Disclaimer: I do not own RWBY or any of its characters. Just FYI.
An Apple a Day (To Keep the Fears Away)
Ruby wasn't sure how she was supposed to do this.
Sure, she tried to stay upbeat and keep the energy up, but some days it was just… so hard. But she had to keep trying. She knew she had to be the strong one because Jaune, Nora, and Ren had lost so much when Beacon fell.
Well, which wasn't to say that she hadn't lost anything either. After all, Pyrrha had been her friend, too. And Penny had been her friend. They were both gone. And Yang had suffered from losing a limb and seemed to have lost her way at the same time. And Blake had disappeared. And Weiss…
The point was that Ruby couldn't dwell on all of that. Jaune and the others weren't in any shape to take the lead and follow the only clue they had, so she had to step up and do it.
That didn't mean that she knew what she was doing.
And sometimes, it just… it just became too much.
Ruby tried to calm her breaths. She had told the others that she would go collect firewood as an excuse to get away. Even then, she felt like the trees were closing in around her, and she just needed some space to breathe. She closed her eyes and leaned against a tree.
Calm down. Breathe. You can do this. Ruby told herself. She could do this.
As her brain refused to listen and her breathes grew more panicky, Ruby realized that she couldn't do this.
At least, not without help.
Fumbling, Ruby's fingers reached into her bag and into a pocket that she used entirely too much. She finally grasped what she so desperately sought and quickly pulled it out. Taking in huge gulps of air as she struggled to steady her breathing, Ruby stared down at her palm.
A small apple pendant attached to a delicate silver chain stared back at her.
Ruby curled her fist around the necklace and sunk to the ground. She held it close to her chest as she used to the sensation of the charm in her palm to ground herself.
She hadn't known at first what to think of the pendant that had come into her possession. She had still been reeling from Yang's revelations about what had happened to everyone. Ruby had returned to her room and it was only then that she had noticed the necklace on her bedside table.
Ruby had recognized it instantly. After all, her partner wore it practically everyday.
When she had asked her dad about it, he had said that it had been wrapped around her wrist when he had arrived at the hospital in Vale's safe zone to pick her and Yang up. He had seemed confused over why she was wearing a necklace as a bracelet but he hadn't really questioned it.
Yang had told her that Weiss's father had taken her away. It didn't seem like it had been all too willingly but Yany looked so lost that Ruby hadn't been able to ask more about it. Regardless, something in her stilled upon seeing the necklace; the pit of despair that had begun to yawn open receded just a tiny bit.
Because before she had been taken away, Weiss had gone to the effort of leaving a piece of herself behind.
So Ruby wouldn't be all alone.
And here, with a team that wasn't truly her own, Ruby found that it acted like the most steadfast anchor. It gave her strength when she was stumbling without a clue. It reminded her of all she had to fight for. It gave her something to hold onto when she had no one to turn to and was afraid.
Ruby closed her eyes. She could practically hear Weiss now.
"Jeez, you dolt." Weiss would fix her one specific look she had where she was trying to hide how much she cared and was worried. "You don't need to shoulder this all alone. Just talk to us! We're friends, aren't we?"
"What do I do, Weiss?" Ruby bowed her head. "I'm just - How can I lead them?"
She imagined Weiss blinking at her before her expression would soften. Maybe she would even reach out and gently pat her on her head, tentatively offering her the physical comfort that she was entirely unfamiliar with. "Just be yourself. You've already proven yourself worthy of being our leader; I'm sure that as long as you're there for them, they'll be fine."
Weiss would then pull back and try to look haughty. "But don't do it at the expense of yourself, you dolt. You have to take care of yourself or else you'll be useless."
Ruby wetly chuckled. "Sure, Weiss." She would try to keep that in mind.
Slowly, she reopened her eyes, breaking the illusion fully. She looked down at Weiss's necklace one more.
Following an impulse she didn't fully understand, she brought the pendant up to her lips for a single moment, softly kissing it.
Then Ruby stood up and dusted herself off. She quickly stowed the necklace away, safe within its designated pocket, so she had no chance of losing it.
Her pulse had calmed; her breathes were steady.
Ruby was ready to face whatever came her way.
For a second, she thought she smelled vanilla and apples, tasted the chill of ice and snow on the air. Just like the pendant, it settled something deep within her.
Even when they were separated, Weiss was still the one keeping her on the right path.
AN: I almost said that Weiss keeps Ruby on the straight and narrow path, but there's nothing straight about this.
Ruby's been keeping a lot inside since Vol. 3 and she's clearly struggling but trying to hide it. Since Weiss's outfit changed and we haven't seen it since, I kinda like the thought that Weiss decided to leave something behind for Ruby before her father (metaphorically, though probably still forcefully) dragged her away. It probably would've helped a lot. So here's Weiss helping even when she's gone for Day 3 of White Rose Week: Struggles.