Summer fidgeted in the silence of Ozpin's office. It was such a familiar place, as nothing had changed at all despite the many years that she'd been away from it. Ozpin had a knack for keeping things similar she supposed. Oh, look even the small center table was there, and the windows, the paintings, and everything.
Yes, everything was just peachy.
Well almost everything was peachy.
She was making a pointed effort not to look anywhere above neck level, and that meant shrinking her neck into her shoulders and acting small like a wronged child. Oh, how pitiful…ah. So that's where Ruby gets it from. Something to think about later.
"So, I guess I really failed that last mission hehehe…" she trailed off stiffly from the unamused air. She was trying to lighten the mood and play her situation down somewhat, but it came to no effect. In fact, she only felt worse when Qrow glared at her from across the room with Ozpin for trying to make light of things. She bowed her head and took a sudden interest in her feet, not daring to level her gaze up and hoping that the strands of her hair falling over her face would block out the worry in her eyes. "Sorry," she pursed her lips. "Keeping quiet now, but you both know that I don't like awkward silences. It makes you feel like you did something wrong, or you're that one person in a group of friends who doesn't get the message to shut up, or that you're being annoying and unneeded, and-right. Keeping quiet."
Summer fidgeted, drawing circles on her lap from a relapse of awful middle school memories.
"It's really you, isn't it Summer?" Qrow broke the silence with a wry grin. "You're the only one this socially awkward even as an adult."
"Who else would I be?" Summer pouted, her shoulders relaxing as she leaned back into the interrogation chair Ozpin had her seated in before abruptly sitting up and coming to a spluttering realization. "H-Hey! What's that supposed to mean, huh?! I'm not awkward! You're awkward! You! Don't insult people! I thought I taught you better!"
Qrow fell into a deadpan, brow twitching and wrinkles forming over his forehead; however, there was a nostalgic tilt in his lips as he prevented them from inching into a ghost of a smile. "Really? I remember differently. The team followed your lead in combat, but took everything else in stride because you quote 'couldn't trust yourself,' under social stress."
"I-I'm not stressed? Who's stressed, me? Pleeease. As if…" Summer laughed hollowly before slumping back into her seat when she understood that she wasn't fooling anyone. The clinking of metal reminded her of the handcuffs around her wrists and ankles at present, causing her to wince and frown. "Okaaay, maybe I'm just a little bit stressed. Could have fooled me, but I expected a warm welcome after I even offered a prese-I mean person for the cause." Said person was detained in a separate facility to be questioned at a later time by Ozpin, but this was besides the fact. "I thought we were friends," Summer sounded disheartened.
Qrow flinched at the words, and didn't bother hiding the disapproving glower he sent Ozpin's way. It was Ozpin's insistence that had Summer restrained like a criminal.
"Ms. Rose, we are your friends, but do please keep into consideration that this is for everyone's safety including yourself," Ozpin mediated, lest there be any misunderstandings. He stood up and didn't shy away from Qrow's glare, causing Qrow to click his tongue and look away with a grimace. "It's through Qrow's own experience that it's come to my attention that you may not be in full control of your own facilities."
"Ah," Summer let out a timid breath, a pang of guilt and shame subduing her when she saw faint claw marks over Qrow's skin. At Ozpin's words, she had nothing to say to refute them. "I lost control," she admitted. "I-It won't happen again. I'm sure I can control it, and I'll give a warning if I can't."
Ozpin slowly nodded. "I have all the faith in your capability, but for the time being, would you be able to answer a few questions first?"
Summer bit down on the inside of her cheeks, but still voiced her agreement. "What would you like to know?"
"Why didn't you ask me for help on that last mission?" Qrow blurted out before Ozpin could speak.
Summer wet her lips, already knowing that Qrow wouldn't like her answer. "It was dangerous."
"Then all the more reason!" Qrow gritted his teeth. "I thought we were partners? If I was around, this may never have happened to you. Not on my watch. I could have made a difference!"
"No, you wouldn't have," Summer's tone was barely above a whisper, yet it was heard nonetheless. Qrow was never one to refrain from displaying disapproval when he felt he was in the right, but any fire he had from Summer's comment was quickly smothered by the next. "You would have died, just like I did."
The statement was soft, subdued, but all the same, entirely overbearing in its weight.
Shirou had explained Summer's situation to her from day one. She'd been found as nothing more than a lingering spirit, largely incomplete with half of her spirit missing, and her memories of her last mission muddled. It was likely that those details were lost with whatever happened to her other half, and by this point, she was starting to lean on the explanation of 'dead.'
She blinked up, staring at both Ozpin and Qrow with muddled and uncertain eyes. "To tell you both the truth, I know nothing of what went on in that final mission. I don't have any memory of it, but I'm certain that I was killed."
"But you're right here," Qrow argued, brows knit together in consternation.
"I am, but that's because of something different," Summer thought of how Shirou had saved her, and allowed her to at least be with her family as they grew up until now. Of this, she was thankful, and had no clue how she'd ever repay him.
Ozpin shook his head at Summer. "Ms. Rose, your current state tells me not that you died, but are one of a rare few who have the will and tenacity to survive a process even Salem nearly succumbed to."
Summer shifted her focus on Ozpin, not knowing what he was insinuating, but knowing that he was wrong nonetheless. It wasn't as if Salem took over a Grimm, now did she?
Summer forced down the urge to refuse Ozpin's explanation. It wasn't like they'd believe what truly happened to her at this point because it sounded crazy even to her.
She tried to stretch, feeling that the tension in the air and Qrow's look of regret was getting to her, however she couldn't due to her restraints. It made her fidgety.
"C-Can you guys let me out now?" She requested weakly, raising her hand cuffs and shaking the braces around her ankles. "I'm not feeling very comfortable like this."
"As a precaution, it's probably best to- and never mind," Ozpin sighed.
The clattering of metal revealed Qrow directly cutting off Summer's constraints, prompting Ozpin to pinch the bridge of his nose.
"Thanks partner," Summer let out a fond smile.
Qrow grunted while putting Harbinger away, while Ozpin sorted out his thoughts.
"When are you going to tell Tai?" Qrow got straight to the point, and of course he pointed out the thing Summer was trying to avoid most.
"…Eventually," Summer squeaked out an answer, feeling depressed. "I'd like it if you could keep this a secret. I don't want to worry Tai anymore, nor put Yang or Ruby in danger. I-I trust you Qrow."
Qrow's shoulders slumped before he flicked Summer over the forehead. "You're guilting me into this aren't you Short-stack? It's been years. You still think I'm the same partner you can trick?"
A look of trepidation crossed over Summer's features as she shifted her weight from leg to leg. "S-So you're going to tell him?"
"…" Qrow scratched the back of his head. He owed it to Tai to tell him something this important, but on the other side was Summer who clearly wasn't ready for an emotional meeting of any sort.
"Ahem," Ozpin chose this moment to cut in by feigning a cough. "I do believe that we were still talking about important matters, yes?"
Summer scratched her cheek in embarrassment with her index finger while Qrow was unperturbed.
Some things never change.
For a moment, younger images of Summer and Qrow appeared in Ozpin's view before he shook his head and grew somber with how strikingly similar Summer's appearance was with Salem. This matter wasn't simple, and all he could feel was pity. Till this day, Salem had never been the same since she fell into the Grimmpools, and now Summer seemed to be another victim.
Look at her.
Summer was a woman who was flamboyant and loved, and yet for the sake of her loved ones, she was distancing herself. Even now, no matter how close Qrow to inch near her, she'd always make sure there was a at least a foot between them to give Qrow time to react if she lost control. Was this the result of knowing that she'd attacked even Ruby in the report Qrow had given him?
How cruel of you, Salem.
Ozpin balled his hands into fists beneath his desk. It was one thing to experience the anguish and horrors of submerging in a Grimmpool, but it was another to subject someone else to that same torture out of pettiness. For what other motivation could it have been? Death would have likely been a better mercy than this.
"Ask away, Oz," Summer seemed to cheer up considerably now that she wasn't feeling like a criminal anymore.
"Yes, well," Ozpin took a moment to sort his thoughts before recalling what he wished to ask about. "What's your relationship with Archer, the famed mercenary?"
Here, Qrow suddenly took a vested interest on the topic, much to Summer's chagrin because she could feel a competitive and mistrusting edge in Qrow's demeanor.
Summer pondered. What was her relationship with Archer? Shirou was the one who saved her, but in a way, Archer was also Shirou.
"It's complicated," she eventually answered before elaborating. "I guess the best way to put it is that we're friends. He's strong. Very strong. Like really strong. I'm not sure of the specifics behind it, but he can use magic just like you, Oz."
Ozpin hummed in thought while Qrow scoffed.
"An exaggeration. I could take him," Qrow mumbled.
"No, Qrow, you really can't," Summer said in all seriousness, but in Qrow's eyes it sounded like she was just trying to save Archer's ego.
"This magic," Ozpin began slowly, staring Summer right in the face for any signs of deceit. "It's dark in nature, I presume? Please be honest with me as it's of vital importance to piecing a puzzle together."
Summer was about to deny the statement, but then had to reconsider. Archer was now different from Shirou, meaning that all the legendary weapons he used (Note: Summer refers to Noble Phantasms as Legendary Weapons) could be categorized.
In her time as a spirit, Shirou had shared with her stories of numerous other heroes he knew of, meaning that they must have existed, but more to the point. The only legendary weapons Archer had ever used in action so far were either destructive or demonic in nature…
"I suppose you could describe the magic of the weapons Archer used to be dark in nature, but why does that matter?" Summer pursed her lips in thought.
A flicker of 'something' flittered across Ozpin's eyes, but it was gone before anyone could notice a change in him.
"Are you in contact with Archer? Embarrassed as I am to admit it, the man is a ghost that neither Qrow or myself could ever get a hold of somehow." Ozpin clasped his hands together and intertwined his fingers.
Summer beamed, almost elatedly thereafter. "If you're looking for him, then look no further. I roped him into being part of the Rose Mercenaries. They're main operations should presently be in Vale, so if you need him, just send word to any Rose Mercenary, of course, that includes myself."
"Wonderful." Ozpin let out a sigh of relief at the news. "If possible, I believe a meeting could serve in both our party's best interests."
"Yeah, about that," Summer wasn't quite quick on the uptake. "I can let him know you want to meet him, but it should be up to him if he decides to. It's not like I can force him." Both figuratively and literally. She kept that part to herself.
"I see," Ozpin didn't like the answer all too much, but it was what it was. "Do ask if it's possible to have a meeting. There'd be much to discuss."
Summer nodded, and that was that.
Qrow believed that there really wasn't much point to continuing this discussion as it was clear that Ozpin's mind was drifting elsewhere and Summer seemed to have her own secrets she didn't wish to fully share. He could respect that.
"I think it's about time I take my leader to refamiliarize herself with Beacon while you look into the person Summer brought, right Oz?" Qrow proposed an out to the discussion. Summer was all for it, and even Ozpin had to agree, however; an unexpected complication occurred which caused Summer to hurriedly wear her mask lest it was an intruder that arrived.
A familiar sword had pierced through the veil of reality in the air, and slashed down in a single motion to form a swirling portal.
Come to think of it…She always was one to say one thing but do another. Just can't be honest with herself, can she?
Qrow was stunned only for a second before a shit-eating grin came to his lips when a figure hopped out of the portal wearing a Grimm mask, and too much flare as if she owned the place while trying to get her bearings.
"The fuck does this place seem so-" The figure froze.
Qrow readied himself for a tackle.
"Nope. Fuck this. Not happening."
The figure took one look at just where she was, dilated red pupils wavering before bolting back in towards the portal. However, Qrow was prepared since the moment the portal had formed. A well-timed kick sent Summer's interrogation chair crashing into the figure's legs where the impact shattered the chair into pieces and tripped the figure over.
"Dammit, Qrow!" The figure scowled beneath the Grimm mask. "You tricked me into a trap!"
"Hello, Raven," was Qrow's only response, not bothering to correct his sister's misunderstanding because he thought it was too troublesome.
Raven tried to make it back into her portal again by even using evasive maneuvers but beyond all personal expectation, Qrow did nothing and she still failed to reach her destination as she tripped over her feet. Her tripping over her feet? Ridiculous.
She glanced down to see that she'd unfortunately stepped on some of the debris from the chair Qrow had thrown, causing her to lose balance in her haste. If it was a one-time mistake, then she wouldn't have felt so annoyed, but when she got up, she tripped on another piece of broken wood.
"Having a spill of bad luck? I can relate," Qrow commentated snidely.
Raven refused to deign Qrow with a response, too focused on trying to jump back into her portal before Ozpin decided to help restrain her. This was obviously Ozpin's office, so there was no way the crook wouldn't be around.
To Raven's dismay and utter bewilderment, her trained coordination was failing her just as badly as Qrow's did when his Semblance kicked in.
She made one last effort to jump into her portal before it timed out and closed, but her last desperate gambit ended up with another trip, and suddenly she was staring at the ceiling, Qrow's smug face looming over her.
"How did you do that?" She said in cold fury.
Qrow brushed imaginary dust off of his shoulders. "My Semblance," he said all suave.
"Bullshit," Raven gnashed her teeth until she froze when she noticed a hazy purple mist circling around Qrow like a snake that coiled around her and just wouldn't get off. "What?"
"My thoughts exactly. Mt. Glenn was a really nice vacation place for all the shit I went through, but it had its perks being near the Huntsman of Red. That guy was a beast, and whatever Aura he used helped me advance my Semblance into something manageable." Qrow was exceedingly thankful for this. There were too many times that he'd experienced uncontrolled bouts of misfortune due to his Semblance, but no longer. He'd have to buy the guy a beer sometime. "Speaking of which, how's my Semblance feel? It's not very funny anymore when you're no longer the one laughing is it?"
Raven felt a pit form in her stomach. "Y-You're going to get this off me, right?" She couldn't help but stammer. She'd seen the things Qrow's Semblance was capable of in its worst days. Just thinking that it would be stuck on her was enough to rattle her. What if her sword broke in the middle of battle? What if she made a fool of herself as the leader of the Branwen tribe in front of everyone? No! She was Qrow's elder sister. He wouldn't do that to her!
So, why was he smiling so smugly?
"Remove it now, or I swear I'll gut you." Raven sneered.
"Oh, I'm sooo scared," Qrow mimed. "Let's just say that this is a trial period."
Raven saw red, her hands lashing out and trying to strangle her sleazy younger brother.
A familiar voice froze Raven's actions, causing her to tentatively push herself up into a seated position instead of focus on Qrow.
Raven stared, like really stared at Summer's form. Masked or not, Raven believed that her Semblance wouldn't lie. "Summer? You're alive," Raven voiced stiffly.
Summer didn't respond as intended. Raven's response was only further verification that it was Raven behind the Grimm mask. Summer had several choice words she'd been meaning to say to Raven for the longest time.
"Qrow, hold her in place," Summer's tone grew icy.
Wasn't this just convenient?
Having yet to speak since Raven's arrival, Ozpin nervously wiped the sweat forming on his brow with a handkerchief while wincing. He didn't think the human body could do that. At least, he'd never thought it could.
S-Should he stop this?
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King of the Lonely Peak
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