The Painter - an artist who goes beyond the common barriers of communication, for what they would forge is not but a simple message.
Their art is one of creating worlds.
It was naught but ruins.
He walked through a desolate landscape, littered with signs of what it once was, used to be.
The sky above was crimson. So much so that one would think it to be bleeding if it were not an impossibility.
It was near barren, not just of man, but of all, an empty world that stretched everywhere only for there to be nowhere to go.
The sole witness, the only one who'd bear proof to this world's existence itself, was but a single man.
A young, blonde haired man, not even in his twenties yet, garbed in simple everyday clothing, an absolute contrast to the sundered world around him.
The young man walked through the decrepit streets, eyes weary as he spanned his sights over countless ruined buildings.
He took careful steps, as if the ground beneath him would give in the moment he applied the slightest bit more force.
That soon made sense as he rounded the corner, revealing streets, or what once were such, gorged out all around and littered in craters, beneath them the sights of yet another world, another ravaged world.
As he peeked through one of them, he could see what lied below the hollowed world he was now atop.
The ground he was standing on was the roof of an underlying world, reaching depths his eyes couldn't reach with the faint light of the red sky.
What was visible to see was the buildings that were much the same as the ones around him. They were not skyscrapers, but they towered all the same, some nearly reaching their rather thin stone clad sky.
An eerie feeling came over the man as he quickly got up and stepped back from the hazardous underworld passage.
He once again looked around wearily, making to move for one of the nearby buildings.
Despite their devastated state, nearly all of them seemed intact at their base, doors locked, confined to themselves as if to never be entered again.
After a long time of searching, he finally found one which had a small section in its wall that had crumbled away.
As he entered it he felt a pungent smell assault him, bringing him to his knees, coughing and gagging as his eyes started to tear up.
He crawled away, doing his best not to suffocate as he did so, continuing on for a good few more minutes after making his way out.
With frightened eyes, he glanced back into the building, breathing a deep breath and pulling his shirt over his mouth. He went back in.
As he looked around, he saw what would be considered normal of such a place, an everyday normal apartment, one, however, that also gave an image expected and matching of the external scenery's state.
Furniture and all else was in shambles, disarray or just strewn about it as if a tornado had been present there.
There were also claw marks, bite marks, all of different shapes and sizes, on the floor, the walls, the ceiling.
Then… then he looked and saw something different, though very much matching of what story the room seemed to tell.
"Oh God…" He pulled back as he brought his other hand up, clasping onto the shirt that still clung to his face as he tried to keep down the bile that was currently racing up his throat.
Scattered around even more erratically were remains, vestiges that this hollow world had once not been such, and the extent of what had befallen it.
He ran out, faster than his legs could take him. He couldn't look at it for a moment more, yet it mattered not, for he could not erase that image that even now hovered in front of his eyes.
Once out, he fell to his knees, barely having time to pull away his shirt as he started to wretch.
The whole time he didn't dare to close his eyes, for every time he did, he saw it.
What was once a family pet, perhaps but not quite certainly a dog, now looking like a mad artist's tapestry, a tribute to the absolute limits of madness and brutality.
Not all pieces of that nightmare were its own though. There were those that spoke of people that once inhabited it, a family that once was…
"Fuck!" The man screeched out as his head lowered once again, bile rising, unable to hold back at the ever returning nightmare.
After an uncertain amount of time he finally managed to get some hold back over himself. He rose up, feet shaking and threatening to give way at any moment, small streaks of tears still looming under his eyes.
He looked to the sky, as if hoping he'd find something to alleviate the dread of the surrounding world, only to once again feel his stomach churn as he saw its blood red visage.
Then he saw it, the shattered body that had always resided beyond our world.
It bore all the resemblances of the moon he was familiar with, affirming that it was that same celestial body he knew, yet with a single difference that rendered it nothing alike the one of his own world.
The one he knew was shattered, left crescent in shape, as what was once part of it hovered just outside of its reach to remain such till the end of its eternity.
The one above - it had seemingly waited out that eternity.
He realized why he had not noticed it before. It was dyed red, as blood red as the skies themselves, blurring out at the slightest lapse of focus as it seemed to merge with the sky.
The other reason was that it was no longer whole, scattered about the sky in a countless number of fragments, reaching as far as he could see in any direction, all deathly still as they seemed to just lay affixed in place as if by someone's design.
What had remained whole of it no longer was such as it was now truly naught but fragments of its former entirety.
The eerie feeling was long gone. All he could feel now was fathomless dread and despair as he took steps, retreating back from it all, only for there to be nowhere to go.
As he did so, he stepped near one of the holes that littered the ground. It gave way.
He plummeted down - The depths he could not see before now starting to become visible, he gazed at those depths as he fearfully fell.
No screams escaped him. His eyes stood wide as he neared, tears once again starting to trickle as he trembled at the ever nearing sight of his end.
The world below held remnants as well, proof of it once being inhabited. They flooded the streets of the lower world, and they revealed the same truth that those of the above building did, of what fate had befallen both of these worlds and their inhabitants.
Those were the last horrifying visages he could see of that ruined world.
The room was dark as he woke up, drenched in a cold sweat and struggling to take back control of his labored and heavy breaths.
Moonlight seeped through the window, illuminating it in a soft glow, though all he could comprehend it as, much like all else at the moment, was eerie and outright dreadful.
He got up, slowly walking out of his room while holding one hand above his mouth, uncertain if it was due to shock or the urge to throw up at the memory of it all.
He entered the bathroom, splashing his face several times before gurgling to get rid of the taste, even if there shouldn't have been none past the tooth paste he'd used several hours ago.
Taking a few more deep breaths as he calmed himself he slowly exited to the corridor again, stopping as he heard the sound of a familiar voice.
"Jaune?" Came the voice of another blonde, a girl around his age and similar in look.
"Jaune… Were you having those dreams again?" Her voice was slow and anxious.
"Ah, sorry, just woke up and needed to go to the bathroom." He forced a smile. "It's free now if you need it."
The girl could only eye him for several long moments, so many words at the tip of her tongue yet not one to be uttered. Almost resigned, she closed her eyes and quietly walked past him towards the bathroom. "I hope you have a good rest of your night."
'I hope so too...'
He found himself in his room a few moments later, sitting on his bed as he rubbed tired eyes that stung in protest of his current wake.
He noted the time, still but three in the morning, and then turned to his bed.
He contemplated for a short while before he finally got up and moved to his canvas.
Moonlight was abundant and he felt like artificial light would bother his eyes more than help illuminate his current little world, so he instead moved it further to the large window of his room, pulling aside the curtains.
He opened it, feeling the relatively warm spring winds tickle his skin for but a moment before he felt the chills down his spine, a reminder that it'd be wise to change his sweet-drenched clothes.
Several minutes later he found himself by the window again, fresh set of clothes on his back, canvas before him and brush in hand.
What would it be?
Visualize, they had said. Visualize your fears, those nightmares and depict them, thus you'll overcome them.
Yet the advice he'd gotten was hardly lacking in contradiction, the same people saying he should instead paint something that'd make him feel happy, push aside the worry.
He did neither. Instead, he looked out his window, pushing his head slightly outside as he gazed all around what was in sight.
Daytime was truly marvelous, a thing of beauty, he'd never question that. Yet during the night, so mystical everything felt, it was in a league of its own.
He turned to the canvas again as he seemed to have made his decision. At first slow movements as if to outline the image he desired to portray only to then turn to quick brush strokes, his expression of his world quickly coming together before him.
Some time later he finally lowered his brush, having only done so a few times throughout his work as he'd stolen more glances to the outside.
Before him lied the image of a village-side bathed in the night's glow as a semi-shattered moon hovered above.
His moon. His world. Nothing otherworldly about it. Familiar. Safe. Safe as can be, anyway.
Letting out a breath, he closed his window, pulling over the curtains.
He went to his bed a moment later, hesitating for an instant before finally lying down for a second time that night.
Small mercies were a rare luxury. Sometimes the nightmares would come back as many times as he got up and went back to bed. At others, however, they'd recede and relent after the first or second one.
It wasn't that he didn't have nights devoid of nightmares either. They simply numbered very few.
Still, small mercies.
He got up, not quite rested but better for wear than if he'd carried on with his night terrors. Used to it, he pushed through his morning routine.
He stopped when he came to the point of brushing his teeth, lowering his toothbrush as he gazed at the mirror before himself.
Somewhat faded, better than usual, but the bags under his eyes were still present. He ignored them as he always did.
He made his way downstairs, greeting a plethora of family members along the way. The Arc household never was a quiet one, but at least that also made it never be a boring one either.
Some had seemingly already left for whatever endeavors they had for the day, his littlest of sisters yet to get up, all the while he saw his parents and another of his older sisters setting up the table for the ones yet to eat.
"Ah, Jaune," His father turned around. "You're up quite early. It's a Saturday, you could've slept in a bit-Gah!"
"Darling," Jaune's mother pulled back her elbow. "Would you set the forks, please."
"It's fine, Mom, Dad wasn't- I didn't really have any dreams this time." The lie came easily. "Honestly, I think I'm just used to getting up this early at this point."
"That doesn't make it any better…" She quietly mumbled to herself.
"What? Sorry, Mom, can you repeat?" He sat at the table.
"Nothing, Dear. So, will you be going to the park again today?"
"Oh, yeah. I think I'll go right after breakfast, unless you need me for something, of course."
"No, no, that's fine. I admit, I do wonder sometimes with how often you go there. Maybe we should go together on a family picnic there at some point?"
"Jaune wouldn't like that, Mom," Ember, his second eldest sister grinned, placing a plate of bacon and eggs in front of him. "He'd be too embarrassed if we crashed in on his rendezvous with his girlfriend~"
"S-She's not, she's just a friend!" He fought aside his blush.
"Oh, dear, why didn't you tell me?"
"My boy… he's growing up." Was that a tear in his father's eye? "Later we'll have a talk to make sure you know how to treat a lady right."
"Ugh, you guys… it could only be worse if Saph was here too."
"Who do you think saw and told on you?" Ember yet again grinned, happy to have sunken two siblings with one conversation.
"Traitors," he mumbled. "You're all traitors… and I told you, we're not like that."
"But do you want to be?"
"Sure~" Damn he hated that teasing tone of hers. Older siblings…
He couldn't complain though, it was always fun if embarrassing.
After breakfast he found himself gathering his tools as he bid everyone farewell, including his just awakened little siblings, taking to the streets.
His home village, Ansel, was more so a town by its rather expansive size. The streets were fairly populated most of the time, especially on weekends like now, and while it wasn't as fortified as the city of Vale, it was very much a safe haven as one of the most well protected villages.
And the reason for that was a simple coincidence, that being the many retired huntsmen and huntresses that had come to settle within it. By what luck that had happened many could argue, but the results were clear to see, it having become one of few proper bastions outside of the kingdoms.
In not too long he'd reached the park, not living much further than a kilometer or so from it.
It was always a place of pleasant scenery, both with how beautiful it was in its own right and with how much prettier still it became as one saw all the life within it. There were always at least a few people joying in this small semblance of nature here.
He set his canvas, wet paints and brush at the ready.
He looked around, considering what would look finest to picture. What image to express.
And then, as he gazed back at his canvas, trying to picture something that had caught his eye, a large shadow towered and loomed over him.
Surprised, he looked up, finding himself under a large, overly frilly parasol.
He then turned around as he gave her a small smile. "Hey, Neo."
She grinned at him, ice cream in hand as usual, though then she followed it up with an accusatory look.
"Yeah, sorry, haven't been here in a few days." He rubbed the back of his head nervously. "Days have been a bit busier recently. How've things been on your end?"
She motioned with her hands in a 'so-so' gesture.
"I see. Well, people say no news is good news, right?"
"Yeah, I guess that'd be a bit too boring for you, huh?" He gave her a goofy smile.
She then pointed at her eyes.
"Huh? Oh! No, no, I'm fine." At her glaze he continued. "Really, they're usually worse."
'Great save, Jaune…' He realized a bit late.
She grabbed him by the hand as she began pulling him away from his canvas.
"H-Hey, Neo, what gives?!"
She stopped for a moment, turning to him and signing something.
"Uh, I should… what?"
She repeated the hand gestures.
"I should…? Sorry, I'm still not the best at sign language. Can you put it simpler?"
She clasped both hands together as she stuck her cheek to them and closed her eyes.
"Oh, 'I should get some sleep!' I mean, thanks for worrying, Neo, but really you shouldn't, I'm fine-ah!"
Grasping his hand yet again and pulling with more force any girl of her size should be able to muster, she brought him down as he fell on his rear, she sitting down beside him.
Then he noticed where she'd pulled them to, both of them sat under a large tree's shadow, their backs to it and close enough to lean on it.
She did exactly that, then, she glared at him.
"Fine, fine," He leaned back as well. "There's no winning against you."
She gave a triumphant wide smile.
Both of them were sat there, shoulder to shoulder if not for the height difference. She then opened her parasol yet again as she positioned it above them, setting it in place between them.
Arms crossed and a satisfied expression on her face, she fully leaned back and closed her eyes, ice cream long since consumed faster than his chances of winning an argument against her.
Jaune simply looked at her for a moment before he shook his head. Then he leaned back and closed his eyes as well.
It was a destined paradox. Always to seek that belonging to the other.
An uneventful world seemingly always chasing after excitement.
An always active world looking to be trying to slow down at any chance it got.
Though what really was it that each of them was seeking?
Jaune wiped away a bit of sweat as he finished the last swing of his brush.
Damn today was hot.
He stepped back to admire his handiwork.
He wasn't arrogant, or at least he hoped so, yet he couldn't help but feel some pride coupled with much joy every time he finished a painting.
It was a simple one. Scenic, little else, but he believed it expressed what it needed to well enough.
And that didn't need to be something grand every time. Sometimes, it was fine to just express your own awe at the beauty around yourself.
How long had it been, two years since the incident?
He'd survived that grimm attack, those two stray Beowolves due to help arriving on time, as well as his aura having miraculously unlocked.
Not impossible but rare. He was a lucky one, he had been told.
That didn't quite feel the case with the nightmares that came after.
One year. Two years. Just last night he'd had yet another, slight bags under his eyes as proof of it.
He never did understand it though, that trauma. It was supposed to be due to grimm, yet he never quite felt any particular fear of them.
Like any normal person, he would feel worried, but he wouldn't freeze up at the thought, not even at the sight of that Ursa that one time it'd gotten into the village.
Luckily, none were hurt as several retired huntsmen were quick to respond.
Still, he'd gazed at the beast and there was no terror to be found, no nightmares that night specifically even.
Yet most nights the nightmares would come, not even always including grimm or vestiges of them.
He sighed as he looked back at his painting.
Yeah, he'd gotten recommendations to try that. Would help him get a semblance of serenity through it.
Load of good that'd done him. He'd not have denied, however, he found it enjoyable. Perhaps not as a profession to strive after, not yet feeling that taken by it, yet taken in enough to want to continue this hobby. He found joy in it, there was no lying about that.
Still, his goal remained the same, and his trauma failed to halt it in the slightest.
That meant little. After the incident his parents had been adamant on that. A huntsman he would not be.
He sighed as he looked around the park.
Birds singing, children playing, pets dancing around their owners, some families were even out on picnics. The park always had beautiful portraits of life to paint.
What caught his eye though was a girl that seemed flustered, though he only caught that for a moment before she instead swapped to seemingly very annoyed.
Standing by an ice cream vendor, she seemingly shuffled through her pockets once, twice, all to no avail.
Then he noticed on a tree not more than a few meters away from her, right by the walking path, there was something hanging from one of its lower branches.
Upon going to inspect he noticed a bright pink purse, matching the girl's parasol, now that he looked more closely.
Taking a gamble, he went up to her.
"Excuse me, Miss, would this happen to be yours?"
Giving an annoyed look as she halted her self-frisking, her eyes widened at seeing the purse, snatching it out of his hands before he could notice.
She pointed at it, then at him, expression still one of annoyance.
He pointed and stated he'd found it on said tree's lower branch, the girl simply crossing her arms as she brought her attention back to the vendor.
He turned and left after that.
'So much for gratitude these days…'
He swapped his canvas with a blank one, leaning the already dried painting on the side of the base's feet. He would have to be careful not to drip any paint on it.
Now, what would he paint next?
He was pulled out of his thoughts at the feeling of a finger tapping on his back.
Turning, he saw the girl yet again.
For a moment, her stare was locked on his other painting, expression devoid of annoyance, instead curious, ice cream already half-eaten in her hand.
Then she looked back at him, using the thumb of her hand that held her parasol to point at herself, then pointing at his new canvas with said parasol.
She repeated the motion.
"You want me to… paint you?"
She grinned as she nodded seemingly excitedly.
Well, this was new. He'd painted people before, but more so in the scenery, more vague. He'd never done a full out portrait.
Plus, she'd not been the nicest earlier.
He sighed. "Sure, why not?" Might as well try a portrait for once, he guessed.
Her excitement doubled, and just as he was wondering if she'd move or he'd have to move the canvas or whatnot, she began gobbling up the ice cream, definitely far faster than should be healthy.
Her slight flinch as she finished was more than proof of that.
Her grin came back fast though, moving past him and behind his canvas, parasol in hand.
"So, you want-" 'Wow, she's nimble.'
Before he could properly even ask, she'd already ascended the nearby tree in front of him effortlessly, sitting on one of its larger branches as she opened her parasol and leaned it on her shoulder. She crossed one leg over the other, obviously not afraid of height.
One might've said she had adopted a thinker pose with how she rested her other hand's elbow on her knee and rested her chin in said hand.
Her expression was nothing else but a smirk though, and her eyes looked at him expectantly, waiting.
"Ok… I guess I can work with that," Then adding in a mumble. "I hope."
'Well, this is my first time, let's see how far I've come.'
He always felt that if anything, he was quick with the brush. This was anything but.
Slow and steady he went, taking care to not foil the progress he'd so far built , stroke by stroke, putting careful detail into the image of a person was not easy.
Still, he carried on, the girl seemingly annoyed at some points, though relenting after a simple 'getting there' or 'almost done'.
She'd proven more patient than expected.
Eventually, he finished, surprised at himself to have managed it.
The girl had then come up to him, seemingly satisfied as she looked at the portrait, only to then show an annoyed expression as she pointed at her face - her cheek.
"Yeah, I got it to the last detail, right, even the ice cream."
Realization now dawning on her she quickly wiped it away. Then she glared at his snickering.
"To be fair," He began in between light laughter. "I do think it adds to the painting's charm."
She closed her eyes, crossed her arms and then huffed.
After that she peaked one eye open, gazing at the painting again. She shrugged.
"Hey, by the way, I'm Jaune." He stared at her for a while, no response. "So… you got a name?"
She rolled her eyes for a moment but then began mimicking something. Was this charades?
"Ugh… a thing? A car- no, a letter?"
He got a nod.
A grin and a nod, that was good, right?
"Then… 'I'?" She shook her head. "'A'… wait, 'E'?"
"Final one? Uh, is that an 'O' you're making?"
"So you're name's Neo?"
A final nod.
"Then it's nice to meet you, Neo."
He then noticed how much the light had faded all around them. That had indeed taken him a while to paint, it was getting late.
"Sorry though, I'll have to be going now."
Neo looked around, noting how the park was indeed emptying and realizing herself that some time had indeed passed.
She looked back at him and shrugged.
Then she moved to his canvas. "Hey, what-" Taking her portrait off it and under her arm.
Well there went the first proper portrait he'd ever made. "Fine, I guess you can keep it."
She gave him a smile, this one feeling a lot brighter than her prior grins and smirks though, enough so to have him fighting back a blush for a moment or two.
She then seemed thoughtful for a while, after which she tapped the back of her wrist, as if signaling for a watch or something.
"Yeah, it's gotten late."
A shake of a finger he recieved, not that then? He watched as she thought for a moment, then she mimicked again.
She mimicked sleep, hands clasped and cheek to them as her eyes closed. Mimicked waking up and a yawn, mimicked walking. Then she stood in front of him and pointed down.
"...Uh, you mean, will I be here tomorrow?"
A grin and a nod answered his question.
"Well, I don't have anything specific, but I"m not su-"
A finger halted him. Then she looked at him again, as if repeating the question.
"Geez, you're insistent. Fine, I guess I don't really have much better to do…"
A grin and a nod, how unexpected.
'Wait, is she saying 'yes, you don't have anything better to do.'?'
Before he could ask or even wonder anymore she'd already turned on her heel though.
He had simply sighed while gathering his things, having left in his own right.
If anything, the day had not been boring at least.
Eyes groggily opened as he felt the slightest of chills at the spring breeze.
After a few moments he realized where he was, noticing Neo still asleep beside him.
He did feel slightly less tired though, he couldn't deny. He doubted his bags were gone just like that, but they stung a bit less.
It was nice too. It was quite a while since he'd had something other than a nightmare. Their first meeting, that had been? Yeah… He could've simply not come back to the park that following day.
He had returned however. And he'd not expected that to end up with her treating him to ice cream. He hadn't expected it to end up with them eventually becoming and being friends till today. Three whole years after.
And five whole years since he was attacked by grimm, as well as since he began painting. Man, time sure could fly.
Feeling the weather getting slightly colder, he carefully got up, then gently began waking her.
She took a moment, being no better than him at waking up initially. Then, after stretching, she looked at him, giving him the usual smirk.
"Alright, alright, I admit, you were right. I needed that." He stretched in his own right. "And it was also more comfortable than expected despite it being a tree." He could never win against her.
She then signed a few words to him.
"What do you mean?"
This time she accompanied them with a pout.
"Really, there's nothing bothering me."
She simply looked at him, expression restless.
"...Look, I know, I haven't really talked about it recently, and… I just guess they're right. I mean, look at me. I still can't get over what happened five years ago, yet I want to be a huntsman."
He looked away, not managing to hold her gaze. "Listen, I know I've talked to you about this before, about how much I wanted it, but I can accept the truth. It's fine… I'm fine with this."
He glanced back at her. Her expression was anything but simple. Not the usual smirk, nor grin, nor smile. Not the playful quizzical look either. She simply gazed at him with an unwavering complicated expression.
He was about to begin reassuring her again before she stopped him, hand raised, then moved one hand under her chin as she put on a thoughtful expression and began contemplating something.
They were like that for a while, one long moment after another, he was becoming more and more restless himself.
She beat him before he could move to speak again however, grinning as she signed out a few more words.
"Meet you here tomorrow early in the morning? And what do you mean 'be ready'?"
She motioned for him to quiet down, then looked at him for a long moment.
He sighed. "Fine, fine. I was gonna be here again tomorrow anyway."
She then took and closed her parasol, spinning it around and making some slashing and thrusting motions.
She sighed. Then, she took a stance, like a knight at the ready, parasol held to her side like a blade. Leaning it and pointing the tip towards him, she brought up her other hand, making a 'come at me' motion.
"You want me to fight you?"
She made a so-so gesture before following it up with a shake of the finger.
"Wait, is that a yes or a no- oh, you want me to come armed? Like with Crocea Mors that I told you about?"
A nod and a grin.
"I think I understand, Neo, but I'm not sure we can trai-ah!" Before he could finish she'd stepped in his guard, pushing one leg into his and breaking his balance, then grabbing both his hands behind his back as she completely immobalized him.
"A-Alright, Neo, I get it," 'I can't move at all, how strong is she?' "I thought you probably studied some self-defense with how athletic you are."
She released him, replying with another so-so gesture.
"Geez, fine, you win. I guess we can try a spar tomorrow, as long as we make sure to keep it safe. And," He looked away slightly flustered. "Thanks for always having my back." 'Though a bit too literally this time.'
She simply waved it off, yet her grin only grew wider.
With that, they bid each other adieu, though as he gathered his things and left he couldn't quite get rid of the goofy smile he had that evening. It did not help against Saph and Ember's teasing.
A slightly stronger breeze swept through the surroundings this morning as the sun had yet to fully unfurl all its rays utop the world.
Perhaps he was too early? Then again, they'd met this early before too, if rarely. Any later would've made it hard for him to sneak out with Crocea Mors as well. Hopefully they wouldn't notice by the time he returned it.
Hearing the clack of heels, he turned around, being met with a familiar smirk.
"Hey, Neo-Ah, by the way, I thought you probably have your aura unlocked after that show yesterday."
A nod confirmed that assumption as correct.
"That's good," He smiled. "Otherwise it'd probably be too dangerous. Though don't you have a weapon? At least, I thought so since- sorry, I shouldn't have assumed."
She motioned for him to stop, then, she pointed at her parasol.
"Yeah? I mean, come on, Neo, that's not going to-" He was cut off as a spike jutted out of its tip.
'Was that always a thing? Was that always a thing parasols can do? Was it just a thing hers could. Since when?'
She then smiled as she pulled it back behind her as she stretched out her other hand - extended it to him.
This was strange, and unnerving.
He'd known her, for three long years, yet really, aside from meeting and spending time at the park together, what did he really know as to his mute friend?
He knew that he could trust her. Was it a rash? Probably.
Still, she'd never really hid much from him, he'd just not asked. She'd never inquired about him much either.
Despite that strangeness, even the suspiciousness of the situation, he wished to extend his own hand and grasp hers - and so he did.
Realization then struck her as she let go of his hand and signed out a few words his way.
"Be ready for what?"
His only answer was her wrapping her hand around his yet again with an excited smile as the world shifted.
There was no better way to say it.
Reality itself seemed to alter, light to bend, the world around them was no more the park they were moments ago within.
It felt like he was floating, Crocea Mors latched at his waist, paints and canvas desperately held in one hand, his other even more desperately clinging onto hers lest he floated away.
Meanwhile she held a firm grip on his hand as well, a joyous and excited smile on her face as she whisked him through this world of hers.
Yet it was barely several moments before they returned to reality, him feeling solid ground beneath his feet yet again, not a moment too soon as he was feeling his motion sickness might kick in from that ride.
What was around them was not a park anymore, however. They were indoors even.
The place was large though, quite spacious without a doubt.
"Well, she's bringing her first friend home, now I'm truly at my proudest I've ever been of her."
Jaune turned to the sound of the voice, a tall man coming up beside Neo, coat, cane and fancy hat, and was that eyeliner? Well, he pulled it off, sort of, so he guessed it was fine?
Eh, if he liked it, all the more power to him.
"Ah, but where are my manners, Kid? You see, I'm Neo's active guardian, you can say, and I want to make sure she's not mingling around with some bad kids-Ah!"
He annoyedly glanced at Neo who retreated her elbow nonchalantly, expression as innocent as can be.
He sighed. "You can never win with her." He mumbled under his breath.
Jaune would agree with him though.
"Anyway, Kid, you're Jaune, was it?"
"Y-Yes, Jaune Arc."
"Roman Torchwick, at your service, but I'm sure you've heard the name." He smiled dashingly.
"No… sorry. Doesn't really ring any bells."
Roman sighed again as Neo snickered.
"Fine, fine, kids these days, but fine. Anyway, Neo's told me of your, shall we say troubles? Those around your goal of becoming a huntsman to be precise."
"Neo!" At his yell she actually seemed flustered for a moment, not an impossibility but a rarity indeed.
She shook her hands panickedly before herself for a moment before then recomposing herself and signing out a few words to him.
"Alright then, explain."
She pointed at Roman.
"Fine, I'll do the honors." He turned around and walked up to a table, taking some papers as he then came back.
'Those look like… documents?'
"Well, Jaune, to say it the simplest, you'll have to fix your little quarrel to come later, cause now you've got a little questionnaire of a transcript to help me fill in, and then we're going to need to hurry," He smirked. "We've only got a week to figure out how to ensure you get through the entrance exam in one piece, after all."
Hope you enjoyed!