“Ruby, why do you have a baby in your arms?” Leave it to Weiss to address the Goliath in the room. Ruby looked around their dorm awkwardly, why had she come back here, of all places? She knew her teammates would freak out! It wasn’t exactly normal for a student to just show up one day with a small child in their arms.
Ruby suddenly decided holding the baby, well small toddler really, against her chest was too uncomfortable and moved her to her hip. For a brief moment she recalled her mother holding her in a similar fashion as she baked cookies so many years ago.
“Uh, well you see I was walking around the fountains outside just trying to get some air after that really hard test Professor Oobleck gave us and I decided to sit on the bench and just close my eyes. Next thing I knew this little girl walked up to me and pulled on my skirts trying to get my attention!” Yang, Weiss and Blake all stared at her from their respective beds as if she had grown a second head. Ruby wasn’t sure what else to say, so in her typical nervousness she kept rambling, “She’s really cute! Look at her red hair! She also has the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen! She-”
“Uh Ruby, are you sure you didn’t just accidentally kidnap her?” Yang asked trying not to sound rude.
“What do you mean?” Ruby asked confused.
“Well was anyone else around? Did they seem to be looking for her? Did she seem lost? Did you even ask her if she was lost?”
“I’m not stupid Yang! I sat on that bench with her for over an hour waiting for someone to show up! I tried talking to her but she barely speaks. She told me her name is Marigold and she is almost two, but she doesn’t know where she lives and she doesn’t know her parents real names.” Ruby said the last bit quietly as Marigold’s eyes widened at her tone.
Yang looked mildly embarrassed at her accusation, Weiss seemed to be thinking on what to do and Blake looked almost angry, if not maybe somewhat confused.
“I’m up for any suggestions guys!” Ruby said as they remained quiet and Ruby remained standing in their doorway, still holding the toddler on her hip. Marigold started to play with Ruby’s hair.
“We should call the police.”
“We should ask Headmaster Ozpin.”
Yang and Weiss said simultaneously, Blake remained strangely silent. Ruby sighed, she was already thinking about both those ideas. Her team made no move to help her or even move, she quickly realized she was on her own with this particular mission.
“I’ll go find Professor Ozpin.” Ruby sighed, she turned in a huff and left her dorm, her three teammates were left staring at the empty doorway.
As she walked she contemplated the girl in her arms, she really was very cute.
“So Marigold, you told me Daddy was at work, do you have any other family? Grandma and Grandpa? Aunt and Uncle? I have an Uncle Qrow, he’s the best.” Marigold seemed to momentarily brighten, Ruby was suddenly hopeful! If she could just get a name!
“Aunty Neo! Ruby can take me to Aunty Neo!” Ruby stopped dead in her tracks. Turning her head almost comically slow she looked into Marigold’s green eyes and was suddenly afraid.
“Wh-what did you say?” Ruby hoped and prayed that she had heard wrong but the more she looked at the girl, the more she saw it… but it just couldn’t be, could it?
“Aunty Neo! She likes pink! She has funny hair! She taught me to sign because she doesn’t talk.” Marigold explained completely oblivious to Ruby’s sudden mood swing.
Ruby could only gape at the poor girl. This adorable girl was Roman Torchwick’s, Roman Torchwick had a daughter… No, NO! There’s no way! Ruby screamed in her head that it was just a strange and crazy coincidence.
“Marigold, what does your Daddy look like?” Marigold seemed to think for a moment putting her hand to her chin.
“Well Daddy has orange hair like me, and green eyes too, but his are always so sad.” Marigold seemed upset that her Daddy could be sad and not tell her why.
“Anything else? What does he wear?” Please don’t say-
“He has a funny hat and he always wears his favorite white jacket!” Damn…
No wonder Blake was so quiet and seemed so angry, this was the child of their archenemy! Blake could probably smell him all over her!
Ruby realized she’d been standing in the hallway for a good five minutes now. Not even warning poor Marigold, she activated her semblance and ran as fast as she could to Professor Ozpin’s office. Thankfully for Professor Goodwitch she had just stepped out of Ozpin’s elevator as Ruby raced inside of it, the sheer force scattering all of Goodwitch’s papers across the floor. Glynda wasn’t even sure what hit her until she heard a muffled ‘Sorry Professor’ and a trail of red rose petals began to settle on the ground. Glynda had half a mind to stop the elevator and bring Ruby back down but thought better of it knowing Ruby was one of Ozpin’s favorite students. She’d let it slide, for now.
The elevator ride up was too slow for Ruby’s taste, it left her trapped wondering what they would be able to do. Thankfully Marigold didn’t seem upset about the faster then sound ride getting there and was still playing with Ruby’s hair. If Marigold really was Roman Torchwick’s daughter, and she definitely looked like she was, Ruby couldn’t just take her to the police. They’d try to lure Torchwick in using Marigold as bait, then put her in an orphanage if they succeed. She might not like Roman Torchwick but his daughter didn’t deserve to suffer for his crimes. What could Professor Ozpin do? It’s not like he had Torchwick on speed dial. She couldn’t just run into the streets shouting his name, hoping he would answer either.
All too soon the elevator doors opened up revealing a sight Ruby never thought she’d see… or have the ability to unsee…
“AAuckkk!” Ruby screeched as she quickly used her free hand to cover Marigold’s eyes. Ruby stomped into Ozpin’s office as the two men in front of her jumped apart from her scream. Like Ruby, they couldn’t do much else but stare at the sight before them.
“Uncle Qrow! Since when are you banging Professor Ozpin!” Ruby shouted still covering Marigold’s eyes as the two men tried to make themselves look decent. Qrow seemed to recover the quickest but responded rather stupidly.
“Since when did you have a kid!” Ruby glared at her Uncle, even Ozpin seemed to be glaring at him. Seeing that they both had their shirts back on Ruby took her hand off of Marigold’s eyes.
“The child is obviously not her’s Qrow.” Ruby glanced at her Headmaster, glad that he could at least see sense but a small part of her was trying not to laugh at how disheveled he still looked.
“Ya Uncle Qrow, meet my two year old that just magically appeared! Seriously? And you two couldn’t have gone anywhere else for that? Literally anyone could have walked in!”
Ruby didn’t really care that they were seeing each other, she just didn’t want to be the one seeing that much of them. Ruby noticed that a weird sort of smile crossed both men’s faces.
“What’s so funny?” Ruby asked starting to get angry. Thankfully Ozpin seemed to notice.
“I apologize for our, uh unorthodox display Ms. Rose. I cannot speak for Qrow but I recall a similar incident almost fourteen years ago where your mother walked in on us as well, with you on her hip. Let’s just say this is a very funny case of deja vu.” Ozpin smiled fondly. Qrow coughed, a far off look in his eyes.
“Anyway kiddo, sorry I snapped at you but, uh who’s the girl?” Qrow asked looking as if he was holding back tears. That snapped Ruby back to reality, she knew Qrow had loved her mother, he just never did anything about it and Ruby couldn’t stand to see him upset.
“Oh, Professor Ozpin, Uncle Qrow, this is Marigold. Marigold say hello.” Ruby turned the girl to face the two men she trusted most in this world. Marigold, ever the quiet child smiled and gave a shy little wave. Ozpin couldn’t help but smile and wave back at the girl.
“Ms. Rose, may I ask how you came to… procure Miss Marigold?”
“I found her in the courtyard by the fountains. I was trying to relax and she just walked up to me. I waited for over an hour to see if someone would come running up claiming her but nobody came. I can’t take her to the police so I came to see if you had any ideas.”
“Why not take her to the authorities? I’m sure someone has filed a missing child report.” Qrow said his arm crossed over his chest.
“Why not?” Qrow knew something was up here he just couldn’t place it.
“Isn’t it obvious Qrow?” Ozpin asked him already seeing the truth.
“She’s Roman Torchwick’s daughter.” Ruby said barely above a whisper.
Qrow flinched staring at the innocent and oblivious little girl on his niece’s hip. The room stayed quiet except for the tiny babbling of Marigold now playing with the clasps of Ruby’s hood. After several minutes of standing and staring Ozpin finally spoke up.
“I assume you realize what you have to do Ms. Rose?”
“I can’t just run around the seedier parts of downtown Vale with a baby on my hip!” Ruby all but shouted. She knew that it was her only option but it wasn’t safe! How could she possible fight with a baby in one hand and her scythe in the other? Was she supposed to just walk up to Torchwick, if she could even find him, and say ‘Hey here’s your kid! Have a nice night!’?
“Maybe not on your hip, but perhaps on your back?” Ozpin suggested as if this was completely normal.
“What?” Again Ruby shouted, Qrow remained almost paralyzed.
“Summer Rose used to carry you on her back, in a harness of sorts, when she fought Grimm.” Ruby was speechless, but finally Qrow wasn’t.
“That’s totally different Oz! Summer was a fully trained huntress and only took Ruby on the easier missions. Ruby could be walking into a trap! She would be completely outnumbered if the White Fang showed up. We should just give the kid to the authorities and let them handle it.” Qrow said more worried about his niece’s safety than anything else.
“No.” Ruby growled in a dangerous tone turning both men’s heads to face her once again, “I’m not going to give her to the authorities so she can be used as bait or become trapped in the foster system! I won’t be responsible for punishing a baby for her father’s mistakes.” Ruby sighed knowing she wouldn’t sleep tonight, “Professor do you have anything I can use to carry her. I’ll leave as soon as it’s dark tonight.” Ruby explained with a confidence she wasn’t sure she really had.
Qrow looked ready to argue again but Ozpin silenced him with a hand to his shoulder.
“I’ll find something and have it sent to your dorms Ms. Rose. For now I recommend finding something for Miss Marigold and yourself to eat and taking a nap. Please come find me if there are any other issues.” Ozpin said in a clear dismissal, Ruby was shocked that he had approved but wouldn’t question it. Giving a slight nod to both men she walked back to the elevator hearing Qrow shout just as the doors closed.
Again the elevator was too quiet but she smiled at the girl on her hip. She was amazed Marigold had stayed so quiet, she was obviously easily distracted and felt no need to speak. Marigold reminded her of herself in a small way, quiet and easy to please.
Ruby gave a slight shudder imagining if Marigold had been more like Yang, that was something not even she could handle.
Making her way out of the elevator Ruby was glad Professor Goodwitch was nowhere in sight, she wanted to explain this to as few people as possible. Which begged the question of how to get food? If she went to the cafeteria, everyone would see and she didn’t really fancy trying to go into town with a baby anymore then she was going to already have to. That left her dorm room and her teammates…
Already dreading an altercation she made her way back to her dorm as quickly and discreetly as possible. Opening her door she found her team almost exactly as she had left them. Yang was playing on her scroll, Weiss was studying and Blake was engrossed in one of her many books. They all looked up and did double takes at the same time seeing Ruby still had Marigold on her hip. Trying to act like she had everything under control Ruby started giving orders.
“Sorry to ask this but could you guys help me out by getting Marigold and I some food? I found out who her parents are and I’ll be taking her home later tonight. I don’t want people to ask too many questions so I was just going to hang out here until later. Anyone want to help me change her clothes?” Ruby asked knowing they would scatter.
“I’ll go get food!” Yang jumped up and shouted.
“I’ll help her!” Weiss said as they both ran out the door, leaving Blake to stare at Ruby again. Ruby wasn’t sure what to say as Blake seemed to be analyzing the redhead in her arms.
“Yes Blake I know who she is.” Blake’s face morphed into one of shock as her ears twitched.
“I’m going out to look for him tonight and give Marigold back.”
“Are you crazy! This could all be some elaborate trap! You should just give her to the authorities and let them catch him!” Blake shot out of her bed as she began screaming at Ruby causing Marigold to whimper for the first time and clutch at Ruby’s shoulder.
“Blake! Calm down you’re scaring her!”
“She should be scared!” Ruby moved Marigold under her cloak hiding her from Blake and clutching her to her chest. She quickly realized the girl had started crying as her blouse became damp.
“Why Blake? She’s two years old! Are you really going to punish a two year old for her father’s mistakes? How is that fair?”
“Not everything in life is fair Ruby!”
“I know that! I’m giving them a chance! If I gave her to the police she’d end up in the foster system or on the streets whether they catch Torchwick or not! I don’t expect him to change but I’m giving him the chance to. Blake, just trust me. If I’m wrong I can still fight my way out and we are right back where we started.”
Blake looked at Ruby for a long moment, she saw that Marigold was softly crying into Ruby’s chest, clutching her like a lifeline.
Blake sighed, “If things get bad, call me.”
Ruby smiled, “I will.” Blake glanced around the room,
“So what did you want to change her into?”
“Oh, I didn’t actually have a plan for that I was just trying to get Yang and Weiss out of the room, we do need something to eat though.” Ruby noticed that Marigold had stopped crying, Ruby gently set her on her own two feet and crouched down to look her in the eyes.
“Marigold, sweety, do you need anything?” Marigold glanced around the room, she flinched when she caught Blake’s eyes but the fanus smiled trying to reassure her that she was okay. “Ruby, can I go potty?” Both huntresses eyes went wide.
“Of course! Can you go by yourself?” Ruby asked suddenly worried she would also have to find diapers too.
“I can do it. When can we have food? Will Daddy be here soon?” Ruby smiled sadly as Blake winced.
“The food will be here as soon as you go potty. And I’ll, we will find your Daddy later tonight, after we eat and take a nap. Does that sound okay?” Marigold nodded and Ruby lead her to the bathroom, making sure she was ok before closing the door.
“Don’t get attached Ruby, she’ll be gone in a couple of hours.” Blake could already tell that Ruby was growing attached to the girl and didn’t even notice.
“I know, she’s adorable though, guess I never realized I had any maternal instincts! It’s even harder to believe that Torchwick of all people has paternal instincts!”
“I know, I wonder who the mom is? Also what is taking Weiss and Yang so long?” Ruby shrugged.
“Marigold, you okay in there?” Just as Ruby asked they heard the toilet flush and the dorm room door swung open. Yang practically barrel rolled into the room carrying several trays of food, Weiss quietly followed gracefully behind her with only one tray and a scowl on her face.
“Alright! I got pizza, tacos, cheese burgers, cookies and three different flavors of ice cream!” Yang cheered and then quickly looked around the room.
“Where’s the squirt?” As if answering her question the bathroom door quietly opened as Marigold stepped out.
“Hey kid! What do you want?” Yang asked displaying the trays in her face. Marigold’s eyes went wide in awe.
“Yang! None of that is any good for her! Do you want her bouncing off the walls for the next week?” Ruby shouted to her sister as she picked Marigold back up, setting her on her hip again. The three other huntresses in the room were shocked.
“I’m so proud of you Ruby!” shockingly Weiss was the first one to respond, “You are finally growing up! That’s why I brought this tray.” Weiss explained as she displayed her lone tray in front of Ruby, giving a triumphant glare to Yang who still appeared shocked.
“It’s filled with fruits, vegetables and some chicken, all cut up into small pieces so the baby can’t choke!”
Further shocking the rest of her team Ruby smiled and thanked Weiss as she grabbed the tray, reaching up to place it on her bed and then quickly used her semblance to shoot herself up into her top bunk, resting Marigold carefully in her lap. Seeing the tray in front of her Marigold reached out grabbing little fistfuls of food and quickly stuffing her face.
Blake looked upon the adorable scene with a contemplative smile on her face but quickly shrugged it off and went back to her bunk to finish her book. Weiss stole the tray of tacos from Yang and went to her own bunk to indulge.
Yang stared at her sister in a mixture of shock and wonder. At that moment she looked exactly like Summer Rose, Yang was positive that Ruby had no idea how attached she was becoming to a baby she had only known a few hours.
Shaking her head Yang wordlessly passed a slice of pizza to Ruby and handed her some chocolate ice cream with a cookie on top. Ruby smiled, quickly devouring the food.
Ruby didn’t even remember falling asleep but woke up quickly when Blake gave her arm a light shake. Marigold was cuddled up to her side fast asleep and snoring lightly. Even in sleep the little girl was absolutely adorable.
“You should get going, it’s getting dark out.” Blake whispered, her statement causing Ruby to glance out the window seeing that the sun had just set and the colors were fading from the sky.
“While you were asleep Professor Ozpin dropped this off.” Blake indicated the black baby carrier in her hands, “He also said that if anything happens to call him.” Blake said the last part in a more serious tone but still managed to whisper.
Ruby nodded and carefully got out of her bed trying to let Marigold sleep just a little longer. Ruby glanced around the room and gave Blake a questioning glance when she realized that Yang and Weiss had disappeared.
“Weiss said something about studying in the library and Yang went to go work out with Nora.” Ruby shrugged at the answer as she quickly got dressed in her usual combat gear placing the baby carrier on and buckling it underneath her gear so it couldn’t be ripped off of her easily.
Blake gently scooped Marigold off the bed and carefully placed her in the carrier on Ruby’s back, Marigold whimpering slightly.
“Shh, it’s okay baby girl, we are going to go find your Daddy. Go back to sleep.” Ruby whispered as she adjusted the carrier to the sudden weight.
“Mhh-kay.” she mumbled and quickly fell back into her dreams. Blake seeming to read Ruby’s mind gently placed her red cloak around Marigold, helping Ruby pin it in its normal place, effectively concealing Marigold in the red hood.
Unable to attach Crescent Rose to her back Ruby simply held Crescent Rose in her compact form. If she didn’t know any better Blake would swear that Ruby was simply going hunting.
“Be careful. Call me if you need back up.” Blake whispered as Ruby walked out the door giving a nod to her teammate. In a flash of rose petals Ruby disappeared into the night.
She had been wandering downtown Vale for over an hour and Ruby still had no idea where to find Roman Torchwick.
“Are you sure nothing here looks familiar?” Ruby asked for at least the tenth time. Marigold had woken up only fifteen or so minutes prior and was peeking through Ruby’s hood trying to see where she was.
“No but I know my house is near some trees because I can see them from my room!” Ruby tried really hard not to sigh at that, there were trees everywhere!
“Oh but Daddy says his work is by the water! He said that’s why he comes home smelling like fish sometimes.” Ruby face palmed.
“Of course! I’m an idiot!” Marigold laughed as Ruby hit herself in the face. “The docks! That’s where I caught your Daddy last time!”
“Like in a net?” Marigold asked confused by the idea of her Daddy being ‘caught’ like a fish.
“Haha, not quite. But before we hit the docks let’s go over some rules okay?” Ruby felt Marigold nod and took that as her signal to continue, “Where we are going could be very dangerous, Ok? So I need you to stay quiet and stay under my hood. I don’t want any bad guys to take you or try to hurt you. Can you do that for me?”
“Ruby? Why are there bad people at Daddy’s work?” Ruby could tell Marigold was scared, whether for her father or herself she wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know baby, but I do know that the people your Daddy works with will hurt you if they see you. Are you going to be okay? Or do you want me to take you back to Blake and I can bring your Daddy back tomorrow?”
“No. I want my Daddy now.” Ruby didn’t even answer she just nodded her head as she used her semblance to take off for the docks.
I just had to fall through the ceiling again! Why can there never be an easy access door to these stupid criminal hideouts? I should have brought Blake with me…
They were surrounded by White Fang, so far Ruby had counted fifteen of them and knew there had to be more around them. She still couldn’t see Torchwick but she had a feeling he was nearby.
“I’m not here to fight! I’m just looking for someone.” Ruby shouted as the White Fang members circled her, so far none of them had drawn their weapons. Suddenly a figure above them walked out of the shadows.
“And who would that be Little Red?” And it just got better….
“Daddy?” Marigold whispered only loud enough for Ruby to hear.
“Shhh, remember what we talked about?” Marigold went still but remained silent and out of sight.
Unfortunately, for Ruby, Neo was standing by his side and noticed the action, quickly signing something.
Roman was quiet but nodded to Neo.
“Neo here believes you have something under your hood there Little Red, care to share with the class?” Roman smirked watching Ruby’s eyes widen.
“Um, can I talk to you alone? Then I’ll totally tell you whats under my hood. Or, Hey I’ll even talk to Neo alone! I’d just rather not share with the uh, whole class here.” Ruby mumbled gesturing to the faunus that surrounded her. She now counted 27 of them.
Roman and Neo looked completely baffled and Ruby quickly realized this was never going to work. They probably think it’s a trap
“Or you know what, maybe I’ll come back later! I could meet you somewhere else! How’s this weekend sound? Uh…” suddenly there was snickering all around her and Ruby realized what the snickers were insinuating. Her face turned a violent shade of red.
“Not what I meant!… This is not at all how I wanted this to go!… What was I thinking!” Ruby was rambling now and Roman seemed to grow bored or maybe just confused.
“You mutts! Rip off her hood!” he shouted at the faunus. Ruby jumped out of the way using Crescent Rose’s compact form as a battering ram to get the faunus out of her way.
“You really don’t wanna do this Torchwick!” Ruby shouted as she continued to dodge the onslaught of faunus attacking her. She was quickly running out of space as she twisted and turned trying to avoid any contact with her back. She didn’t want to kill anyone in front of Marigold but she was running out of options.
“Seriously Torchwick you’re going to regret it!” Ruby tried one last time as she dove out of the way. Turning to attack she missed it as another faunus came at her from the side ripping the cross pin off her left shoulder causing her cloak to cascade to the floor pooling around her right side.
All of the faunus seemed to recoil back as they stared shocked at the small child on her back. Several people audibly gasped, none more so than Torchwick himself. Ruby glared up at his shocked face, feeling slightly bad as his eyes darted around the room, realizing how much trouble his daughter was in. She could tell he was completely petrified. Ruby glanced to his right to see that Neo was in a similar state.
“I told you you’d regret it.” Ruby mumbled as she stood there waiting to see what would happen next.
“Hush baby girl.” Ruby reached back behind her and tried to soothe Marigold as best she could, “Don’t say anything.”
The room remained completely still as the clicking of heels could be heard striding across the concrete floor. A woman clad in a sparkling red dress appeared out of the shadows with a sinister smile on her face.
“My, my, my, who would have thought, the innocent little Rose has a daughter. I must say, I am surprised. Good job, I don’t surprise easily little Rose.” Ruby instantly disliked the woman but there was a tickling sensation at the back of her mind that said she knew this woman from somewhere.
“I’m just trying to get her home to her father. I didn’t plan to fall through the ceiling. Just let us go and I promise I won’t tell anyone about this.” Ruby knew it was a lost cause as the White Fang members started to close in on her again. The woman smirked.
“I don’t think so. Kill them!” Before the woman could finish speaking Ruby had already pulled the trigger on Crescent Rose extending her into her full scythe form.
“Cover your ears and close your eyes!” Ruby shouted hoping Marigold would listen, she didn’t need to see what was about to happen.
Without checking to see if she had listened Ruby quickly began cutting through the faunus attacking her. Briefly her mind registered that this was the first time she had ever willingly killed someone, she started to panic at her own actions until she felt the tears soaking into her back. A sudden wave of rage coursed through her and for several minutes she only saw red as more and more faunus tried to attack her.
Coming back to her senses she realized that the last few faunus had backed off and were trying to asses the situation before attacking her again.
“So mommy bear has a protective streak, how cute.” The woman in red taunted as she sauntered closer. Ruby chanced a glance at Roman and he was staring at her, his visible eye was so wide it would have been hysterical in any other situation. For a moment she wasn’t even sure if he was still breathing.
“Guess I have to kill you myself.” The woman in red smiled as she walked closer a ball of flames forming in her hands. The last few faunus quietly backed away.
Ruby could sense that this woman was powerful, everyone in the room seemed to fear her, even Roman and Neo. Ruby started to backup sensing that this was a fight she could not win. Looking for a way out Ruby saw Neo frantically signing something at her.
“Marigold, open your eyes and look at Aunty Neo. What is she signing?” Ruby whispered just loud enough for Marigold to hear through her tears.
“V-A-L-E-P-A-R- uh -R-U-N-R-U-N-R-U-N-” Run!
Ruby didn’t even look at the woman closing in on her as she fired Crescent Rose into the wall behind her and in a flourish of petals burst through the hole she created running as fast as she could hoping to get far, far away.
Ruby wasn’t sure how long she had been running but she quickly realized that she had crossed the entirety of the residential district and was almost all the way back to Beacon. Deciding she was safe enough she pulled out her scroll to check the time and was slightly surprised to find that it was only nine o’clock. She quickly messaged Blake to let her know that she was alive but it was going to be a few more hours.
Not even waiting to see if Blake would reply she pocketed her scroll and at a normal walking pace headed towards the park.
Vale Park, I hope that’s what Neo was trying to say.
Thankfully the park was a place Ruby knew very well. Small street lights lit up the walkways through the park giving the darkness a somewhat spooky glow. Any other night Ruby would have thought that the glow was slightly creepy, Yang would probably say something about it being the intro to a perfect horror movie. Tonight however Ruby found the leisurely walk through the darkened park oddly soothing.
Making her way to the swings she gently unclipped the buckles of the baby carrier and carefully slid Marigold out of the carrier and into her arms. Placing the carrier, Crescent Rose and what was left of her tattered cloak on the ground beside her, she gently sat in the swing and began to rock slowly.
Ruby smiled sadly at the little girl in her arms, Marigold’s head was resting comfortably across the right side of her chest. Ruby realized that Marigold had fallen asleep shortly after they escaped, the girl was completely exhausted. Humming softly Ruby continued to rock in the swing knowing someone would show up sooner or later.
The night wore on and just as Ruby thought she might fall asleep she sensed that someone was approaching behind her. Marigold must have sensed something too because her eyes fluttered open tickling Ruby’s neck.
“Mhh, Ruby?” Marigold mumbled against her chest, still half asleep. Ruby noticed that the presence was closer but had stopped moving.
“Did I do something bad?” Ruby looked down at the girl with a confused frown.
“Why do you think you did something bad?” Tears instantly began filling the girls eyes.
“Because Daddy didn’t do anything when those bad people attacked you! The scary lady said to kill us and Daddy didn’t stop her!” Marigold hiccuped between her tears, “Does that mean Daddy doesn’t love me anymore?” Marigold sobbed into her chest and Ruby clutched her tighter.
Ruby barely heard the stifled gasp behind her and knew that it had to be Roman.
“No baby that’s not it at all.” Ruby tilted Marigold’s head with her hand forcing the girl to look her in the eyes, “Your Daddy loves you with all his heart, I can promise you that.”
“No, your Daddy loves you so much he was scared out of his mind.” Marigold could only give Ruby a confused frown, “Sometimes when adults get scared they freeze because they don’t know what to do. Your Daddy didn’t know you were hiding in my cloak and when those people ripped it off he froze because he didn’t know what to do anymore. All of those people could have seriously hurt you or they could have used you to hurt your Daddy.” Ruby sighed thinking about all of the faunus she had hurt that night. Ruby was mildly surprised Roman hadn’t announced himself yet but he was close enough that she could faintly smell his cigars in the air.
“I’m sure I gave your Daddy a slight heart attack when I fought off all those bad guys with you on my back. I wasn’t even sure if he was breathing when that lady started getting closer to us. Your Daddy would be very upset if anything ever happened to you, I would be upset too.” Ruby wasn’t sure what else to say so she waited for Marigold to take it all in. She could see the questions building in her eyes.
“Why does Daddy work with that lady? She was so scary.” Ruby recalled the fear she had felt at the amount of power radiating off that woman and gave a slight shudder.
“I know, but that’s probably why Daddy works for her, she’s too scary.”
“I don’t want him to work with someone scary. He should work with someone nice, like you.” Ruby couldn’t help laughing at that, trying to picture Roman Torchwick and Neapolitan working with her team instead of against them. Readjusting her hold on the girl she began to rock the swing again as she imagined what it would look like to fight with Torchwick.
“Now that is something I would pay to see!” Ruby was still smiling at the thought, “You should tell your Daddy that, he might change his mind for you and leave that mean lady behind.” Marigold seemed to be thinking hard about something as her eyes roamed over Ruby’s face.
“Ruby, that lady thought you were my mommy. You’re not my mommy right?” Ruby gave a small chuckle knowing Roman had to have heard her.
“No baby I’m not.” Marigold’s eyes began to close again, still heavy with exhaustion from their very long night.
Ruby stretched out her hand and patted the seat of the swing next to her signaling the man behind her to come over as his daughter started to fall back asleep.
Barely a second passed and Roman practically fell into the swing beside her just as his daughter’s breathing evened out in sleep.
They sat in silence for several minutes as Ruby smiled at the sleeping girl in her lap and Roman starred off at something no one else could see.
“I didn’t kidnap her if that’s what you’re wondering.” A sound somewhere between a growl and a laugh escaped the man beside her.
“You are the last person I would accuse of kidnapping Red.” Ruby finally lifted her head to look up at the man a small but joking smile on her face as he continued to stare at her as if he’d never seen her before in his life.
“After tonight, if you’re still gonna call me ‘Red’, I get to call you ‘Orange’.” Ruby barely caught it as his eyes crinkled and a real smile split across his face as he laughed in honest amusement. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever heard him laugh in a non condescending way before.
Ruby stared at the man as he continued to laugh and she slowly realized that it was something she would want to hear again.
“Thank you, I needed that.” he managed to say as the laughter slowly ebed.
“Honestly Red I don’t think we’ve ever been properly introduced.” he reached out his right hand and gently grabbed hers since she was still holding a sleeping Marigold, “Roman Torchwick, master criminal, you can call me Roman.” he smiled still gently shaking her hand so as not to wake his daughter. Ruby could only smile back.
“Ruby Rose, Huntress in training… and apparently, really protective babysitter, call me Ruby.”
“So, uh, Ruby, how exactly did you even find Marigold?” Roman started to swing his own swing as he let go of Ruby’s hand but kept his eyes on her.
“Well, she actually found me. I was sitting outside on a bench by the fountains in Beacon’s courtyard when she walked up to me and started pulling on my skirts. I asked her if she was okay and she said she was lost.” Ruby stopped suddenly laughing at what the young girl had actually said. Roman gave her a quizzical look but kept swinging.
“Sorry I just realized when I asked her if she was okay she said that she had gotten lost and had been looking for someone she thought her Daddy could trust…I just suddenly found that really funny since at the time I didn’t know it was you!” Roman was looking at her rather shocked but still managing to project an aura of calm.
“You had no idea she was even missing did you?”
“Nope.” he said popping the ‘p’, “Quite the stroke seeing her with you. You were right, I think I did stop breathing for a few minutes when you were fighting off those White Fang members…”
“I tried to warn you!”
“Yes well forgive me but last time I checked every time I run into you bullets start flying at me.”
“Ugh, I know! How do you think I felt? What would you have prefered? As soon as I knew she was your daughter I couldn’t just leave her with the police. I don’t exactly have you on speed dial either. Would you rather me run through the streets shouting, ‘Roman! Come out, come out wherever you are!’… I figured my best option was to find you and then follow you home. Like I said, I didn’t plan on falling through the ceiling, again. Your hideouts should really work on that…”
“Why not leave her with the police?” Roman asked in a small voice that Ruby was too shocked to notice.
“Are you insane?!?!?! You didn’t even know she was gone! Would you, the master criminal walk into a police station and say ‘hey I’m looking for my kid, can you give me a hand?’ What was I supposed to tell them? ‘Hi, I found Roman Torchwick’s daughter, would you like to use her as bait now or later? Should we throw her in an orphanage or leave her on the street?!’” Ruby realized she was shouting and quickly looked down, relieved to see that Marigold was shockingly still asleep. Taking a deep breath she calmly started again.
“I knew that if I took her to the police they’d use her to try to catch you and whether they succeeded or not Marigold would still end up in the foster system or on the streets. I wasn’t going to let that happen. I had to at least give you a chance! You-” Ruby froze as Roman practically flew out of his swing and crushed her in an awkward hug.
“Are - are you hugging me?” Roman jumped back as if had been burned and quickly turned around no letting Ruby see as he rubbed his face.
“Sor-”he choked, “Uh, sorry Re- Ruby. Just -” Ruby gave him a sad smile as he finally turned back to look at her. The eire night time lighting of the park cast a strange glow around the redheads face, it was the most vulnerable look she had ever seen.
“No one has ever given you a second chance, have they?” Roman could only shake his head.
“Well consider this your first,” Ruby said as she carefully stood up, “I don’t hand out third chances easily Roman so don’t blow it.” She smiled at him in a sad way, almost as if she knew he would blow this chance no matter what she said. Roman could only stare at her.
Smiling down at the girl she would probably never see again, she gave her a gentle squeeze. Gingerly she passed her into his arms.
“I really don’t want to make her an orphan if I have to put you in prison.”
“Red, it’s not that easy. You saw-”
“I know Orange,” she gave him a weak smirk, bending over she picked up her cloak and Crescent Rose, leaving the carrier on the ground since, depending on what he did, she would probably never need it again either. “Nothing is ever easy and if no one else is willing to listen to you, find me. Ozpin gave me permission to look for you, ya know. He knew who Marigold was the second he saw her, but he still let me try to find you instead of instantly baiting you.” she let it soak in before continuing.
“Marigold has the right idea,” he gave her a confused frown, “I’d rather fight with you then against you.” she smiled one last time as his face softened.
“This is your only chance Roman, don’t waste it.” Ruby zipped off in a rush of rose petals before he could even think of how to respond.
He sighed looking down at his little girl, he knew he’d never forgive himself if anything happened to her because of his job, or heaven forbid, she ended up on the street because of his stupid job.
Doing the only thing he could Roman fell back into the swings with his baby in his arms as he thought about her future.
Ruby thanked every deity she had ever heard of that she hadn’t had class today. After leaving Roman and Marigold in the park she finally got home just before midnight. Yang had been ready to send out an army to find her and only stayed as long as she did because Blake had been in contact with her. Blake hadn’t told the rest of their team about the identity of the mystery redhead baby so Ruby had to lie and say that she had been out late talking with the family and they had insisted on buying her dinner. Weiss fell for it immediately, the entire thing forgotten and Yang was still peeved but happy she was ok. Blake had to bite her cheek to stop from laughing but was still glad Ruby was safe. The girls finally went to sleep around one in the morning after Ruby had been thoroughly lectured.
By the time Ruby woke up her entire team had already left to go about their daily routines.
Ruby glared at her scroll, No wonder, it’s almost eleven! Utilizing her semblance Ruby quickly dressed and headed towards the cafeteria for a snack. She had barely taken two sips of her strawberry milkshake before her scroll buzzed.
Please come to my office as soon as you are available. -Oz
Ruby almost choked. Oops I forgot to tell him I was safe!
Without even thinking Ruby used her semblance and blasted out of the cafeteria towards Professor Ozpin’s office. Once again the elevator felt like it was moving at a snail’s pace but at least she hadn’t accidentally taken out all of Professor Goodwitch’s paperwork.
Just as the doors opened up Ruby remembered what she had walked in on last time she had shown up unannounced and quickly covered her eyes as she walked through the elevator door.
“Please tell me you aren’t making out with Qrow across the desk again!?!?!” Ruby shouted as she walked into the office with her hands still over her eyes.
She heard, what had to be Ozpin, choke on his coffee as another voice suddenly burst out laughing.
It can’t be… her hands instantly fell to her sides as she stared at the man in front of her.
“Hello Red.” he smiled at her as he stopped laughing. She smiled so wide her cheeks started to hurt.
“Hello Orange.” Ozpin was completely ignored as he started choking again. After he finally caught his breath he couldn’t help but watch the raven and the redhead as they stared at each other. Ruby appeared contemplative, probably wondering why he is here…but there is something else… Roman, well Ozpin didn’t even need to guess what he was thinking, he was looking at Ruby as if he owed her the world.
All three adults were startled out of their thoughts by the sound of something crashing in the other room.
“Oops…” Ruby laughed at Marigold’s tiny voice coming from the other room. Roman had the decency to blush as Ozpin wondered what exactly it was that the toddler could have destroyed.
“I’ll, uh, go check on my daughter.” Roman pointed in the direction of the noise and quickly walked off. Both Headmaster and future Huntress watched him walk away before looking back towards each other.
“Soooo….” Ruby asked already hoping beyond hope for good news.
“I am sorry to say Miss Rose,” Ruby’s face fell like a rock and Ozpin was sure she would start crying if he didn’t hurry, “That your team’s late night escapades have come to an end. Mr. Torchwick has decided to turn his former colleagues in, in exchange for protection for himself and Miss Marigold.” Ruby smile was almost blinding.
“I have a favor to ask Miss Rose but first, I must ask, are your feelings towards Mr. Torchwick simply because of his daughter or is it something more?”
Ruby was almost as red as her cloak as she began to stammer out a protest to what Professor Ozpin had been insinuating. He held out a hand signaling her to stop.
“Miss Rose, I am not asking because I disapprove. Think about what you are feeling and be honest with yourself.” Ruby nodded.
Closing her eyes she took a breath and tried to concentrate and analyze everything she had ever felt for the man in question and everything she was feeling now.
“I’m honestly not sure…I guess Marigold helped me realize that just because he was the ‘bad guy’ doesn’t mean he’s a completely bad person, but I’m not really sure what I’m feeling. At the very least we could be great friends, if there is something more…” Ruby simply shrugged as she opened her eyes to look at the headmaster.
“Thank you Miss Rose, as for-”
“Ruby!” Marigold came streaming out of the other room squealing with her arms in the air as she practically flew into Ruby’s arms.
Thankful for the war cry announcing the incoming projectile Ruby managed to brace herself just in time as the little girl threw herself at Ruby.
Ruby caught her just under her arms and managed to hoist her into the air spinning around in a circle together, both girls were smiling at each other.
“Mari-gold.” Roman stuttered as the sight before him took his breath away. Ruby looked so happy just holding Marigold and Marigold appeared at home in Ruby’s arms.
“Miss Rose?” Ozpin finally asked getting all three of his guests attention.
“About that favor?”
“Yes sir?” Ruby stood a little straighter awaiting her orders.
“Look after them?” Ozpin smiled as he indicated the two redheads, Ruby smiled,
Ruby said to me at one point “I was worried yesterday I was too sick to come see you so I concentrated and stayed on the couch in a blanket all day”.
She also told me she was concerned because I haven’t called. I have though. She had just been out playing with friends. She brightened at that. It made sense. It was nice to ease her worry.
My uncles loved Ruby and she them. They haven’t seen her since she was small. And they made a fuss over her. It was pretty awesome.
Ruby got a lot of gifts from a lot of people. It was pretty amazing. Though she had to bring them all back to her mom’s house. Where she had three siblings. Which I know she will share. But I hope it doesn’t cause jealousy.
I was able to give her a card and a $100 Visa gift card. And a $25 gift card to Claire’s. A store she loves. And one that is torture for me.
So much food!
I spent 10 hours with my uncles in total. And not once did I feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. It has been a long time since I walked into a place where I felt like I should just leave before I fucked up or expected to be asked to leave or at best tolerated.
I did pretty good with boundries, self-care and being calm and grounded. Despite a few things that would have really spun me. I used skills. I am learning here.
Which brings us to…The bad
I am sick as well. It is really bad. And my sinuses are beating me to death…again. only now I am getting a bloody nose from hell. If it continues I will need medical attention for it. 24 + hours of bleeding is not good.
The first thing she said to me was “I see you got a haircut. Still shaking and twitchy though”….I wanted to just wanted to lose it. And scream. I did not.
She also laughed when I related someone said something nice about me and said “You’re so full of shit”.
Every time my uncles said something nice about me. Or showed a preference toward me. Especially in comparison to my brother she scoffed and dismissed it.
At one point I got frustrated at dinner and announced “The rules for talking to or around my mother are that you say no negative about my brother and no positive about me. No matter how glaringly truthful it may be”
My uncle Harvey leaned over and whispered “Jeffery. Breathe, she has always been this way. I was there. She is an old lady who is a drunk and she can’t drink right now. Keep it in mind. She isn’t changing today”
My uncle is my dad’s little brother. And at times he reminded me so much of my father. In mannerisms and voice. It was strange. Uncomfortable. They couldn’t be any more different.
It is sad that now there is just him and a younger brother left of 5. In 10 years my father and two brothers plus a few very close family members have died of addiction or addiction related illness.
I came back here and just collapsed. I wish I could grow some emotional muscles and resilience. I guess it comes in time. I am here for that reason.
Saying goodbye to Ruby….not knowing when I will see her again. Fuck your talk of the future and doing the right thing now. That is my heart. And it hurts and I am very sad. She is my place and I can’t be in that place.
A/N: Sorry this took so long! I know I say that with each part, but I really am. This series is like my baby, and it takes me awhile to get it just right. Plus, they’re the longest fics I’ve ever written, each part, and I have OCD (but that’s another story). This got angsty really quickly, and I am so sorry ahead of time. I will add to the warnings what I deem appropriate without spoiling. I really hope you guys like this and I literally can’t wait for you to read it. Please let me know what you think!
Word Count: 5,333
Other Characters: Jo, Charlie, Bobby, Ruby, and one I don’t want to spoil.
Warnings: - death, although I won’t say who. - violence. - language. - blood. - being in an enclosed space (for all you claustrophobic people like me) - panic attack/anxiety attack (mention slightly, doesn’t go into detail) * I think that’s it but please let me know if I missed any!
Tags: (at the end)
*gif is not mine.
“The B-Bunker?” you stammered, still standing in the entrance to the vast space Dean had just unveiled. He stood before you with his hand outstretched, waiting for you to take it. A smile was spread across his freckled face, calming your beating heart.
“Come on,” he answered with a wink. “Let me show you.”