Why would you randomly stop to skip rocks? Seriously.

Also, I don't buy that Quistis and Rinoa weren't friends. There might have been some jealously between then (both ways), but I don't think they hated each other or anything.

"Why is he doing this?" Rinoa asked. She and Quistis had been watching Squall try to skip rocks across Obel Lake for nearly ten minutes. So far he had only gotten about five skips, and those were the rare occasions when they didn't just sink immediately.

"Who knows? Boys are so ridiculous," Quistis replied, moving her hand from the whip on her belt and crossing her arms. Rinoa sat down on the edge of the lake, carefully leaning over the edge and dragging her fingertips across the water. Her reflection wavered in the rippling trail and she frowned.

Everything had been moving so fast. After the fiasco at the television station, it seemed like she hadn't been able to take a proper breath. She didn't even want to think about the horrible outcome of her train plan. The fact that Galbadia could predict their movements so readily was a cause for worry, but she still had faith in her cause. Even if the world fell apart around her, faith was the one thing Rinoa would never relinquish.

"Even as a student, he was stubborn," Quistis muttered. "He would practice until everything move perfect, precise. It's his greatest strength as a warrior… and his greatest weakness."

Rinoa looked up at the older girl, a puzzle expression on her face. "What do you mean?"

Quistis lowered herself to the ground next to Rinoa, watching a rock skip twice across the lake and ignoring Squall's muttered curses. "When in battle, it's important to know the rules and the moves. But if your mind isn't in the present, you'll be in trouble."

Pulling her knees up to her chest, Rinoa really looked at Quistis for the first time. She was pretty, that's for sure, and incredibly fit. Her stomach muscles made Rinoa feel a bit self conscious about her flat, but not toned, midriff. But it was her face that really caught Rinoa's attention. She was so serious all the time. Her eyes were like steel walls - Rinoa had no idea what could be going on in her mind. Light scars shone in the sun on her shoulders, and she wondered when and how she got them.

"Being a SeeD… do you enjoy it?" she asked absentmindedly.

Quistis was silent for a moment and another curse flew from Squall's position. "It's what I am," she said with a tone comparable to a glacier.

Rinoa blinked, but the older girl didn't continue. Suddenly the air felt very tense, and she began grabbing for a new topic. "So… you taught Squall? And Seifer?"

"Yes," she replied, plucking her whip from her belt. "Despite what the grade book would say, they were both my finest students. Squall was always the top of the class; Seifer was always the bottom."

Her brow furrowed as she tried to reason out how Seifer could be a great student when his grades were awful. The expression on her face must have been amusing, because her train of thought was interrupted by Quistis' soft laughter. "Hey!" she said, grinning as she pushed Quistis' shoulder lightly.

"Sorry. There's no need to think so hard," the blonde girl said with a grin. "Seifer had so much potential, but absolutely no obedience. He couldn't follow rules or directions. Hell, he wouldn't even turn in his homework because he didn't want to 'bend to the establishment'," she said, her fingers hooked into air quotes.

Rinoa giggled, and she could practically see Seifer bearing over a desk, trying to argue with no-nonsense Quistis. "He was so bold."

Quistis made a noise that fell somewhere between a sigh and a snort. "Pig-headed is more like it. He would always fight with the other students, Squall especially."

They both looked toward the boy in question, just as a rock fell into the water without skipping once. "Shit!" he muttered loudly, and they both sighed.

"That's how they got those scars, you know. Both of them, while scraping. Or training, as they both insisted."

"Boys will be boys, I suppose," Rinoa replied. She couldn't even imagine the two of them fighting. Squall was magnificent to watch in battle. He could maneuver and swing his gunblade with ease, charging through the enemy lines. The gunblade shone in the sun from his belt as he flung another stone, and she bet that she couldn't even lift the thing over her shoulder, much less swing it with any competence. She knew that Seifer was just as capable with his gunblade, if not more so.

"Boys will be idiots," Quistis corrected, raising her eyebrow pointedly in Squall's direction.

"Seifer actually told me about you once," Rinoa said suddenly, a memory from her summer fling with Seifer blooming rapidly in her mind.

"Really?" Quistis asked, a look of mild shock on her face.

"Yeah," Rinoa responded, smiling as she thought of Seifer's cocky grin as he leaned against the trunk of a tree and told her of his school. "He said that his instructor was a real tight-ass, but a total babe. Quoting him directly, of course."

A small smirk pulled on Quistis' lips. "I suppose I'll take that as a compliment."

She began running her fingers slowly over the coil of chains in her lap, and Rinoa glanced down at the weapon in Quistis' hands. The strong links had taken down many monsters on their journey so far, and she found the weapon very exotic. "Is that difficult to use?" Rinoa asked, gesturing to her whip.

"Not if you know how to use it properly."

Quistis always looked so strong and in control, bending the long chain to her whim. Suddenly Rinoa wanted to know what it was like to command that kind of power. If she could exhibit a quarter of the inner strength that Quistis did during battle, perhaps the enemy soldiers wouldn't laugh before she attacked. "Do… do you think you could teach me sometime?" she said quietly, partially hoping that Quistis didn't hear her over the sound of the splashing water against the bank. It was silly, to think that just by trying out her weapon that Rinoa could find the strength that Quistis possessed, but it was an easier suggestion than directly asking how the girl was so strong.

But when Quistis looked over at her with an unreadable expression, Rinoa knew that she had been heard. It was silent between them for a moment, and then a small smile sprouted on Quistis' lips. "Sure. But only if you show me how to use your blaster edge. They don't issue those at the Garden, so I've only read about the mechanics in Weapons Monthly."

"Sure!" Rinoa replied happily, clapping her hands together. "And you should smile more. It makes you even prettier than you are normally."

Quistis face turned a light shade of pink, causing Rinoa to laugh. Suddenly a cry of victory came from Squall, and the girls looked just in time to see a rock slam against the far bank. "Can we leave yet?" Quistis asked sarcastically.

"Yeah," Squall replied, scratching the back of his head absently. "Let's head toward G-Garden."

As she watched the two SeeDs walk ahead of her, Rinoa wondered what made them so strong. Both Squall and Quistis had a power that had nothing to do with their junctions, and she wanted to know where they came to possess such fortitude. Maybe over their travels she would figure it out, and maybe even find some strength of her own.

The sun winked happily over the cliffs as they saw Selphie and Zell near a large forest, waving at them and waiting to continue. She couldn't wait to hear Squall explain to them that they were late because he was skipping rocks on a lake.