"So, we're seriously not going to do a thing about this whole 'Crescent' issue?"
"Jaune, were you not listening?" Weiss chided. " If we all just confronted her right off the bat, it would only make things worse."
"Yeah but we can't just ignore it.".
"She'll just run and hide if you guys confront her." Boop stated sternly. It was clear, She was putting her foot down on the matter. "Trust me, she can be...well, I don't want to say fragile, but...yeah…"
Everyone at the table looked glum. Weiss leaned back and stared at the ceiling, Blake was deep in thought, Pyrrha sat with her arms crossed. All the while Ren and Nora were acting as a sturdy wall that kept everyone from trying anything that they believed might fix their "crescent issue" as Jaune had put it.
After Ruby had left for dinner, Nora explained the story of how she met Ruby and became her friend. Weiss still couldn't get over the fact that Nora was struck by lightning more than once and survived without any major injuries, mental problems however was still something Weiss considered given the pink haired brute's hyper personality and insistence in ignoring her personal space.
When Nora's finished her story, Pyrrha and Blake explained themselves and their little plan to find a connection between Ruby and Crescent in great detail. Nora wasn't exactly happy about it to find out that Pyrrha was willing to go behind Ruby's back in order to find out her secrets but she understood the reasons why.
There was a silence that hung over the guild as everyone processed all the information and tried to make sense of their complicated web of problems that all connected to Ruby. That is all except Jaune that is.
"I still find it hard to believe she's in a wheelchair and is super antisocial."
Jaune's voice broke the silence, but it did little to help everyone's frustration. Everyone else either sighed or groaned as they all understood where Jaune was coming from in one way or another.
"I mean, everyone knows how Crescent is always so full of energy and puts her all into this game."
"Yes Jaune, we know." Weiss rubbed her temple. "Now will you please stop stating the obvious."
"Sorry... I just don't get it." There was a brief bout of silence before Jaune clenched his fest. "There has to be something we can do to-"
"Nope." Nora interrupted. "Trust me, all we can do is give her little pushes here and there. You guys not knowing her disability is one of the reasons she enjoys playing this game with you all so much."
"But she should know that we're not gonna think of her any differently." Jaune stood from his seat, determined to help his friend.
"But that's not what she believes." Blake stated, catching everyone by surprise as she had been silent for most of the conversation. "Yang can't really confirm it, but she has a pretty good hunch that Ruby thinks of herself as weak and useless because of her disability. If she's right, then she might also believe that you guys will think the same way if any of you ever found out."
Everyone fell silent as they took in that theory. Seeing as no one responded, Blake continued. "Her problem with her family is that, from what I could gather from watching them, is that they've been over-protective of her and Ruby doesn't like it. She doesn't want anyone holding her hand. That's why she avoids them and would much rather hang out with you guys. None of you treat her like she's weak. You all see her as this strong, reliable friend who they can count on."
"And revealing that we know her secret would make her avoid us..." Jaune concluded, hanging his head low and gripping his hair with both hands as he slumped back into his seat. "Damn this sucks."
Weiss took in Blake's theory, going over the whole thing as she tried to think of an answer to their problem. There had to be some way to help Ruby. Somehow they had to find a way to make Ruby realize she doesn't need to hide behind Crescent without her finding out that they knew her secret. But then, she realized something that she couldn't believe she hadn't pieced together before. Something that put herself in a unique position compared to everyone else.
"But I know her secret." Weiss muttered as the gears in her mind churned.
"Yes, we all know it."
"No! I mean in the real world!" Weiss couldn't believe it took her this long to realize it. "I'm the one who invited Ruby to the game. She knows I'm Myrtenaster!"
Pyrrha furrowed her brows. "Weiss, what are you getting at?"
"What If I came out and told her that I figured her out, That I figured out who she is after playing with her today while she was Summer? It would make sense since she figured me out the moment I asked her to join us." Weiss explained, smiling excitedly as her plan came together in real time.
"Summer?" Nora asked.
"Oh, right…" Weiss and Pyrrha both winced. They had forgotten to mention that Ruby was also the other new player alongside Blake. "You know that other player that joined us earlier that you missed meeting?"
"Oh no..." Norra slammed her hand into her face, creating an audible smack. "She didn't."
"Yeah, she did... On the bright side, as Summer, she's playing the game as herself at least, kind of." Pyrrha assured, but it still didn't change the additional complication.
"So, I think I have a plan." Weiss stated proudly, rising from her seat. "If I tell Ruby that I figured her out, and she doesn't start to avoid me, I can probably earn her trust and show her that she doesn't have to hide behind Crescent. And while she's Summer, we all pretend to befriend her all over again and show her that we don't care if she's disabled or not and that we don't think any differently of her."
"What about me?" Nora stated. "Ruby doesn't hide from me though, she'll most likely come to me and ask me to play along."
"Then that's what you'll do. Play along. Lie for us and pretend like we don't know anything."
"Hmm, I don't really want to lie to her... but I guess there isn't much of a choice" Nora scratched her head as she thought about the plan, it was clear she had issues with it but what they didn't have many other options.
"And what am I supposed to tell Yang?" Blake joined in. "She'll be wanting to know what's going on as soon as possible. Yang deserves the right to know what her sister is doing and why she's avoiding her."
"No, she doesn't." Nora leaned over the table, glaring at Blake. "There's a reason Ruby hasn't told her sister or father about this. If she finds out that Yang knows, she'll figure out what's going on really quickly. Ruby's not an idiot."
Weiss was obligated to agree with Nora. As Ruby's tutor, she's seen how smart Ruby is. Ruby is definitely not an idiot despite her somewhat childish personality. "I agree, for now we leave Yang in the dark until we are sure she can keep her mouth shut and pretend to know nothing just like us."
Blake didn't seem too happy with it, but reluctantly agreed with the plan. "Fine, but I don't like having to lie to Yang."
"Alright!" Jaune cheered. "Let Operation Befriend Ruby commence!"
Pyrrha giggled and Weiss couldn't believe she was actually smiling over the blonde dork's antics. He and Ruby were certainly good friends to the point that they even shared some traits, despite never meeting in person. Weiss wondered if she'd ever be that close to Ruby. Maybe she'll be able to go and hang out with Ruby without fearing that she might anger her again like last time. But as everyone began discussing the plan in more detail, another realization occured to Weiss and she had to physically stop herself from facepalming at the mere thought.
If she had a crush on Crescent, didn't that mean she had a crush on Ruby?
"Yang, I keep telling you that you need to roll more." Ruby smashed the circle button on her controller, rolling away from the boss's attack. The twin gargoyle boss was tricky the first time Ruby played Grimm Souls, but that was years ago, she could easily beat it on her own now. However, her sister was currently struggling to keep up with her.
"And I keep telling you that I ain't no pansy who's gonna roll away from her problems." Yang's character blocked a swing of one of the gargoyle's poleaxe and followed it up with a swing of her own waraxe, chopping off the boss' tail and dropping a piece of loot. "Oh! I got a new axe from his tail!"
Ruby rolled her eyes with a smile and rolled away from the second gargoyle's fire breath, rolling around to it's flank to get behind it. "I'm just saying, you probably wouldn't die as much. Oh! Use a fireball! Quick!"
Yang threw a fireball at the second Gargoyle as instructed while it chased after Ruby's character. "Hey, you got your way of playing and I have mine."
"Fair enough." Ruby managed to deliver the final blow and Yang stood up and cheered.
"Awesome! First boss down!" Yang looked over at Ruby, who had begun frowning as she stared at her controller. "What's wrong?"
"Huh? Oh, it's nothing." She lied, she was thinking of all the times she had given Yang the cold shoulder, she tried to remember the last time they actually did something like play a game together. But that only made her feel worse when she realized the last time they had done so was before the accident. Ruby quickly saved the game before she suddenly turned it off and began rolling her way over to her room. They had been playing late into the night ever since they finished dinner and Ruby could already feel herself getting drowsy.
"I'm just really tired, I think I'm gonna go to bed."
"Ruby, wait."Yang called out and Ruby stopped just before leaving the living room. Just as Ruby turned her wheelchair around, she was suddenly embraced in a surprise hug by Yang. "I'm glad you're finally breaking out of your shell."
Ruby scoffed but smiled nonetheless as she returned the hug. "Thanks...And sorry for being so...difficult."
"You don't have to apologize, Rubes. You've been hurt, and I know these past couple of years have been difficult for you, more so then me or dad." They stayed in their hug for another few seconds before Yang finally broke away with a cough and pulled a stray black hair from her mouth. " Ugh...Geez, Rubes. You need a haircut."
"Sorry...I guess I did kind of let it grow out too much, huh?" Ruby ran her hands through her messy long hair as she stroked it, only for it to get stuck in a knot for a second before tugging it free. Ruby hadn't really been paying attention to her hair for a while now. In fact, she had gotten surprisingly used to having long hair, although she wasn't really good at keeping it nice and pretty like her sister's golden mane, not that she tried to anyway. Compared to her sister's hair, Ruby's hair was more of a way for her to hide herself instead of an example of her beauty.
"How about a haircut?" Yang asked with a chirpy tone, all too happy to find an excuse to spend more time with her sister. "I can do a really good job, you know?"
"No, I'm fine. I kind of like it." and there she goes, back to lying again. Ruby's hair is a mess and is too long for her own liking. The only reason she hadn't gotten it cut was because she found it easy to hide behind it whenever she felt uncomfortable when people stare at her and her wheelchair. That and she was also too lazy and depressed to cut it. "Anyways, I'm gonna hurry up and go to bed. Good night, Yang!"
Ruby hurried out of the living room and straight for her room without another word. She closed the door behind her and sighed. The past week has been stressful, staying up late to do her late school work, dealing with Weiss and finding out she is also Myrtenaster only added to that stress. Ruby still didn't know what to do with that information either. As she rolled on over to her dresser and changed into her sleepwear, she thought hard on how to get herself out of this mess she made. Ruby was worried about how long she could even keep up the charade. Eventually, Crescent will have to meet the new player known as Summer and there was no way Ruby could be both at the same time.
"I'm so screwed…" Ruby crawled herself into bed, struggling a bit as she pulled her blanket out from underneath herself and her limp, useless legs. Ruby shut her eyes as she furrowed her brows, cursing at herself for thinking so negatively about her legs, she should probably stop being such a pessimist about it. Especially now when she was really trying to get back on her feet, figuratively anyway.
However, just as she was about to get comfy for the night, she realized she left her light on. She growled to herself as she reluctantly dragged herself out of bed and onto the floor, in no mood to bother with getting in and out of her chair for something so trivial. As she was inches away from the light switch by her door, there was a small knock followed by the sound of her sister on the other side.
"Hey Ruby, I know you're tired and all but I just-" Yang stopped mid sentence as she was surprised that the door actually opened followed by a painful cry of her sister from below.
"Ow! That fucking hurt, Yang!" Ruby was laying on the floor on her side while she held onto her nose as a sharp pain shot through it. The door slowly swung away from her and before she knew it, Yang was already on the floor next to her.
"Shit! I'm so sorry! I wasn't thinking and usually the door is locked!" Yang helped Ruby sit up on the floor, checking for any bruises before removing Ruby's hand from her nose. "Shit…"
"Even so, why did you swing it open?!" Ruby glared at her sister and furrowed her brows, but immediately regretted that decision as the action only made the pain worse, along with the feeling of warm liquid trailing down to her upper lip from her nose. "Ow…"
"You girls okay?" Tai rushed around the corner and looked around the room briefly before finally finding his daughters sitting on the floor almost behind the door, with Ruby's nose bleeding. "Shit, What happened?"
"I kind of swung the door open on Ruby's face." Yang let out a weak and forced laugh in the hopes that she wouldn't be yelled at for being so careless.
"Let me see." Tai went straight to kneeling in front of Ruby, checking over her nose before gently pressing on it, causing Ruby to cringe in pain with a whimper. "Shit...how hard did it hit you?"
"Really hard…" Ruby tried not to sound like she was going to cry due to the pain, but it was a futile effort. "It hurts really bad…I think the corner of the door hit it."
Just then, the sound of footsteps came from the hallway and Qrow spoke up from around the corner. "Everything okay? I'm not gonna be walking in on anyone half dressed am I?"
Tai rolled his eyes as he lifted Ruby up to place her in her wheelchair. "No, Ruby just got hurt. I'm gonna take her to the hospital."
"What!?" Ruby instantly clinged to her dad's shirt, ignoring the small amount of blood that stained her upper lip. "No no no, I'm fine, really!"
"Ruby, I'm sure it's just bruised but I can't rule out the possibility that it might be broken."
"Come on, Rubes." Yang smiled as she placed a hand on her shoulder. "They'll probably just do a quick X-ray and fix ya up. I highly doubt they'd give you a shot or something."
Ruby was placed in her wheelchair and not a second sooner did her dad roll her out of her room with Yang and Qrow following after. Ruby wasn't exactly terrified of hospitals per se, she just didn't like being in them. The pure white walls, the smell of hand sanitizer filling every room, the boredom. Oh how much she hated the boredom of being in a hospital, especially as a patient. Being stuck in a bed with an IV in her arm and unable to go to the bathroom on her own was the worst experience of her life. Well, the worst one she could actually vividly remember that is. Nothing was worse than the accident that preceded her miserable days in the hospital. Then again, she did meet Nora and Penny at the hospital so it wasn't entirely bad.
Ruby was pushed outside where she was put in the passenger seat of her dad's old truck. She watched him talk to Qrow and Yang for a bit before he returned and got into the driver's seat. Ruby suddenly felt a little awkward as she realized she hadn't been in her dad's truck in a long time, and she certainly hadn't spent a whole lot of time with him in a long time either. Before she knew it, they were already on the road that led into the city.
"Alright, don't tilt your head back. I know people usually say to do so when you have a bloody nose, but-"
"Dad. I know." Ruby didn't mean to sound so annoyed, it was just out of habit. It also didn't help that she was in pain. She sighed, feeling guilty. "Sorry...it just really hurts…"
"You'll be okay."
An awkward silence fell before them as Ruby sat idly with her hand pinching her nose to keep it from bleeding. However, she was beginning to realize that wasn't such a good idea as it only made the pain a little worse while also only leaving one way for the blood to go and that was down her throat. Ruby cringed as she swallowed a bit of blood and luckily her father was quick to notice as he suddenly dug into the glove box while driving, pulling out a rag for Ruby to use.
"Here, this should help."
Ruby quickly took the rag and covered her nose with it, sighing in relief now that she didn't have to pinch her nose so hard. "Thanks."
"So...anything going on at school? Besides all the homework, that is."
Ruby gave her dad a curious glance in the corner of her eye. She thought it was a bit odd to have small talk in this kind of situation but she honestly welcomed it over sitting in silence. "Well, I am doing pretty well in art class."
"That's good, anything that I can see?"
Another brief bout of silence before her dad finally spoke again. It was quite evident to Ruby that she and her hadn't had a normal, prolonged conversation in a while. "Making any friends?"
"Um...well, I think?" technically, she was already friends with Pyrrha before they met at school, but she didn't hang out with her at all and only had one class with her. Then there was Weiss, but Ruby couldn't really make heads or tails of her relationship with Weiss. Were they actually friends? Weiss did invite her to play Beacons of Remnant with her, that was something friends did. On the other hand, she still felt like she barely knew Weiss, plus the whole thing with her being Myrtenaster only made things even more confusing since she had a small crush on Myrtenaster and not Weiss. But that made no sense either since they are the same person. Did she like Weiss then? Was Ruby even friends with Myrtenaster? Or was it Crescent who is Myrtenaster's friend?
Ruby was starting to give herself a headache on top of the bloody nose. Why the hell was she debating such weird philosophical questions to herself? It would be simpler if she just thought that she and Weiss were indeed friends. Even if Weiss wasn't aware of the weird double identity problem Ruby had created.
"You think? What do you mean by that?" Tai stopped at a red light and quietly grumbled to himself about being in a hurry, his finger tapping impatiently on the steering wheel.
"Well...My tutor, Weiss, I guess we get along. But I don't know if you could call us friends." But they were friends, in a round-a-bout kind of way.
"I see…" Ruby noticed Tai give her a curious look right before the light turned green and instantly sped through the intersection. There was little to no traffic this late at night, making it rather easy to speed on through the streets. Ruby however didn't like it one bit. Her hand had a tight hold on the grip handle above the door and her heart raced in her chest.
"What is it?" Her dad was completely focused on the road, not even looking at her.
"Huh?" Her dad only glanced at her for a second before immediately slowing down once he saw how uncomfortable Ruby looked. "What's the matter? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine…" Ruby slowly lowered her arm down from the grip handle now that her dad wasn't speeding. "I-I just don't like going so fast when driving…"
"oh...Oooh." Tai quickly realized the problem and decided to continue driving at a leisurely pace. "Sorry, I didn't realize…"
Ruby clenched her fist, angry at herself for making her dad feel bad. It wasn't his fault he didn't know about her anxiety. It was bad enough when Yang got a little too excited when driving, though she seemed to restrain herself when Ruby was in the truck with her. Though, Ruby knew full well that Yang drove her precious truck as fast as she could get away with whenever she drove alone. "It's fine, really…"
And the awkward silence returned, now with a depressing reminder of the car accident Ruby was in. It was at this time she realized she really hasn't talked much with her father since the dreadful event, especially about the dreadful event itself. The guilt of neglecting her family came in force now. She really wants to try and make things right, but she was still trying to figure out how exactly to do that. Sure she was trying to spend more time with them now, but there were still things that Ruby wasn't sure about. A big one being how she planned to pay for college after losing her scholarship. If only there was some way she could make extra money so her dad didn't have to pay out of his pocket as well as worrying about current medical bills that still haven't been fully paid.
Just then, she remembered something. Something she couldn't believe she forgot about during her talking with Penny. "Dad, can I borrow your phone real quick?"
"Um, sure?" Tai dug his phone out of his pocket and Ruby snatched it out of his hands.
Ruby fumbled with the phone, holding it with one hand while her other hand held the rag up to her nose. She opened the web browser and typed out Spasm's web address and quickly got on their website, searching for the info she was looking for. Her father watched curiously from the corner of his vision while still maintaining his focus on the road.
"Ruby, what are you doing?"
"Hold on." Ruby skimmed through the FAQs page and finally found the info she was looking for. Her heart nearly leapt from her chest when she found that her memory was correct. "I'm just looking something up real quick."
'I could probably make enough money to pay my own way into college…or at least save up for the first semester. maybe I could even help pay the bills...'
"Well, you'd have to put it away soon, we're here." Tai pulled up into the parking lot of the hospital and quickly found a parking spot and turned the car off. Without a second of hesitation, he got out and grabbed Ruby's chair from the back and brought it around to the passenger seat where Ruby awkwardly got into her wheelchair with the hand that held her dad's phone while the other hand was busy keeping the rag on her bloody nose.
As soon as Ruby was in her chair, Tai closed the door and locked up the truck before pushing her into the hospital. Ruby wrinkled her nose when it was bombarded by the eerily clean smell of disinfectant and hand sanitizer. Tai pushed Ruby up to the front desk and quickly explained what happened to the receptionist before being given a document to fill out on a clipboard. Shortly after, Ruby was parked next to a chair in the waiting room where Tai took a seat next to her and filled out the document for her.
As Ruby waited, the sounds and smells of the hospital reminded her of her times at the hospital after the accident. Looking back on it, if you took out the fact that she became crippled and was depressed, her time here wasn't exactly bad. The doctors and nurses were friendly and did their jobs with extreme care and passion, she was allowed to watch whatever she wanted on the TV in her room, and she even made a great friend!
But the Ruby back then struggled to find the good in the small things. Hell, she still wondered how Nora got the idea that it would be good to be friends with her. During those days, she wasn't the most friendly or happy person to be around and yet somehow Nora managed to break through the walls she surrounded herself with.
Eventually, a nurse came and led Ruby and her father deeper into the hospital where she was taken to get an x-ray to see if her nose was broken and afterwards she and her father were left waiting for the doctor to bring them the results. Luckily it wasn't a long wait and they were glad to hear that Ruby's nose wasn't broken, despite how badly it hurt earlier when the door hit her. However, when her father was given the cost of how much the visit to the hospital cost, Taiyang wore a brief frown before quickly hiding it with a friendly smile. Ruby knew that frown well, the cost was no doubt higher than her father would have liked.
Her father was a bit quieter than usual on the way back home. Ruby knew it had to do with money her father had to spend just to confirm if she had a broken nose or not, and no doubt adding on to the medical bills from two years ago that her father still hadn't fully paid off yet. Ruby always felt guilty in a way for being the source of her family's money problems. If the car accident never happened, Her father wouldn't worry about money and her sister would have gotten that motorcycle she always wanted instead of that truck she got instead in order to take care of her.
But now Ruby found a way she could help her family, a way to spread her wings. It was her turn to help her family, not the other way around. So, Ruby steeled herself for what she was going to do next. She glanced over at her father who was focused on the road and she took a deep breath.
Tai didn't take his eyes off the road. "Yes, sweetheart?"
"There's this, um, thing…" Ruby wasn't even sure where to begin as she fidgets with her pajama bottoms. She took a deep breath again and took another minute to gather her thoughts while Tai patiently waited for her. "There's this streaming site for gaming and they're partnering with Pollendina Works, and their looking for people to stream for them using a new FRVR tech-"
"Hold on, a new what now?" Tia glanced at her with raised brow and Ruby nearly wanted to facepalm as she realized that she had to use simpler terms with her father.
"FRVR. It stands for Full Real Virtual Reality."
Tai nodded and Ruby hoped he understood. "Right, gotcha. It's that new video game tech that came out a few years ago, right?"
"Yes. Anyway, I was thinking that, well, maybe I could give it a shot?" Ruby had no idea how her father might respond, for all she knew he'd flat out reject the idea.
Tai was silent for a good minute as Ruby watched him impatiently. "Hmm...aren't those, um, Full Real things really expensive?"
"Oh! N-no, I mean yes, but they'll provide one for free!" Ruby quickly explained, only realizing how absurd that sounded now that she said it out loud. It wasn't everyday you hear of some company giving away products that cost over a thousand dollars for free like that.
Her father gave her an incredulous look. "Really? You sure you got that right?"
"Positive, got it straight from the horse's mouth."
Another moment of silence as Tai thought over the proposal. "No one's going to see your face?"
"Nope. Not even my real name."
Tai sighed and smiled for the first time since leaving the hospital. "Alright, but first you have to answer this one question."
"What is it?"
Tai pulled into their home and parked the car in front of what used to be the garage but now is Ruby's bedroom. He turned the car off and, with a curious looking smile he asked. "Why do you want to do it?"
Why? Ruby wasn't expecting to be asked that. It took her a moment to figure out how to answer as she shifted in her seat. "Um...Well, I can make money doing it. I could save money for college maybe, and...and…"
Ruby swallowed a growing lump in her throat. "A-And I could maybe help with paying off those medical bills?"
Tai slowly nodded, clearly thinking over Ruby's answer. "I see."
"I know I'm not obligated to help pay it off but it makes me feel guilty and I really feel bad for being so useless so I-"
"Ruby, It's okay."
"And I know I'm probably being selfish but I really want to do this and pull my own weight and-"
"Ruby." Ruby finally ended her endless babbling when she felt her father's hand on her shoulder, prompting her to stare right at him with tears threatening to spill forth. Her father simply smiled at her and it only made it harder for Ruby to keep her tears at bay. "If that's what you want to do, if it makes you happy, then I won't stop you."
That was all she needed to hear for Ruby to clumsily pull herself towards her father to hug him as tight as she could. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! I promise it won't affect my school work and I'll only stream on weekends."
Tai only laughed and hugged her back. "I'll hold you to that, you hear?"
Ruby looked up to look directly at her father's face. "I know, I won't let you down. I love you, dad."
"I love you too, sweetheart."