Got my birthday next Sunday so there won't be an update then.

I saw a news report yesterday about the GTA6 trailer (not even a big fan of it but I did play GTA5 ofc), and it said GTA5 came out TEN YEARS AGO.

I felt that right in the gut. T—Ten years…? So many!? That's when I made the mistake of checking when my first fic "One Good Turn" was published.


Oh my god…

I've been writing for some of you for almost ten years! Arghhh!

We're all old!

Chapter 8

It wasn't hard to figure out that Ozpin's molesting of several sock puppets was his fault. Oh, sure, the older kids drank and had been caught once or twice, but he hadn't failed to notice his bottles being cleaned out his room – sometimes before he got around to drinking them. It had become something of a silent war between him and the cleaning staff on how well he could hide them, and he'd assumed it was to be a private battle since no one had challenged or questioned him. Not that they'd get anywhere. Even as an adult, Qrow had been a master of the schoolyard strategy of deny, deny, deny.

He hadn't thought it would matter anyway. He was a decent student and didn't cause trouble. What was the big deal if he drank? Everyone had their vices. Okay, so maybe it was a little more concerning when someone his age was in his cups but come on – go after Ray. She was a walking, talking, fighting violation of almost every rule in Signal, and for some reason the teachers acted like that was normal because she'd been through a lot. Poor Raven. You have to be gentle with her. But her brother who's been through the exact same? No. Clamp down on him as hard as you can.

Where was the equality?

But no. Him drinking because he'd been through a lot was worthy of immediate intervention.


It wouldn't have bothered him so much if they hadn't ransacked his room while the big puppet show was happening. They'd even found the floorboard he'd pried up under Raven's bed and hidden a bottle of rum in. What, had they brought sniffer dogs in or something? Qrow crossed his arms and sulked. His sister was less than sympathetic.

"You're sulking."

"Yeah. And?"

"It's just booze, Qrow."

"It was my booze. I earned it. You wouldn't accept it if something of yours was stolen."

"No," she admitted, "But I also think that you should not be turning to alcohol to deal with your problems." Her voice was stilted. Strange. "I want you to know that you can talk to me if you have any problems. Or talk to a teacher."

"Raven, are you wearing a wire…?"


"…" Qrow stared.

Raven stared back. "What?"

"They found my stash because you told them…" Her eyes trailed away. "I can't believe you! Ray! You're my sister! Blood doesn't betray blood!" He growled and swiped for her head, only for her to duck underneath it. "What did they offer you? Please don't tell me that stupid puppet show actually won you over."

"Snrk. No. Ozpin offered to buy me a proper sword."

"You'd sell me out for a sword!?"

"Well, I did," said Raven. "So yeah, I guess I would."

He slumped down in his seat. "You fucking bitch."

"Fucking bitch that's about to have a proper sword."

The secretary outside the headmistress' office clicked her tongue but didn't ask them to stop swearing. She'd tried that once and Raven had, with no hesitation, begun to rattle off as much foul language as she could in a monotone voice that lasted until the they finally got their detention a whole fifteen minutes later. Raven was incredibly petty like that.

Sold out for a damn sword by my own flesh and blood, thought Qrow. I wish I could say that was a surprise in the slightest. Damn it, Ozpin, you manipulative old fuck. This is why Raven lost faith in you the first time around.

He'd have to make sure that didn't happen again while he was at it saving Summer's life. Maybe warn Ozpin to ease off a little in the future or take Ray's side a few more times than he originally had. Qrow had sided with Oz almost every time before, and he still held that it was the right decision, but obviously Ray had needed someone to have her back and hadn't felt she had anyone. Though if she was going to stab people in the back for material things then he wasn't sure that'd change much.

"The headmistress will see you now, Mr Branwen." said the secretary. "I am not sure why you are here, Miss Branwen."

Raven hooked her hands behind her head and said, "My dad dumped a load in my mom. Duh. I mean, you do know how sex works, right?"

The secretary pinched the bridge of her nose and counted to ten.

"Just… Just go inside…"

"All right." Raven shrugged and walked alongside him as he slumped into the office. Headmistress Julianna was there. Ozpin was not. Neither were the sock puppets, thankfully. Raven raised a hand. "Hey boss lady. Where's the old man? He owes me a sword."

"He owes me the sister I used to trust," grumbled Qrow.

Julianna sighed. "I was under the impression that we suggested you not tell your brother how you helped us."

"Yeah. You suggested it. I ignored it." Raven took a seat. "Isn't that how it works?"

"Not… Never mind. Mr Branwen, take a seat. Miss Branwen, you don't need to be here for this."

"Nah. I need to be here. He's my brother."

The woman smiled. "I see. It does my heart well to know you care enough for him to step in like this."

"Uh? What? Yeah, sure. That's me."

Qrow rolled his eyes. The only reason Raven wanted to stay was because she wanted to see him get told off, and probably so she could laugh at him later about it. That was the way things were in the tribe – punishments were public, and often humiliating, because the point was to send a message to more than just the one who had acted out. That was for small infringements or squabbling, however. Usually among children. Most issues among adults were dealt with by those involved, and very rarely did anyone step in.

Grudges could be settled by blood, loss of limb or even death. No one cared. There were a few cases where you would be dragged up and killed brutally in front of everyone, but those were for big crimes in the tribe's standards like running away from battle and abandoning your allies or murdering another tribe member in cold blood. Hot blood was fine, and doubly so if you murdered them in a fair fight, but sneaking into their tent to slit their throat or poisoning their food was liable to get you staked out to die.

Luckily, none of that was going to happen here. That made it worse in a sense.

You couldn't fight back against someone treating you like a child.

"Mr Branwen, do you know what these are?" asked the teacher, indicating the ten or so bottles arranged artfully on her desk. Various beers and spirits he'd bartered for from the older kids, some half empty but a lot of them fairly new. He shrugged his shoulders and refused to talk. They all knew what this was, and they just wanted him to crack and say something. "No?" she asked. "You don't know? That's strange because we found them in your room."

"Oh. Oh." Raven waved her hand in the air. "Ask me. I know what they are."

Julianna ignored her.

Qrow made a mental note to make Raven's next spar an agonising experience for her.

"These, Mr Branwen, are the bottles we found in your room and were forced to confiscate. Drinks that I am sure you know are not allowed on campus, and which would be illegal for you to purchase from any store. We've already contacted a few and sent them your picture – they say they've never seen you." Damn it. There went his chances of getting a fake ID, too. "I believe you have the assistance of older students in procuring these. I would be happy to lessen your punishment if you would give my names."


The headmistress rolled her eyes. "I'll take that as a no and thank you not to finish that sentence. You will receive twenty detentions for this. Two for each bottle found. You will be spending those detentions with Mrs Thyme."

Qrow groaned. Mrs Thyme – Rosalyn – was a lovely woman. Very sweet, very dependable, and still on the staff in his time. She was also a child therapist, which he happened to think was a very good idea for a school like Signal to have when he was a teacher, but a massive pain in the ass to have when he was a student. Rosalyn loved children, and not in that weird way most people in education claimed to – she loved them like every single child was her son or daughter, and she was the kind of person to go on a crusade to help any and every abandoned child that crossed her path.

Rosalyn was a saint.

At least, she was when you were an adult who could dump troublesome kids on her. Less so when you were the troublesome kid.

"I don't need therapy."

"Mr Branwen, you are thirteen and drinking more than a man three times your age."

"I'm drinking exactly the same amount as a man three times my age."

He should know.

"That is the problem!" Julianna slammed her hand down. "You are not getting out of this, young man. We would be remiss in our responsibilities to even consider letting you."

"What? But it's okay for Ray to pick fights with other kids? I don't show up to class hungover and I don't cause fights or pass out in the hallways."

"Hey, fuck off!" said Raven. "Don't drag me into this."

"You dragged me into this!" he shot back.

"Miss Branwen is not ideal either, but this is a combat school and fighting is part of what we teach you. At the very least she is burning off excess energy in a productive manner – though that is by no means me encouraging you, young lady. Don't think I don't see that grin. The only reason I'm not assigning you detention is because you're up to your neck in it already and I'd have to start paying my staff overtime to cover your brand of nonsense." She sighed. "Signal understands that your situation is less than ideal. We understand that there will be troubles adapting to a new life here."

They didn't understand jack shit. Yeah, there were troubles. He was a forty-something man having to get used to being a little kid again, and it stank. He couldn't go out, he couldn't get drunk, he couldn't chat girls up without either being on a watch list or dating someone already on one – and the worst part was he felt he might not mind if it was an older woman, but that'd still be weird. Bah. He needed a drink.

Oh, right. Can't drink.






Raven kept swishing her new sword around their small room like it was a perfectly normal thing to do. It wasn't the sword she'd eventually come to use, but it was a similar style and length in proportion to her body – but that still made it shorter and lighter than what she'd eventually settle on. It was a sword for her to use for now, until she finished growing. That was the tricky part about weaponry for huntsmen. It was expensive at the best of times, Inhibitively so for some families, and you had to buy multiple. Training started early and you couldn't give a full-weight weapon to someone who was eleven, and the tools they used at that age wouldn't be of any use when puberty hit.

She was past that but not yet done growing out and upward. Neither of them was. Qrow did appreciate Oz buying her a weapon and all – it saved him having to find a way to get her one – but the old man was still on his shit list for now. A few pranks might be warranted come Beacon just to remind him that Qrow Branwen was not to be trifled with.

Assuming he survived until Beacon.

Qrow ducked as the tip of the sword, lazily swung, nearly slit his throat.

"Do you mind not swinging that around in here?"

"You're just jealous."

"Do you have any idea how insufferable you're being lately, Ray?"

"I don't know. Is it having a sword insufferable?"

"Having a weapon doesn't make you better than me. I can still kick your ass with a training blade." That got a reaction, as he'd known it would. Raven stopped and glowered, glaring at him with her bottom lip stuck out like the child she was.

"Yeah, well…" Raven looked for a comeback with all her inexperience. "At least I'm not a drunk."

"Neither am I. More's the pity."

News had spread around Signal. Of course it had. There'd been one or two rumours that should have gone nowhere, but when someone had braved to come up and ask them at lunch if they were true or not, Raven had shrugged and said: "That he got caught with beer? Yeah, that's true. Heh. Dumbass."

Raven's absolute lack of discretion and her willingness to confirm multiple times to anyone that asked cemented his reputation. It was a mixed one for sure. While the adults looked at him with pity and concern, the student body's opinion hovered somewhere between awe at him for being a rebel and a bad boy, and dislike for him putting on airs or being a creep who thought he was so much better, older, and cooler than them.

And then there were some teacher's pets who just disliked him for breaking the rules. The usual smorgasbord of petty reasons for children to dislike one another. Gods, it'd been a pain in the ass dealing with it when he was a teacher. It was much worse now. All kids were evil; that was a fact; it was little wonder Salem became a walking apocalypse after having some.

On the bright side, he didn't care enough about their opinions to be as upset as a normal kid would. The constant swing of popularity contests in school had never really been his thing, but he knew Yang had played the game, and he knew Ruby had suffered a little through it. Rarely ever in Yang's line of sight, of course, but for a girl as shy and awkward as Ruby it was a given she'd fall into the nerdier side of the student body. She'd still made good friends there, which was more than could be said for his time-travelling ass.

How can I be friends with children, though? It feels so weird. I've warned way too many kids about old men pretending to be young boys and girls online to want to try and pretend to be one myself. Am I really gonna stick with just Ray until Beacon, though? That's three years away.

Three years with just Raven for company.

"Salem can end me right now."

"Who?" asked Raven.

"No one."

"I heard you say a name."

He rolled his eyes. "Some hot upper year I want to make out with."

"Ugh. I don't want to hear it!"

"Yeah. I thought not." Ray was easy to predict if nothing else. He sighed and stood. "Anyway, I have to be off to my first therapy session. If there's anyone here who needs therapy, it's you—"

"Feh. They recognise my fighting is the search for strength while you're dying in the bottom of a bottle is a cry for help."

Damn, that was almost wise. And accurate enough to make him wince.

Raven didn't often get the last word, not with all his years on her, but sometimes there were things even he couldn't return from. And yeah, maybe he was a little messed up inside. Who wouldn't be in his shoes? Everyone lost someone, sure, but how often were they also stuck in a battle between an immortal wizard and an equally immortal witch? It wasn't like he was being unreasonable in wanting to drown his worries a little bit. Just a tad here and there. He'd lost Summer, he'd lost Raven, he'd pretty much lost Taiyang, and there were times he came close to losing Ruby and Yang as well.

But how could he explain a fraction of that to a shrink? Maybe in his time it'd make sense, but not here. He was a child. The obvious trauma old Rosalyn – or young Rosalyn now – was going to focus on was losing his parents. That might be easy to accept if he could damn well remember them, but their deaths had been nigh on thirty years ago to him. They were distant memories.

I'm gonna have to pretend it's that and just grit my teeth. Damn, this is going to be awkward. I don't want to be a pain in Rosalyn's ass, either. She was always one of the good ones. He groaned and grumbled about it all the way to her office, which was different to her one in his time. She can't have been working at Signal long.

Sure enough, that was the case. Rosalyn was in her mid-twenties now, and quite the looker. Light brown hair falling in curls and ringlets, big, expressive brown eyes, and full lips in a warm smile. Qrow had to stop and stare, because while she hadn't been ugly when he worked at the school, she'd definitely had more the "kind grandma" look than the "absolute fucking fox" thing going about her.

And here he was, much too young to do anything about it.



To be born twenty years too late.

"Qrow. Good morning. Can I call you that?"

"Uh. Yeah. Sure."

Rosalyn waved him in and gave him a warm smile, then offered him a cinnamon bun. It was nostalgia set to max, even if he could tell from taste alone that she still had a while to go before matching his Rosa's culinary skill. "Thanks."

"You're welcome. Now, I know Julianna had to force you here and I told her that's not how I like to do things. I can't help someone who doesn't want help. How about we have a nice chat instead, hm? I'm sure you'll find detention with me is a lot more fun than it would be otherwise."

Argh, she was so nice. It wasn't an act either. He remembered one case when a student had lost their shit and screamed and ranted at Rosa so hard that the normally unflappable woman burst out crying. He'd been dispatched to find the student responsible and drag them up for disciplinary, only to find the guy getting the shit kicked out of him by a bunch of other students for "Making Miss Thyme cry". The students looked after their own, and Rosa had always been one of them. It was practically a rule that you didn't pull any nasty pranks on her.

The same hadn't gone for his prime target ass, and Qrow's Semblance hadn't helped him any in avoiding them.

"Now, why don't you tell me a little about what landed you here?"

"I'm here because my sister is an absolute bitch who would betray me for a four-foot lump of steel."

"Curious. You don't blame the headmistress, then?"

He shrugged. "She's doing her job. It is what it is."

"And you don't accept any fault of your own?"

"Not really. I kept my stash hidden and they couldn't find it. The only reason they did was because Raven welched on me. Therefore, she's the reason I'm here."

"Hmm." Rosa's eyes twinkled. "Well, I suppose I can't criticise that logic, can I? Are you upset with your sister?"

"Obviously. Don't get the wrong idea. Raven didn't rat me out because she was worried about my health or anything; she ratted me out because she was bribed with a sword. I feel I have the right to be miffed my own flesh and blood, who I dragged out of literal hell, would do that. And I'll be making my feelings about it abundantly clear the next time we spar."

He'd sheathe that sword so far up her ass that opening her mouth would be a new form of Iaijutsu.

"Do you want to tell me a little about your time before Signal? I understand you lived in an orphanage in Mistral, but you weren't always there."

"I'd rather not." He shrugged. Their past was a dangerous topic. He doubted they'd try and charge him and Raven for the crimes of the tribe, not when they were clearly out of it all, but it'd still be a level of attention they didn't need. "We did what we had to do to survive, and we made it through a winter in the wilderness on our own. Wasn't fun."

"I imagine not. Outside?"

"Lived in a tree. In the trunk," he added when she looked horrified. "Hollowed it out and made our stash in there to hibernate. I was able to hide the entrance and insulate it, and we burned the inside to make it less likely to go up in smoke."

"What did you eat?"

"Berries, meat, and fish. Caught a few squirrels but it was mostly birds. If we were lucky a bigger animal like a deer or boar croaked nearby." Or as was more realistic, it would be killed by the tribe, and he could scavenge what the hunters couldn't bring back. "We lasted through winter and struck out in the spring for Mistral, and you know the rest."

Rosa's jaw was hanging open. Horror was written all across her face.

"Hey, you asked," said Qrow. "And it's not like our life was the worst or anything. There's a lot of kids had it worse than that." Lots of kids. He'd seen it. "One winter fending by ourselves is nothing compared to growing up with abusive parents or being trafficked by scum in Vacuo."

"Even so, you've been through something terrible and—"

Rosa went on and Qrow tuned most of it out. Had it been terrible? Yes, he supposed it had been, even for an old man like him a winter surviving on your own wasn't exactly safe or fun. He wasn't an average person, though. He was a huntsman. Their standard for trauma was much higher because they saw a lot of dark shit. Like it or not, you showed up too late sometimes, and once you'd seen whole families carved out and smeared across a home, you never forgot it.

Was he traumatised? Yeah, probably. Most huntsmen were. You just learned how to deal with it and found a way to move past it. Summer and Taiyang had found love and the joy of raising children, and Qrow had found alcohol. Maybe one of those was healthier than the other, but it wasn't like alcohol was all he knew. He loved his nieces and spent a lot of time looking after them, even more so after Summer died.


"Sorry. Spaced out."

That was the wrong thing to say if her expression was anything to go by. He wanted to say he wasn't having a flashback or lost in any memories, but what could he say? There was no good answer.

He was saved from having to make one by a frantic knock on the door. It was fast-paced and uneven like someone desperately hoping the person would be in. There was a panic to it. Rosa could tell – bless her – and quickly made her excuses to stand and see who it was. That gave him a little chance to gather his thoughts and plan ahead.

The best thing he could do was show Rosa he was on the road to recovery. She wouldn't care to dig up his lacking past if she thought he was improving, so he supposed he could just show up, chat, and be as normal as he could be. Boring, but effective. Rosa would soon realise he was coping just fine and let the matter go in favour of kids who needed her more.

As if to reinforce that, he heard crying from the person at the door.

"—aand then he hit me — and I – and I tried to be strong – snff—"

Ugh. It sounded like whoever this was needed Rosa a lot more than he did. Sheesh. Most kids got out of their crying stages soon into Signal. It wasn't that anyone was cruel or anything, but more that crying was often tied to physical pain and… well… physical pain was a regular part of schooling to be a huntsman or huntress. The average student, even at eleven, could keep a straight face if someone punched them right in it. Oh, they'd cry like any other for emotional reasons, but rarely from the physical aspects of something like bullying. Bullying and spars often carried the same bruises, and it was hard to be bothered by one over the other.

Also, as a rule, bullies didn't tend to do well in huntsman academies. A bully typically existed on the basis of a power dynamic – them being strong and everyone else being too weak to stand up to them. That… didn't hold up very well in a huntsman academy where even the weakest nerd could, and did, cut Beowolves to ribbons. Signal was a place where you watched the toes you stepped on, because that bookish girl with glasses in the corner might well be capable of strangling you with your own intestines. That wasn't to say bullies didn't exist, though. They just tended to pick their targets and stick to them, and it was a risky gambit anyway. Today's victim might unlock their semblance tomorrow, and then all bets were off.

"Shh. Come now, it's all right. Come inside and have a sit down. Don't mind Qrow; he's not as grumpy as he looks."

Qrow snorted. "Talking about me there? I'm not a grumpy old man."

"No. You just drink enough to put one to shame. I hope you don't mind a little company."

"The more the merrier. Welcome to alcoholics anonymous."

He leaned back to have a look at the poor dweeb she'd brought in. They had to be pretty weak if they let themselves be bullied. He didn't mean it nastily because everyone started off weak, but he assumed it was a first year from a non-huntsman family. Someone new to the culture who hadn't yet adapted.

The last thing he expected was to see his niece's tearstained face.

Qrow choked, and his stomach locked up. "Ruby—?"

The girl looked at him, sniffled, and looked away. Rosa shot him a look and gently helped her into a seat. It was… No, it wasn't Ruby. Of course it wasn't. It was Summer. Small Summer; crying Summer; apparently rather weak Summer. That was the biggest surprise in all honesty.

He'd met Summer at seventeen in Beacon, back when he and Raven had been let in by Ozpin. They'd been high on arrogance and belligerent to everyone, and Raven had challenged Summer's leadership for a whole week, accusing her of being soft and undeserving of the role. Qrow had believed it too, because the tribe was strong and everyone else was weak.

In the end, Summer snapped, and the absolutely legendary beatdown that had come of it had left Raven in the infirmary for two nights and three days, and Qrow slack jawed for almost four years. Summer had been a monster. A beast. A unit. Of course, what she'd really been was "pretty damn good" but the "pretty damn good" of a huntress student was better than their bandit upbringing. That didn't stop the fact that she'd been the kind of woman who could take Raven in two hands, break her, then mould her back into something resembling a proper person. Summer's temper had been feared across Beacon in those early days.

That didn't fit the girl in front of him one bit.

Obviously, she'd be different at this age, but he hadn't expected this much of a change. Summer Rose? Bullied? Aside from laughing at the absurdity of it, he wanted to know names. Names and current locations, and preferably their life insurance policies while he was at it because – damn – Summer was here crying, and someone had to die.

Someone had to die real soon.

"Qrow, stop staring," chided Rosa. "You're frightening the poor girl."

"Who? Me!?"

"Yes, you. You're staring at her."

Summer scared of him. No way. Or… maybe. Summer was hiding her face from his gaze, and he forced himself to look down between his knees. Crap. Had he turned her off? Had he ruined it already? No. He'd just… well, it wasn't every day you saw your dead best friend returned and in the body of a little girl, let alone one bawling her eyes out.

"Uh. H—Hey." He waved toward Summer, trying hard not to let any of the million things he felt show. He was choking up himself and didn't think crying and throwing himself at her would make her like him very much. "I'm Qrow. Nice to meet ya. Uh." He wracked his brain for something a boy his age could and would say that might sound cool to someone her age. "My sister sold me out for a sword and I'm in the market for a replacement. Sister, that is, not a sword."

His tongue felt too big for his mouth. Had did children do it? What was he meant to say? Qrow cleared his throat.

"Do you… Do you wanna be friends?"

Rosa looked at him like he was an indescribable life form.

But Summer giggled.

Just a tiny bit.

Next Chapter: 18th November

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