Edited by: Marethyu, Priapus


You know, all things considered, this has been a very successful business trip. On the surface, I might've lost a lot of money since I'm funding the CCT tower here, and I might've fucked up by giving Sienna magic, but besides those, I couldn't be happier with how things have turned out.

Fixing up Blake's problems and fear of confrontation, spreading potions to a continent that seriously needs them, killing another Titan, and completely neutralizing the White Fang via peaceful measures. Yup, overall a net positive. It's wild that I've done all these things in less than a week.

But now, what to focus on next? Obvious. I still have to do the dungeon in the mines soon. I'll prepare new equipment, level up some of my skills, and invent new spells. After I'm done, I'll take a few days off work to clear it out. The temptation is irresistible.

I wonder what the dungeon's theme will be like. I've done deserts, forests, snow, tombs, and temples. Is it gonna be different this time? Or is it simply a higher-tier version of the things I've already experienced? The possibilities are endless. Kind of.

Teralos is just a fantasy world, as far as I'm aware. I haven't really encountered anything that I'd consider 'out of place' there. Even the creepy book about this 'deserved' individual feels like it belongs to a demon king-esque faction.

So, still nothing too weird.

Maybe it's gonna be something entirely different? Dungeon quests seem to get more complex the higher tier they are. So maybe I'm just plopped into a regular city where I have to defeat some crime group, or it's some political problem that I have to resolve. That would be different. And exciting. Exploring a fantasy city sounds so fun.

I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't think the dungeons would have me deal with something as delicate as that. Every dungeon has required me to kill something, and even the last one had monsters that had to be dealt with.

But I shouldn't lose hope. Maybe my wish will come true and I'll get to properly integrate myself into the dungeon world. Instead of just going there to raid tombs, kill random monsters, or save defenseless people.

One step at a time. I'll do all that after I check on Yang. I told her Blake was safe and with me, but all I got in response was, 'Okay. Thanks'—nothing else. She didn't ask about her or anything like that, which worries me.

Yang probably took it really badly. I can't imagine what she's thinking knowing we're coming back today, and I don't know how she'll react. Obviously, Blake is at fault here, but this situation is more complex than that.

I'm not going to blame her if things go south, but I really hope Yang can control herself and let Blake explain properly. I don't want either of them to do or say something they'll regret. And speaking of Blake…

"Gods, Yang is…" She mutters, looking away with a guilty frown. "I-I didn't know."

At first, I considered not telling her anything about Yang's abandonment issues, but I thought about it more and decided that it might help if she's aware of what she's really dealing with. So, as we made our way to the Bullhead with everyone else, I took her to the side and explained everything to her away from the rest.

"I know, Blake. I'm not telling you this because I want you to feel bad." I respond. "Typically, I wouldn't tell you this at all since it's not my place to talk about it, but I wanted to give you a heads-up in case Yang acts…"

I don't want to say unreasonable since it's within her right to be mad. I'd be pissed if my teammate suddenly disappeared with barely any explanation beyond 'gotta do something'. Honestly, if Yang and I switched places, I'd run after Blake anyway.

Yang showed a lot of restraint by staying in Vale and trusting me with this. I'm proud of her. I just hope said restraint holds out enough for her to forgive Blake.

"If I had known, I—"

"There's no point thinking what you could've or couldn't have done," I speak over her. "You'll just have to apologize to her once we're back, just like with Weiss. Okay?"

Blake pauses for a moment, then nods slowly.

"...Okay."

"Things could get ugly, but remember, I'm on your side. Always." I reassure her. "I promise everything will turn out alright."

"I know." Blake agrees.

A part of me expected her to show clearer signs of anxiety, but I guess after the dungeon, her faith has improved drastically. That's good. Hopefully, Weiss will back her up when the time comes, which is in two hours.

I'm seriously going to miss this humidity. I hope that the dungeon's theme is a beach or something.

"Now go say goodbye to your mom," I tell her, patting her head. "We leave in a few minutes."

"Stop treating me like a kid," Blake scowls, blushes, and slaps my hand away. "I'm literally older than you."

She walks away from me with a scoff, making me chuckle. Yup, she feels much better than before. That's what I learned from her. If she acts this adorable, that means she's not all that anxious.

"So what was it you two were talking about?" Weiss asks, approaching me.

"Something about Yang," I answer vaguely. "I'd rather not say."

Weiss frowns and crosses her arms, looking at me unimpressed.

"I'm serious, Weiss. It's not really my place to tell anyone about this." I respond. "I only told Blake because of specific circumstances. You can ask Yang about it later today."

"...If you say so." She sighs. "Here's hoping she wasn't part of an infamous terrorist group, too."

I snort. As funny as it would be to talk about Raven right now, I'd rather not tell her that Yang's mom is a bandit queen. She might just have an aneurysm.

"I suppose this is goodbye," Sienna says as she walks up to us. "We'll never forget what you two have done for us. We might've not known each other for long, but we will certainly miss having you two around."

"I'm going to miss it here too." I glance at Weiss, who is already sweating from the harsh weather—to her, at least. "Not so much for her, though."

"W-well, I'm not used to it being so humid."

"Instrumental in defeating a powerful Titan Grimm, yet can't handle a little humidity." Sienna smirks. "You might not be like your father, but you're certainly an Atlesian Princess."

"Tell me about it." I tease Weiss, who blushes in embarrassment. "I guess some things never change."

"Whatever." Weiss scoffs, haughtily looking away in annoyance. She's just proving us right. "I feel like we've overstayed our welcome. Let's leave."

She goes inside the bullhead, leaving me alone with Sienna.

"Never imagined there would ever be a day where I thought a Schnee was cute." She mutters. Right? She's adorable. "Mr. Astera. Or Reid since you insist on calling you that."

"Yes?"

"We might not be able to offer much, but I want you to know that Menagerie will always be on your side," Sienna says, which surprises me a little. "And hers, as well. If you ever need us for anything, we'll be happy to help."

Sienna extends her hand, which I shake firmly.

"Sure," I reply, accepting her offer. "And if any business or political figure bothers you or your people, give me a call. I'll set them straight."

Because opening trade doesn't mean that those fucks are going to start respecting Menagerie. A little scare here and there should help keep the peace. I don't want some idiot starting another centuries-long war because they're scared of cat ears.

How could they hate that? Cat ears—and bunny ears—are adorable and fluffy. I hate that I didn't take my chance to touch Sienna's or Kali's. Also, it usually gets them really embarrassed.

…I might never get a chance to do this again.

"I'll keep it in mind." Sienna nods. "...What? Why are you looking at me like this?"

"I have one more request," I say. Worth a shot. "I hope it's not a bother."

"Is that so?" She smiles. "That's alright. Like I said, I'm happy to help."

"Right well…" I hesitate for a moment. Asking something like that is creepy out of context, but I'm too in deep now. "Can I touch your faunus ears?"

"Excuse me?" Sienna's eyes widen.

"Please, I know it sounds weird, but I kind of have a thing for it." I try to explain, realizing I make myself look worse. "Nothing sexual, I promise. It's just… a me thing? I guess you can call it that."

"What is wrong with you?" Sienna asks in an unusually high tone, flustered and blushing deeply. "D-do you not know what that gesture means?"

Thankfully, she isn't creeped out by this or anything like that. Just surprised. Okay, I did not fuck this up. That's good. I do not want to ruin the goodwill I made here because I'm too fucking obsessed with cat ears.

Still worth it, though.

"I know, but please. I'm begging you here." I urge. "You have no idea how many times I had to actively refrain from touching them. Just let me have this for a few seconds."

Sienna's face goes even redder at my frankly odd insisting, and she says nothing for a bit. She looks around, scanning the surroundings and noticing that Kali and Blake are still too preoccupied with each other, and finally, she sighs.

"F-fine…" She says, leaning forward. "Be quick about it."

With her consent, I massage her fluffy tiger ears. I make sure to avoid the piercings as to not bother her too much. Her ears are a bit rougher than Blake's and Velvet's, but they're still so soft. This is the best feeling ever. It's like petting a cat if the cat didn't immediately try to slit my throat because they hate me for some fucking reason.

They're too damn moody. This is why I'm a dog person.

Perk gained

Huh? What? Where did that come from?

[Desperate Measures] – 100 REP Sienna Khan

You deal more damage the less HP you have, up to 150%

Partner Bonus: While fighting with your partner, both of you share the effects of this perk. Increases cap up to 350%

Huh, I completely forgot about that. I guess I can handle still getting pinged when I get a REP perk, but I'm glad I turned off the stupid notifications every time I earn at least one point of either reputation or affection. It was getting really annoying.

This perk is powerful. It's not exactly a stat increase, but making me deal up to 150% more damage is insane. This is definitely going to help out a lot in that legendary dungeon because I'm around 70% sure I'm losing at least one limb there, as usual.

I stare at Sienna, who is trying to appear composed. I guess she likes this nearly as much as me, huh?

"A-are you done?" Sienna asks, her voice still strangely high. "...I don't want anyone seeing us like this."

"Sorry." I back off and pull my hands away. "Thanks. I'll never forget the kindness you showed me today, I promise."

"Why does it feel like you're taking this more seriously than everything else?"

"It's just important to me."

"I-I see." She clears her throat, regaining her composure. "We'll keep our end of the deal. If you hear about any White Fang splinter group causing trouble, we denounce them. We will not attack or harm anyone and will continue expanding Menagerie instead."

"I know." I nod, turning to face the bullhead. "I'll have some construction workers and golems come here in a few days. They'll build your CCT tower and the new dust refinery. Once the tower is built, give me a call, alright? Hopefully, I'll find some time to celebrate together."

"That sounds lovely." She agrees. "Farewell, Reid."

I wave and walk away, with Blake catching up to me. We take our seats inside, and the ramp of the bullhead closes. I don't know why, but I still feel a little stressed even as we take off. I should be happy now that I've completely counteracted the biggest terrorist group in the world. Maybe it's because I know Salem was watching us during the battle.

What if she's still watching?

…I don't like this. I guess I'm stopping by Oz after I check up on Yang and Ruby. I still haven't really discussed anything with him about the Titan in Menagerie or the Titan that Ruby killed.

No rest for me, but hasn't it always been that way?


– Weiss –

As the bullhead landed in front of Reid's mansion, the ramp opened up, showing the excited faces of their friends. Ruby, Yang, and Levi. The first of those three rushed at and tackled Reid as they walked down the ramp, sharing a laugh.

"I missed you!" Ruby giggled as he spun her around. "Did you see?! I proved you right! I'm a hero like you now!"

"Hell yeah, you are. Always has been." Reid said. "I'm so proud of you, Ruby. I knew you had it in you."

Weiss smiled at the scene, prompting her to get caught by surprise as Yang suddenly embraced her tightly. Confused, Weiss returned the hug, not havibg expected this type of affection from her teammate. Well, more accurately, she wasn't used to it.

"How's my favorite ice queen doing?" Yang greeted, patting her on the back. "How's Menagerie? Was it fun?"

"Well…" Weiss paused. They were on a business trip, so fun wasn't exactly the point. But besides their business there… "Yes. It was a lot of fun."

"Aw, man. Lucky you." The blond snickered. "Ruby and I always wanted to go there when we were kids."

"Kuo Kuana looks so nice~" Levianna quipped. "We should go there for a proper vacation one day."

"Then, as long as you can handle the unbearable heat and humidity, you'll certainly love it there."

"You kidding? I love warmer climates." Yang scoffed playfully. "I'd take a hot, sweaty day over a freezing one any day of the week."

"I lived most of my life in Mistral, so I'll be fine for the most part." Weiss' partner added. "Honestly, I hate it when it's cold."

So she was the only one who could appreciate the cold? Who would've thought that she was the only one here with actual taste?

"Also, you faced a Titan there, right?" Yang asked. "Ugh, that's so unfair. Why do you get all the fun while we're stuck here doing stupid homework and presentations? We should've gone to Menagerie too."

"Actually, I'm very happy that I stayed here." Levi disagreed. "Facing a Titan… It makes me shiver just thinking about it. I can't imagine how scary it was."

"It was terrifying," Weiss answered truthfully. "I almost died. More than once."

"Sheesh, that bad, huh?"

"Things would've been a lot easier if you were around." The SDC heiress added. "That Dreadnought monster was heavily armored. Blunt force would've done a lot of damage."

"Now you're making me feel worse." The blond deflated. "What the hell? I wanna fight a Titan, too. It's not fair that everyone got a turn but me."

"U-um…"

The intervention of a fourth voice made the three girls pause, all of them turning to see Blake standing there anxiously. Ah, right. She had yet to apologize for randomly running off. Weiss almost forgot about that.

Well, it should be fine. She would have to explain everything to them, too, but Weiss and Reid would be there to vouch for her and assist her, so it shouldn't be that bad. Yang and Levianna would surely understand.

Their team was understanding like that. It was the best team in Beacon for more reasons than one, consisting of wonderful people Weiss was proud to call friends. Something like this wouldn't break their relationship.

"Oh, Blake!" Levi's eyes widened, dashing toward her. "You're here! Are you okay? What happened? Why'd you leave?"

"I was dumb." She responded. "I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have done that, Levi. Yang. I was stupid, and it won't happen again. I promise."

"W-well…" The girl in front of her blinked, not expecting the sudden apology. "That's fine, but you haven't told us anything about that."

"I'll tell you everything." Blake nodded, glancing at Yang. "Why I left and why I acted the way I did."

Weiss nodded in approval. It was straightforward. There was no dancing around the issue and making the problem even bigger. It must have been hard for her, but this was the correct action. Blake was making progress that she should be proud of—

"It's fine," Yang replied blankly. "You don't have to."

"Huh?" Weiss blinked.

"What?" Blake was also confused. "W-what do you mean?"

"I'm fine. You don't really need to explain yourself." She reiterated. "It's personal, isn't it?"

"Um…Y-yeah, but—"

"Then keep it that way," Yang said, still eerily blank. "You don't need to tell me anything."

"B-but I have to." Blake insisted. "I have to make this right—"

"I said stop." Yang scowled, eyes flaring red. "Just stop. I don't want to hear any of it, okay?"

Blake flinched, her cat ears drooping as she looked at the side with guilt. Weiss did not know what was happening right now. This felt extremely out of character for the upbeat and outgoing Yang Xiao-Long she was used to. What was wrong with her teammate? For a moment, she looked like she was about to be very reasonable and forgive Blake immediately. But apparently not.

Did her partner running away unannounced really hurt her that much? She thought for sure that Yang would just laugh it off at best and smack her across the head at worst. This was… odd. Weiss didn't like this one bit.

"Yang? Are you okay?" Levi asked carefully.

Yang said nothing for a moment, then sighed.

"Yeah, I'm cool." Her eyes turned back to their original color. "Sorry. Didn't mean to yell."

Weiss didn't know what to say to that. The atmosphere shifted into something that felt unbearable. Yang was very clearly angry and hurt, which she had every right to feel, but to this extent? That wasn't Yang. This was very unusual.

She glanced at Blake. The poor girl was devastated, on the verge of tears from the harsh shutdown by her own partner. Weiss felt her own heart twist at that, at a loss. Just what the hell were they supposed to do? Yang wasn't even interested in hearing out Blake's reasoning.

Thankfully, the tense tone lifted as they heard Reid suddenly speak loudly.

"Alright, everyone! I have an announcement to make!" He said, still holding Ruby in his arms. "Seeing Ruby's rise to legend status, I've decided to throw a party in her honor! V, invite all our friends and order as many sweets as possible."

"Yes, sir!" Velvet cheered.

"Aw yeah, this is gonna be the best party ever!" Ruby declared, kissing Reid's cheek. "Thanks, Reid! I love you!"

"Hell yes, count me in!" Yang said, her smile returning as she tackled Reid from behind, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Make it a pool party. Swimsuits are mandatory."

Levi, Blake, and Weiss said nothing for a while, but they didn't just forget how Yang acted. This could be a problem. The blond clearly had some anger issues; she said it herself at some point, but this felt… different.

In fact, now that she thought about it more, Yang looked more hurt than angry. But why? Her teammate barely let anything bother her for too long. The most Weiss had seen from her was yelling at a stupid video game.

Weiss caught Reid's glance, silently communicating with each other for a moment. Did he know how she would react? If so, then he must have a plan. And seeing how upset Blake was… This had to be what they'd talked about before their flight to Vale.

Something to do with Yang reacting this way. If that was the case, then she should trust Reid. He would probably handle this by talking with Yang. For now, she should try to console Blake.

The girl needed it.


– Yang –

I can't sleep. She thought to herself after hours of lying in the same position. …I hate this.

This was certainly not new as she had the same problem the past few nights, but it was especially weird today, considering Reid pounding her into the bed didn't immediately knock her out this time. And after a few days of not having any of it? This was weird, for sure.

It seemed that her tendency to overthink when anxious returned with a vengeance after Blake's sudden departure, and even with her return, those thoughts didn't disappear. They somehow felt worse, which she felt was unreasonable.

Yang got off the bed, looking at the shattered moon from the open balcony of Reid's room. In nothing but her panties and sports bra, Yang enjoyed the slightly cool breeze of the night, looking back to see Ruby sleeping peacefully on the bed while Reid was nowhere to be seen.

For a guy that massive, he sure could be light-footed. She was awake the whole time and didn't even hear him get up. Where did he go anyway? Where would he go? Knowing him, he was probably in his lab doing his silly magic experiments. Or something like that.

Yang shook her head and left the bedroom, gently closing the door behind her before walking through the dark hallway of the mansion. Honestly, she wasn't sure where she was going. She just felt like taking a walk. She had to clear her head.

Even after a big party like that, Yang couldn't enjoy herself very well. She'd avoided the Faunus the entire time, even faking her smiles and laughs with the other attendees. The entire time, Yang wanted to be left alone, and Reid noticed it, but of course, he would. He asked her if she was feeling okay, and she really wanted to say no at the time, but she couldn't.

She couldn't stop thinking about what Blake did and how she looked after the blond's less-than-kind response. Yang felt guilty, obviously, but it wasn't like she could help it. However, she didn't want to worry anyone else.

What she'd done— What Blake had done was just… Yang hated it from the bottom of her heart. She couldn't sleep very well, couldn't eat very well, couldn't even study or pay attention to class very well. Even after Reid's texts of reassurance telling her that Blake was around him, the tightness in her throat refused to leave.

It brought back terrible memories.

…In a way, it felt like a needed slap to the face. Besides the thrill of fighting and helping others in need, like how she was raised, Yang became a huntress to find her mother, the first person to abandon her. Why did she do that? Yang didn't know. She wanted to— no, needed to know. Just what kind of person Raven was. Why she would do such a thing.

Every time she thought of Blake, Raven would come to mind. She knew it to be unreasonable of her— it was just her childhood trauma muddying her thoughts. That extreme feeling of boiling blood and freezing skin when she heard Blake had gone up and disappeared wasn't normal.

Yang shook her head. This wasn't clearing her head— it was fueling the restlessness in her mind. She had to think of something else.

As nothing of particular interest came to mind, Yang simply thought about nothing, aimlessly walking until she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned around and saw Reid, looking at her with a raised brow.

"Where are you going?" He asked.

"Uh… nowhere." She answered. "Was just taking a walk."

"Yang, it's six in the morning," Reid replied. "Couldn't sleep?"

"Pretty much." She smiled. "What about you?"

"Got a bit busy with something." He shrugged. "Wanna talk?"

"About what?"

"About Blake."

Yang froze for a moment, and her smile dropped. Were they really doing this right now? At this hour?

"Do we have to?"

"Not really." He snorted. "It's your choice."

She internally debated with herself, then let out a sigh. She couldn't just ignore this forever. Yang needed to grow up and talk about it like an adult.

"Yeah, okay. Sure." She nodded.

"Alright." Reid gently took her hand. "Let's go somewhere nice first. Standing in the middle of the hallway like this is kinda weird."

He took her away and led her outside to one of the tables next to the outdoor pool. They took their seats opposite each other, enjoying the nice weather as the sun slowly rose in the distance.

"Kinda romantic." She said, grinning at him. "Don't tell me this was planned?"

"Maybe."

She giggled.

"Classic Reid." Yang teased. "You can say it's a coincidence, you know? I won't make fun of you for it."

He snorted but said nothing. For a moment, they were quiet in a strangely pleasant silence. Maybe because she felt at ease around him or that the sunrise was very beautiful to look at, but she enjoyed this. It made her feel better.

Yang wanted to enjoy this silence some more, watching the sun casting a pretty hue over the ocean in the distance. And although she felt good, she knew she couldn't stall forever. Still, it was hard to start this difficult conversation, so she did it in the best way she could think of.

"...I know I'm not being reasonable," Yang said. "It's just…"

Reid said nothing, patiently waiting for her to finish.

"...I-I don't know, it hurts every time I look at her." She sighed. "It always makes me think of the worst things, y'know? I know it's not true, but sometimes, a part of me says it's my fault she ran away."

"Are you referring to Blake or Raven?"

"...Both." She answered. "I don't know about my mo— about Raven, but Blake had a good reason, right?"

"She did. Kind of." Reid replied. "Honestly, Blake acted really stupid, but it wasn't anything malicious, Yang."

"I know that." She leaned back on her chair. "I mean, I don't remember pissing her off so much. It's just my head playing tricks on me."

"I see."

"I should forgive her, I know. But it's not that simple." She shook her head. "I can walk up to her and say 'I forgive you.' then pretend we're cool, but I wouldn't believe it. It would be fake. I can't do that to her."

"What does she need to do to earn your forgiveness, then?"

"I don't know. I have to adjust first. Get back to the usual 'me' so I'm not fucking depressed all the time." Yang answered. "...It's just a me thing, I guess. I need some time to think about it. Honestly, there's a small part of me that believes I'd never be able to forgive her."

"That bad?" Reid frowned sadly. "Right..."

"I'm being a bitch about it, I know."

"Not at all. I never said that." He denied. "You have every right to forgive someone or not. I cannot coerce you into forgiving someone because I feel like it. This is your choice."

"But I— I mean, she's my partner." Yang blinked, a little confused at Reid's response. "We're on the same team. This isn't all about me."

"Yang, what Blake did to you, although unintentional, hurt a lot. It triggered horrible memories and thoughts you wished to bury." Reid said, making her flinch. He hit the nail right on the head. "If it was some typical spat about something dumb, then yeah, sure. But this is different."

Yang didn't understand. Wasn't he supposed to help them reconcile? She didn't understand where he was going with this.

"But if you'll let me, then I wanna tell you something about Blake. Something I saw back in Menagerie." He quickly added. "She loves you."

She blinked.

"What?"

"She loves you." He repeated. "All of you. So much that she would throw her own life away to protect you. Hell, she nearly died trying to defend Weiss from that Titan single-handedly, and I have no doubt she'd do the same for you."

Yang remained quiet.

"You girls mean the world to her." Reid continued. "You might not forgive her, and that's fine. She would constantly try to earn your forgiveness day in and day out, so even if you reject her now, she will never reject you. Know that she's never giving up."

"...Is that so?" She replied quietly. "You look sure of that."

"I am sure of it." He nodded. "Again, I'm not saying you need to forgive her, but keep it in mind, alright?"

For a moment, she said nothing and only stared at his piercing blue eyes in silence. When Reid gave her this look, then he 100% believed everything he just said, and more often than not, his gut feeling was correct.

Did Blake really feel that way about them? Whatever reason she had for running away didn't matter to Yang, not right now at least, but if Blake felt this strongly, then…

She looked down at her lap.

…Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to give that trust back.

Yang didn't know. She had to think about this. She couldn't just decide out of the blue just because Reid gave her a pep talk.

"...Okay."

"Yang."

"Yeah?" She gazed at his smile.

"Remember, I always got your back." He said. "So just trust your guts, alright?"

Yang couldn't help but smile back.

"You and your corny lines." She giggled. "I can only fall for you so hard."

"They're not corny." He rolled his eyes, standing up from his chair. "If they were, your face wouldn't be so red."

He ruffled her hair as he walked by her and back to the mansion, but Yang acted quickly and caught his arm before he left.

"Hm?"

"One more thing…"

Yang took a deep breath, not wanting to waste this chance now that he was finally back after his business trip. This question had been on her mind since they left, and she had never had the chance to ask him about it.

"Do you know where Raven is?"

"Sure I do."

The quick, positive response nearly made her fall off her chair. Yang's eyes widened as she got up from her seat, grabbing Reid by his shirt.

"You do?!" She exclaimed in utter shock. "Then can you tell me where she is?! Please, Reid. You have to tell me!"

Reid blinked.

"Yeah, sure. Go get some sleep." He told her. "We're seeing her later today."

Yang couldn't believe her ears, slowly letting go of him.

"...Y-you're not messing with me, are you?"

"Nope," Reid responded, patting her on the head. "She's in a secret room in Beacon. We can visit her after you get some sleep; now go back to bed."

He took her hand and led her back inside. Yang was too shocked to say anything as he dragged her through the estate and into their bedroom, eyes wide and mouth agape.

…Why the hell didn't she ask him months ago?


– Ozpin –

Never in a thousand years did he expect such monumental achievements. Five Titans fell in the span of a single year, two of which were undiscovered prior—two Titan Slayers in a single generation.

Ozpin had lived a long, long life. For thousands of years, he had seen countless civilizations rise and fall, seemingly invincible beasts slain by warriors of valor and might. He had seen the world of Remnant turned upside down many times before.

But not to this degree. Not in a way that severely damaged his fiercest enemy's forces so greatly and permanently. Five beasts of untold power felled by a man who, to Ozpin, did not belong in Remnant. He almost couldn't believe it.

Who was Reid? Where had he come from? What kind of life had he lived before seemingly appearing out of nowhere? Who was this… strange, unknown god that granted him magic? Was he some kind of a champion sent to Remnant to help? These questions had plagued him since they'd first met face to face.

For the first time in forever, Ozpin was truly and utterly stumped. In a strange way, it was refreshing. Sure, perhaps it was a bit worrying, but Reid was very clearly on his side. There was no point in them fighting each other when they had a common enemy. The boy was so focused on the objective that he had already fixed a decades-long feud between Menagerie and the Schnee family in mere days.

He did feel terrible seeing Reid not trusting him very much, but that was very much understandable. Ozpin knew to always keep his cards to his chest, and only reveal them when the situation called for it. It would be highly hypocritical of him if he confronted Reid about such a thing.

And then, only a few months after his appearance, another Titan Slayer entered the fray: Ruby Rose, daughter of Summer Rose, one of the most talented huntresses he had seen in this millennium. Coincidentally, she was also Reid's student, which had likely contributed to her achieving legendary status.

It was surreal. It had only been a few months. How was she able to reach this level of power in such a short time when it took even the most talented decades to come close to it? Just what kind of training had she gone through? And whatever it was, could it be replicated? Could they truly have an entire army of Titan Slayers on the same level as Ruby and Reid?

He did not know. Ozpin had never personally observed how Reid trained his students, nor did he know how this 'Haki' power of his worked on an intricate level. Willpower manifested into reality— something that never quite made sense, but then again… couldn't that be said about Aura and Magic?

He was certainly interested in it. Reid was confident when he said it was something vastly superior to aura when mastered, and if he was not exaggerating, then Haki could be something instrumental in defeating the other remaining Titans.

Because gods knew they'd need it. To think they'd yet to encounter the more powerful Titans like the Wyvern in Mount Glenn. Ozpin wasn't sure if even Reid could defeat it right now. That thing felt like it was on an entirely different level.

Ozpin pondered, a mug of hot cocoa in his hand as he gazed at the bright blue skies from his office's window. The ping of the elevator caught his attention, prompting him to turn around the moment the door opened.

"Ah, Mr. Astera!" Ozpin smiled. "What a pleasant surprise. How's Menagerie?"

"Pretty good. I liked it." Reid responded positively. "I did everything I wanted to do there, and I'm happy with how they turned out."

"That is good." The older man nodded. "Then I assume they've accepted your offer to build a CCT tower for them?"

"Yup. Though, I would've strongarmed them into agreeing if they'd refused, so there was no risk." He shrugged. Classic. "That goes beyond things like pride. Their people need it."

"That is true." Ozpin agreed. "I see. So everything went according to plan?"

"Better. Seeing that I killed a Titan there." Reid grinned. "Just a little bonus. I should probably go back there in a few days to collect the Stardust once it forms. I doubt they have the equipment for it, and I don't want it infecting their mines."

"Are you sure it has nothing to do with adding more to your collection?"

"Well, I mean, I'm just saying…" He shrugged. "I'm probably gonna use it better."

Ozpin chuckled at Reid's honesty. This man was a hero through and through; there was no mistaking it, but goodness, was he greedy in more ways than one. Money or fame, he would accept either without batting an eye.

"Of course, you will," Ozpin said. "And what else? I'm surprised you came to visit me at this hour. It's rather early in the morning."

The mirth on Reid's face disappeared, replaced with a serious frown. The sudden shift made Ozpin frown as well, and he was not prepared for what the Titan Slayer said next.

"Salem was watching."

Ozpin froze.

"...Are you sure?"

"Yes." He nodded. "Adam Taurus was part of our squad. Long story short, he tried to backstab Weiss, awakened the Titan, and eventually was crushed by the mine collapsing. When I tried to look for his corpse the next day, he was nowhere to be found."

"Salem rescued him," Ozpin concluded, sitting on his chair. "I… I see. This could be bad."

"More than you can realize," Reid said vaguely. "I don't care much about Adam. He's not a threat. But she could probably use whatever she witnessed in that battle against me. I revealed too much."

"Such as?"

Reid said nothing. So he wasn't willing to tell Ozpin anything, even considering the situation? Whatever he was hiding had to be big, then. And from the anxiety he was trying to mask behind his mildly annoyed frown, Ozpin hoped whatever it was she'd figured out wasn't catastrophic.

"...Right, well, message received," Ozpin said after a moment. "I'll be sure to tighten security around Vale. What about you? What will you do now?"

"Figure out how to counter her when it comes down to it. And keep my girls safe." He responded. "Besides training, I don't have a lot of ideas right now. But I'll manage. I just felt like telling you about that was a good idea. Also, one more thing."

"Yes?"

"I'm visiting Raven later today." He said. "Her daughter says she wants to see her."

"Mr. Astera, you realize that I can't let you do that."

"I don't care." Reid simply said. "Yang wants to see her, so she's seeing her. I think we both know how much she deserves it."

Ozpin paused, looking at the mug in his hand as he thought this over, quickly realizing that there was no point denying him; Reid would just do it regardless. He was only telling him to be polite.

"...Very well." The Headmaster sighed. "I'll see you tomorrow, Mr. Astera."

With that, Reid walked away and back to the elevator.

"Ah, and before you go." Ozpin stopped him. "Remember that the Vytal Festival is only a few weeks away today."

Reid only waved and left the office. As short of a visit that was, knowing Salem had been watching the battle and seeing how worried the boy was… Just what was he hiding from them?

Ozpin's frown deepened. Being in the dark made him feel annoyed.