New fic. Who dis? Not Jaune for once.

I've talked before about wanting to write a Team STRQ story but what always held me back was that I generally don't think there's much room for suspense when everyone knows the ending. I equate it to the Star Wars prequals where it was hard to care or be surprised about Anakin when you knew his ending. As such I figured the better way to do a STRQ story without everyone literally knowing Raven would leave, Summer would die, how the pairings would end up, would be to do this.

Also, "In your wildest dreams" will be moving to Thursday slot. I know Tuesday is meant to go to weekly, but Remnant Invicta also ends in one chapter, so I didn't see the point in switching it around.

Originally called "a dusty old qrow" before I realised a lot of fics are already called that and didn't want to inconvenience them.

Chapter 1

Qrow was no stranger to regret. There were few huntsmen who didn't have a couple, and probably few people who didn't have something or other they wished they could change. For the average person that might be confessing to someone, not settling for someone, or doing more to stay in shape or to focus on their dreams over their career. Not enough time was a common one. For huntsmen, it tended to be a little more visceral. If only I'd gotten there sooner. If only I'd trained more. If only I'd not let her go off alone. If only he'd recognised how little time they would have.

If only he'd gone with Summer.

If only he'd stood by Raven.

If only he'd kept a closer eye on Taiyang after Summer's deaths.

If only he'd been there more for Ruby and Yang instead of wallowing in his own misery.

If only he'd spent more time with the people he loved, and less time acting as Ozpin's eyes and ears across Remnant. If only, if only, if only. Qrow lay among the blankets and clenched his eyes shut; he wished he had a bottle to hand. Alcohol never failed to wash the pain away – or maybe it simply dulled his memory of the grief. He could drink and cry and wake up and forget everything that had happened and believe the night had been a merry one. Gods, but he regretted drinking in front of Ruby and Yang and showing his beautiful nieces that ugly side of himself.

"Fuck," whispered Qrow, hoarsely. "This is too miserable even for me."

His voice sounded scratchy and high-pitched. Weird, since he was more used to waking up with a gravelly and lower hangover voice. Summer had told him once it was because the vocal cords relaxed when you were drunk, becoming looser, and causing a person's voice to drop. He could remember groaning into his pillow at the time, being thoroughly hungover and not wanting to deal with her bright and early to train bullshit on a Saturday. Memories of Summer never failed to make his body feel leaden and his heart clench. Qrow groaned and rolled onto his side and was more than a little surprised to find himself clinging onto something warm.

Huh. His left arm came over the very much alive and very warm body and down their front. Damn, thought Qrow, still hazy from sleep and with his eyes mostly closed. Did I pull? Heh. I guess this dusty old Qrow still has it in him after all. And in someone else as well. A dirty chuckle slipped past his lips, sounding, again, oddly high-pitched to his ears. The person he was spooning against had evidently heard him, or felt him shuffling about, because they fidgeted is they woke up.

"Hey babe," said Qrow, flirting casually. He couldn't remember a name, but experience told him it was better to not open with that. "Was last night as good for you as it was for me?"

"Ungh. Qrow…?"

The voice was feminine – expected – but also young. Very young. Qrow's entire body turned to solid ice, and as hard as metal, all except for one part of him that shrivelled up so hard it might as well have crawled back into his body. Oh, fuck me sideways, do NOT tell me I went and bedded a minor. No way. I cannot possibly have been that drunk.

Well, it was time to add a new regret to the list – and maybe to hand himself into the police while he was at it. Qrow was busy thinking that, and hyperventilating, when the girl in his arms rolled over to face him and fixed her large red eyes on his. The face was small, pale, and a little pudgy, with scraggly black hair flowing down the back and over her forehead. It was definitely a child, but who the child was had Qrow's brain screeching to a halt.


"Who else is it going to be?" quietly grumbled the girl, closing her eyes as she yawned. "You woke me up."

"Uh." Qrow's brain was too busy rebooting to think. "Sorry?"

"Whatever." Raven pushed her way out his loose grip and sat up. She was clothed much to his relief, but the outfit was a long cotton gown in black that was frayed on the edges and looked a size too small for her. She raised her arms above her head and stretched, happily groaning the whole time.

Raven and he… well, he'd have said they didn't have that relationship, but that implied there was a relationship at all. She hated him and he hated her, though he hated her for what she'd done to Yang and Taiyang, while she hated him for what she felt he'd done to her and the tribe. It was a messy thing for sure, but the last time he'd checked Raven had been pushing on forty-three, and six feet, not entering her teenage years and looking so short.

Qrow's mouth ran before his brain could. "You're a midget!"

Raven reacted before he could and lashed out with a tiny fist. She was slower than Yang at six in the morning before her first cup of coffee, and Qrow's hand lashed out to catch hers. Unfortunately, it didn't connect. He moved to catch her wrist, but his hand didn't reach as far as it should have and sailed in front of her fist, missing. She came through and clocked him straight in the jaw. It was a pathetic hit, truly pathetic, and yet his jaw hurt and his eyes watered.

Weird. That should have been like a love tap. And why had he failed to catch her-? Qrow looked down at his arms. His small, noodle-like, pathetic little arms.

I'm tiny… He blinked owlishly as Raven crawled out the pile of blankets and away from him, growling the whole time. It took an embarrassingly long time to click in his head.

Right, this is a dream. Of course it is. Idiot. Why did I not catch onto that when smol-Raven appeared? Qrow rubbed his jaw, annoyed to realise pain existed in a dream, and sat up.

It wasn't the first time he'd dreamed about thongs he regretted, and it probably wasn't the first time he'd dreamed of his sister. It was hard not to miss the better times – even if those were so very shit – and hard not to feel like he could have done something different, something more, and that she'd have stayed at Taiyang's side and been a real mother to Yang. Ozpin had always told him it wasn't all his fault, and that sometimes you couldn't control how the world went, but guilt didn't have to make sense. It very rarely did.

Still, it's the first time I've dreamed of back when we were kids. He noted the inside of the tent they were in, a circular thing kept up by wooden pegs and interconnecting wire. It was larger than two children required.

"Why didn't mom and dad wake us up?" wondered Raven, answering his unspoken question. Qrow's eyes widened, both at the memory of actually having parents and the thought of seeing them again. When had he last thought about them? They'd been gone so long. "They should have come back from the raid last night."

"Uh. I'm not sure."

"You're useless."

Eh. He couldn't take an insult like that from a pint-sized Raven seriously. He might have been pint-sized as well, but it wasn't the same and this was his dream. Qrow grinned and stood, dusted down his cotton pyjamas, also too small for him, and walked over to a set of plain trousers and a shirt. He was missing his cloak already.

Man, I had the worst fashion sense when I was a tween. Yang would laugh herself silly. Then again, he couldn't have exactly gone out to buy better. It was all stolen clothes off defenceless and innocent people. The thought had him grimacing even if this was a dream. He sighed and dragged it on as Raven approached the tent flap and pulled it open. Qrow followed, out into a camp he hadn't seen in a long ass time.

It was different. A trick of his memory or maybe just him being used to the newer version under Raven. There was still the overall formation that remained the same, which was that the very centre of the camp where the heat from the fires was strongest was reserved for the leader. Balmung. A pretentious name for a pretentious fuck. Qrow scowled at the man's memory. Immediately around his tent were the strongest and most respected of the clan, their tents and their families, and shit only got worse the further out you were. Those who wanted to live better had to grow stronger, raid more and earn the right. A meritocracy at its cruellest, thought Qrow.

"Hey!" called Raven, to several big and muscular men and women sat around a fire eating. Qrow had a bad feeling about it even as she walked up to them. A memory was tickling at the back of his head, but this was, like, twenty or thirty years ago. He could hardly remember it all. "Did the raid finish last night? Where is everyone?"

"Raid went south, girl," said one of the men. "They were prepared. Had guns. Shot down a whole bunch on the first charge." He snorted. "Rest of us had the brains to back out."

Qrow closed his eyes. Fuck. He remembered this now. "Raven-"

"Well, where are mom and dad?" demanded Raven, her hands on her hips.

"Raven!" tried Qrow, tugging at her sleeve.

"Who're you again? Oh right, Bran's kids." The man snorted. "He was in the front – the damn glory hog. Took the first shot right to the eye." He brought his hand up to his head and opened it quickly, making an explosive whoosh with his lips. "Whole head popped like a melon."

"Wen went down with him," said one of the women, a little kindlier. Not by much though. "Least they got to die together. Better than living on your own. Well, not for you two." She shrugged, sympathy expended. "Sorry for your loss."

The death of their parents. It came rushing back now, even if it was without the emotional attachment. Qrow could only distantly remember Bran and Wen, his father and mother respectively, and only as members of the tribe. They had been raiders through and through, proud of the fact and determined in "might makes right". They'd been the ones to drill that into him and Raven, and they'd taken pleasure in making people suffer.

Contrary to that, they hadn't been bad parents. Better than Raven at any rate. They had fed and cared for their kids, clothed them – in stolen clothes, but still – and much of their early development had been under their harsh, but fair, tutelage. As parents went, they'd taken their responsibilities seriously and done their best to raise the pair of them in what they believed to be the right way.

Qrow couldn't fault them that. Their idea of the "correct way to live" was abhorrent, but he supposed they'd been raised to believe it was true, and they'd genuinely loved and cared for their parents. He'd long grown used to their absence.

Raven had not.

"W-What?" Her body shook, and her words trembled. It was a weakness he knew she'd never allow herself later. "Y-You're not… You're lying. You have to be. They're strong! Mom and dad are strong!"

"They were strong," said the man. "Now they're dead. Bullet was stronger."

Raven didn't cry. It might have been the tribe beating that out of her, but Qrow suspected it was shock and the fact it hadn't sunken in yet. The problem was that he was beginning to remember how this went, and he tried vainly to pull her away, hissing her name the whole time. Raven wouldn't have it however and shook him off.

"Well, what are we supposed to do now?" asked the girl. "We don't have any other family!"

Shit. Fuck. Shit. Qrow clapped a hand over Raven's mouth, but it was too late. The people around them, the best of the best – the best of a bunch of merciless killers and thieves suddenly took stock of the situation. Two children, bereft of family or parents, in the wealthier part of the tribe, with all the belongings of their parents suddenly up for grabs.

It was a massacre.

Raven screamed and kicked and bit and fought but she was a child. He was too. Even if he had training, and even if this was a dream, his small body didn't have the power to make his blows land. He moved well, dodged quickly, and scored a few black eyes on men two or three times his age and size, but all it did was get them laughed at by their fellows, and then get him beaten.

It didn't take ten minutes for their early lives to be upheaved. Qrow was bloody and bruised, one eye swollen shut and his front teeth cracked, and Raven was clutching her throat where someone had choked her.

They were hurled out to the edge of the camp, left to splash down into the wet mud with the clothes on their backs and nothing else. The people nearby laughed at their faces, while the other rats – the children without guardians – watched on hungrily, wondering if they might have valuables or food they could steal.

A meritocracy. That was what the tribe was. If they were strong enough to fight their way back in, they'd be welcomed as warriors. If not then they should fight for scraps on the outside and either get stronger, find someone stronger to pledge themselves to, or starve. It was a "learning experience" for people in the tribe and ensured you either became strong or died.

"B-But… But… I… dad was strong…" Raven was babbling. Not crying, still, but lost and confused and shaken.

Qrow remembered this moment as well. He'd forgotten it, over the years, but this fucking dream brought it all crashing back. He was fairly sure he'd been the one to crack and cry, to weep like a baby and show true weakness. And Raven, responding to that, had buried her grief and slapped him across the face, insulted him and told him that they'd have to get stronger and tougher.

She had been harsh and cold, but, looking back with the benefit of an adult's hindsight, he knew she'd forced it upon herself so he could rely on her. It was something she did with love. God, that word didn't fit Raven, did it? The woman who ran off on her husband and daughter.

That woman was not the trembling and confused girl in front of him. This girl was twelve, maybe not even thirteen, and she'd lost everything. Maybe it was a dream, and maybe it didn't matter, but Qrow was a forty-two-year-old man and wasn't about to sit back and cry again. He'd gotten the pain for his lost parents out decades ago. He pushed himself up instead, groaning at the pain his mind was imagining, and trudged through the mud toward his bitch of a sister, who reminded him way too much of Yang after Summer's death right now.

He wrapped her up without thinking, standing behind her and holding her back against his chest.


"I'm here," said Qrow, a calm and squeaky voice that he really wished was a few octaves deeper. "I'm still here, Ray." That stupid nickname. It hardly fit the bitter woman he knew. "Don't worry, I'll be sticking around for a while yet, and I'll look after you."

Raven twisted in his arms and planted her face into his chest, her ebony hair under his chin. She didn't cry, not outwardly, but he felt his thin stolen shirt turn wet, and he ran his hands down her back.


They were the worst. Qrow found himself wondering if maybe things might not have been different if he'd had the strength to do this the first time around, and if Raven hadn't had to shoulder everything to look after her useless brother.


It was the second week of their life as rats on the outskirts of the camp that Qrow started to wonder why he hadn't woken up yet. Was he really dreaming for this long? Had that prick, Callows, put him into a coma with that poison? If so, were Ruby and her little troupe of friends taking him to get healing, or had they succumbed to him as well? Yet more regrets, and yet more reason to wish he was stronger. He'd failed Summer and might now have failed Ruby as well.

There wasn't much he could do in a dream however, and so Qrow put his mind to work in not failing mini-Raven. He found them a secluded patch under a tree and hollowed it out with a rock, then scraped the insects away until he'd made for them a cramped little den they could squeeze together in. Comfortable, it was not, but Beacon taught you how to make a safe and temporary shelter, and this would both keep them dry, sheltered and away from predators. The ones they really had to worry about were the people of the tribe, who wouldn't be afraid to steal the clothes off their backs.

Or do worse to them.

He'd thought about fashioning a sturdier shelter out of sticks and leaves, but figured they'd be driven out of that once he finished it. Raven looked stunned at her younger brother, even if by less than a minute, fashioning this at all. He'd always been the weaker and less capable of the pair, and yet in the days that came he hunted and caught small animals, captured birds, gathered fresh water, and even repaired holes in their clothing. A huntsman needed to know all those things to survive in the wild, and so did a bachelor to be honest. Cooking was a requirement because you couldn't live on takeaway forever.

He'd tried.

Little Raven watched in awe as he worked a tiny needle and thread through a tear in her top. She was naked beside him in the tree stump, and he noticed she was just beginning to develop. It wasn't as explosive as Yang, but he knew she'd be a very curvy woman when she grew up, which was a creepy thing to think about a child and your own sibling. It wasn't unusual to her to be naked around him, as their whole family unit had lived in a single tent since birth.

"How did you tear it this time?" asked Qrow, more to change the subject in his own head than anything. "Were you fighting again?"

Raven stuck her bottom lip out. "No."


"It's not a fight when some fucker jumps me for food and I smack him down." She growled and looked away. "He grabbed my sleeve and tore it. It's not my fault."

Qrow hummed and stitched it back together. The damage wasn't extensive, so it wasn't that much of a hassle. He was more concerned about her, especially since he wasn't sure when – or if – this coma-induced dream was going to end. He might as well do his best to avoid any misery or further regrets within it.

"Was it another of the rats?"

"Yeah." Raven nodded. "He didn't see me come back here though. I made sure."

That was probably for the best. The rats were a cannibalistic lot – not literally, in the sense of eating one another, but they'd steal from and turn on one another at the drop of a hat. If they saw him cooking meat, then they'd badger and stalk him and might even attack them to try and get at it. The same would go for if they found out about this little home he'd got set up. His own memories of this time in their life were a jumbled mess.

He was fairly sure they'd been a whole lot worse off and, if he recalled, it only ended when they hit thirteen and Raven gambled everything – their lives included – on them accompanying the adults on a raid. They'd managed to come out alive and loot some goods that they'd leveraged to get a place back in the outskirts of the tribe. How they'd survived until then, he didn't know. Sheer determination and a willingness to steal from others.

He also suspected Raven had crossed lines she refused to tell him in order to ensure their survival. There was no telling if that was murdering other children for their food or offering herself to tribe members for supplies, and she never once told him. You did what you had to do to survive, and back then Raven had been forced to carry his weak ass as well.

That wouldn't happen this time.

"You need to stop antagonising them," said Qrow. Raven grumbled, but she wasn't about to go out topless so had to sit and listen to him. "It's not about proving who is strong and who isn't. It's about keeping a low profile. Strength doesn't mean anything if we get ambushed by twenty people."

"Strength is everything."

"Strength didn't keep our parents alive." He expected Raven to gasp and quiet down, but she surprised him.

"You're strong."

He almost stabbed the needle trough his thumb. "Eh?"

"You're strong," said Raven, sliding closer to him. Not in a weird way, but a I'm topless and it's freezing outside kind of way. She huddled to his back, and he wished he couldn't feel just how cold she was through his shirt. To her, it meant nothing.

They'd grown up in a single tent with their parents, and in a tribe that could generously be called uncivilised. Certain taboos didn't exist. Nudity was one of them, and it hadn't meant anything to him at this age as well. Now, with decades spent in civilised society, it did, but Qrow knew she wouldn't understand if he complained. Besides, she was clearly freezing.

"You're strong enough to hunt and fetch food, and cook, and make all this. How? When did you get this strong?"

Not here, he wanted to say. In Beacon, with proper tutelage like normal children were supposed to get. The tribe had taught him few things, and barely even how to fight. The shit the people here called combat was more swinging sharp things at unprotected people. He'd had to unlearn more bad habits than adapt good ones on reaching Beacon.

"I watch people," he said, instead. "I watched people sew and asked how it worked, and I watched people hunt. I guess I picked it up from that. It's not something our parents taught me."

Raven grunted and rested her chin on his shoulder. It was a familiar and easy thing for a sibling, and something he could picture Ruby doing to Yang or vice versa. He certainly couldn't picture him and Raven being that close however, and it was sending his head spinning. I guess we were this close once, thought Qrow. We did everything together, really loved one another. Ray was my strong big sister and I'd have died for her, and I was the little brother she had to protect.

When had things gone so wrong…?

"I want to learn," said Raven, almost whining. "I want to be strong."

"You will be."

"Teach me."

He blinked. "Now?"

"No. After I have my shirt back. But, yeah, then…"


It was a month into his dream that Qrow began to suspect it might not be that. The coma angle was still on the table, but when your boss literally used magic and told you about gods existing and all the crazy things Relics could do, well, you tended to have an open mind. For Qrow, it came after weeks of hunting for food and keeping them alive, and after long nights of sore muscles and a toughening body.

It came when he started to work on aura exercises – simple things to help improve control and reserves – and found that he couldn't access his. It came when the days grew colder and he felt the chill, and when the other rats jumped him and he had to fight them off. It came when his wounds got infected and he had to cut them open and tearfully drain blood and wash it with water, then bandage it up with some scraps of stolen cloth. Things like that shouldn't happen in dreams, or at least not in such detail, and this was all going too much like he remembered it.

The thought that this might be real, and that he might somehow be reliving his life, was one that Qrow didn't know what to do with. He wasn't even sure it was real. So, in the end, he decided that the safest thing to do would be to roll with it. If it were a dream and not real then at least he could make things better and feel better, and if it was real somehow, well, he didn't want to repeat history and let Raven turn into a colossal bitch.

Speaking of Raven, he'd learned – or was that relearnt? – things about her that he really didn't need to. Or that he'd forgotten. The first was that Raven was so much like Yang it hurt. She was aggressive, quick to anger, quicker to act, and rarely engaged her brain when her fists could do a good enough job. She burned hot, didn't forgive, and never forgot, and she was awful – absolutely awful – at anything remotely domestic.

"FUCK!" shrieked Raven. "Again!"

"Yeah, well, I told you to stitch slowly. You're the one who got impatient. That is a needle you're stabbing into cloth, you know. It's sharp."

His kind instruction earned him a teary glare as Raven dropped the messy patchwork blanket into her lap and stuck her thumb into her mouth to suck on. He was working on the other end, the two of them working to construct a blanket for the colder winter months. It was made up of hundreds of scraps of discarded cloth and clothing that they had scavenged from the edge of the camp, and that Qrow had washed as best he could in the river.

A few of the tribespeople had even given them some for free, not out of kindness, but out of a sense of morbid curiosity for what the oddly capable siblings would do with it.

Qrow knew that they'd become interesting of late.

The tribe was camped for the colder months and there wasn't much to do, and a pair of formerly fostered kids thrown out into the wilds that were not only surviving, but thriving, was sure to draw attention. He'd noticed that the men and women coming and going had stopped kicking and lashing out at them as they did the other rats who begged and scraped for their attention or cast-offs. He and Raven never asked for anything, which fit the tribe's definition of strength.

In the eyes of the tribe, the Branwen siblings were proof that their cruel and monstrous methods in throwing orphaned children out to die were working.


"Have you given thought to what I was saying yesterday?" asked Qrow.


"Is that a no you haven't thought, or a-"

"It's a no we're not leaving the tribe!" snapped Raven, still sucking on her sore thumb. "This is our home. This is where we were born. It's where mom and dad-"

"Died and had their belongings stolen from them and their kids kicked out to die," interrupted Qrow. "Ray, this place is a shithole, and Balmung is a fucking useless leader. What's the point of staying? We should leave the moment the spring hits."

They'd never considered that in the past, and he couldn't say he was surprised. Abused children often continued to live in difficult homes, and it was mostly because they didn't know what else they could do or how else to get by. They'd been kids back then, and he hadn't been capable of hunting and gathering food for them like he was now, so they wouldn't have had much of a chance hacking it out in the wilds. Not like they did now. Now, Qrow was old – in mind, anyway – enough to know better, to know how to survive, and to know that the tribe was not the right place to be.

If only Raven could understand that. "It's still our home," she insisted. "They're our family."

"Family doesn't brutalise you and leave you to die."

"They're toughening us up. And it's working. We're getting stronger-"

"We're getting stronger because of us!" hissed Qrow, surprising her. Raven leaned back, bumping into the inside of the tree. "It's not because of them, Ray. Never because of them. You and I are strong because we refuse to give up, and because we have one another's backs. You get that?"

"Y-Yeah. I know." Raven inched forward again and took the blanket's corner. "I know you're strong, Qrow-"

"You're strong as well."

"You're stronger," insisted Raven. The old her would have never said that and would have rather died than admit to any weakness. "I know I'm holding you back. You'd be back in the tribe if it wasn't for me."

"I'd rather be out here in the cold with you than in there alone. You're my sister." He swung an arm around her, and was equal parts warmed and stunned when, instead of pulling away or throwing his arm off, she leaned in to rest her head on his chest.

Raven hadn't done that in decades.

They'd never been this close, and his heart clenched tight not only at the regrets, but at the fact he was so surprised his child of a sister would, or could, show affection. Where had they gone wrong? Where had they gone so wrong? Qrow pulled her in tighter, and his voice was choked with emotion.

"You're my sister, Ray, and I'm not leaving you behind. Okay? You're going to be okay."

Her nose brushed his neck as she nodded. "M'kay."


If they really were, as Qrow suspected, between the ages of twelve and thirteen, then that meant it would be a full four years before they went to Beacon. It had been after a failed raid when he and Raven had been wounded by a huntsman in a raid gone wrong. The huntsman had chosen to spare them out of either pity or an odd curiosity, and they'd limped back to the tribe. There, the people had been angry about how "unfair" aura was, acting for all the world like their own methods of targeting weak villages was any less chivalrous.

A plan had been hatched to send people to one of the academies to learn their secrets and bring them back to the tribe, and Raven had been quick to volunteer them out of a desire to earn them a better place. They'd headed off to Beacon soon after, and it was only when they arrived that they realised the huntsman they'd lost to was a freaking teacher there.

At the time, Ozpin had acted like he didn't recognise them, and they'd figured he'd forgotten their faces or that they'd pulled the wool over his eyes. Now, Qrow knew better. Ozpin had let them stay. Raven said it was because he was a manipulative old fuck who saw potential in them, and Qrow would admit that probably played a part, but he also believed Ozpin let them stay because he'd hoped deep inside that these two children could escape the tribe.

That was a point of much arguing between him and Ray.

Thinking about that made Qrow realise that if he wanted to push them to same path as before, that they would need to stay with the tribe for longer. Or, alternatively, to try and get into Beacon through other methods. They were too old to get into a prep school, and who was going to accept them in their state? No, they'd have to impress, or he'd have to contact Ozpin and convince him of who he was.

Which was a problem.

With future knowledge he could in theory stop the fall of Beacon and help in the fight against Salem, and if this was the past then he sure as hell was going to save Summer's life to start. He just didn't know if telling Ozpin would be the best way to go about that. Ozpin was cagey, untrusting, and might reasonably think this was a ploy. He'd also fleece Qrow for everything he knew about the future, and then might try and do things in other ways.

Ways that Qrow wouldn't accept.

There was just no way to know if Ozpin wouldn't try and get a hold of Ruby and Yang early to train them up, or if he wouldn't send Summer on different missions instead and end up getting her killed there. He might refrain from trusting Raven because she betrayed him later and boot her out of Beacon. He might refuse to let Qrow into Beacon, and instead train him away from it and put him to work as his agent sooner. He already had an education in his head after all, so what was the point in going through Beacon again? He'd be better used outside, and in the field against Salem and her forces.

Away from Team STRQ.

Unacceptable. If this was real then he wanted to fix the biggest set of regrets he had, and that meant he needed to be on Team STRQ and in Beacon. He could tell Ozpin the truth later, preferably after graduating, and it wouldn't even hurt any. The bad shit hadn't started happening until after Salem got a hold of Cinder and Leonardo, neither of which came during his time in Beacon. Ozpin would be pissed, but he'd have to get over himself.

That still means I need to draw his eye another way, and it sure as hell isn't going to be by staying in this forsaken tribe for the next four years and chancing everything on that huntress taking pity on us again. One wrong move and she guts us instead.

Plus, the tribe would corrupt and poison Raven's mind, and he wasn't having that. Smol-Raven was adorable and… well, she was still a bitch and not at all innocent, but she was cute about it, like Ruby and Yang, and that was all that mattered. He'd been a shitty, useless brother the last time around and forced her to do all the heavy lifting and he liked to think he'd learned something in the following thirty years.

Even now, Raven lay at his side, curled up and pressed against him for his body heat as the wintry gusts rolled about outside. He'd packed their little hovel up with clay, mud, and wood, but it didn't keep all the cold out. A lot of the rats would be dead come the spring, and those that survived might be welcomed into the tribe as true survivors.

They would be moulded into the kind of frame Balmung and his twisted ideologies wanted them to be, and then thrown at people to steal and pillage and loot. Raven shivered, and Qrow wrapped his arms around her under the blanket they'd made together, and stroked her soft, black hair. The girl murmured appreciatively and went back to quietly snoring.

"It'll be better this time," said Qrow. "I'll do better. For you, for Summer, for Taiyang and for everyone." He pressed his lips and nose into her hair and closed his eyes. "No dusty old Qrow lost in his cups like a miserable fool. I'm going to save you this time, Ray. I'm going to save everyone. And that includes saving you from these killers and thieves."

So, this is the new story BUT there's no update next Saturday as I am going to be busy preparing for my work event the following week. Basically, no updates from Sat 23rd – Fri 29th, so the next update will come on the 30th.

Next Chapter: 30th September (Two Weeks)

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