It was a good day. After years of preparation Winter's plans were finally being set into motion. Her preparations hadn't gone to plan, but she had taken that into account with a few contingencies in place to right them if something went awry .
Her father had changed over the years. Unexpectedly he had begun to miss Weiss. It had been an oversight on her part to stop currying favor for herself and dissent towards her sister. She had thought there was no chance of the two reconciling.413Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡn0hOUt8xZX
She could have repaired that problem, but the short sighted fool was also going to work at ruining their company as well, bending under the weight of an upstart movement and the opinions of a few pitying faunus lovers.
She loved her father, but she loved her company more. It would survive him, and it would live on long after her own passing, a testament of the Schnee's greatness. Besides, it was for the greater good of humanity as a whole. A faunus's very inferiority made them useful, taking the jobs beneath even a lowborn human.
In the end his untimely death four days ago had allowed her to begin moving more freely. She was already arranging the board of directors, working on removing faunus sympathizers to be replaced with rational businessmen. Because of the need to make it look like natural causes she had to keep his death under wraps for an additional two days while she arranged the proper bribes.
Phoenix's fall had turned out to be the trickiest thanks to an unexpected ally. What was that councilman's angle? With his interests outside the walls he should be welcoming their destruction. Instead he'd captured and tortured her operative, removing the hook she was working on with Ruby's sister.
Regardless of how powerful and confident Winter was she knew standing toe to toe with him was a mistake and another assassination was impossible. She was already going to be under a lot of scrutiny for her father's death. Those watchful eyes would inevitably catch her if she used that tool too many times.
That meant she was going to have to be indirect. While trickier, subtle was something well within Winter's ability. She'd been doing it most of her life.
Blackmailing Ruby had been only a slightly smaller risk. If it was love between her and Weiss, and even Winter had to admit it was, pushing the twit to act against her wife was impossible even under pain of death. Moving to simply stand aside while Winter worked was equally impossible. What she had her do instead was going to be much more effective and the idiot wasn't going to see it coming.
If she had room in her heart she'd have pitied Ruby. Her only mistake was falling in love with her sister. Instead the happiness the two lovers had found only made Winter angry and wetted her need for revenge.
Touching the intercom at her desk she called her secretary. "Contact Opal and have her come to my office."
Her father had died two days ago. It should be tearing Weiss apart, but it wasn't. It did hurt. She loved her father despite his many faults. Despite being disowned and cast aside. Despite his every attempt to ruin their company with blind bigotry. Yes, she loved him, but it wasn't enough to leave her in the pits of despair a dutiful daughter should be.
She was mourning him for a second time. The first had been the day he'd disowned her. The first time she was destroyed, accepting a fate she had tried to deny her entire teenage life. The fate of being alone and unloved. She had mourned him then until Ruby intervened, giving her the gift of her love and support. The best gift she had ever been given, turning her fate into a false prophesy.
Maybe its because this was the second time that her father's death wasn't affecting her as badly. Maybe it was because of how busy she was forcing herself to be at Phoenix. Maybe, but it wasn't.
What it was is Ruby. Before Ruby had gotten her through the worst of her desolation with love. This time she was pulling her away with fear. She had become lost to Weiss, devoid of emotion for the last four days now. It was terrifying to know the center of your world was caving in before your eyes, the pieces falling through her fingers like sand as she tried to find a way to hold her together.
Five more days and Yang would be home. Weiss had hoped Ruby would be excited enough at that news to break the depression. How often did their times in Vale coincide like this? The call from Yang had only made the depression worse.
Something was wrong, very wrong, and her wife wasn't talking to her about it despite all of Weiss's attempts. It was distracting Weiss from helping Phoenix, and it was making her sleep cycles even more erratic than it would be normally under the pressure from her responsibilities.
Tonight Weiss was laying on their bed, trying to understand, alone. The bedroom was gorgeous, and spacious. The mattress was the most expensive they could get with silk sheets from Atlas that made her skin tingle at the touch with pleasure. She made sure the sheets were freshly washed, hoping to entice Ruby to try it out tonight.
Instead her wife was on the couch with a promise to come to bed later. "I'm not tired yet," she had said. Like very other night since they went furniture shopping she was stretched out on one of the recliners in the living room. If it was like very other night that is where she would be when Weiss woke up.
The usually chatty woman would only say a few words on the subject. Weiss could tell each word was the truth, but she could also tell she wasn't telling her everything. Not even remotely everything. In fact, it might as well have been nothing.
Was it her? Had Weiss waited too long for this vacation and pushed too hard to help the faunus outside the walls before then? It was the only thing that made sense.
Maybe she simply needs time and some space, Weiss thought to herself knowing, like her wife, sleep wasn't going to come to her that night. With that thought she resolved to give Ruby that space.
Leaning into the chair Ruby's eyes were glued to the brand new, ultra large, living room vid screen, yet not seeing it at all. Her thoughts, as they always were since Winter's visit, were obsessed with that night. They were running in circles, not finding any answer. This type of thinking was a normal phenomenon for the speedster when scared, except this time they wouldn't stop. Even when asleep they continued in her dreams.413Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡHyQPEU9Czq
What was she going to do? Winter had her, but she wasn't using that information yet. After making it clear she could ruin Ruby's life the woman had simply walked out of the house without further word. She was going to use that evidence to blackmail Ruby. That was inevitable. Should she come clean with Weiss before that? If she waited could she find a way out?
Her life was forfeit for her wife's safety. Accepting that Ruby feared her heart would die when the truth came out, but it wasn't the cause of her torment. How hurt would Weiss be? Were her nightmares of seeing her wife disappear in the woods alone as likely as they made it seem? These were the thoughts that were slowly shredding her mind and heart, eating her alive from the inside.
Could she hope Winter wouldn't try forcing her to do something against her wife? Surely her sister-in-law knew Ruby wouldn't do it. Maybe it would be something else entirely. It had to be, but what it could be to a woman who literally had everything Ruby couldn't guess.
All Ruby needed to remember was the hate in Winter's eyes and she knew she was fooling herself. Though she always looked for the best in people Ruby couldn't help but think of those eyes as evil. Weiss had tried to mimic those eyes when she was younger. Ruby remembered the results from their first meeting. It was a poor attempt.
Weiss knew something was up of course. Ruby couldn't hide it, but she said as little as possible to minimize the risk of saying too much. She was an open book to her wife and even a small hint would be enough. Instead she'd gone quiet, unable to say more than a few words in her fear.
And her guilt, above all else, was why she was out here in their newly furnished living room. All she wanted to do was make her wife happy, but all she could do was bring her down, and at a time when Weiss needed her the most.
Her sister was going to be home soon. That would only make it worse, not better. Weiss at least wasn't pushing too hard, and she was away on her crusade to crush Whicker Mining. Yang was going to be on break between jobs with nothing to do. Patience and passive were not in her vocabulary. Eventually she'd get it out of Ruby.
Would a woman who slept around with the full approval of her boyfriend even understand the concept of cheating? What that feeling of betrayal must be like? Would she just laugh and say she was being silly?
She looked at her scroll and saw the list of missed calls from Blake yet again. Why hadn't she talked to her yet? Shouldn't she have been the first person, if anyone, to talk to? Wasn't the fear of incriminating Blake what was really slowing her hand at opening up to Weiss?
Was she avoiding Blake to avoid having to make a choice? Blake's take on this would decide her, she knew that. Either choice could leave her wife with two people she couldn't ever trust again, and the third still traveling all over Remnant. Weiss would be back to her fear of being alone. How could she allow that to ever happen? Of course she was avoiding it!
Though ultra-comfortable with the latest in ergonomic design Ruby shifted to find a better position on the recliner. Giving up she turned the vid screen off rather than continuing to stare at it. Her eyes hurt. The darkness helped.
I should go back to the bedroom, Ruby acknowledged glumly. This is the worst time to leave Weiss alone.
That was the truth. Though holding up well Weiss was still left grieving for her father, and Ruby had done nothing to alleviate it, only adding to it instead. I'm a horrible wife.
Weiss woke to an unexpected but welcome sight: her wife curled up on her side of the bed for the first time since they'd gotten it. Laying open next to her was a curious sight: a dictionary. Weiss remembered getting her that dictionary. It had only been last week on the same trip they'd chosen most of their furniture.
"Veranda?" Ruby had asked that day.
"No, I'm not letting you off that easy. If I tell you what it is you'll simply forget again. Look it up so it'll stick."
Blake had heard this routine before, but she was still smiling with amusement as it played out again. "Well, I could but, uh, it'll take time and we got a lot of shopping to do. So, um, why not just let it slide this time so we can get it all done?"
It wasn't just Blake who was amused. With a telling smile, Weiss said simply "where is it?"
Ruby couldn't help but look innocent, except when she was trying to, like right then. "Where's what?" She'd asked with feigned ignorance.
"Did you lose it already?"
Her wife was getting more flustered, her cheeks working on matching the color of her cloak, "Uh.."
Of course she had. She couldn't hold on to one for more than a couple of weeks it seemed. It had been infuriating back when they attended Beacon. Now it was endearing. "There's a book store around the corner," Weiss asserted. "I'll get you a new one. I swear you're such a dolt."
"Your dolt!" Ruby exclaimed happily.
Blake had started chuckling under her breath behind them, enjoying the show. Weiss was having a hard time not joining in the laughter as she struggled to maintain her stern expression. It wasn't convincing any more. Giving up she sighed. "Yes, my dolt. So, what number are we up too?"
How the feather-head could forget a book in under five minutes yet remember how many she had lost in five years had always puzzled her, but Ruby promptly replied "three-hundred and forty-six."
"You know, Phoenix should start selling dictionaries," Blake said with obvious mirth. "I think you two could keep us running for another hundred years by yourselves."
Shaking the memory free, but trying to hang on to its warmth, Weiss sat up in bed as she realized something was missing. No, it wasn't missing, it was right there on Ruby's nightstand. As had become a tradition with them Weiss had put the number corresponding with how many replacements on the upper right corner. There on the night stand was the latest, with "346" proudly displayed.
Looking quickly at the dictionary in Ruby's curled arms again, she realized it wasn't the same. It was older, much older, than the book she'd gotten last week. Otherwise it was almost identical, but the number was missing.
Normally an early riser, Ruby was in an unusually deep sleep, not stirring at all as Weis shifted her weight. I wonder when she finally came to bed? Weiss wondered as she reached for the mystery book, plucking it from the curled arms. Her breath caught in her throat, choked off by emotion when she saw the inscription on the inside.
"Accoutrements is on page 282. Look it up dolt," it said in Weiss's handwriting.
I gave this to her eight years ago, she thought in wonder. Ruby had said she lost it and Weiss had believed her. Why hide it?
She was about to shake her wife awake to demand a reason when Ruby made that unnecessary. With the half coordinated actions of a still sleeping body Ruby reached out twice to find the missing book. When all it found was covers the signal went deeper into her sleeping conscious, pulling her free from her slumber.
Leaning back and watching, she enjoyed the sight of Ruby rapidly waking up, and captured her wife's eyes with an amused smirk and dangling the book Ruby had been searching for in front of her. "Can I help you find something?" Weiss asked archly, determined to get some answers and make Ruby as uncomfortable as possible in the process.
How Ruby had kept it a secret this long was beyond Weiss. It was obvious she was looking for a way out as Ruby looked at the book in her hands then at the matching dictionary on her nightstand and back. She might as well have said "Well, I guess I can't say it's the one she got me last week."
"Spill it already," Weiss said testily. Her lover was almost back to full consciousness. Ruby's ability to go from dead asleep to full consciousness was always something Weiss had been envious of.
Her confused speech patterns when completely off balance on the other hand she'd never been jealous of. "Well you see you got that as a gift in our second year. It wasn't long after we finished helping Jaune make Filo and Timo and Yang said Jaune needed the Accouterments to go with the pretty new weapons, and of course I didn't know what she'd just said and you got all annoyed with me like you did a lot of back then, still do in fact, and you obviously knew, which of course you did because you're way too wordy sometimes, but you wouldn't tell me. I don't think I told you, but I was already in love with you back then, but I wasn't even really sure myself at the time. I mean, girls aren't supposed to fall in love with girls I thought..."
Weiss sat back and listened to the rambling, fairly sure that Ruby hadn't realized how badly she was spiraling. In her frazzled state Ruby had let go of whatever was eating at her, at least for the moment, and Weiss was going to allow it to continue.
"...and I didn't," Ruby continued three minutes later. "I mean it was really gone, but all the dictionaries you got me afterwards were so wonderful. I think I was lying to myself that it just showed how much of a friend you were. It couldn't have been that you loved me too, I mean obviously it couldn't! Not that I could even frame the thoughts that well. I mean maybe it was more like I just wanted to believe you were my best friend and we'd always be that way, and each new dictionary proved it. Please believe I never lost any of them on purpose! That'd be such a betrayal of those warm fuzzy feeling I kept getting, but when we moved out of Beacon I found this one. I must have put it under my mattress for safe keeping, because it was still there and I cried so much when I found it remembering back then. I didn't want the new dictionaries to stop, so I kept this one hidden, but last night I couldn't sleep again and I needed something to remember when I was good enough for you that you'd do something so wonderful..."
"Hold it!" Weiss said with sudden heat, stopping the rambling Ruby instantly in mid-sentence. "Good enough for me?" She looked at Ruby with deadly seriousness. It wasn't the superior angry eyes of her youth. Those had never really been her eyes to start with. These were the intense fearful eyes of a lover. "Start talking.”ns188.8.131.52da2