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Private [M] 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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Maybe alone this thing would have taken awhile, but at both their skill levels...this was going faster than he would have preferred. Still, wasn't like he was having a bad time. Mood still...honestly not great, but already knew there wasn't really a fix for that. Take the sting out of it with a bit of blood, but he felt its claws deep enough in his mind. Which sounded ridiculous to even think. Probably because it was. But the entire situation was.

Maria took his place on its back; Qrow quickly moving to the front to try to pull its attention from her. That tail was strong, and the thing was getting pretty pissed off. Wounds were clearly having an effect. Its movements slower; ground genuinely starting to get slick from its blood.

Qrow held Harbinger in front of him; aiming the barrel of its shotgun dead between the eyes, as Maria hit the soft spot on the back of its skull.

He fired.

The thing screamed, before flopping over; ground shaking from the sheer size of it. Qrow put a hand on his hip, as he caught his breath. His mood was still shit, but the adrenaline helped something. The pity party slightly less overwhelming than it had been before he fought the thing.

Qrow remained where he stood for a bit, knowing he should...probably say something to her. To everyone, but her in particular. She just wanted to help, and he shut literally everyone out.

This...was yet another example of why he was better off alone. Emotions weren't something he took much pride in dealing with. It was easier to just distance himself from everyone, rather than actually deal with anything. And when he did 'deal' with things, it turned into a fight - sometimes physical - half the time.

Most of the time.

"Thing went down easier than I was expecting," he finally broke the silence, finally glancing over at Maria, "And...I probably owe you an apology for earlier," his gaze fell onto the blood by his feet, a sigh on his lips, "Probably should have just stayed offline in the first place. But, screwing everything up is a gift."

Literally
 
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Maria’s arms trembled with the effort it took to drive Life’s blade home into the base of the monster’s skull. At the same time, Qrow had been keeping the thing distracted, and then shifted Harbinger into its long-range mode—which had apparently gotten a lot more sophisticated since she was last in Remnant—delivering the final blow to the monster’s head. And then it was falling. Which she’d anticipated, but there was still that wild moment where she felt suspended in time, before it caught up to her and she began to tumble through the air.

Thankfully, the creature was large enough that she had time to snatch Life and Death out of its corpse, firing several rounds at the ground to slow her descent. (Even without attending an academy, Maria knew the importance of a landing strategy.)

She landed on the ground several yards away in a cat-like crouch, taking a few seconds to catch her breath before slowly standing, sheathing the blades of her sickles, and stowing the handles away beneath her cloak.

The creature resembled a small mountain, now that it had collapsed completely, and Maria watched as its blood—an odd, bluish shade of green—oozed across the ground. The silence stretched for a bit, almost uncomfortable, mostly because there was that elephant in the room—boundaries overstepped, tempers flared, possible misunderstandings.

The fight really hadn’t been long enough. It probably would have, were either of them alone—but they weren’t, were they?

Maria honestly wasn’t sure she could say she would have preferred it that way.

Finally, feeling like someone had to say something, Maria opened her mouth to speak—but Qrow beat her to it, breaking the silence. She huffed a soft laugh in agreement, arms crossing over her chest as she spared one last glance toward the dead beast before turning towards Qrow—he was close enough, now, that she had to look up to meet his eyes, and there was a moment where she wanted to… she wasn’t even sure. But the fight drained out of her before she could really work it up, aided in large part by his apology.

Her expression softened, and then she shook her head with a sigh. “You don’t have to apologize, Qrow. Not to me.” She looked back up at him, tilting her head—as if she couldn’t quite figure him out. “And I’m sorry I edged in on your kill, I just… needed to hit something, and this was biggest. I’m not…” She blew out a frustrated breath, running a hand through her hair. “I’m used to being alone. I should’ve realized that’s what you were after. And I shouldn’t have pushed, I just…”

How was she supposed to tell this guy that she’d begun to take it for granted that he’d want her around?

“You didn’t screw anything up,” she finished quietly, suddenly very intent on studying a nearby bush, as her cheeks darkened with the slight heat rising in them.

 
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The fight drained out of her eyes with his apology; something he didn't really feel like he deserved. Part of him wanted her to yell at him. Say exactly what she wanted to say, instead of just pitying the sad bastard. He hated pity. Yet it was common with anyone who knew his Semblance. People felt bad for the poor bastard who always dropped toast butter-side down, after all.

"I'll shoot the other guys an apology text later," he vaguely stated - glancing up at her as she struggled to say whatever it was she was trying to say; a brow rising.

Oh.

While he modeled how to be a Hunter after her, there were differences. Qrow could easily text people he was trying to keep a distance from, without fucking up their day with his literal prescence. It let him keep tabs on people he cared about, without putting them in danger. Because of that, he leaned on the use of his scroll a lot for...company. But Maria hadn't had that, had she? When choosing to fight and be alone, she was really...alone.

"Fight help at all?" he asked, watching her.

She was wrong. He had screwed up...pretty much everything. If he had just stayed offline or accepted what Oz was trying to do - even if he didn't agree with it - then nothing would have happened. Maria wouldn't be annoyed enough to need to take it off on a giant monster.

As usual, he was at the very center of everything going wrong.

"C'mon. Let's get out of here," he started to walk away from the corpse of the thing, with a hand motion, "Think it's supposed to rain soon, anyway."
 
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Maria nodded—she really couldn’t speak for the others, as to whether or not they felt he owed them apologies. She could only speak for herself, and it was obvious from the way he looked at her that he didn’t agree. But that wasn’t an argument she was interested in having right now. Instead, she focused on his question, turning to look back at the hulking corpse in the distance, letting her arms fall back to her sides, one hand resting on her hip as she turned back to him, a crooked smile on her lips.

“Short, but worth it,” she said, with a self-satisfied nod. ”Y’know, I’ve been wanting to see you in action in a fight. A real fight,” she added with a laugh. “The night we met hardly counts, those men could barely tie their shoes, let alone provide a challenge. But this?” Maria jerked a thumb over her shoulder. “That was poetry. I’m impressed.”

Another bit of an awkward silence stretched, and Maria shifted her weight—not quite nervous, but unsure—should she make her excuses and leave? or admit that she could use a ride to the portal hub?—but before she could wonder any of it out loud, Qrow spoke again.

Maria blinked for a moment, in mild surprise, before she moved to follow him. “Are you sure?” she asked, practically having to jog to catch up to him. (He was really, really tall. Somehow it was hitting differently right now, and she wasn’t sure why.) “Not that I wanted to walk back to the portal in the rain, but- if you had somewhere you wanted to be, I don’t wanna intrude. Again,” she added with a rueful grin up at him.

 
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Maria was smiling again, at least. Qrow hadn't quite sucked the happiness out of her yet. That was...something. He actually ended up mirroring the expression as she went on about seeing him fight.

"Think you just stole my line, he hands in his pockets, as she went on about how they met - and how the guys they were fighting really weren't worth note. She was right. He had hardly even broken a sweat during that. Qrow's smile widened a bit more at her calling seeing him fight, poetry.

"Cheap flattery will get you everywhere with me," he shot her a side glance with a wink, before his gaze rose to the foreboding sky. Yeah, definitely going to rain. And soon. The air had that ionized smell and taste, that meant something nasty was coming.

Qrow glanced over his shoulder as she jogged to catch up to him, "Yeah, yeah. I'm sure" he kept walking - slowing his pace some so it'd be easier for Maria to keep up with him. It was roughly how fast he walked when he was with his nieces.

"I don't have anywhere to be, which is why I'm out here killing big things to let off steam," he admitted, eyes focused ahead, "Up to you what happens next. I can drive you back to the portal, or you can come over. I have plenty to drink, on this shit day," he offered, raising his brow slightly as he glanced over at her.

There were...worse people to spend time with.
 
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“Oh, will it? I’ll have to remember that.” There was a cheeky slant to her grin, a gleam in her eyes she could probably have disguised if she really wanted to—but there were all kinds of ways her words could be taken, she knew it, he knew it, and she really had no interest in hiding that fact, or playing coy. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t gotten plenty bold with each other in the group chat, anyway—mostly because Oz and James’ reactions were hilarious, and Maria probably enjoyed scandalizing them way more than she should have, but also because it was… an easy pattern to fall into with him, for some reason.

A reason she really wasn’t interested in examining right now. Perhaps because she was mildly worried about what she would find. Not that she was about to admit it.

So she fell into step beside him, appreciating the way he shortened his strides to match hers—it really wasn’t the most dignified of situations, having to jog to keep up with a tall friend. Not that she had much experience with it—having friends in general, not just tall ones—but still, the point remained. I’m sure, he said, and that was… very reassuring.

Because, in all honesty, Maria didn’t really want to be alone right now. Hadn’t in the first place, which was how she’d been in this predicament to begin with. And evidently Qrow didn’t mind spending the time he’d wanted to be alone with her, and she wasn’t about to pass up that opportunity.

Especially if alcohol was involved. Because she could really use a drink, after all the weird emotions and the… that, and the adrenaline—alcohol was a great neutralizer, after all.

Qrow said it was up to her, but really, she’d made her decision as soon as he started talking. Maria shot another crooked grin up at him, raising an eyebrow in return. “Alright, Branwen—you’re on. You might wind up regretting this, but no takebacks.” Her eyes traveled from his face to the sky above, at the clouds gathering, angry and dismal. Almost matching her mood, except that it had improved drastically over the past few minutes.

“Show me what you got. I’ll try not to drink you under the table.”

 
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She was apparently still on to hang out with him. A smirk settling on his features as they walked back to his car.

"Bring it, Calavera," he challenged, as they came up on his truck. Out of habit - and yet another way to be sorry on being a piece of shit - he opened her door for her, before wandering over to his own.

The drive was quiet, but not the bad sort. Neither of them really seemed to be in a good mood from the day; her mood likely a direct result of his. Wasn't exactly fair that he went off like that. To anyone. Least he could do was get over himself and offer some alcohol.

Maybe an explanation.

But alcohol first.
Definitely alcohol first.

They arrived at his apartment - Qrow silently guiding her up to the studio. He unceremoniously went straight for the alcohol - bottle just sitting on the counter from the night before. There was more - just away in cabinets.

He liked being prepared.

It was some fairly cheap whiskey, since he was trying to save up to live somewhere not terrible. Not quite bottom shelf, but definitely not top.

Grabbing two glasses, he opened the freezer and dumped a handful of whiskey stones into each. Might as well make it half nice, and take the edge off. The day itself was sharp enough.

He poured a generous amount in each glass, before handing it off to Maria in the living room/bedroom/rest of his apartment that wasn't the kitchen, and clinked his glass against hers.

There...wasn't really any furniture. Just a mattress shoved in a corner. A cheap TV on a coffee table. A tortoise that was currently just in the corner hanging out.

He leaned his back against the wall and sat down, glancing over at her.

"Here's to drinking alone, together," he took a sip of his drink, before sighing and leaning his head back against the wall, "Hope this at least slightly unfucks your day, Maria. Really didn't mean to pull other people into my own personal shit-storm."
 
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The ride over to Qrow’s apartment wasn’t terribly long, and while it was quiet, it wasn’t the sort of horribly awkward silence that tended to gather around any number of elephants in any given room. In fact, it was almost… pleasant, just sitting in the cab of his truck, watching the outskirts of Pandopolis give way to the buildings of the city, and then the slightly more rundown part of town where the cheapest apartments were located. Which, honestly, wasn’t terribly off-putting—Maria’d certainly slept in places a lot worse, and she was pretty sure her own apartment, or at least the building next to it, was haunted, so she wasn’t about to complain.

Besides, her own studio in Cascade wasn’t all that much bigger.

Granted, she’d sprung for a bedframe, but Maria had to admit that Qrow kind of rocked the whole ‘cheap ass apartment’ aesthetic—and besides, it was far better than nothing at all. Considering how long he’d spent on various couches, from what she could remember, the fact that he had his own place at all was progress.

And he had booze. Not great, but not swill either. She’d definitely had worse nights.

There were still some emotions she hadn’t yet processed, and perhaps didn’t exactly care to, but she accepted the whiskey Qrow handed her, clinked glasses, and then took a generous gulp, relishing the feeling of the alcohol as it burned down her throat. “A whole lot better than just drinking alone,” she replied, shooting him a smirk as she took another sip. She slid over to the counter, setting her glass down long enough to hoist herself up, and then tilted her head as she looked over at him, one eyebrow slightly raised.

“Eh, who says my day wasn’t already fucked?” she asked, draining the rest of her glass in another gulp and then grabbing for the bottle to pour herself some more. “Want to talk about it? I promise, I won’t judge. Everyone has off days. Sometimes it’s nice to commiserate. And it did seem like something was bothering you, other than me.”

 
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Qrow shook his head and smirked as Maria mentioned her day may have already been fucked. He wasn't sure if that was a comfort or just added more fuel to the fire of him shitting on everything. If her day was already in the shitter, then him being a dick hadn't exactly made it better. May have been what pushed her over the edge to need to kill something to feel alive.

Then the question turned to him - a smile fading as he didn't bother to look up. He knew his face already told half the story. He preferred to just ignore these sorts of things, most of the time. Just wait them out until he just...felt less shitty. Less like a plague on the world, and more like an actual living, breathing, human.

Sometimes he'd just turn into a crow and disappear for a few days on end. The others didn't really know, since he normally kept his distance most of the time back home. Always out on a mission, so nobody around to notice the wild depression.

But...he wasn't alone right now, was he?

Qrow let the apartment sit in silence, outside of some random clicking from Soup in the corner. Meant the tortoise was content, and just wanted to contribute to the conversation. After a bit, he took a long drink of his glass. It was too much to shoot back, so he just chugged what was there - grimacing when the glass was empty.

Fuck the cheap shit burned.

"Not really," he admitted, with a shrug of his shoulders.

Pushing himself back to his feet, he leaned past Maria to refill - sliding the bottle so it was easier to reach. With a bit of hesitation, he topped off Maria's glass, before resettling on the floor - glancing up at her.

"Probably should though, huh?" a smirk pulling at his lips, as he leaned on his knees, gaze falling back to the tortoise, "I...always chose to be alone, because of my Semblance. I saw how it affected my team back in the Academy, and gave up. I sort of thought that I'd actually...not be a terrible person if it wasn't for Misfortune. That I could be around people, and it wouldn't...fuck everything up," he glanced down at the floor, feeling like he was saying a whole lot of nothing, "Then I came to Pandora and found out about the last me. That other guy. He cheated on his girlfriend, abandoned Oz and...everyone, from what I can tell. Endanged Daye's fucking kid. He was just...he showed me that it's not just the Semblance that should be keeping me away from everyone, but people are just better off without me," he wasn't trying to be dramatic - this was what he genuinely felt, "And I guess...the stupid holiday tomorrow is just a fun little reminder that this isn't a choice, it's something I have to do," he took a long drink from his glass, but didn't quite finish it, "So yeah. That's why I'm in a shit mood. Just a pity party about being a terrible person," he made a cheers motion with his glass at Maria, finally glancing up at her, "Now, your turn."
 
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Not really, he said, and Maria shrugged in response, taking another sip of her drink. It wasn’t like she could force him to talk about it if he really didn’t want to—even if she could, she wouldn’t have, because the whole point was to drink away whatever was bothering them, not… force it all out in the open.

It wasn’t as if he owed her an explanation, either. She just happened to be there. They were existing in the same space, and that was enough, she wasn’t going to press. It was nice, too, to just sit there in companionable silence, which didn’t really feel like it needed to be broken—but then he stood up, and he refilled his own glass and then topped up hers, and her eyes followed his movement as he sat back down, sipping his drink and speaking.

It seemed like he wanted to talk about it after all. Or at least felt he should.

Maria was quiet as Qrow explained things—how he’d always been alone, because of his Semblance. Because of how his Misfortune affected those around him, affected his team, and how he felt they were better off if he wasn’t around. The look on her face wasn’t pity, but there was a flash of almost desperate sadness before she took a stiff pull of her drink, focusing on the burning sensation as the liquid made its way down her throat to her stomach, before looking back at him. The last thing he probably wanted, right now, was that intense, almost sharp burst of empathy that had her wanting to argue everything he was saying.

She liked him, after all—having him around, even with a Semblance designed to keep the people around him on their toes. It made things interesting, but she’d never once wished he didn’t have it—the thought of blaming him when something went wrong simply hadn’t occurred to her, and probably wouldn’t, no matter what he had to say about it.

But the thing was, she wasn’t sure she had the right to tell him that.

And that, really, was the crux of her own issue.

With a soft sigh, Maria drained the rest of her glass, and then slipped down from the counter. She grabbed the bottle, taking a moment to steady herself (she wasn’t anywhere close to drunk yet, but she was… kind of a lightweight, and she could already feel a pleasant warmth settling into her brain, thoughts fogging around the edges), and then she moved around to Qrow’s other side, sliding to a sitting position beside him and refilling her glass before offering him the bottle.

“That other guy sounds like a real prick,” she finally said, the words turning themselves over in her mind before spilling out of her mouth. “But he doesn’t sound like you.” She leaned over, gently shoving at his shoulder with hers, before taking another sip and letting the whiskey roll over her tongue as she considered what else to say—what else she could say. “It… might not mean much, coming from me,” she said with a slight shrug, “but… I don’t think you’re terrible, whatever your Semblance says, or some past version of you did. I know I haven’t known you for long, but I’m glad we met, you know?” She flashed him a grin, lifting the glass to her lips for another sip. “And you better not disappear on me. I’m not used to having friends, but I really don’t think I’d handle losing them very well.”

Her expression shifted to something more somber as he turned the question back on her. Now, your turn. She grimaced for a moment, but he was right—it was only fair.

Still, she knocked back the rest of her glass before continuing.

“I… don’t think I really belong here,” Maria said, after a lengthy pause, staring at the empty glass in her hands. “I’m out of time, you know? I’m not- you’re all at least from the same generation, even the man who’s a thousand years old came from the same time as the rest of you. But me? I was an old lady when you met me, and nothing more than a legend to anyone else. I don’t fit. And that normally doesn’t bother me—I’ve never really fit anywhere, it’s part of why I was always alone, always on the move—but Pandora…”

She sighed, leaning her head back against the wall and fixing her silver-eyed gaze on the ceiling. “As far as I can tell, Pandora saved me. In Remnant, I lost my eyes and disappeared, right? I just quit. Like none of it meant a damn thing. And then I come here, and Grimm aren’t nearly the threat they used to be, I’m a bounty hunter because it pays the bills, and I stumble into a group of people from back home except the Remnant I remember and the one you guys came from almost feel like different planets, and… I shouldn’t care about this, but I do. I was always fine being alone, before, it shouldn’t be hard to just go back to that.”

Maria turned her head, giving Qrow a sidelong glance. “I guess I’ve gotten used to having you around. All of you. And sometimes the reminder that I’m not… one of you just… hits harder than I expect it to.” She gave him a rueful grin. “So really, it wasn’t your fault. Just a perfect storm of bullshit feelings, and killing a big monster seemed like a great distraction.”

 
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He didn't really feel any better having told her. Qrow knew people pushed that all the fucking time. Talk about it, it helps. Not...really. It just brought feelings that were fading back to the surface. Nothing was shoved off his chest or mind; now he was just thinking about every last fucking detail. About how not only did he cheat on Daye, but it was with a friend that she apparently hadn't been a fan of in the first place. He didn't know her very well or very long, but her judgement of people seemed like something not to be taken lightly. Yet he had. Chosen this friend over her, and slept with them. Which put a kid in danger. If it was just one thing, he could maybe - just possibly - come up with some sort of elaborate way for it to make sense. It'd still be absolute bullshit, but less...disgusting. Yet all of it stacked together was just too much for him.

Too fucking much.

He had known the entire thing for awhile, but he still couldn't shake it.

Qrow's gaze followed Maria as she grabbed the bottle and shoved herself off the counter; a ghost of a smile pulling at his lips as she steadied herself. Lightweight. She sat next to him, which wasn't what he was expecting really. Maybe disgust. Maybe finishing her glass and leaving.

Instead she sat down, and called the other guy a prick.
Then said it didn't sound like him.

A shoulder shove hitting the point home.

"As many times people say that, it...literally is me."

He fell quiet and watched her - sipping at his drink as he did.
I don't think you're terrible.
I'm glad we met.
And you better not disappear on me.

An actual smile found his lips, as he found himself leaning against her...just a bit.

Qrow idly grabbed the bottle and topped himself off as she continued with her whole bullshit she was dealing with. He already told himself he wouldn't interrupt, even if he disagreed with something. Alcohol had a fun way of loosening his already liberal tongue; but it was important he let her say her piece first. Then could loudly disagree with it.

"You are one of us," no hesitation in his voice at all, as he rose a brow, "...Maria. Look where you are right now. You're sitting and drinking with the man who literally told everyone to fuck off not that long ago. If anything, that means you're more one of us than those other assholes," he smiled, before taking a longer swig, "Only reason I was a dick, earlier, wasn't because you're new in the group. It was because...I really didn't want to be around anyone. Oz could have shoved James or even himself in that spot, and I would have reacted the same. I wanted to be alone. That wasn't directed at you," he watched her as he spoke, "Yeah...maybe you come from a different time, but you fit in really well with this group if you haven't noticed. I'm at least a fan," he winked, before draining his glass.
 
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You are one of us, he said, without a moment’s hesitation.

It was enough to make Maria freeze.

It wasn’t that she’d been expecting him to agree with her, exactly—really, she wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting. Another drink, maybe some companionable silence, commiserating while the whiskey dwindled and one or both of them passed out. Instead, he pushed back—flat out told her she was wrong—and it… well. It was enough to make her think. She returned his smile, leaning over to grab the bottle and attempting to hold her glass steady so she could refill it. Not exactly successful, she gave up after a moment, shrugging as she took a swig from the bottle itself.

Perhaps there was a bit of a blush on her cheeks, or maybe that was just courtesy of the alcohol—but she felt slightly flushed by the time he finished, admitting to being a fan. She couldn’t help a laugh, leaning into him—maybe a little more than she should have, but there was a nice warmth pooling in the pit of her stomach by now, her brain was pleasantly foggy, and something about his voice was sending delicious shivers running down her spine.

She liked it, she decided—that raspy baritone.

Especially when he said her name.

After a moment she leaned back up, if only so she could get a good look at his face as she raised her eyebrows, gesturing at him with the bottle in her hand. “Alright—fair enough. But riddle me this, Branwen—if you don’t wanna be around anyone, what am I doing here?” There was a crooked slant to her smirk as she took another sip from the bottle, before focusing back on him. “You could’ve just taken me to the portal, y’know. ‘Stead of havin’ me here, drinkin’ all your whiskey.”

 
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Alright, he was definitely feeling that alcohol. The sharp edge of alllll the bullshit, getting worn down into something almost manageable. His eyes naturally not opening as much as they normally did. Qrow's cheeks a bit red, for no real reason. This...was why he drank. This was why he didn't really want to stop drinking. It just...fixed things. Made life way more doable than it was before.

Qrow felt Maria lean back against him; causing his own smile to widen a bit. Felt nice. Probably she was a fan what he just said; which he meant every word of. Honestly, they all fought...pretty much constantly back home. Even when they didn't get along here, it was still better than it used to be. Yet Maria just...fit. Fit and made everyone feel more like a group of friends, rather than just random people who worked for Oz to some extent.

He glanced down at her, as she looked up at him.

What...was she doing here? It was a pretty damned fair question, considering what his mood was earlier. Qrow shrugged, when words failed him - attempting to make sense of it himself.

"Guess you're just better than those other assholes," he admitted - still watching her as he spoke.

Then he just...kissed her.

Leaned down to fix the distance between their faces; a hand raising to cup her cheek.

For once, his head was empty. No thoughts telling him he wasn't enough or was a waste of air. Instead, there was only Maria, and the taste of the cheap whiskey on her tongue.
 
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Her smirk widened into a genuine smile. It… felt right. To be sitting here, with him, nicely buzzed but not so drunk that she’d lost any of her awareness, which was good because she kind of liked being aware. Meeting his eyes, focusing on that particular shade of red until just about everything else fell away. And, for the moment at least, she could believe him.

She belonged. She fit. And this was the proof. Maybe all the proof she needed.

Maybe that was the point.

Maria bit her lip as he spoke, her gaze drifting down to settle on his mouth. Good answer, she thought—but before she could say it, his mouth was on hers.

Oh.

Oh.

For a moment, her eyes widened—a hum of surprise in the back of her throat, which quickly changed to a pleased sort of purr. Silver eyes drifted shut, and she found herself pressing into him, tilting her head to change the angle of the kiss and enjoying the very pleasant warmth that was spreading from the pit of her stomach.

While she still retained some small presence of mind, Maria set the bottle of whiskey aside, and then she shifted—one hand went to the back of his neck, drifting up to tangle in his hair, and the other settled on his chest, fingers absently moving to the buttons of his shirt, stumbling over them as she attempted to pry them loose.

It was almost funny, really, how she’d entirely skipped over the is this happening stage. There was no confusion, nor any real surprise after that very first moment. Like something had just fallen into place, and now that it had, there was no room for anything else in her head. Nothing but the taste of him, and the feel of his heart beating beneath her fingertips.

 
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//Setting Wednesday as my next posting day, see you all soon <3 //
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