Here we go
Cover Art: Curbizzle
Jaune told his team that a distant family member was dying and that he'd occasionally need to leave Beacon to spend time with them. It felt like a cruel lie to make, and yet it wasn't too far from the truth; it also wasn't like he was using it as an excuse to ditch them. They were sympathetic. Of course, they were. How could you not be when your teammate tells you something like that? They apologised for what he was going through as if it were their faults, promised to stand with him as if they could alter the course of destiny, and offered to be whatever he needed, whenever he needed it. Empty well wishes at the end of the day, but they made them hoping against all hope they could help him, and he loved them for it.
It was impossible to say Amber's situation didn't sap him of joy for a couple of days. He cruised through classes on autopilot, rarely interacting and bombing his spars. Miss Goodwitch never called him out on it, which made him think Ozpin had informed her of what was going on. Yang was the first outside the team to confront him, and he told her the same story, and asked her to spread it among her team so he wouldn't need to. Yang awkwardly gave him a one-armed hug and let him cuddle up to her a little. He could tell it made her feel awkward so he didn't take advantage of it very often.
The strangest development was when Mint – or Vanille, as he now knew she was – sensed his moodiness as well and took it upon herself to help by sitting on his lap and spoon-feeding him ice-cream. It was without warning and she didn't ask for permission, neither to mount him or stick a spoon in his mouth. The first he knew of it was when sugary sweetness slammed into his tongue.
Vanille watched him with mismatched eyes of pink and brown, and bounced in his lap in a way that would have led to a rather unfortunate physical reaction if he wasn't struck by how childish she was acting with him. He could almost see her in pigtails, small and adorable once more.
By now, she had to know he'd invaded her dreams. She shared a team with Cinder, who knew the truth and had probably told her teammate what was going on. He'd expected more of an angry reaction than this when she found out. Vanille knew he wasn't really her babysitter, and she knew they'd never known one another before this, so he wasn't sure why she kept up this strange act. Had she decided to adopt him anyway? Had she decided that the real past didn't matter, and she'd rather live the fake one where he intervened in her poor childhood and offered a friend? It made him think of Amber in the same situation, dreaming a life that was a lie, and his body slackened further.
Vanille's eyes widened. Faster than he could react, she picked up a whole scoop of ice-cream with her bare hand and smashed it into his mouth, forcing the whole scoop past his teeth and holding her hand over his lips. Jaune's eyes shot wide open and he choked, legs kicking and rattling her in his lap. Vanille held on like a bull rider at a rodeo, until Nora had to physically peel her off him. Ren helped.
"I'm sure Jaune appreciates the effort but you're kind of choking him," said Ren, as Vanille struggled angrily in Nora's arms. The girl went slack on hearing that, legs dangling cutely, lips pouting fiercely. A flash of a scroll snapped as Yang took a picture, a hand to her cheek and her eyes sparkling.
"Shouldn't you be a little more upset at a girl mounting your boyfriend?" asked Nora.
"Why?" asked Yang. "It's the cutest thing since Ruby first discovered makeup and painted her face like a clown. I still have the picture of that."
"Yang, yes," said Weiss, leaning over. "Let me—oh my goodness, she's so small!"
Jaune choked down ice-cream as Ruby choked down mortification. The sugary treat hit his stomach like a lead weight and he groaned. The brain freeze was probably on its way after that. "Vanille, please," he wheezed. "Ice-cream can't solve all problems."
The girl in Nora's hands looked scandalised. Take that back, her expression seemed to say.
He took her back instead, holding his hands out for Nora to hand the girl over like an unruly child. He sat her on his knees, not really sure why he was indulging the odd fantasy but also finding some comfort in the familiar. Besides, if she wanted to, and Yang was fine, then he supposed there was no harm. Vanille reached up with her hands for his cheeks, pinched them, and gently drew his lips into a smile. He knew what she was trying to say.
"Thank you for trying to cheer me up, Vanille. I'm just upset because someone I know is reaching the end of their life. There's nothing wrong with feeling sad when you have to say goodbye."
Jaune couldn't say he'd planned to share his feelings beyond his team and Team RWBY, but Vanille had to know if she was going to react like this. The small girl looked into his eyes, nodded, and then, to his surprise, reached up and wrapped her around his neck. Her face pressed into his neck as she gave him a tight hug. It made him tear up.
Yang's scroll caught that, too.
Vanille departed after the hug, leaving behind her ice-cream with a pointed look. Jaune picked it up and began to eat at a slower pace. Everyone's eyes were on him. "Come on, guys," he said, looking down. "You know why I'm like this."
"It's not that," said Weiss. "We're more shocked at how clingy that girl is. You have to have known her before she came here. I refuse to believe a complete stranger would latch onto you that dramatically."
"Weiss," whispered Ruby. "It's not any of our business…"
It wasn't, and yet they weren't prying so much as expressing their curiosity. A curiosity that was probably fair given the shocking actions of Vanille. He didn't have much of an answer to give them but he tried anyway. "Vanille was a child one of my sisters used to babysit and she'd bring me along. Her family moved to Mistral though, so it's been years since we saw one another."
They made understanding noises, curiosity satisfied. Nora giggled and said, "Childhood friends. Careful, Yang. You might get usurped."
"Nah." Yang laughed. "Jaune knows that blondes have more fun."
"Does she not talk?" asked Ren.
"Vanille?" He didn't know for sure if she was mute, but two dreams without words and a couple of real-life encounters of the same was making the fact fairly clear. "I've never heard her talk," he said honestly. "I don't think she can."
"Does she communicate with RSL?" At his confused look, Ren explained. "Remnant Sign Language."
"Oh. No. Well, maybe she does, but I don't know it so I guess she never bothers. It's not like I ever expected to see her again. Her sister couldn't, either."
"There's two of them?" asked Ruby.
"Not here." He glanced at Cinder's team. They were watching him. Cinder, at least, he could understand. The rest might have just been curious as to what Vanille was doing, though Mercury might be on edge if Cinder told him about the dream invasions. "I guess her sister didn't want to be a huntress. Or maybe she wasn't selected to come represent Haven at the tournament. I'll have to ask how she's doing next time."
That wasn't even the last interruption of the day. That afternoon, as he took a break from his team to read up on psychology in the library – with a specific interest in what happened to the mind after death. It was morbid reading but he wanted to know what happened. Not that anyone knew, obviously, but there were theories.
It turned out that one of the things that often stumped doctors and psychologists was that, as the body shut down, the brain would go into overdrive. Not panic, either. There was a lot of brain activity around a section of the brain known as the TPJ region. This region, it turned out, was also the part of the brain most associated with dreams, hallucination, and consciousness. It was a dry read, but a shocking revelation in a sense. His Semblance affected dreams, and it looked like death affected dreams as well. Everyone went through this. Even a person shot and killed while they were awake would fade out of consciousness first, then the brain activity would begin.
Were they dreaming one last dream? He read on and found that was one of the theories. They found anecdotes from people who suffered near-death experiences from cardiac arrest but who came back, and drew parallels to their stories of bright lights, calm fields, and seeing loved ones again. Memories of an afterlife. The researchers believed that what was really happening was that the person's mind was dreaming at the time of their death, and either intentionally seeking comfort or perhaps just drawing on the strongest memories a person had.
In that sense, Amber was dreaming this way as well. Longer than most obviously, as she was locked in a coma, but if she really was slowly dying then this might be her final dream. A dream he had control over. That was a crushing responsibility. He could decide whether her last experiences were pleasant or awful, and obviously he was going to choose the former but that still weighed on him. He sighed, setting the book down and rubbing a hand over his face.
If everyone went through a dream when they died, then what of everyone else? What of all those suffering people? What if they had a nightmare? How cruel would that be? Your last moments of life, lost to a bad dream. A person's life culminating in the toss of a coin. It was unfair. A bad person might have a good dream of being welcomed into the afterlife, and a good person might have an awful dream of being judged unworthy and punished for it. It also made him think that self-critical or depressive people might be more likely to suffer nightmares even if they lived good lives. He could do something about that, couldn't he? But should he? It was so invasive.
But if someone told me on my death bed that they could give me a perfect dream, or a chance to relive the happiest moments of my life, I'd take it. I bet a lot of people would. A chance to pass away peacefully in a dream surrounded by all your loved ones, every beloved family pet, and all the happiest moments of your life.
He couldn't do that for everyone, though. He was one man with one Semblance and one dream per night, and he couldn't even control whose head he went into. Despite the impossibility of helping everyone, he still felt bad. It was stupid, but he felt it. Maybe it was Amber's situation weighing on him and dragging his thoughts into darker areas.
It was around that time that Velvet found him. The girl had her own books she was reading, thankfully not about dreams this time. Maybe she'd calmed down with him not being in her dreams recently. It was a good sign.
"Hey," she said, sliding in next to him.
"Hey," he replied. He didn't know if they counted as friends or not. He had stood up for her against Cardin, so she knew he was at least supportive. "How did your mission go?"
"Mission?" asked Velvet.
"You had to go on a trip with Port, right? Yang and Weiss told me it's why they got saddled with looking after the dance."
"Oh, that. Yes, that was fine." Velvet laughed it off. "It was actually quite boring. Coco complained the whole way about missing the dance, even though she never had a date in the first place. I think she just wanted an excuse to play dress-up with us all." Velvet hesitated after that, dithering for so long with her books that even he began to feel awkward. "Are… Are you okay?" she eventually asked.
"Sure. Why wouldn't I be?"
"Because you seem really down…"
Again? Another? It didn't surprise him that people noticed because he knew he wasn't doing a good job of hiding it, but he was surprised just how many people were trying to cheer him up. Why? He had never known Vanille, and he had never met Velvet before entering her dreams. It didn't feel right for them to be worried about him because of what his Semblance had done to them. Wasn't that like he was tricking them? Like he was tricking Amber. Jaune sighed and set his book down.
"Someone close to me is dying," he said, voice flat. Velvet covered her mouth. "My family contacted Ozpin, who told me, and I've been dealing with that."
"I'm so sorry-"
"It's fine." That came out harsher than he meant it to. "I've been dealing with it fine, but I'm obviously a little upset and now everyone is forcing their way down my throat about it. I mean if you can tell them I'm upset then why ask if I'm upset?"
Velvet flinched. "I'm sorry. I… I was just worried about you…"
"Why? We barely know each other."
"I-" Velvet's ears drooped. Her lip wobbled. She pushed her chair back and practically stumbled to her feet. "I'm sorry. I'll go."
He felt awful immediately. Velvet fled before he could stop her, and he left his hand reaching out before sighing and bringing it back. Great. She'd just been worried for him and wanted to see if he was okay, and he'd gone and snapped at her. Jaune groaned and let his face fall atop his book. It was just too much sympathy too soon, and he didn't want it. But he couldn't blame people for caring about him. He'd have done the same if it was someone he knew hurting. Hell, he had interfered when Velvet was being bullied.
"Damn it," he hissed. "I'll have to apologise to her later. And damn Ozpin for dumping this on me."
Jaune picked up his book and left for his room. He'd find Velvet or Coco tomorrow morning and apologise, but he knew that if he did it now then he'd just be in a worse mood. Thankfully, Cinder Fall of all people didn't stop him to ask if he needed a shoulder to cry on. He made it back to his room without any further pity parties and crawled into bed.
He was stood in a large hall with chairs reaching back in rows on one side, and a raised platform in front of them. There was a wide aisle down the centre of the chairs, and it was flanked by huge displays of pink and purple bouquets, with hundreds of balloons of white, cream, and purple in the air and a massive multi-tiered cake on a table covered with flowers, rose petals and gifts. It was the cake which clued him in, since it was bright white, several layers tall, with a little bride and groom on the top. It was a wedding cake.
Jaune noticed he was in a black tuxedo, and that the groom and bride on the cake had blonde hair. The woman's, especially, was long and wild, in a way he only knew one woman wore her hair. This was his wedding.
"Please tell me this isn't Yang having a nightmare about marrying me. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the thought of what that would mean."
Unless, of course, it was one of those nightmares where something went wrong like she turned up naked or he went on to reject her at the altar – which was stupid, of course, because he'd reject her much earlier if he was going to, and presumably a couple were committed by the time their wedding came along. But, this being a dream, it didn't need to make sense. Your own mother might stab you in a nightmare, and you'd think it real.
He couldn't see Yang, though. That made him think it might not be hers. The problem was the sheer number of other people was… well, it was a wedding reception. Of course, there would be a lot of people. He saw Ruby as a bridesmaid, and she looked adorable, and Blake was in a three-piece suit next to Ren and Nora and rocking it remarkably well. Weiss was in a pale blue dress so as not to overshadow the bride and was talking to Pyrrha in a pink dress. Then there were a vast number of other people. Mostly people from Beacon, he noticed. His own parents were absent even though he'd definitely want them at his wedding, and he kind of doubted Glynda, Ozpin, and Port would be invited, let alone Team CRDL in suits off in the corner.
"Jaune!" Nora called out to him and he strolled on over. She was wearing a peace-coloured dress with frills and she bounded up to give him a massive hug. "Oh, I can't believe you're getting married. And doesn't Ren look handsome?"
Ren chuckled. "Thank you again for asking me to be best man."
"Uh. Yeah." Jaune shook his hand. He hadn't asked, but he probably would if this day ever came. Who else was going to be best man? He didn't exactly have a lot of male friends. "Thanks for agreeing. Where is Yang?"
"Are you that impatient?" teased Ren. "You know it's bad form for the bride and groom to see one another before the ceremony. She'll be arriving soon. I can't believe you agreed to let her come by motorbike in a dress."
He didn't think he'd "let" Yang do anything, or that she'd "let" him disagree if this were real life, but he could totally see her doing something like that. Still, if Yang wasn't even here – and she was presumably getting ready off-site like a bride normally would, in readiness to arrive in style – then the dream couldn't be hers. Yang was the only person not here.
Well, at least that means she isn't having literal nightmares of us tying the knot.
He'd be lying if he said he wasn't a little disappointed that this wasn't Amber's dream. He hoped she was doing okay, and that his "dream self" in her current dream was being a good travelling companion. Would they be in Vacuo already, or travelling? Would the journey even exist, or would her dream just jump to Vacuo and tell her there had been travel time? He was so lost in thinking about her dreams that he missed everyone taking their seats. The music began, at which point Miss Goodwitch ushered him to his position at the head of the stage.
"You can officiate weddings?" he asked, surprised.
Miss Goodwitch shushed him. He wasn't sure if that was a yes or a no, or if she'd just been picked for the role by the dreamer because she was the most official and professional person in Beacon. He still hadn't figured out whose dream this was. He doubted Weiss or Blake would be upset about him marrying Yang. Ruby probably wouldn't be, but she could have some weird dream where the marriage led to her being put on the spot or abandoned. He didn't know.
Nora was unlikely, but Ren was a possibility. Maybe Ren was going to "lose the ring" in the key moment and then panic and realise he was in his boxers, and everyone would blame him and he'd fret about ruining his best guy-friend's big day. It didn't feel like a very Ren thing, but it was definitely the kind of dream Jaune would have had back before he unlocked his Semblance. A lot of his dreams used to be around theme of him messing up things and everyone blaming him for it.
Pyrrha…? It could be Pyrrha. Maybe. If she really did have feelings for him. He still didn't know for sure because she'd ignored all the opportunities and hints he laid with such fervour that he was almost entirely convinced she had no romantic feelings for him at all. It was one thing to be shy, and anther altogether to flat-out ignore him pointedly talking about how he needed a date for the dance. He couldn't have been more obvious unless he stood in the rain with a speaker system held over his head pointed up at her window.
The door banged open and Yang strode in, her yellow motorbike behind her and her form clad in a beautiful white wedding gown. He had to admit she looked good – fine, even. Gorgeous. Jaune swallowed, knowing this was a dream but still a little on the spot. It wasn't every day you got married after all, and it felt real enough to him. Relax. No one here is real apart from one dreamer. No one is going to remember this.
What if Yang kissed him?
Was that okay? Would she be angry if she found out? It wasn't like he'd be cheating on her with her, but it still felt weird. Yang and he hadn't really made out yet, and now they were getting married. Hell, they hadn't even been on a real date. Jaune felt his legs shaking despite constantly telling himself this wasn't real. The only thing he knew for sure was that he was going to be useless if he ever did get married, especially if this was anything to go by. Yang walked up to stand beside him and flashed him a wink. He cleared his throat and nodded back.
Glynda began speaking. "We are gathered here today…"
Jaune let the words wash over him, spending his time fighting down a blush as Yang watched him with more love and devotion than she ever showed in real life. He'd have known this wasn't her dream the second he saw that, because Yang's lovey-doveyness had been dialled up from one to eleven. In public, Yang wasn't all that affectionate. Oh, she talked big and she never pretended they weren't dating, but he was more likely to get a friendly punch on the arm than a chance to hold her hand, and she only hugged him today because she wanted to offer a shoulder if he was struggling. Other than that, and their brief interaction at the dance, Yang wasn't a very physical person. At least not now. Maybe that'd change in time and if their dates went well.
This, on the other hand, was the stereotypical blushing bride desperate to hold onto him and looking into his eyes with so much love that he felt genuine terror. It just wasn't Yang. It was some facsimile in her skin, with her smile, dressed as a blushing bride.
"-and if anyone should object to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace-"
And there it was.
Pyrrha was on her feet, an arm raised, and a look of absolute horror on her face. A loud gasp spread across the hall as hands rose to mouths and eyebrows to hairlines. The organ, played by Vanille of all people, came to a screeching halt, and Yang brought her bouquet up to cover her face. Tears streamed down her cheeks. If this were real life, he thought it might be more realistic for Yang to launch the bouquet at anyone who objected, if Ruby didn't tackle them first. But this wasn't real life. It was a dream. A nightmare.
Pyrrha's nightmare. His getting married to Yang was Pyrrha's nightmare.
He had his confirmation, and it stuck in his gut like a knife. Pyrrha liked him, had always liked him, and had feelings for him – and she'd kept it secret from the very start.
"Why?" he asked. He couldn't help himself. "Why not?" He didn't mean the wedding. Really, he meant before the dance, back before he took a risk in asking Yang to go with him. "You could have told me at any time. I gave you so many chances. Why would you hold onto them all until this moment?"
Pyrrha's entire frame was shaking. She hiccupped loudly, on the verge of tears. He knew he should do something to fix that, but what? He'd done his best to turn nightmares into pleasant dreams with everyone else, but the only thing that came to mind here was to step away from Yang, embrace Pyrrha and tell her he loved her. That was the obvious way to turn this from nightmare to dream.
But he couldn't do that.
It wasn't about Yang; she wasn't even real here. It was more about him not being able to do that with – or for – Pyrrha. It would be cheating on Yang. It would absolutely be cheating if he knowingly kissed another woman in that woman's dream. But beyond that, it would be him leading Pyrrha on. He'd be as good as telling her it was okay to pine for him in her dreams, and she'd wake up with the memory of his lips on hers.
That was wrong. It wasn't right.
"Pyrrha…" he began.
But the world shattered before he could continue.
Jaune's eyes snapped open back in his bed, just as Pyrrha lurched out of her own and toward the bathroom. He heard the tap run and water splash against her face, and he picked up on her ragged breathing and the occasional sniffle. She was crying. He lay there, eyes scrunched shut, unsure if he should get up and try to comfort her or not.
Would he even be a comfort right now? He was the cause of her pain. If he went and talked to her then he might just make it worse, and there was no way to help her in the way she wanted. He couldn't tell Yang it was over because Pyrrha didn't like them being together. He wouldn't, either. It was unreasonable. He'd given her so many opportunities to say something and she just hadn't. Wouldn't. He was all too familiar with the fear of rejection and not having the confidence to say something, but you couldn't have it both ways. You couldn't stay silent and then expect other people to conform to your wishes after the fact.
Pyrrha came back out with a damp face and climbed back into her bed. If she'd gone out then he might have followed, but he couldn't do anything right now. She rolled back up in her blankets and went back to sleep, perhaps writing the whole thing off as just a stupid dream. Jaune could not and lay still for another thirty minutes before sleep claiming him a second time.
Bright lights, neon signs and terrible, jangling music. The sounds and bustle of the casino filled his ears from every direction. The ratchet of arms pulled back, the high-pitched noise of game machines playing as the wheels turned, and the rarer sound of tinkling metal as they paid out. All that and a murmur of conversation, laughter and shouting that played over the top of it all.
"Hey handsome," teased a familiar voice. "I don't suppose you have any change on you?"
Jaune smiled. "Amber."
The dying woman was rocking on her heels before him with a cheeky smile. She was wearing some odd clothing of satin in bright green with gold highlights. A cross between a dress and a tight-fitting robe. He thought it was Mistralian in style. He was still in the same tux he'd just attended his own wedding in, which luckily didn't look too out of place here.
"Have you spent all your money already?" he asked.
"Eheh." Amber looked upward and scratched her chin with a finger. "Spent is a… um… particular way of putting it. I'd prefer to say I invested it. Look, I've put so much into this machine that it's bound to pay out soon. I don't want someone else claiming my winnings."
He really wasn't sure that was how it worked but the money here wasn't real so he didn't see the harm in bringing some out his pocket. It hadn't existed until he reached for it anyway. "Here. Let's see if you can pull it off."
"Thank you!" Amber hugged him and giggled, then raced back to the machine. It was a garishly bright thing which featured a design about a huntress with golden eyes. Maiden, it read. An odd name, and the woman lit up on the machine looked weirdly like Amber herself. "I'm about to win it big," she said. "I can tell." She slid a coin into the machine and it whirred to life. "Come on, baby. Momma needs… well, momma needs to prove she isn't a gambling-addicted loser."
"Momma is failing at that."
"Shush, you. Anyway, where have you been?"
Jaune winced. "What do you mean? Have I been missing?"
"Only since an hour ago," she said. "We ate breakfast together at the hotel and promised to meet here. I was just wondering what held you. Did you get lost?"
"Something like that. I actually ended up walking into a wedding."
Amber snorted. "Seriously?"
"Yeah. And I stayed because I didn't want to cause a scene. You know, just pretend I'm meant to be there."
"Was it fun?"
"Not really. Someone actually objected at the: does anyone object to this stage."
Amber twisted on her stool. "Seriously!? Whoah. I thought that only happened in those stupid TV shows. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone actually objecting. It's a formality."
"Yeah." Jaune sighed. "Me neither. It all went downhill from there and I escaped before it got much worse." He still didn't know what to do about Pyrrha, but he didn't want to waste Amber's time with it. Time was something she didn't have much of. He nudged her with his elbow and nodded to the machine. "You have a spin left."
"Huh. Oh right." Amber turned back, tongue poking out between her teeth. "This one," she said. "This one for sure. I feel it in my bones."
Jaune rolled his eyes. He really shouldn't encourage her in this, but it wasn't like she could pick up a bad habit to ruin her life. When the wheels turned, he reached out and manipulated them, blurring the images on them so that as it came to a stop, it did so with three of the jackpot symbols on it, three strange-looking crowns. Immediately, a high-pitched alarm began to play over their heads and bright lights flashed as JACKPOT shone down on them.
Amber shrieked and pointed at the screen as the machine began to positively haemorrhage coins out the base. They came so fast that they spilled out the trough and over her legs onto the floor. "Oh my god!" she cried. "Jackpot! Jaune! Jaune! Look! Three relics! Ahhhhhh!" She leapt up and captured him in a wild hug, rubbing her head against his chin like an affectionate cat. "I told you I wasn't a gambling-addicted loser!"
"Sure. You're a gambling-addicted winner. That's so much better."
"It is better!" she giggled. "Because we're stinking, filthy rich!"
"We," she stressed, gazing up at him. "Because we're partners. Besides, it was your money. But totally my awesome luck," she added. "So, don't go thinking you get any more than half." Her expression faded back to glee as the machine kept pouring out cash. Casino staff had come to take photos, and one was lugging a massive cardboard cheque toward them. They looked happier than any casino staff ever would be to lose this much money. "Ten million!" squealed Amber. "Jaune, we're rich! We can do anything we want!"
"Money can't buy happiness, Amber."
"Bah! It can buy you and me to the best holiday resorts in the world. It can buy us never having to work another day in our lives. Maybe it doesn't buy happiness but it sure as hell buys opportunities to feel happy." She hung onto him, laughing herself hoarse. "We eat like kings tonight! And drink like kings, too!"
"Heh. I guess you're right. What's the next part of our journey, then? I don't think it's a good idea to stay here and lose all this cash."
"Yeah, we've already won big. Hmmm. I've heard there are some super expensive holiday resorts on the coast. Real tropical ones with white beaches, crystal clear water and masseurs who come around and work you over every single day."
A holiday, huh? It sounded like fun – and as long as she was happy. "Sounds good to me. Shall we go and book in?"
"Not tonight," she said, pushing off him. She stooped, picked up a bundle of coins in both hands and then threw them in the air. People scattered to get away, then came back to collect them where they landed. "Tonight, we partyyy!"
The rest of the night was spent drinking, singing, dancing and tipping far too much than they really should. It turned out he couldn't get drunk in a dream, but Amber sure as hell could convince herself she was drunk. They partied for what felt like hours, until Amber's voice was hoarse and he had to carry her back to their hotel. She draped in his arms, waving a bottle in one hand and singing drunkenly the whole time.
But as long as she was having fun, that was fine.
He put her to bed, tucked her in, and then expended a little aura to will to life two filled-out booking forms to a fancy resort. Gold standard. He left the name and its location blank, trusting the dream to fill in the details. All she'd know was that there were two booking forms, one for her and one for him, and that they had a luxury suite booked for three weeks at the fanciest resort in Vacuo.
If only finding a happy balance for Pyrrha could be so simple…
"Sleep," slurred Amber, dragging him down. "Sleep with meee."
He didn't get to finish as she dragged him onto the bed and then curled up against him like a limpet, her cheek on his chest and her nose buried in his lapels. They were both of them fully dressed, and much too formally for sleep, so it didn't feel too risky. Amber seemed to take comfort in his presence, too. It reminded him that she'd spent her whole life travelling alone, without anyone to share the good and the bad times with.
"All right," he said, bringing a hand up to stroke her hair. "Goodnight, Amber."
"Nht Jnnn," she mumbled. "Mmmmm."
Her breathing evened out moments later, but he continued stroking her hair, simply laying there in another person's dream as she took pleasure in something so simple as being able to rest with another person beside her. To fall asleep knowing she wouldn't wake up alone.
Even if it was all a lie.
Jaune being a bit moody this chapter but the point I wanted to make is how many people he's "touching" in a way that makes them want to help him in return. Even if he can't control his Semblance, he's been doing his best to do "good" in their dreams, and whether they realise or not what is going on, they are feeling genuine gratitude to him and trying to return the favour. Jaune does understand that, but since he feels like the good he is doing is "cheated" or "immoral" because he's invading their dreams, he is resistant to their efforts to return the favour and befriend him because he thinks it isn't honest.
Basically, he's feeling inadequate because he wishes he could have helped Amber in real life and feels that what he's doing to help her now "isn't good enough." And he's projecting that onto others.
Also, the psych stuff about brain activity and dreams when you die is real.
Scary stuff, eh? Not that you dream, but that your last moments might be beautiful or horrifying depending on the coin toss of whether you have a good or a bad dream. As a guy who has a lot more nightmares than he does nice dreams, it's not a fun thought.
Next Chapter: 23rd May
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