Hey all who decided to check this fic out, LightDusk16 bringing a brand new fic for (hopefully) your enjoyment!

Yeah, probably not the update you guys were expecting considering how long it's been since I've updated my other fic. But trust me there is a perfectly good reason I'm writing a new one instead of continuing that one (FOR NOW), which I will address in the AN at the end the chap.

For those who are impatient, let's just say the years been annoying and writers block is a bitch so I need to vent, hence this fic.

Anyways, let's not keep you guys here any longer. We've got a brand new adventure starring everyone's favorite blonde dufus, with an old plot trend from way back when making a comeback!

Who's ready to go back to high school? Grab your teenage angst and drive to rebel, for class is in session! Let's get things rolling, it's show time!

}Episode 1: The Ballad of Jaune Arc{

Jaune Arc was many things.

A self-proclaimed and self-practicing loner, a slightly above average student, the reluctant errand boy of practically every teacher, a middle child of seven, yes seven, sisters, an addict to all things nerdy and geeky, and (in his own words) a fairly decent guitar player.

He was all of these things, but most people never realized that. Above all else there was one thing for sure that Jaune was labeled, and he could never forget it.

He was the pariah of Signal High.

To say his school life was Hell would be, in his words, a bit of an exaggeration. Sure he was taunted and bullied more often than he liked, but it wasn't like he was constantly being pushed around, just some times. Most days the student body simply ignored him, content to let him scuttle about in his blissful isolation than ever really talk to him. Only a few students would really go out of their way to antagonize him, and even then, it never went any further than a few bruises with accompanying mocking laughter…

But hey! School wasn't completely bad! At least the teachers feigned being kind to him…even if it was probably only because he was their go to pet.

What had started with just an offer to help Ms. Goodwitch transport some old English textbooks to the basement had snowballed into Jaune being labeled as the 'Reliable' student. From mindless errands like transcribing Mr. Port's many tales of his youth, to tireless busy work helping Doctor Oobleck organize his archeology collection, to reading over less than stellar essays from Ms. Peach's class, Jaune was the go-to student for the teachers.

And sure, being the reliable one seems nice on paper, but it can be its own special kind of prison as well. A prison that Jaune couldn't decide whether he wanted to escape or curl up into his cell's corner to block out the whispers and jeers.

So yes, Jaune would claim that this wasn't Hell for him, and of course it would be obvious that he'd be lying. He hated going to school, but having this mindset allowed him to move forward.

For two years running he received this treatment, and it was by no means his fault. Although even he would argue that the circumstances leading up to his pariah label might have been set in motion by him.

Two years ago he'd had a different reputation due to his less than stellar attempts to court popular girl Weiss Schnee. Even now he still cringes at all his stupid gimmicks and declarations he used to try and win her heart, even after she'd said no repeatedly.

Still he did eventually back off once he finally got the hint that she just plain wasn't into him…although that hint took the form of him getting his face smashed in five times at the Fall Dance freshman year. Weiss's friend Yang, the boxing club captain, had oh so elegantly delivered that message to him after his last courting attempt, and he read it loud and clear.

All things considered, he felt lucky that he only received a broken nose for that message to sink in, there were plenty of other sad saps who'd met the knuckle end of the boxer, and they didn't get off so easily. An upperclassman still walked with a limp after he'd gotten a little handsy with the stacked blonde. Nobody pitied him.

Justified beat downs aside, it would probably surprise most people that Jaune didn't press any assault charges against Xiao Long. That's because he knew he deserved it, even if practical outsiders would view the incident as an overreaction. In his heart, Jaune understood that it was all his fault for not heeding Weiss's wishes sooner and pushing things too far. He'd embarrassed her in front of everyone with his last stunt, and in the proverbial battlefield of high school, this was a war crime.

Rather than continue to pick a fight with the most popular girls in school, he chose to give up, let go, and hide away with what little dignity he had left. It was a sound strategy, but unfortunately, in trying to avoid that bullet, he only made things worse.

At that time he wasn't the pariah yet. He got labeled a creep, stalker and other unsavory things, but he hadn't been completely shunned by the student body. That changed however because of another thing the blonde boy was.


He knows now not to trust the words of someone new who seems friendly, he knows now that Weiss would never wish to reconcile about anything, and most importantly he knows now that it was idiotic to go behind the school alone.

Strangers aren't friends you just haven't met yet. Strangers are strangers, and they rarely have your best interest in mind. He knows now that you don't take their words at face value, lest you wake up from a three-week coma with an even worse reputation.

He knows that now, and he's moved past the whole incident…or so he claims.

The rest of the Signal High though hadn't and probably never will forget the incident, as there's no shortage of those who keep bringing it up. Despite the jeers and taunts though, he did prefer the abuse over the suffocating silence of his tiny apartment.

Going home used to entail being welcomed by three adorable little sisters and a grumpy cat in a comfy, warm and weathered two-story house. Now it meant a colorless three-room box with safety hazards in every corner waiting to go up in flames, sometimes literally…though the grumpy cat aspect remained. Sabyr was a handful no matter the location, but even he wasn't enough to liven up the place.

School was Hell, but he'd take that over the tiny, quiet cell that'd regretfully become his home any day. The circumstances of his new residence were something he tried not to think about…

His junior year started off no better than when his sophomore year ended, but he would keep moving forward despite the pain and the jeers. He had to, because if he stopped to look back at the past…He wasn't sure he'd be able to keep walking forward.

Only two more years and then everything would be over with, and he could move on for good. He hoped he'd be able to move on at least, even if that mantra had been getting weaker and weaker as the days went by.

Jaune Arc was many things, but a quitter was not among them, even though some days the label looked enticing.

}Line Break{

Despite what one would assume given all the negativity surrounding Jaune, both externally and internally, he was not lonely.

Kind of a strange sentiment given he had no friends at school, and also the lengths some classmates went to ensure that new and transferring students stayed away from him, but he felt content. None of his "friends" had stuck around after the incident, and slowly but surely they had all drifted away from him. Thanks to the rumors and warnings, no one else really tried to get close to him. One girl attempted to, but eventually she'd left as well at Jaune's insistence.

It'd been for the best he'd reckoned, since she was now popular and had her own little fan club. Getting involved with him would have been reputation annihilating, so he'd cut off any chance of friendship before it had a chance to grow. It had hurt him, but again, he knew it was for the best.

So how was Jaune Arc, the friendless awkward loser of Signal High not lonely despite all the evidence to the contrary? Simple, he actually did have friends; five of them to be exact.

Jaune was just as surprised as anyone else when he thought about it, but there were actually five people who willingly wanted to spend time with him, even if two claimed otherwise. Though "spending time" with him was a misnomer as none of them had ever met in person. The friendship he had with these five had slowly formed over the last two years, and despite never meeting any of them face-to-face he was glad to call them his best friends. It was a friendship that had been forged in the fires of battle and the hazards of online chat forums.

They were of course the best kind of friends because despite "knowing" each other for well over two years, there were still levels of anonymity afforded to them. They didn't know his reputation, and he didn't know theirs, and despite not knowing their true names, he knew all he needed to from them.

Jaune knew not to trust strangers anymore, but the online 5 didn't count in his opinion. They were his lights in times of darkness after all, and he hoped they considered him the same.
A small cynical part of his brain would always tell him that it wouldn't last, that eventually they'd abandon him just like the rest, but he would always shut it out when it reared its ugly head. It hadn't been right about them in the last two years, and it wasn't going to be right about them anytime soon. That was the hope he held onto tightly every day….

And so blinded by this hope, he never saw the glittering axe shining above his head, descending ever so slowly towards his end…or perhaps he did, but chose to ignore it.

}Line Break{

It had been a pretty good day for Jaune, or rather as good as one in his position could have anyway.

Cardin and his cronies had shoved him into the lockers only two times before lunch, he had somehow managed to get a good grade on last week's history paper, and his locker only had four mean post-it notes stuck it.

So all in all, a pretty good day.

Or it could the calm before the storm before things go down the drain, as usual.

Jaune expertly ignored the cynical unconscious thought as he focused on eating his lunch while typing away at his Scroll.

As per usual, Jaune had been the last person to get to the cafeteria thanks to Cardin and his goons, which meant he was, once again, left with the lunchroom leftovers after the hungry mob had swarmed ahead of him. Really though, soggy sloppy joes and mashed overcooked tater tots were only just a step below in quality with what everyone else got, so he never really minded…much. He'd have made his own lunch, but after the constant thefts in Freshman year, this was more cost effective.

In the end, it was all just fuel to get him through the rest of the day and taste wasn't really a factor with how absorbed in conversation with his buddies as he was. Taking his usual corner table next to the exit, he downed the prison grade quality food as he looked at the latest group chat.

Tribe0fBird: All I'm saying is if you want her to back off you have to beat her down. Its simple logic!

Scythe2MeetU: And for the last time I'm NOT beating up my sister just because she bugs me!

Tribe0fBird: But why!? By showing your superiority you can prove that should she mess with you, she'll only live to regret it! Fear is the ultimate tool for the strong to use!

Druid4Hire: I think Scythe would prefer a less...hostile approach to their problem Bird.

Tribe0fBird: Oh what do you know Dirtboy? The best approach you have is useless words and empty promises to 'keep the conflict to a minimum.'

Druid4Hire: …Words hurt you know?

HeirofMisfortune: I believe Bird is well aware of how words can hurt, despite what her limited vocabulary might suggest.

Well they're starting early, Jaune thought in amusement. Trading bars back and forth was the norm for his group, and though sometimes it seemed harsh, there was never any real intent behind the jabs. Even though sometimes they'd get intense, that's just how they communicated.

HeirofMisfortune: But of course, as usual, leave it to the simple-minded ruffian to suggest violence when a much more sophisticated method exists to help Scythe.

Tribe0fBird: What'd you call me Moneybags!?

HeirofMisfortune: Oh dear, it seems Bird has lost the ability to read like an educated person. Oh well, it was only a matter of time…

Tribe0fBird: Why you snobby little BASTA-

Bird's usual cascade of insults towards Misfortune was abruptly cut off as picture of a small grey corgi suddenly filled the chat. It looked like someone was lifting the tiny dog by its front paws to make it seem like the little animal was trying to hug the viewer, and was accompanied by the text:


Jaune couldn't help but chuckle, not even needing to see who sent the image as only one of them had an endless amount of corgi memes at their disposal.

How does Scythe always have one for every situation? He contemplated with a smirk before quickly checking his surroundings. He usually avoided entering the chats at school, save for in certain places, like the cafeteria or the library. At these locations, people paid him even less mind than usual, so he felt safe enough, but it was always better to be safe than sorry. Although, even if Cardin or some other jerk tried to read the messages, they wouldn't have a clue who he was talking to thanks to the usernames. That was the beauty of the whole thing.

Seeing that the coast was still clear, he glanced back to his device as it started buzzing nonstop, signifying a rapid number of messages coming through. He read through the newest replies with a soft grin before it quickly turned into a blank look as he reached the end of the text chain.

Scythe2MeetU: None of that! Todays supposed to be one of your bicker free days, remember guys!?

HeirofMisfortune: My apologies Scythe, my need to correct Bird and their endless foolishness momentarily made me forget our promise. I shall try and hold back from here onward.

Tribe0fBird: Ugh fine whatever! Not even worth the effort anyway.

HeirofMisfortune: Glad to make a truce with you Bird, though I feel it won't last long…

HeirofMisfortune: That said, I believe I have a more effective means of solving your nosey sister problem Scythe.

Scythe2MeetU: Yes, please! I'm at my wits end and can only handle so many privacy breaches!

HeirofMisfortune: Of course. You simply must procure some information that would paint your sister in a rather negative light should it come out and remind her what should happen if she invades your privacy once more.

Scythe2MeetU: …

Tribe0fBird: …

Druid4Hire: …

WhiteKnight7: Wait, so you want them to blackmail their sister?

Jaune finally joined the conversation, the brief lull in responses seeming like the ample moment.

HeirofMisfortune: 'Blackmail' is such an ugly word, I prefer 'hostile negotiations.'

Scythe2MeetU: I'M NOT BLACKMAILING MY SISTER! *Angry, teary eyed pout emoji*

Tribe0fBird: Agreed, that is such a despicable way to handle this.

Scythe2MeetU: Wait, seriously Bird? You do have a conscience!?

Druid4Hire: Wait for it...

Tribe0fBird: Why use such an underhanded tactic when punching her lights out in combat is so much more effective and shows who holds the power between them?

Druid4Hire: And there it is.

Scythe2MeetU: NOOOOOO! Give me back my faith in you!

WhiteKnight7: I don't know, Bird kinda has a point.

A rare, in public at least, troll of a smile made its way onto Jaune's face as he sent his message.

Scythe2MeetU: Knight!? *Sad corgi face with captions DA BETRAYAL*

HeirofMisfortune: Oh dear, it seems our resident do gooder has been brainwashed by the barbarian's petty ways.

Druid4Hire: Now Wilbert flying through the air makes sense. It's the apocalypse.

Tribe0fBird: Finally! It's nice to see you dropping your little paragon ideals and realizing that might makes right in this world!

Jaune let out another quiet chuckle at his friend's responses before he typed in with trollish intent,

WhiteKnight7: Of course, after all we allll know violence is just another way to express your feelings to someone. I'm sure Scythe could convey her true feelings to their sis with a nice. Friendly. Spar.

Once more there was a silent pause, but the all too expected response came in due time bringing more mirth to the blonde boy.

Tribe0fBird: Violence is not a means of expressing our 'feelings!' It is a form of dominance and respect for the strong over the weak!

HeirofMisfortune: Yet somehow I feel very little respect for one as violent as you, how strange.

Scythe2MeetU: OOOOOOOH *fireworks emoji x2*

WhiteKnight7: Oof, and Bird goes down in a crispy flame of burnage!

Druid4Hire: And karma comes full circle

Tribe0fBird: …

Tribe0fBird: I hate you all, and I will stab you when given the chance.

Scythe2MeetU: Nope. No stabbing! We talked about this remember?

Jaune rolled his eyes good naturedly at the empty words, or at least he hoped they were empty. Bird had a habit of throwing out disturbing yet creative threats to opposing players when they gamed together, and their penchant for violence carried over into their chats.

You'd think after knowing someone for two years it would be easier to pick up on when they were serious about murdering someone or not, Jaune thought in morbid amusement. Then again, I've known Scythe just as long and they still manage to surprise me every now and again so what do I know?

He had met both of them simultaneously when he was still playing Rings* two years ago, and they'd been with him the longest. And though Bird could be a bit abrasive and Scythe a bit childish, they were his closest confidants when things got a bit too...dark for him.

Spill the beans now, that way you'll know for sure who to blame when suddenly everyone-

Jaune quickly shook his head to interrupt the unwanted thought as he turned his attention back to the group chat.

Tribe0fBird: Whatever, at least I don't pretend to hate my username whenever someone brings it up.

Scythe2MeetU: I do hate it! I told you my sister changed it and won't tell me how to turn it back!

HeirofMisfortune: Oh really? Didn't Scales give you a step-by-step guide on how to do so about three months ago?

Scythe2MeetU: I did follow the instructions, but my sis always changes it back!

HeirofMisfortune: Either her sister's very dedicated to a pun and has skills matching me, or someone's fibbing. What's your take Druid?

Druid4Hire: Please don't drag me into this.

Tribe0fBird: What's wrong plant-man? It's a simple question. You're the smart one of the group, so you should know this right?

Druid4Hire: No comment.

Tribe0fBird: Really? Ugh, when are you gonna grow a spine?

Druid4Hire: I prefer not having my scroll overwhelmed by dog memes…again.

Tribe0fBird: Coward!

HeirofMisfortune: Oh? Is that hypocrisy I smell?

Scythe2MeetU: Oh no… *Scared corgi hiding behind paws gif*

Druid4Hire: That truce lasted longer than I thought it would, might be a new record too...

Jaune couldn't help but let out a sigh as he started to skip over the constant back and forth between Misfortune and Bird. It was a common occurrence between the two to bark back and forth, and it was one of the reasons why Jaune avoided the group chat like the plague last Thanksgiving aside from a quick well-wishes message.

Misfortune had been an odd addition to his group in the sense that no one had invited them. They'd added themselves. When he and the rest had asked how, they'd simply said they had some hacking skills. When asked why he'd wormed their way into the group, they'd explained that they'd been seeking 'companionship without overbearing outside interference or manipulation,' and that the group's small size had been ideal. They'd all been weary at first, but Misfortune showed no malicious intentions and integrated well into the group dynamic.

Though for someone so smart with "hacking" skills, Misfortune could get real dumb when arguing with Bird. There latest verbal sparring made the chat shift up relatively fast, only blocked here and there by Scythe trying to implement a meme that they didn't even acknowledge.

Wow they're really going at it today huh? Jaune thought with a raised brow as the jabs got a bit more intense than usual. Good thing Scales isn't here or things would get out of ha-oh crap.

Scales0nTheRun is Online

As if the mere thought of them was some sort of signal, the spontaneous friend had arrived, bringing about a peace in the argument. Though Jaune knew that it'd only be a short peace before gas got added to the fire.

Scythe2MeetU: THEY LIVE! *Happy corgi dancing gif*

Druid4Hire: Welcome back Scales, you're just in time for the chaos to hit…

Tribe0fBird: Oh great, the fanatic is here. Just what I need right now!

HeirofMisfortune: Well now, this shall be interesting.

Scales0nTheRun: Hey guys, been awhile. What did I miss?

WhiteKnight7: The usual, Bird and Misfortune trying to verbally kill each other and Scythe denying her love of her username.

Scythe2MeetU: I DO HATE IT DANG IT! *Corgi barking angrily at viewer gif*

Scales0nTheRun: Uh huh...didn't I try and tell you how to change it, but you kept telling me you 'got a handle on things.'

Jaune wasn't sure how, but Scales somehow managed to convey their emotions rather strongly through their messages even when they weren't that detailed. Case in point, he could feel the snark dripping off their message, something Scythe no doubt felt as well.

Scythe2MeetU: I thought I did! But anyway, where have you been!?

Scales0nTheRun: Nice diversion there, 10/10. Anyway, I wasn't gone that long was I?

Druid4Hire: You were only unreachable for two months this time, congratulations.

Scales0nTheRun: Really? Huh, feels like I've been gone longer than that. Weird.

WhiteKnight7: It still amazes me how you can go so long without connecting online at all! Seriously, what's your secret?

HeirofMisfortune: Knight's inquiry aside, I myself can't help but be curious as to just what and where you've been that you don't access the internet for so long. Or even respond to us for that matter.

Scales0nTheRun: Oh you know, here and there and this and that. Nothing that interesting guys, seriously.

Scythe2MeetU: See, it's answers like that that make me think you're a spy or something.

Scales0nTheRun: If only my life were that exciting.

Tribe0fBird: Oh who cares where you've been? Not like it makes any difference with your fanatic butt in the end.

Scales0nTheRun: Nice to see you're just as pleasant as always Bird. You manage to convince anyone to follow your impractical totalitarian philosophy yet?

Tribe0fBird: It is not impractical you hypocritical jackass! And it's NOT totalitarian! It's the food chain!

Scales0nTheRun: Oh so we're no better than animals eating each other then?

Oh man, here we go again… Jaune thought while rubbing his forehead in exasperation.

Scales was a bit of "free thinker" if you had to put a label on it. Jaune had encountered them on a debate forum sophomore year, and though they were dug into their differing beliefs, it never stopped them from getting along. Jaune figured it would be the same with the others when he added them to the group chat, and for the most part that was the case. But debaters gotta debate, and when it came to adding Bird and Misfortune into that mix….

HeirofMisfortune: All I'm saying is that while Bird's dedication to their philosophy is absurd and calls to question their intelligence, it does hold some merit here and there.

Scales0nTheRun: So you're saying it's alright for the weak to be pushed around by the strong, instead of supported by them to become their equals!?

HeirofMisfortune: Not at all, please do not put words into my mouth. I'm just saying that yes, those with power do sometimes hold the weak down, but sometimes that can be more beneficial than the alternatives.

Tribe0fBird: Ugh! Neither of you two understand something so simple and keep adding flowery language. Might Makes Right! No more or less. End of discussion!

Jaune groaned as the three-way debate continued. He was fairly certain none of them held any real ill-will towards one another, but on days like today, it was hard to tell. When politics weren't involved, the conversations would be pleasant, but it felt like they were hardwired to eventually go down that route. Still, whether they truly hated each other or not, they were all in this group because of Jaune, so he had to keep the peace between his friends.

With a determined grin, Jaune went through a familiar set of motions before three different notifications popped up.

Tribe0fBird muted for five minutes

HeirofMisfortune muted for five minutes

Scales0nTheRun muted for five minutes

Ah admin privileges. I swear, those three are going to be the death of me one of these days, but I wouldn't have it any other way. He thought fondly. Letting them cool off usually did the trick, and if it didn't, he'd cut them off for longer. Someone had to keep the peace after all.

WhiteKnight7: Now you kids behave now and calm down while the adults talk. *gif of smug looking cartoon character waving finger back and forth in a 'no no no' fashion*

Druid4Hire: Thanks Knight, once again you prove to be the only reasonable one here.

WhiteKnight7: Thanks, but I'm not that reasonable. If I was, I'd have muted them for longer.

Scythe2MeetU: Ugh, those three can get scary sometimes I swear. And annoying.

Scythe2MeetU: And what do you mean by 'only reasonable one,' huh Druid!?

Druid4Hire: I know what I said, and I regret it only slightly

Scythe2MeetU: *Pouty Emoji* Jerk!

Druid4Hire: If I send you some pictures of Rufus, will that earn me your forgiveness?

Scythe2MeetU: *gif of Home Alone cheek slap* ALL IS FORGIVEN!

Jaune chuckled, at the response. He was more of a cat person himself, but he always appreciated the many pet pics Druid sent. And while Scythe preferred Rufus, Jaune looked forward to cute pics of Winifred.

Druid was both an enigma and familiar to Jaune. They were the most recent addition to his group, having met them on an animal discussion forum last summer, and they were both open and closed off at the same time. Druid would constantly share any and all details and pictures of their pets and farm with just about any stranger on the internet, but when it came to themselves, nothing.

True, none of them in the chat revealed the important details like names, gender, etc, but Druid just didn't like talking about themselves. Everything around them though was fair game. It intrigued Jaune because it reminded him of how he used to be before the incident, oversharing all the little things in life to any and all who would hear. It also reminded him of how he was after the incident too, with how closed off he'd become. Suffice to say, he saw a little bit of himself in Druid, despite not knowing much.

WhiteKnight7: Your weakness for dog pics worries me sometimes ya know?

Scythe2MeetU: What's wrong with loving the adorable awesomeness that is dogs?

Druid4Hire: How quick you are to forgive someone who offers pics as a bargaining chip for one thing.

Scythe2MeetU: Oh you know that only works for you Dru, your pet pics are just too top notch not to give into. You wouldn't be you without them anyway!

Druid4Hire: My entire character revolves around animal pictures. I feel so special.

Scythe2MeetU: Yep! *Corgi puppy dog look captioned YOUZ THE ONE*

Druid4Hire: I can't tell if my sarcasm was too subtle or if they just don't notice it.

WhiteKnight7: Probably the latter. Not even Scales can convey sarcasm through Scythe's dense skull. I still don't think they've ever recovered from the last time they tried.

Scythe2MeetU: MEANIES! ALL OF YOU! *angry pout emoji x2*

He chuckled and took a bite of his slop. Teasing Scythe was the favored past time for the group, and their overreactions to said teasing was what kept it in season. It was just far too much fun.

Once he was done chuckling at his friend's expense Jaune took a quick glance at the time and his eyes widened when he saw that he only had a few more minutes of lunch left.

Huh, guess time does fly when you're having fun, he reckoned as he finished up the last of his meal. Maybe I should chat at lunch more often if-

Jaune's fond thoughts came to an abrupt halt as the latest messages appeared, and a frown quickly spread across his face.

Scythe2MeetU: I bet you wouldn't be so smug if you said that to my face Knight!

Scythe2MeetU: In fact, I DARE you to say that to my face tonight! You and me at the Thieves Den, come on!

Druid4Hire: Scythe…

A heavy weight started to press down on Jaune's chest as he read the message. Feelings of uneasiness and confliction roiled through him as Scythe once again brought up that forbidden topic.

WhiteKnight7: No.

Scythe2MeetU: Oof! Must you be so quick to reject my challenge? Don't make me pull a Bird and call you a spineless oaf, cause I will!

WhiteKnight7: We've talked about this Scythe! I don't want to do any irl meetings! It's just not my thing.

Scythe2MeetU: Oh come on Knight! We'll have a blast I swear! We've known each other for two years now so why not?! No awkwardness or unease, it'll be fine!

Druid4Hire: They said no Scythe, you can't force them to hang out if they don't want to.

Scythe2MeetU: But Druid! How can I NOT try and meet my best friend when I know they live in the same town as me!? It's a crime against friendship if I can't hang with my bestie side by side!

The weight in his chest increased and he couldn't help but wince at the impassioned response. Regret went through his mind as they'd had this conversation several times, and it only came about because he'd slipped up.

A few months back, he'd been blowing off steam, complaining about the homework the teachers kept giving him, and he'd mentioned Ms. Goodwitch by name. That was a mistake that Scythe had homed in on.

He wasn't sure if they'd searched out his teacher's name, or if they already knew her, but Scythe had figured out that he went to Signal and ergo that he lived in the same town. He liked Scythe, he truly did, but ever since that bombshell was dropped, they'd kept bringing up the possibility of meeting face to face over and over again and he hated it.

One little slip-up, and everything starts crashing down huh? Jaune thought morbidly.

If they meet you they'll know. They know Goodwitch, so they're probably a student here too. They'll abandon you like the rest, and you'll go back to being the pathetic lonely grub that you are. If they don't mock you into submission first at least…

Unlike before Jaune made no attempt to silence his cynical side, as he knew it was speaking the truth. He knew what would happen if they ever met in real life. Their eyes changing from happiness to disgust, their smile turning into a snarl, words of friendship replaced with mockery and hate.

He couldn't, wouldn't, let that happen. He couldn't go back to being alone, not again. No matter how much he longed to meet them face-to-face, to turn them from walls of text into actual friends, to prove his mother's advice right once again, he couldn't.

Instead, he did what he had to do. What he always did when they asked him to meet.

WhiteKnight7: The answer's no Scythe, I'm sorry.

He tried to ignore as the weight on his chest and knot in his stomach grew with guilt once more, but it was difficult.


The bell sounded off, startling Jaune and bringing an end to lunch.

Aw crap, I'm still in here and not already halfway to class! He thought apprehensively, ignoring the buzz from his scroll as Scythe responded.

As everyone started moving about, he quickly stowed his scroll away, not even bothering to sign out of the chat and headed out the exit ahead of the horde. He did not want give Cardin a chance to catch him lacking and ruin what had been a pleasant day. Though the frown he wore from Scythe's insistence already put a dent on that.

Still, he made his way to his next class, all the while his scroll buzzed in his pocket from unread messages.

}Line Break{

If there was one class Jaune could say with absolute certainty that he loathed with every fiber of his being, it was gym.

He would be the first to admit that he was pretty weak in practically all things sporty, but he wasn't a complete noodle. He had gotten pretty good at running long distances thanks to the unintended assistance of his more aggressive classmates, so his hatred did not come from his less than stellar athletic ability. Rather it was the mixture of having his bullies around where physical contact was encouraged and having Peter Port as the teacher.

Quite a few 'love taps' and far too many Youth speeches did not a good combination make. So as usual after a round in the gym, Jaune was mentally and physically drained by the time he entered his final class of the day, English Literature with Ms. Goodwitch.


So, covered in sweat and sporting a few more bruises to add to his collection, the blonde boy sat in his seat in the second to last row, trying not to doze off. Usually this wouldn't be an issue, even after a grueling session with Port, but today he was especially feeling more drained than usual, and had felt so since lunch ended.


Even though he had a good reputation with her due to his errand boy status, he knew better than anyone that that didn't make him exempt from her ire if earned. And there was no quicker way to do that than by falling asleep in her class. Even if it was only for an instance, she would know. She always knew.

*Bzz Bzz*

She was scary enough as it was when she was pretending to be nice to him and making him do errands, and he didn't fancy getting on her bad side. He did not want to endure one of her infamous 'Lectures of Death' that so many previous students had fallen prey to, so he focused every ounce of willpower he had into keeping his eyes open.

*Bzz Bzz Bzz*

And thankfully, his will was indeed strong as he was able to ingest her lecture on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and for the most part understand it. On the flip side however, all this effort with his tired mind gave way to a severe case of tunnel vision. His attention was completely on Goodwitch and Goodwitch alone.

*Bzz Bzz Bzz Bzz Bzz Bzz Bz-*

Which is why that annoying buzzing noise that had been going off non-stop since he sat down was not consciously acknowledged by him.

"MR. ARC!"

"Bwah!?" The sudden shout of his name snapped Jaune out of his intense focus, causing his head to slip from his arm rest and slam forcibly into his notebook below him.

Harsh, muffled laughter sounded around him at that as he rubbed his face, but they were ignored as a spike of adrenaline went through him and he looked to who had called him. Her arms were folded, and her irate death glare was focused squarely on him, causing him to shiver and gulp.

"Y-yes Ms. Goodwitch?" he stuttered. Not losing her glare, Goodwitch sighed before she swept her gaze to the others, silencing the not-so-subtle laughter.

"As much as I appreciate your undivided attention so many seem to lack Mr. Arc," she began sternly and glared at certain students before she continued, "I still can't abide by any distractions coming from your person, interrupting my lecture."

Huh? What distractions? He thought in a daze under her watch. I was just-

*Bzz Bzz*

And like that Jaune's thoughts came to an abrupt end as his now alert mind took notice of the buzzing sound. Cheeks turning red, he slowly took his scroll out of his pocket and opened it up. Just as he'd feared, there were far too many corgi memes and emojis and apologies left unread since lunch from a certain person.

Dang it Scythe, why must you be so obsessive!? He thought in frustration. It wasn't even in the group chat, but a private one. Scythe had done this before when Jaune had cut off a conversation abruptly, but it'd never been during school.

"S-sorry Ms. Goodwitch. It-it won't happen again!" he rushed out an apology as he set notifications to silent.

"Apology accepted Mr. Arc, however…" she trailed off expectantly holding her hand out. "You know the rules."

Jaune felt an urge to argue and complain that it wasn't his fault that his friend was a spamming gremlin, but a wave of defeat snuffed out those thoughts.

"Yes Ms. Goodwitch…"

With a sad sigh Jaune slowly trudged his way to the front of the class and placed his scroll onto her desk where other 'distractions' were usually placed. So skittish was he that he'd forgotten to turn off his screen as yet another picture of a corgi popped up. He instinctually started to reach his hand out to shut it off, causing his teacher to raise an eyebrow in challenge.

"Uh, I…" he fumbled before he quickly fell silent and retracted his hand, causing the teacher to nod.

"You can reclaim it at the end of class, now please return to your seat," she ordered in what could have been mistaken as a more gentle tone, and he complied. Not looking up from his feet, he made his way back to his desk and sat down glumly not wanting to see the looks of mockery from the others.

She could have just picked it up herself, but she made me walk up there in front of everyone, he mentally grumbled as she began once more discussing about Brutus's betrayal of Caesar. She's just as sadistically gleeful as the rest of them when it comes to messing with me.

His mood soured, he lamented the passing of what once had been a good day, and just wished that class would end sooner.

"Now then, we will continue our group oration from where we stopped yesterday," Goodwitch announced, and quite a few groans sounded off, causing her to steel her gaze.

"Can't we just read it on our own quietly?" a certain voice complained and Jaune's mood turned even more dark.

"No we can't, but thank you for volunteering to go first Ms. Xiao Long," Goodwitch said vindictively as she gestured to the podium at the front. "If you please."

"Ugh…" the tall blonde girl groaned as she picked up her textbook and reluctantly made her way to the front. Now that his teacher was no longer the focus, Jaune looked away from the girl who had broken his nose and looked down at his book, pretending to read along with the rest.

"Whenever you're ready," Goodwitch ordered and the boxing club president sighed dramatically before beginning.

"'Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your…ears…?'" she trailed off, sounding surprised. There was an awkward pause of silence as others looked up in confusion, but Jaune did not. His mind was still drained, and his thoughts were elsewhere as he pretended to read the old English play.

That is why he didn't notice as Yang Xiao Long's eyes widened as she caught site of his still open private chat on Goodwitch's desk.

"Yes?" Ms. Goodwitch urged expectantly.

"Uh, y-yeah. Ears," the boxer stuttered before coughing into her fist. "'I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him…'"

Jaune also failed to notice that her tone became darker, or that she was looking in his direction when she said it.

}Line Break{

Jaune didn't think his day could get any worse after that embarrassing moment in Goodwitch's class. Giving new ammunition to his enemies to be used against him was never an ideal situation. The one silver lining was that it was the last class and it probably wouldn't be shot at him till tomorrow.

Now all he had to do was take the long walk back to his dingy apartment and hopefully get back at Scythe via some in-game shenanigans.

I'll only kick them around a little bit. It was my fault for not silencing my phone after lunch after all, he reasoned as he headed for the much less used exit near the old music club room. Technically it was an old fire emergency exit, but it was not active and provided him with a better alternative than the main entrance where far too many people congregated.

Although they'll probably be upset or something thinking I was ignoring them, so I'll have to talk them down then complain and-

"Urk!" his thoughts were cut short as a hand burst out from music room, grabbed him by the collar, and dragged him inside. Jaune didn't even have much time to shout out in surprise as another hand quickly covered his mouth and he was shoved roughly into the wall behind him.

His grunts were muffled and his eyes spun from the whole ordeal, but after the initial shock, he sighed, not surprised at all.

Of course Cardin's gotta have one last go today, he thought in defeat. Just cover your face and…

Once more his thoughts came to a stop and true surprise and terror broke out over him. It wasn't Cardin pressing him against the wall, but rather a certain blonde brawler.

"Alright creep, I'm going to ask you this once and only once!" Yang growled out, her fist clenched inches from his face. "And if I don't like your answer, well…"

Her trailing off sent a spike of panic through Jaune's body. He knew very well what she would do. After all the only other time he'd seen her this pissed off was-

Nose breaking, blood dripping, angry shouts, laughter, pain! So much pain!

"I guess you figured it out huh?" she threatened as he trembled under her grip. He began to nod his head rapidly in response as her hand still covered his mouth.

Yes, yes. For god's sake I'll answer! What did I even do to piss you off though? I haven't talked to Weiss in two years! He pondered in dread. After the dance, Yang had not once interacted with him again, so he had no clue what changed. Whatever it was though, he knew he had to answer her question correctly or he wasn't going to be walking home.

"Good, now then…" she trailed off menacingly as she removed her hand and leaned closer to his face. "How the hell do you know Scythe2MeetU!?"

"Huh?" he sputtered as his brain crashed. Of all the questions she could possibly have asked him, that was the farthest from his mind that he expected. And of course, the boxer took issue with his response as her scowl deepened.

Jaune had figured, or rather hoped that his day couldn't get any worse, but like many times before, he'd been wrong.

For today would mark the end of Jaune's nondescript, routine lifestyle, as everything he knew was about to spiral far out of his control.

Jaune Arc was many things, but a prophet was not one of them.

}Episode End{

And thus begins a new tale of friendship! Drama! Romance? And a murder most foul…maybe. Depends on the day I suppose.

Also cookies to anyone who can guess who Jaune's friends are based on their usernames!

I hope you all enjoyed the beginning of my version of the ever classic 'Modern RWBY where Jaune's life is hell' AU!

For those new to the fandom, there was this trend a few years back where poor Jaune would get the short end of the stick in regards to parents, popularity, mental health, or all three in a modern high school setting! Sometimes it would be a song fic with Jaune slowly gaining friendship through singing (and almost always in a music club of some kind), or it would be him against the world as friendship was quiet literally forced upon him (usually by Ruby…obviously).

I don't know why I like these AUs so much. There's something about a protagonist that doesn't want friendship slowly gaining genuine bonds through others invading their life that just holds a special place in my heart. I think its rather enduring honestly, and makes the bonds that form seem more genuine when compared to the whole 'I learn your secret talent and like you for that, only to slowly like you as a person later on' trope. I blame character's like Hikigaya Hachiman honestly, I just relate to them. Which given the subject matter most of those protagonists are in, probably not a good thing hehehehe…

Anyway! I promised those who cared an explanation as to why I started this fic instead of continuing How I Failed to Avoid the Plot. The reason is two-fold really…

For one, I've been suffering from major writers block ever since I published the last chapter. I know what I want to happen and even planned way ahead story wise, but the words just won't come to me. Every time I try to type its just…nothing. It doesn't help that I've suffered from a massive stress rush concerning my future (soon to be graduated college student thinking of doing a graduate level) which left me in a…less then pleasant funk for awhile.

I'm far better now, so no worries there! I just…kinda lack motivation to continue the other fic at the moment. I've just got too many gunky emotions in me right now to focus, which is why this fic is around! I'm using it to channel all that muckiness into something productive instead of letting it fester in me, and man do I feel better now!

That being said, this fic ain't going to be all laughs and jokes down the line. Probably might have to change it to a M rating in the future depending on how things go, so be on the lookout for that hehehe…

The second reason I'm making this fic is, well…a dedication of sorts.

Its recently come to my attention that the fic 'Forlorn Hope' was taken down at some point, either the fic itself or the author. Now this fic was one of my top favorite fics on the site, and like what this fic will be it was a Highschool!Jaune fic. It wasn't the most picture perfect fic out there, but damn did I love the hell out of it! The emotions at some point were just so…raw to me, and I really enjoyed the bonds Jaune made with those around him.

Hell this fic got me to like Raven Branwen of all people, and I despise that hypocritical coward with a burning passion!

I truly loved that fic…and now that I can no longer read it I felt like I owed it to the original author to take my own shot at this type of fic. I mean I was thinking of doing something like this for awhile, but not being able to read that fic gave me the push I needed to go through with it.

So I raise my non-existent glass to the author of that glorious fic! While I don't know the reasons why the fic or their profile were taken down, I still give them respect for allowing me and others to read such an amazing fic while we could!

That's…about all I wanted to say. This AN has gone on long enough as it is so let's get things over with shall we?

Please let me know what you guys thought of the fic! I honestly have no idea if the story is any good or not, so I'd appreciate your guy's thoughts on the manner. Or just your general reaction to everything that happened in this ep.

And maybe a theory or two about what exactly happened to Jaune in the past that lead him to this moment *sly grin of slyness*

I'll see you all in the next episode, this has been LightDusk16 signing off!