She wasn't special. She was good, no doubt but she was simply above average. Special was Nora's staggering strength. It was Pyrrha's insurmountable skill. Ruby's prodigious talent. Arc's magic.

It was humbling to see what she was forced to compete with. Demoralizing.

She wasn't even special enough to be leading her team. She was seen as less capable than a 15-year-old. But what could she say?

Ruby had led them in the Emerald Forest. She'd been recognized by Port. She was well-liked by the team. Weiss was just the stuck-up bitch.

Weiss sighed. "Should I even be here?"

She had gone out early to get breakfast, not even bothering to wait for her team. That's why she saw him.

"Arc?" She had whispered under her breath but his head jolted up and he looked directly at her, a good 20 meters between them.

"Oh! Lady Schnee, it's a pleasure to see you again." His smile was bright.

She'd seen his hollow smiles so the fact that he was genuinely happy to see him warmed her.

Not even Ruby could force herself to be happy around her recently.

"I didn't think you'd hear me."

"But heard you I did." He had been walking towards her but then he paused. "Is something troubling you, Lady Schnee? I won't claim any skills in psychology but I'm willing to lend you an ear."

Was it that obvious?

He spoke again as if reading her mind. "Anyone who's paid attention to you for long enough would be able to tell."

"And you pay a lot of attention to me?" She raised an eyebrow.

"It's a guilty pleasure of mine, yes, but you're derailing the conversation. I've made an offer. What say you?"

Her mood lightened a little at the compliment and she thought about it. To confide in someone she barely knows?

Yeah. No.

"Forget about me. Why are you up so early?"

Thankfully, he was fine to leave it at that. "I've come to enjoy nightly trips to Vale. I'm just returning from my last one."

"Oh? I'd assumed that the dorms had a curfew."

"Ah yes. We're old enough to fight manifestations of death and destruction but we're too young to manage ourselves reasonably. Are you used to having a curfew?"

And now she feels even more incompetent. "I guess I didn't think too much about it. It was just normal before Beacon."

Her voice was hushed as she said it but Arc laughed at her response all the same.

He went on to speak before her mood could plummet more. "I spoke only in jest, Lady Schnee. I always thought jokes good for amicable conversation."

It was obvious in hindsight but she'd been caught at a bad time. Arc had her at a disadvantage and she felt that it was her turn to unbalance him.

"Call me Weiss. Lady Schnee is too formal." It's always the disciplined and formal people that struggle with casual speech. Especially when it comes to her.

"Well, Weiss, I'd have you call me Jaune then." Or not. "I'd admittedly prefer a more casual address from you."

She paused. "Are you flirting with me?"

She had thought Arc was better than that. Hindsight was clearly a thing she needed to practice. He'd always addressed her as Schnee rather than Weiss.

Her mood soured. So it was about getting closer to Schnee heiress.

She'd expected that, in the back of her mind, so she wasn't overly surprised. She tried to distance herself from Arc but he moved in closer.

Disgusting. "Flirting is such an asinine thing if you ask me. I don't make romantic overtures Lady Schnee." His grin turned somewhat feral. "Any overtures I do make, are of a kind that a fair lady like yourself wouldn't mesh well with."

She knew what he was talking about instantly. Her cheeks flushed but her shoulders slacked. Despite the bile in her throat at the remark, she felt palpable relief at knowing Jaune didn't have any ulterior motives.

"What say you to joining me at breakfast?"

Weiss couldn't be happier. "That sounds lovely."

Jaune hated hormones. The rational part of him screamed that he should distance himself from Schnee. Just being around her increased his heart rate. Left him feeling so much want. Unfortunately, his primal urges beat his rational sense.

He has confident enough to admit an underlying attraction to her but that was only a natural result of having eyes and being able to see how good she looked.

The two of them were enjoying conversation over food. Or more accurately, Jaune was showing fascination in her family and their craft.

"So this 'dust' allows you to cast magic?"

"You're not joking are you?" Weiss stared at him dumbfounded. He would've felt offended if he couldn't see the mirth behind her eyes. "I go through all that to explain the practical uses of dust and all you hear is, 'magic'? The fact that you of all people would say that is staggering."

No. "What is with you people and assuming I can use magic? It's not magic never will be. It's a science."

"Teleporting and turning into a massive hulking beast is a work of science? The tentacles that you sprout out your arms from nowhere. Those are works of science?"


She looked at him with a deadpan face.

He's not the one that can warp reality at a whim so he didn't understand what qualms she had with his explanation.

Once again, I've to re-evaluate the threat people pose in this world. The manipulation of time readily at her disposal? It's best to just err on the side of caution.

Before he could delve deeper into the topic of their chosen fields of scientific study he was interrupted by a loud overly dramatic gasp.

"Have I done something wrong, your royal highness?" He didn't mind being eccentric but it had been a while since he had a conversation as an Arcanist rather than a Hunter.

Pyrrha beat Nora to responding. "We need to talk as a team. Or, at the very least, we should talk as partners."

"Why so?"

"Only once this week have you told us why you're out late at night. Only once did you bother mentioning that you would be out. You've been out at least 3 times since then over the course of 4 days. We're trying to make this team work Jaune but you're making it very hard."

Weiss was quick to make herself scarce. "I'll leave. I wouldn't want to intrude."

"Sorry, Weiss but this is important to all of us."

"Don't worry Pyrrha, I don't mind. You wouldn't mind resuming this conversation later, would you?"

The way Weiss looked at him with pleading eyes melted him. "It'd be my pleasure."

He watched Weiss walk off and turned to Pyrrha. "Well, I'm ready to address the Amygadala in the room."

"The what?"

"Sorry, a saying from the church I attended back home. A joke in poor taste."

All his teammates' eyes lingered on him but Pyrrha decided to move on quickly. She sat across from him, Nora and Ren moving to flank him, and began the unwarranted interrogation.

"Why don't you tell us where you've been going? I don't want to micromanage you but as a team, we need to be able to look out for each other."

He figured this conversation had something to do with the nature of their working relationship.

"You're somewhat of a strict father, aren't you?" Pyrrha flinched at that but he was only trying to add levity to their situation so he didn't mention it.

"I understand where you're coming from." He really did. He'd gotten chewed out more than once for his reckless night excursions by the Church Head.

"I'll make sure to give you forewarning before I leave at nights and short of personal matters, I'll tell you my intended activity." Partial truth.

"And what have you been doing for these past days." Ever the interrogator, Pyrrha pressed on.

"Extra studies. Safety regulations for the Arcane are primarily done for oneself. I'd be too limited, worrying about the safety of those around me if I practiced within our dorms."

Pyrrha sighed. She was obviously uncomfortable and, consequently, Jaune was as well.

"Okay, good. I'm sorry we cornered you in the caf. I didn't know if I was overstepping but I'm your partner and leader. On both counts, I'm responsible for you. Not knowing where you were made me feel like I was failing. I still feel like I was failing."

Jaune plastered an apologetic smile on his face. He didn't wake up that day expecting or wanting an emotional relief session.

Best to end this quickly. "You're not failing. If anything, the fault was mine. I desire to have a functioning team just as much you do, don't doubt that. Though next time, I'd appreciate if you don't let your feelings on the matter fester and instead simply express any grievances you have with me."

Nora took that as her cue. "So we're all good, happy, and feeling positively violent?"

"Come again?"

"Great! Because I've got a wonderful dream to tell you all about."

As Nora was recounting her dream about slaughtering Grimm en masse, Jaune looked over to Pyrrha and saw her smiling appreciatively at Nora.

He might have to start taking notes from the ginger.

"Why is it that General Laguna's attack on the faunus was doomed to fail from the start?"

Jaune quite liked the doctor. The man talked at an accelerated pace and truly was able to teach plenty in his class. Jaune found himself frequently disappointed with the supposed elite students and their inability to follow Doctor Oobleck's words.

Oobleck's head swivelled to an outstretched hand. "Give it a go, Mr Winchester."

"Because animals are easier to train than humans?" The tone he asked the question with would've made the inquiry seem innocent, if it wasn't for the shit-eating grin on his face.

It was because of people like him that he found himself apathetic to the fate of most humans.

"Incorrect, Cardin." First name now? It seems he's lost the Doctor's respect. "You'll be talking to me after class for that remark."

"The faunus were victorious that day because they've the ability to see in the dark but the General was disillusioned enough to believe he could attack them during the night.

"It isn't outright stated in the books but I'd also believe that a good amount of the faunus' number was awake during the nights seeing as it was an optimal time to fighting their bouts."

Oobleck's smiled broadly. "Excellent inference, once again, Mr Arc."

He dismissed the class and Jaune decided to wait outside the classroom. He saw Cardin coming out of the classroom, slightly irritated but didn't make any comments.

"Is there anything I can help you with, Mr Arc?" Oobleck was looking at him through the door of the classroom.

"Oh, nothing too serious but I've come to respect you as a teacher more than most so I was hoping you wouldn't mind me asking you a question."

Oobleck raised an eyebrow at that. "Well, I hope that isn't an attempt at flattery because that would mean you succeeded." An easy smile worked itself onto the doctor's face. "You're one of my favourite students yourself. They tell us, teachers, to be impartial; we never are. Ask away Mr Arc."

"How many other Arcs go to this school? And how much do you know about my… situation.?"

Oobleck winced. "I'm sorry to tell you that we know everything you told Ozpin. He saw it as important for us to know and he didn't think you'd mind us knowing."

"That's what I had expected and he was right to believe I don't mind."

"Then that's good. As for the number of Arcs going to the school… 3. I'd recommend you talk to them but I won't pry anymore into your personal matters."

"That would be appreciated, Doctor. I must say, thank you for that."

Jaune walked off silent, found his team, and enjoyed spending time with them again. However, in the back of his mind, he couldn't stop thinking about the inevitable interaction he'd be having with his sisters.

He was dreading the time.

Cardin was rightfully pissed. He would be the last to claim that he's the best person. He has his fair share of flaws but him disliking faunus? That's not one of them.

"Can you believe that Oobleck was on my ass for disliking faunus? The guy's probably bending over one of the faunus students as we speak."

Russel knew to back him up. "I don't know about that. Based on the way he's talking, I wouldn't be too surprised if he had faunus dick in his mouth."

Sky and Dove were snickering along but didn't say too much. He could understand.

With the White Fang running around Vale, they'd be too scared to speak against the faunus. He'd have to help them with that but he was their leader for a reason.

Faunus were fascinating to Jaune. They were proof that the Church's dreams weren't tied only to those like Jaune. In his favoured Rune, Beast's Embrace, he festers his Beasthood.

It wasn't exactly his primal instincts but the Beast in his blood was closely tied to it. As someone who could hear runes, remember them and stay sane, Jaune could utilize Beastly features without worsening his mental faculties.

Faunus could do the very same thing but their's was natural. They naturally utilized their Beasthood, were equally as sane as a normal human, and they never had to worry about any Beasthood consuming them?

The sheer magnificence of that existence intrigued him. That's why he found himself before Blake.

He tapped her shoulder and something in his hand moved."I know you're a Faunus."

Their last class for the day had passed hours ago and he followed Blake's scent when his patience lost to his curiosity.

"W-What?" Clearly, the shock had gotten the better of her.

"I'm not here to out you. Truly, I don't know why you wanted to hide your race but that choice lies with you. No, instead, I'm here with a proposition."

He wouldn't call himself a good person. The time where he could, had long since passed.

"What is this? Are you going to blackmail me?" A pessimistic imagination. He could work with that.

"Nothing of the sort. I simply want to make a deal that you're free to back away from at any time."

He had her at a disadvantage and he was willing to press. "Are you all ears Belladona?"

"... Yes. What do you want to say?"

He chuckled. He sat beside her at the library, getting to comfortable show that she was the only who had cause to be tense there.

"I loathe the word, but our class fancies me a magic user. I'd like to teach you an art that I believe faunus would be able to use with much more ease. Hence, my proposition. How would you like to be the first student I take in learning the Arcane Arts?"

He watched as the realization came onto her face. Relished seeing the awe with which she looked at him. There was something pleasant about being around someone more tied to their Beasthood than humans.

Another thing he'd grown to miss of the Yharnam hellhole.

"So you're offering to teach me magic? In exchange for what."

"You're a realist. I understand that. It's an attractive trait to have, Blake. Can I call you Blake? I'll be calling you Blake. What I get in exchange is experience."

What he'd be getting was research data but she didn't need to know that. "I like to speak in truth. So I won't call myself a good teacher. Under my tutelage, you'll be taught an art that only I can feasibly teach you, and I'll get the experience of teaching someone that I'll be able to put forth to my eventual successor. So, what say you?"

He could see her hesitating. "If it so pleases you, we can call you accepting my teaching the price of me hiding your secret."

That sealed the deal. "I'll do it."

He held his hand out and when she brought hers forth for a handshake he let out a low chuckle. "Then we have a deal."

Unknown to her. A rune had etched itself on her mind, for a contract with proper Kinblood, is a contract one would be hard-pressed to break.

Jaune was walking with Weiss to their dorm rooms and she felt emboldened. Jaune fed into her ego by respecting her intelligence. He looked at her like the intelligent woman she was and that made her realize she wasn't doing the same.

"I'll be seeing you tomorrow, Jaune."

"And I, you. No nightly excursions for me tonight. Team movie night, I believe they called it."

That set her resolve more. If Jaune, who was so clearly behind the trend of times, was able to enjoy a movie night with his team she could be better.

She walked into the room looked at Ruby and said the words that were long overdue. "Ruby. I'm sorry, I really am. I was unnecessarily rude to you during initiation and was wholly dismissive of your efforts to talk to me past that. However, what's happening in this team isn't okay."

Weiss turned towards Blake and Yang. "Yang, I can somewhat understand. I was rude to your sister and you took offense. It doesn't excuse your antagonistic attitude subsequently but I understand. Blake," The indignant anger she'd been feeling under the uncertainty flared looking at her.

"I don't know what problem you have with the Schnees but all you're being is a prejudiced bigot and I'm tired of it. We need to make this team work and if you guys aren't even willing to try. It's doomed to fail."

She said her piece. It was only them who could decide how to take it.

I wish Jaune was here. Hah. One day talking to me and he's already one of the better friends I have.