Blake leaned back into her chair, a chair much too expensive for her small office. It had been a gift from Alice's parents who in the early years had been the major financial backing for Phoenix. Being estranged from their daughter for a list of reasons Blake didn't fully understand, they had done their best to stay silent partners and off Alice's radar.
Yeah, that probably didn't last beyond the first week with her spy master, but the pretense was still being maintained.
As she sat Blake contemplated Alice's news. "Hawk," she said to herself. It wasn't a name she knew. They didn't frequent the same circles, but Alice did. The way she had said it was with a reverence Blake never expected to hear from the leader of her black wing. That made her worry.
The question was what to do with the information. Though Alice, and most of the intelligence community for that matter, knew of Hawk, no one knew who he worked for. It was commonly agreed that he only had a single employer. If he was freelance there would be a trail of employers eager to make claim of use of his services. They couldn't be cheap or easy to come by.
That employer is what was of interest, not the spy. Who had set their sights on Yang, and for what purpose? Blake didn't think it had to do with her work as a reality star, which Alice agreed with, at least not directly. More likely it was to get back to Phoenix through both her personal and financial connections.
There was a possibility, a very thin possibility that, whoever this mystery man was, Hawk's boss was doing it for their benefit. It was a possibility that had to be considered. There could be a number of reasons why someone would help ranging from altruistic to greedy. In either extreme it was puzzling that he hadn't been more open in his involvement.
The more likely, almost a given, reason for his interest was to damage or even destroy Phoenix. If he was on to Yang's deception that possibility was entirely possible with the potential backlash. Even if he wasn't aware the course of Hawk's investigation might turn it up. That was a worst case scenario that all the heads had worried about, but decided it was worth the risk. Well, the risk was now very real in her mind.
Blake could go directly to Yang, but while she considered Yang a sister she didn't have any illusions to her weaknesses. The ability to be subtle was one of them, that was for sure. If her friend found out she was more likely to seek Hawk out and attempt to beat the information out of him. That wasn't going to be very productive, and it would overplay their hand.
Her boyfriend Jerry and his boyfriend Geoff (She tried not to be annoyed at that thought) on the other hand were a better direction to reach. Geoff especially was well suited. Simon had assigned him to work nearly autonomously from the rest. That showed both trust and skill in what was a very intricate dance. That assignment had been before Jerry and Geoff had started dating, and not long after Jerry had broken up with his last girlfriend. The one that wasn't Yang. (Really, she was trying not to be annoyed)
Oh who was she kidding? It was pissing her off. Didn't Yang have any pride anymore? It had been bad enough when Yang had wanted to date two guys. At least Blake could attribute that to Yang being greedy and full of herself in some weird twisted way. Blake was surprised Sun and Neptune had allowed it to go as far as it did. But to allow your boyfriend to date someone else?
If Thompson wanted to date someone else Blake would rip his throat out. Not that they were dating of course.
It's her life though. Blake let her anger burn itself out, then turned back to the problem at hand with a clearer head.
She would need to bring Simon in on this of course. This directly related to his wing. Alice was already hock deep, but also completely aware of the situation. She should still be around for that meeting to fill in any gaps Blake didn't know or understand properly.
What about the other wings? They had just done their bi-weekly meeting yesterday. Did this qualify as something all wings needed to be aware of immediately? Thompson might be needed to put in a security team, though Blake didn't like that option. It wasn't overplaying their hand as bad as Yang would, but not by much.
Yes, this was definitely called for a full meeting, including their second in commands who normally only showed up to the monthly meetings. The ramifications here could be global.
Four years after graduation and Blake still looked back at those days and missed the simplicity of life then.
The meeting had to wait until that evening, as much as Blake didn't want to. First she had to do her visit, interview, or whatever you wanted to call it, with Theresa and Friends. After that she was going to be busy with Ruby and Weiss. Aside from them being friends and Blake's very legitimate worry about how they were doing, she was finding that the trouble with Whicker Mining was much worse than Daniel and indicated at the last meeting.
When Blake suggested that bringing Weiss in to help would do her friend some good the man was near tears with relief. That company wasn't subsidizing the smaller businesses; they were shoveling money towards them. Any extra they could was funneled at those who were on the fence to entice (bribe) them to exclude faunus. It was sickening, and when they were that large it was hard to stop.
That allowed Blake to feel less guilty about manipulating her friend. The fact she was going to do it even if it had been as completely full of hot air didn't allow her to alleviate it completely.
She wasn't the only one who needed to postpone the meeting until tonight. It was inevitable that more of the administrative wing, primarily composed of the heads of the other five wings, were not going to be immediately available. It was okay though. Any decisions they made would not be put into motion until tomorrow anyways. It was better not to rush.
The interview was as bad as Blake had feared. Possibly a bit worse. She had managed to not trip over her own words. Instead she appeared the cool confident woman Simon wanted and Phoenix needed, but by the end she was emotionally drained. It was a feeling only another introvert could truly appreciate. She would have preferred to go home alone and read, but she had promised Ruby she would come over. It wasn't going to allow her to completely recharge her social batteries, but her friends would allow them to start at least.
Besides, she really did miss them. She wasn't going to take the chance they were going to disappear tomorrow on some whim of Weiss's. The fact she really did fear that was proof of how bad this situation had gotten. She was ashamed that she had allowed it to get this far.
It wasn't her first visit to their house, though the last time had been over a year ago. There wasn't much that made it stand out. It wasn't a mansion, but it wasn't a hovel either. If she was to put a term to it, suburban bliss fit the best. No one would know that what had once been one of the richest teenagers on Remnant lived there.
Regardless of what their commercials said "Teresa and Friends" was not filmed live, which explained why they had asked her to arrive so early. Blake had assumed it was for the makeup department. What did she expect? Everyone knew the vids were fake. Given what Yang was doing Blake should know that better than most.
This meant she was arriving an hour early. As she drove up she saw Ruby stick her head out as if she was expecting to find someone waiting. While she did spot Blake's car approach, she didn't seem to recognize it. That wasn't surprising given how long it had been since she lost saw it.
Not finding whoever she expected she looked down and grabbed an envelope that was waiting for her instead. After picking it up she looked at it for a brief moment then purposely slid it into their mailbox. Blake was instantly suspicious. Ruby was being deceptive, which was the most un-Ruby-like thing imaginable.
Blake reached the house right after her friend closed her door and went back inside. Approaching she opened the mailbox quietly, then took a peek inside. Invasion of privacy? Absolutely. If it was innocent then there was no harm. If it wasn't... well, if it wasn't she'd figure it out then.
There was only one reason Blake knew that Ruby would hide something: She thought it was something that would harm Weiss in some way. Just a quick peek was all it took to see she was right. Blake didn't have a second thought as she dropped it into her satchel. What she was doing, and what Ruby had already done, was manipulative, but what was inside the envelope was worse. Much worse. The fact Ruby hadn't needed to open it meant it wasn't the first time something like it had been delivered.
Ruby had left the door cracked slightly. It was enough that opening it wouldn't seem out of place. She had been hearing some of what was being said inside. It was enough to know that if she didn't step in Ruby was going to blow what was good for her lover even if Weiss wouldn't see it that way. That couldn't be allowed.
"If you say so." Weiss said from inside.
Before more could be said she opened the door fully and walked in. Neither noticed which from two huntresses, especially two fresh from the field, was wrong. If they didn't get their rest they were going to die. If not the next time they went out, the time after that.
"You two really need to get an interior decorator," Blake said to announce her presence. "I pay you enough to afford it."
Both jumped, and while they were recovering she took a quick look around. The joke might not be as funny as she hoped. Had they taken any time to themselves? The only thing that could be considered furniture was the pair of chairs the couple was sitting in, and both of them had been wedding gifts.
When both had collected themselves enough to notice Blake's interest both had the grace to look embarrassed at what she had found. "That was meant to be funny... but..," the faunus said, not sure where to go with the sentence after that.
Weiss finished it for her, saving her the trouble. "But it's a bit too true. An interior decorator is a good idea actually."
"I don't want one!" Ruby said, sounding a bit like the child she had been when she first got to Beacon. "I want the house to feel like us, not like someone else."
Weiss sighed while Blake chuckled, letting the matter from outside drop from her mind, and hopefully from Ruby's. The less they thought about it the less it would show. The show of Ruby-ness was perfect for the moment. "You're going to start up with that again, aren't you?" Weiss said, sounding annoyed. Blake doubted it was true. Not completely at least.
A low groan was Weiss's only verbal reply, which was enough to signal Ruby's easy victory. A bit too easy, proving how little Weiss was irritated.
"I know a few good furniture stores in town. They need the business, and their quality is good," Blake offered. She had decided on recommending them this morning after a brief talk to Thompson. Both stores were excellent, but they were struggling. Part of it was simply because they were small, but most of it was because they were run by faunus. "I'll drive."
Neither of her friends argued, following Blake out to her average looking sedan. There was nothing about it that made it stand out, which is how she liked it. She wasn't as high profile as Yang, but she was still easily recognized. A little anonymity was nice.
To that end her clothing was different from how the public would expect to see her. Anyone who had been at Beacon would recognize the style from before Weiss's makeover, complete with her once signature bow. She didn't feel comfortable in them anymore, especially the bow, but she didn't feel uncomfortable either.
Funny how a change in clothes was all it took to hide in plain sight. It was a lot more effective than a pair of dark shades and a tan trench coat, which was Yang's standard way to "hide" from her press.
"You said we needed to talk?" Weiss prompted Blake.
That was as good as a start to this conversation as any. Pulling away from the curb she spoke over her shoulder to Weiss who had taken the back seat. "Yeah. We have a problem and I think you're the best one to help with it."
She had been paying attention to Weiss through the rear view mirror, wondering how her friend was going to react. The suspicious glance at Ruby proved Weiss was expecting some sort of collusion to keep her from the field. She was half right at least.
"There's a company trying to get people to turn back against faunus customers and businesses."
A short snort, then Weiss replied "what's my dad up to this time?" The sarcasm in 'dad' was unmistakable. It carried many of the icy and angry undertones that had been an ingrained part of her before Beacon.
Next to her in the front seat Ruby sighed. Blake agreed. The tunnel vision her friend was suffering was worse than even the height of her hunt for Torchwick all those years ago. "It's not him this time," Blake advised, hoping it would remind Weiss there were more enemies than just the Schnee Dust Company. "Whicker Mining is going about it, and not being subtle either."
Without pause Weiss replied "They wouldn't be. Their CEO doesn't understand the concept." Well, at least she wasn't completely blind to their other adversaries then. "So, what are they doing?"
The discussion didn't last as long as it would have five years ago. Blake was still mostly clueless about finances, at least on this level, and Weiss's old protégé, who now ran the finance wing, wasn't. "Let me talk to Daniel and get actual numbers and what he's already got into place," Weiss finally said after asking the same question for the forth time with no more understanding on Blake's part.
"He's going to be at the meeting tonight. I'll come pick you up..."
"You're the leader of a multi-national organization," Weiss replied testily, which made Blake smile. This was the friend she had wanted to see this evening. "Even if we are friends there is a certain decorum you need to show the world and you know it. Besides, I'm perfectly capable of driving myself."
From the corner of her eye she caught Ruby smiling, obvious relief in her eyes. Yes, this diversion was exactly what Weiss needed. Given the subject matter of the meeting however, she wasn't sure she wanted the red hooded speedster to come along. By "wasn't sure" she meant "without question."
One road block at a time. She did need to talk to Ruby privately anyways about the envelope hiding close enough for Weiss to grab if she had only known. It was yet another discussion that she wanted Alice's input on. As much as she hated secrets she had learned to depend on her resident trickster.
After pulling into a parking spot the three got out and headed towards the first of many shops. "Speaking of decorum, what's up with your clothing," Weiss started, and continued with the improprieties and necessities of her station.
This wasn't the huntress who stalked the wilds with bloody intentions. This was one of her closest and valued friends. I'm glad she's still in there.
Smiling over her desk, Winter looked at its previous owner. His glassy eyes still looked stunned as his body cooled. I'm going to have to get that chair replaced, she decided.ns18.104.22.168da2