This story can be considered a sequel to Hair Tai. So go read that one after this!
Picking up his daughters from school was a fairly common occurrence. His eldest being only twelve, and youngest, an extremely adorable yet immature eight, meant that trips to school were a daily necessity. Sometimes even twice a day when it was his turn in the carpool to both drop off and pick up the kids.
It was, however, not very common to be picking up his eldest at noon. Nor to need to sit in with the principal and listen to him talk about Yang getting into fist fights with her classmates. Taiyang sat beside a nervous Yang, both of them directly across from Principal Ozpin as he explained the situation.
Only every third word reach Tai however, as all he could really focus on was the cut on his daughter's upper lip and purple bruise forming around her eye.
"…suspended." This tore Tai's attention from Yang very quickly.
"What was that?"
"Your daughter will have to go home with you today, but if she acts out like that again, I will have no choice but to suspend her." The principal leaned back in his seat, taking a sip from his mug of coffee.
Tai sighed, but in the end thanked the principal and promised to give his daughter a stern talking to. The walk to the car was quiet, Yang always at least a few steps ahead of her father, grumbling and sighing under her breath. Hands clenched in silent anger as she stomped her way to the car, throwing the back door open and climbing in, arms crossed.
Tai started the engine and pulled out of the schoolyard. "Yang…"
Yang grunted and turned to look out the window. Tai sighed. "Come on Yang. What happened?"
"You heard the principal," she grumbled, digging her nails into her arm.
"Yes, but I want to know your side of the story. It'll be easier on the both of us if you tell me. Otherwise, I'll have to ask Ruby what happened-"
"-it wasn't her fault!" Yang quickly cut in, almost throwing herself forward if not for her seatbelt. "She doesn't know anything, promise!"
Now they were getting somewhere. "Who did you defend her against?"
"It was nobody…" Yang returned to her mumbling.
"Yang," Tai's words were hard, but caring.
"Fine. It was Cardin and his group, okay? They were talking about picking on Ruby cuz she likes to build sandcastles in the playground by herself instead of playing with the other kids. I told them not to. They yelled, I yelled… there was a lot of yelling."
"Who threw the first punch?"
Yang dug her chin into her inner-elbow, mumbling something under her breath.
"What was that?"
"It was you, wasn't it."
Taiyang saw Yang nod through the rear-view mirror. Letting her stew for a moment longer, she finally broke out into a full rant.
"What else was I supposed to do? They were gonna bully Ruby. Just because she's smarter than them and doesn't like the slide. I told them not to. I tried to use my words, but they wouldn't listen. So when Cardin pushed me, I punched him. He deserved it."
"He might have deserved it, but you need to do something else if you get into that type of situation. I'm happy that you tried to use your words first, but you still shouldn't punch people. Why not tell a teacher?"
"Teachers don't listen. They just think everything is fine. And Ruby's too nice to say anyone's bullying her."
Taiyang hummed. That was true. His youngest didn't have a mean bone in her entire body. An idea soon sprung to mind. "What if there's a way for you to defend Ruby and annoy her bullies without resorting to violence?"
Yang perked up at that.
"You'll need to practice though. It's a very hard thing to master, but I think you will be quite good at it. I know I am." Tai chuckled to himself. "You're still going to be in trouble for punching Cardin first, but you did the right thing by taking care of your sister."
"Doesn't feel like it…"
"No chocolate chip pancakes for dinner for a week."
"You don't make chocolate chip pancakes for dinner anyways," Yang giggled.
Tai raised his eyebrows, "really? Then would you like me to make up a different punishment? I'm very creative with my punishments."
Yang's happy laughter was all Tai needed to hear. "I'll be good and accept my very harsh and fair punishment."
"Oh, and dad?"
"Don't tell Ruby I told you what she does during recess. I think she's a little embarrassed about it. She loves it and has fun, but it's her only 'alone time' during the day and she really needs it."
Once they arrived home, Tai brought his daughter into their backyard. They had a few hours until class ended, and Ruby would be dropped off, so Tai didn't want to waste any time. As much as what he had planned was a joke and a way to embarrass his daughter for getting into fights, he still made sure to treat it seriously. His daughter was strong for her age. He knew it and so did she. It was why she had started to defend her little sister in the first place. Nobody liked to go up against the bigger, stronger kid.
But with that strength would have to come maturity. Tai didn't want his daughter to resort to violence and muscle for every situation. There would come a time when someone bigger and stronger just wouldn't back down. And knowing that the kids in her class would start hitting their growth spurts in the next few years, that event was likely soon approaching.
"First things first, you need to promise me you won't use this technique on anyone who doesn't deserve it."
"I promise. What is it?"
"Okay," Tai said, clapping his hands once. "This is my patented martial art that I created myself. I call it… Tai Chi."
Yang giggled into her hands at the name. "What do I do? What do I do?"
"Step one, you listen. Remember, this only works if you listen very carefully to your opponent. What they've just said is your source of strength and your source of counter-attack."
Yang nodded with child-like understanding.
"Next, you use that big brain of yours. You need to think hard and quickly. Trust me, Tai Chi only works when the counter-attack is very fast."
Another serious nod.
Then it was time to explain to her the inner-workings of the technique. He knelt down so he was eye level with Yang, then reached over to whisper in her ear. With every word, he could feel her smile grow a little bigger and a little more devious.
Tai leaned back, holding onto her shoulders. "Remember what I said. Be smart, be fast… and don't use it on your sister too much."
Yang laughed and gave her father a big hug. "Thanks, I promise."
The first thing Ruby did when she reached Yang's classroom was give her a big hug. It felt surreal to be in the same class as her big sister, even if it was just for a short time. Their dad had said it was because she was just so smart and Yang had said it was because she was so adorable, but Ruby liked to think it was a little bit of both. And the big kids got to learn about so much more interesting stuff. She couldn't wait to be bigger and learn everything. She was so happy that her school had a buddy program between the big kids and her grade.
Yang was right beside her, introducing her to her friends who were all very nice. Her big sister led her to the seat right next to her own and the two sat down for class to really start. They were going to be learning cool science things! She wriggled in her seat, letting her feet swing underneath the big chair. The big kids even had bigger chairs than her class did.
"Hey short-stuff," a boy said to her, slamming a hand on her desk. She flinched at the noise. She didn't like the loud noise. Nor his mean face. "How's the loner doing? No friends to play with?"
"Back off Cardin," Yang came to her rescue, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Nobody messes with my sister."
"Oh, I'm so scared," Cardin said with obvious sarcasm. "What are you gonna do? Fight me and get suspended?"
"Well I'll suspend you! Wait… that one was bad."
Cardin cocked his head. "What was that? Trying to trash talk me?"
"Nah, hearing you talk is trash enough."
"You're done for, Xiao Long."
"Well, you're cardone for!"
"Was my joke too dis-Cardin-ing for your little mind?"
Ruby giggled at that one, bringing a light smile to her big sister.
"Why don't you pick on somebody your own size instead of my little sis here? Why not pick on her?" Yang pointed to Raven, the classroom pet parrot. "You're both bird brains after all!"
Cardin looked around, unsure what to do. "Well… you're dumb!"
Yang snorted, "and you're cardumb."
Cardin took a step back, clearly confused on how to retaliate. Yang took a step forward in front of Ruby. "Nothing to say to little ol' me? I've been waiting Xiao Long for a snappy comeback now? Come back when you can win, chest hair. Get it?" Yang cracked up. "Win-chest-er?"
Now it wasn't just Yang laughing, but most of the classroom. Both those from Ruby' grade as well as their buddies in the older grade too.
Cardin looked between his friends and Yang, with wide, too stunned with what was being said to him to do much else. So, like too many bullies unsure with how to react, he went in for a punch, only to miss and stumble over a desk and hard onto the floor below.
There was a cheer as the bully hit the ground. Yang looked down on him with a smile. "That's how I like to win my fights now. Not with a bang, but with a Yang!"
Ruby groaned at that one and Yang could not look prouder.
Tai went to pick up his girls from school, waiting in the playground for everyone to grab their things from their lockers and classroom cubbies. He gave a small wave to the teacher on duty, who approached him with a smile and wave of her own. It was Yang's science teacher.
"Ms. Nikos, hey."
"Good afternoon, Tai." Ms. Nikos said. "You'll never guess what Yang got up to before class today."
"Oh, nothing bad, I assure you. Yang defended herself from a bully today. Not a single punch was thrown."
"Seems like she annoyed her bully into submission. I wonder where she learned that?"
Ms. Nikos and Tai had a good, hearty chuckle at that. Tai gave the teacher a shrug. "Who knows? Maybe it's just one of those things."
He smiled as he saw his two girls walk out of the school hand in hand, both smiling wildly. He couldn't be prouder. Tai Chi; the sacred art of punning would live on into the next generation.
I'd like to thank Newlurker and Riggy over at the RWBY Nook for their help with the puns. I'd also like to thank Eliad91 over there for the initial idea.