"Alllllright!" Dropping her bag on the ground, Ruby extended both hands towards the expanse of blue in front of her. "Team RWBY beach day! A full day of fun and relaxing and soaking up the sun!"
"It's really nice out, too," Blake commented while laying her beach towel out on a patch of sand. Yang did the same (right next to Blake's, of course), before clapping her hands together once.
"I know what we should do first!" she said, grinning at what was probably an awesome idea. "We should race to the buoy!"
"Yes!" Ruby instantly agreed, pumping one fist in the air at the suggestion. She was already ready to race Yang to the waves, but stopped when she saw Weiss sit down on a towel instead of joining them in the fun.
"Weiss?" she asked, watching her partner unpack her beach bag - pulling out sunglasses and a bottle of water. "Don't you want to race with us?"
"No, thank you."
"Aw come on!" Yang replied. "It'll be fun! Fair warning though - you'll probably lose."
While Yang snickered at the boast, Ruby watched Weiss for an answer.
"l don't want to," she said, leveling Yang with a glare. "Go ahead without me."
"But it's a competition! You love competitions!"
"Not this one."
"How is this one different?"
"It just is."
While the two volleyed words back and forth, Ruby watched like someone sitting in the stands at a tennis match. The contest ended in a weird stalemate that neither she nor Yang understood - because they loved racing to the buoy! It was something they did every time they came to the beach, even though Yang always won.
Eventually, Yang gave up and shrugged - forfeiting the argument. Meanwhile, Weiss huffed and pulled her scroll out of her bag.
The two of them had these mini-arguments pretty often, but this one felt different than the others. Sure, Weiss could be difficult and stubborn, and she wouldn't do anything she didn't want to do, but her resistance this time was...weird. That's the only way Ruby could describe it.
"What do you think, Ruby?" Yang asked. "Wanna race?"
When Weiss huffed again, voicing her displeasure about something, Ruby scrambled to think of an alternative plan for the day. She wanted everyone to have a good time! Which meant she needed to figure out why Weiss wasn't having a good time.
Best Partner Duties coming right up!
"l wanna get a snowcone first!" she answered, spotting the cart nearby and pointing towards it. "Then we'll race!"
Glancing over her shoulder and spotting the snow cone cart, Yang shrugged again and grinned. "Sounds good. Get me an orange one?"
"Sure! Blake - do you want one?"
Before answering, Blake looked at Yang - who nodded enthusiastically.
"Might as well try one," she finally answered.
"They're great - I promise!" Ruby added for extra-convincing power. "What flavor? They have strawberry, watermelon, raspberry, blue raspberry - although I'm not sure how they taste different - regular melon, blueberry -"
"Orange," Blake interrupted before Ruby could rattle off the entire list. "I'll try an orange one, too."
Giving Blake a thumbs up, Ruby was silently grateful it was an easy order to remember. Turning around, she smiled at Weiss.
"Can you come with me?" she asked. "I can't carry all those by myself."
Immediately putting her scroll away, Weiss stood up and smiled.
See? This was what made Weiss' earlier resistance so weird! She was usually pretty willing to participate when Ruby asked. So, like...why wouldn't she race to the bouy? That's what Ruby was going to find out! Because Weiss wouldn't tell Yang, but she had to tell Ruby the truth - that was part of a promise she'd made.
"Are you excited for a day off?" Ruby asked, waiting for Weiss to reach her so they could walk side-by-side over to the snow cone vendor.
"Of course. It's nice to relax for a day."
"Yeah, absolutely!" Hopping with that answer, Ruby then settled into a normal walk and snuck a glance at Weiss as they joined the back of the line to order.
"So, uh...what do you have against racing to the buoy?"
Weiss sighed at the question.
"I'm guessing that if I try to avoid answering that, you'll pout and point out the first rule of our 'best partner' agreement?"
"You know it!"
Weiss sighed again, but she didn't seem too upset by the response. This was why they'd made the Best Partner Agreement, after all! For times like these - when one of them didn't want to say something potentially embarrassing and the other really, really wanted to know.
And to grow closer as partners and stuff like that…
"Ok," Weiss said, looking slightly hesitant. "Can I tell you a secret?"
Ruby loved Weiss' secrets. It made her feel so special that Weiss trusted her with such important information! And boy did she have some humdingers! Like how -
Well, those were secrets. Ruby kept them locked away in a special vault in her mind, but she loved adding new ones!
Pausing for a second, Weiss glanced around in search of anyone eavesdropping on their conversation. Finding no one to be concerned about, she still dropped her voice to a whisper.
"I kind of...can't swim."
"You - what? Really?"
Had Ruby heard that right? Weiss Schnee - the girl who could do literally anything - couldn't swim?
"What'll you two ladies have?" the snow cone man broke in, glancing between the two of them while waiting for their order.
"Oh, uhhh…" Racking her brain, Ruby searched for what Blake and Yang had asked for.
"They both wanted orange," Weiss gently reminded her.
"Right! Two oranges and - can you make one that's half raspberry and half blue-raspberry?"
When the man nodded, Ruby grinned and turned to the side so Weiss could order.
"I'm fine, thank you," she replied, waving the man off but pulling a ten Lien note from her wallet.
"Aww Weiss! You don't have to pay!"
"I'd like to," Weiss replied, leveling Ruby with an expression she hadn't yet figured out a way to say 'no' to.
"Okk…" she said instead, then smiled when two orange piles of shaved ice appeared in the holding stand in front of them. A half red, half blue snow cone appeared seconds later, which she picked up and took a big bite of while Weiss paid.
"They do taste different!" Ruby exclaimed, staring at the cone in her hand before taking another bite.
"Are you sure?" Giving Ruby a teasing smile, Weiss picked up Blake and Yang's to carry back to their teammates.
"Pretty sure! The blue one is more...blue-y…"
Weiss' musical laugh put a smile on Ruby's face in a heartbeat. And with a considerable amount of good cheer, Ruby decided she was getting to the bottom of Weiss' unhappiness with the beach - and solving it!
"So...about that swimming thing?"
"It never came up, so I never learned," Weiss replied with a Yang-esque shrug. "It's not a huge deal. Just...is."
With that simple answer out in the open, Weiss walked over to their teammates and distributed the orange snow cones before sitting down on her towel. Nearly finished with her own, Ruby watched Weiss' demeanor and tried to figure out why she was still bothered by the situation even though she knew the answer.
Maybe it was because Weiss seemed...almost sad? Embarrassed? Disappointed? She was really hard on herself when she did something wrong - like missing a question on a test or missing one of their team moves. Was she being hard on herself for not knowing how to swim?
That was fixable! Being a super team leader and partner-extraordinaire, Ruby could figure out a way to teach Weiss how to swim and keep her secret safe. Right? She totally could.
Turning in a slow circle, she searched the beach for ideas that could help her accomplish her goal. There was a lot going on, so there had to be something she could use. Snow cone man, joggers, sunbathers, umbrellas, surfers, two people carrying a kayak, some kids building a sand castle -
An idea popped into her mind - and it only took the rest of her snow cone for a plan to form.
"I'll be right back!" she told her team before bounding over to the two kids playing in the wet sand near the waves.
"Hey guys!" she said, capturing the attentions of a little boy and girl who must be around seven - a.k.a. the best age to be. "How's it going?"
"Goooood!" they responded in near unison.
"I love your castle!" she added, pointing towards a big pile of sand without any smooth walls. "It looks like an ant king lives here or something."
"Yeah!" the little boy said, grinning at the idea. "An ant king and his ant soldiers!"
"And a butterfly queen!" the little girl added with a smile.
Chuckling at the response, Ruby glanced at her teammates and found Weiss watching her.
"Uh, so I was wondering if you two could help me with something!" she said, smiling at the two eager kids in front of her. "Do you know how to swim?"
When both of them nodded, she grinned.
"That's great! But can you pretend you don't know how to swim for a little bit? If you do, I'll give you twenty Lien!"
From the way their eyes widened, she could've just offered them a million Lien. She hadn't, because she wasn't rich. But fortunately, their little kid minds readily agreed.
"Yeah?" she asked, getting several more enthusiastic nods. "Ok, go tell your parents, then meet me by the water!"
Abandoning their plastic shovels and pails at the ant-castle, the two kids ran off to inform their parents while Ruby hurried back to her teammates.
"Hey guys!" she called out when she was within earshot. "Come on! You've gotta come with me!"
"What?" Blake asked, marking her place in her book with one finger. "Why?"
"I can't tell you right now," Ruby fibbed. "But I have a great idea - I know you'll like it!"
Blake narrowed her eyes - silently saying she didn't quite believe those words - but her gaze drifted to the side when Yang popped to her feet.
"I'm in for the mystery challenge!" she said, raising her hand to give Ruby a high-five.
"Yes!" Ruby replied, slapping Yang's hand and grinning at the current success of her plan. With Yang's agreement, Blake would agree next. And Weiss wouldn't want to be left out, so…
"I suppose I'll join you," Weiss said, pushing herself up from her beach towel. "Where are we going?"
"To the water!" Ruby declared, pointing towards the ocean.
Yang and Blake headed that way without a second thought, but Weiss grabbed Ruby's elbow before she could follow.
"Don't worry, Weiss," Ruby replied, winking at her partner. "Your secret's safe with me!"
Weiss was reluctant, but she followed Ruby regardless. Together, they met up with Yang and Blake at the edge of the beach - where the waves started washing over their ankles. Turning to the side, Ruby grinned when she saw the two little kids racing down the sand to them.
"I had a great idea!" Ruby said while the kids careered to a stop by her side. "I thought we'd teach these guys how to swim! Right?"
When she looked down at her willing participants, they obediently nodded and smiled.
"That sounds like fun!" Yang replied, kneeling down in front of the kids. "You guys want to be on Team Yang, right? Cuz I'm the best swimmer."
"Yeah!" both agreed, making Yang look up at Blake with a grin.
"You two help them," Ruby directed, pointing between her teammates and the kids. "Weiss and I will demonstrate!"
When everyone nodded in agreement, Ruby led them out in the shallows - where the water came up to about their stomachs and a little past the elbows of the kids.
"Ok, so it's real easy!" she said. "We'll hold you up in the water, and you move your arms like this -" she made a windmilling gesture with both arms. "While kicking your feet up and down! Watch!"
Motioning for Weiss to hold her arms out, Ruby leaned forward onto her partner's outstretched arms, dunked her head into the water, then started rowing her arms and kicking her feet like she'd just shown them. After doing that for a few moments, she stood up and wiped the water out of her eyes.
"Now you guys try!" she said, grinning at her enthusiastic disciples.
The little boy and girl practically dove into Blake and Yang's arms before kicking up a storm - splashing water everywhere while Yang laughed and Blake smiled in amusement. Meanwhile, Ruby held out her arms for Weiss.
"You too, Weiss! You can't make me do all the demonstrations by myself!"
When Weiss looked at her - clearly figuring out the entire plan at that moment - Ruby grinned. Weiss smiled in return, then leaned forward and kissed Ruby on the cheek.
"You're the best partner I could've asked for," Weiss whispered before laying down in Ruby's arms as instructed.
Stunned by the response, which was way more appreciative than Ruby had expected, she held Weiss steady while she kicked and rowed her arms.
Ruby was just doing what any good partner would do, so it was no big deal, really! But good thing they were standing in water, because her cheeks were on fire.