King: I am burned... But I am alive, and so I write, even if only a little and it takes a while to get things moving.
Knox: Still, Happy Birthday man.
King: Yeah, that happened a bit ago, didn't it?
Knox: Yep~ Now, tell them about the next round!
King: Alright. So, here's how it goes. First off, last vote's results. The winners, in accordance with my rules for voting are as follows: Yang joining Jaune's harem, Qrow x Willow, and a little ambiguous about what to do with Sun and Neptune. But I've used these as guidelines for ideas I had. And we have a new vote for the next chapter after this one. You know how it goes by now. I hope you all enjoyed.
As everyone was starting to shuffle out, Saffron grabbed her brother's shoulder with a strong grip, "Sorry everyone, but I have to borrow my bro real quick. I need details." She started to drag him off and he didn't even try to fight it. He knew better than to try.
Terra just shook her head, but didn't stop her wife either. When Saffron was going to pester her brother, nothing could stop her. When she wanted to get info out of someone in her family, it wasn't worth trying to stop her. Together? Terra knew better than to try. Taking a glance to her side, she saw the worried faces of Jaune's friends and love interests. She sighed before turning to them with a reassuring smile, "Saffron is in Big Sister Mode. Best to let her be. She'll return Jaune when she gets her gossip."
"Alright." Nora grinned in her usual energetic way. "I say we hit up the game room! I found a new game there last time."
"Sounds like a plan." Ruby added her energy to Nora's.
However, "Hang on a sec." Tai called out to his daughters. "Ruby. Yang. Can I talk to you two before you head out."
"Sure dad." Yang called out as her sister nodded and they waved back to their friends. As the rest of the viewers left the room, Yang placed her hands on her hips with her usual grin. "What's up?"
Tai couldn't help but chuckle a bit. "So, I've got big news."
Ruby gasped, jumping around to her father's side. "Are you dating again?"
"What? How did-?"
Yang laughed at the shock on her father's face. "You've got this look. Back when you tried the scene when we were younger."
Tai paused a bit before nodding in understanding. "So there's a look. Good to know. And you're both good? I distinctly remember one of you blowing up last time."
Yang couldn't help but laugh nervously. "I mean… Well, what did you expect?" She quickly recovered, "I was like… what? Twelve? Thirteen?"
"You were fourteen at the time. I remember, because that day was burned into my mind ever since. And the wall of the kitchen."
Yang had the decency to feel bad about that. "Anyway, we're good. Right Ruby?"
Eyes turned to Ruby, who seemed a little uneasy, but determined. "It'll take some time… I'll always miss mom. Wish she was here… But she's not." She couldn't help but sniffle a bit as emotions flooded into her again. But, as memories started to push into her mind, she wiped them away and what tears seemed to try to form. "And she'd want us to be happy. To move on if we can."
Tai felt his heart break seeing his daughter start to cry, but he also couldn't help but be proud of her maturity. "Come here." He pulled both his daughters into a hug. "You two will always mean the world to me. Don't ever forget that."
Yang couldn't help but give a little chuckle. "It's fine dad." Once they were free, Yang started her particular line of questions. "So, who finally wore you down again? I bet it was Miss. Grove."
"Oh!" Ruby perked up, "She's so nice. And she seemed to like you."
"Then maybe I should have a talk with this Miss Grove." The voice that cut through the moment caused both girls to jump a bit. They both turned to see Sienna Khan standing with her arms crossed and a smirk on her face.
Tai sighed, "Please don't. I think you've scared her enough after that stunt with the watermelon."
"It's a tradition to break a watermelon at the beach."
"She was holding it!"
Sienna just huffed, choosing not to follow up.
"Woah, woah, woah!" Yang tried to return to normalcy for a moment before gesturing between the two, "You two? When?"
Tai gave a light shrug, "It's hard to tell time here, but we probably made it official during the vacation. Maybe about a day or two after we got back."
"And yet you still haven't taken me out on a proper date." Sienna gave a side-wise smirk.
"And you moved in already. Bonded with my dog. It's official."
Yang couldn't help but chuckle again, "Zwei makes it pretty official."
Sienna turned to the daughters before her, still a little nervous in her mind. She had wondered how this interaction would go, uncertain if they would take it well. She saw the scorch mark on the kitchen's flooring, even if it was hidden away. She liked Tai, he was a grounding force and an emotional anchor, and she wanted this to work. Which meant she needed the daughters to accept her.
Ruby could see the concern on the older woman's face and gave a reassuring smile. "It'll take some getting used to, but if you make dad happy, that's enough."
Sienna couldn't help but feel her heart well up hearing her say that. "I'll do my best."
"Aw~" Yang grabbed her sister into a one armed hug, "Look at you being all mature."
"Yang!" Ruby tried to struggle to free herself, but it was difficult.
But not all conversations are so kind to the emotions of those having them.
Weiss had pulled Neptune to a small garden room. She had something on her mind for a while now, and needed to get it off her chest. He wasn't making it easy, but Weiss knew it was necessary.
Neptune was none the wiser for now, "So, what's up? It must be pretty important."
Weiss took a breath before letting out a slow exhale. "It is." She spun on her heel to look him in the eye again. "Neptune, I want you to tell me to my face how you feel about me."
"What? Weiss, what are-?"
But he was cut off, "Back in Arcadia, during our outings, you flirted with no less than ten girls."
"D-did I?" He was getting nervous, but also seemed confused.
"You did. I remember what you told me before. About how these actions became habits over time. But I'm not going to just accept that. You've flirted with me previously, and I want answers."
Neptune was silent for a moment, not really sure how to answer. But eventually, he found words, "I'll admit with full honesty, you are amazing. No flirting or honey words. You're confident and beautiful. Graceful and strong. It's hard not to think that."
It was Weiss' turn to be silent for a moment before nodding. "I see." She turned around again and took another deep breath. "Thank you. For your compliments and your answer. I now have mine."
"What do you mean?"
"I know… That I have to change my thinking. We were never dating… And you didn't really see me as a romantic option."
"What? But I-"
And he was cut off again as she spun around, pointing a finger right at his nose, "You said your peace. And your words are kind, but it's become clear that we want different things. Different methods. If you truly believed me to be a romantic option, you wouldn't go around flirting with other girls, even if we weren't dating." Weiss lowered her hand and looked away. "I'm willing to remain your friend, but I suppose," she paused for a moment, letting her thoughts sink in for herself, "nothing will really change between us."
Neptune was still for a moment before nodding, "Yeah. I guess that's fine."
Meanwhile, another duo was playing out with a different method.
"So," Sun had been the one to pull Blake to the side, "First, I wanted to say something."
"Okay." Blake was her usual stoic self.
"Just putting this out there, you're awesome. I feel lucky to know you sometimes. But I can't exactly ignore where this is going. Or not, I guess."
"What are you getting at, Sun?"
"I know, it sounds weird when you put it that way. I'm not saying I'm expecting one outcome only. Point is, and I'm pretty sure I've been clear about this, I like you. But I don't think I'm the kind of guy you need."
This caught Blake off guard. She was having a hard time finding words for what she was feeling. Mostly confused. "Sun, I don't know what you're…"
"No, no. It's fine. Think about it." But the monkey Faunas kept going, "I'm hardly subtle, and you really are. But more importantly, I'm impulsive. And, subtle or not, so are you."
Again, Blake was surprised, "How so?" She had to hear this.
"You ran from your team when we met."
Oh. Blake's mind had a deadpan realization. Right.
"And I bet, if something bad happened to someone you care about that was tied back to the White Fang, you might run off again."
Yeah… He's got me there. She had enough self awareness for that.
"And I'd follow you off thinking you're going off on a one woman revenge mission." Sun paused a moment before he put the icing on the proverbial cake, "I'm not the type of guy that would call you back and try to help you through it. I'll ride or die for you at this point, but I'm hardly the stable pillar you probably need."
It took Blake a moment to really let everything sink in. But it did eventually, "That's… surprisingly mature."
"I have my moments." Sun let out a light chuckle, "Maybe one day I can be what you need. Maybe you'll find someone else before I can. But, as old Sanzang would say, that's life." Sun was quiet for a moment before letting out a sigh, "Sorry for dropping that. But I had to get it off my chest. Best to say my peace before Vytal ends, you know?"
Blake blinked once before it hit her like a truck. "Oh right. You go to Haven."
"Yep." Sun just moved on like it was perfectly normal to forget that. "Can't really be there if I'm on a separate continent." He spun around on his heel and placed his hands behind his head in his usual carefree way. "I should go find Neptune. I've got a feeling he might be getting let down."
Blake nodded, knowing how Neptune could be. She was surprised Weiss put up with the 'cool guy' thing for so long. Seeing him flirt around with others? Weiss wasn't going to stand by for too long for him to get his act together. "I'll see you later."
"'Till then." Sun turned toward the area he saw Neptune and Weiss go. Then, he saw the heiress in question and moved to the side to let her pass and meet with Blake.
Blake watched as Weiss walked up to her, pause, and walking past toward the group meeting at the end of the hall. "You alright?"
Weiss stopped for a moment before taking a breath. "I'll be fine."
Blake just nodded and walked up to join her teammate.
Once Blake and Weiss returned to the main group in the game room around a massive table, they found Ruby and Yang had beat them there. It wasn't for a couple minutes did Sun and Neptune arrived as well. Among them was Terra, waiting for her wife among her brother-in-law's friends. However, among them, Coco tapped on the table with her finger. It was a physical tick she had when she wanted to say something, but had to think it over first.
Eventually, she gave one last tap. She'd made her decision. "How long is Arc gonna be held up? No offense, but if she wanted the details on his harem, it wouldn't take this long."
Her statement caused many of the aforementioned to turn red in the cheeks, except Nora who just ran with it. Velvet in particular called out in shock, "Coco!"
"What? It's true. Unless you all got up to something when we were in Arcadia, you don't have much of a story to add to."
As a small scene played out before her, Terra just sighed. "Knowing Saffron, she's probably embarrassing Jaune about every possible thing you all could have done. Ever since she heard about Jaune's relationship, she's gotten new ideas for her next book. And she thinks it's better to get the information directly whenever she can."
"Next book?" This got Blake's attention, easing her past what happened not ten minutes ago.
"Yeah." Terra tapped the table as she leaned back in her chair. "She doesn't mind it, but I'll admit I'm a little embarrassed by her works. I love her, and it makes her happy, but I had to put my foot down about her using a pen name."
Yang couldn't help but chuckle. "You make it sound like she writes porn."
Terra was silent a moment but sighed, "I'll at least admit it isn't outright porn… but 'Erotic Literature' is still pretty embarrasing. At least if you're me."
"Yeesh. What the heck does she write that's that bad?"
"She uses the pen name 'Sapphire Arcana.'"
Blake's face set in a state of shock and uncertainty. Her eyes wide and her mouth kept in a grin. "What?"
Yang noticed and raised an eyebrow. "Is that bad?"
Then Ruby piped up, "Isn't that the author of Ninja's of Love?"
Terra nodded once, "That's Saffron. Though, I'm not sure you seem old enough to read her book."
"I'm fifteen, not five!"
The outburst got Terra to jump in her chair, only to find Yang placing a hand on her shoulder, "We've moved through this by this point."
"Uh… Okay." Terra felt a sweatdrop fall from her forehead.
"We're back~!" Saffron walked through the door to the room with what looked like an emotionally drained Jaune behind her. "Sorry that took so long. But someone wasn't playing nice."
"I told you already! That was it!" Jaune shouted back, gaining back some of his spirit. "We've only been dating a week! The rest of the time we've been here! What could have happened?"
"I don't know, these intermission things seem pretty long so far. It might not be much, but there's time."
"Yes, please." Terra stood up and flicked her wife's nose. "You've said enough out loud as it is."
"You know you love me~"
"Despite my better judgment." Terra said with a joking grin.
Everything was normal until Blake was on her feet and immediately in front of Saffron, "Are you really the one who wrote Ninja's of Love?!"
This caused Terra to jolt back, but Saffron remained rooted with a smile on her face, "Yep~ I take it you're a fan."
"Yes. Very much so."
This made her friends chuckle at how readily she admitted to that.
But in her usual fashion, Saffron chuckled like nothing was weird about anything going on. "I'm always happy to meet a fan~"
But Jaune and Terra just sighed, both giving off a look that begged them not to encourage her.
Coco tapped the table and started to stand. "Hey Arc."
This caused three people in the room to turn to her.
Coco blinked a moment before sighing with a light nod, "That's on me." She then proceeded to clarify, "Jaune."
"What's up?" The blond knight answered, now aware of the intended conversation partner.
"Wanted to talk to you and your harem." The wording caused Jaune to jolt in shock and many of the group in question to end up right back where they started before Saffron arrived. However, Coco barreled through, "Over here." She pointed toward the back area to discuss with the group.
As they moved, however, Yang kept her eyes on them.
In the corner, Coco turned to Jaune and the girls with her weight set to one side and her arms crossed. Behind her sunglasses and her cool demeanor, she was sweating bullets internally. But Coco was always calm and cool, even in the worst situations. That's why she was the leader.
But then one of them threw in a wrench, "So what's up?" And of course it was Nora. And in typical Nora fashion, she had a knowing smirk.
Coco could feel a twitch form in her eye. Coco could just tell that Nora knew what she was about to say. She had a penchant for knowing things she shouldn't necessarily know. Coco took a deep breath to steady her nerves, especially from Nora. "Look, I'm just going to cut to the chase here. I want in."
This caught the group off guard, including the eavesdroppers (Yang, Emerald, Neo, and Saffron). Of course, one person wasn't so surprised. Nora jumped toward Coco and wrapped her in a hug, "Yey! Welcome to the team!"
"Nora!" Pyrrha pried her teammate off the fashionista. "We can't just say that. It has to be a unanimous decision, remember?"
"Aw come on. I know you, Ruby, and Velvet don't mind. And I know Ilia certainly won't have objections."
Ilia tore her mind away from her dreams of gold and coffee colors, "What?"
"See? And come on, we all know Jaune won't say no."
"That feels kind of insulting to him, don't you think?" Ilia responded. "Like the stereotype about guys only wanting sex and all that?"
"No, no. I know what she meant." Jaune clarified the situation. "And to her point, she's not wrong. But I do have to ask why me?"
Coco saw this question coming and just looked into his eyes, "It's like this, Arc. I'll admit when I first got a look at you, I didn't think much. But, yeah, I'll also admit when I'm wrong. The more I got to know you, the clearer picture I got of you. You're a good guy. Honest, dependable, you genuinely do what you can to help anyone who asks. It's pretty much impossible to not like you at least a little. And I'd be lying if I said there was a physical element. You've definitely been improving."
This caused Jaune to blush a bit and scratch his cheek in embarrassed nervousness.
"So yeah. Ruby and Yang were already in the know from a conversation back in Arcadia. So now everyone is just caught up."
"Ruby and Yang?" Velvet asked.
"Yeah. But I'm not at liberty to say more there."
The moment made Yang feel a little relieved, but something stirred in her stomach. What should I…
Her thoughts were interrupted by Neo poking her side. A turn of the head showed the ice cream themed girl had a small card moving toward Yang, a silent form of communication. [No time like the present, blondie.]
Yang read it over before it broke apart. She turned to Neo surprised, but not terribly shocked. Their new member had a penchant to making things her business when they weren't before. But the blonde had to play over everything in her head again. Everything Coco said applied for why she liked Jaune, but there were a few more points specific to her as well. He was one of the only guys at Beacon that could actually tell what color her eyes were. It was a bit of an exaggeration, but not too much of one. Plus he was nice to Ruby, which was a plus. She gave a single, quick nod before she stood up and turned to the group nearby, missing Neo's smirk as she walked off.
Neptune leaned toward Sun, "Pay up."
Sun grumbled and slipped his teammate a 10 Lien card.
Off down the halls, in the bar called Royal Gold, Qrow, Roman, and Clover were sitting at the counter. Clover had asked the join the two on their bar run this time, telling them he never got the chance in his timeline since Qrow gave up alcohol. A statement that caused both men to burst out laughing. But, once Clover went over the story he'd told by the future Qrow, the present Branwen son had to concede it made sense. So, here they were, a duo made a trio by happenstance. And as one of those men was Roman Torchwick, things derailed pretty quickly.
"Come on, you can't tell me you're not getting something." Roman leaned onto the bar, fingers wrapped over his glass as he looked toward Clover. "Like, if you're not into women, that's whatever, but nothing?"
It devolved into talk about their sex lives. Or lack thereof in Clover's case.
Clover just laughed it off, "I'd rather not get into anything like that if I can help it. Besides, as a member of Atlas's Ace Operations division, I can't let myself get caught up in anything that could be used against me."
"I'm just surprised I guess. Because, seriously, one night stands are a thing."
"And it's when I would be most vulnerable. I can't risk that."
"You Atlas types… I swear you've got a schedule and duty for everything."
Clover took a quick swig from his whiskey and had to shiver a bit from the sensation of the drink. "No, that's just me. Elm and Vine are already an item."
"The big chick and the monk, right?"
"Yep. That's them. They just know they have to remain professional while on duty."
"Fair enough." Roman took a long sip to finish off his bourbon. "What about you, Qrow? Hell, you've been everywhere by this point. Got anything memorable?"
Qrow tapped his glass on the counter before a small pause interrupted his thoughts. There was one. He sighed and looked into his drink. "Yeah. I'd be all gentlemanly about it," he joked, "but I don't remember her name or any of that so it doesn't matter." With another shot of liquid courage, he continued, "It was maybe about 20 years ago. Probably a little longer, I don't remember specifically."
"Clearly." Roman chuckled.
Qrow just nodded, "But she was something else. A body men would've killed for. Though I guess what made it so memorable was the stuff around our night rather than the sex itself. It was weird. She tried to keep her identity hidden and from the stains I saw on the motel pillow the next morning, she went all out. Dyed her hair, probably had contacts, and this scarf that kept her face obscured at least a little. Insisted it stayed on, and I wasn't about to say no, considering. Came in handy, but means I don't know what she really looked like."
Roman nodded a bit as he finished off his drink, "Hey, at least you remember it. Considering how drunk you usually are." He started to laugh.
And Qrow responded with a chuckle of his own. He knew who he was. "True. Still, to this day it feels like I should have gone back to try to find her. Maybe things could have been different…" Maybe.
"Did she leave any clues?" Clover considered the issue. He would admit to having a small crush of sorts on the Qrow of his timeline. But professionalism is too important to him. Besides, Qrow never gave off the same interest toward him. Still, he wanted to know if there was a way to help him be happy. Even if it doesn't mean the version he knows would be.
Qrow leaned back in his chair and looked up to the ceiling, thinking. "Most I can remember is her complaining about this guy."
"My man," Roman interjected, "don't tell me you cucked a guy."
"Doubt it. Sounded like she hated him. Probably a coworker or something. Called him… Galee or something."
This caused Clover to spit out the sip of his drink and go into a coughing fit. Once the other two confirmed he was okay, he responded, "Do you mean Gelé?"
"Yeah, that's it. Why? You know him?"
Roman couldn't help but chuckle before the alcohol faded enough for clarity. His eyes went wide in less than a second as he slammed his glass on the bar. "Are you fucking kidding?!" The grin on his face made it clear he was enjoying something about this.
"What?" Something Qrow didn't get. "He important?"
"Gelé. As in Jacques Gelé. As in the birth name of Jacques-fucking-Schnee! You cucked the richest man on Remnant!"
This revelation didn't seem to hit Qrow for a moment before he just waved off. "I doubt that. Probably just his maid or something."
But Clover threw in a wrench by agreeing with Roman. "It's possible. They advertise it all the time, so we know that Jacques and Willow have been married for 26 years. Or I guess 23-24 in your time. Depending on when you got picked up."
Roman couldn't help but laugh. "Considering she was using his old name, you probably gave her one last thrill before she got married." Then something else hit him in the proverbial brain, "Holy shit, you might have done more than cuck him." Suddenly it wasn't as funny.
Qrow's eyes narrowed, "What do you mean?"
"Think about it. How old is their first kid?"
Clover subtracted the years from his own time and applied it to theirs, "She'd be about 22 for you, right?"
"Right." Roman let that hang for the other two to really have it sink in.
Clover looked down into his glass, the magic causing it to fill before he took a long drink. "Holy shit."
Qrow, however… "That's stupid."
"What?" Both men didn't expect that.
"Come on, be serious. First, let's say it was Willow Schnee. And that's still a big 'if.' But if it was her, she went to a lot of trouble to not be recognized. She'd definitely be on a pill."
"Maybe, but knowing your luck, they'd fail." Roman cracked.
Clover knew his luck was a sore spot. He winced, not sure how the past version would take it.
But, to the Ace's surprise, Qrow shook his head. It was somber, almost bitter, "With my luck they'd have worked just fine."
Qrow saw their confusion before sighing, "Look, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the best role model. And my particular skill set means I'm needed in a lot of places. But if I had someone like that… maybe things could have been different." He picked up his glass and shook it slightly to rattle the ice inside. "Maybe." With a long swig from the glass he emptied out the drink in one quick go.
"What about your nieces?" Clover asked.
And Qrow responded, "They're great, but it doesn't stop the fact that I'm just their uncle. It's different for me than it was for Tai. I could be gone for long periods of time and nothing would really make a difference. I did what I could to help after we lost Summer, but it's not the same. You know?"
Roman tapped his foot on the barstool leg. "Yeah, I think I get what you mean. But still, you've got to admit, that's pretty nuts."
"Assuming you're even correct. Besides, I'm not sure I believe you anyway."
Clover knew a way to confirm it, but doubted there was DNA testing here. Or, if there was, that they'd both be willing to contribute. Besides, Qrow makes a good point. If he had a child, he might be incentivized to be better as a person. (Though maybe not so much now, but you never know.) It'll have to remain a mystery for the moment.
The sound of King's voice rang out over the speakers, "All viewers may now begin making their ways back to the main theater room."
Chapter 172: Return to the Pokemon World.
We'll return to the world of Pokemon with Champion Jaune. But we all have that one question in mind when a journey starts. What's was your first Pokemon? So, what was Jaune's? This will affect the story in more ways than just the Ace Pokemon, so keep that in mind. Your options are as follows:
Those are your choices, chose wisely. Or not. I'm not your dad.