A RWBY-Studio Ghibli crossover fanfic
By The Fullmetal Narcissist
As we slow down to make our final turn, the wind whipping my hair back finally dies down. We’ve been riding for what feels like almost an hour, and at least the last mile of our trip has been over nothing but pure dirt road… And some pretty loose dirt, judging by the cloud of dust we’ve been leaving in our wake, and the lose pebbles that have struck my exposed ankles more than a few times.
As my outgoing partner’s motorcycle Bumblebee finally comes to a stop, she veers it to the side of the empty dirt path, before finally parking it in the grass by the base of a tree. While she stays in her seat for a moment to properly put away her baby, I’m relieved at the chance to dismount from my own perilous position behind her. I hear the engine finally die as I’m stretching my back, happy to finally be standing after such a long journey.
As soon as I’m done kicking the dust off of my pantlegs, I slide my black helmet off of my head, freeing my aching ears and reintroducing my sweaty skin to the cool autumn air. Turning around, Yang has pulled her yellow helmet off as well, holding it under her arm as she rummages through her pocket with her free hand. Before us, located directly at the end of the dirt path, is a diminutive log cabin. Her home sweet home.
“So, this is your house,” I call to her, more to hear the sound of my own voice than to make a statement. I haven’t spoken since we started our trip. “Not really what I was expecting.”
“Not what you’re used to?” She calls back, nonchalantly. I don’t respond to this. I’m sure she knows my family is one of the wealthier ones in Menagerie, but there’s no need to tell her my home is practically a mansion compared to hers. I’d like to hang on to at least some of the “Born with no life into subjugation’ persona that I’ve crafted for myself.
She struts to the front door, her tan boots crunching some of the few leaves that have managed to fall so far this season, and her jeans riding low on her hips. “It was pretty spooky when we moved in. Ruby and I were still little then, and we were all excited that it might be haunted.”
“I don’t think most kids would be excited about that,” I reply, following her.
Reaching the door, she turns around, and shoots me a bemused grin. “We weren’t looking for scary ghosts. We were looking for cute ones.” She holds up her keys, and begins to spin them on her finger. “Like, we’d imagine there were a bunch of little dust-spirits running around, and that they’d all flee a room if you turned on a light.”
“Did you actually see any?”
“No, but you know how kids are. We fed into each others imaginations.”
I actually don’t know that. I was an only child, and I wasn’t that close with any neighboring kids. The only exceptions were Adam, who never had much of an imagination, and Ilia, who I didn’t meet until I was a teenager, and way too old for such frivolous fantasies. I can imagine myself meeting a ghost, though, and it would not play out well, cute or not.
She turns around, and fits her key in the lock. Judging by the sound of barking on the other side of the door, this hasn’t gone unnoticed.
I tense up as Yang opens the door, wary of the Xiao-Long family’s excitable little corgi, but she quickly grabs him by the collar before he can shoot out and assault me. He stares at me for a moment, whimpering, before quickly giving up on me and turning his attention to his master, where it belongs. She kneels down next to him, petting him until he calms down, and then tells him to go peepee. She let’s go of him, and he runs past me into the yard.
“I wonder how Ruby’s doing at Weiss’s place,” I comment, as Yang pulls off her boots and sets them inside next to the door before standing back up.
“I’m sure she’ll find some way to entertain herself.” She hangs up her jacket, and then sets down her helmet on the kitchen counter. Following her lead, I do the same.
“Assuming she can survive without her big sis,” I crack, not knowing how my partner will take the joke. She can be pretty defensive of her little sister when she has to.
“We weren’t always together,” she replies, moving into the living room and taking a seat in an old, worn-looking white couch. She motions for me to join her, but after being on the back of her motorcycle for so long, my aching ass needs a break from sitting. Instead, I go over to a window across from her, and lean against the wall next to it.
Seeing that I’d prefer to stand, Yang relaxes a bit, and shifts her posture. “Back when Mom was sick, she was in the hospital for a long time. Whenever I was at school and Dad was working, and Qrow was away at Beacon, sometimes Ruby had to entertain herself all day. I think that’s why she came up with Totoro.”
I smile, thinking about all the issues Yang had gone through with Raven over the last year. I wonder if she knows how much progress she’s making by referring to Summer Rose as Mom, even when Ruby’s not around. “Who’s Totoro?” I ask.
She gives a slight smile upon hearing this, and… Is it just me, or is there something different about her eyes? They’re still physically the same color and shape as always, but it feels like they’ve become… distant. As if they’re lost, staring out at some space beyond the wall. “Ruby’s imaginary friend. He was this big, fat, furry monster she came up with, and I can almost swear that she believed in him so vividly that even I started seeing him after a while.”
“How long did this go on?” I ask, feeling eerily like some kind of psychiatrist. Why does she sound like she’s under some kind of trance?
“It was when-” Her trance is broken as Zwei comes thundering back into the room, ignoring me and jumping up onto the vacant seat of the couch like a rocket. Yang snaps out of… Whatever was just happening… And laughs, ruffling the fur around his neck playfully. “I think about two years. After that, I stopped believing in him, and Ruby followed soon after. We were weird kids.”
That’s not what she was about to say, but even if I was to point this out, I doubt if she’d even remember what she was about to say. Nervous, and a little scared, I let it go. There are some things it’s better not to question. “I still envy you two. I didn’t have any imaginary friends. Never really understood the concept. Where’s your Dad, by the way?”
After a few moments of giving Yang an intense face-drenching greeting, Zwei finally calms down and stops licking her. Still laughing, she glances around. “I don’t know, probably shopping. It’s not like I didn’t call and say we were coming over.” She takes out her scroll, looks through it for a second, and then puts it back in her pocket without comment. “If you wanna kill some time until he gets back, I could show you where Totoro lived. The clearing is gone, but I’m pretty sure the tree is still there. It’s not like there’s anything else to do around here.”
I would have to respectfully disagree with that. There’s plenty to do around a place like this. I’ve already noticed around a dozen prime reading spots, half of which aren’t even a stone’s throw from the house, and to top it all off, we passed a used book store back in town that looked downright delicious. But whatever, I’m the guest. “He lived under a tree?” I ask.
“Yeah, he… Ooh! Actually, how about the attic first? We always imagined a ton of dust spirits up there!”
I nod. “Sounds good.”
She gets up off the couch, leaving Zwei to look up at her, coking his head with curiosity. As she walks around him and heads for the stairs, I lean over and ask him, “What do you think, Zwei? Are there any ghosts here?” In response, he just barks, plops down off the couch and starts to waddle after his master.
I start to follow after, ready to humor my best friends childhood nostalgia tour, when I feel an odd, squishy sensation under my foot. I cringe, thinking Zwei might have left a present for me to step on, but when I look down, I see a puff of soot spreading from under my foot. I lift it up, and for one solitary second, a little black creature looks up at me, before squeezing between the floorboards and vanishing.
A chill creeps up my spine. Did that just happen? Did I just see that, or was it all in my imagination? The soot has already disappeared, if there was any to begin with. I’m all too happy to push what just happened out of my mind forever, but all of a sudden, the thought of going up into the Xiao Long family attic…
“On second thought,” I call after her, “Maybe we should stay downstairs!”
*Artwork was created by Ace Wong, and was used with permission. You can find more of his work at https://www.deviantart.com/ace-wong
I’d highly recommend checking it out, too.