A/N: Sorry, this is a little shorter than I like. Gotta work, work, work. Have to keep the lights on and all that.
As ever, we're going by the now infamous Embers rule for this story and many others.
This WILL be deleted if folks don't like it. So by all means! speak up!
Make yourselves heard! Every bit of feedback counts!
That's no joke!
I really look forward to reading and chatting with you all after a long day working back to back shifts. What little downtime I have is often spent writing these days, and that really has a tendency to wear me out these days.
Now, then lets answer your burning questions! Mostly general stuff this time around.
Q: Someone fell into the Genshin Impact hole!
A: You know what they say, once you Gensh-in, you can't Gensh-out. Still, I'm doing my best to restrain myself. I won't let it consume me. I've seen where that leads.
Q: How long do you intend to keep updating daily?!
A: Until my RWBY stories are finished. And rest assured, they will be finised. At least five are set to end soon. Wolf's already finished. "All Things Must Die" and Killing Monsters each have only a single chapter left, to say nothing of the others.
I've also had some people rather cross with me; because I'm updating other things instead of purely RWBY.
I'm only one guy writing this now, I don't have a team anymore...
Q: More interactions! More madness! More drama! Blood for the blood god!
A: Um...? You okay there, pal?
Q: What kind of music do you listen to while writing?
A: Bit of a blend of things. Nothing in particular. I'm open to suggestions.
Q: Can we see more of selfish Pyrrha?
A: Ask and you shall receive.
Q: Has...has Minato gone crazy?
A: He wants to find Kushina; if only because he believes her to be alive. Whether that is true or not...
Q: What's the pairing?!
A: Haven't we been over this? You'll have to read the story and find out. I promise you won't be dissapointed.
Alright, I've kept you long enough.
I'll let the chapter do the talking for me. Hopefully everyone enjoys it.
As ever, I own no references, quotes, memes or themes. Not a wit or a one.
Now, I do hope you're prepared for this...
"You're right! What do I have to be sorry about! Nothing!"
"Well, congratulations. You've created a monster."
"Her? Naw, its fine. Pyrrha's perfectly harmless.
"Harmess? Ha! Says the one banging her!"
...and this is a problem, how, exactly?"
"Shameless! The both of you!"
You can't choose your family.
Be it brother or sister, mother and father, or even aunts and uncles, blood was blood. It might be a pain at times, but one learned to live with the madness that was one's family. Because at the end of the day, be it peace or crisis, when all else fades way, family is all you have. Family has your back. At least, they should.
Naruto subscribed to this mantra more than most.
After all, his family was absolutely batshit crazy; so much so that he'd become inured to their unique brand of insanity long ago. Minato did his darndest to be a single father and run a gym in tandem, but he had help on that front. When the chips were down he could always count on Uncle Kakashi, Aunt Rin, or even Uncle Obito to pick up the slap. Even grandpa Jiraiya was known to lend a hand from time to time.
Pyrrha...wasn't so lucky.
To be fair, Naruto never had the pleasure of meeting Caesar Nikos -nor his fist the man's face!- until this moment. He'd not hurt good things about the former champion. Man was an ass through and through. Still, he was pleased to see that Weiss and Yang felt the same; they must, because they looked just as wary toward the Nikos patriarch. He didn't have to worry about a lack of unity on that front.
Poor Pyrrha. She looked miserable.
On a whim he reached for her hand. Evidently it was the right thing to do; because her palm pounced on his, fingers greedily slipping through his own. Her eyes flitted to his, and he thought he saw the ghost of a smile touch her lips. Caesar definitely noticed it; because he turned a fascinating shade of puce. Bastard looked like he was having a stroke. Good! Now if he could just figure out what Pyrrha's old man was doing out here in the courtyard, looking like he'd been hung out to dry? That'd be great.
No, he didn't trust him and he didn't trust this, not for a single second.
"Wise of you." A little voice whispered in the back of his head. "And here I took you for a simpleton."
"Pipe down, furball." Naruto muttered between his teeth. "I don't have time for your sniping."
"Wait, you're aware of me?!"
"Aware and meaning to have a looong conversation with you. Might need you in a minute."
...how do you feel about scaring the piss out of an asshat?"
A beat of silence followed.
...I take back what I said. You and I? We're going to get along just fine."
Naruto tugged himself back to reality as Pyrrha muttered a halfhearted greeting, one her father reluctantly returned.
As one, he exchanged a glance with Weiss and Yang. Together, the trio kept Pyrrha between them.
Caesar Nikos wouldn't take his daughter from Beacon without a fight.
Actually, scratch that. He wouldn't be taking her at all.
So they swore.
Pyrrha found him there in the courtyard.
Caesar Nikos...was not as she remembered. Once he'd been proud, larger than life, and far too full of himself. Now he was heavier, his trim form nowhere to be seen, a double chin hidden behind a scraggly red beard. The sight of him took her aback. She knew he'd he'd retired from the tournament scene long ago, but to let himself go like this...?! That he was smiling only set her on edge. She'd not fall for his honeyed words.
"Hello, daughter." at least he had pleasant words for her...for the time being being. "You look lovely as ever."
Yang cocked a brow. "Smooth talker, this one."
"Father." Pyrrha lifted her chin in naked defiance. "Why are you here?"
"Straight to business, then." He winced a little." You always were like your mother."
A seed of anger sprouted in Pyrrha's chest. This was Father at his worst slimiest; that he was patronizing her at all promised nothing good. Still, she refused to be baited by his juvenile attempts to rile her. She would not show fear. She was the bigger person here.
"I..." he seemed to struggle with the words, "I have come to beg your forgiveness."
She didn't believe him. Not for a moment. Caesar Nikos did not apologize. To apologize was to admit defeat. He never did. She'd known this day would come; even after she'd cut all ties with him. He wanted something for her. He always did. Whether it was for her to come home, to have her compete in the tournaments again, or simply to have her under his thumb, she knew naught. Whatever it was, she wasn't having it.
And then he said the words. "Pyrrha...your mother, she isn't well. She doesn't have much time left."
Her world rocked. "That's a lie! She was perfectly healthy the last time we spoke!"
"And when was that?" Father's face closed down.
Pyrrha's mouth clicked shut.
She knew the answer.
She'd all but cut her family out of her life; with good reason. She'd turned away mail, blocked their calls, refused to interact with them in any way shape or form. She'd done so if only because she feared exactly this, some insidious attempt to pull her back into the fold.
"We tried calling you, but you kept ignoring us." he straightened a little when Yang made an offended noise. "Thus, I had no choice but to confront you directly. You know how she gets when she's...upset."
Naruto stepped up on her right side, gripping her hand a hand in his own. "And I wonder how much of this has to do with you?"
"You must be Minato's boy. You resemble him well."
"Thanks ever so much. Dad told me to punch you if I ever saw you."
"I'm game." Yang all but materialized on her left, seizing her free hand. "Whaddya say?"
Pyrrha felt her self control begin to waver. Were they really standing up for her. Even knowing her Father's reputation, his power, his prestige? Minato wasn't here to intervene this time. If Father tried to force the issue...a pang of dread hit her, stealing her joy. No. She didn't want to back. She didn't want to leave Beacon. She didn't want to be the Invincible Girl again.
Yes, she was worried about Mother, but this reeked of a setup...!
"Do you have any proof?" A new voice chimed. Pyrrha snapped back to reality.
Weiss surprised her -and the lot of them!- by taking point, all but thrusting herself between her and a startled Caesar.
"How dare you!" Now there was the outrage she was so accustomed to. "I did not come all this way to be questioned by children!"
"Children, you say?" Weiss's smile was pure Jacques at his worst. "Do you have any idea who we are?" a pause stretched between them. "Who I am?"
Caesar blinked. Then the color drained out of his face like a broken sieve. "You...?!"
Naruto sniggered. Weiss ate it up.
As Pyrrha looked on their resident Schee cocked her slim form to one side and planted a fist upon a slender hip; a move so utter reminiscent of Yang that Pyrrha couldn't help but smile. Naruto hooted, even as the former pumped a fist into the air. Seemed she'd rubbed off on her in more ways than one; thank the gods for that.
Caesar looked like he'd bitten into a lemon. "Why are you here...?!"
"Whyever wouldn't I be? I am Weiss Schnee, daughter of Jacques Schnee." she lifted her chin just so, adopting a haughty tone so natural that one might think it natural...were it not for the tightness of her eyes. "I can do as I wish, and go where I please. And that's my teammate you're slandering. I'll ask you again. What proof do you have of her mother's ill health?
Caesar Nikos made a noise of discontent stepped back, eyeing this diminutive slip of a girl as one might a Greater Ursa. Pyrrha found it an apt comparison. Weiss could glare a Grimm into submission.
"Do not impugn my honor, Schnee." Somehow, the man who was once her father managed to cross both arms over his barrel chest and rally. "This is a family affair.
"I'm so very glad you said that." Naruto stepped forth, touching a free hand to his chest. "Because, guess what? Pyrrha is family to us."
Pyrrha startled a little.
"And you?' Weiss flicked a long look up and down the length of Caesar. "What do you know of family? I dare say my little brother could best you in a duel, you fat fop of a fool! And he isn't even trained!"
"Indeed I do, good sir!" Weiss flicked her tongue in outright dismissal. "Now present your proof or leave!"
"Heh." Yang grinned. "Love it when our leader gets bitchy."
Pyrrha hid a smile behind her palm.
True, the Niko family were indeed prestigious both in Vale and Mistral, but they were nothing compared to the Schnees. They stood apart. They had no equal. There was a reason father had never crossed them. Only a fool would offend the best know supplier of Dust to the world. But that didn't matter. She didn't want to look at Father, didn't want to consider his words. She wanted him gone. Why couldn't he just leave?!
Stiill, however much she hated him...to hear that Mother wasn't doing well...
The thought soured her stomach and silenced her smile.
"What do you expect, a picture or somesuch?!" Caesar flung up his arms. "She's in a coma! You need only see for herself!" He fumbled in his wallet for a piece of paper and all but shoved it into her trembling hands. "See for yourself. She's been brought back to Mistral for the finest care I can provide. This is the address. You need only ask for her."
Pyrrha's fist curled around it. "And you want me to what, visit?"
A hint of avarice shone through that greasy smile of his. "If you were to return, perhaps lend me a bit of money," he rubbed his hands together, "I could see my way to ensuring her care continues...
Naruto snarled. Yang started forward, only for Weiss to reel her back.
Pyrrha felt her shoulders slump.
Money. Of course. It was always about money. She did still have the funds from her tournament days; it was not an unsubstantial amount. Father wanted it of course. He always wanted what she had, craved her fame and glory like his own bygone days. To see him now, after all this time stirred old feelings in her, emotions she'd thought long since forgotten. Here at last, she understood. She hated him. Perhaps she always had. Perhaps he was telling the truth. Perhaps not. She would ascertain it for herself. Without him.
A thought struck Pyrrha, then.
"Do you still have that pacemaker?"
Caesar's pale face furrowed in a confused frown. "I do, why?"
"Good. Then I can kill you without even touching you." her eyes narrowed. "And I will...If you don't leave this instant. You have until the count of three."
"One." Weiss began.
"You cannot be serious!"
"Two." Yang chirruped happily.
"This is absurd!" Caesar sputtered. "Surely you won't-
Naruto's eyes flashed red like balefire, accompanied by a pulse of demonic chakra. "THREE!"
Caesar Nikos scarpered.
Minato considered the tower in the distance with a keen blue eyes.
There was no security to be found in the Grimmlands.
Almost as if Salem were waiting for him.
Steeling himself, the blond walked on.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained...
She saw him.
Not through her eyes, but those of countless Nevermore wheeling in the skies above. Just as planned.
"This...Minato. Clearly he won't be beaten by conventional means. Salem tilted her head. "Perhaps a more subtle approach is required."
Salem stood from her throne and wrapped her magic about herself.
It was a physical strain to cloak herself as such, but she felt herself adequate to the task. Only then did she consider her reflection, and her now pale blond hair. A pale hand, no longer chalk-white and rimmed with pulsing red veins, reached up and unbound her flaxen tresses, leaving them to cascade down her back. Aqua blue eyes stared back at her, framed by a smug smile.
"Yes," she turned, considering herself. "I believe that will do."
She frowned down at her dark robes. When was the last time she'd worn anything else?"
"Perhaps a change of clothes." she murmured. "Wouldn't do be recognized...Hazel! Fetch me my wardrobe! And prepare a feast."
The giant granted her a gravelly sigh.
"As you command...
Pyrrha was grateful for the change to fight again.
Despite all her team had said and done, stress had lingered over her like a low cloud for the last week, polluting her every thought. Not even her late night "sessions" with Naruto had been enough to quell her anxiety. It ate at her like a physical thing, hollowing her out from within.
So when Neo a certain midget volunteered -again!- in Glynda's class, she was all too happy to oblige.
Neo was a fighter through and through; better yet, she wasn't a contender for Naruto's heart. Which meant she could fight to her heart's content.
Distantly she heard her team holler encouragement, but it was faded now. Muted. Distant to her ears.
Neopolitan fought differently from others. Much like Pyrrha, she had a skillset all her own. Unlike her, Neo had taken to Minato's training with a singular enthusiasm. The leaf gym had honed her. Sharpened her. While she had busied herself with her new life and all the happy trappings that came with it, this little hellion worked herself to the bone. And she was rather cross with her at the moment.
All the better. Pyrrha wanted a real fight. Not a slaughter. She needed to vent.
Miss Goodwitch swung her crop down. They lunged.
And the world spun on.
Kakashi frowned at the ceiling of the tent.
Really, it was a very nice tent. Large, spacious...AND WHY THE HELL WAS HE HERE?!
"Where are my clothes?" he blinked once, then touched a hand to his forehead. "Why do I have a hangover?"
He rolled over and beheld a pair of bleary blood red eyes staring back at him.
Raven Branwen stretched sleepily, granting him a generous view of her bosom and bare body besides. "Morning, handsome...
Kakashi's world ground to a halt.
One word emerged.
Perhaps had he listened, he might've heard familiar laughter.
...you sure that was a good idea? Getting him drunk like that?"
"Yup." Obito materialized with a swirl of air. "Hundred lien says she falls in love with him."
"No bet." Rin didn't look up from her magazine. "Sensei could charm the pants off a frigid bitch like Goodwitch."
"Aaaaand there goes my ship."
"Tough luck, buster. Now c'mere and gimme a massage rub." she wiggled her bare shoulders at him. "I'm sore and you know I can't move like I used to."
The wayward trickster sighed, but did as he was bade. "The things I do for my pregnant wife...
She swatted him with the magazine. "I heard that!"
His laughter redoubled. "You were meant to!"
"It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!"
"There, there." Naruto bore with her grumbling patiently as he dabbed a bit of gauze to her cheek. "I told you Neo was in one of her moods."
"Just what the hell has she been doing?!" Pyrrha wriggled in his lap, wincing a little as he tended to her wounds. "I barely got a hit in! She just wouldn't go down! And ouch!" she yelped. "Be careful! That stings!"
"Hold still." Naruto sighed, dabbing her cut with a bit of cloth. "Really, that was reckless...
She glared at him out of the corner of her eye. "I'm not sorry."
On a whim, he pulled her close.
"Whddya say to a date this weekend? Would that help calm you down?"
Pyrrha perked up in his lap. "Aaaaand you're forgiven."
Someone was knocking at their door.
Naruto stumbled out of bed, glowered at the ghastly hour indicated by his clock, and staggered to the door. Fumbling fingers closed around the latch and flung it open. He looked up. Then down. Frowned.
Ruby Rose beamed aback at him, impossibly perky despite the early hour.
"I've come for training!"
Distantly he heard her words, but his brain didn't quite catch up.
"Its a weekend." he heard her at last and scowled. "Why are you awake this early?"
"Pleeeaaase! You and Neo are the only ones who can hold a candle to Pyrrha! And now there's that Cinder girl!" she clasped bot hands before her chest. "I'm falling behind!"
...it was entirely too early for this. "Then why not ask Neo?"
She balked. "Uh, no. I'll die. I wanna live."
"Look, Ruby. Its early, I'm really tired-
"I'll buy you ramen for a month."
He perked up at once.
A/N: As ever, we're going by the Embers rule. This'll be deleted quickly if folks don't like it.
So speak up! Make yourselves heard! Every bit of feedback counts! Seriously!
Strange at it may seem, I can't write without reviews. That's no joke.
Worry not, we haven't seen the last of Summer or the rest.
Didn't see that coming now, did you?
Aaaand there we go. As ever, reviews keep me alive. Without them, I cannot write.
So...in the Immortal Words of Atlas...
...Review...Would You Kindly?
Have some new previews!
As ever, a disclaimer:
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD!
"I think that went well, don't you?"
"Do you, now?" Weiss planted a hand on her hip. "Say what you will about their methods, but the Nikos family is not without their own resources. They can make life rather difficult for us -and Pyrrha!- if we leave them unchecked for much longer.
Yang planted a fist in her palm. "So lets check 'em. Hard."
Weiss smiled. It was not a pleasant smile. "Why, Xiao-Long! It seems I underestimated you...
"What business do you have with my teammate? Shall I fetch our lawyers?"
Ozpin smiled. "I only require a moment of her time, nothing more."
"Anything you have to say to her, you can in front of us."
Naruto half expected anger at that remark.
He only received a smile instead.
"WHERE! IS! MY! WIFE?!"
Cinder pursed her lips. "I am not your enemy, girl. I merely came to give you a warning."
She stalked past, heels clicking against the floor. Warm lips brushed Pyrrha's ear.
"Be careful whom you trust."
And then she was gone.
Pyrrha scowled after her.