It was a normal day for Oakley. He woke up at 7am on the dot, had a shower, got dressed and did his hair and makeup. His older brother, Jasper, was making breakfast before he had to leave for work. Jasper worked two part-time jobs, both at different restaurants as a chef, to keep the family of two afloat. Oakley was very thankful for his brother agreeing immediately to take him in after their parents kicked him out, and showed his appreciation as often as he could.
Oakley slid into his favorite stool at the breakfast counter, grinning a toothy grin at Jasper. The eldest turned around from where he was cooking an omelette and returned the smile, although he seemed more tired.
“Morning, kiddo! Sleep well?” He asked, his voice cheerful despite the clear dark circles hanging below his eyes.
“Yep. What time does your shift start?” Oakley replied, resting his chin in his palm and yawning. Jasper rounded the counter with the frying pan, giving the omelette inside a dramatic flip before sliding it onto Oakley’s waiting plate. Oakley giggled slightly at the trick.
“Quarter to 8 today, bud,” he replied, giving Oakley’s dark hair a ruffle. “Why? You need a ride to the cafe?”
Oakley’s shoulders slumped. “Yeah, I was hoping for one, but I work at 9.. It’s alright, I can walk.”
“You sure? I could give you some cash, you can take a bus or call a cab?” Jasper suggested, a frown falling across his features. Oakley hated when Jasper frowned. That usually meant that Oakley had done something to make him worried or upset.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” Oakley waved off, cutting into his breakfast. “I’ll keep one earbud out in case someone tries to pull a fast one, and I know basic hand-to-hand, so I think I can handle myself.”
Oakley could tell that Jasper wasn’t satisfied but didn’t press. Instead, he sighed and ruffled the younger’s hair once more-- much to the boy’s protests.
“If you’re positive,” Jasper relented, moving to make himself a piece of toast. Oakley watched him, quietly munching on his meal.
After Jasper finished buttering it and took a bite, Oakley asked, “you don’t want an omelette?”
His brother gave him a small smile. “Not that hungry today, kiddo.”
Later, after Jasper had left for work, Oakley opened the fridge and peered inside. There were no eggs left.
Oakley didn’t like walking to work. The route he took had no option for side-routes, meaning he was walking right through the bustling main road where all the scary people hung out. People and Faunus alike doing drugs, dealing drugs, kidnapping children (according to Jasper, Oakley never watches the news) and.. Other stuff that Oakley really didn’t want to think about. Every time he passed someone else on the sidewalk, his fingers would clench around the strap of his messenger bag and his heart would skip with fear. Any one of these people could be a threat. On top of that, ever since he left the house he’d gotten a strange.. Feeling in his head. It felt kind of like a headache- the pressure was there, but there wasn’t any real pain. More like the ghost of a feeling, his nerves playing tricks on him. His heart felt heavy in his chest but he wasn’t sad. Dread was piling in his gut, but he chalked that one up to his fear of walking on the main road.
When he finally reached the cafe that he worked at, he entered through the back door and set his messenger bag down on the desk. A mop of red hair poked through the doorway to the back room, golden eyes warm and welcoming as always.
“Good morning, Oak!” Garnet chirped. “Did you eat breakfast already? I just pulled this morning’s muffins out of the oven. They’re still warm!”
Oakley chuckled, unplugging his earbuds from his scroll and stuffing both in his bag. “Yeah, I already ate. Thanks, though. Been busy this morning?”
Garnet flashed a glance out into the seating area and sighed. “Not a single soul since we opened. Honestly, you’d think there’d be more morning people in this city!” Despite her sharp words, Garnet looked as cheerful as always.Too cheerful, really. Don’t get him wrong, Oakley loved seeing Garnet but sometimes her energy and high spirits made him feel drained.
With a reserved smile, Oakley moved out of the backroom to refill the coffee pots and place various pastries in the display rack. When the first customers began to trickle in about an hour later, he could already tell it was going to be a rough day.
Oakley pushed open the door to their small apartment in lower Mistral, plopping his empty water bottle on the counter and heading to his bedroom to put his bag away. Only once he had flopped face-first onto his soft mattress did he realize he hadn’t seen Jasper making dinner in the kitchen when he’d walked in. Oakley already had an idea of what this meant, but he shuffled out into the kitchen anyways. He noticed the note stuck to the fridge with a frog magnet right away. Oakley felt his shoulders slump, but he approached it to read what it had to say anyways.
‘Got a call right when I was about to start dinner and had to go into work. Guess who called in sick again tonight?
I’m sorry. I know I promised movie night tonight. We can reschedule for tomorrow.
Forgive me? : )
Love you, last night’s leftovers are in the fridge,
Of course. Oakley knew that today was going to be a bad one. Even though he understood, Oakley couldn’t help but feel annoyed at Jasper for cancelling the movie again. He had done that the previous night, and the night before that. Oakley wondered if the same thing would happen tomorrow night. And it wasn’t really the movie night that Oakley was upset about. Jasper was barely home these days. That morning when he’d been making breakfast had been a special treat-- usually Jasper had already left. Oakley was, quite honestly, worried about his health. He noticed the slump in his shoulders whenever Jasper thought he wasn’t looking, noticed the growing dark circles and bags handing under his eyes. Jasper was working himself into an early grave, and for Oakley of all people? Oakley knew he didn’t deserve his brother. He’d gotten a job to try and help pay for groceries and bills, but Jasper had shook his head and told him to keep the money for himself. Oakley still helped, though, even if Jasper wasn’t aware. He’d sneak lien into his big brother’s wallet when he left it on the kitchen counter after a long day, or into his pocket when he gave him a hug before he left for work. Oakley was pretty sure Jasper had caught on by now but he hadn’t said anything so Oakley kept doing it.
He needed to stop thinking. Oakley could feel the faint pounding in his head increase as his worry rose. The young boy sighed, deciding to just skip dinner and go right to bed. He made his way back to his bedroom, closed the door with his foot and curled up on his bed. Maybe things would get better tomorrow.
Things were very much not better when Oakley was yanked out of dreams filled with flames, searing white pain and a woman’s voice accompanied by glowing amber eyes.
“Salem sends her regards.”
Those four words sent shivers down Oakley’s spine, but he didn’t know why. His head was still pounding, but there was less pressure in the back of his head and more like.. A presence? Oakley stumbled blindly into the bathroom and flicked on the light. He leaned over the sink, hands braced on each side of the bathroom counter. He stared at himself in the mirror; mismatched green-and-brown eyes and freckles stared back from underneath a mess of dark-coloured bedhead. For a moment he thought he saw his reflection smile at him, and he jerked back. When he blinked, his reflection was back to normal. Strange.. Oakley decided to splash some cold water on his face. He looked back in the mirror and, after a moment’s hesitation, called a soft, “hello?”
He was met with silence. Oakley sighed, shoulders slumping in relief. What was he thinking? Who was he even calling to? He wasn’t even sure if Jasper was home yet. As he turned to exit the bathroom, a new voice popped up.
“Hello! My name is Professor Ozpin!”