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Private Fortune Favors No One

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February 13


Qrow stared at his scroll at the chat login, annoyed with himself. He tried to not...do that. Just sign out when annoyed. It was easier to just put his phone down and walk away, instead of slamming a metaphorical door. But he wanted to. Just stepped away for a second for that exact reason, and found people insisting that they knew what he wanted - what he needed. And that just...rubbed him the wrong way. They assumed he was just depressed as usual. And...maybe he was. Honestly he didn't really know what had crawled under his skin and died. Qrow just knew tomorrow was Valentine's Day, and it instantly ruined his mood when he learned that.

It didn't matter. He had spent most years alone; most time alone. And that was a choice. With his luck, it was easier to not get involved with people in that way. Yet after all the shit he learned about Daye, he couldn't help but feel like it was more than a choice. And that edge had sort of pulled his mood down more. One thought clinging to the next, until he found himself overall just...in a really shit mood. Qrow hadn't even slept that badly, yet felt tired. Everything in the damned group chat getting on his fucking nerves.

And Maria didn't deserve that.
Oz didn't deserve that.
James didn't, either.

Yet he slid his scroll back into his pocket and sighed; scrubbing his hands over his face before pushing himself up to his feet.

"Leaving early," he didn't even make eye contact with anyone as he grabbed his coat and clocked out.

He needed air.

He needed to kill something.

Qrow almost just flew off, before staring at his truck. If he just left it in the parking lot, people would ask questions he wouldn't feel like dealing with tomorrow. So he climbed in, and closed the door harder than he needed to.

For a few moments he just sat there; gaze unfocused. Where was he even going to go? If he went home, Oz would probably appear and try to hug him. He...really didn't feel like that tonight. He started his truck to warm it up against the cold, pulling out his scroll as he did. For a moment he just stared at the login screen, before tapping out of it. Seeking out reports of people complaining about monsters, he found something just outside the city. Some big...something. Probably required more than one person, but he'd be fine. And if he wasn't, so be it.

Qrow drove to the edge of the city - leaving the radio off. It rained a bit on the way; causing his windshield wipers to go to their slowest setting; not wanting to have to tap them every time a few drops popped onto his windshield.

Parking just outside the city, he got out of his truck and glanced up at the sky. The clouds were dark, but hadn't broken open fully just yet. He pulled Harbinger off his back, before his scroll - getting the latest report on the monster's whereabouts. Not far. Good.

It didn't take long before he saw it. Whatever it was, it was trying to knock over a tree. And...about the same size as the tree.

He extended Harbinger to her full scythe form, before rolling his shoulders.

Yeah, this was what he needed.
 
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Maria sat there, in her empty apartment, bristling like an angry cat.

And she couldn’t figure out why.

Her scroll sat on the table a few feet away, where she’d tossed it only moments earlier. It was petty, and it was childish, and her emotions were doing things she had no clue how to deal with, so the petty and childish route was the only one left available. This is why you were alone for so long, Maria. Over a decade spent moving from place to place, never staying anywhere for longer than it took to kill the nearest Grimm threat, hadn’t done much to furnish her with social skills. Or coping mechanisms.

Or emotional intelligence.

What it had done was make her hyperaware of her own instincts and perceptions, which she then tended to act on without stopping to think them through. Because, in her experience, taking the time to think things through was incredibly dangerous in the long run. And while Pandora itself wasn’t quite as dangerous to her prolonged existence, there were quite a few habits she’d formed over the years which were incredibly difficult to break. Including feeling uncomfortable with any bouts of intense emotion, and getting the urge to kill something. Any big monster would do.

Something to get these feelings out of her head.

It didn’t help that she felt… restless. Twitchy. Like she no longer fit in her own skin. Like if she didn’t get out of her tiny, stuffy apartment, she was going to come apart at the seams. So she grabbed her scroll, hastily swiped out of the log-in screen to ward off the impulse to go back in and apologize—especially since she had no idea what she’d be apologizing for—and pulled up the monster sighting alerts she’d signed up for.

There were a few close by, but the threat levels were far too low. She needed something she could sink her teeth into—something that could give her a run for her money. Push her to the edge until she was pretty sure her aura was going to break and then she did something really reckless—like jump down its throat and kill it from the inside.

She wanted something big.

An alert pinged on her scroll, and she scrunched her nose at the screen for a moment. It was on the outskirts of Pandopolis.

Qrow was in Pandopolis.

But he was probably at work. Or feeding his tortoise. Or… whatever, it didn’t matter, because the threat level was high (‘Please do not approach with less than four people’ high), according to the readings it was huge, and she needed an outlet.

It didn’t take her long to reach the coordinates—she happened to run into a friendly mage at the portal hub, one she’d helped out a few times in the past, who offered to teleport her there—and she found the… thing (all she could tell from here was that it wasn’t a Grimm) shoving its way through a stand of trees, headed straight for the city’s border.

Maria drew Life and Death, flicking the blades open. She threw one at the creature—it thudded home high up on its back, and she used the Gravity dust to pull her to it, intending, perhaps, to scale it like a rock wall and attempt to hack off its head.

Except that she saw the flash of a familiar blade nearby, and her eyes widened as she recognized Harbinger and the man wielding her. And, in her moment of surprise, her concentration slipped—and the creature’s tail hit her in the side. It seemed to be prehensile, because the tip of it wrapped around her middle and pulled—she maintained enough of a grip on her sickles that they came free from its hide, just in time for her to get thrown through the air.

Her aura flickered as it absorbed the force of her impact with the ground, a few feet away from Qrow. “What are you doing here?” The words came out in a pained gasp as she shoved herself to her feet—they were a bit more waspish than she intended, but that really wasn’t his fault.

She wasn’t used to being blindsided. And she certainly wasn’t used to letting it happen.

 
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As he was about to dive in, a familiar form launched themself at it. Maria. It didn't really surprise him; he had noticed their minds worked in a similar way. Of course they'd both want to kill something after...whatever that was. Apparently him being an ass had more impact on the others than he realized. A metaphorical door slam sending more waves outside of just separating him from people talking to him - from bothering him.

She...really hadn't done anything wrong. Oz and James both were encouraging her to go to Qrow for whatever reason. He had never said no to spending time with her in the past...so why would it be different now? Everyone had seen plain as day that he wasn't himself. Oz drawing in on that in seconds - calling his sole question mark bitchy. Which it wasn't. He was just playing stupid to the fact he was clearly off, and didn't like the fact Oz had noticed in seconds. He was even paying attention to the chat to just distract himself from himself. Asking him why he was off only made it worse.

Qrow paused when he saw Maria dive in - not wanting to get in her way. Unfortunately for her, noticing Qrow hit her with a wave of Misfortune. The Grimm Reaper landing a few feet from him, causing him to swear under his breath. Never felt good to see people get hit by his Semblance - especially people he knew were more skilled than to normally get knocked back like that. Not impossible, just not likely. Until he was standing there.

Her Aura flickered, causing him to quickly put himself between her and the monster - not glancing over his shoulder as she spoke.

"See I'm not the only one feeling like taking on a dangerous monster alone," a slight smirk on his lips - still a bit entertained they had the same thought at the same time...and ended up with the same monster.

Maybe a bit irritating since he came out here to kill something and be alone but…

There were worse people he could have run into.

Qrow launched himself at the monster with the use of firing a shot into the ground with the Harbinger. The monster took a swing at him; Qrow shifting into a bird to dodge. Maybe it was a bit unnecessary but he felt like literally stretching his wings. He swooped down under the thing - overall keeping its attention away from Maria as she got her Aura back. Flying back into the air, he slid back into his more usual shape, and swung the scythe over his head, letting gravity bring them both straight down into the back of the monster.

This was feeling about as good as he hoped.
 
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Qrow had this smirk on his lips that was almost infuriating—mostly because she was in the sort of mood that she was rather invested in keeping. Venting her frustrations on a huge monster was made marginally more difficult when she was distracted by that mouth.

But she also couldn’t help the twinge of… gratitude? affection?—that she felt when she watched him position himself in front of her. Maybe there was a lingering hint of irritation, too—why did she let her guard down at exactly the wrong moment, especially in front of someone she kind of liked being able to impress? and where did he get off being all protective—but that, she had to admit (at least to herself) was mostly her stubbornness talking. And she’d come here specifically to get away from her own feelings—from the things she just didn’t feel like dealing with right this second. (Or possibly ever, if she had her way, but since when had that ever been guaranteed?)

Still, however grumpy she was and however much she felt like indulging that, she couldn’t deny that Qrow in action was something to see. Maria took a moment to compose herself—she probably should have taken longer, she’d been in the game for long enough by now to know just how much of an aura hit she’d taken with that stunt, but she was too amped up on adrenaline and the need to fight to care very much right now—and then took off running, back toward the beast.

(Incidentally, knowing Qrow could turn into a bird, and watching him actually transform, were two completely different things. Maria wondered if she’d ever be able to convince Ozma to give her a power like that.)

“Watch out for that thing’s tail!” she called out, when he transformed back and swung Harbinger down into a vicious arc towards the monster’s back. He certainly had the beast distracted, and Maria had to admire his form as he executed the move—which left her with the perfect opening.

She ran, building up all the momentum she could, and then jumped, firing Life and Death at the ground to give her a boost, and then spinning through the air. One sickle she threw straight at the beast’s throat—it thudded home, and with the flick of a switch, she was rocketing towards it with the other blade, intending to, if not cut its throat entirely (who even knew how thick the thing’s hide was), wound it badly enough to keep it off-balance.

 
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Maria was hardly a novice to a fight. Maybe this thing wasn't a Grimm, but it was close enough. A smile on his lips as she called for him to watch out, before taking the opening he gave her. Only time they have fought together was when they "met" in Pandora. Wasn't really a team fight, since there was a clear division on who took what. Despite the day he was having, he found himself curious how, exactly they would fight together. Off to a good start at least, since she was reading him perfectly, and they weren't stepping on each others toes.

As he landed his blow on its back, she went for its throat. If he went behind it, he'd draw its attention in the wrong direction; pulling her away from her target. If he stayed in place, there was only so much damage he could do. With a deep breath, he fell back into the form of a crow and flew under the thing; turning back as he slid across the ground - sliding the Harbinger across its stomach in the process.

Rolling out from under it, he swung his scythe behind him to actually take in the status of the thing, and figure out what, exactly, needed to be done to end it.

Even if he wasn't alone as planned, this was still...helping. Pulling out of his own head, and giving him something to do. Raising his pulse, and letting off some steam.
 
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Qrow’s blow with Harbinger landed just as Maria reached the monster’s throat—a horrific scream rent the air, and it was several moments before she realized it was coming from the creatures throat, because the noise made her skull ache. Like it raked nails down the sides of her brain.

The Grimm Reaper yanked Life from one side of the monster’s neck and swung from Death’s handle, using the momentum to yank her other sickle free as well, firing several rounds from both of them to give her a boost from the air. Just as she was landing on the back of its neck, Qrow had shifted into his namesake (she hadn’t realized just how effortlessly he worked shapeshifting into his fighting style; she’d have to remember to tell him how cool she thought that was, when she stopped being in quite such a Mood—although the adrenaline rush was going a long way to alleviate that already) and sliced up through its belly with Harbinger as he shifted back.

For all that Maria had never worked with a partner, before—either she was beginning to warm to the concept, or Qrow was reading her exceptionally well.

Probably a little bit of both.

Another agonized roar rent the air, but Maria was prepared for it this time—and when its tail lashed towards her as she landed on its back, she was ready for that, too, her Preflexes helping her aim one of her sickles at just the right moment, shooting several rounds at its tail, cutting the last ten feet of the appendage off completely.

Breathing heavily, Maria braced herself on Death, which was embedded into the side of the things neck, just above its shoulder, and then leapt, swinging Life high above her head, aiming to drive it into the small weak point at the base of the monster’s skull.

 
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