Weiss wasn't sure exactly when it all started.

Her team and Team JNPR had been close since the earliest days of their time at Beacon, their bonds forged in initiation and further strengthened with each passing trial they overcome. Their sister team didn't bat an eye when Blake was revealed to be a faunus, nor when it came to light that she was formerly a member of the White Fang. Nor did they hesitate to act when Team RWBY's mission to Mountain Glen went disastrously wrong, the first team to arrive from Beacon to help contain the breach. When they told her and her teammates of Jaune's situation with his transcripts, they vowed to take his secret to the grave and when Yang was vilified by the public during the Vytal Festival, when even her own partner harboured doubts about her sincerity, Team JNPR stuck by their friend without question. The failed takedown of Beacon by Cinder Fall and her cohorts simply solidified their friendships into something more, something closer to family. Weiss could still remember Jaune's desperate pleas reverberating through her to save Pyrrha and their mad dash to protect one of their own, a sister in all but blood.

Therefore, it stood to reason that they often spent time together. Before classes, between classes, after classes, on weekdays, weekends, at school, down in Vale, the teams did everything together. Sometimes it was as entire units, all eight of them, and sometimes not. Just last week, Weiss had visited a new ice cream parlor in Vale with Blake, Ruby and Ren, the rest of their teammates begging off for one reason or another, so it wasn't unusual to mix and match. They were all friends, the best of friends – they were family.

For the most part.

It was expected that some of them were closer than others. There were all sorts of reasons for that, chief among them were their very own personalities. Blake and Ren, for instance, were very much alike, yet the pair were seemingly drawn to more boisterous, outgoing people like their partners. Whenever Ren had some free time away from Nora and the rest of his team, he often sought the company of Yang, while Blake also liked to spend time with Nora whenever they were both free. You would think the quiet pair would gravitate together yet that simply wasn't the case, obviously fond of the chatter those two girls generated instead of mutual silence. And really, it was only natural to seek companionship where possible with those you trusted above all else.

"I'll catch you guys later," Ruby called out as she hastily laced her boots by the door. The diminutive young girl bounced from one foot to the next as she pulled on her second boot, almost falling in the process.

"Where ya going?" Yang questioned lazily from her bunk, a fashion magazine open in her lap.

"I'm helping Jaune with his weapon," she revealed happily. "I mean, we are kinda only brainstorming at this point but he has finally come around to my way of thinking! Classics are good and all but sometimes you just need a little extra oomph!" She looked extraordinarily pleased with herself, enough so that she puffed her chest out.

Weiss may not have known when this all started but that was why it now stuck out so sharply to her, why she was surprised she hadn't noticed it sooner. Again, it was unfolding before her eyes but when once she would have ignored such an innocent scene, blissful in her ignorance, she now couldn't help but acknowledge it.

"Ah, finally wore him down, I see," Blake said with a smile in her voice, face hidden behind one of her novels. Her cat ears flicked back and forth, no longer bound and hidden from the world. Hadn't that been a shock when they returned from break, ribbon nowhere to be seen? "Can you let him know I'll be waiting for him in the library after dinner?"

"Sure," Ruby chirped before rushing out the door, her cloak nearly getting caught in the door as it slammed shut behind her.

Yang snorted.

Ruby and Jaune hanging out together wasn't anything new. Jaune was Ruby's best male friend, something she made sure to distinguish as Weiss was her best female friend. They were neither greater nor lesser than the other, just different. Even if their hangout sessions had grown in frequency, it wasn't at all strange.

Weiss eyed her remaining teammates across the room as they conversed, their conversation only heightening the feeling of unease she felt.

"You guys nearly finished your assignment or what?" Yang asked while idly flipping a page in her magazine.

Blake hummed. "The draft is all done. We just need to put it together."

Yang whistled. "I've barely started mine."

"…you know it's due next week, right?"

Yang groaned. "Don't remind me. Whenever we sit down to do something, we always get sidetracked."

Weiss could almost hear the eye roll as Blake said, "Maybe if you weren't constantly challenging Nora to feats of strength-"

"—it's super fun though!"

"—then maybe you'll get it done in time," Blake finished before adding, "Well, maybe."

"Urgh, you can be such a sourpuss sometimes. Just don't overwork that poor boys brain, alright? I need him sharp in the morning. He isn't any use if he can't keep his eyes open, even if it is funny when he flails around in a panic."

"Training again?"

The blonde continued but Weiss tuned them out, her brow furrowing in thought. They were all friends and Ruby spending time with Jaune was old news but somewhere along the way, Jaune had begun hanging with the other members of her team. It was less about that fact and more the frequency of such events. It felt like every other day, one of her teammates were ducking away to spend time with him and for the life of her, Weiss couldn't think of when this pattern first started. Most of the time, it was Huntsman related. Training with Yang, be it fighting or hitting the gym, while with Blake it was on the more intellectual side of things, studying history for Oobleck or Grimm for Professor Port. Their current assignment for Oobleck, Blake had voluntarily partnered with Jaune when it had been announced. Then other times it was just friend stuff. Checking out Vale together or sharing quiet moments together around campus, taking a joyride on Bumblebee or discussing the plot and characters of the latest book they'd read. With Ruby, it more of the same, as it had always been; a lot of comic book sharing, goofing off with video games and 'super serious' leadership meetings. As much as Ruby loved to come up with names for their combination attacks, Jaune apparently had just as much enthusiasm for team tactics.

None of it was strange on its own. There was nothing weird or unusual and even if the frequency of their meet ups had taken her by surprise, it still wasn't anything more than that.

Yet...

"I'm going for a walk," Weiss declared suddenly, startling her teammates. No doubt they'd forgotten about her presence with how quiet she had been, curled up on her bed as she was. Sitting up, she gathered her heeled boots, slipping them on.

"Catch ya," Yang waved while Blake gave her a nod.

The door closed with a click and she stalked down the hall with purpose.

Just last week, Weiss had visited a salon with Pyrrha, had sparred with Nora and had spent many a conversations discussing the finer points of Mistralian cuisine with a surprisingly passionate Ren. Before that, she could remember going out to get her nails done with Pyrrha and Nora on two separate occasions, studying with Ren and a whole list of other activities that stretched back days, weeks and months.

What she couldn't once recall was ever spending time with Jaune. Not alone. That was what made all this so jarring, so unnerving to her. It wasn't anything they were doing. It was what she hadn't been.

In all her memories of him, he was always accompanied by someone. If it wasn't Ruby, it was Pyrrha, and if it wasn't either of them, it was someone else. Yang, Blake, Nora, Ren. Sun and Neptune back during the Vytal Festival. Mostly, it was several of them at once. She thought and she thought, yet no matter how far she went back, it was more of the same. Their past was a troubled one, Weiss would admit, their history rocky and fraught with misunderstanding. Even back then, their teammates had always been around. Through all the bad flirting and misguided contempt, alongside the awkward invitations to catch a movie or attend the dance together, they had never once been alone.

Not once.

In fact, the only time she could pin point where they had been utterly alone in each others company was when he had been pinned to a tree and she had been fleeing her new reality of being partnered to a child. And even then, even then, Ruby had only been several paces behind, out of sight beyond clustered tree and brush, but still very much close by.

Weiss paused in disbelief.

The more she thought on it, the worse she felt. Had she really been neglecting their friendship so much? Because at the end of the day, they were friends, she was sure of it. It wasn't like they never spoke, matter of fact they often did. Even if it was in a group they never shied away from each other. He didn't avoid her and she never avoided him, not like she might have once upon a time. What he did for her at the school dance showed a level of caring that was surely friendship, for who else would ever do such a thing? Who else would set aside their own feelings for the sake of another? And the level of trust he showed in her, the level of belief when he made that desperate call to her scroll, imploring her to save his partners life.

Yes, they were friends. The best of friends, just like the rest of them. It was just that she had done a poor job of showing it.

That was going to change.

Resuming her march, she visited the locker room to retrieve her weapon. Myrtenaster was polished to a fine shine, the blade sharpened and perfectly balanced, the Dust chambers full. She made sure to always keep her weapon maintained and ready for combat, for a Huntresses life and those she protected relied upon it. However, it had been a little while since she had pulled apart the revolving Dust chamber and had replaced the Dust injectors within. And surely it was about time for the filters in the exhaust port to be cleaned out to remove any residual Dust. The last thing she needed was for an unexpected combination of elements to occur at an inopportune moment.

What better place to do such a thing than at the extensive mecha-shift workshop found right there on campus? And if Ruby and Jaune just happened to be there, well, that was pure coincidence, no?

Giving her blade an expert flourish, she attached it to her belt with a smile.

She made good time across campus, her intense expression driving away even the most friendly of individuals. Velvet of Team CFVY had half raised a hand in greeting before thinking better of it, shying away as she stormed past. The workshop was relatively busy, students of all years taking their free time to work on their weapons. While true weapon enthusiasts like Ruby were few and far between, all aspiring Huntsmen had an appreciation for their weapon of choice and strived to constantly maintain and improve its function. In Atlas, Weiss had whole teams of people on standby with the latest ideas and technology, the best money could buy. Here at Beacon, all she had were her own wits and ideas, and that of those who came before her.

And her crazy partner, of course.

It wasn't difficult to find Ruby. As expected, she had agreed to meet Jaune here – for anything to do with weaponry, Ruby was sure to conduct within these very halls, where the latest tools and books were within arms reach, where teachers were always at the ready to offer up their own valuable knowledge and skill. The pair were huddled front and center, Crocea Mors unsheathed and arrayed on a workbench, the sheath unfolded into its shield form. Ruby was gesturing wildly, her arms waving up and down as Jaune laughed, the two bumping against each other they were standing so close to one another.

Weiss hesitated at the sight of them, suddenly nervous. Unbidden, a brief flash of panic overtook her, a sudden desire to turn on the spot and retreat. She might have done just that if not for Jaune suddenly looking her way, blue eyes pinning her in place.

"Weiss?" Jaune said in surprise.

Ruby looked up.

"Weiss!" Ruby crowed. "What are you doing here?"

Her brain momentarily stuttered.

"Uh," she said eloquently.

Silver eyes darted down and lit up with joy.

"Oh, oh – are you doing some work on Myrtenaster? Need any help?"

"Y-Yes. I mean, certainly, that is why I am here," Weiss quickly explained after reboot. "And that would be much appreciated, thank you."

She made her way over, unbuckling her weapon and placing it upon the table next to Crocea Mors. Jaune gave her a smile and Weiss returned it with one of her own, the smile easy upon her lips.

"I hope I am not interrupting?" she asked not meaning a single word of it.

"Three heads are better than two, right?" Jaune joked.

"Course not," Ruby said happily. "Maybe you can convince him that he totally needs a gun in his sword-"

Jaune rolled his eyes and nudged her playfully. "Ruby."

"—preferably high caliber for bigger Grimm," she continued seriously, eying their weapons side-by-side. "You know, for maximum penetration and offering a ranged option. A sword can only do so much damage to a Leviathan. Perhaps a revolving chamber built into the hilt – oh! You could have six different Dust rounds, giving you a little more versatility! We could reforge the blade into two separate pieces and have the barrel hidden inside so it all opens up when you want to fire! We wouldn't lose accuracy by having a shortened barrel and you wouldn't have to give up the double-sided edge of your sword! It may compromise the overall strength of the blade but – oh! That could be compensated by-" Ruby squealed as she continued to rant and rave about the mecha-shift mechanics involved in such an endeavor, leaving her two friends bemused.

Weiss gave Crocea Mors a once over. The first time she had laid eyes on the blade, it had looked well past its use by date. An heirloom in all honesty it had seen much better days, the blade covered in nicks and scratches, the cross guard battered and worn. The blue-dyed leather of the hilt had been cracked from long use, fitted to a hand not his own. A blade with a storied history, Weiss had little doubt – but one that had seen its day in the sun, belonging in a museum or hung above a hearth somewhere, no longer fit for battle. But then she'd seen it cleave through the neck of an Ursa as swiftly and as surely as any newly forged steel and realised that despite its weary appearance, despite its age and simplicity, it was still very much a weapon more than capable of slaying Grimm.

The weapon in front of her was no longer that same sword. Over the break the skilled hands of a blacksmith had touched upon it, the blade remade into something new but no less deadly, the steel polished as beautifully as Myrtenaster. The cross guard had been remade slightly larger with hooked ends, the hilt now fitted perfectly to his grip and wrapped in new crisp leather. Not only that but the shield had also been upgraded, the white face now adorned with a bronze trim which matched closely the two golden arcs that made up his family sigil. Pyrrha had made mention that she had offered her partner some spare material she had laying about at home and this was the result. His armour had seen similar treatment, the few times she had seen it in combat class, covering more of his torso and forearms.

They were still simple. A sword and shield, a shield that could mecha-shift into a sheath and not much else – at least there was nothing she had seen beyond that. For a reason she couldn't define, the thought of modifying it into a gun-hybrid didn't sit well with her, no matter how sound the reasoning was. Jaune must have felt the same way.

"I don't know," he said when Ruby finished, though it may have been just a pause on her behalf on account of lack of air. "I'm not really a gun sort of guy, you know?"

"You'll get better!" Ruby quickly assured him.

At Weiss' questioning look, he sheepishly admitted, "Last time Ruby went shooting, she took me along. Let's just say I missed more targets than I hit."

"It was your first time firing a gun!" Ruby said exasperated as if they'd had this conversation many times before. "You just need practice!" There was a brief moment of silence. "Lots and lots of practice!"

"Not helping, Rubes."

"Weiss, help me out here!"

Ruby leaned across the workbench and gazed at her with adorable glistening eyes that had years of success in bending others to her will. Her small cute face and alluring upturned eyes were a tough opponent for anyone to face yet Weiss had encountered something much more powerful than her teammate and its name was Zwei. Compared to that little darling, Ruby was nothing. That was why she found it so easy to say, "Perhaps we should listen to Jaune on this one." His look of gratitude wasn't even needed or expected. Truly.

Ruby scowled, the vision of cute perfection shattered as she rocked back on her heels. "You guys suck."

Jaune laughed and reached for her hair, the younger girl darting away with a petulant huff.

"Well if you don't want a gun, what do you want?" Ruby asked after a moment, frowning.

"What about Dust?" Weiss asked innocently.

She'd been waiting for her moment to make a move and this was it. It hadn't taken very long at all. Because really – who knew more about Dust at Beacon than Weiss Schnee? She doubted that even the professors did and that was no slight against them. Not everyone could be an heiress to the biggest Dust company on the planet, tutored from a young age on the very product that had propelled her family into the upper echelons of the elite class.

This is how she could help. Help uniquely suited to her. Blake could help with his school work and Yang could spar all she wished with him. Ruby had her leadership meetings and Weiss knew they would need the younger girls help with modifying his weapon, whatever they decided to choose, but when it came to Dust there was no one better than her.

Dust was the way forward. Dust would take their friendship to where it needed to be. Dust was the future; a future where they did friend things like take long walks at the park, just the two of them, and maybe indulge in a picnic – with cake! Always with cake. Oh, and there was a new museum opening in Vale in a few weeks time with a grand exhibit on the Great War. She had been thinking about attending alone but they could visit on opening night, it could be a whole occasion and while she didn't know if Jaune was into that kind of thing, she would endeavour to find out by being a good friend!

Jaune had a pensive look on his face. "I mean we've talked about it before but… well, I've never really used Dust before. Not in this way. Where would I even start?"

"Hm," Ruby tapped her chin in thought. "I guess we could do something similar to Weiss' rapier with the revolving Dust chamber or we could select an element and infuse the cutting edge with..." she trailed off as Weiss shook her head. "No?"

Reaching forward, she tapped the curved surface of his shield with a well manicured nail, drawing their attention. "Not his sword. His shield."

Ruby made a face of dawning comprehension. "Oh!"

"What?" Jaune looked lost, glancing between them. "My shield? Use Dust?"

Weiss tried not to look too smug as she explained, "For one, your shield is already a piece of mecha-shift technology. Modifying it will take less work – the only issue will be finding a balance between what we decide upon and what it can already do. Anything we add needs to be able to survive collapsing into the smaller sheath form. After that, it is a matter of figuring out what we want it to do. A shield is primarily for defense but giving it the ability to use Dust also increases its offensive capabilities. Really, the options are endless. Just think – any foe that attacks you puts itself at risk of harming itself upon your shield be it by ice, fire, gravity or any number of combinations."

Jaune blinked. "Huh – that actually sounds really damn cool."

Ruby pouted in frustration. "Wish I had thought of that."

Weiss tried not to let her ego spill out and failed, "Well, sometimes you need a touch of genius with these sorts of things. Luckily, I was here to help."

"Wow," Ruby deadpanned. "Look at you go."

"Perhaps next time you can come straight to me," Weiss continued, giving Jaune a pointed look. "I would be more than able to help you with any questions you have regarding Dust usage and application."

Jaune looked at her in surprise. "Really?"

She nodded resolutely. "Of course. Are we not friends?"

"O-Of course we are," he said quickly.

"And that extends to more than just Dust," she added. "If you need anything, anything at all, you can come to me and I shall graciously offer a piece of my valuable time."

"Laying it on a bit thick, aren't you?" Ruby needled shrewdly.

"I don't know what you are talking about," Weiss sniffed haughtily, "is it not the duty of a friend – a good friend, no less – to help out where they can? Even at their own expense if need be? All he need do is ask and I shall aid him as required."

"Uh, thanks," Jaune looked rather stunned by this turn of events. "I mean, if you're sure?"

"Of course, I would not have offered if I weren't."

"Nice Weiss is good and all, but it can be kinda weird as well – right Jaune?"

"Ruby!" Weiss spluttered, her air of pomp shattered. "I am not being weird!"

"I dunno," Ruby grinned at her cheekily. "I definitely got a bit of a chill there listening to you."

"You insufferable brat," Weiss returned. "Who is it that brews you coffee when you study late into the night? And who is it that shares her notes when a certain someone cannot focus on a lecture for more than a few moments at a time?"

Ruby looked a little embarrassed. "Uh, well-"

"That's right – yours truly. A thankless job," Weiss lamented sorrowfully. "But a necessary one to keep Team RWBY afloat. If I wasn't so nice, I suspect someone would be failing their History grade."

Ruby glared but couldn't really refute her statement. She had been moved two years ahead, after all. Weiss knew she wasn't dumb and the girl certainly wasn't lazy, attention span aside, but she had a ton of material to catch up on. Two years of it. That didn't mean she wasn't willing to wield it as a weapon against her cheeky partner whenever she felt the need to step out of line. Teasing her was definitely stepping out of line. Schnee's were not to be teased.

Jaune snickered at Ruby's expression. "She got you, huh?"

"And you!" Weiss pointed dramatically at Jaune, startling him.

"Uh, me?"

Weiss blinked. What was it she had been about to say? In all honesty, she'd been on a bit of a roll and didn't even know if she had anything, momentum carrying her along. Floundering for a moment, she found her footing.

"You can help with Myrtenaster," she said quickly. "And you, Ruby. As thanks for all that I do for you – and for all I will do for you," here she addressed Jaune, "in the future. It will help you get acquainted with Dust and the maintenance required."

As she showed him how to eject the Dust cartridges in her weapon and detach the revolving chamber, she felt good about the progress she had made. The seed had been planted and her intention to help clear. It was only a matter of time before he came to her, she was sure of it. The rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent giving her weapon a thorough going over before they switched back to the topic of what to do about Jaune's own weapon. In the end, it was decided that a Dust modification to his shield was the best bet that also doubled as an enhancement to his previously kept secret great sword mecha-shift form, something even Ruby hadn't even known about much to the younger girls annoyance.

It seemed that Jaune had been withholding a few things.

As one day turned to two, then two to four, Weiss went from feeling sure about her course of action to wondering if that entire afternoon had been some strange fever dream her own delirium had conjured up. If not for Ruby occasionally mentioning it in passing to the other members of their teams, Weiss would have been convinced of it. As it was, an entire week went by and things had remained the same. Assignments were completed, training was conducted and her teams relaxed together in various forms, but Jaune never made a move to advance his knowledge of Dust.

To advance their friendship!

It wasn't until she saw him heading to the bullhead docks alone one sunny morning that she finally snapped and stormed across the small courtyard connecting the dorms with a number of other Beacon facilities, her heeled boots echoing in the enclosed space.

"And where do you think you are going?" she greeted him as kindly as he deserved, planting herself in front of him. He yelped in surprise and was forced into an emergency stop. She faltered for a moment – had he always been so tall? She had to crane her neck to meet his eyes. They were standing so close together, almost chest to chest. But this new revelation wasn't enough to stop her for long. "It isn't gentlemanly to keep a lady waiting!"

"Uh, what?" he asked stupidly. "Weiss, what are you-?"

"What am I doing?" she interrupted haughtily. "Dust! I am talking about Dust!"

Jaune stared at her blankly. "Er – what about Dust?"

Weiss opened and closed her mouth several times, no words escaping. Though sound certainly did, a series of incomprehensible noises that resembled the beginnings of words, perhaps even stringing together into a sentence, a sentence that made absolutely no sense. At any other time, she would have been mortified at the display and lack of decorum but she was so indignant that it didn't register as a problem at all.

Jaune looked concerned. "Are you okay?"

Weiss took a deep, steadying breath.

"I am not okay," she thundered, punctuated by a swipe of her arm. "Not in the least!"

"Oh," he said stupidly, flinching when she pointed at him with a suddenness that boarded on violent.

"You were meant to ask me about Dust," she finally – finally – articulated, glaring. "Or have you suddenly gained a grand insight into the complicated mechanics involved in integrating a highly volatile substance into a mecha-shifting shield designed to take considerable force without something going terribly wrong like – I don't know, it blowing up?"

She hadn't meant to shout, she really hadn't. But that dumb look on his face had forced it out of her.

"Oh," he said again. "That's what you're talking about."

She was seconds from throttling him.

Clearly sensing this, Jaune took a step back while raising his hands in a gesture of peace, "Right, sorry – you just took me off guard, is all. I – well, I didn't realise you were waiting for me to take you up on your offer," he rubbed his neck awkwardly. "I thought you were just being nice and I didn't want to – you know, be a bother."

His genuine look of contrition sucked the ire right out of her.

Weiss sighed and fought to the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose. "I wouldn't have offered if I hadn't meant it. Did I not say that?"

"You did," he nodded. "Sorry."

"And I wasn't waiting!"

Jaune blinked. "Pardon?"

"I-I wasn't waiting or anything," she said, looking anywhere but at him so he didn't see the lie on her face. "I just expected a prompt request. You appeared excited about it even with your earlier misgivings about modifying your weapon." Weiss paused. "Though I suppose that was less about changing it and more about keeping what you had already changed a secret. Ruby was incredibly vexed by your initiative."

Jaune laughed weakly. "Yeah, she looked devastated, didn't she?" He shuffled on the spot for a moment looking lost before fake clearing his throat, "Sooo…"

The awkward tone as he trailed off was so reminiscent of his past attempts at flirting that Weiss felt her cheeks heating up instantly, a nervous, writhing ball clenching in the pit of her stomach. She felt light headed at the suddenness of the sensation, her mouth drying up as for one brief, wild moment she thought he was about to ask her out.

"If you aren't busy or anything, I was just heading down to Vale – maybe we could hit up a few Dust stores and check them out?" Jaune grinned in what he no doubt assumed was suave but he just looked like the dork he was. "And you can teach me all about Dust – I warn you, though. It might take awhile."

Weiss blinked rapidly, feeling the rush of adrenaline waning as he watched her expectantly. He had asked her out, alright – but not in the way he may have in the past. This wasn't a date. This was two friends on an outing. An outing she had all but forced him to invite her out on. An outing about Dust, not romance.

She gathered her thoughts. "Yes, I am free."

Jaune grinned wider. "Cool. We better hurry. The next bullhead leaves in a few minutes."

As they both walked together side-by-side, Weiss wondered what that spike of anticipation had been. Before, it would have been one of dread. It would have just been another boy reaching for something that didn't belong to him, blinded by her family name and wealth. Dread was expected. Dealing with such matters always left a sour taste in her mouth.

Jaune had once filled her with such dread.

That hadn't been anything like dread. No, not at all. She'd felt like that once before. Just the once.

What that meant, she wasn't sure – but that could wait. This was about improving their friendship and she wasn't going to let this opportunity slip away from her.

The flight down to Vale was largely uneventful, though the pinched look that adorned Jaune's face the entire ride was admittedly amusing. His motion sickness was well known at this point but thankfully, he hadn't voided the contents of his stomach across the bullhead floor. Though his stride had been a little unsteady at first as they disembarked, he quickly found solid footing and it wasn't long before they were navigating their way down the early morning streets of downtown Vale. The enticing aromas of freshly baked goods wafted from the storefronts of several bakeries and cafes, reminding Weiss that she had been on her way to breakfast before spotting Jaune, her stomach rumbling loud enough to be improper. She felt her cheeks flush hotly.

There was no indication that he had heard her body protesting its hunger, yet the words that left his mouth hinted that perhaps he had.

"Want to grab a bite to eat first?" he asked casually.

She almost turned him down out of embarrassment but wasn't quite so foolish as that. She really was terribly hungry. She wasn't about to let her pride get in the way of breakfast.

"Sure," she replied. "Have anywhere in mind?"

"There is this bakery a few streets over," he revealed as they paused at an intersection, waiting for the pedestrian walk light to turn green. A crowd quickly gathered around them, forcing Weiss to step in closer. "I've been a few times with my team. They make amazing pastries. You'll love it."

The store was on the small side with a handful of tables and chairs arranged outside, the sign on the sidewalk flapping gently in the weak breeze advertising that they were open. A line of customers already waited within and so they took their place at the back, Weiss glancing around at the various glass-topped displays. There were twisted danishes drizzled in white icing, custard tarts adorned with all variety of glazed fruit, moist blueberry muffins still steaming from the ovens, sugar dusted donuts and all manner of puff pastries filled with cream, custard, fruit, chocolate, all of them together and more, there was no end to the different combinations. There was also a selection of more savory options – an array of miniature quiches, golden brown croissants filled with ham and melted cheese, crisp meat filled pies, freshly baked buns topped with seeds or cheese, or with fruit baked right into the bread to name just a few. Weiss was a little overwhelmed by the selection and by the time they reached the counter, she was still struggling to make up her mind.

"One of the ham and cheese croissants, please," Jaune began ordering. "And a custard tart – the strawberry one. Thanks." He turned her way. "What do you want?"

She eyed the custard tart with the large ripe strawberry that was being slipped into a wax paper bag, and the way the melted cheese oozed from the end of the croissant and felt her stomach roar in approval.

"I'll take the same, please."

Before she could protest, Jaune paid for the meal and bid the man behind the counter a good day. Croissant and tart in hand, Weiss quickly followed him back out onto the street.

"I could have paid," she said at once, frowning.

"I know," he shrugged with a smile. "But you're going to teach me all about Dust, paying for breakfast was the least I could do."

She grumbled but allowed it, peeling the wax paper away and taking a tentative bite of her croissant. The pastry was soft and flakey, the ham smoky upon her tongue but the cheese, oh the cheese exploded across her taste buds with its smooth, silky texture and sharp kick. One bite became two, then three, then more and before she knew it, it was gone. Without thought, she licked her fingers clean of the oils.

"Pretty good, yeah?" Jaune commented with a grin.

Ignoring the fact that she had licked her hands clean like some sort of child, she instead focused on her tart. The strawberry was sweet with only a hint of tartness, the custard infused with vanilla. The base crumbled easily, buttery as it dissolved within her mouth. An involuntary moan escaped her, her tongue swiping across her lips to chase any lingering remnants of flavour. It was only a small thing, three bites and it was gone.

Jaune cleared his throat awkwardly. "S-So, do you have a store in mind?"

She did.

Vale had countless stores that dealt in Dust. It was used in everything from vehicles to portable cooking appliances to Huntsman combat. Because of this, almost any store that sold such things also sold Dust alongside it. Looking to buy a brand new car? Well, that car required Dust to run, so why not buy some from the dealer? Going camping? That collapsible stove ran off fire Dust, so why don't you buy some at the same time? It was just a matter of convenience. The difference between those stores and a store that exclusively sold Dust, however, was in the quantity they had in stock, the variety at their disposal and the quality of the product. A car dealership had no need to have earth Dust on hand, that isn't what their cars run on, and a simple camp stove didn't require the same refined product that a Huntsman's weapon would favour.

Their destination was a small shop wedged between a Schneebucks and a used book store, looking entirely unremarkable. A small Dust crystal sat upon a velvet cushion in the window display and nothing else, the deep blue colour identifying its element as water. A bell chimed in greeting as they stepped inside, their eyes greeted by rows upon rows of Dust, sorted by colour and element, by crystal or powder. An elderly man was stood behind the counter and Weiss exchanged a quick nod before leading the way.

"So, uh," Jaune looked around a little uncertain. "I don't really know what the difference is between crystals and powder," he paused by a cylinder filled with gravity Dust, the purple powder shimmering beneath the artificial lighting of the store. "Everyone at Beacon seems to use the powder – er, well, except for Cardin."

Weiss nodded with a pleased look. "You've been paying attention. Good. The difference between the two types is simple – crystals are capable of releasing more power and are more stable in their base form but the way they release their power is limited. Powder loses some of that raw force but that is substituted by a greater level of control in its release, though it is much more volatile to handle. Huntsmen typically favour powdered Dust for the increased control they have over the element, though there is something to be said for the brute force approach."

"Makes sense," Jaune muttered. "Cardin isn't exactly a finesse kinda guy."

"Quite," Weiss gestured to a large blood red crystal and then to a large cylinder of the same colour. "Just in that crystal alone contains approximately a quarter of the elemental power found in this cylinder, yet much more than four crystals of this size were used to create this much powder."

Jaune gave her a startled look. "That much is lost?"

"Indeed. You might wonder why we even bother with powder if so much energy is lost – but the answer is simply this. Most of our technology requires the much more precise release of power that powder can provide. There are ways, of course – several larger airships use crystals as propellant, their massive engines capable of bleeding off any excess power safely, as well as the power plants that supply electricity to the Kingdoms, but most everything else runs on Dust powder. Yang's bike, for example."

"Huh," Jaune rubbed his chin while glancing around the store. "So I'll be using powder, then?"

Weiss nodded. "Yes. It will be much easier to fit it into your shield that way. The only problem I foresee is its volatility. A shield is used to block. We don't want your shield blowing up the first time you defend against a Grimm."

"Aha hah," he laughed awkwardly. "Yeah, I would very much like to avoid that. I like having two arms."

"Then the Dust will have to be contained within a shock dampener. Easy enough, the revolving chamber on Myrtenaster uses something similar. All Huntsmen weapons of any worth that use Dust powder or bullets have some variation but your shield requires something top of the line. Anyway, enough about that – we should pick some Dust for you to practice with, types that will go well with your shield."

"Right," Jaune said but didn't move. "I really don't know where to start."

Weiss smirked. "That's why you have me here."

Her familiarity with the store sped up the process a lot. A shield was primarily used for defense and so she focused on Dust more suited for augmenting his ability to block. Earth Dust was a good first step for obvious reasons, as was gravity. The ability to propel an attack away from oneself was a boon and could help turn defense into attack by staggering an opponent. Ice was next and not just because it was her favoured Dust type. If he could trap a weapon upon his shield-face, he had an effective way to disarm them. Lastly, lightning could be used as a way to counter attack should the need arise while on defense. Most Huntsmen used metal weapons which would only work against them, striking his shield would only invite danger.

Overall, she was happy with the selection. It would have been a bonus to get her hands on some Hard-Light but it was rare and hard to find in Vale. She could always just lend him some from her own collection, anyway. Being an Heiress to a Dust company had its perks.

Filling up several small sealable containers with Dust, she approached the counter, "All of these, please."

"Wait, wait," Jaune protested as she handed over her credit card. "I can't let you pay for all this!"

"Nonsense," she dismissed with a wave of her hand. "Think of it as a gift. Friends buy each other gifts do they not?"

"I guess," Jaune replied uncertainly.

And really, she had the money to spare. Buying someone a little Dust was hardly a strain on her finances and well, maybe she was getting him back for buying her breakfast. If he could be nice and gentlemanly, she could return the favour. He had more than earned it. The store owner placed each container within a sleek case filled with padding and clicked it shut. Weiss nodded in thanks and passed the case over to Jaune, who took it after a moment of hesitation.

"Thank you," he said as they stepped back out into the street. "You really didn't have to do this."

"I wanted to," she said simply.

They spent the rest of the morning browsing a multitude of stores, everything from clothing retailers to book stores, before visiting a small diner for lunch. When they arrived back at Beacon just after noon, Weiss found herself feeling disappointed that their outing had concluded. She almost suggested finding a quiet spot to test out and practice with his newly acquired Dust but before she could, Blake appeared like one of her semblance generated shadow clones and spirited him away. Apparently he had promised to spend the afternoon with her, though doing what, Weiss hadn't a clue. Disgruntled, she made her way back to the dorm where the rest of her team was lazing around. Well, perhaps that was a little unfair. Yang was lazing around while Ruby was sketching in her note book. A quick glance showed Crocea Mors and all its internal components, as well as those of the parts they needed to order.

Yang peered at her from her bunk, almost half slumped off the side. "Where have you been?"

Weiss held up a bag that contained a rather nice scarf she just couldn't resist, "Shopping."

"That all?"

Yang's tone was on the side of suggestive, something Weiss took immediate offense to. Hands perched on hips, she demanded, "What are you implying, exactly?"

"Cut it out, Yang," Ruby said before her sister could reply. "She was helping Jaune pick out Dust for his weapon."

Weiss blinked. "How did you know-"

"He text me."

Weiss floundered for a moment, feeling a little foolish. It was the most obvious answer. "Oh, yes, well, you are correct."

"Oh, is that all?" Yang slid off her bed and stretched with a wide yawn. "Lame. I thought you'd landed yourself a hot date or something. I'm gonna go get some grub. Want anything, sis?"

"I'm good," Ruby chirped. When Yang left, Ruby turned to her partner. "Weiss?"

"Yes?"

"Did you guys get everything you needed?"

Weiss nodded and paced over to her bed, placing her bag down. "I believe so. Have you finished the plans for his shield?"

As they discussed what would be required for the upgrade, Weiss couldn't help but linger on one of Yang's comments. She hadn't landed herself a hot date, it was true, and yet something about that line stuck with her. All weekend, in fact. When classes resumed, Weiss was a ball of confusion. It hadn't been a date, she knew that. They were just doing friend-things, that was all there was to it. She was making up for her neglectful attitude. But did he know that? Once upon a time, he had carried quite the torch for her. Had he misunderstood what their outing had represented? She didn't think so, or hadn't at the time. Now she wasn't so sure and all because of Yang's stupid mouth. She didn't want such misunderstandings to form between them once again, they had had more than enough of that. But if he did think of it as a date, why wasn't she as worried as she ought to be? That was what caused the most confusion of all.

It was mid-week when they finally came together again. Professor Port was still lamenting his lost youth slaying Grimm when they began filing out into the hallway, the air filled with vigorous chatter. Weiss felt Jaune fall into step with her team as they made their way back to the dorms.

"Uh, hey," he greeted with a shy smile, wearing a nervous expression.

Weiss felt her spine straighten. "H-Hello."

"So I was wondering – um, that is, after dinner I was thinking about trying out some of that Dust you bought for me and uhh, wanted to know if you could come give me some pointers – if you don't have any plans, of course. I didn't want to assume-"

He was rambling. It should have annoyed her.

"Certainly," she interrupted. He looked as pleased as she felt.

Dinner came and went, and soon enough they were both heading out to a secluded grove not far from where they'd been launched into the Emerald Forest. It was a cool evening, a soft breeze carrying the scent of the ocean across the city and up to their school. The sun was still up, if only barely, a bloom of orange and pinks awash across the tops of the trees as a litany of birdsong filled their ears. It was a calming scene, serene almost – if not for a certain rambunctious teammate that had decided to tag along.

As Jaune fiddled with the case of Dust, Nora bounced on the balls of her feet, throwing hands as she bobbed and weaved with a little shadow boxing. "Ooh, this is gonna be so much fun."

She wasn't the only one that had decided to join them, either. Pyrrha laughed at the excited look on Nora's face while Yang mimicked the shorter girl, throwing a few punches of her own.

"You betcha," Yang grinned a toothy grin. "This is going to be a disaster."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Yang," Jaune griped sarcastically.

"Hey, chill. I remember the first time I used Dust, I almost blew up our house. Dad grounded me for a month."

They all gave her an uncertain look, even Nora paused in her shadow boxing.

"What?" Yang said defensively. "Everyone is a little premature their first time."

Everyone groaned at that, Weiss even going so far to make a revolted sound.

"Was that really necessary?" she snapped as Yang's grin only grew at having caught them all with her sick humour. "Honestly, sometimes I think you are the younger sister moved two years ahead."

"Oh lighten up," Yang flicked her mane of gorgeous hair across her shoulders. "Ruby nearly set our uncle on fire her first time. But uh, that probably had more to do with his drinking than her Dust control."

"Oh?" Pyrrha sounded amused. "I suppose you have a point. The first time I handled Dust, I may have caused considerable damage if I had not been watched by a tutor. I believe they told my mother that I shouldn't be left alone with any Dust for the foreseeable future so I never really incorporated any into my fighting style."

"You guys aren't really helping," Jaune muttered as he considered each container. He looked to Weiss, "What should I start with?"

Before she could answer, Nora sprung into action. "Lightning! Lightning! Light me up, light me up!"

"I don't know," Jaune rubbed his neck. "What do you think?"

Weiss looked between the pair, seriously considering the proposal. In the end, she shrugged. "Sure, why not? It isn't like you will harm her with only this much."

"Hah," Nora puffed out her chest. "I haven't met an amount I couldn't handle because it doesn't exist!"

Weiss somehow doubted that, semblances weren't perfect but she wasn't about to contradict her. Fact was she just didn't know. Regardless, she watched carefully as Jaune pulled free the container with yellow powder and set aside the rest, moving a good distance away with Nora but not far enough away that they had to shout to hear each other.

"So how do I do this again?" he asked. Yang let out a snicker.

They watched as he tipped a small amount onto his palm and set the container aside. Nora spread her arms confidently, her considerable chest puffed out as she declared, "Hit me with everything you've got!"

"My hand feels kinda tingly," Jaune admitted as he briefly shifted the Dust around on his palm. "A little like pins and needles."

After a moment of hesitation, aura flooded across his body, a beacon of golden light. The Dust activated at once as he thrust his hand out, a deafening crack ringing out as an even brighter flash of light snapped between the two. Nora whooped in joy as lightning arced across her body, her hair frizzing as she leapt away with boundless energy and punched the nearest tree with everything she had. The wood splintered beneath her fist, a loud, reverberating crackle as the tree shook wildly and began to fall.

"Tiiiiiiiimber!" Nora screamed happily.

"H-Hey!" Jaune shouted in surprise as he scooped up the container of lightning Dust and dove away as the tree hit the ground with a boom. The bird song was noticeably absent in the aftermath, the forest eerily silent across the entire valley.

"Well," Pyrrha said after a moment. "That went better than expected."

"I nearly got crushed," Jaune complained. "If that is better than expected-"

"Well, we all thought you were kinda gonna explode or something," Yang admitted with a shrug. "So yeah, better than expected."

Weiss rolled her eyes but the look of betrayal on his face was too amusing, a smile tugging at her lips.

"More!" Nora said excitedly.

"Uh, I think I'll try something different," Jaune said while digging around in his case amidst Nora's chanting of, 'More, more, more.'

Weiss decided to help out and stepped forward, "How about ice?"

"You would pick that, wouldn't you," Yang teased. "So predictable."

"The effects are less volatile," Pyrrha said when Weiss leveled her teammate with a glare, ever the peacekeeper. "What do you think, Jaune?"

"Yeah, sure," he agreed as Nora pouted, hands on hips. She looked ridiculous with her hair still standing on end.

"Aw man, you better juice me up some more later, you hear me? It's rude to tease a girl like that."

Jaune unscrewed the container of Ice Dust and tipped a small amount onto his palm before setting everything else aside.

"It feels like I'm holding an ice cube," he marveled.

"As you've no doubt noticed when handling raw Dust, you can get a feel for what type it is just by feeling it," Weiss couldn't help but lecture. "It will always reveal its true nature, even if someone were to try obscure it in some way."

"Yeah, yeah," Yang sounded bored.

"Don't 'yeah, yeah' me," Weiss snapped. "This is why your Dust grade is lower than your sisters. If you'd just listen for once, maybe you'd learn something."

As they bickered, Jaune took a step away and repeated the process from earlier, his aura flaring to life around his body. Holding his hand out, he waited for the expected reaction. Seconds passed by as they waited in anticipation but it soon became clear that nothing was going to happen.

"Uh, guys?"

"Performance issues?" Yang wisecracked.

Nora inched closer. "Is it faulty?"

Weiss frowned. "Impossible. You must have done something wrong. Try again."

"I mean, I am still trying," Jaune said, his aura still visibly active. It surrounded his entire body, including the hand which held the Dust. "I haven't stopped."

After a few more seconds of nothing happening, Weiss approached him. "Here, let me have a look at-"

As her hand fell across his, there was a flash of cold that enveloped her. Weiss blinked, her body immobilized by a giant block of ice that traveled from her neck down to her feet. Jaune stared at her in shock, his arm similarly encased. He attempted to pull free but it was hopeless, he may as well have been trying to move a house.

Nora and Yang burst into a series of giggles, Pyrrha following suit moments later.

"This isn't funny!" Weiss yelled, mortified. Her teeth began chattering. "Get us out of this, this instant!"

None of them had brought their weapons with them. They hadn't even changed out of their Beacon uniforms before coming out. Not that it mattered, not when you had Nora around. Still giggling, she found the container of Lightning Dust and proceeded to amp herself up.

"Wait," Weiss said in dawning horror. "Wait, wait, wait!"

The ice shattered with a crackling boom as Nora's fist reduced it to shards. Weiss yelped as the shockwaves passed through her, blunted by her aura, her frozen body collapsing in an instant, her numb legs useless. Expecting the harsh impact of the ground, she was instead greeted by the warm, broad chest of Jaune Arc. Her entire body was shivering as she clutched at the fabric of his blazer, pressing her cheek against the hard planes of muscle concealed beneath. One of his arms had wrapped around her to steady her while he shook the other in an attempt to return some feeling to the numb appendage.

"Are you well?" Pyrrha queried after a moment.

"I can't feel my arm," Jaune responded as he inspected the reddened skin of his hand and wiggled his fingers experimentally. "Weiss, are you okay?"

She inhaled deeply, briefly turning into him and his warmth before pulling away abruptly.

"I'm fine," she said quickly, though her legs were wobbly. It was because her legs were just literal ice blocks and not anything else. "I just need a moment."

"Well, that was much more like what I was expecting," Yang joked.

They decided to call it a day after that. While Jaune gathered his Dust, Weiss sat down upon the tree Nora had felled earlier and rubbed her legs to warm them up. Her uniform was dusted with frost and she could already feel the dampness settling against her skin as it melted. She couldn't wait until they got back to the dorms so she could take a long, hot shower.

As they made their way back, she couldn't help but watch Jaune and his partner as they walked side-by-side. He had felt much sturdier than she had ever imagined, his arms and chest hard like iron. Far from the noodle he had been when he first arrived at Beacon. His warmth had also taken her by surprise. Being held in his embrace had felt nice. Very nice.

I like him, she thought.

There was no grand revelation or event, the thought had wormed its way into her mind and settled as if it had been there quite awhile. It probably had, only she had been blind to it. All the uneasiness when he hung out with her teammates, her desire to make amends for the poor way she had treated their friendship. Her worry that he had somehow misinterpreted their outing – or truthfully, her lack of worry, her desire that may he had. The fact that if she thought about it and didn't lie to herself, she had been watching him ever since that night Neptune admitted she had great friends looking out for her. Somewhere between then and now, something had changed. Perhaps it hadn't mattered that they hadn't been alone, that they had always been surrounded by friends. It had been enough all along.

So what did she do now?

Her face felt hot as she paused outside their rooms. Yang had already stepped inside while Nora was greeted by Ren, Pyrrha following her teammate into their room as the ginger haired girl filled her partner in on their Dust mishaps.

It was just the two of them.

"Jaune," she uttered before she could question herself.

"Yeah?"

She hesitated.

"Weiss?"

"Would you like – I mean, that is to say, would you be open to accompanying me to Vale on our next day off," she began haltingly, suddenly utterly terrified. "N-Not for Dust, but perhaps we could visit that bakery again and then maybe a movie?" The last part had been more a question as her nerve left her.

Jaune blinked.

As they stared at each other, Weiss felt it took an age. Once upon a time, she knew what his answer would have been. It may have sounded arrogant to think so but he had never hidden his desire to take her out on a date. Now? His face was completely unreadable, his thoughts closed to her. She now understood what that feeling had been the other day, the one she had only felt just the once before.

"Uh, sure, that sounds fine," he replied and Weiss knew he didn't get it.

She needed to be as clear as possible.

"S-So," she cleared her throat. "It's a date."

He opened his mouth, paused and then shut it again with a looking of dawning comprehension.

"Uh…" he sounded as stunned as he looked, a comical expression of sheer disbelief. "I-I think I heard you wrong, what did you just-"

"I said it's a date, you big oaf," she repeated, clenching her fists so he couldn't see how badly her hands had started to tremble. "So dress the part!"

"I – uh, well, um," he bumbled.

"Is that a yes?" she asked with bravado she didn't feel, the fear of rejection taking told of her heart. Hadn't she been rejected the last time she had put herself out there? It was going to happen again, she just knew it, because no one truly wanted Weiss – all they wanted was Weiss Schnee, Dust Heiress, what the hell had she been thinking, hadn't Neptune shown her the folly of…!

"Yes, yes," he almost shouted. "I mean, uh, yeah? I would love to."

Weiss felt like her feet never touched the floor for the rest of the night – and it had nothing to do with Dust.

AN: So I guess I can't help but write White Knight oneshots. Hopefully they are enjoyable for those of you who are reading, though I would really like to write something a bit more substantial next time. I just have to work up the motivation to do the ideas I have, I guess. I just hate planning. Bleh.

How about that Heaven's Feel III movie? I wish they'd made a tv series instead since even with the 6 hours they had between all three it felt rushed overall. Even so, it was pretty banger for the most part.