Jaune wasn't quite sure when he snapped back to lucidity, pulling himself back from the brink of sleep; Back into cold, hard reality and yet another traumatic experience. Not traumatic for him, surprisingly, but still traumatic… Those tended to be the best days, the ones where everyone but him got pulled into one of Yang's problems and got burned for it. Jaune felt guilty about that, but it was true.
That thing with Cardin had had him smiling himself to sleep for a week straight. Watching everyone scream and scramble for cover as CRDL rushed them while he'd quietly stepped off to the side had been hilarious.
It made him believe in karma, just a little. Very little. He liked to think he was a good person and, considering how his life had been going so far over the last month or so, he could be forgiven for having doubts. About karma. Not about him being a good person. Zero doubts there.
Would he have handed his fellow blonde an ice pack if he wasn't a good person? Would he have pulled Blake out of the small puddle she'd made out of her laughter-induced tears before she drowned? Would he have put a towel within easy reach of the bathroom for Weiss to get after she was done scrubbing herself raw?
If that didn't make him a good person, at least it made him a reliable one. Close enough.
That he'd been wallowing in schadenfreude the entire time just meant that he was human. No one had gotten hurt permanently. There was nothing wrong with that. Pain was just weakness leaving the body...or so he'd heard. Repeatedly.
He might have been a little bitter about Weiss and Yang and their very vocal plans on how they were going to change his look without his consent. What was wrong with jeans and a hoodie with armor on top? It was comfortable, and the hoodie kept the armor from chafing him bloody; metal and leather on bare skin while you were moving hurt.
Also, a ponytail? A ponytail, really? A ponytail wasn't him. There was nothing wrong with a ponytail on a man but, just to repeat himself, that wasn't for him. It just wouldn't work. They had no idea what they were doing.
Cutting it short would do it. But not too short… He could see it now. All he'd need was some gel to spike it up and he'd be ready to set the town on fire; Jaune Arc, ladies man and with the hair to prove it. He just needed the cash for it. Haircuts like that were expensive. He'd be going to the barber every week just to keep it in place.
It was going to be awesome...and he needed another hit of the good stuff or he wasn't going to last another thirty minutes.
Jaune took a pull from the purple can he'd been carrying around since he'd pulled himself out of bed and regretted it instantly; the instant shot of adrenaline and the lifting of the ever-present fog over his brain was just barely worth it. The energy drink he was carrying, TorchQuick's patented Blackberry Burner Blast, tasted like how he imagined battery acid smelled like. With a hint of citrus and what he thought might have been ginger, if said ginger had been rolled around in a dirty, diseased alley during a windstorm.
It made no sense, but that was what it tasted like to him. He might have been exaggerating. He might have not. It was pure ass either way but there was nothing quite like it when it came to getting through the day. He'd have never been able to handle his course load without it.
The upper years swore by the stuff for a reason. It got them through the hard times. Just like it was going to get him through this one. Hopefully. There were no guarantees.
"I oughta kick your ass."
Well. Alright. There was one guarantee.
"What occurred was not at all what I intended to happen. I wanted us to have a short, productive talk about your, now proven false, tendency to bring hidden weapons into public areas." Weiss stiffly explained herself, voice muffled under a three times too large bathrobe and a towel around her head that left only the space around her eyes and her feet visible. With how raw those few spots looked to Jaune, he could see why she'd covered up. "What actually happened was regrettable and shall never be repeated."
"You tried to pull my dick off with your bare hands because I got you mad. I think you're going to have to try harder than that canned speech, princess." Yang's eyelids lowered halfway, unimpressed. Her wide legged sit on her couch with a bag of ice between them detracting only slightly from her undeniable menace; her teeth had shaped themselves into needle points within the last thirty minutes and the AC was still on full blast. "If I kicked you in the fork whenever you annoyed me, we'd be having a very different sort of talk right now, wouldn't we?"
Jaune winced and took another pull of his drink. A long one.
"That isn't the same thing at all! I didn't know that you had that - that organ between your legs," Weiss spluttered. "It was an accident! You never told us!"
Yang dragged a thumb across her throat and Weiss continued to splutter.
"It was an accident, guys. Let it go. Let's calm down before we do something that we regret. Again." Blake interrupted with a mutter from the safety of her bed, her yellow eyes puffy and ribs bruised as she stubbornly stared up at the ceiling. The right hook that an angry Yang had given her to wake her up had only added to the mess she'd made of herself; Jaune hadn't even known it was possible to laugh that hard. "Just a terrible, terrible accident."
"Lunch." Yang didn't even look at Jaune's partner when the blackhaired girl snorted, then started twisting around in her bed, holding her ribs while spitting curses. "I shouldn't have to tell you, Weiss. Grabbing my inner thigh would have been skeezy enough even if I didn't have what I have." She leaned forward in her seat, adjusting the increasingly slushy bag between her thighs as she went. "I'm not happy right now."
Jaune tipped the can over on its end and chugged the whole thing down, going from half to empty in a heart-attack inducing half a second.
If he hadn't been awake before, he sure was now. He also had what might have been a fresh case of hypertension, but needs must.
He wasn't sure what he'd be able to do here, but he had to be here.
"You're not happy? You're not happy? What about me? What about how I feel!?" Weiss snapped back, her voice filled with its particular brand of menace as she shuffled out of her seat and stomped a foot. "Not everything is about you, Yang!"
"You tried to rip my dick off! What don't you get about that?" Yang snarled, a flicker of light snapping to life behind her teeth as she gnashed them. "This is about me!"
"That's the problem! That is exactly the problem! It's about you!" Weiss's towel slipped loose from her head and hit the ground with a splat, the heiress the most disheveled and wild-eyed that Jaune had ever seen her. Her face, where it wasn't raw, was pale as bone. Her hair was everywhere, hanging from her head in tangled, wet clumps and lines with her tiara nowhere to be seen. "When is it not about you!?"
For once, for once in what Jaune thought might have been a very long time, Yang didn't respond right off the bat. There was no easy quip or instant rebuttal. The slits that her pupils had become widened, turning into ovals as she was rocked back on her heels; pursed her lips as the bag of ice between her legs went from slush to water. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Everything, you fool! Every damn thing!" Weiss' lips quickly slid over her lips as her breathing began to quicken. "What is our team name?" She looked around the room, water flying from her hair. "Tell me what our team name is!"
Yang's lips pressed together harder yet, turning the area around into a mirror of Weiss' own features. Pale and bloodless; tense. Tense enough for Blake to roll over to observe, the wide grin that had been plastered onto her features for the last half hour entirely missing as she took it all in.
"We are team Juneberry! We are team Juneberry, Yang! People! Not- We aren't-" Weiss' mouth opened. Closed while she shut her eyes and took a breath. "Not Yangbang. Not… We are not just extensions of you and your ego." Shaking hands smoothed out a fold on her robe as her breath began to come out in shuddering gasps. "I haven't heard our team name from a fellow student in weeks."
"That isn't what I meant by it," Yang said in a terse reply. "That isn't what I meant at all."
"It doesn't matter what you meant! What matters is the results!" Weiss' increasingly strident yelling and violent movements had Jaune looking at Blake for help. The shake of her head told him what he'd expected. It was up to him then. "You've put us into the background of your story, of your personal mythos, and you expect us to be fine with that!"
"She's right. Weiss is right. I don't know what you meant, but this is how it is." Jaune surprised himself, and everyone else for that matter, by speaking up. Without a stutter or a pause even. Jaune knew what he was. He knew he wasn't the most impressive person out there. But he had to stand up, at least one more time. "I wasn't even awake for that thing with CRDL but that didn't matter, right?"
"You destroyed them, Yang. Totally and utterly." Weiss grabbed onto what he'd said with both hands, taking a step forward as Yang leaned back with perfectly normal if wide eyes. "We agreed to do it within the rules if we had to. If they persisted in being themselves. It didn't take you a day before you'd put down the foundation of a vigilante mob, without asking us what we thought even as you brought us to our doom."
"Or when you torched the forest," Jaune added.
Weiss audibly ground her teeth, making everyone flinch. "Don't ever bring that up again, Jaune. Just - don't."
"Yeah. Sure." That was fair. That Yang had gotten out of that one without a scratch was shocking. "The point is though, you do things and everyone has to deal with it. Some of them good, some of them bad but..." Jaune forced himself to stand tall as Yang's unblinking gaze fell upon him, along with all of her attention. "You don't give people a choice. About anything."
The clothes problem could wait. He didn't need Weiss turning around on him right now. He was on a roll.
"When Thursday comes around and we have movie night, you buy all the food." Jaune pushed on against all sense. Tomorrow's exercise with Yang was going to be hell, he knew that, but he'd gone too far to stop now. "You bring the movies. We watch them on your screen. We sit on your couch." He spread his hands out helplessly. "What do you call that, Yang?"
"... Ah, hell… Now I feel like my dick does." Yang groaned. "I hate when people have a point."
"I'm not blind." Jauned ignored that in every way other than to put it up as a tick mark on his side. Yang had just admitted they had a point and that was a step. And that they'd hurt her feelings. That was a big thing for her. "Ozpin chose me to be the leader of our team but we both know that's only what's on paper. Not how it is. You came into our lives and took control in a heartbeat. That I'm asleep most of the time these days just made it easier for you."
"... And I might have been a little overhasty when I agreed with your methods, Yang. I let my own frustrations control me," Weiss agreed slowly, her brush with a mental breakdown somehow avoided. Thank the Gods. He wouldn't have been able to handle that. "He sleeps far too much to be healthy. You should...should...urgh." Weiss scowled. "Take it easier on him."
Jaune blinked, honestly touched. "Thanks, Weiss."
Turning to Jaune, she added, "don't get me wrong, you're so far behind the curve it's confusing and worrying in equal degrees but, I agree, Yang pushes you too hard. You need time to actually have a life."
That warm feeling vanished as quickly as it had appeared. If he'd wanted to get snarked at by a girl half his size, he wouldn't have left home… But at least she was actually talking to him like he wasn't an idiot for once. "Thanks."
Weiss nodded back in appreciation, but said nothing more on the matter.
"Well… I'm not mad anymore. Not sure how I feel, actually. Thoughtful, maybe." Yang, hands clasped in front of her face, sighed. "Okay." She sighed again, longer as she fell back into the seat cushions. "This is a fucking mess. Christ, is it a mess... Once again, I wasn't expecting this when I got cornered today. This wasn't in my itinerary."
"It wasn't on my calendar either. But here we are. Jaune and Weiss have a point. Their grievances are valid." Blake piped up from the top bunk over Jaune's bed after her long silence, making it creak alarmingly as she peeked out over the edge. "But you can keep treating me the same if you want. I don't mind."
Yang poked her, now thankfully normal, canine tooth with the tip of her tongue as she gave Blake a searching look.
Jaune and Weiss just looked at her. Whatever Weiss was thinking, Jaune had no clue. But Jaune knew what he was thinking.
"... You want me to keep being an overly controlling, big-dicked asshole that only sees you as an extension of themselves?"
Blake blinked slowly at her. "I wouldn't say it like that." So that was a yes. "But it does make things easier on me. It gives me time for my hobbies."
Jaune had flipped through one of his partner's books for something to do before hitting the sack. It was exactly what he'd been thinking.
He had a couple of porn mags stashed away, because of course he did, but that stuff Blake was reading put them all to shame.
"That's disgusting," Weiss muttered, showing that her mind had been going the same places as his. "And this isn't the time."
Yang sucked in a breath for what felt like forever, then let it go as she ran a hand through her hair. "That killed the mood, yeah."
It did, yes. But it couldn't end on that note. He wouldn't let it. The TorchQuick was doing all the talking now and would be for the next four to six hours before the crash.
"Weiss, your hair is still wet and it's making puddles on the floor. You should probably do something about that before it starts getting knots." He turned to the other blonde in the room as Weiss shambled over to her dresser with a snarl. "Yang, stop moaning and groaning, her fingernails aren't that long and you have Aura. You'll be fine. Go have a shower to sort yourself out. Blake-" Jaune paused, wondering what to do with the most unashamedly thirsty member of their team.
Then, it came to him. Like lightning. Or like caffeine far in excess of what a doctor would say was safe.
"Blake, go get snacks. I like chips, Weiss, text Blake what you want. I'm going to get a movie setup for a team bonding night."
Tomorrow was going to be absolute hell. Not just because of the training that was, hopefully, going to be a lot less bad but because of the Torchquick headache kicking him in the brainstem...but, maybe, it was worth it.