Weiss folds her arms over her chest and huffs indignantly as the door slides shut, clear plexiglass sliding between her glare and Winter’s rueful smile.
“This is unnecessary,” Weiss snaps. It crackles on the comms and also through the glass, loud enough to arrive in the airlock in stereo, and Winter winces. “It’s not just unnecessary, it’s absurd to--”
“There’s a fourteen-day incubation period,” Winter says, sympathy building in her eyes. “I’m sorry, Weiss, but it’s a necessary precaution.”
“I’m not talking about that ,” Weiss throws back at her. She gestures indignantly over her shoulder to where Blake and Yang have already claimed one of the three beds, Blake curling into Yang’s side and nudging her nose into Yang’s neck, Yang’s hand absently tracing up and down Blake’s back and lips pressed against her hair. “I’m talking about sticking me in here with them .”
“Hey,” Yang says mildly. “Way to talk about your best friends, jerk.”
Weiss whirls around, hands planted on her hips aggressively and eyes snapping. “I have shared enough space with you two to know exactly what you’re going to do stuck in here for two weeks.”
“You’ll have access to the full library on your scrolls, as well as video streaming and combat simulations,” Winter offers.
“They’re going to have sex, Winter,” Weiss says bluntly. “While I’m in here. Stuck with them. For two weeks.”
Winter clears her throat loudly, posture snapping up straight. She’s relaxed, over the years, since leaving the military and making her own way as a huntress outside of Atlas’s rigidity, but her military posture has lingered, pushing through in small moments of discomfort. Moments like her sister talking about spending two weeks in an isolation chamber with her best friends while they have sex.
“We don’t just constantly have sex, you know,” Blake says mildly, leaning her head on Yang’s shoulder and relaxing into a more respectable posture while still managing to keep herself pressed entirely against Yang’s side.
“You’re right, sometimes you just stare at each other with big doe eyes and sigh romantically.” Weiss wrinkles her nose disdainfully and huffs out an irritated breath in their direction, glaring harder when Yang shrugs languidly and lifts one hand in a lazy salute.
“I can’t believe Ruby got out of this,” Weiss mutters. She turns back to Winter, desperation building in her voice. “Are we sure Ruby doesn’t also need to be in quarantine?”
“You really want to put a walking ball of energy into a contained space with three other people?” Winter’s eyebrow lifts.
“She’s Yang’s sister and even Yang will feel awkward about having sex in front of her sister,” Weiss says, gesturing wildly.
“Gross!” Yang yelps, a full body shudder dislodging Blake momentarily; Blake, unperturbed, leans back against her side once she settles and pats at her leg gently.
“Ruby was outside of the radius of--”
“I’m aware, thank you,” Weiss snaps. Behind Winter, one of the doctors comes into the airlock with a scroll in hand, flipping through their charts. “You. Doctor. We don’t really need to be in here, right?”
“I’m afraid so,” he says, wholly unsympathetic. “Given your exposure to an unknown contagion we can only go with our best guess based on similarly-acting contagions, most of which have an incubation period of ten to 14 days, so for everyone’s safety we need all of you to--”
“I don’t need you to explain basic epidemiology to me, I’m not a twelve year old,” Weiss says peevishly. “But do I really need to be stuck in here with them?”
The doctor blinks slowly at her, glancing past her to where Blake and Yang are now, of course, sitting a respectable distance apart and busying themselves with reading their scrolls.
“Yeah, your teammates ,” Blake drawls out, eyebrows lifting sardonically over her scroll. “Neither of us is complaining, you know, because we’re a team and we love you.”
“I’m going to murder every single one of you,” Weiss says with a groan, head thunking against the glass.
“We can speak over video conference,” Winter says helpfully. Weiss’s knuckles crash indignantly into the glass and the doctor jumps back. Winter doesn’t move except to sigh.
“I’m going to die in here,” Weiss says, mournful and whining. She straightens up from the glass and turns around from the now-empty airlock and lets out a loud groan because Blake and Yang are already making out.
Winter’s scroll dings in the middle of a training simulation, the warm ping of a message instead of the more metallic ringing indicator of a proximity or aura alert, and she ignores it until the simulation ends. Her summons fade away and disappear as she sheathes her weapon and drops her hands onto her knees, breathing heavily as her scroll pings again.
“You gonna get that?” Robyn’s leaning against the wall and fiddling with the sight on her crossbow, also winded just like Winter from training. “It’s probably your sister.”
“I know it is.” Winter straightens up with a sigh and a stretch.
“How’s she doing?”
Winter glances up from the first message on her scroll-- a set of mission reports from the fight that landed the three of them in quarantine, as well as a list of training simulations Weiss wants loaded into the system and a meeting invitation for post-quarantine to go over the latest SDC earnings reports and figure out how to undo the damage Whitley’s inexperience continues to cause the company-- to where Robyn’s arms are folded over her chest as she watches Winter appraisingly.
“As well as can be expected,” Winter says after a moment. “She doesn’t do well with downtime.”
“Sounds familiar.” Robyn pushes off of the wall and stretches, striding past Winter to the exit and dragging her fingertips along Winter’s forearm as she does. “Lock up when you’re done, yeah?”
Winter glares over her shoulder for long seconds until the door shuts behind Robyn and then huffs out a sigh and turns back to her scroll. The second message is a video recording, and she rubs at her forehead and hits play.
Weiss appears on screen, frown pulling at the scar over her eye.
“Winter,” she says drolly. The screen turns around to show a tilted video of Yang sitting on her bed with her mechanical arm detached and a screwdriver in hand, completely not focused on her arm because she’s staring with a soft look on her face at Blake, who’s curled into one of the chairs to read. The camera turns back around. “They’re so sappy I’m going to turn into a diabetic. Please, for the love of all things good in the world, pick up your damn scroll so I can talk to someone who isn’t a useless gay.”
“Hey,” Yang says in the background. “You’re a useless gay!”
Blake’s laugh floats in from off camera, Weiss’s glare turning lethal as the camera shuts off.
Winter sighs and closes the message, queuing up another training simulation, leaving her response for later.
Weiss’s video message is timestamped at just after three in the morning. It’s dark, her face half-hidden in shadows, chin propped in her hand and circles under her eyes. She stares at the camera silently for long seconds, long-suffering sigh half drowning out the indistinct background noise.
“They think that if they hide under the blankets I can’t hear them having sex,” she says, not bothering to keep her voice down. There’s a rustle of blankets in the background and an indignant hiss from someone. “But I can still hear them having sex because that’s not how sounds works. As much as I wish it did.”
A pillow flies into frame from offscreen, smashing into Weiss’s face. Weiss’s scroll falls over, the camera pointing up towards the ceiling and capturing the pillow flying back in the other direction and then another, and another, accompanied by Weiss yelling indecipherably.
Winter shuts her scroll off and turns it on silent except for emergency notifications and goes back to sleep.
Winter’s scroll dings in the middle of a briefing, and then again, and again. And again. Enough that Robyn stops and clears her throat, hands on her hips and one eyebrow raised in that maddening way that she always does when she wants to get on Winter’s nerves, and Winter clears her throat and excuses herself abruptly.
There are three messages from Ruby on her scroll and she glares down at them.
Weiss asked me to forward you this! and then: She said you’re not responding to her messages anymore and then: I’m also ignoring Yang so I get it.
There’s another video message from Weiss. Winter sighs and rolls her eyes towards the ceiling, breathes in deep through her nose, presses play.
Weiss has dark circles under her eyes and her hair’s piled unceremoniously into a knot on top of her head. She’s slumped in one of the chairs, her back to the room, the camera pointing past one shoulder to where Yang is doing pushups and then rotating over to where Blake is staring blatantly, scroll dangling from her fingertips and about to topple onto the floor.
The camera focuses back on Weiss’s tired, impassive face and then turns off.
Winter rolls her eyes and taps out a message, sending it off and silencing her scroll.
Tell Weiss I’ll respond to her messages when they’re not just her complaining.
She gets a raised eyebrow from Robyn when she rejoins the briefing and flushes unwillingly at it, settling precisely back into her seat and focusing carefully on the map behind Robyn’s shoulders. Her scroll vibrates six times before the briefing ends, and she’s rewarded with a series of expletives from Weiss when she finally opens them.
Winter comes back from a short mission outside of the kingdom’s walls and doesn’t have any messages from Weiss. She refreshes her inbox and, finding nothing, hums noncommittally.
“Everything okay, princess?” Robyn leans an elbow on her shoulder and hipchecks her gently.
“Don’t call me that,” Winter says automatically, and then pauses. “Things are probably fine, I just haven’t heard from Weiss in a few days. The doctors haven’t contacted me either so I assume everything is fine, but--”
“Hey, Fiona!” Robyn calls out towards the front of the ship. Her weight shifts and she leans forward, hand gripping at Winter’s shoulder for balance. “Can we swing by that quarantine hospital? Check on baby Schnee?”
“Sure,” Fiona says easily from up front, banking to starboard and redirecting their airship westward.
“--necessary,” Winter finishes. She sighs and rolls her head on her neck. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” Robyn squeezes at her shoulder and winks. “Always up for a field trip, right?”
Winter flushes and clears her throat, glaring across the hold to where May and Johanna are grinning wide and knowing at her and Robyn. Robyn’s hand doesn’t leave her shoulder until they land, even as she spends the rest of the ride talking with May about their next mission, and her shoulder burns when Robyn lets go and hops up to her feet.
The hospital is busy as always, but the quarantine floor is quiet. Robyn’s strolling casually alongside her with her hands in her pockets, and Winter keeps her posture sharp and focus narrow and on Weiss instead of on the way Robyn’s an easy comfort next to her.
The airlock opens familiarly and she steps in and pauses immediately. The room on the other side of the glass is disheveled and upended, one of the beds on its side and a chair upturned, pillows and blankets scattered around. Weiss is lounging on one of the other beds, scroll in hand and her other arm folded lazily under her head.
“Weiss,” Winter says sharply. “What--”
There’s an irritated grunt to the left, and Winter leans as far forward as she can to look and pauses because Yang is locked into a corner of the room, surrounded by a collection of glyphs. Winter raises an eyebrow and turns slowly to the right and sure enough, Blake is locked into the opposite corner, arms folded and foot tapping in irritation.
Behind her, Robyn laughs loudly, an outright guffaw, one hand gripping at Winter’s arm as she nearly doubles over laughing.
“Oh,” Weiss says. She props up on her elbows. “Hi.”
“Weiss,” Winter says after a moment. “Why--”
“I told them to stop screwing around,” Weiss says with a huff. “And they didn’t , and I can only spend so much time in here listening to them making out and I’m tired .”
“I’m going to murder you so dead when I get out of this,” Yang yells from her corner.
“Are you sure about that?” Robyn says through her laughter. “Ice princess beat both of you, it looks like.”
“She cheated,” Blake says with a huff from her corner. “Glyphs are cheating.”
“You made a clone to pretend you were reading in the middle of the night to try and hide the fact that you two were fucking--”
“Bold move,” Robyn says cheerfully. “Dumb, but bold.”
“You.” Weiss points sharply at Robyn, pausing only momentarily at the way she’s still got a gentle hold on Winter’s arm. “Your commentary isn’t required.”
Robyn snorts and folds her arms over her chest, and Winter sighs, rubs at her forehead, breathes. “Weiss,” she says lowly. “Can’t you just-- you’re over halfway through. Please.”
“Yeah,” Yang chimes in. “Please let us out of this .”
“I will if you can behave,” Weiss says, shrill and slightly manic. “If I turn around one more time to see your hand in Blake’s--”
“Whoa there, princess,” Robyn says calmingly, and a flash of irritation stabs through Winter at the nickname being applied to her sister.
Weiss’s glare shifts from Yang to the airlock and suddenly one of her arma gigas appears on the other side of the airlock and slaps at the back of Robyn’s head smugly.
“You can do that through walls ?” Blake says, jaw slack and arms falling down to her side, irritation forgotten. “That is--”
“So cool!” Yang crows. “When did you figure that out?” She leans anxiously towards Weiss, only to smack into one of the glyphs and get flung back into the wall.
“We’ll leave you three to discuss that,” Winter says diplomatically. She pulls her arm out of Robyn’s grip and turns, nearly bumping into her because Robyn’s gaping up at the arma gigas and the giant broadsword it’s holding lazily over one shoulder.
“Why don’t you have one of those ?” Robyn breathes out.
Winter glares back over her shoulder at Weiss, who’s let Blake and Yang out of their cages and is glaring at them with her hands on her hips, diminutive and overpowering and apparently so good at summoning now that she can be in an argument with her best friends and still keep a summons up and strong. She glares over at Robyn and yanks at her arm, summoning a beowulf to deal with the arma gigas and dragging Robyn out of the room.
She’s going to kill Weiss.
Winter has sixteen messages on her scroll when she wakes up. She blinks tiredly at the notifications and ignores them in favor of coffee and a shower and breakfast, until she has no excuse to ignore them anymore and can’t avoid her scroll because she needs it for work.
The camera is trained on Blake and Yang, Blake reverently brushing Yang’s hair and whispering in her ear and Yang flushing and tilting her head back to kiss Blake. A soft laugh reaches the camera, Yang actually giggling into her hand, and the camera tilts and suddenly a metal switch appears on the screen reaching out past the camera and stabbing Yang in the arm.
“Weiss, I swear to--”
The camera turns around and Weiss props her chin in her hand and looks dead into the lens.
“Since they’re just using one bed I took apart the other one so I can stab them every time they’re gross.”
Off camera, there’s the sound of someone else being stabbed and an indignant huff from Blake. Weiss stares blandly at the camera, not blinking when a pillow crashes into the side of her face.
Winter pockets her scroll with a sigh. The other fifteen messages can wait.
“Winter,” Weiss says desperately into the camera. “I can’t handle a whole other day in here. I’m going to kill them.” She glances past the camera and the unmistakable sounds of kisses, slow and languid and lazy, sounds in the background. Weiss lets out a whine and drops her head onto her arms. “I’m going to die in here and it’s going to be their fault and I’m changing my will so everything I own goes to Whitley because you’ve been worse than useless this whole time.”
“Winter,” Robyn says suddenly, not looking up from her computer. Winter freezes, hands hovering over the keyboard on her own computer, because Robyn’s called her many things-- Schnee and princess and blind tool of an authoritative jackass -- but she’s never called her by her first name before. “Hospital called. They’re ending the quarantine this afternoon.”
“Right,” Winter says after a moment. “Thank you for letting me know.”
“You going to go over there?” Robyn leans back, mission reports ignored, and stretches her arms over her head with a groan.
“I,” Winter says, hesitating. “There’s a lot of work to finish, and I know I’ve been distracted recently, and we would have heard if they were sick so I think I’ll just--”
“Yeah, nice try,” Robyn says. She pushes up from her desk. “Come on, let’s go. I’ll give you a ride.”
“A-- I can drive myself--” Winter says indignantly.
“Does that matter?” Robyn drops her hands onto her hips and raises an eyebrow, offers one ungloved hand to Winter. “Let’s find out.”
Winter glares up at her and then down at her hand, at the taunt of her semblance, and stands on her own. “I can go on my own.”
“I mean, you can, sure.” Robyn falls into step with her as she stalks out of the room. “But I’m bored and need a break from paperwork, and also there’s a great dumpling place near that hospital. You can buy me lunch to make up for being distracted recently.” She turns and backs through the door in front of Winter, grinning broadly at her, and Winter glares in response because it’s easier than anything else.
Winter glowers the whole trip to the hospital, deliberately ignoring Robyn’s obnoxiously knowing grin and focusing on landing the airship and stalking into the hospital with Robyn following along placidly, hands tucked into her pockets.
The doctors are already at the airlock, opening the doors for Weiss and Yang and Blake, when they turn the corner. Yang’s the first one to burst out, stretching out like a starfish until all of her joints crack and her hair flickers bright with her semblance, a satisfied exhale bursting out past her lips at the new freedom.
Blake follows after her, more reserved but still relieved, one hand curling absently along Yang’s hip as she slides past her in the hallway. Behind her, Weiss stalks out with her arms folded over her chest. She catches Winter’s eye and then her gaze slides over to Robyn and she stops immediately, jaw clenching, before she practically stomps over towards them.
“You,” she says, jabbing a finger into Winter’s sternum. “I just spent two weeks with the most useless gay idiots I have ever dealt with in my life, so I swear on all things good and holy in this world that if you continue to also act like a useless fucking lesbian I will find a way to make our entire family disown you.”
“Weiss,” Winter hisses out, ears burning, but Weiss stabs her in the chest again.
“Not a word!” she says shrilly. Her gaze skids over to Robyn, one side of her mouth curling up into a sneer, and Robyn immediately holds her hands up pacifyingly.
“No need to threaten me,” she hurries out. “I’m doing my best here, okay. Don’t stab me with your creepy knight thing.”
“Hmph,” Weiss says with a huff. “I’m going to go spend a month on a beach by myself and no one is allowed to talk to me unless Salem herself is brought back onto this mortal coil and needs to be killed again.”
“Bye, Weiss,” Yang calls out conversationally from where she’s standing wrapped around Blake’s back, chin propped on her shoulder. “Love you, gonna miss you, send us a postcard.”
“I hate you both,” Weiss says over her shoulder as she shoves past Robyn and Winter. There’s a familiarity in her voice anyways, weighty and loaded, and Winter watches as Weiss looks back to Blake and Yang and softens, immeasurable affection plain on her features. “Call me when we get a mission.”
Yang salutes her cockily, hand tapping against Blake’s forehead instead of her own, and Blake rolls her eyes and nudges her temple against Yang’s. Weiss rolls her eyes and stalks off, skidding to a halt when Ruby speeds around the corner in a flurry of rose petals. She hugs Ruby with a sigh and then points her wordlessly towards Blake and Yang and continues on her way.
“Where’s she going?” Ruby says innocently, and it’s enough to make Robyn snort with laughter. Yang untangles herself from Blake and slings an arm around her shoulders instead, other arm flopping around Ruby’s, and they set off down the hallway.
“To be antisocial for a month, apparently,” Blake says with a shrug.
“So she’ll get bored and be home in a week, right?” Ruby says.
“A week,” Yang says with a scoff. “Three days tops. Now come on, I want to go outside and punch something.” They turn the corner, leaving Winter and Robyn suddenly alone in the hallways, and Winter’s teeth grind together because Robyn has her arms folded and that godsforsaken cocky smile on her face as she stares unabashedly at Winter.
“So,” Robyn says conversationally. “About you buying me some dumplings. As a date .”
“I hate you so much,” Winter mutters, but she crooks an arm out politely anyways and pretends her stomach doesn't twist pleasantly when Robyn ceremoniously hooks a hand into her elbow.
Her scroll pings with a message when they’re halfway back to the airship, and Winter sighs, because it’s from Weiss.
I’m happy for you, she’s texted, and Winter’s steps stutter for a moment and her cheeks flush as another message comes through. But seriously if you do not get it together I will literally kill you. I’ve had enough gay nonsense to last the rest of my life.
A screenshot of a round trip ticket to Argus pops up. If you don’t have it sorted out by the time I’m home, I’m locking you in a closet with her.
Winter thinks back to Blake and Yang shoved into separate corners and held there with glyphs, of the arma gigas appearing behind Robyn and smacking her, of Weiss at the end of her patience, and gulps. She glances over to Robyn’s profile-- smiling lazily as she flips rapidly through messages on her own scroll, waiting for Winter to be ready to talk-- and sighs.
Who knew what could come out of a quarantine, apparently.