one for sorrow, two for joy
forewarning that there's mention of alcoholism/alcohol dependency
As far back as you can remember, you and your sister were two birds of a feather. Appropriate, considering you were named after a couple of black birds: you, after the crow, and your sister the raven. Hell, you could even turn into your namesake whenever you wanted to.
You, Qrow, were a troublemaker, and it seemed like you’d been this way your entire life. Your sister, Raven, was your partner in crime when you were young. The two of you were a couple of rowdy, squawking kids, red-eyed and raven-haired, always ready to take on the world.
Ever since you were little, you wanted to become a huntsman. Well, really, you and your sister both wanted to be huntsmen. To prepare for the day you'd be huntsmen, the two of you made a couple of swords out of some sturdy branches and practiced using them against each other. "Come on Raven, I bet you can’t beat me!" was what you would say with a big toothy grin plastered across your face. Of course, your sister did end up besting you in several fights, but you won numerous others as well. It seemed like you two were pretty evenly matched. Sometimes your little staged fights resulted in some unintended injuries, like “accidentally” poking each other in the eye, or receiving little cuts and scrapes from getting a bit too involved in fighting. Nothing too serious, nothing to ever really worry about. It was good practice for the real deal; for fighting actual monsters.
Grimm. That’s what those actual monsters were called. Big, horrific creatures that only the bravest of warriors would face off against. These warriors were called huntsmen, and you were determined to be one of them.
Wide-eyed and idealistic at the time, you were sure that the road to becoming huntsmen was going to be full of fun and adventure. The minute you two were old enough, it was off to combat school with you and your sister. No longer playing with sticks out in your backyard, real weapons were placed into your hands. Admittedly, you were surprised by the weight of your new weapon when you started out. A crossbreed between a firearm, sword, and scythe, it took some getting used to. It certainly felt a lot heavier than you expected it to be, not to mention it was an absolute nightmare to try to get it to transform into its other forms. Opponents would come around and kick your ass just before your sword finished turning into a scythe.
That wasn’t going to fly on your watch.
If you wanted to stop getting beaten, you had to learn how to fight properly. Timing, posture, stance, everything mattered in the heat of battle. You couldn’t rely on only one hand to handle your weapon; both left and right hands had to operate on the same level. There was no room for favoritism between hands. Your footwork had to be perfected, your swings and shots timed exactly right.
You ended up being one impressive fighter, if you did say so yourself. At seventeen years old, you were off to Beacon Academy, a serious step up from combat school. That’s where the real huntsman training was. Unsurprisingly, both of you Branwen kids got into Beacon without a hitch. Everybody knew both you and Raven, and they knew better than to ruffle your feathers. The two of you were thrown together on a team with two others: Taiyang Xiao Long and Summer Rose.
All put together, you formed team STRQ, featuring Summer as your leader. And damn, you four were the coolest bunch of kids who ever graduated from Beacon. It went from everyone knowing “those two Branwen kids” to everyone knowing team STRQ. All four of you were a bunch of kids determined to be some of the best huntsmen out there, and it showed. In your opinion, you were nothing less than the best.
Team STRQ was your family. Though only you and Raven shared blood, each and every one of you were as thick as thieves. Certainly, you all got into your fair share of trouble, and if you wanted to, you could recount several stories about all of you that were definitely not appropriate for young ears.
It was funny, really. After four years at Beacon, you finally got your wish: you were a huntsman... but it wasn’t as glamorous as you thought it was going to be. The world out there was much harsher than you truly realized, you quickly found out as you ran into some atrocious threats in your career.
Beacon’s headmaster, Ozpin, saw that you were something of an asset, and inducted you into his personal little group. It was Oz who told you some select secrets about the world, like how some myths were true, and how there were some serious threats out there that few knew of. You ended up becoming a teacher at the combat school Signal Academy, though you would get sent out on some serious missions when you weren’t busy teaching. More often than not, it seemed like you were busy doing something.
It seemed like everything in your life had changed when you became a huntsman. As it turned out, your sister and Tai were an item. One thing led to another, and then one day you were an uncle. Tai and Raven were the proud parents to a baby girl named Yang. Or, at least, Tai was a proud parent. Raven? Well, apparently, a baby was the last straw for your sister because soon after Yang was born, she dumped the baby directly into Tai’s arms and just... left.
You didn’t know what she was thinking, pulling off something like that. Out of the blue, it was like she was a different person. Shortly before leaving, she started talking about the world like she was far too jaded, more so than even you, and you didn’t particularly agree with that mindset, nor did you agree with her leaving her family behind. Maybe she was always like that and you just didn’t realize it, or maybe having a baby had changed her somehow, or maybe something about her changed when you all became huntsmen. Most likely, you didn’t really give a damn as to what the answer was and you were just pissed that she’d leave her family. Not only did she leave Tai and Yang, but you were left behind too.
On occasion, she’d pop up and speak with you to give you some important message, but never anything more than that. You never really knew exactly what she was up to, but whatever it was, you knew it was trouble.
Strange, how you went from two birds of a feather to practically being strangers. You still cared about her, seeing as how she was still your sister, but she wasn't quite the same person she used to be.
With your sister out of the picture, you stuck around to help Tai take care of his little tyke once in a while. Summer did too. In fact, it seemed as though she was more like Yang’s mother than Raven ever was. The couple even told her that Summer was her mother, and next thing you knew, Summer got together with Tai, and then Tai had yet another kid running around in his house: little Ruby Rose.
You weren’t really her uncle, but you were close enough. She looked at you as if she were starry-eyed and readily accepted you as her honorary uncle. To her and her sister, you were something else. Essentially, you were slapped onto a pedestal labeled “coolest uncle ever,” and that's where you've been ever since.
Things seemed to be looking up for Tai, the love of his life, and those two rambunctious kids, but life has a funny way of ruining good things. Sometimes, bad things just happen, especially when you least expect them to. Nobody expected Summer to die, but that's exactly what happened. She paid the ultimate price for a mission gone horribly wrong, and her death hurt those closest to her. Her daughters had lost their only mother figure, Tai felt much more closed off, and her death was what finally pushed you to start drinking.
Booze was more like a dear friend to you than a simple drink. Alcohol didn’t up and leave out of nowhere. Liquor couldn’t just die on you. No glass of wine ever glared at you and blamed you for all of its problems. No, alcoholic beverages had never let you down before. Initially, just a drink or two would keep you satisfied, but when your body got used to it, you always craved more and more, so you became something of a chronic drinker. Everywhere you went, you seemed to reek of alcohol.
Despite being shitfaced far too often for your own good, you still managed to be a damn fine huntsman, and perhaps an even better teacher.
By the time your nieces were old enough to go to combat school, that’s exactly where they went. Both girls attended Signal Academy, so naturally, you were there to help them out when they needed your combat expertise. Even though you probably weren't the most ideal role model, considering you spent most of your time intoxicated, Ruby never lost her admiration for you. For whatever reason, she aspired to be like you. She even crafted her own scythe because she thought it was just so damn cool that you ran about swinging one of those babies around. You saw something of yourself in her; a kid who didn’t know what they were doing with such a big, clunky weapon. Of course you had to teach her how to use it the right way, and soon enough, she was practically an expert at wielding a scythe. Good enough, in fact, to get accepted into Beacon Academy a couple years earlier than anticipated.
You had other matters to attend to outside of school. First off, there was a threat incoming. A woman whose face and name you couldn’t remember who had a select few individuals backing her up. If you weren’t careful, she could obtain a serious amount of power. You figured so long as that situation was kept under wraps, it could be handled and not a soul would suspect a thing after you took care of it. Things could have gone smoothly had it not been for a certain someone named James Ironwood, who you knew quite well thanks to Oz’s connections, who had to just go and show off his big fucking army containing several robots. Because that was definitely what people needed to feel safe: a big army looming outside their front doors.
Quite frankly, you felt that he made a stupid ass decision, one that you disagreed with immensely. Showing off his army meant that people were going to wonder just why the army showed up in the first place, and all that was going to do was cause a panic.
While kids from Beacon were busy fighting (quite sloppily) in some big tournament, you decided to make an example of General Jimmy Ironwood’s decision to let a bunch of soldiers and robots run amok on Beacon property. After having one too many drinks, you sauntered on over to Beacon property and pointed out how easily you could just tear apart those robots, and even got into a fight with a soldier. It certainly made people think twice about having the army running around. Though, you did end up getting chewed out by a select few people in Oz's group for your actions.
Totally worth it.
While you were at Beacon, you got to play catch up with your nieces. You were still coolest uncle on the planet to Ruby, and it seemed like she was doing pretty well at Beacon. Nothing too worrisome going on with her. Yang, on the other hand, was getting into some trouble. On top of that, she seemed obsessed with finding your sister. You decided to giver her a tip on where Raven’s whereabouts just might be and offered to give her a hand if she needed it, hoping that might help ease her mind just a tad.
Unfortunately, it didn't take long for everything to suddenly go downhill. Grimm demolished the academy, Ironwood’s army fell apart, students were killed in the crossfire, Yang lost her arm, Oz went MIA, and the woman who wanted power got her wish. You remember that all of a sudden, your younger niece unleashed some great power, and lost consciousness after doing so. You rushed your nieces back to their home to recover as fast as you possibly could.
Those poor girls were absolutely miserable - Yang in particular - after everything that happened in such a short amount of time. You stuck around with them for a little while, but you knew you couldn’t stay around forever. You had to investigate on what happened that caused Beacon to fall apart. But apparently, the universe decided that it had other things in store for you. Ripped from the world you knew and shoved into a strange and unfamiliar land, you didn’t know what fate had in store for you, but you weren’t sure that you liked it.