Author's notes: I have a ! I am also a starving artist! Help me not starve this year by going...

P a treon . com (slash) Blackmarch

...here, If what I do pleases you and you want to see more! Which there is! Remember, it only takes two dollars to feed a birb and keep them hatching plots!

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"You're not going to leave me alone again, are you?" Ruby, with her hand wrapped tightly around my wrist, asked suspiciously as we gave the vomiting, miserable blonde in our way a wide berth. I'd avoided getting vomit on my shoes the first time, and I wasn't all that keen on rolling the dice once more; Uncle Qrow had soured me on playing with chance and luck...that and board games that involved actual dice in some way. Or cards. Or coin flips. Or spinning wheels... Family Night was hard and Spruce Willis sucked. "You're not going to 'go to the bathroom' and leave me alone for a while so that I can get a taste of independence again, are you?"

That hadn't been why I'd been gone for that hour or so...but, sure. Let's go with that. Independence. Not like I could say I'd been fucking someone Ruby had never met into the ground, again, now could I?

She'd never met Neo. And, if I had a say in it, she never would. Hot and kinky as little miss two-tone was, introducing her to the family was never going to be in the picture. That girl was completely bugshit.

"Well, better late than never, right?" I added to the conversation. "You're a big girl, a Huntress! A savior of humanity, my little prodigy!" Within the first five minutes of getting off the ship, I was forced to blind Ruby with a quick and affectionate tousling of her hair as something, or someone, got themselves caught at the corner of my eye. "You've got this!"

… It was Neo. It was Neo, doing Neo things, while being Neo. Because of course it was.

It hadn't taken Neo all that long to get over herself today after my bout of forceful affection. Thankfully though, this time, when she noticed me noticing her, instead of being difficult, she got herself out of sight before Ruby could see her signing rude and suggestive things at me. We'd have had to have a talk if that had been the case...and I wasn't feeling up to that right now. I was just hoping that no one ever connected that broken toilet on the ship to me. Or the mess… Oh, Brothers, the mess.

"You can't expect me to hold your hand all the time, can you?" I continued playfully, pushing that problem away until I was forced to deal with it, or not, as the case may be. "Besides, I'm in the same boat as you are now, you know? We've always had Dad and Uncle Qrow nearby, even at Signal." I shrugged and gave her a grin. "We all have to grow up sometime. We gotta do what we gotta do."

Honestly, this situation had me just as lost as she was, if not more. I was being serious here. I'd never been all that good at directions…and I'd always had someone nearby to help me with whatever I needed help with. It was like moving out of my mom's house all over again… Anyway, I wasn't messing with her here. I was a very different sort of mother figure than the original Yang had been, more the subtle pavlovian type than sink or swim.

I'd like to think I'd done a pretty good job of raising her, considering.

Humans were animals, pure and simple. I was, she was, you was. All animals. If a cookie every time Ruby did something good made her into a better person, I'd give her all the cookies she wanted...and it seemed to have worked pretty darn well. She was a good girl, my sister Rubes. Straight A's, never been in trouble with the law, didn't do drugs and she sometimes tried to kick me during a spar.

She might have had more cavities than normal, but oh well. Sacrifices for the cause.

I was proud of her… Even if she could be a cheeky little thing when she put her mind to it, the grumbled belligerent nonsense coming out of her mouth as she pulled her hair out of her face the final proof of such. So ungrateful.

"First impressions are important, Ruby. I taught you that, didn't I?" I put both my hands on her shoulders and gave them a squeeze. "When you meet someone for the first time, someone you think could be your friend, do you really want to have your lame big sister around to cramp your style? Heck," my tone switched to a teasing one. "What if you meet the love of your life out here? Today even? Oh, the scandal."

I saw that I'd got through to her when she looked up at me from under her fringe and gave me a slap with a touch of whine. I'd always been kind of weird. A little too mature for most people my age to feel completely comfortable around me… Of course, my charisma and my charisma helped deal with little things like that over time as I started to grow into myself, but still. Ruby deserved to be able to socialize without this large-breasted albatross around her neck.

That was the idea anyway. Also, I needed to go talk to someone before they started setting shit on fire and raiding the school's freezer. There were better ways for the school year to start and that definitely wasn't one of them.

"We've got twenty minutes till orientation. Plenty of time to do some people watching." With one last squeeze and a little, but extended, shake that didn't stop until she cracked a grin of her own, I let her go. "Don't be afraid to say hi to people, even if it's just a wave. That gets your foot in the door and that helps a lot more than you'd think. Also, if someone gets fresh with you or acts like a dick, I'll sort them out in the ring for you. You've got nothing to worry about." I then pointed dramatically out into the grounds, ignoring how that last part of my speech had turned my sister's smile into a frozen line. "Now go forth, young hero! Go forth and become a legend!"

Ruby paled. An achievement, seeing as she never went outside if she could help it. "Yang! Quit it!" She hissed and flapped her hands at me and looked around as...absolutely no one looked at us. We'd been standing here for a while. Anyone that could have heard us had better things to do. "What are you doing!?"

Annoying her with her childhood so that she'd clear out faster, clearly. It had been one of the ways I'd tried raising her confidence when we were younger... She might have been embarrassed now, but there was a time when playing the knight and hero was the only game she'd ever wanted to play...and it hadn't been all that long ago. Four years, maybe? A little after she'd picked up Crimson Rose, yeah.

Ah, childish things… How quick we are to put you away.

"I know not of what you speak." I rose my voice further, higher. Still not high enough for anyone to hear, but more than enough to get Ruby flapping her hands like she was trying to take flight while her lips puckered up in her panic. "Have I done something to offend you, chosen one? Was there something in my words that was not to your liking? Was my quest not clear, mayhaps?"

Ruby whined at me some more, but finally took the hint and began to trudge along when I pointed extra hard. "So embarrassing… How could you do... Why did you have to bring that up… In public."

"Because I want to see you grow up healthy and strong and socially well-adjusted!" I called after her, making her eep and add some power to that walk, her head turning back to look at me to see if I was following after her… And if she moved any faster she'd be jogging. Like a normal person even. Amazing. "Love you to bits, Rubaby! Go get em', Champ! Mwah, kisses!"

Annnnd there she went. Nothing but air and rose petals and the lingering whiff of traumatized teenager. My work here as primary, secondary, parental figure was done for now...but I couldn't rest. I could never rest.

My side-job as a minder/living sex toy to a murderously hot, mute, shortstack didn't allow for it...not that I was complaining. Mostly.

Really, I enjoyed the sex. Adored it, actually. I wasn't going to lie. It was never dull or boring; a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart. Not putting your dick in crazy might have been common sense but, god damn it, there was a reason why people did it anyway...but it could get kind of tiring sometimes. A hassle.

Neo only possessed the very barest hints of empathy from what I could tell, and even then I had to wonder if they were real. Probably not. When she put her mind to it, she was a brilliant actor… I wasn't sure what word I'd use to describe her that didn't involve a part of her body, other than one that ended in -pathy. Socio. Psycho. One of the two, along with a heavy helping of sadomasochistic tendencies and what I suspected was an untreated case of ADHD with impulse control issues. Not exactly a combination that screamed mental wellness and safety.

I amused her. I was interesting. I fucked like a champion and I wasn't afraid to hit a lady if they were into that sort of thing…or not, as the case may be...she liked her roleplay. It got kind of weird sometimes.

Anyway, that all gave me more than a little leeway with her. More than she'd give to anyone else I knew anyway...enough that I often got my way more often than not as long as I made myself clear about what I wanted and why she should go along with it.

It was like herding cats. I liked to think I was pretty good at it.

At the end of my ambling, directionless walk to the dark side of the tree that she'd vanished behind, I took a lean. Kicked a leg up and tasted the lingering scent of vanilla ice-cream on my tongue, one of the many varying flavors that hung around the shorter woman like a cloud. Still here then...and I preferred chocolate. That was just me though. "Following me to school now, huh? How sweet. Did you remember to bring me lunch, hon?"

The ice cream cone that came at my face, straight out of the shattered mirror of her Semblance with the deadly seriousness of a spear thrust, was avoided with aplomb. It had been expected, and that had been enough. She'd never been able to resist the path of least resistance when it came to comedy, and force-feeding whatever she had on hand into me until I choked on it was exactly the sort of thing that she'd think was funny.

The Dane Cook school of laughs, essentially. A classic.

"Nice to see you too," I replied dryly as I plucked the cone out of her hands on the withdrawal and gave it a lick. Then, proving that she hadn't been trying all that hard to keep it out of my grasp, she took a bite from her own cone and gave me the finger. If she'd actually been trying, I'd have been fighting off the end of her sword right now. A gracious loser, she was not. "We were apart for all of half an hour. I wasn't sure what I'd do without your warm and caring personality around to brighten my day...but, yeah. Serious talk." I crossed an arm under my chest and raised a brow at her. "What are you doing here, Neo? This is a little - bold, isn't it? Shouldn't you be in Vale or something right now?"

A dismissive flap of the hand was the answer to my question. Then came the distraction. Fluttering lashes, swinging hips. Her cozying up to my side; looking up at me and playing up just how small and cute and utterly helpless she was...and I had to admit. It was pretty good.

Not good enough to get her anywhere though. I wasn't feeling anywhere close to hormonal at the moment. If Neo had wanted this to work, she should have thought of that before she helped take the edge off of me. Twice.

"Quit it. I'm being serious. Seriously serious even." I began the process of removing her from my side, a process that was a great deal like pulling tape off of hair. "You've already used up all my free time for the day, Neo. I've got shit to do, fifteen minutes before someone realizes I'm missing, and screwing in public isn't in my itinerary for the week. If you're thinking of hanging around here, don't. You're going to be bored as shit."

Her eyes grew a size larger at that and her lower lip started to wobble. She was just trying to annoy me now. The several submission holds she'd just tried to put me in before I broke them, the lot of them disguised as hyperactive and possessive clinging, said as much… They would have hurt too. A lot. That was experience talking.

Arms are not meant to bend that way. Or wrists. Or fingers… Whatever. If there was one good thing that could be said about her, it was that she'd taught me more about fighting humans in a month than four years worth of classes. Pain was a damn skilled teacher and, if Neo was anything, she wasn't all that shy about handing it out like candy. That was a good thing.

Considering how unlikely it was that my terminal case of biggus girlus dickus had erased Salem from existence, I was going to need it at some point. Sweat on the mat and blood on the field or however that saying went… I wasn't much of a poet.

"Look. Give me the week off to get my shit together, a week and some change at the most…" A lazy kick from me had Neo twirling off of me to avoid it, right on the heel of her pretty white boots until she stopped on the fourth rotation to give me a considering look... That patch of grass would never be the same. "And I'll take you out somewhere nice for the weekend."

With a slow roll of the hand as the considering look turned to outright interest, she gave me permission to continue. How nice of her. She hadn't even tried to stab me in the instep.

"Drinking, dancing, beating up pushy assholes. That one ultra-deluxe sundae bowl you like that costs more than my loadout." I pushed off the tree when she started clapping and skipping in place, the promise of us getting white-girl wasted and all you can eat ice cream on my dime more than enough to make her lose control of herself for a second. "Then I'm thinking we'll buy out a hotel room for a couple hours and use the bed until it breaks."

Neo stopped dancing with an excited 'gasp' and did a quick approximation of sticking a needle in her eye… Where was the rest? Dunno. I suspected that was the only part of the saying she knew or even cared about.

"Oh, yeah. Promise." I held out a pinky and wriggled it until she caught on and hooked it with her own. "Going to be allll kinds of pent up by then too." With a hum, a shake, and a slap of the hand drifting towards my junk, the pact was made. Give the girl an inch and she'd take a foot (I was such a wit), I swear. "We're going to have to break out the rain gear for this one, so says Yang Xiao-Long...and I need to go."

After polishing off the last of my cone and, shame of shames, licking my fingers clean when I remembered that I didn't have any napkins, I made to leave in the same manner as I'd arrived. Aimlessly. Neo's sullen pout as I left, thanks to knowing her for as long as I had, had no effect besides me promising to send her a text sometime next week… I wasn't looking forward to it.

Mute or not, there was never a good reason to speak to someone entirely in Emojis. None.

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I sniffed. Loud, exaggerated.

Ruby shied away. Clumsy, not at all subtle as we waited for Ozpin to come up on stage and be super vague and weird… Funny that. After all these years, that was pretty much all I could remember about him… Other than him being really fucking old and shit at relationships. Or something. Twenty years, give or take a year, made keeping shit straight in my head kind of hard sometimes. "Yang, I'm fine."

That I couldn't smell spent fire Dust on her, more than I normally could anyway, said as much...but that wasn't enough for me. I had to make extra sure.

"Yeah. I can see that. You don't smell like fire and brimstone, for one. I'll admit that I thought, considering how you were acting, that twenty minutes of freedom might have been little too much for you to handle. I'm proud of you." I reached out and pulled her close with a side hug. The struggle she put into escaping, what there was of it, didn't last long. "Did you meet someone nice though? A friend? Better than a friend? A guy? A girl? A living weapon of mass destruction pretending to be a really awkward and adorable human girl? I don't judge."

Ruby, instead of answering, slowly and methodically pulled her hood up and over her head and proceeded to pretend that I didn't exist. Yep. She was fine. Completely fine.

"That wasn't a no~"

Deathly embarrassed, sure, but fine. Sister things...and, meh. Sticking to a script was for suckers.