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Nov 26th, 2018
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  1. “I’m sorry.”
  3. He feels himself fly backwards, head bouncing off the back of the locker as the door closes, locking him in. He’s scrabbling at the door immediately, punching, scratching, anything to get the damn thing open, to keep her from leaving him.
  5. The girl approaches, not meeting his eyes. She punches a few commands into the panel on the locker and steps back, finally raising her face to meet his desperate gaze.
  7. “Promise,” she says with gentle confidence, silver eyes squinting in a full faced smile. And then the locker rockets upwards and he’s leaving her behind, leaving her to die.
  9. Jaune woke with a start, practically choking on her name. His eyes dart around the empty train car in a panic, heart racing. He notices a boy near his feet, probably not even ten-years-old. Trying to get a closer look at Crocea Mors, apparently. The boy looks at him wide-eyed, worry plain on his face. Jaune tries to smile, to reassure him, but he must not be very convincing as the boy immediately springs to his feet and sprints for the door leading towards the forward cars.
  11. Jaune leans back with a sigh, willing his heart to slow. He raises his hands to his face, massaging his cheeks, trying to wipe the nightmare from his memory. /Promise/ she had said, no lie or deception on her face. She had been gentle, reassuring, trying to lift his spirits as she always did. But a promise means little when you’re lost out in the snow carrying a magic lamp that draws the Grimm. When you’re being hunted by Salem’s goons.
  13. /She’s with her team,/ he tells himself. /She’s with Qrow and Ozpin. She’s safe with them./
  15. /Safer than with you./
  17. He lurches to his feet and fixes Crocea Mors back to his hip, grinding his teeth. Dragging his feet, he trudges to the back of the car to look out the rear windows. Was the snow coming down harder than before? Was she going to be stuck out there in a blizzard? How long had he been asleep? How much longer did they have to go? It could take her weeks to reach Argus on foot.
  19. /Trust her. She’s never let you down./
  21. He shakes his head and turns to rejoin his team but pauses. Ren was the one who sent him back here, and for good reason. After the train decoupled, he couldn't keep up the facade. He had been pacing, hand resting on the pommel of his sword. Wild eyed. Stressed. So Ren suggested he go rest while he could, banished to the back car to keep him from worrying the passengers. To keep him from riling everyone up. To keep him from drawing the Grimm and ruining the whole reason team RWBY detached the rear cars in the first place.
  23. /Trust her./
  25. He did. She was the one person, other than Ren and Nora, whom he felt he could trust with anything. /But can you trust the others?/ They left her once before. Her own uncle had used her as bait. He didn’t doubt Ozpin was the one who sent her mother on the mission she never came home from and would he really hesitate to send another Rose down the same path? They-
  27. /Stop,/ he told himself, grinding his teeth all the harder. They had had their own problems to deal with. Yang lost her arm. Weiss was taken by her father. Blake had to deal with terrorists. And they all came back. Qrow was keeping his distance to keep her safe from his own semblance. Ozpin wasn’t some evil mastermind, he was the man keeping the world from falling into darkness. Without any one of them Haven would have been another Beacon, only worse.
  29. /Trust them,/ he tells himself, but he can't.
  31. He doesn't need to see his reflection to know that he doesn't need to be among the passengers. He opens his scroll, Ruby's name at the top of his contacts. No signal. Taking a deep breath, he scrolls past and lands on Nora, dialing her.
  33. “Rise and shine, o' leader of mine!” she answers cheerily. “How you feeling? You didn't sleep all that long.”
  35. “Fine,” he lies, and he can tell by the huff on the other end of the line that she wasn't buying it. “How are things up there? How much longer until we reach Argus?”
  37. “Just peachy up here. Volunteered Ren to give the kids horsey rides, it's just too adorable! I've been hanging out with this real swell lady named-”
  39. “How much longer?” he repeats, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice.
  41. “'bout an hour or so, so sayeth the Dud.” she replied.
  43. Jaune didn't respond, returning to his vigil, staring out the rear window of the train. How long would it take them to make it back to where they left Ruby behind? Had they already cleared out the Manticores? Would they be able to find shelter from the weather for the night? Would they even get a chance to sleep with the Relic drawing more Grimm to them?
  45. “Jaune.” Nora's voice cut through his darkening thoughts. “She'll be okay.”
  47. Would she? Salem wouldn't just let them skip their way to Atlas with Relic in hand. Their victory at Haven was a fluke and now they wouldn't have a Faunus army or armed police to bail them out. Emerald and Mercury were bad enough, but what if that big guy showed up again? What if he came with Tyrian? Would there be any hope of surviving that?
  49. “I can't leave her out there, Nora.” he said, sinking into a squat to rest his head against the rear door. Ruby was strong, the strongest of their group. But Pyrrha had been even stronger. “I can't.”
  51. “We won't,” he heard, both through the receiver and from the front of the car. Nora stood there, scroll held to one ear while her other hand hoisted her hammer across her shoulder. At her side was Ren, hands clasped behind his back.
  53. “What's the plan?” Ren asked simply.
  55. Jaune rose to his feet, pawing away an unshed tear from the corner of his eye with the heel of his hand. /Be smart/ a voice in the back of his mind cautioned. Being reckless could get them all lost in the winter wilderness, could put them in a situation where they were the ones in need of rescue, could get Ren and Nora killed. Traveling on foot was not an option. They'd need transportation. They'd need help.
  57. “We'll start at the Atlesian garrison,” Jaune replied, pocketing his scroll as he walked up to join them, “and go from there.”
  59. He'd be making her break her promise, but found himself eager to be on the receiving end of her squeaky sass regardless. Just like when they had left Patch nearly a year ago, they'd stick together. They'd keep each other safe.
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