Okay, the first of my edits has been completed for this fic. My intent is to rearrange most of the chapters and make things make more sense. Certain things will be brought forward. Other things will be pushed back for later in the story. I just wanted to fix any errors I made in story telling and hopefully everything will be easier to understand from here on out.


"Die Ewige Wiederkunft: The Eternal Return.

What if I told you our fates had been decided aeons ago? That every one of our actions had been carved into the stone since before our births? That our lives filled with possibilities were nothing more than a long-established plan? That, no matter how you struggled, you were never to experience something wholly original?

The rich would know their wealth, the poor their poverty. The righteous were always just, the wicked sinners. If so, none would ever have to answer for their deeds. No man's actions carried any such virtue regardless of their sainthood or sins.

That we are merely adrift in an endless cycle where all has transpired again and again?

Such a world where power is freely given?

I ask you, would you be content understanding this? Would you bend the knee at the throne of fate, built on such lies and cruelties? Would you allow such a world to exist?

Never, I say.

Those who choose to bow before Die Ewige Wiederkunft and laugh joyfully are slaves. The lowest of the low are the men who possess such knowledge and refuse to struggle against their destiny. They hardly deserve to be addressed as human beings.

Nothing else dampens the spirit like the stale wine of an unearned victory. Nothing is more unbearable than to be destined for a bitter defeat.

So, I choose to struggle against this farce with all my strength. To defeat the fate of mankind in this endless struggle.

However, I require your aid, ladies and gentlemen. Those who were oppressed by this endless cruelty flung upon you. Downtrodden as brethren by the chains of fate. Who were massacred by those to never answer for their crime.

Shall you accept this fate or stand beside me and vow to struggle against it? Curse those who bound us in this ghetto? To fight a hundred battles even if we do not achieve victory? To fight a thousand if they do not yield us victory? To fight ten thousand more and ceaselessly struggle against destiny?

I ask you to fight with me until the light of day shines upon us—all to claim our eternal victory. That we may have the joy of knowing our decision held true meaning.

Because at this very moment, one among you has prepared for this liberation. She has known of this pain for far too long and wishes to be freed from her bond.

So, members of the audience, I, Zarathustra, await your answer with bated breath."

[Jaune]

Come on...

Jaune looked up at the clock for almost the hundredth time today. Twenty-five minutes to go until he could head back home and study for a test tomorrow. Dr Oobleck was killing him with these exams so early in the year.

It was only the spring first semester, and the man had already covered nearly half of the textbook. Junior year was panning out to be even more difficult as time went on. That didn't even begin to speak for any of his other classes, and the fact he had Ms Goodwitch breathing down his and everybody else's necks.

Thankfully, work today was nowhere nearly as bothersome.

Hughh...

Jaune's head fell into his right hand. The arm propped up on the counter allowed the boy to stare into space. His mind glazed over as he leaned into his elbow. Only his thoughts were given any heed.

Sitting here, he just couldn't get over a particular sensation which had washed over him. A feeling only ever-present in these moments of stillness. Not boredom or melancholy, but something else. The only thing he could point to would be disappointment.

The lack of wonderment, or the question, 'Why couldn't there be more?' came next. It felt as though something was missing from Jaune's everyday life. No sense of adventure or excitement to be found. Nothing to elicit any emotion as he stood still.

Jaune pondered what would bring him this sense of fulfilment, but there was not a single thought that came to mind. Picturing that ideal, it only remained vague and cloudy. He couldn't conjure the image that would bring about the change.

All he was left with was this nagging sense of dissatisfaction. Everything around him and his imagination screamed 'mundane.'

Were this a video game or manga, Jaune would have considered this life not to be a worthwhile saga to invest himself in. Nobody would care to read a boring story such as his. It in no way stood out or was a spectacle in any way.

Other kids were doing the exact same things he was. Messing around with their friends, joining clubs, and attempting to snag a few girls along the way. It felt as though this life was only offering him a straight line when it appeared to give him many branching paths.

So what was missing?

In the subsequent moments, the feeling had entirely vanished from his frame of mind. This sensation left him like a spectre retreating from a priest.

Suddenly a brunette appeared right in front of him. Two long rabbit ears jutting out from the top of her head. Her beautiful chocolate brown eyes peered up at him. A concerned expression was painted on the girl's face.

"What's wrong, Love," Velvet asked, sitting across from him. Her accent made her sound all the more sophisticated. "Girls?"

The girl in front of him, Velvet Scarlatina, worked as her parents' coffee shop manager. More like, she was obligated to work there to save up for college. She, Jaune, and a few other students from Beacon all pulled the afternoon shift when school ended. Thusly, the two spent a lot of time together and were relatively good friends.

"Mmhmm," Jaune lied, humming in response before standing straight up. "Yep." He rubbed the back of his neck. "That obvious?"

"I would have said Cardin, otherwise," she continued, pouring herself some hot water and grabbing a tea bag. "But he wasn't bothering you today, so it kind of narrowed things down."

Cardin Winchester, otherwise known as Beacon's school bully. Someone who Velvet and Jaune both disliked. By disliked, they hated him with a firery passion. For some reason, Cardin enjoyed going after Jaune and Velvet more than anybody else.

"Did he give you any trouble today," Jaune asked, his voice becoming serious. It angered him to see someone like Velvet get bullied for no reason other than the accident of her birth. That girl was too pure to be deserving of this.

"No," she answered, taking a sip from her tea. "He found someone else to amuse himself with." Velvet let her head fall into her hands. "I can't understand why he hates the faunus so much! I haven't done anything to him, and he just picks on me! And when I talked to the school about it, Cardin got a slap on the wrist!"

Why Cardin had something against the faunus was a mystery. Humans hated each other for various reasons ever since our species arose from African apes. For faunus, it must have been something similar. There was a deeply ingrained hatred for the species coming from that boy. That was all Jaune knew for certain.

"His family is the biggest booster for Beacon," Jaune explained, pouring himself a cup of coffee. "I think Ms Goodwitch has her hands tied. Not that it's right, of course. I may be second to you for wanting Cardin getting tossed out of Beacon. But his family has almost all of the cards in their hands."

Money equalled power. The Winchester's had lots of it. Not as much as the Schnees, but enough to say cut off funding for the technology department if the school took significant action against the boy. Which, in turn, would cripple the school's plans for acquiring new lab equipment or computers. Necessary materials for their unique programs would help children hoping to get into a STEM field. One phone call and all of that would be gone.

"You have a point," Velvet groaned. "Maybe I should hang out with Coco and Yastu during the day? He might leave me alone."

"But you would still be afraid of Cardin," Jaune emphasised, gesturing with his hands. "You're the nicest person I know! A-And, you don't deserve to be bullied!"

Velvet took a breath of air in. "You're a gem, Jaune," she complimented the boy. "Thanks for saying that."

"It's true," Jaune insisted, letting out a snort. "You didn't even know my name when you came to talk to me when was I feeling down after Weiss screamed at me! And then when Cardin started screwing with me, you were there again! That makes me doubly sure that you're a nice person!"

"Thanks again," Velvet said, looking up at the clock. "But we should close up for the evening. It doesn't look like we'll be getting anybody else."

"Yeah..." Jaune started scrambling to put the last of the dishes away.

[Outside on the street]

Jaune waited just outside the door while Velvet locked it. Cars drove past them on the damp street. The night air remained crisp and slightly cold. Street lamps lit the sidewalks as did a crescent moon. It was a lovely night if there ever was one.

He pulled at his Pumpkin Pete hoodie. The thick piece of cloth shielded him from a light wind blowing through. 'I can't wait for summer! It might be warm out for once!' The thought ran through his mind as he shook his shoulders.

"There," Velvet uttered as she turned around. "It's locked up." She looked over to Jaune. "Do you need a ride home tonight?" Her usual offer when the two were closing up.

"Uhh, no," he answered. "My mom asked me to grab some stuff before heading home. It's a nice night out anyways, so I'll just walk. But thanks." Jaune threw Velvet a nod before turning around and heading down the street. He could hear his friend open and shut her car door.

In the distance, Jaune could see the brilliant skyline of Vale. Dozens of skyscrapers jutted out from the city. Each with their own distinct logos. One of which was the Schnee Electric Company logo. The others were a symbol that Jaune couldn't recognise outright.

Turning back to face the dark street in front of him, Jaune continued on his way to a local convenience store near his house. He pulled his phone out to check the text message that had been sent to him. His mother only asked for some milk, which was not the end of the world to have to walk home with. There were clearly worse things that could have been asked of him.

Jaune liked walking, anyways. It usually helped him clear his head after an incident with Cardin, or getting rejected by a girl, again. Good exercise too, especially after being cooped up playing video games for god knows how long during summer break. Ruby's dog, Zwei, seemed to get plenty of use out of him as well. No longer being the little butterball that he used to be.

A couple passed by Jaune as he continued heading towards his destination. The young male and female pair were a mixed couple. One was a fox faunus holding onto her boyfriend's arm, laughing as he cracked a joke.

Jaune felt his heart drop a little as he walked past. His mind retreated to those intrusive thoughts worming their way back into him. The desire for more than what he possessed presently. A hunger for some powerful emotion to be placed at his feet.

The boy was only retrieved from this well by nearly stepping into the street. Feeling the curb disappear from under him, Jaune was wrenched back into reality. He caught himself with a gasp, turning around to see if anyone had seen him. But, alas, no one bore witness to his lapse in focus.

Jaune shook his head, taking a deep breath to centre himself.

"Is it jealousy," Jaune asked out loud.

After Weiss said those things to him, Jaune may have been longing for some real partnership like theirs. Even if he couldn't find the specific desire, it may have been the cure for his craving. A healthy relationship where he could feel that sense of fulfilment with this other person.

He just needed to remember Ruby's sage advice of how there were, 'Plenty of fish in the sea.' This was true given there were seven billion people on this planet. Seven-billion seven-hundred-million, more accurately. Half of those being women also, taking into account the age range as well before things became truly horrific for his situation dropped that number by a significant margin.

Alas, Jaune was possibly a lovesick puppy. To the outside observer, that might seem untrue or very self-evident. Especially considering how he managed to have a group of some of the most attractive girls to ever grace this world be his friends. Courtesy of Ruby's ability to somehow have her sister's friends be her friends, and summarily Jaune's friends. One of them being Weiss of whom Jaune was barely an acquaintance.

However, that couldn't have been the case. This feeling had chased Jaune for far too long to be related to Weiss. It was something he had no memory for its origin. It was fundamental to the boy, in a way.

"Huughh," Jaune groaned over the situation he got himself into.

Crashing and burning with Weiss last week didn't send anyone to help him beyond a few kind words. Whether having that intimate connection or not didn't really matter right now. Jaune was stranded with little guidance to this enigma.

Maybe I should see a therapist?

He turned a corner to find another street. This one was entirely deserted of people except for one person. A hooded figure standing about forty feet away from him. Standing in a rather intimidating fashion with their hands down their sides and doing nothing else

The person who Jaune suspected to be a woman now wore an avant-garde outfit. It was not entirely unusual since this was Vale, after all, and new ideas for fashion and technology ran amock. The woman in question was dressed in long black boots that transitioned to leggings. Going further, she wore what looked to be a skirt paired with a loose shirt and hood. On her arms, however, was a pair of arm guards. Finally, she carried a sword on her side.

Yeah, this person was scary.

I'm not going that way... Jaune continued walking, heading across the street. Anywhere to get away from the scary woman carrying a sword. Now I regret not asking Velvet for a ride!

"Maybe she's just a cosplayer," Jaune thought to himself, crossing the street. He looked back once to see that the woman was still there. She, thankfully, hadn't moved a muscle since Jaune first laid eyes on her. "Just a random, not dangerous at all cosplayer who was minding her own business."

On the other side of the street, Jaune continued on his journey, keeping an ever so watchful eye on the woman at the same time. He knew he was in a public area, and more importantly in a residential section of town. Kind of like an old main street you would see in a small city. Just not as depressing.

"Ok, keep it together," he said to himself, continuing his journey. Not wanting to give off any indication that something was off. Which there definitely was.

Jaune felt like he was being watched at the moment. The hairs on the back of his neck were tingling. He had already passed the woman some time ago. Looking back, she was still there, standing like a statue.

He let out a sigh of relief at having passed her by. Maybe she was just waiting for someone, and Jaune just so happened to run into her? It was the worst time for it too. The middle of the night on a deserted road!

"Got two blocks to go," Jaune exhaled, rubbing the back of his neck. "This is why we don't play horror games, Jaune! Our imagination runs wild, and then we scare ourselves!"

Jaune looked back again to check on the woman.

Shit...

She was now on the side of the street where Jaune was. Almost thirty feet away from him. Her left hand resting atop the sword.

Nearly stumbling as he took his first step backwards, Jaune's blood ran cold. His usually colourful tone paled as a trickle of sweat came down his brow. He could feel this woman staring through his soul. If he could see her face, Jaune guessed she had some sort of hungry expression painted on it.

His first instinct was to run, no, sprint in the other direction. Making a mad dash for the nearest store or anywhere he could deem as safe. Calling the cops or his parents didn't even come to mind as this woman basically teleported over to him from a hundred or so feet away.

Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit! Jaune kept repeating that to himself as he ran away, not even bothering to look behind him. He just kept his eyes forward. His legs carried him as fast as they could, yet he still pushed his limits, bolting down the street at a breakneck pace.

Come on! Someplace has to be open!

He turned his gaze to the other side o the street, looking for somewhere he could slip into. Finding nothing Jaune kept moving. He must have been closer to the store he originally intended to go to. The streetlights overhead seemed to blur as he fled from his pursuer.

Oh, fuck!

One bad step led Jaune to stumble forward and fall on his face. The boy sliding a good few feet scraping up his hands and cheek. Jaune climbed back to his feet and into a full sprint, not even wasting any time. Completely disregarding the pain he was in to get away from this woman.

He looked back once to see her walking at a slow pace, almost a hundred metres away. Jaune didn't want to test his luck any further and rounded another corner. The sidestreet he ended up on was just as deserted barring a street cat he ended up scaring away.

Jaune dipped into an alleyway, hiding behind a dumpster. He was sure that nobody could see him on the street. The woman was so far away; there was no way she could have known that he was here.

Pulling out his phone, Jaune began to dial for the police.

I just need to get someone on the line, and then I'll make a break for the store. Shit...

He dropped his phone. The device hit the concrete with a small clatter, making Jaune cringe at the noise. He quickly scooped up his phone and returned to dialling the number.

*Bottle Clinking*

Jaune turned towards the sound. It may have been an animal knocking something over, but he was not trusting anything right now. His right hand clenched down on his phone with a vice grip as he took a step back from the dark alley.

The last thing Jaune saw was the floor as something hit him from behind. A sharp pain erupted from the back of his head.

[Unknown Location]

Fire and ash rained from the sky as the sounds of battle echoed below. Warriors of all colours fought and died in droves as they sought to gain ground in the war-torn city. Explosions ripped entire blocks apart with no care about the damage they caused. Gunshots rattled across a line of men, dropping them to the crumbled concrete at their feet.

The soldiers screamed with hearts full of rage as they rushed for another offensive. Clashing with brandished bayonets, they cut their foes to pieces in equal measure. Any sense of self-preservation was done away by the two armies. All they cared for was fighting with every ounce of their beings.

No such image could be a clearer picture of hell. Only death was to be found here.

Standing above the carnage were two men. Perched at the peak of a basilica, they watched the battle below. The fires cast an orange glow onto their faces, allowing their features to be discerned.

In a black trenchcoat, a young man kneeled with a grin. His regal gaze mimicked some terrible passion. His golden eyes looked down upon these men with insanity few would withstand. The crack across his lips an uncanny equilibrium between a sneer of disgust and a genuine smile.

The wind picked up, blowing the boy's hair free of its confines. Long, flowing towards his waist, loose, and parted off to the left, but his bangs did not stay there. They swayed freely in the wind with one bundle coming across his nose. Two other strands on either side of his head, diverging from the golden mane, lay upon his mighty shoulders.

His companion could hardly be noticed. A hooded shade only drawn attention to by the faint flash of gunfire. His expression was like a serpent, watching as his comrade did with only vague interest. When a shockwave struck him, his white hair was disturbed and freed from under his hood.

"Is this what you desired," the young man asked in a tone that dripped with charisma.

"Yes, old friend," the shade confirmed. "Everything is just as I remembered it." He turned to the blonde man. "However, for the finale, I must depart this place. It would be unbecoming for me to ruin such a show. Thus, I leave it all to you."

[Alleyway: Unknown Time]

Jaune's vision was hazy. Blurred to the point of nothingness, only just being able to make out an image. Darkness all around him. The cold floor and wall behind pressing against his back.

He didn't know where he was.

A hand came from his side and grabbed his face. The palm place right over his mouth with fingers digging into Jaune's cheeks. It squeezed down painfully so, pressing his head against the wall.

What looked like a face or part of it moved into view. Jaune could only see the lower part of her expression. Everything above her nose was obscured by darkness.

He tried to fight back, but his limbs were frozen. Jaune couldn't muster up the strength to even struggle a bit. Paralysed in his own body as this woman stared at him.

She snorted.

"Welcome to the world, New Blood," the woman said, letting go of his face.

[Alleyway: Dawn]

Jaune snapped awake suddenly. The sound of an engine running brought him to consciousness. His breathing spiked as he had no idea where he was and how he got there. All he could see was the low sun coming over the horizon, and the alleyway he woke up in.

"W-Where am I," he stuttered, trying to push himself to his feet. The weight of his own body was too much for him to bare, and he just fell back down. He felt so weak and so heavy. Like someone tied a sack of bricks to every part of his legs and arms.

His head throbbed something awful like he had just been hit by a footballer running at full speed. Jaune's arms screamed in pain as portions of skin were missing, and dried blood ran down his arms. Pieces of rock and what looked to be glass permeated the wounds.

He tried pushing himself to his feet again. This time he got somewhere, managing to stand up on his feet. Both legs wobbled momentarily, but they kept stable. His body seemed to regain its strength, although slowly.

Jaune reached into his pocket for his phone, finding nothing in his jeans. He dug into his hoodie, hoping to find it there. Yet, there was nothing. The wallet he kept in his back pocket was missing as well.

Got to get home...

His mother and sisters would have been worried sick. Jaune didn't know how long he had been gone. He didn't know if it was Friday or two days from then. Everything felt off. His body didn't feel like itself anymore.

Standing up and walking out onto the side street, Jaune shielded his eyes from the light. Looking left then right, he figured out where he was exactly. A short walk to his home was all that mattered.

He turned back onto the main street. Nobody else seemed to be out here either. However, looking down the road, Jaune remembered something.

I was running... From what?

He couldn't put his finger on why he was running, but with the context clues provided. His missing wallet and cell phone. What felt like something had hit him. He must have been jumped or robbed and knocked out.

[Arc Home]

As he grew closer to his house, Jaune began to see more and more people. A few students here and there, but nobody he knew. They gave him a few looks as if he were a crazy person; however, none stopped him.

Finally reaching his home, he looked up at the large house. The brick and wood home was large. Larger than most of the other houses on the block. The cobblestone wall bordering the entire property was covered in vines. Several cars parked in the garage could be seen from the road.

Here we go...

Jaune pushed the front gate open, closing it behind him. He was sure his mother would have been home at this time; some of his sisters as well. They may not have gone to work or school yet. Especially with their brother and son unaccounted for.

Checking his pocket, he didn't have his house key on him anymore. It must have been stolen, or he dropped it after getting knocked out. So, he was left to knock on the door and face whatever his family was going to throw at him.

*Thud* *Thud* *Thud*

Jaune knocked on the door. He heard somebody yell from the other side of the door. A few footsteps approached before the doorknob turned and the hatch opened.

In front of him was his older sister, Blanche. The eighteen-year-old platinum blonde staring at her little brother with a stunned look on her face.

"Holy shit," Blanche mumbled, turning around. "MOM! Jaune's back!" She grabbed his arm, eliciting a pained hiss from the boy. "Get inside."

Blanche dragged the boy into the living room. There several more members of the Arc family appeared, with them, their mother. Claire Arc. The matriarch wrapping her son in a crushing bear hug. Tears on her face.

"Where were you," she demanded, angrily yet gladly. "You were gone all night long! We called your phone, and Velvet's but you weren't with her." She let go of Jaune, and he sat down across from her and his sisters.

"Yeah, Mom was up all night long worrying about you," Saphron, his oldest sister, said from behind him. "I had to stay here the whole night with her while we waited for you to come back!"

"I don't know," Jaune mumbled, nearly shouting; still trying to wrap his head around what happened. "I only woke up maybe an hour ago! I was in an alley propped up against the wall. My phone and wallet were gone!"

"You were robbed," Marron, one of his other older sisters, calmly concluded. The nineteen-year-old getting up off her chair and checking the back of Jaune's head. "He's got blood on him. And look at his hands!" She pulled Jaune's sleeves up, revealing the wounds from last night.

"I think that's what happened," Jaune agreed, gesturing with his hands. "I-I can't remember anything after I left work! Maybe I was running from someone?"

Jaune's mother got up off the couch. "That's it," she said. "We're taking you to the hospital and then the police station." Claire grabbed her car keys and jacket, before heading to the front door. "Come on..."

[Hospital Room]

Jaune sat at the edge of a hospital bed. One of his arms stuck out. A nurse picking rocks and debris from the wound. His mother sitting in a chair a few feet away from him. The woman watched him like a hawk.

The emergency room they were in belonged to the Vale Central Hospital, where Jaune's mother worked. Surprisingly, it was rather empty this morning, and they were fast-tracked inside to get Jaune looked at. It was a welcome change in scenery after the tense car ride to the hospital.

"So Mr Arc," a Doctor began. The old wolf-faunus jotting down something in his clipboard. "You do not remember anything from last night?"

"No," he answered weakly. "I remember leaving work, but everything after is a blur. I think I running from someone?" The only thing he could remember after last seeing Velvet was him running. There was nothing else to provide context for the memory or if his mind created it to fill in the gaps.

"I see," the doctor mumbled, leaning forward to get a better look at Jaune. He flicked on a small flashlight and shine it in Jaune's eyes. "You're pupils are dilated. Might have a concussion? But we'll run some tests after we get your arms cleaned up." He jotted something else down on his clipboard. "You did lose some blood. Not enough to need a transfusion thankfully. Your white blood cell count came back, high. That could be due to the abrasions on your arms, or from this head trauma." He poked at the back of Jaune's head. "Claire, someone did a number on your son. It's a classic sucker punch if I've ever seen one. Brass knuckles?"

"That's what I assumed," she agreed. "We just wanted to bring him here to get checked out."

"Good," the doctor said, standing up straight. "Jaune, we'll bandage these wounds, and your mother or sisters can help you change them later. They stopped bleeding, but what I am concerned about is your loss of consciousness. You were unconscious for several hours, so it seems. We'll run a toxicology test just to make sure no one gave you anything after you were knocked out."

"Ok," Jaune nervously agreed.

He never used recreational drugs. Like anything stronger than prescribed pain meds from getting his wisdom teeth removed. He was worried that one of his parents or sisters might have suspected something like that. But the doctor seemed to more concerned about someone drugging him.

Hopefully, that wasn't the case...

[Arc Household: Jaune's room]

"That was hell," Jaune mumbled, throwing open the door to his room. He dropped the small grocery bag he was carrying on the floor and shut the door behind him.

Walking to the other side of his room, Jaune flopped down on his bed. The soft mattress moulding itself around the body laying on top of it. It felt like the comfiest thing he laid down on in years. Better than the hospital bed or police station chair by miles.

Getting dragged around town by his mother nearly took them the entire day. Between getting diagnosed with a minor concussion after several hours of testing, then being grilled over the details of what happened last night by the police. Jaune was feeling rather exhausted.

He grabbed his alarm clock to check the time. Three in the afternoon. School was going to be getting out soon. Not that it really bothered Jaune, since he was given the next week off from both school and work. That call to Velvet explaining what had transpired was not very fun either, but she understood what happened.

Right now. Jaune couldn't really describe what he was feeling. Before, he may have been nervous since he was under a microscope with everyone nitpicking his actions. Where he may have been, or who was with? The cops seemed to enjoy those questions far more than the doctors. It didn't help that the guy who was probably mugged was about to have a panic attack because you were not treating him like a victim but as a suspect.

It was over. That's all that mattered.

I need a shower... Jaune sat up, beginning to strip off his clothes. The same ones he wore last night and had yet to get out of. His hoodie was smelly and in dire need of a wash. So did he, but that Pumpkin Pete hoodie was one of a kind.

Dragging himself over to the shower, Jaune shed his jeans and then his boxers. He flicked on the light to reveal a reflection of him in the mirror. A slightly bruised version of himself.

Jaune was not a bodybuilder by any means, nor was he skinny. Having a decent layer of muscle on himself more akin to a dancer than a footballer or any other athlete. His chest had some bulk to it like his arms and abs, but no real definition despite his lack of body fat.

Reaching over to turn on the shower, Jaune felt the slowly rising temperature reach its peak. He hopped in once he was satisfied, feeling the warm water cascade down his body. It was a great feeling. One to offset how terrible Jaune's day began.

...

Jaune quickly dried himself off after making sure he was squeaky clean. His arms were uncovered revealing the large sections of road rash on his wrists and underarm. Looking much better after having been cleaned out and their owner was given some antibiotics. Neither seemed to be swelling, which was a good sign.

There were some clothes he laid out on top of the toilet for himself. A pair of shorts and a loose-fitting t-shirt for comfort. Throwing them on, Jaune felt like he was ready to sleep for the next week.

But something else felt off. It had been nagging him ever since he awoke this morning. Jaune swallowed or tried to not finding any saliva in his mouth. The distinct texture of sandpaper was everywhere. One thought came to his mind.

Thirsty...

Jaune reached over to the faucet and poured himself a glass of water. Downing the contents of the vessel, he began feeling much better. The sudden onset of thirst no longer plaguing his mind. Because that was just another thing to add onto his plate.

I've got some time to kill.

Jaune looked out the window. It was still daylight outside. Not to mention four in the afternoon. So, sleep was not an option just yet. Maybe video games or something light? The doctor had given an order not to do anything too strenuous. Jaune didn't have the hubris to think he knew better than a man who spent probably more than a decade working on getting his degree. Thus, something light was on the menu for the next few hours.

Turning on his TV and XBOX, Jaune began to dig through his games. Witcher 3, no. Skyrim, no. Black Ops? No. Then looking down, he realised he was missing his controller. One of his sisters must have run off with it the previous night.

Jaune sighed heavily, turning around to go find his controller. The damned thing didn't walk off by itself, and he hadn't been home long enough to play video games in the last week. Just when he thought life was going to let up on him for once, it shits in his dinner.

He went to open the door to his room, but someone on the other side beat him to it. The heavy oak flung wide open, knocking Jaune to his feet. A short girl wearing a school uniform stood in front of him. Her eyes darting about before training on the boy.

"Jaune," Ruby shouted. "We heard about what happened! Are you ok?!" Nora and Ren stepped out from behind her.

"And what are you doing on the floor, silly," Nora asked. Her innocent voice betraying Jaune's confidence.

"I'm not ok," Jaune answered, looking up with a serious look on his face. "You hit me with the door!"

"Sorry," they both said at the same time.

While it didn't actually hurt. Having a concussion and then getting thrashed around did not do anything to help. Luckily his nose had not been broken. Jaune's boyish good looks were about the only thing going for him.

"Here." Ruby offered her hand to Jaune, hauling the boy up with all of her strength.

On his feet now, Jaune towered over his three friends. Ruby, the closest one, still holding his hand as he caught his balance. A strange smell filled his nose as he stood next to the girl.

"Are you sure you're alright," Ruby asked again, looking up at the boy. Two cute puppy dog eyes met his. Her adorable expression was comforting, given everything he had been through today.

But that smell was getting even stronger now. It was a sweet aroma. Something Jaune couldn't adequately describe. Whatever it was, he wanted more.

"Jaune, you're bleeding," Ren spoke up, pointing to the other boy's nose.

What...

He put a hand up to his nose. Pulling it back, there was a small red stain on the tips of his fingers. The trickle flowed past his upper lip and into his mouth.

"Uh, let me get a tissue real quick," Jaune said, dipping back into the bathroom. He didn't want to get any blood on the carpet. The tile could be cleaned off later.

Finding said tissue in the form of toilet paper, Jaune pressed it against his nose. The red liquid pooled quickly in the white paper, forcing him to find another. After a few sheets, he finally managed to get the flow to stop.

But what was going on with that smell? It seemed to come from everyone. Ruby was the worst of them.

Why did she smell so sweet?


"Every Monster Was a Man First."

Edward Albee