Ruby gazed into the mirror, staring at the large slash which now marred her face. A vertical slash on her left cheek cutting all the way down to her jaw.
A black cloud blocked the sky and unleashed its sharp rain. The forest clearing was turned into its own forest of black trees. One was covered in the blood of-
Ruby shook her head and dispelled the memory. Since she had first woken she had experienced flashes of the mission to Mountain Glenn.
It wasn't the only scar of course. She had plenty now. The biggest was the trio of cuts along her stomach, from a Beowolf who wanted her entrails to become extrails.
It was dead now of course. Yang had seen to that. If only I hadn't let my guard down when Weiss…
She shook her head again and splashed some water on her face. It felt like it had been months since she had been able to go to the bathroom alone as opposed to the couple of days it had been.
Aura did wonders for her recovery. Injuries that would have taken weeks or months to heal only took days. Even with her Aura only being back in the red it had managed to speed up her recovery. I don't know if I could have lived with having to rely on the nurses for everything!
She sighed and dried her face before walking back to her room. The hospital was busy as always, but it might have been even busier had they failed to stop the train. From what she knew the media had jumped on the mission quickly, talking about 'the brave team of students who fought and died to save the lives of the people in Vale from the evil terrorists'.
Ruby now saw the other side of the stories Yang had read to her years ago. She now saw a mission that had killed her friends and sister being used as some kind of inspirational message, something to remind people how great Huntsmen were and why we need more of them.
It didn't feel great, having her losses turned into what felt like propaganda, but at the same time, there was always a demand for more huntsmen. Ruby didn't know whether it was right or wrong, just that she disliked it.
Her room only had a few other people but they kept to themselves. That bird was sitting on the windowsill again, watching her as she stepped inside. She wasn't an expert on birds, but she was sure it was some kind of crow or the like. She scowled and shoed it away. It'd probably be back soon but oh well but she wanted a little peace.
In between the doctors and nurses she had been visited by her father, her uncle, the Headmaster, professor Goodwitch and all of team CFVY. They had kept her abreast of all the goings-on.
All of Beacon knew about what had happened and Velvet also told her how nobody managed to find Roman Torchwick in the train, despite Blake having knocked him out. Ruby found herself hoping the Grimm had gotten him.
The city had apparently barely even noticed something had happened. People just… moved on without a care. People didn't like to dwell on loss, it would just end up bringing the Grimm after all. It didn't make it hurt any less, however.
The rest of Ruby's day passed by quickly. It was late in the afternoon when her father returned, bringing another book for her to read when she was bored.
"So the nurses told me you should be discharged tomorrow." Ruby turned to him, a small smile appearing on her face. It would be good to get out of here and back to- "It'll be good to have you back home. It's been a while after all!"
Ruby stopped, the gears of her brain stalling for a moment as she processed what he had said. "H-home? But what about Beacon?"
"Ruby…" He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Ruby, there isn't any point to going back to Beacon. You don't have a team." He gave her a pitying look.
She scowled. "I have to go back. I became a Huntress to help people and I still can… even without them."
"There are other ways to help people Ruby. You could join the police or even become a nurse or doctor. You could become a teacher like me, you could help others understand how to avoid your situation." His voice was filled with pain. He wanted her to be safe and sound. To be alive.
"They all worked to save my life-"
"And you think they would want you to throw yourself back into fighting Grimm!?"
"They would want me to be safe, but if I walk away then all I do is say that I can't do what they did. They wanted to protect me, I should do all I can to protect others, in their name!"
"Ruby, you can't continue by yourself! You had a team and you still lost, what could you do alone?"
"I won't be alone. Weiss, Blake, Yang… they will all be with me. Even if they're gone, I can still carry on for them. I can be all of team RWBY! It's named after me anyway!" She was breathing harder.
"You still want to be a Huntress, don't you?" Her father sounded defeated, broken.
"I do. I have to keep going because they can't." She didn't look away as he searched her eyes. Eventually, he stood and walked away, pausing for a moment to look back at her.
"Then when you're better I'll be training you. No more running away from hand to hand training, got it?" At her nod, he left the room.
She would return to Beacon. She had to.
She had promised to become all of team RWBY after all.
The following day she and her father were finishing her discharge paperwork when the front doors opened and a man was carried into the room. Ruby didn't get much of a chance to see who it was before a ball of fur slammed into her and started licking her face.
"Agh!" She stumbled a bit as she pulled the monster away from her. Zwei barked, his tongue lolling out of his mouth.
"Zwei?…" She turned to see Professor Port helping Doctor Oobleck into the room.
"Ah. Good to see you're safe, Miss Rose. I was terribly worried when the train stopped. Peter has filled me in. I-" the green-haired teacher paused and pushed his broken glasses up his nose a little. "I should have been there. I believed you would all be safe and had worked to keep some of the White Fang alive. Even if they are terrorists I wouldn't let anyone perish if I could help it. I should have come for you all first. I apologize." Ruby tried to keep up as the man still talked quickly, even if it was slower than usual.
"Now now Barty. It's alright! Let's get you looked at." Port face then both a nod before helping the limping doctor over to some of the nurses.
"He'll be fine, Ruby. Let's get you back to Beacon." Taiyang placed a hand on her shoulder and helped guide her out of the hospital.
So the Doctor made it? I'm glad… but was what he said right? Should we even protect people like the White Fang?
Maybe he was right and they should protect them from the Grimm. But yet they had almost caused disaster.
It was something to think on.
"Zwei looks like he didn't even get hurt at all. Just how tough is this dog?" Her father muttered as they walked.
Beacon was the same as ever, at least on the surface. Most of the students had been away on missions and returned recently or were still on missions. The school itself was the same. The same walls, the same rooms, the same statue.
The biggest change, outside her team not being there, was the people that now stared in her direction. As Coco had said, everyone knew what had happened.
She and Tai just walked past them, followed by their possibly Invincible corgi. Their destination was the Headmaster's office.
The ding of the elevator alerted the older man to their presence. He smiled as he put the papers to the side and steepled his hands. "Ah, Miss Rose and Mr Xiao-Long. How are you both?"
"As well as can be expected, given everything." Tai crossed his arms as he spoke. "We would prefer to keep this short Oz."
The Headmaster hummed. "I see. So, are you sure you wish to return to Beacon, Miss Rose?"
"Alright. I have been thinking about this for some time. I believe you would find it hard to remain in your old dorm, yes?"
"I… I think so…" Ruby held her left arm, still bandaged as it was.
"It's understandable. You have many memories there, the good and the bad. No need to force you to remain somewhere that would make you remember everything. Beacon itself will be hard enough."
Tai placed a hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
"For the time being, team CFVY has offered to house you. Once team JNPR has returned from their mission you may stay with them if you wish." Ozpin waved a hand to the side as he spoke.
She nodded. "Thank you…"
"Don't thank me, Miss Rose. I sent you on that mission after all." He gave her a serious look. "In the meantime, however, your Uncle Qrow has returned and will be staying nearby to deal with the White Fang from now on. He has a few bones to pick with them as I understand it. He may even do some teaching while he is here."
A smile came to Ruby's lips. If Qrow was around and targeting the White Fang then she wouldn't need to worry too much. They would get what was coming to them.
"I'd like to do the same Oz." Ruby looked up at her father in surprise. She knew he wanted to stay nearby and train her in hand to hand, but to leave his job at Signal for Beacon?
"Are your sure Tai? Signal will miss you."
"It's only for a bit. Ruby needs my help and I need to have my own talk with these terrorists. After the Festival I may go back." Tai shrugged.
"We shall be glad to have you with us." Ozpin smiled as he spoke.
"Its alright Ruby. Everyone will understand. They were fine with Qrow running off for Ozpin, they'll be fine with me leaving to protect and train my daughter." He ruffled her hair.
"I'll have Glynda set you up with Qrow. With the Festival around the corner, we need the space for the other students."
"That's fine. I lived with him for four years, I can deal with his hangovers." Tai chuckled as he waved his hand.
"That does remind me, however. I know you were excited about the Festival Miss Rose, but without a team, you won't be able to join. I won't lie, the next few years here are going to be rough for you."
"That's alright. I wanted to fight with my team, not to win the tournament. It just means more time to train."
"Well, I believe you should work on rebuilding your weapon first. We were able to recover much of it in the forest, but it would likely be better to build a new one from scratch."
"I have some new ideas anyway…"
Ozpin nodded. "Our facilities are open to you whenever you need them."
Ruby nodded back.
"Alrighty, Ruby. Let's get your things from your room and meet up with team coffee." Tai patted her shoulder and looked to the Headmaster again. "Thanks for everything Oz."
"It's no problem, Tai. Have a good day you two." He waved as they left and went almost immediately back to his paperwork as the elevator doors closed.
"Only have to go in once more Ruby. I'll be there for you."
She nodded but didn't speak. She was afraid she would vomit if she did.
The dorm was the same as they had left it. Beds haphazardly made into bunk beds. Large stacks of books. Posters and clothing and everything.
It felt like home, like safety. But it also brought back memories.
Weiss getting her coffee to help study. Weiss falling into a tunnel filled with Grimm.
Blake sneakily reading her smutty books, pretending they were normal. Blake attempting to block the wave of feathers.
Yang making puns at everyone's expense. Yang holding the line against the Grimm.
It was all tainted now. Their deaths affected it all. Every good memory was followed by one of their mission.
She didn't spend long there. She grabbed her clothes and made to leave. But she stopped. She had said that she would be all of team RWBY right? She would need to show that.
An hour later she left the room, bags packed with not only her clothing but also some of the others.
She would have to look the part after all. And what better way was there than to bring the various styles of her friends into a new look?
Ruby would make sure her family were remembered.
"Well… that was something." Pyrrha said as she stretched. The bright light filtering in between the trees that surrounded the small village they had been working as deputies in.
"I never knew just how much a sheriff has to do in a town." Ren muttered as he joined Pyrrha outside of the dilapidated cabin they had just been in.
"Thinking of becoming one once you graduate?"
"Maybe. I doubt Nora would let me the moment we graduate. Maybe when I'm older." Pyrrha chuckled.
Nora herself was busy drawing on the face of an unconscious criminal inside the cabin.
"You think Jaune got his mind off that call he got from Ruby?" Ren whispered, careful not to get the attention of the blonde who was asking the sheriff they had been following a lot of questions.
"I hope so. We'll see what was going on when we get back tomorrow." She looked back at her friend and leader. "I'm sure nothing happened to them."
Ren just nodded. It was something Pyrrha had grown to appreciate. He never felt the need to fill the air with small talk, so she never had to make up anything.
She could let her mask fall around the team. She didn't need to give them a polite smile and wave. They just accepted her.
Pyrrha smiled, watching their leader bumble around the things he wanted to say. So awkward. It was so different from what she was used to.
"Maybe you should go save him from the embarrassment." Pyrrha jumped when Ren spoke.
"Oh! Right." Pyrrha stepped back into the building and walked towards her partner.
Everything would be alright. So long as she could be with the people she cared about.
A/N: Poor, poor Ruby. What else is there to say really? This isn't gonna be a fun journey for her. But either way, hope you all enjoyed!