Heading towards the infirmary, Ozpin moved at a casual pace as if it was simply another day. It wasn't. Ever since Sunday it has never been a regular day. On Sunday Ruby Rose and Weiss had disappeared. On Monday and Tuesday they had searched for them. Ozpin had suspended classes and allowed every team that was capable and willing to join in on the search. That was all of them, of course.
Today was no different. If anything it was the strangest day so far, at least for him and what he knew. He had done everything within his power to find his two missing students, but it was already too late. If he was right, and he had been sure he was right, they were dead before he had known they were missing.
Looking over the report Ozpin made several notes mentally. The first report was from the black box Yang had recovered from the wreckage. It told him this had not been an accident, nor had it been just an attack from the air. It had been sabotage from before they had ever left the hanger.
The transponder, as well as the radio and all of their redundant systems, had been set to deactivate as soon as they reached altitude. That was made clear to him by the fact that both were working as they should. Then they cut off without any warning alarms at five hundred feet. It was confirmed by what the salvage team had found in the electronics. Whoever had done the sabotage was good at what he did. For added measure there had been a signal jammer located in the rear cargo area. The ability to call for help had been completely removed.
He had gotten the security feeds from the hanger their bullhead had been stored. It only confirmed that it had been sabotage. He had watched as the member of White Fang walked past the single faunus guard without a challenge, and into their plane. An hour later he saw him leave. The grimm mask obscured his face so there was no way to find out who it was, but it meant that their enemy had allies. He would be writing a recommendation to Signal on how to improve their security. It would be politely written, but he was sure his dissatisfaction would be easily noted.
The salvage team had made one other discovery that disturbed him, yet was expected. While the bullhead wasn't damaged on the top, the underside showed damage that could not be explained by anyone; anyone except himself and Raven. The metal was twisted and ripped, and had stress fractures along the surface as if pulled downward. Given the quality of armor bullhead's used, mostly to defend against nevermores and other grimm that might attack in trips between kingdoms, the force to cause that damage was frightening. The shredded metal was not enough to bring the plane down, but it did explain how it was delivered.
What had been found inside those tears was the cause. It had been spent and inert but it wasn't a long jump to know it was the cause of the crash.
Put together it confirmed what had he had suspected from the start. So the question was why had they been allowed to live? He really should tell Glynda what he'd found, but first he had questions to ask Weiss.
He knew Yang Xiao Long had gone searching for answers. She would not be on the right track. None of them would and he did not wish her to be in serious harm so did not correct that. Team RWBY also had an unexplainable ability to find answers when others could not. It was possible she would find something without his help. He hoped not, but he would not stand in their way either. That was their path to take. There was a difference between not helping and obstructing.
It was a good thing that the rest of her teammates were unable to help her, or he would have little doubt they could find out too much.
He needed answers not in any of the reports. He opened the last door to his destination. "Weiss, I need to speak with you if you do not mind."
Weiss held Ruby's shoulder, unable to look away. Ruby was asleep, though she was still whimpering even then. She wanted to hold her girlfriend's hand, but that only made the pain worse. The shoulder had been saved from the burns, so that's where she held possessively. Ruby would recover, and it would be a complete recovery. The doctor had told her that the burns would have been much worse had Weiss not turned her regularly. It had evened out the exposure.
It hadn't been enough.
There was a lot of training over her four years at Beacon. Most of it had nothing to do with combat. History, first aid, triage, business, ethics, and Psychology also rounded out the curriculum. That last had concentrated on much more than just loss management. She recognized that her feelings were standard survivor's guilt. Normally it is associated to death, but it could also be applied to those who are hurt. She knew what it was, but it was only helping with the guilt slightly. It wouldn't truly be gone until Ruby was healed.
And until then she was not leaving Ruby's side.
She had little to do while she watched, so she sang. It was quietly done, and unlike when they were at sea she sang songs she knew for most of her life. She had decided earlier that she would sing it to her again, but not until she finished refining it. It had to be perfect. Their song. She wanted to say that she sang quietly so she wouldn't wake Ruby, but that wasn't it. Weiss sang quietly every time whether awake or asleep. She wanted this to be between them. Ruby had brought out the emotions locked away in her voice. It was a way to show her what she couldn't show any other way yet. This was private, special. Ruby understood when she had asked, though she strongly disagreed that Weiss was incapable of showing it in other ways.
"Weiss, I need to speak with you if you do not mind," the headmaster said mildly.
She'd been so intent upon her singing she hadn't noticed him enter and jumped at the interruption. She regained her composure quickly. "What do you need to know Headmaster?" She had been expecting this visit. She just hadn't known when.
Ozpin sipped his coffee, managing to give the impression of amusement with no clear sign of how. "Ah yes. I understand your need to make this quick and I will accommodate you as well as possible." It would figure he noticed that. He noticed everything. "I know you have already described what had happened on the crash and after. I have read the report on it and wish to know a few details that I want clarification on."
Weiss nodded her understanding, her right hand never leaving Ruby's shoulder.
"Good." Ozpin said and took a seat on the other side of Ruby's bed. Weiss was glad he hadn't asked to do this outside of the room. She wouldn't have gone. Most likely the Headmaster already knew that. "I need clarification on the nature of the dust, and you are uniquely suited to answering it well beyond the fact you saw it in action."
Weiss shied away from the memories of her father and sister that request had brought up, and instead concentrated on what had been asked. "Okay, well I believe the first indication of dust was the hatch. I cannot think of any other way that I was unable to open it."
"Most bullheads, including the one you were in, use armor plating throughout," the Headmaster pointed out conversationally. "I understand you are a capable huntress but your attacks are based on finesse and skill more than power. Is it possible that it was simply built strong enough to withstand your attacks?"
Weiss smiled with pardonable pride. "That is simply not possible sir. The first things I destroyed were the hinges and latch. After that it should fall out by its own weight. It took those attacks and several others. Everything in my arsenal in fact. No matter how strong it was there is no conceivable way it would stay standing without help."
"I see. How much dust would it require to cause that kind of barrier?"
"Hmm..." That was a tricky question as there were many variables. She started with the type of dust. "Earth based dust would be the obvious choice, and that was confirmed with what I later found on the windshield. Perhaps ten inches at the thinnest with standard store grade dust."
"Let's add in this ability for the dust to move and assume absolute purity, what would it require?"
Weiss cocked her head, a finger under her chin as she contemplated the question. It was an odd one since the variables he specified were impossible. "I could be significantly thinner. Under an inch if it is able to move fast enough to recover where it was struck."
"Like what you observed on the windshield?"
"That is both a yes and a no. Yes that is the effect I am thinking of; but no because on the door I was not able to damage the exterior metal at all, but with the glass I did get through but not the dust," she said. Her thoughts got deeper as she concentrated on what had happened. "And when I pulled my sword away the sand not only recovered what I had damaged, but a small amount of it also came inside as if it was having trouble holding the hole together."
"Glass is more brittle," Ozpin pointed out.
"Yes, and that was my first thought as well, but I don't know," she said with unease. "It doesn't set well with me. If the dust can move like that why not simply come inside and protect the glass from both sides?"
Ozpin nodded in understanding. "That is a valid point. Can you think of another reason?"
"Two. The most obvious is whoever was doing this had a limited amount of dust to use. In that case the dust that came in to reinforce the window would likely have been from what was holding the hatch together." It really was obvious; if you worked around the fact it was impossible.
"And the other?" he prompted.
"There is a limitation to however the dust is being controlled that prevented it." Well if she was going to work with impossibilities, she might as well look at it from her first thought she had on the bullhead; that it was being done by someone's semblance. "Every semblance had limitations."
"Limitations are an important item to know should we run into this again," Ozpin noted, though not sounding entirely pleased. "Speaking of, why do you think the cargo hatch was not guarded against?"
"That's easy," Weiss said for the first time showing some animation since it was the one thing knew. "Dust reacts the same way as sand when it comes to water. It simply won't stick to anything when submerged. When it sank I saw the dust on the windshield fall off."
"That gives me something to think on, thank you Weiss," the Headmaster said as he sat in thought for a minute.
Ruby was showing signs of waking and she didn't want to spare her any pain from memories. "You mentioned a couple of things you wished to talk about?"
"Yes." Ozpin showed a bit more life. It was a subject less troubling for him then. "The second is unrelated to your ordeal however."
That was a relief. "What is that?"
"I understand that you are no longer associated to the Schnee Dust Company." So much for relief.
Weiss couldn't help it. She looked down and to the right; directly at Ruby's face. It was wrapped in gauze, but it still reminded her that she wasn't alone. "That's a polite way of saying my father disowned me. Yes, that is true. I haven't been trying to hide it; I'm also not advertising it. I know he hasn't made any comments publicly because of the PR damage it could cause. He's hoping that people will simply forget I exist before he passes the company to Winter." There, she said it. It had hurt, but she knew it was inevitable that Ozpin would approach her. She knew how the rest of the conversation was going to go from this point on.
"That is as I expected," he said. Weiss knew from his tone that he'd known how this conversation was going to go as well. They were both simply going through the motions. "I also noted that you no longer wear the SDC's emblem as your own."
"I don't have any right to do so now." It sounded so simple, but no matter how emotionally healed she may be, there would always be a tender spot, and it was getting pushed.
"So have you given any thought on a new one to replace it with?"
She had actually, but it was a silly idea that she wasn't sure why she even entertained. Emblems were an important thing however. Upon graduation all students have their emblems tattooed onto them. It signified they were fully trained to their employers who could quickly look it up on their scroll. That speed also was useful should they fall to identify a body. If she didn't have an emblem she would never be considered graduated. She could, of course, simply ignore this and leave when her training was complete. She would not be able to make as much; no one would know for sure how well trained she was, but with a few demonstrations she could get a job. It would be easier to find a job than most in her case after the battle last year. However, why not get one? It is a simple thing.
"I can see you have an idea from your expression. Please draw it out and turn it in to the administration office," he advised. It was a gentle push, but they both knew that it was needed soon.
"Um... An idea yes, but I'm not sure of it." Actually she was sure, but it was still an idea she didn't know if it would be accepted. "This is an important decision that after graduation will be with me forever."
"Quite right; graduation is in six weeks. We will need your decision two weeks before that. Will that be a problem?"
"I'm sure I will have one decided on before then." No she wasn't. She only had one in mind, and she was obsessed with it. What would she do if it wasn't possible?
Ozpin appeared to accept her answer and started to stand. "Have a good evening, and give my best to Ruby if you could."
Ozpin was uneasy after the conversation with Weiss. She was too close to the truth, as he suspected would be the case. She was well attuned to dust not to have some accurate guesses. At this point they were educated guesses so it is possible she would pick the wrong one. He hoped so.
There was one main item she had not figured out yet and he hoped she would remain ignorant of it. One that was outside her expertise, and the enemy had been careful to not be seen clearly.
What still bothered Ozpin the most was why were they left alive? He would need to look further.
"I'm the most loved of all," Ruby had told her. How could she know Weiss's feelings that well? Weiss didn't know how she felt half the time. No, that wasn't true. She knew. She'd known long before they'd started dating. She had finally been able to admit it that Sunday fully and without hesitation.
Was that why she kept picturing her new emblem as she had? As a method to show her affection? No, it was more than that.
She wanted to make it a surprise for Ruby, as most anyone would, but she wasn't sure how she would take it. Weiss thought it would be positive. She hoped so. She needed it in fact. Much like the day she had admitted her fears to Ruby in the garden she felt she was leaving herself open. That alone spoke of the strength behind her decision.
'The strength of her decision.' Shouldn't that have been a question? No, she had decided. It was time, for better or worse. If it was rejected she would have to come to terms with it then and move onwards.
She pulled out her scroll and called Jaune. Besides Yang, who she knew was busy; he had the fastest mode of transportation. "What's up Weiss?" he said casually. He somehow had managed to combine his hard won confidence with his boyish charm. She still wouldn't have dated him; but, if he had been like this in their freshman year, she would have at least not insulted him for trying.
"I need a favor." She shook a little, realizing it was really happening.
"Sure, whatcha want?" he asked curiously.
She knew he would do it even if she didn't answer, and she didn't. "Come over to Ruby's hospital room and I'll tell you."
Ten minutes later he opened the door slowly and looked inside to be sure he wasn't walking in on anything private. "Thank you for coming."
"Yeah, so you said you were going to tell me? Gotta admit I'm curious now," he said with a smile. "You don't ask for help unless it's major and you have no choice."
She looked at Ruby one more time. She knew Jaune would recognize the look. It was the same that Pyrrha gave him often. "I see," he said with understanding. "So, what do you need? Books, music, pizza?"
Rather than answering right away Weiss reached up and worked on the buckles to her cloak's shoulder. "Hey, I'm flattered, but I really don't want Pyrrha or Ruby to kill me, ya know?" His confidence was definitely higher than his freshman year. He wouldn't have made that joke back then, or if he did it would have been with that nervous, scared, and bumbling voice that totally ruined it.
"Shush." Getting the last buckle unhooked she took her cloak off and handed it to Jaune. "Take it to this address. Tell them it's for me. They'll know what to do with it."
Jaune looked at the address. "This is to a high-end tailor. I've used him myself a couple times. Does it not fit right?" Yes, she had decided a week ago and gone so far as to give the design to a tailor. She'd chickened out at the last minute though.
"No, this is for a surprise. Find out how long it will take when you deliver it."
"Okay," he said with a nod, accepting the partial answer as if she'd given every detail. How had I ever second-guessed how much everyone in JNPR liked me? Weiss asked herself. They love me like family. I'll never be alone again.
The amount of time until it was done was four days. During that time Weiss stayed in the room, suffering through hospital food and Stiff necks, (They couldn't get a second bed in. There was just not enough room.) and rarely not talking to Ruby, often with that annoyed tone that Ruby no long took seriously. If not talking she sang to her, which seemed to comfort her when the pain was particularly bad. By the time the cloak was finished and retrieved by Jaune, Ruby had healed nearly completely. The pain was a thing of the past as were the bandages. The IV's had been pulled. Tonight was just for observation. Tomorrow she would be released.
The doctor had warned of possible scaring with his original prognosis, and it was there, if subtle. It took a lot to make a huntress scar. On her face it was along the jaw line. It was light enough that with a bit of concealer no one would notice it. Her hands had the worst of it; showing splotches where the boils had been, and odd colorations of dark skin on top of what was normally pale. To Weiss it meant nothing at all. She was well, that was what mattered.
The timing couldn't have been better when the cloak arrived. "Special delivery!" Jaune said excitedly.
As opposed to Ozpin, Weiss had heard him coming and stopped her singing in time. In the field he could move as quietly as a leopard stalking it's pray, but in a hallway he might as well have been jumping forward instead of walking. Weiss rewarded him with one of her rare smiles. One he would have given his right hand for when he was attempting, badly, to court her. How things change. "Thank you Jaune." Then she indicated with her eyes to leave, which he did with a smile almost before she had. Did he look? She wondered. He seemed way too amused when he left. I'll wring his neck if he did!
"What's that?" Ruby asked curiously.
Weiss turned so her back was to Ruby and opened the box. It had to be perfect. This was too important to be off even the smallest bit. She could feel Ruby's gaze and heard the bed shifting as she tried looking around Weiss to see what she had. "Is that your cloak? I wondered where it was. Did you need to get it cleaned or something?"
"It's my cloak," she confirmed. It's perfect, She decided. "It needed an alteration."
Confusion was now clearly in her voice. "Really? I thought it had fit okay. What was off?"
"It didn't have my emblem on it."
Ruby's confusion was even larger now. "I thought you said you didn't have an emblem cause it was tied to your dad's company?"
Weiss nodded, turning and with a smooth motion put her cloak on at the same time; preventing Ruby from getting a clear view. "I made a new one." In later days she would say she hid the emblem to keep the surprise until the last minute, but the real reason was she was afraid that Ruby wouldn't approve.
"Well, are you going to show me already?" Ruby asked impatiently and with obvious excitement and curiosity. She'd gone so far as to get into a sitting position with her feet dangling over the side. She couldn't put it off any longer.
Weiss nodded, and slowly turned around so her back was to Ruby, scared to death. The silence scared her even more. She was terrified actually. Five seconds was doubled to ten. At fifteen she started to tremble until she felt it; a finger on her back slowly tracing the outline. "Are you sure? This is forever," and now Weiss heard the nerves in Ruby's voice.
"Forever," Weiss agreed.
The finger had covered the exterior, going over each point of what had been her snowflake. Now it moved towards the center to what was an exact duplicate of Ruby's emblem. Both were in a uniform ice blue. The color choice was irrelevant for emblems in an official sense. When displayed it could be any color they wished, so long as it was only one color. When it was tattooed onto her it would be in black, the same as everyone else. It would be forever from then on, and Weiss was sure Ruby knew what hers meant. It was clear in her voice and in the shaking of her finger on her back. "Are you sure?" she asked again, but this time it wasn't for the emblem. They both knew it.
"I am." She reflexively tried to hide the emotion in her voice. It was a useless attempt.
Ruby's arms circled around her and pulled her close. In her ear came a whisper. "I'll never let you fall," and the memories flooded back of that fateful night in the garden. "Yes."820Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡqMT3Xtler7