|The first arc of my original Fantasy fiction, Violet Tear.|
Healing. Was a thing possible after so many harrowing experiences? Was there really such a thing as redemption for somebody who walked a dark path? The world of Remnant was home to so many people, pure of heart and unspeakably sinister in equal measure. Did choices give form to a person's life, or did fate perhaps step in and have its say?
The coffee pot atop the little stove bubbled away. It was easy to get lost in such a simple sight when the mind went round and around in an endless spiralling circle. Things had certainly taken an interesting turn today. What was supposed to be a time of vengeance had most certainly changed shape into something far kinder, softer.
Jaune had hardly moved from the spot as the hours slipped onward. There he was, slouched against the dusty dinner table, tippy tapping his fingers against the wood, humming a quiet tune to himself with a disheartened frown. That melody. Was that the Vale national anthem?
More importantly, was that sadness or confusion in his eyes? It was hard to tell, but either way, there was no denying he had something playing on his mind.
Giving a soundless sigh, Neo took the coffee pot off the boil and reached for a pair of cups, one of them slightly cracked around the edges. Once everything was set down, she seated herself, paying extra attention to her not so bound captive.
The silence was palpable, almost agonizingly so. Pouring the coffee shattered it, if only for the faintest second. After that? Stillness returned, the only sound holding enough resonance being that of the chirping crickets outside.
A question had rolled around inside Neo's head for hours now. It was harassing, no, plaguing her thoughts with every moment she left it unattended. There was something she needed to know.
Her fingers slid across the table, and back to the pen and paper, she went. The biggest downside of the communication network being down? Scrolls weren't working properly. Wireless technology was only about as much use as the towers supporting it, and with those out of action, anything more than short range was sketchy at best.
A few artistic swirls of pen against notepad and she was good to go, although it was hard to conceal the deep-rooted concern curving her lips.
'What are you fighting for, Jaune? Why did you decide to help Ruby Rose and the other two? There's a look in your eyes when you talk about them… It scares me…'
Jaune took the smallest sip from the steaming cup, deep and thoughtful as he leaned back into the old creaky chair. For many a moment he seemed to drift away, eyes filled with depth and contemplation.
He paused, closing his eyes and shutting the doorway to his emotions. Darn. That would only make reading him so much harder. If there was one thing about this hopeless blond hunter-in-training, it was that he wore his heart on his sleeve.
"Ruby means a lot to me. She was the first person to believe in me when I arrived at the academy, and before I became closer to Pyrrha… I kinda idolized her for that crazy brave streak of hers. When she asked for my help again I couldn't say no…."
Somehow, he'd managed to move the conversation onto his respect for Miss Rose. That wasn't what Neo wanted to know. If anything, his motivation to keep on fighting had her interested. That said, she'd heard the briefing from Cinder long before the Beacon plan unfurled. Jaune was a nonissue, practically a zero on the threat scale by himself.
Back to writing she went.
'No Jaune. That's not what I'm asking here. Why are YOU still fighting? What drives you? Help me understand… because I'm finding it hard to make sense of everything at the moment.'
His features fell into a different, far more reserved arrangement at her asking of such a personal question. Another sip of coffee, and another, two, three, four, and then finally, in a defeated sigh, he gave the girl of dual persona, gentle pink and vengeful brown, an answer.
"I keep fighting because I want to help the important people in my life. You've seen how crazy this world can be sometimes, villages wiped off the map by Grim, dust shortages and people constantly bickering for no reason. If I can get stronger… if I can help Remnant just a little… then it was all worth something…."
How deep and insightful. Truth be told, Neo hadn't expected to hear something so compassionate and idealistic. Yes, there was no doubt in her mind now that he belonged beside Ruby and her band of would-be goodie goodies. In fact, she couldn't hold back a tiny, silent giggle.
"Hey..." Jaune frowned, looking something close to a lost puppy with those serene blue eyes of his. "Stop making fun. I'm not joking."
No, she wasn't mocking him. She wasn't making fun, either. If anything his dedication was so demure – cute even, a sentiment she wanted to share as her pen worked across another notepad page.
'It sounds a lot to me like you want to be a hero, Mister Arc. Adorable. You know what they say though, don't you? Good guys always finish last….'
Running a hand through her untidy mixed hair, Neo watched as he shot back. It was strange, seeing Jaune switch from quiet to steely and focused, but not unwelcome. So, he had a little backbone in a heated discussion, hmm. Interesting.
"So tell me," Jaune began, his tone so very serious compared to be the moments before. "What keeps you moving in this big old world we live in, Neo? Why do what you did? I get how you feel about Roman… but why Cinder?"
The answer to that one was all too obvious. That and after being so kind to her even after putting him through so much, she felt as though Jaune deserved an honest answer. That and, well, she was more than curious to see his response.
'I wanted people to appreciate me…. More than that…. I never felt like people understood me. My semblance? Part of it's really strange… and that's why I know I can trust you. When you look into a mirror it reflects everything back... doesn't it?'
Now Jaune looked mighty confused, but he tried to follow, it seemed, giving her a slow, stiff nod. "Yeah… Where are you going with this?"
Neo's hands trembled even as she wrote it on the paper. Very few knew about the truth of her unique power, and most who did, largely due to her line of work din't live very long thereafter.
'The power of mirror reflection. I can perfectly reflect people's emotions and intentions back at them, but it comes with a price. See… To be able to read people like that I take in the hearts of anyone's eyes I look into…. You staring at me right now… I can feel what's inside of you.'
"Y-you can-" Jaune froze solid, tilting his head in confusion. "You can feel other people? You mean like… sense their emotions?"
Neo gave a small nod, already at work writing more.
'Yes… and that's why I know I can trust you with this. I've been reading you since the moment you woke up…. You're afraid of me… but at the same time… you want to help me, don't you? Empathy and maybe the slightest hint of attraction…. Am I right?'
He looked away with an abrupt shudder, cheeks burning redder than fire dust in the open air. "So you already know how I feel about this whole thing. We're so alike it's scary… but that makes me want to help even more. We've both lost someone… and we both want someone to understand us, appreciate us."
There was no way Neo could miss this opportunity – not when for the first time in so very long somebody was reaching out. The biggest question of all was still unanswered, and only with somebody as compassionate as Jaune could she dare find the strength to ask it.
Neo's handwriting jittered across the page, testament to the tinge of fear inside.
'Is there still a way forward even though it hurts to lose someone? Can you find your way back even when you're in a dark place? Without Roman I'm lost… I'm lost and I'm hurting and it's not fair.'
A sharp breath slipped out, Neo's heart racing as a sudden compassionate jolt from Jaune flooded the deepest depths of her heart. He reached across the table, holding her hand, linking their fingers together with a most finite, fragile smile.
"There's always a way back, silly." A tear escaping, the blond hunter tightened his grip just the slightest bit. He was there for her against the odds. "It's hard to look inside and find it… and it isn't nice having to push past all those negative feelings, but we have to try…."
Jaune's words broke her – an uncontrollable flow of silvery streams leaking from both of her glowing pink eyes. She'd been so cruel, she'd gone out of her way to hurt this man and even now, as they were stuck together in the darkness of night, his caring nature still shone through.
More than that, Neo felt it. His fear was gone in an instant, replaced by the soothing flame of compassion. She'd done so many bad things, hurt so many people, and yet even now, after feeling like she'd been walking so near to the end of the road, Jaune Arc guided her like a light through the veil of blackness.
"When the sun rises you should get out of here, Neo. Take your time to say goodbye to Roman, no matter how long it takes… and do what you think's best for you."
What was best for her? For so many years now she'd followed her heart, followed Roman, never finding the courage to out and out confess her love and admiration for him, but always standing loyally at his side. Where could she go now the path to which she'd become so accustomed in life had reached its end?
Silently sighing, thankful at least for the kindness of Jaune's words and the thoughts they provoked, she let go of his hands, standing up and moving across to join him. For the longest time she couldn't say a word, instead wiping her tearful eyes and staring with all of her strength into the very depths of her unsung savior's blue eyes.
Deep down, he was stinging, heavy and burdened just as much as she was. Yet beyond all that, even as his own emotions were fragile as glass, he still held the strength within to reach out and share his kindness with another.
If anything, Neo had to show thanks. She had to do something to express gratitude. Sure, she was far from perfect for a number of reasons, some of them she was far from proud off, but her past didn't change that somewhere deep inside, there was still a lot to give.
Well, if that somebody was worth sharing her innermost with, of course. Jaune? With his scruffy hair, his hopeless disposition, and a caring side ten sizes too big? He was worth it. Worth so much in fact, that if she ever returned to the shadier life, she'd make damned sure he was kept off the radar of any aspiring villain.
So, reaching out, Neo threw her arms around his shoulders, pulling him close in their second shared embrace of the evening. Holding him tight, breathing him in, she took in every single bit of his warmth. Each second spent like this, every moment sharing the closeness and tenderness of another, was enough to take the edge off the pain.
"Neo," Jaune spoke up, wrapping his arms around her slender waist and pulling her close. "I'm afraid too… There's a long road ahead of me but I can't give up. You shouldn't either. If you weren't kind at heart you would've followed through and hurt me, but you didn't…. Thanks… for not, you know, carving me up like an Atlas Festival turkey…."
Unable to break away, Neo simply stayed in place, drinking up the nice feeling and enjoying the peace of mind it brought. She could've hurt him, yes, but that wouldn't have solved anything. Sure, she'd think long and hard about how to settle things with Ruby, but Jaune? He was innocent.
Finally contented, at least for the moment, Neo let Jaune go, edging back as she reached for the notepad across the table. With a teasing smirk, intent on delivering one final gift, a showing of ultimate sentiment, she hastily scribbled down words, ripping the piece of paper free and placing it upon the table.
'Guys like you are too soft. Too soft… too kind… and you always end up getting killed, but after today I've seen just how much Remnant needs people like you. Don't change. Perhaps try not getting kidnapped so easily next time… but NEVER change who you are Jaune Arc…. You're perfectly fine just as you are…. I appreciate you….'
"I'm glad you think s-"
Now or never. If she didn't take the chance now she'd ultimately regret it. Both of her eyes shining the brightest pink, impassioned and empowered, Neo swooped in, slinking her fingertips around his shoulders.
Pouring everything she had into this moment, leaning in and stealing Jaune's breath away, she claimed her prize, only deepening their connection, smacking her lips against his as a soft moan escaped. He wasn't fighting. Good. That made things even nicer.
Jaune's was hers, at least for now. It mattered not how dry his lips were. The taste of coffee didn't deter, either. No, if anything, Neo wanted to fill her core to bursting, she desired more than anything to heal the pain, to lift the weight of carrying such heavy fears.
Surprisingly though, an enjoyable shiver crawled down her spine. Jaune was kissing her back? Yes, he was. Though timid and shaky, he was actually returning her loving gesture with one of his own, and by the time the two parted, the silence descended upon the small kitchen-area yet again.
The look of astonishment across Mister Arc's face however, was hard to miss. Wide-eyed and overwhelmed, he stared into Neo, his reaction enough to bring a devious, teasing smirk across her pale, delicate features.
"Wow…. That sure beats my school prom date…."
Neo felt the need to do little more than give him a playful poke before going back to the notepad.
'I'm going to get some sleep. If you're tired there's a study room just down the hall with a couch. If you get up before me then… at least wait to say bye before you leave, please?'
Jaune's eyes widened just the slightest bit at her elegantly written, perfectly joined words. "You're letting me go?"
She nodded. After tonight there was no way keeping someone so kind prisoner would sit right with her.
'Why else would I cut your ropes? There should be a few less Grim around by sunrise. Until then, you're free to do as you like. I'll be in the bedroom down the hallway. Goodnight, Jaune.'
Yet as Neo walked away, she couldn't help but feel a sense of sadness. Each footstep across the creaky wooden floorboards brought her further and further away, and such a thing caused her to sink just the slightest bit inside.
Tomorrow Jaune would leave, and she'd be left to figure out where to go from here. That was all well and good, but at the core of everything she held a quiet, selfish flicker.
Part of her really didn't want to say goodbye. Such a rebellious feeling, tucked away somewhere deep down inside, didn't want Jaune to turn around and walk out of that little kitchen door.
It wasn't the fear of lonliness. No, if anything, the painful truth had become all too apparent. Placing a hand upon her heart as she rounded the corner of the tight, dusty corridor, Neo paused, stopping just in front of the crudely painted brown door which lead into the bedroom.
With Jaune here, for a reason she couldn't describe, she felt the faintest glimmer of happiness. She didn't want that to end.
To be continued...
I'm an avid writer of both fanfiction and original works. I've been writing for so long now that I can hardly remember when I started. True, I'm not artistically gifted in the slightest. However, I like to think my art is in the way I craft stories.
Over time, you may find some of my various works pop up on here.
That said, I'm a small-time published author. Nothing too fancy, but a few years back I had some of my poetry featured in an anthology of upcoming writers.
Now, if we're talking fanfiction, I've written a lot of different things for several fandoms. I'll leave you a little list.
- Fire Emblem
- Dynasty Warriors/Samurai Warriors
- Phantom of Inferno
- Street Fighter
- Undertale (Crossover projects)
- Katawa Shoujo
Aside literature I have quite the interest in music, art (despite the fact I'm awful at drawing) video games, and cinema. I'm also passionate about the Indie development scene and I follow happenings within the game industry.
Not to mention I have quite the interest in body art and tattooing.
Like what you see here? Feel free to follow me!