Chapter 24:

Renewed Bonds

Bloodborne is property of Fromsoftware. RWBY is property of Rooster Teeth

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Gehrman had a curiously blank stare after they'd finally told him about the circumstances surrounding their current (non)relationship with Raven. Which was fine—gave Summer the chance to comfort her husband.

But eventually, emotion did leak back onto his face. But instead of something like sadness, pity, or even anger, Gehrman's face twisted into one of…disgust? He clenched his hands into fists. "If you were hoping to sway me into sparing Raven, I'm afraid you've achieved the exact opposite."

"…What?" Qrow voiced for all of them.

Gehrman abruptly rose from his seat, pacing, a sneer on his face. "Do you know how many have tried and failed to birth their own progeny? How much devastation has arisen from such failed attempts—how much grief, how much death?! For someone to simply abandon their own child without so much as by your leave—the utter nerve!"

Summer exchanged wide-eyed glances with Qrow and Tai. She gulped. "You're…focusing on a different aspect of this than I thought you would."

"Yes well, it's a rather…personal aspect," Gehrman growled.

"In any case," Qrow clapped his hands together, "I guess we're done here—gimme my flask."

"We're not 'done here'!" Summer huffed.

Tai darted his eyes between her and Gehrman—whose face was still twisted into a snarl. "…I think we are."

Summer threw her hands up into the air. "Unbelievable!" she shouted, only to flinch upon remember the girls were sleeping. When neither made a peep, she glared at Gehrman. "Don't you think Yang deserves to talk with Raven at least once?"

"They'll have until I make my way to Anima and kill the woman myself."

"Woah there!" Qrow rose to his feet, holding his hands out, "I know you're this, like, uber-killing machine, but let's not get crazy. I'll be the first to say that, live or die, I don't care about Raven." And didn't that just break Summer's fraying heart? "But…Summer's got something of a point. Yang should have a say in this."

Gehrman's face softened into a sort of melancholy frown, though his eyes remained as hard as stone. "…Give her warning then. Enough time to either face a different kind of justice than my own or make her peace." Qrow grimaced, sitting back down under the weight of Gehrman's stare

"So that's that, then?" Tai asked, gesturing to Gehrman. "You're going to kill Raven, someday?"

"Yes." Summer shivered—he didn't even hesitate in his answer. Said it as swiftly and surely as if saying the sky was blue.

Tai took a deep breath. "…Well, it was…" he trailed off, shaking his head. "Goodbye, Gehrman."

Summer shot up at the finality in her husband's voice. "Now hold on just a—"

"Very well," Gehrman bowed, keeping a firm grip on his hat, snapping his fingers, his tea set vanishing back into his personal void. "Thank you for your time. No need to drive me, Qrow," he said when Qrow made to get up again, "I can leave on my own."

"Wait!" Summer pleaded, reaching out and grabbing onto Gehrman's arm. The man paused, but just fixed her with a sad smile, taking her arm off and patting it lightly.

"Give your daughters my regards," was all he said, making for the front door.

Summer stared after him, slumping as Tai walked over and wrapped his arms around her. "Guess it was stupid of me to expect this to end well, huh?"

Tai sighed, planting a kiss atop her head. "No. You just…want to see the best in everyone."

She snorted. "Think I'd have learned."

"Eh," Qrow stood up, walking towards the kitchen. "That's life, Summer. You come up with the grand plans and then something comes along and—SHIT!" he cried, falling to the floor and banging his head on the wall.

Summer and Tai burst forward, helping him up. Summer giggled at the familiar display, letting it lift her mood. "Tripping on air, now?"

"No," Qrow groaned, reaching out onto the floor. "I slipped on a…bottle of juice?" They all froze as Qrow lifted the bottle up. It was still cold.

"Oh gods," Summer whispered. Who was it? Yang, Ruby? How much did they hear?

"Girls?" Tai said, walking towards their room. "You up?" He knocked on the door, but it was already open. And as it swung open, the blood drained from his face, and he stumbled into the doorframe.

Summer's heart stopped as she scrambled over to him. The room…it was empty. The window open, letting rain in.

Her girls—her sweet babies—were gone. Left because…they'd overheard something terrible. They should have been honest as soon as Ruby could talk. Should have explained everything to them before Gehrman. Should have been better. Should have—

"Enough!" Summer's head snapped to the side as a large hand slapped her face—the right side, thankfully. Idly, she noted that Tai had also been slapped. She turned forward, jolting at Gehrman's stern visage. "Now is not the time to despair."

"Gehrman?" Tai said. "What're you—"

"I heard Qrow fall," he cut him off. "But enough about that. Right now, your children need you."

Summer started to pant at the reminder. Yang and Ruby, wandering in the forest. In the dark. In the rain. Cold and alone and—

Another slap. "Focus, dammit!" Gehrman grabbed her and Tai by their shoulders. "Are you not a Huntsmen and Huntress? Have you no control over yourselves? Your children need you!"

A deep, instinctive part of Summer wanted to rage—of course she knew that! She was their mother! But the rest of her understood where Gehrman was coming from. Appreciated what he was doing.

Tai must've come to the same conclusion. He set his shoulders, face shifting into a frown. "We have weapons in the shed."

He nodded, stepping back. "Arm yourselves. And take these." He snapped his fingers, four flare guns popping out from the ground. She, Tai, and Gehrman each grabbed one, and Qrow—Harbinger in hand—stepped up from behind to grab the fourth. "Qrow and I shall go on ahead—you two stick together. If anyone finds the girls, shoot up a flare." He holstered the flare gun, his Burial Blade and firearm shooting up from the ground into his hands. "The property is protected, yes?"

Summer nodded. "We've marked the trees where the AG field ends."

"The limit is most likely less, if at least one of them is distressed."

"Then we don't have any time to lose," Qrow growled, his form shrinking as he transformed into a crow, shooting out the window.

Gehrman, to his credit, simple tilted his head at the display, before nodding at Summer and Tai, leaping out the window.

Summer looked to her husband, and without any words spoken between them, left the room as one. They'd find their children—they had to.

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Yang was fast. Unfairly fast. Stupid six-and-a-half-year-old legs. Ruby was going to drink so much milk in the future! Then she'd be the one leaving Yang behind as she ran deeper into the woods and got cut by bushes.

…Well, maybe she wouldn't that.

She pulled her coat tighter against her as the rain grew heavier. Yang must've really been upset about the juice, to run out in this storm.

She wasn't sure how far or how long she ran, but she found Yang crouched under a tree, her knees pulled up to her chest. She was still crying; Ruby was saddened to note.

"Yang," Ruby draped the other coat over her sister's shoulders, sitting down. "It's okay that you didn't get the juice."

Yang lifted her head, breathing heavily. "Forget about the stupid juice, Ruby."

She tilted her head. "Then…why are you so upset?"

Yang sniffled, drawing further into herself. "M—Summer's not my mom."

Ruby leaned back, eyes wide. "Wha—What are you talking about?! Of course Mommy's Mommy!"

"You don't know what you're talking about, Ruby."

"You don't either," Ruby huffed. "'Not my mom'—that's crazy!" She shoved Yang a bit. "Who tucks you into bed? Huh?"

"…Summer," was Yang's sullen response.

"Who kisses your boo-boos after putting a bandaid on them?"

"Summer."

"Who bakes us cookies whenever we want, even when Daddy says she shouldn't?"

A choked giggle burst past Yang's lips. "Summer."

"Who gives you tight hugs and tells you that everything's going to be alright when you're sad?"

Yang had stopped crying, lips curled into a smile. "Mom."

Ruby smiled brightly in turn. "'Not my mom', you can be so silly sometimes!"

Yang wiped her eyes, "Yeah, I guess so. Gods, what was I thinking? I didn't even hear everything before…running…into the woods…" Yang trailed off, paling with each word. "Ruby…did you follow me all the way out here?"

"Yup!" Ruby beamed. Until she saw the horror in Yang's eyes, and looked around, realizing she had no idea where they were. "…Uh-oh."

Yang rose to her feet, pulling Ruby up with her as her Aura flashed to life. "Okay, just…keep calm. We're probably still in the safe zone. We just have to go…straight back. C'mon!" Ruby whimpered, keeping a tight grip on Yang's arm as she led them forward.

Ruby had never been scared of the woods—they were always fun to explore, when her parents would let her. But now, in the dark, in the rain, they looked…spooky. The trees swayed as if they were alive, waiting and eager to pluck them from the ground. The rain blocked out everything but her own heartbeat and Yang's heavy breaths beside her.

And the lone, faint howl from far behind them.

Ruby wanted to freeze, but Yang moved onward, practically carrying Ruby forward.

All the while, more howls sounded in the distance, steadily growing louder.

Yang eventually came to a stop, panting heavily. She whirled around, before pointing upward. "Up that tree!" Yang yanked Ruby forward, pushing her up and following right after.

They'd made halfway up before a Beowolf came snarling into view. Ruby couldn't help it—she screamed. And Yang, doing her best to shield Ruby behind her, joined in as the Grimm leapt onto the tree, slowly clawing its way up.

The Grimm's teeth gleamed in the night, its glowing, crimson eyes promising a painful death. Yang reared back, prepared to kick the monster away with all the might her six-and-a-half-year-old legs had as it braced itself on the tree, ready to pounce and tear them to shreds.

It leapt at them with a snarl. But it seemed to stall in the air, jerking as if held by some invisible force.

And then it was slammed down onto the forest floor, Mr. G crushing its skull beneath his boot.

"Mr. G!" Yang sobbed, relieved, holding Ruby in a death grip—which she eagerly and readily reciprocated.

"Stay in the tree!" Mr. G commanded, adjusting his hat and pulling something from his belt—a flare gun, Ruby realized. But, and maybe she was just losing it from fear, Ruby could have sworn she saw something move from underneath his hat, in tandem with him whispering something she couldn't hear. But her train of thought was quickly lost as he aimed the flare gun to the sky, a bright, emerald flare rocketing into the sky.

And illuminating the dozens upon dozens of Beowolves closing in on them.

Mr. G sneered at the Grimm, unholstering his main gun, his Burial Blade held firmly at his side, shining in the dark.

A cacophony of howls erupted in response all around them, forcing Ruby and Yang to cover their ears. And then, the Grimm struck!

Mr. G didn't move at first, blasting away Grimm left and right from his chosen spot. Too soon, however, the Grimm had him surrounded, far too many to reliably shoot. Instead, he waited until one leapt at him, jaws snapping, before shoving his gun into its snout, whirling around and smacking half of them away before blasting it to dust.

Then, and only then, did he move from his spot.

And it was amazing.

His sword shone like a star, cutting through Grimm like a meteor in the night sky. He roared, much like the Grimm, but instead of scaring Ruby, it just left her in awe. As though Mr. G was the king of the beasts, and the Grimm just some animals dumb enough to fight him.

And, as if he couldn't get any more awesome, he pulled out a metal rod from his belt, which extended in his hands, crushing a Beowolf's skull in the process. He spun his new staff, forcing the Grimm back, before stopping, slotting his Burial Blade onto the top end of the staff. Then, with the kind of ease that could only come with an unholy mixture of talent and skill, he sliced through all the Grimm around him with one wide, circular strike. He rose to his full height, standing like a giant among the crouched and wary Grimm, and stomped the butt of his transformed scythe to the ground. Daring them to try again.

Ruby exchanged a wide-eyed, excited stare with Yang. They knew Mr. G was a great Huntsman (he saved their mom, after all), but, as far as their little minds could comprehend, he was a god among men.

The Grimm, however, were not as appreciate of the spectacle. Two of the bigger ones roared, leaping at Mr. G.

Only for a familiar crash down from the sky sword to slice through one's body, leaving Mr. G to almost casually dodge and bisect the other.

Uncle Qrow dropped down from the raining sky with the grace of a bird, using his left foot to kick Harbinger out of the ground and into his hands. He looked up at Ruby and Yang, relief and joy clear on his face. Ruby waved.

Uncle Qrow laughed at that, only stopping when the Beowolves howled, resuming their attack.

At that point, oddly enough, it sunk in that Yang and Ruby were truly safe. That everything would be alright.

So, they started cheering for their rescuers.

"Kick their butts, Uncle Qrow!" Yang cried.

"Slice them like butter, Mr. G!" Ruby shouted.

Neither adult responded to their cries, but when Uncle Qrow added in a couple more flips than necessary, they knew he, at least, had heard them.

Still, the waves of Grimm didn't seem to end. Beowolves just kept pouring out of the woods, their disintegrating remains beginning to obscure Uncle Qrow and Mr. G from view. It got to the point where Ruby started to get a little worried for the two adults.

But then something to the left started blowing the outer ring of Beowolves into the air. It then leapt into the air, landing beside Uncle Qrow, reveling itself to be—

"Daddy!" Yang and Ruby exclaimed. He was holding something in his right hand. Looked like a long piece of rope. He grabbed it with both hands, wrenching it upwards. Whatever was on the other end of the rope was thrown into the air, spinning as they fired a rifle down at the Grimm.

Ruby's face split into a wide, unbelieving smile. She'd heard of that move! Which meant that up in the air was…

"Mom!" Yang cried out, fresh tears in her eyes.

Mommy landed next to Daddy, the rope from her Semblance vanishing back into her arm. She holstered her rifle, unsheathing a dagger, and using her Semblance to attach a rope to a spiky metal ball. She, Daddy, and Uncle Qrow stood back-to-back-to-back. Then, they sprang into action, like the stories they told of their days at Beacon. Weaving together and slaying half the Grimm like a well-oiled machine. Dancing along to an invisible tune.

Mr. G, on the other hand, ripped the rest of the Grimm apart like a blender. A loud, shiny blender.

Ruby didn't know who was cooler.

Finally, the horde of Grimm came to an end, Daddy shattering the last Beowolf's skull, sending it flying into a tree. He didn't spare it a second glance, whirling around and shouting, "Yang?! Ruby?!" Mr G grabbed him by his shoulders, tilting his head upward. His shoulders slumped, legs wobbling a bit. "Oh, thank the gods!"

"Girls!" Mommy shouted, running up to their tree.

All at once, reality reasserted itself—Ruby could have died. She stated tearing up again, crying out for her Mommy. Mommy moved in a flash, a rope shooting up into the tree, Yang sending Ruby to slide down first.

She was in Mommy's tight grip for a second, a dozen kisses pressed against her head, before she was picked up by Daddy, Yang falling into Mommy's arms. "Oh, Yang, Ruby!" Mommy sobbed. "Thank the gods you're alright!" Ruby cried harder at her mother's tears, reaching out to comfort her. Daddy moved forward, wrapping them all up in a hug.

Yang wheezed. "I'm sorry, Mom! It's my fault! I shouldn't have run—I shouldn't have left our room—I shouldn't have let Ruby—"

"Shh, shh, shh," Daddy whispered, holding her head to his chest and wiping away her tears. "That doesn't matter right now. You're both safe—that's the only thing we care about." Yang nodded feebly, tears still flowing down her face.

"Are you all well?" Ruby lifted her head up to see Mr. G and Uncle Qrow walking up to them.

Mommy nodded. "Gehrman, thank you, so, so m—"

"Please," Mr. G held up a hand. "Save the platitudes for when we've safely returned to your home." Ruby let out a small, hiccupping giggle. 'Platitudes'. Mr. G always used such weird, big words.

He snapped his fingers, and, like always, a hole opened up in the ground, outlines of weird-looking arms pushing out whatever Mr. G wanted from his Semblance. In this case, a large umbrella.

He opened the umbrella, giving it to Mommy to hold over them all. "Qrow," Uncle Qrow nodded. "Lead us back. I shall follow behind and ensure nothing follows."

"No problem," Uncle Qrow said. He took a moment to fuss over Ruby and Yang, kissing their cheeks and giving them both very tight hugs. "C'mon. Let's hurry home and get you out of those wet clothes." Ruby shivered at his words—she was starting to feel a little chilly.

Mommy and Daddy separated a bit, but Yang clung to Mommy like a glue, so she held onto her with both hands, handing the umbrella over to Daddy and he shifted her onto one arm. Ruby had stopped crying, resting her head on Daddy's shoulder. She giggled when his stubble scratched her cheek and turned her head away.

Which granted her a clear view of the trunk of the tree she and Yang had climbed. Which was covered in deep gouges—both long, jagged lines, and dark, deep holes—and surrounded by almost faded Grimm corpses.

Once again, Ruby was in awe. In the middle of kicking all kinds of Grimm butt, her family had also taken the time to keep them extra safe.

She rolled her head over to Mr. G, smiling at him. His face looked like it was carved into a stone frown. But it cracked a bit, his eyes crinkling as he tipped his hat at her. She giggled, mimicking the gesture.

And then, once again, she thought she saw some strange shape crawl over his body. Wow, she was so tired she was seeing things.

She closed her eyes, snuggling tighter against Daddy, his steady heartbeat rocking her to sleep.

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A/N: Wonder how this will influence the girls in the coming years?