NOTE – The next chapter of this story will be in THREE WEEKS due to my having a week off to recover my health from 15th – 21st. The date at the bottom will tell you when next chapter is.
Also, omake note:
So, last chapter I wrote a funny omake about Jaune going back in time and opening an orphanage for evil children. Well, guess what? Said story already exists! Yes, a reader sent me a link to another story which basically features the same premise, and surprisingly enough it was only written five days before my omake (which is probably why I hadn't heard of it). Now I haven't read it all and can't comment on it, etc, but it's marked as humour and if you are interested then definitely go check it out. I'm not associated with them in any way but given how many people liked the idea, I thought I'd point you all in their direction.
"Arc's Foster Future"by TexanMagnus
Might be worth checking out if you're interested in seeing someone else have the idea – and before me, too. Guess I was beaten to the punch on this one! lol.
Cover Art: Curbizzle
This was how he died.
Pyrrha was glaring unhappily at him, Weiss scandalously, Blake with a raised eyebrow and Yang with no small amount of amusement. The contrasting thoughts and feelings around the cafeteria table clashed in violent waves and it was all Jaune could do to remain perfectly still. He'd been taught in Ansel that some predators hunted via movement, and that even against Grimm you'd have a better chance avoiding detection if you didn't move a muscle.
Bright, luminescent green eyes peered into his, blinking and shifting darker and brighter colours as a small head slowly tilted from left to right. Then, with a satisfied nod, the girl shifted around so her back was to him and plopped herself down in his lap. She reached for his knife and fork and started eating his breakfast.
"So…" said Yang, much less annoyed by another girl in her maybe-boyfriend's lap than she ought to be. Or than Pyrrha actively was. "Are you going to introduce your new friend to us?"
"I… I… I mean I would…" He laughed awkwardly, unsure where to put his hands and instead leaving them hanging down the sides of the bench. "If I had any idea who she is, what she's doing here or why she's eating my breakfast." The girl in his lap half-turned and patted her belly. "Okay, thanks for answering one of those questions but I was kind of hoping for the other two."
He was sure he'd never been in her dreams before – absolutely certain. There weren't so many that he couldn't remember the faces of those he'd visited, and he highly doubted Amber had lost a foot or two of height. The bright green eyes were a dead giveaway too, because the only girl with black hair he'd been in the head of was Blake.
"Jaune," said Ruby, patiently, kindly, sweetly. "Are you cheating on my sister?"
"Yeah, Jaune," teased Yang, wriggling her eyebrows. "Are you cheating on me?"
"N-No! I-" He groaned when they both burst into giggles. "Thanks, you two. Real mature. Can't anyone see I'm a little out my depth here? And I'm hungr-mph!"
The girl in his lap twisted and pushed a bagel into his open mouth, smiled brightly and held it there expectantly. He took a bite out of it – he might choke otherwise – and her smile widened even further. She drew it back, letting him chew and swallow, but then pushed it back against his lips the moment he had, forcing him to take another bite.
I'm being fed by a strange girl sitting on my lap…
"Am I – mph – dreaming right now-?"
"Is this the kind of dream you normally have?" asked Weiss. "That raises some disturbing implications."
"Pot meets kettle, little miss daddy issues."
"Nothing!" yelped Jaune. He thought he'd whispered that a lot quieter than he apparently had. And this might not be a dream after all if Weiss had that kind of reaction. His nervous laughter was cut off as the girl fed him some more of the baked treat, making him finish it off. She then went back to spooning some egg into her own mouth, before turning with the last bit on the fork for him. By that point he'd given up all hope of escape or reason and opened his mouth. "Ahhh-mnh. Thank you."
"I have no idea what is going on here," admitted Ren.
"You're not alone, Renny. You're not alone. Oh! Maybe I should feed you."
"Nora, no, wai-ack! Mph!"
The new struggle off to his left drew a few snickers from Team RWBY but it was nothing overly new and exciting, not like his plight, so they soon went back to watching him like he was early-morning entertainment. His desperate and silent pleas for help went unserved, and when he looked to Pyrrha for aid he found her angrily eating her breakfast and refusing to look at him.
It was up to someone else to save him.
"Mint." spoke a voice, exasperated. "What are you doing?"
A woman with dark hair and eyes not unlike Blake's stood behind them and a little to the side, arms crossed and one eyebrow raised. She was attractive, very attractive, and maybe a year or two older than them. From Mistral by the looks of her uniform. She'd come with two other teammates, a girl with green hair and a boy with silver that Jaune recognised instantly.
He's the one from the other nightmare. The one where the monster was chasing us. He still wasn't sure why he visited such a person's dreams, but then he'd been in a lot of dreams for people he didn't know. There must be some reason my Semblance is drawn to them, but what? Is it the intensity of the dream? Is it when the dream is about a certain topic…?
Jaune hadn't realised he was staring so obviously until the guy shifted back on one foot and met his gaze with a scowl. "You got a problem with me or something? We can sort that outside if you're really going to- shit!" His head jerked to the side, narrowly avoiding a silver streak that would have struck him right in the eye. "Fucking hell!"
"Mint!" cried Jaune, snatching her outstretched arm and pulling it down. "Don't throw cutlery around! That's naughty!" He wrapped his hands around her stomach to keep her in place and away from her target. "Now eat your breakfast."
Team RWBY looked like they didn't know whether to laugh or be horrified, and the girl's own team looked stunned at what he'd just said and done. In his defence, he wasn't thinking straight – she'd just thrown a knife at a guy's head and all – and he reacted on autopilot. The only girls that had ever been in his lap like this were his sisters, and a small girl at breakfast tossing food around had instantly clicked in his head to his younger sister back when she'd been a nightmarish little girl looking to coat him, mom, and pretty much anyone she could reach with baby food.
Mint pouted but, to the surprise of not just himself but her team, leaned back into him and continued eating without complaint.
"Wait!" yelled the guy who'd nearly sprouted a knife from his eye. "She listens to you!"
"Well, well, well," said the dark-haired woman, smiling behind her hand. "It seems Mint has taken a liking to you…?"
"Um. Jaune. Jaune Arc. I'd shake your hand but…"
"It's busy. I can see. I'm sure Mercury appreciates you keeping it busy if it means sparing his life. I am Cinder, and these are Mercury and Emerald. You've met Mint. I have to say, I've never seen someone capable of keeping her on such good behaviour."
"Ah. Well. I have a lot of sisters, some of them younger, and I used to look after them back home. I guess I fell into old habits." Mint didn't seem to mind, which was odd, but maybe she had an older brother as well.
"Is that so?" The woman teased her lips with her fingers. "Maybe I should look to hire you to babysit her, then. It's certainly spare us a lot of stress. Mint. Don't you think you should leave Jaune alone now? He hasn't eaten and-"
A fork with some bacon touched his lips.
"Really?" asked Cinder. "Are you really doing this? I'm sure you're bothering his team-"
"It's cool!" called Yang. "This is the best entertainment I've had all week."
Jaune accepted the bacon and munched away, unsure when this had become his life or why, but realising that no one was going to help him out of it so he might as well play along. So much for teamwork. A little help, Pyrrha? No? Too focused on your food? That's fair. Not like he was her partner or anything.
"Mint, you can't sit on his lap all day," said Cinder. "We have lessons. Class. What are you going to do then?"
Mint pointed at her legs.
"You really think a teacher won't notice or call that out?" asked Emerald.
"You greatly overestimate Professor Port," said Weiss.
Weiss' words proved prophetic as a whole lesson went by with Mint sat in his lap and no one reacting. Well, no, that wasn't true. A lot of people reacted. Most every guy and girl in the class kept shooting looks their way, and Cardin of all people shot him a thumbs up. Mint's team had taken the seats in front of theirs, more to keep an eye on her than because of anything else. Mercury had taken the fact Mint could get away with this as a sign he could go to sleep, and was slumbering away, while Emerald hung over the back of her chair and kept looking back at them trying to figure it all out.
"Do you, like, know her from before Beacon?" she asked.
Jaune shook his head.
"Is she blackmailing you?"
"Emerald, stop," whispered Cinder. "I think it's clear he doesn't know why our teammate has decided to adopt him, and to be fair neither do we. Mint does what she wants when she wants to. As long as she's not harming anyone I don't see the issue."
"Yeah, well…" Emerald glanced at Pyrrha. "I'm not sure everyone would agree on that."
Professor Port interrupted with another one of his signature surprises – a captured Grimm. It was practically a repeat of their first lesson with him, though given they had transfers now Jaune supposed the man wanted to show off to them and give them a repeat. That was presumably why he ignored several hands up volunteering from Beacon and instead picked out Mint, who had stuck her hand up excitedly.
"Ah yes, you over there. Come on down!"
"Is he not even going to react to the fact she's on his lap!?" asked Emerald. "Or the fact the guy one seat in front of her is blatantly asleep!?"
Mercury snorted but didn't wake up.
And Port either had selective vision or just didn't care.
Mint skipped down the stairs and hopped over into the ring. She pulled a slim sword from… honestly, he wasn't sure where she pulled it from. Her hip by the looks of the movement, but there was obviously nothing there. Port didn't seem to mind. He just stepped back, ripped off the cloth to show a rather large Beowolf and then, with a booming laugh, released it.
Weiss had faced and bested a Boarbatusk from what he remembered, and a Beowolf was no more or less dangerous, but it did seem more reckless to him. A Boarbatusk couldn't jump up into the crowd where a Beowolf could, and while no one here would die to such a thing, it'd still be a messy affair for the students to have to subdue it with their bare hands. Not everyone was Yang after all.
Luckily, it went for Mint instead. The girl lunged for it as well, eschewing strategy for raw speed and skill. And she was skilled for sure. She danced in and out of its thrusts, snapped a foot up with a ridiculously flexible kick that left her standing in the full splits, then vaulted back and caught it with her other foot, backflipping into a crouch that had more than a few men in the audience catching more than they expected to. Mint might have wanted to have some shorts under that skirt if she was going to do that.
Shooting back in, she toppled the stunned Beowolf over, mounted its chest and brought her thin sword up and down, up and down, up and down. And up and down.
And up and down…
"Holy crap!" yelped Yang. "It's dead already! Stop!"
Up and down.
"That's an interesting style," said Ren. "Serial-Killer-Fu, I believe."
Cinder sighed and placed her hand against her face. Jaune couldn't blame her.
Hopping off once the Beowolf's face had been reduced to mashed potato and the thing was fading away, Mint smiled and waved at Professor Port, who smiled and waved back like it was all perfectly normal, and then hopped back onto the steps and raced back to them. Well, him. Mint ran right past her empty seat, stood in the aisle next to him, planted her hands on her hips and looked up at him expectantly.
Being an older brother, he knew what she wanted.
"T-That was amazing, Mint. You were great."
Grinning wildly, she nodded and slipped onto his lap again, pressing her back to his chest and taking hold of his hands to wrap them around her stomach. Yet again he looked to Yang, expecting assistance or annoyance, only to catch the flash of her scroll as she snapped a photo.
"I really need better friends…"
When the lesson ended, Cinder decided she'd had enough and grabbed Mint's shoulder before she could do anything. "I think it's time we gave Jaune and his team some room, don't you? Our next lessons are different after all, and you've taken more than enough of his time." Cinder flashed him and his team a polite smile. "Say goodbye to them."
Mint pouted and nodded, but stepped forward and held her arms out and upward. He knew the gesture and knelt to embrace her, surprised when she wrapped both her arms around his neck and pulled herself up. Not to kiss, but to rub her cheek against his like an affectionate cat marking their territory.
Yang's scroll flashed a second time.
"It's the big brother with small girl thing," explained Ruby, with the patience of someone forced to deal with it her whole life. "If Mint wasn't so small and cute then Yang would be upset. We're lucky she doesn't make us do it."
The dream was in Professor Port's classroom this time. Aside from the fact they'd had this class earlier today, the main thing that told him it wasn't real was the fact that most of the students in their seats weren't moving. They sat there with their eyes open but they didn't breathe or sway or talk to one another. There was too much stillness. They were like statues.
Professor Port on the other hand was more animated, though ironically less than he usually was. He stood in front of the cage from earlier, covered in the same black cloth, and he waved his other arm at them. "So, who will volunteer to show their might today? You there – with the black hair. Yes, you will do nicely."
It wasn't Mint this time.
It was her teammate, Cinder.
Was this her dream?
The woman extricated herself from her desk and past Mercury, who was still asleep in the dream, and made her way down the steps without any fear. In fact, there was a supreme confidence to her, as if the result of this was never in any doubt. It probably wasn't. Anyone chosen to represent their school at the Vytal Festival was going to be the best of the best. Mint certainly hadn't had any trouble against the Beowolf before.
Cinder stood in the arena and nodded her head at Port. He smiled back, gripped the cloth and removed it, opening the cage as he did. Despite the cloth being taken away, the dark shadows within the cage weren't dispersed by the light, leaving the creature within a mystery. Jaune tensed in his seat, expecting an impossible Grimm. What came out was definitely different to a Beowolf. It gripped the cage ceiling in a human-like hand, drew itself out and then stood tall. Shorter than a Beowolf on its hind legs, but straighter. Less crooked or lurched over. It had a human stance, a human shape and, as the smoke dispersed fully, an actual human was revealed.
A man with skin the colour of bronze, dark hair streaked with grey, and two flanged maces that he held out to his left and right. He wore a huntsman's outfit with black straps across his body and sleeves ending at the bicep. He stood tall and intimidating, with his head tilted back and his eyes looking down his nose at the suddenly frightened woman.
"Well!" shouted Port. "Begin!"
Cinder, despite her fear – or perhaps because of it – rushed in and slashed down with a sword that appeared out of nowhere. The man snorted and caught it between both maces, stopping the sword before his face. He then lashed out with a boot to send her skidding back, leaving the sword caught. The sword fell to the floor in front of him and he stamped down on it, breaking the blade.
"You don't deserve it," he said, voice low. "I regret even thinking otherwise." He stepped over the sword. "I should have known better. She was right. I should have understood that you deserved everything she gave you."
"N… No…" whispered Cinder. "That's not true."
"I will rectify that mistake now." He stepped toward her, maces raised. "And spare the world your presence."
Jaune didn't, but he was dragged with. As the dreamer sprinted down the corridors of Beacon, that were far darker and more ominous than they had any right to be, he was pulled with her. Always behind. Always close. He could hear the frantic pace of her breathing, the click of her heels, and the ominous footsteps behind them. Never hurried, but never falling behind either. The man was always there, at the edge of the shadows, approaching with a disappointed look on his face.
Cinder yanked open a door and rushed inside. Almost immediately, she tripped and stumbled over a leg that stuck out from the shadows. She fell, landing face first on the floor. Plates shattered and exploded all around her, appearing seemingly from nowhere. They scattered across the floor, some cracked and others smashed to pieces. Cinder looked down at them with wide eyes.
"Mother! Motherrrr!" called a sing-song woman's voice. "Cinder tripped again!"
"No! I didn't. I-" Catching herself, Cinder closed her eyes and scrambled to her feet, ignored the plates and sprinted onward. The door behind them burst inwards and the man stepped in.
"Over there! She's over there!" crowed two girls at once.
Cinder burst out into the courtyard of Beacon, onto the grass, and looked toward the Emerald Forest as if it was her salvation. She sprinted for it, reaching out, only to run straight into a woman who hadn't been there before. A big, wide woman who caught Cinder's neck in her hand and lifted her up off the floor. Her feet dangled as the woman suspended her in the air with one hand effortlessly.
"Speak with proper words!" howled the woman. "So unladylike, so ungraceful. You call that grunting and coughing a language!?"
The noises continued as she struggled to breathe.
And then the woman's hand crackled with lightning. It travelled down her arm and into Cinder's body, making her entire frame jerk and her back arch. The electricity crackled up and down her body, ripping a scream from her throat.
"Always messy! Always clumsy! Never showing any gratitude!" said the woman, talking over the howls. "I gave you everything! I gave you a bed, a roof, food, and this is how you repay me!?" The electricity grew stronger, visibly so, crackling all over Cinder's body as she writhed and screamed in the air. Tears ran down her face. "Say it!"
"I'M NOTHING WITHOUT YOU!" howled Cinder. "I'M NOTHING! STOP! PLEASE! IT HURTS!"
Swearing, Jaune lunged for the woman and slammed into her with his body, tackling her away. Cinder dropped, landed on her knees and then began to crawl toward the Emerald Forest. Red eyes glinted in the dark, Grimm, but Cinder reached out for them as though they might save her.
Footsteps crunched behind her on the grass.
"No," cried the woman, still shaking. "No. You're gone! You're not real!"
"I am so very disappointed in you, Cinder."
"You're disappointed!?" she screamed. "I'm the one who should be disappointed! You never saved me! You never-" Her back arched and her words choked off as fresh electricity ran through her. Jaune was atop the woman who had done it, but now Cinder had a black band around her neck. A collar. "Arghhhh!"
Jaune cursed and moved.
"It was a mistake to think you could be saved," said the man, rising one mace high. The woman on her knees looked up at him defiantly, but weakly, a helpless agony writ across her face as she accepted death. "She should have done this to you long ago. And I should have let her." His arm tensed. "Goodb-urk!"
The man looked down at the sword coming out the front of his chest.
Jaune twisted it, yanked back, sprayed himself with blood and then swept Crocea Mors up to lop off the man's raised arm as well. He wouldn't put it past a fiction of someone's imagination to be a little more resilient than a person would be. He didn't much feel bad about murdering a nightmare person either. As the man fell back, Jaune raced forward and gripped the collar with his fingers. The imaginary-electricity travelled up his arm, and he could almost feel the pain. Or he could imagine what it felt like. With a snarl, he pulled back and broke the metal collar with his bare fingers, shattering the pieces across the grass.
He caught Cinder as she fell, turning her over in his arms. She looked spent, exhausted, and there were tears in the corners of her eyes. There was a burn around her neck as well, a red colour, like someone had tried to strangle her. Cinder Fall looked at him not with relief, adoration or gratitude, but with utter confusion.
"Ungrateful!" screamed the other woman, crawling to her knees. "You're nothing without me! You're nothing!"
Cinder moved too fast to see. She flew out his hands, grasping his sword as she went, and raced at the woman with a furious howl. Crocea Mors was alien in her hands, but that didn't much matter when the woman she swung it at was unarmed. It smashed into her between her neck and shoulder, dug deep, and Cinder wrenched it through the woman's body with a furious snarl, tearing it out the other side and cutting all the way from one shoulder to under the other armpit. The woman in her nightmares fell in two pieces, bleeding into the grass.
And then she looked down on her sword. His sword.
"This… This isn't right…" she muttered. "This… It's…" Her entire body turned to him. Her eyes burnt in the dark like flames. "You. What have you done to me? What are you doing to me?" Cinder took a step toward him, pointing Crocea Mors at him. "Answer me!" she screamed. "ANSWER ME!"
He'd never been so relieved for the world around him piercing with white light and the dream sundering into a million pieces.
Jaune sat up in his bed breathing heavily and clutching his face. He checked his aura automatically. 90%. He hadn't lost that much in the nightmare. That was good. It was really her reaction that had him more panicky. No one else had really put two and two together in their dreams like that; they'd just accepted his presence no matter how little sense it made. He wondered what that said about Cinder Fall, but it could have just been because she'd met him that morning and then dreamed about him. That had to stand out in her head.
It wouldn't be such a problem if I could control it or at least keep it away from new people, thought Jaune. He groaned into his hand and glanced about the room. No one had been woken up. That was good. Crawling out of bed, he washed his face in the bathroom. Maybe I should get some fresh air. I don't think I'll be able to go back to sleep now.
Pulling on his jacket over his pyjamas, Jaune stepped into his sneakers and creaked the door open slowly. It was dark out, gone midnight. There was no technical curfew in Beacon and he could probably catch up on sleep in Port's lesson. Stepping out and closing the door, he made his way to the common room and paused by a window, looking out over the gardens of Beacon with the moonlight bathing them. Down there was where he'd stabbed the man in the dream. Obviously, there was no body down there. That would have been ridiculous.
The padding of feet on the carpet caught his ears. It was rapid, uneven, and he turned to see if he'd woken Nora or Pyrrha up by accident only to catch a flash of light on metal. His aura slammed up along with his arm, catching the sword on the inside of his wrist and stopping it reaching his neck.
A body slammed into his, pinned him back to the window. A hand clamped over his mouth, silencing his scream, and a face pushed into his. Bright yellow eyes smouldered like fire, but there were tears at the corners and her eyes were ringed with red. They weren't sad, though. They were angry. Furious.
"What did you do to me!?" hissed Cinder Fall, dressed in her own flannel sleeping clothes, and repeating the same question she'd asked in her dream. "ANSWER ME!"
"Mmmph Mmmh!" he mumbled against her hand. His other came up, but not to grab her. He held it up in surrender, warding her away. His eyes, he hoped, conveyed the same message. That sword was awful close to his neck, though. "Mmmbl. Mmmph."
Cinder Fall snarled and yanked him back, pulling him over her leg and tripping him onto the floor. He landed on the soft carpet, but then she straddled and sat on his stomach and held her sword above his eye. He froze, palms upward. Despite the surrender, he pushed his aura to the fore, there just in case she did anything reckless. If she did, he'd scream and wake everyone up, but for now, with his own secret in the air, he stayed quiet.
"Explain!" hissed Cinder. "Now."
He'd almost known someone would catch him eventually. Hard not to, right? His friends might wash away his presence in their heads because he was someone they hung around with, but strangers would take notice sooner or later. Velvet was already on his case and Mercury had been acting oddly around him. It was inevitable someone would figure it out. His money had been on a teacher, though. He'd always assumed he'd end up in Miss Goodwitch's dreams one day and then be called to her office the next to explain himself.
As such, even though Doctor Oobleck said to keep it secret, Jaune had known this would happen at some point. He just hadn't been able to come up with a good excuse, so the truth came tumbling out in a rush. What else could he do? He was the one invading her privacy. She deserved an explanation, and he could only hope she'd be forgiving.
"It's my semblance! It's new! I can't control it! I'm sorry!"
Her shoulders rose and fell. Her eyes were red hot. The sword rose an inch. That, he felt, was a good sign, but could also have been to gather room to stab. "What?" she demanded. "Explain in more detail!"
"I unlocked my Semblance recently and it throws me into the dreams of random people without my control or say-so," he rattled. "I've told a teacher and he's trying to help me control it but I can't pick and choose whose dreams I end up in. It just happens. I ended up in your dream, and I'm sorry and I won't tell anyone what I saw. I promise."
Cinder trembled above him. Her lips peeled back.
"I never tell anyone things I see in other people's dreams. It's a rule! And I didn't see anything in yours other than that your mom and dad were bastards!"
"T-That man." Her surprise said it all. "Um. Not your dad? Uncle? Older brother?"
Her hand fisted in his collar. "What was his name?"
"I-I don't know. You never said in your dream and he didn't, either."
"Did you… Did you pick that dream out for me?"
"No!" He shook his head desperately. "I have zero control over what happens, and I only ever seem to end up in nightmares. Doctor Oobleck thinks it might be because of a stress reaction – like you instinctively let out a little aura in your panic and my Semblance catches onto that. We don't know yet. I can act and change some things in the dream, like stepping in to take that collar off you, but I can't-mph!"
Her hand was over his mouth again, silencing him. Jaune flexed his aura and tensed his body, prepared to buck her off and scream to the high heavens. When she drew the sword back and set it down, he relaxed under her hold, sagging in relief.
"From how you say it I have to wonder if you aren't causing the nightmares," said Cinder. His eyes widened. "Your aura reaching out, mingling with that of others. It would be an alien feeling and the body might resist while the victim is asleep, at which point the mind brings up horrible memories and feelings."
He'd never considered that. Was… Was she right…? Was he the cause?
Cinder leaned down. "You will tell no one of what you saw. Understand me?" He nodded frantically. "My nightmares are my own. Not yours. If I suspect for even a second that you are interfering again then I shall end you!"
That had to be an idle threat, right? Surely she meant she'd out him and get him in trouble.
When her hand was removed, he asked, "I can't control where I go. There's a chance I might end up in your dreams again. What do I do then?"
"You make me aware – in the dream – immediately." Cinder brought her knee over his chest and stood, letting him scramble up in front of her. She still looked angry, utterly livid, and he couldn't much blame her. No one wanted their trauma pulled out into the open and he'd basically battered her brain down and dragged it out.
"I'm sorry. I really am. If I could control this then I would."
Her eyes closed, and she drew a deep breath before releasing it. She wasn't calm, that much he could tell from her hands clenched into fists, but she tried all the same. "You have been in Mint's dreams," she eventually said. "That's why she is obsessed with you."
"I don't know. I mean, that'd make sense but I don't think I've been in the dream of anyone with her hair and eye colour. I can't recognise her-"
"Her natural hair colour is pink."
His mouth hung open. "Vanille…?"
"Is that her name?" asked Cinder, amused briefly. "Interesting to know."
It might have been, but then she might have been the other twin. There were always two in her dreams, and one of them had been absolutely ignored by their parents. What if Mint had run away and eventually found her way to Beacon? What if she dyed her hair to hide from her family? His heart ached despite himself, because even if it was just in a dream he'd grown fond of the little girl, and she hadn't deserved what happened to her. Mint and Vanille. Like mint and vanilla. It made sense as a naming convention for twins.
"And that explains her behaviour I suppose." said Cinder. The sword disappeared. He wasn't sure where. "I suppose I can let this go this one time. You obviously didn't intend to see what you did."
"I won't tell anyone. I promise."
"Good. Then I will keep your secret as well," she said, pressing a finger to his chest. It seemed unnaturally hot, like a fire poker. She seemed pleased by his confusion over the fact. "This meeting never happened. I was never here."
"Uh. Right. I… I guess that's about the sword thing, huh?" Jaune touched his neck. "It's okay. It didn't get through my aura and I guess you must have thought I'd actively invaded your head. Like I was some creep trying to get into your mind."
Cinder did not look amused.
"Which I'm not. Obviously. I'm just trying to get this stupid thing under control." He winced. "I'm sorry again. Both about what I saw and… well…"
"Do not speak of it."
"Right. Sorry. I just wanted to help. In the dream, I mean."
She huffed. "The… thought is appreciated. But I am strong enough to handle my own demons. They were dealt with many years ago." She turned on her heel. "Forget what you saw. It was nothing more than a silly nightmare."
A silly nightmare wouldn't reduce a woman like her to near tears, but he knew when his involvement was neither needed nor desired. This was bound to happen eventually, someone finding out, and he wasn't sure if being threatened with decapitation was a good or bad outcome. This was an academy for huntresses after all. Everyone here was capable and trained in violence.
I'd best tell Doctor Oobleck someone knows about my Semblance…
It was difficult forcing herself to walk away and let him live. Cinder burned with the urge to cut his throat open and watch him die, if only so she could implant Rhodes' face over his. It would be stupid, though. Reckless stupidity. A dead body would raise all the alarms, and there was always the chance he'd survive a few seconds, long enough to scream. Besides, she'd meant what she said. She was strong enough to deal with her past, which meant she should be strong enough to deal with someone being aware of it.
Of all the secrets he could have gotten with his little Semblance of his, these were perhaps the least problematic. He didn't even criticise her for it. Most people wouldn't. The real event and the dream had been different, and she'd come across the victim.
Cinder clenched her hand tight, disliking the word. Or the suggestion.
I am no victim and I don't need his help.
Even if the bumbling fool had sought to offer it in her dream, and even if he'd killed Rhodes for her. Cinder felt her gratitude rear its ugly head and kicked it to death. She owed gratitude to no one and would never offer it to anyone. Everything she was, she had achieved on her own.
And that was the way it would stay.
To be honest with you all I wasn't super impressed with Cinder's backstory from the show. it fits, yes, and it's a good justification for why she is the way she is and it's all very functional in terms of character development, but it felt a little bankrupt in terms of originality. Like, I know the characters are "based" off fairy tale characters, but I always assumed it was "based off of" not "literally copy and paste".
At this rate Ruby is going to need a huntsman to save her from a wolf who has overtaken her grandmother and do so using an axe, maybe even to cut her "out" of the wolf. It's fine, I guess, but I just feel like you can "take inspiration" from fairy tales without "blatantly copying" them. It takes away from the story if you can pretty much guess with a high degree of accuracy how a character's backstory and future will play out just based on their name.
Maybe it's a small complaint but what should have been interest in Cinder's past just turned into "oh, so it's basically just Cinderella then. Guess I could have saved myself the time."
Next Chapter: 25th April (3 weeks)
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