Qrow is- well, you know, maybe better than anyone else; Qrow is Qrow, unapologetically and unabashedly so. Years of travelling and fighting side by side with him, you’ve learn to know what a curve of his arm means, and the thin creaking of the gears in his scythe. Sword? Swythe? (Whatever.)
When he follows his niece on a literal suicide mission, you trail behind. Taiyang scolds you for it, the day before you leave.
“He’s trouble,” Tai frowns, pausing. “Quite literally, actually.”
“Qrow is nothing I haven’t dealt with before.” You chuckle, waving away his doubt. “I’ve dealt with him for years.”
“Misfortune isn’t something to laugh at, (Name).”
You look at him quietly, the humour in your gaze gone, “I know, Tai.”
“Then?” The question hangs heavy in the air, and you can’t even bring yourself to meet his eyes. You know he knows. He has to, he’s your friend- hell, he’s one of the only friends left.
You loved Qrow Branwen, and he loved Summer Rose (loved. Is is loved? You don’t know. Qrow misses her. You miss her. You should visit her, sometime.) It’s been years since she died- but it doesn’t do much to clear up your heart- but you carry on, because Qrow needed someone to keep him in check. (And to cut off his alcohol.)
It’s probably best shown in how secretive your relationship with Qrow actually is. It’s honestly up for debate, and you’ve heard Oobleck mention it in passing with Glynda and Port. Is it unresolved sexual tension? Is it unrequited? Fuck, you don’t know what it is, either.
But you’ve heard Yang tell her sister about it- and, shit, Tai had a better idea of how it was going down than you did.
Ruby thinks you’re out of earshot when she asks, “Are they…? Y’know…” She trails off, and you can hear the blush on her cheeks.
“It’s weird,” Yang says, in the same way Taiyang does. “It’s like, Professor (Last) kinda has a thing for Uncle Qrow, but Qrow was hung over someone- don’t ask me who, Ruby, Dad didn’t tell me! But he’s hung over her big time. And maybe they’re gonna actually get together one day, but until then-“ Yang makes a retching noise- “Professor (Last) deserves a knight in shining armour, not an grey-streaked old man with a tattered cape.” Ruby giggles at that, feebly defending her uncle, but her sister won’t hear it.
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Yang.
But recently- what, a few years? ('That’s not recently,' you think, wide-eyed. How long had it been since you hadn’t caught on…?) Qrow has been growing soft on you. When you’d first been paired with him as a partner, he’d objected enough for a lifetime. Seeing the hurt look on your face, Qrow had flushed.
(“Sweetcheeks, it’s not you, it’s me.” Qrow shook his head tiredly, grimacing. “My semblance makes it pretty hard to work in a team."
“Bet you say that to all the ladies,” You manage a smile, and Branwen laughs. You think you want that to happen more often.)
But he still was supposed to outline the potential threat coming with working with him. Every single time, without fail, a frown would tug at his lips, eyebrows knitted. Now, he’s more likely to nod, smile, and fight side by side with you- it comes as easily to you as breathing. He was so fucking fun to fight with- sword cutting through grimm like they were air, while you work tirelessly with your own weapons. A snappy one liner that never fails to make you smile.
Instead of treating you like a ragdoll like he used to, he trusts you to have his back. And- oh, he’ll make you blush- he’s protective. You haven’t noticed it before, but he’s prone to taking hits for you, and parrying a shot you could have taken easily. (Well, you do the same for him too.)
And he’s kind. He’s always been, despite his habit of having a gin and tonic almost always within arms length. Qrow has a kind of bittersweet happiness- like just because he can’t be happy doesn’t mean you can’t. (It’s why he let Summer go. Come to think of it, it’s why you don’t let him go.) He’s splinted your arm, patched you up, and made sure you’re comfortable- he’s more aware of his constant drunkenness than he lets on.
Maybe he likes you. That can turn into love, you think, but one step at a time. You think you’re over him, for the most part. You will never, ever stop loving him- Qrow has quite a steady grip on your heart- but if he left you- you think it would be alright…well, that’s not quite right. You’d be alright… for the most part…?
(Oh, shit, you’re not over him.)
Qrow’s sleeping soundly next to you- you’re on your last watch anyways- you can see daybreak coming. There’s been no grimm tonight, which is lucky. It’s a steady habit you two have fallen under. It’s nice to be able to depend on each other.
A few hours later, Qrow wakes up- it must be nine?
“Ready for another day of adventuring?” Qrow grins, and you punch him on the shoulder.
“I’m not ready to get my butt kicked,” You glare, but the tremor in your voice gives away the fact that you’re joking. “I’ll have you know that my ass still hurts from being dropped from a height, Branwen.”
He winks, and you help him onto his feet.
The day is quiet, and Ruby and her friends are just a distance away. It’s uneventful for hours (Qrow complains. Looking back, he must have jinxed it.) Qrow and you fall into small talk, but the two of you see Tyrian at the same time- and then the sound of firing bullets. Qrow looks at you, panicked, hand at the grip of his sword-
“Go, you dusty old crow.” You say, pushing him forward. “And hurry. I’ll catch up.”
He looks at you, with a mix of gratefulness and amazement- and for a second, you think he’s going to kiss you. He tears his eyes away from yours; you watch the black bird fly off towards the direction of the smoke.
(Oh, shit, how the fuck were you supposed to get down there without being a bird?)
You make it time to see Qrow grazed by Tyrian’s tail, and then to see Ruby shoot it off. Qrow winces, shock evident on his face- and you throw a knife from your belt at Tyrian- because fuck, that’s Qrow Branwen you just hit. The knife is nothing special- just a throwing one in case of emergencies, but it cuts deep, and you’re pleased with the howl Tyrian lets out when it hits flesh. You rush to Ruby and Qrow, and Tyrian presses a hand to his wounds.
“You bitch!” He screams, the blood seeping through his clothes. You don’t know who it’s directed at, but you stand firm in front of both Qrow and Ruby, drawing your actual weapon out. You are the fucking adult- it’s best you act like one.
The faunus seems to measure his odds- he mutters something- and flees. Damn fucking right, asshole, go eat some ass- and you turn to reassure both of them. Qrow collapses then and there, and your stomach drops.
Holy fuck, that was not something you wanted to do again anytime soon. If that Jaune boy threw one more god damn look at the two of you for indirectly killing his not-really-girlfriend, you would have no choice but to self destruct. Explaining all of that to the four of them was… enough. Explaining about Qrow’s bad luck was easier, and Ruby visibly relaxed when the two of you had explained how it was.
You make your way from the campfire to where Qrow leans back against the trunk, and you settle yourself next to him.
“You doing okay?” You ask, eyeing the bandages. “That tail was really something. Are you sure you’re not poisoned?”
“I’m fine,” Qrow shrugs you off with a tone of voice that said he was absolutely not fine. “But if looks could kill, that blond boy would have had me six feet under the ground by now.”
You laugh, before slipping something out of the folds of your jacket. “Managed to save something for you from the last pub we visited."
“Oh, man, (Name), is that whiskey?” He’s grinning like a kid. “I love you so much.”
You almost falter, but you manage to mask it with an eyeroll. You shake the little flask in front of him. “Just take a goddamn shot, Qrow.”
He falls asleep a few minutes after that, mind most likely hazy from the drink. He’s smiling- the quiet one, like he used to do with his old team, back when the two of you were classmates. You haven’t realised how much you missed that.
Qrow wakes up with his wound purple and you nearly faint at the sight of it.
“It’s not that bad.” Qrow reasons with you, trying to stop you from yelling.
“You’re right,” You seethe, covering your face with your hands, “It’s a fucking nightmare.”
The soft commotion gets Ruby and her companions up- you’re thankful when they share your distress, and it isn’t long till they manage to get Qrow on a makeshift stretcher. You take up holding the stretcher first as Ruby and Jaune discuss what to do next- when they hit a crossroads, the four of you lie Qrow down.
The four get into an argument of what to do- to stick as a four, or to split up. The young man dressed in green refuses to go to a village, and you’re quite distracted by it all till Qrow tugs at your pants. You bend down next to him, “What’s up?"
“Kids, am I right?” He smiles weakly, but he coughs hoarsely. “Can’t agree on anything."
You roll your eyes. “Just take a break, little bird.”
He’s quiet for a bit. And then, “It’s gonna be okay, (Name). I’m not gonna die on you.”
“Don’t even dream of it.”
How utterly useless you were during the battle against the weird-arm-horse grimm is almost hilarious. You deal as much damage as you can from the distance, but you don’t think you can leave Qrow- who’s completely defenseless if that abomination felt the need to come charging towards his direction. Sporting that wound, he’d get killed in an instant. But you don’t find the need to have to fight; Ruby and her friends were doing a spectacular job at keeping it busy. When you watch the four of them fight in perfect tempo with each other, you’re humbled. At some point, you guess, you have to leave it to the kids.
After a melodramatic killing of the grimm (that green kid had a lot of bottled-up shit inside, huh-) the police arrive. Holy shit, have you mentioned you love the police? Mistral City’s Finest, especially when they were saving your favorite shapeshifter’s life. The green one and the pink one stay close to each other throughout the entire ride, and it’s kind of sweet. Maybe they had something, now? The blond is- well, still wallowing in his manpain, and Ruby is as sweet as she always is.
“I never got to say this,” she says softly to you. “But thank you for keeping us safe.”
“It’s my job.” You say, and it’s matter of fact. What kind of a huntsmen would you be if you didn't?
Finding the last of her energy, Ruby beams. “And thank you for taking care of Uncle Qrow.”
“I don’t know who else would bother.” You joke, and Ruby manages yet another smile. Oh, wow.
She really looks like Summer.
They load Qrow onto the airships, and towards the capital- when all of you reach the city, he’s out like a light for three days, and you can’t bear to leave his side during his stay at the guesthouse. The doctor who treats him is a kindly man who lets you stay in the room as he applies the tonics and antidote- and after working his medical magic, he wishes a fast recovery (even haughtily muttering about, ‘I treated him, of course he’s getting better-‘)
It’s not bad. The reapplied bandages smell faintly of a medicinal herb you’ve forgotten the name of, and even though the syrup the doctor has prescribed smells and probably tastes like shit, the color is returning to Qrow’s face. Not to mention, the wound isn’t fucking purple anymore.
Qrow is alive, you realise. Living, breathing, getting better. You just had to wait for him.
On the late morning of his fourth day in bed, Qrow stirs awake. The first thing he sees you, sleeping quietly and soundly on a chair right next to him. Fuck, you’re pretty. (It’s not like it’s the first time he’s noticed it, but still.)
He pulls against the sleeve of your shirt and manages to shake you awake. You jolt, looking around comically, and a chuckle escapes the back of his throat. You look down at him, smiling softly, still in a daze from sleeping. and he studies you.
Qrow can’t believe he’s taken so fucking long to figure out that he loves you. He's done so for a year, at least- It’s been so long. And maybe he’s been in love longer than he’s realised- and though Summer was Summer, but you are... you are his future. You’re the one he fights with now, weapon in your hand and a steady heart. And you’ve loved him too, he’s sure. He sure as hell has made you wait for it- oh, shit, do you still love him? He wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. He swallows his fears and doubts, and tries to focus on you. And how nice your hair looked. And how quietly pretty you look when you’ve just woken up. That’s nicer than utter and total rejection.
“Hey,” He smiles in spite of his nagging conscious. “I missed you the past two days.”
“Make that four.” You say groggily. “And three nights. You scared me out my goddamn mind, you know that Branwen?”
“Sorry, sweetcheeks. If it helps, I won’t be doing that anytime soon, believe me.” He quips, and you laugh. 'It’s cute,' he thinks.
“I’ll make sure of that, little bird.” And then, you’re smiling fondly at him. Intentional or not, you’ve dipped closer to him too. Qrow shuffles forward awkwardly, and gives you an almost pleading look. And you, by some grace of the Maker, understand it- you press forward tentatively, looking at his lips-
He closes the distance, and your mouths meet for the first time. There’s a little too much teeth, and his nose gets in the way- but Qrow tilts his head, and manages to align himself so it’s better. When you pull apart, you’re smiling, and Qrow laughs softly.
“That was a shitty first kiss.” You say.
“We should try again,” Qrow replies, “Maybe when you haven’t just woken up and I’m not on a bed recovering from poisoning.”
“I’ll hold you to it.” Your hand finds his, and he entwines them together. Ruby- oh, shit, Ruby- clears her throat awkwardly, though she looks happy anyways. She makes her way towards you two, crouching down next to the bed and in front of your seat, wearing a ghost of a smile.
“Hey, kiddo. Aren’t I usually the one saving you?” There’s a twinkle in his eye when he says it, and the soft expression of pride. Ruby smiles back, and the relief flooding her face. Trying your best to be soothing, you rub her back with your free hand, and the kid beams back at you too.
This is nice, Qrow thinks, squeezing your hand in his. And it’s long overdue, in both your opinions.