So, this is the last chapter and I will be off 12th – 18th September for my work event. That means that, with a week to prepare the new story, you won't see another Saturday update until the 24th September. That'll be the date the next fic is released. Just wanted to make that clear.

Cover Art: Curbizzle

Chapter 41

It was funny how things continued on like nothing had happened.

Beacon remained open and classes ran, which was ridiculous in Yang's opinion; the school was a wreck, the walls were being broken down – easier to break and rebuild than fix – and yet there they were, being dragged outside or into portacabins to continue their lessons as though the end of the world hadn't been narrowly averted. Boring.

Not that most people realised how close they'd come of course; Team RWBY, JNPR and CFVY had all agreed to keep the secrets when General Ironwood and Glynda Goodwitch, new headmistress, asked them to. It was just hard to sit in class and listen to Oobleck rattle on about what he thought was important history when they had just lived through the most important historical event Remnant would ever have.

"Miss Xiao-Long." Oobleck was staring at her from over his book, and from before a very small blackboard strapped to the far end of the cramped classroom. "I do hope you are daydreaming about the colour revolution, and not about anything unrelated to this lesson."

I was daydreaming about the time I sassed a literal god, thought Yang, but she couldn't say that and just sighed, ignoring Ruby's elbow digging in her gut. "No sir," said Yang. "I'm listening, sir." Oobleck wasn't convinced, but the bell rang soon after anyway, so it was a moot point. He made to give them homework, looked out the window at the ruined school and dismissed them. Yang rushed out and into the warm air. Finally.

"You need to pay attention in class," said Weiss, coming out behind her.

"Why? It's ancient history. We just…" Yang cut off when Weiss shot her a glare. Come on, it wasn't like she was going to say it. "Look, is it so wrong to think we deserve a break after what just happened? I thought we'd get a week off at least, not be thrown back into classes."

"Miss Goodwitch cannot give us time off without raising questions as to why she is," said Weiss. "You know she appreciates what we did, but in the interests of letting everyone else stay in blissful ignorance we need to act like nothing has changed."

"Aside from, you know, the whole school falling over."

"Aside from that," said Weiss.

The school was mostly demolished now, great construction machines having been working every day for the past week. The city had worked out a budget combined with Atlas for its repair, and the SDC were also footing some of the cash as a PR move. The news seemed to suggest it would be rebuilt by February, which was about four months away. Miss Goodwitch had warned them all it might take until June.

On the brighter side, they were getting plenty of upgrades and renovations along with it. Ozpin had always wanted to, apparently, but had been held back because of laws that protected old buildings with cultural significance. That wasn't much of an issue now, and in his honour they were creating the Ozpin Wing of the school, which was going to have upgraded training facilities and hi-tech holographic arenas similar to what Atlas used. They called them training sims; Yang called them video games where you got to play, work out and get fit all at once. Awesome. Ruby had been bouncing off the walls about those as well.

"Well, it's a Friday," said Yang.

"No," said Weiss, rejecting her before she could even ask.

"Oh, come on. A night out in the city won't cause you to melt."

"Try asking someone else. Do you have any idea how far I've fallen behind on coursework?"

"Weiss, we literally saved the world. Screw coursework."

"Saving the world will not maintain my academic record. If you will excuse me." Weiss walked past her, head held high and stick so far up her ass that Yang was surprised she wasn't choking on it. Lame.

Ruby was still too young – next year, she swore, was going to be a year of getting Ruby to party – but it wasn't like they were the only ones she knew. Since the school was out, they were staying in portable dorms at the moment, which were boxes stacked up like children's building blocks. Each team had a box, which was ironically larger than their old dorms. It wasn't the same, though. The beds were hard, the furniture was limited and they had to use communal toilets. Worse, you had to pad out late at night and go down a cold metal staircase to reach them. There had already been notices sent out for boys (and a few girls) to stop peeing out the windows rather than make the long and cold walk. She hadn't, of course. Weiss would have thrown an absolute fit.

Instead of waiting in their dorms, most teams were lounging out on the grassy parts of Beacon now that they'd been cleared of rubble and debris. Yang spotted Team CFVY alongside Team JNPR. It wasn't so strange to see them hanging out now. The teams hadn't been that close before, but adversity had a way of forging bonds. Yang sauntered up, waved at Coco and said, "Club?"

"Yes," replied the girl, making finger guns at Yang. "When?"

"Tonight. Nine."

"Too early. Pre-drinks at ours and then ten."

"I freaking love you," said Yang, wiping an imaginary tear and slouching down beside her. "You're everything I wish my team was."

"You have no idea how much of a pain she is," whispered Fox.

"What was that?" asked Coco.


"Yeah, that's what I thought." Coco never failed to get a laugh out of Yang. Funny, confident, bombastic, fashionable and tough. Team CFVY were also pretty regular on going out and partying, being both an older and more experienced team. Coco knew the best places in Vale and was on the VIP list for a few of them.

"Any of you want to come?" Yang asked Team JNPR.

"I will!" said Nora. "Renny?"

"I promised Jaune I'd spar with him tonight."

"Eh." Yang leaned back on her hands. "Isn't that Pyrrha's job?"

She'd have thought Pyrrha would be upset at being replaced like that, but the redhead didn't look bothered at all. "I'm training with Jaune in the evening," explained Pyrrha. "Jaune said he wants to also train against people who fight in different ways. It's not a bad idea."

Ah, that explained it, and why Pyrrha wasn't upset at having her special time shared. Still, twice a day? That was a pretty hefty workout. It wasn't worth bringing up since Pyrrha knew a lot more about burnout and training limits than she did, so she'd have stepped in if Jaune was close to breaking down. An athlete like her could lose her entire career if she got injured, so she'd probably had physiotherapists and the whole lot.

"It'll be a girl's night out then," said Coco.

"What are we?" asked Fox.

"Honorary women." Yang and Coco spoke at once, then shared looks and clapped palms together.

"There are two of them," said Yatsuhashi, in a low and despairing voice. "Heavens help us."

"No!" snapped Velvet, slapping Yatsuhashi's leg lightly. "No religious talk!"

"I wasn't-" His eyes widened. "Oh, yes. Ahem." He coughed into his hand. "You're right. It's an old habit to break, but… well, it's hard to be religious now. After what…" He noticed their lingering gazes and smiled, miming a zipper running over his mouth. Yang wasn't the only one who had to force her muscles to untense.

Religion was… well, Yang had always seen herself as tolerant, and she hoped that wasn't about to change, but between their tree teams any reminders of gods or such was something of a taboo topic. They'd had enough of the divine to last them a lifetime, and really didn't need any reminders, let alone one of their own calling down their attention. The Gods had left, and so far it didn't seem like they'd come back, but no one could guarantee they wouldn't change their minds. The last thing they wanted was to accidentally draw the Gods' attention.

"So, where are we planning to go tonight?" asked Nora.

It was just the change of topic they needed.


It was still a few hours before their night out and Yang wasn't too surprised to see Jaune coming out the men's side of the new communal showers when she came down, a fresh change of clothes and some shampoo and a towel tucked under her hand. He was soaked through, his hair lank and his shirt clinging to him in ways that he probably didn't realise accentuated his toned physique. Yang enjoyed her brief once up and down. He might not have been her type, but she could appreciate a good body as well as the next person.

"Oh, hi Yang."

"Training?" asked Yang, tearing her eyes slowly from his chest and up to his eyes. It certainly wasn't love at first sight because he had that goofy, confused, smile on his face. It was cute, but a bit of a turn off for her. He was an alright guy though, and if Pyrrha wasn't so into him then she'd have tried to egg Ruby on to ask him out when she was sixteen.

"Yeah." He rolled his shoulders and winced. "Pyrrha is as brutal as ever."

"I hear you're going rounds with Ren tonight as well."

"Hmhm. I thought it'd be a good idea. You know, get a feel for fighting different styles."

Yang nodded. It was smart – not a genius move by any means since anyone with a brain should be able to figure it out, but she knew his secret and, for a guy without her upbringing and schooling, it was a good thing for him to realise. "You don't think you're pushing yourself too hard? Most people only do one major training session a day. You can pull a muscle otherwise."

"I need to get stronger."

There was a strange weight there that Yang didn't miss, and one that she couldn't fail to understand. Her expression became wry. "Still trying to live up to them?"

"I have to." Jaune stepped away from the showers and sat in the grass. His legs must have been aching. Yang set her own stuff down and sat next to him, not too worried about the muck when she was about to have a shower of her own. "Do you… Do you still think about them?" asked Jaune. "Even now?"

Yang looked up at the sky. "Sure do. I worry about Fate, you know."

"Not Leviathan?"

"Leviathan… I… His story was over, I think, or whatever happened. He was cagey, and honestly his world sounds a lot safer than ours. The others too. Knight wanted to go home, so I don't think Ruby feels bad for him. Fate, though." Yang sighed and set her hands back. "I think about him every night. I'm not sure anyone else does. He was just that asshole to them."

"He was an asshole."

"I know, but… He became an asshole because he couldn't accept everyone he loved dying. He was an asshole because it was the only way he could defend himself. Not only from the other Jaunes, but from how hopeless his situation was. I can't help but wonder if he's going to make it. If he's going to find a way out of his loops, save everyone and have a normal life or be trapped in them forever." Her smile grew bitter and she said, "And if he'll love himself enough to let that happen even if he does. I worry he'll break before it's all done."

Jaune was silent for a long moment, and then said, "I think it's good he has someone to worry about him. He… I…" It was his turn to sigh. "I'm scared of ending up like him. Not of the loops, that won't happen, but of not being strong enough and failing someone. Pyrrha mostly, but everyone else as well. The other Jaunes, the other versions of me, they were all strong. They grew strong, not because they were born it, but because they had something to fight for. Or something to fight against."

"Come the hour come the hero," recited Yang. "Or pressure makes diamonds."

"Yeah. I never had that before the war and… well, even with Pyrrha helping me, I don't think I was doing enough. I was happy to hold my own against Cardin. That was all I wanted. Now though, seeing what's out there and what the other versions of me had to go through. Well, I… I don't think I could have survived if it was me in their shoes."

"I don't know." Yang grinned slyly. "How hard can making coffee be?"

Jaune snorted. "Okay. I might have made it in Barista's shoes."

"I know what you mean though," said Yang. "I've seen it in dad sometimes. He's better now, but he always used to ask himself if he could have saved mom if he was stronger. Even though he wasn't even there when she died. There was nothing he could have done."

"I don't want to feel the same way. General Ironwood said Salem has one last chance, and I believe him. If she only has thirty or so years then she'll probably take her time and prepare. We need to as well. Or I do," he added. "You and the others are strong already. I'm the one that needs to catch up." He looked at her then, eyes narrowed and hand clenched tight into a fist. "I promise you, Yang, when the time comes and you need me, I won't be helpless. I won't fail and suffer like Fate did. I'll be Magnus, or Knight, or Ashari. I'll be strong when you need me to be."

He held her gaze, and Yang couldn't breathe for a moment, until he let it go, blushed and looked away.

"Sorry," he mumbled. "That sounded stupid."

Thank goodness, thought Yang, looking away herself. I was almost attracted to you for a second there. Before he went and ruined the mood with that last comment. For a brief moment, she'd seen some of the older, braver iterations in him. It wasn't hard of course – they were the same person, and so had the same faces and expressions.

"Y-Yeah." Stammering, Yang swallowed and said, "I get what you mean. Don't spend so long training that you forget to have a life though. Okay? Come out with us sometime or take some time off to go out into the city and have a little fun. All work and no play won't just make you dull – it'll break you."

He laughed. "I know. I know. And I'm not going to do that. I even have a date-" He cut off, but not soon enough, and Yang's head swivelled, shit-eating grin growing. He blushed again and looked down. "I have a… uh… Someone asked me on a date. Tomorrow, in the city. I agreed."


Her money was on Pyrrha.

"I don't think I should say."

"Not the type to kiss and tell? I can respect that. Good luck anyway. If you need advice, come find me. I don't mind helping out."

"Thanks Yang. You're a good friend."

"And you're a dork." said Yang, rising to her feet. "Try not to push yourself too hard. You tear a muscle and you'll not be training for a week. I've had it happen." Twice. Once an accident, her dad had said; second time was a sign of not having learned her lesson. There hadn't been a third time. "And believe me, it ain't fun."

"I know. I know. Ren will call it off if I go too far." He grunted and pushed himself up. "I'll see you around, Yang. Have fun tonight."

Yang headed into the showers, spend a half hour in there – bastard had stolen most of the hot water – and then towelled off and slipped into some casual clothes before making her way back up the rickety metal staircase to Team JNPR's portable room. It was longer than it was wide, with a single door to the front and some windows at the back, curtains drawn shut. Weiss was busy with coursework inside; Ruby was busy pretending to be doing the same but clearly in la-la land; Blake was setting some clothing out on her bed that, to Yang's knowing eyes, looked new. Not hard to guess when she could see a price tag still on the tight-fitting trousers.

"Oh Blakey," said Yang, sliding up behind her and making the faunus' ears twitch. "Are you coming out with us after all?"


"What? Really?" Yang's teasing voice fell to a petulant whine. "Aw, come on. You have new clothes and everything. It'll be CFVY, me and Nora. That sounds like fun."

"Nora and alcohol in the same sentence is not my idea of fun. It sounds closer to chaos."

Well, yeah, but that was kind of the point. A little harmless chaos was just about what they needed to take their minds off the fact the world had, for a moment, nearly ended. If this night ended with them smashed, singing bad songs and clinging onto one another and disturbing everyone on their way home then it'd be a night well spent. There'd even be some toasts to the guys who couldn't make it – the iterations they'd lost along the way. They'd already done a shot for each last weekend, and Yang had woken up face down in the toilet with Ruby rubbing her back. It had, in hindsight, been a bad idea. Fun, though, and fuck it, the world was shit enough that a bad hangover was a small price to pay for a night of fun.

"Come on," said Yang, nudging her partner. "We don't do enough together. You can be the designated driver if you want."

"We don't have a car, Yang, and being the only sober one is a pain."

"Then drink."

"I can't." Blake cut her off with a firm shake of her head and pulled out Yang's hands. "I don't want to be hungover for tomorrow."

"Why?" asked Yang. "What's happening tomorrow?"

Blake stilled. "Nothing."

"Wee-woo-wee-woo." Yang wriggled her finger in the air. "That's my bullshit alarm. Bullshit detected."

Blake shot her a disgusted look. "You are so immature."

"I'm seventeen. You are too in case you forgot that. We can leave the boring maturity stuff until we're thirty. What are you doing tomorrow that you can't get drunk toni-" Yang's words cut off mid-question. New clothes, fancy new clothes, not wanting to be hungover, faint blush, eyes averted, feet nudging together, avoiding question. If Yang were a faunus then her ears would have stood up and flicked toward Blake.

"Yang, no," whimpered Blake. "D-Don't say it."

Not in front of Weiss and Ruby, she didn't say. Yang sucked her excited scream in. It was hard – damn was it hard – but she wasn't going to be bitch enough to squeal this out where their teammates, or Pyrrha, could hear it. Instead, she swallowed deeply and kept her voice low, asking. "So. Curiosity finally killed the cat, huh?"

"Shut up."

"Hey, I don't judge. Nothing wrong with testing the waters."

Blake glanced to Ruby and Weiss, who were too focused and too distracted respectively to listen, and then back to Yang. Her voice lowered to a whisper. "It's just… When half your alternate selves across the known multiverse agree that he's a good catch, you start to wonder."

"I'd wonder too if it were me."

"I don't see anything in him but…"

"They must have?"

Blake nodded.

"Well, there's no harm in trying, is there?" asked Yang. "You're an adult, you've been in a relationship before and you know how to handle yourself." If this were Ruby then she might be more worried, but Blake was experienced. "Also, it's-" Yang didn't say his name and didn't have to. "It's not like he's going to push you into something you're not ready for, is it? He wouldn't know what to do with you if you offered." The words had Blake chuckling. "Are you thinking of…?"

"I'm open minded," said Blake. "If we hit it off then…" A shrug. "Maybe. It'll take a lot, though. I'd have to be really, really impressed to want to do that on a first date. I never have before, and I'm not intending to here, but… we'll see."

Blake said impressed but Yang had a different word in mind – one that began with H and ended like corny. She didn't want to offend Ruby and Weiss' delicate sensibilities, however, so refrained from saying it. "Fair enough. Tell me how it goes?"

"As if you'll let me not."

"You know me well. I mean, I'm curious as well. Not about him but about you and him." Or the other versions of Jaune. "Half the reason I kept teasing you was because I was also kinda surprised about it. He must have done something right to draw your eye so regularly."

"I know. He's not my usual type at all. Though maybe that's it," admitted Blake. "My type didn't exactly serve me well with Adam, and he's about as anti-Adam as you can get."

"Well, good luck anyway."


Yang woke up in what felt like the most painful hour of the day. It wasn't morning; she knew this because the dorm was empty, and because after getting absolutely wasted last night, her body would not have been capable of waking up at any hour with an `am` attached to it. She could remember about half the night, which was probably for the best since that half involved them singing at one bar, being thrown out, dancing at another, being thrown out and then there was one very odd memory of Coco licking some drink off her neck. Yang blinked, processed that, and decided she didn't dislike it half as much as she thought she would have.

There had been a rough point where they'd had to wrestle Nora away from a car that she had decided was a Beowolf in disguise and wanted to wreck. Yeah, that had been a thing and she wasn't keen on re-living it. An angry buzz came from her bedside table, and Yang flapped her hand around aimlessly, knocked the scroll onto the floor, whined, and then tried to reach for it with her eyes closed. Predictably, she fell out of bed, crashing to the floor half-undressed with her upper half wearing only a bra and her lower half dressed, and with one shoe on and one shoe by the door. Also, she had one leg out her pants but the other still in.

At least I made it back in one piece, thought Yang, blinking against the harsh light of her scroll. The red digits read 14:00, so she'd been about right on her estimate of missing half the day. She hadn't set an alarm though, so…

A new buzz came along with a message symbol.

Yawning, Yang flicked her thumb over it and opened them up. Three missed messages, all from Bellabooty – or Blake, as most people knew her; Yang personally thought using normal names in a contact list was a sign of a gross lack of creativity. No one agreed. Yang opened them up with bloodshot eyes.

Bellabooty: YANG


Bellabooty: HELP

Yang sent back a question mark. Or she tried to. It ended up as an exclamation mark, a comma and a hashtag along with a few other bits of grammar. She stared at the mess of symbols helplessly, shrugged and pressed the send button. Blake would get it, or she wouldn't, and she didn't care enough right not to change it. Had the date with Jaune gone that badly? Poor Jaune.

Ms. Kickass: !#,.-

A response came back all too quickly.


Yang stared at the screen. Huh. Maybe not-so-poor Jaune after all. Her eyes slid to the clock. Yep, still two in the afternoon, which meant that assuming Blake's date was in the morning, it hadn't taken Jaune all that long. Daaamn. Yang sent back an emoji of an aubergine.

Bellabooty: YANG




What Blake needed was to stop running, stop panicking and talk things through with Jaune like an adult; she also needed a shield made of non-ferrous material, because Pyrrha was going to be on the warpath when she found out, and Jaune was about as good at keeping secrets as Ruby was at keeping cookies uneaten. Yang considered her scroll as carefully as her hungover mind could and settled on what felt like the most appropriate response.

Ms. Kickass: I want a full play-by-play later

Ms. Kickass: Sleep now. Zzz

Bellabooty: YANG NO

Bellabooty: NO SLEEP

Bellabooty: HELP

Yang closed the messages down, flicked the switch to turn the scroll off, then set it aside and reached up for her covers, yanking them off the bed. She swaddled herself up, deliberated the effort it might take to stand, then decided that the floor was perfectly comfortable. Her snores soon filled the portable cabin.

So, there we go. The Arc Royale comes to a close. Is it anticlimactic that none of the Arcs won? In a sense, yes, but I'd also say Jaune won – and that Teams RWBY and JNPR did as well, which was kind of the point of it all. They learned not to sit back and delegate everything to their summons, and instead to get stuck in and fight themselves. Meanwhile, Jaune learns that while he absolutely does have the potential to grow to be like many of these Arcs, that'll never happen if he sits around and doesn't take it seriously. Each of those Arcs in their own stories grew because some external force pushed them into it, and they'd have all ended up weak and helpless had they not taken them seriously.

For the rest of them, the reward is being able to go back to being normal students and getting to enjoy what they signed up for – four years of schooling, fun and being teenagers. Not deciding the fate of the world with their every action.

As for Remnant, Ozpin is dead and gone and finally at peace, and Salem will follow – she's still a threat, but a mortal threat now and terribly vulnerable. Heck, you could probably even convince Raven to take a crack at her now. Maybe. Depends on how petty she's being about things.

As for Blake and Jaune, well, it's just a joke at the end.

Don't take it too seriously if you don't want; sleeping with someone is not a contract, and Blake is an adult who can make her own decisions and has in the past. Maybe they'll get together, maybe it'll be a one-time thing, I'll let everyone decide for themselves.

Next Story: Undecided – I have a few ideas, including one several chapters written, but I have other ideas too, and want to sit down and think about them, hence the empty slot next weekend.

Next Story Date: 24th September

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