to intervene. Normally this would've only resulted in an extra corpse to bury, but thankfully, like many a soul before me, the Wizard Marshall hadn't thrown me in the deep-end unprepared.
Yeah, yeah, you've heard it all before, 'con-goer' gets sent to another world as their costume, becomes an instant badass blah-blah. And it's true, by the time I'd finished off the last of the thugs it was easily clear that I was way stronger than I should've been. Even if they lacked the aura of trained huntsmen, it should've been physically impossible for me to rip men apart like they were bags of wet paper.
And I'm not just saying that out of humility. Do you have any godly idea how hard it is to rip a person limb from limb without employing a blade or explosives of some sort? Even back during the middle ages, with all their horrific methods of torture and execution, they more often than not had to resort to lopping the limbs off at some point, as the human body simply doesn't like coming apart.
Then again, it probably wasn't fair to compare the limitations of normal humans to that of a Servant, who even at their weakest were considered ten times stronger than mere mortals, so you could say I kind of lucked out in that regard. God only knows Willow certainly wasn't about to question her sudden windfall, though it didn't stop her from slapping me for staring at her tits a bit longer than I should've.
In any case, to this day, we were never entirely certain if Jacques planned that ambush or if it had honestly been dumb luck on the White Fang's part. While the latter was more likely, as Jacques wouldn't want to endanger his hold on the company until he was certain he'd either wrenched it from Weiss or brought her to heel, it wouldn't be the first time one of the man's many obstacles just 'disappeared'.
It was this very fact that finally drove home the severity of Willow's situation, the Schnee Matriarch opting to take a leaf out of her father's book and begin educating herself in private, taking advantage of her family's considerable resources to develop her fledgling business acumen with a little help from yours truly, Willow having hired me as her personal valet as a 'reward' for saving her life, a position I was more than willing to accept, given the circumstances.
What? Don't look at me like that. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a job in Atlas? And a well-paying one at that? Sure, it might have rankled a bit that I was basically a glorified busboy, but that was rendered moot by the simple fact that Willow never had me do any of the things you'd expect a snobby entitled heiress to demand of her servants. How much that restraint had to do with the memory of me ripping her attacks to shreds with my bare hands I chose to leave unsaid.
Regardless, at the very most Willow simply had me wait on her, acting as a medium between her and Jacques whenever the bastard would deign to remember his wife, bringing her material for her studies under the guise of topping up her wine glass.
Would she ever hold a candle to her father? Probably not, but at the very least within a few months she'd gone from being completely swamped to confident in her ability to run circles around Gelè and his cronies without having to bring herself down to his level.
Indeed, her original plan had been to bide her time, sending out feelers to determine which of Gelè's peons could be swayed to side and which would be better off being culled before she pulled the rug out from under him.
But then the bastard had gone and scarred Weiss' face. Maybe not personally, but it was on his orders that his secretary had seen fit to unleash that Geist-possessed Mechanical Knight in a bid to break Willows' daughter's spirit, to deter her from leaving her father's 'protection' in order to attend Beacon.
I'll be honest, it took every ounce of control I had not to put a bullet between Gelè's eyes then and there. Sure, watching Weiss take the thing down first-hand had been just as awesome as it had been during the 'White Trailer', but there was a notable difference watching a character do something bad-ass on-screen and watching a teenage girl fight for her life because her father was a petty little shit-stain.
Ironically it was Willow, of all people, who convinced me to stay my hand, to wait for the perfect opportunity to strike, an opportunity that Jacques unwittingly provided shortly after, in the form of Weiss' last recital before she was to head off to Vale.
You have no idea how satisfying it was to slip the dagger into that pompous asshole's heart, to see his eyes widen as he realized how well and truly fucked he was. Hell, I even got to channel my inner Ahnold, whispering 'Consider this a divorce' into the fucker's ear right before I blew his brains out while everyone was distracted by the explosion.
Of course, as much as she would have loved to purge everything associated with Jacques Gelè from her life, Willow knew better than to simply do so the very next day. No, she'd given the matter a week at best, waiting until Ironwood had officially placed a gag-order on the investigation before making her move.
The moment the order was given, she'd walked into a meeting at SDC headquarters, a meeting many of Jacques' supporters were purposefully kept in the dark about until the last minute, where she promptly took her seat at the head of the table, a calculated show of power to both drive home the fact that Jacques Gelè's reign had ended and that the true head of the family was done letting herself get walked over.
Oh there was an outcry, of course. After all, for all his political engineering Jacques hadn't gotten to where he was today without making a few allies, even if more than a few would've been more than willing to take him for everything he had, were it not for the blackmail and debts he'd amassed to keep them in line.
Debts that Willow dismissed outright and blackmail she threatened to submit to the authorities in order to garner loyalty and drive home the consequences of crossing Willow Schnee to those who thought they could prolong the stagnation of her company.
I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't the only man in the room in desperate need of a cold shower after that display. Quite a few women too unless I missed my guess.
"Mother!" an irate Whitley Schnee proclaimed as he stormed into the study without so much as a buy your leave, his whiny, nasal, prepubescent voice instantly killing my boner and good humor as efficiently as I'd murdered his father "I need to speak with you-!"
"Lower your voice, Whitley." Winter snapped, cutting the boy off with a frosty glare, her tone making it very clear to her youngest that she was in no mood for his petulance "Now then, what is so urgent that you felt the need to barge into my study?"
"Your-?" the boy began, only to wisely reconsider in the face of his mother's arched brow, though it was clear from the way his features shifted that he'd noticed the absence of his father's portrait and wasn't liking the implications one bit "I wanted to ask if there'd been any progress with the investigation, and whether or not we should release a statement prior or after father's funeral."
"General Ironwood has assured me that the investigation is proceeding without issue." Willow replied, not missing the way the boy scoffed at the General's name "As for a statement, the matter is moot, as there will be no funeral. I've already made arrangements for his remains to be cremated."
"You can't be serious!" Whitley choked, the son of Gelè, for I refused to acknowledge him as a Schnee, looking absolutely flummoxed at the idea that his sire wouldn't be receiving the hero's burial he didn't deserve "That goes completely against father's wishes!"
"Jacques is dead, what more was there to be said?" Willow countered coldly, pointedly using the man's name as opposed to 'Your Father' or 'My husband', as if hoping to rid herself once and for all of the shackles that had come with the gold wedding band she no longer wore on her finger "Besides, any statement I released now would only add fuel to the fire, and James has enough to deal with as it is."
"Why should we care about that incompetent blow-hard?" Whitley sneered bitterly, his lip curling in a manner all-too-similar to his sire "If he'd taken his job seriously, father would-!"
"Have no doubt have been arrested for his less-than-ethical practices." Willow cut in, her expression decidedly cool "Rest assured, Whitley, the only reason James didn't air your father's dirty laundry was because he'd have dragged us down with him. I'd remember that the next time you dare to insult him."
Whitley seethed but said nothing. As Gelè's only son and heir in all but name, the little bastard had often sat in on the self-same business dealings his mother spoke of, and so knew full well that if any of them were brought to light the SDC's already shaky reputation would've come crumbling down as the vultures tore them apart.
However, it was clear to anyone with a pair of eyes and a functioning brain cell that the boy wasn't taking the recent shift in the reins of power very well. Having been raised by to see himself as the true heir to the SDC, it must have come as a rather unpleasant shock to suddenly find himself on the bottom rung of the totem pole.
Normally I'd have deemed the boy a threat, albeit a minor one, and acted accordingly, but whether it was out of motherly affection or confidence in her own ability to reign him in, Willow had forbidden me from laying a hand on her youngest, citing she might be able to 'salvage' him.
Truly, a mother's love is blind.
"Mother? Are you here?" a polite voice called out, drawing our attention to the doorway just as Weiss let herself in, the Schnee heiress blinking in surprise at the sight of her younger brother "Oh, am I interrupting something?"
"Not at all." Willow assured her younger daughter before turning to regard her youngest child with a cold, impassive stare that brooked no argument "Whitley was just leaving."
For a moment it looked like Whitley was about to object, quite vocally in fact, but in the end the son of Gelè managed to restrain himself in the face of his mother's arctic glare, coolly excusing himself through clenched teeth and a stiff bow before walking calmly out of the study, though not without sending a seething glare at Weiss in passing as he slammed the door behind him.
And I'll just leave off there for now.
So yeah, here I am subscribing to the popular Fan Theory that Jacques and Watts are siblings, although in my case Watts is the elder sibling, if only be virtue that, at least in my version, Jacques dyed his hair to fit in better as a 'Schnee'.
As for Salem being able to sense emotions through the Grimm, this is admittedly another piece of Fan-Theory I've subscribed to, but if she can communicate and control them, it stands to reason she can sense what they sense, to an extent, and a sudden upsurge of emotions in Atlas would certainly catch her eye.
Not much on action here, but as we can plainly see Willow hasn't been content to sit on her laurels as she did in canon. No sir, Mama Schnee has taken control of her life, and her family's legacy, and she's not done cleaning house yet.
Also, for those of you wondering what the S.I's relationship with Willow is...it's currently undecided. Originally I was going for a dynamic like we see between Integra, Walter and Alucard but we'll see how things develop.
As for pairings, I was originally planning on 'Checkmate' and 'Dragonslayer', both for plot reasons and the latter because there really aren't enough of those out there, but if you have any other preferences, feel free to mention them in a review, just give me a good reason for any strange ones.
Till then, this is Kyugan signing out.