‘So what kind of bizarre planets do humans visit anyway?’
Peridot’s lying on the floor on her stomach, wrists pointed at the gamecube controller lying on the floor in front of her, fingers darting around the buttons like fish.
‘Huh?’ Steven’s been reading on the bed, he blinks as he summons himself to the present. ‘None, I guess. They’ve been to the moon.’
‘So what’s this?’ One of Peridot’s fingers breaks away to jab at the screen then darts back.
Steven squints at the screen. ‘Legend of Zelda?’
‘What kind of training simulation is it?’ Peridot says, starting to sound annoyed. ‘I just talked to a tree and I’m parachuting around with a leaf, and this thing in green clothes… is this some kind of droid? Did humans land droids there but not get there themselves? And… and now I have to melt a giant lump of ice? With an arrow? I know humans have better technology than this so what kind of situations are you training for!’
‘It’s a computer game,’ says Steven. ‘It’s just made up.’
‘It’s a LIE?’ Steven can’t help laughing, she sounds so indignant and it makes her sound like Pearl. Peridot hits pause and shoots him a disgusted look. ‘Why am I bothering with it then?’
‘Because you’re having fun?’ Steven suggests.
Peridot snorts, but she unpauses the game and turns back to it.
‘Why don’t I ever see Connie’s familiar?’ Peridot asks. They’re sitting outside the big donut, eating donuts. Or at least Steven and Connie are, Peridot doesn’t like real food but she likes sugar. Steven managed to beg some sugar packets from Sadie this time so Peridot wouldn’t try licking his donuts.
‘I don’t have a familiar,’ Connie says, confused.
‘I told you that story was made up,’ Steven says.
Peridot pours the last packet of sugar onto her tongue and crosses her arms. ‘You told me the things in it were real when I asked about fathers.’
‘You didn’t think fathers were real?’ asks Connie.
‘How should I know what stuff in your dumb books is real? They sounded a lot stranger than familiars. Steven has a familiar.’
‘I also have a Dad!’ says Steven. ‘You’ve met him. And Lion’s not really my familiar.’
‘What about magic?’ Peridot demands.
‘Humans don’t have that,’ says Connie. She sighs. ‘It’s just a Gem thing, really.’
‘So, humans write stories about being more like Gems,’ Peridot says, going from disgruntled to smug.
Connie hesitates, probably not wanting to encourage her, but wistfully admits, ‘Gem stuff’s really cool.’
‘So’s human stuff!’ says Steven. ‘Like sugar and donuts. And the arcade, come on, let’s go there for a bit.’
Peridot gets on much better with the arcade than the other Gems did, even if Steven had to explain that nothing there was a training simulation either. Especially the racing car game, and beating the high score on it ten times in a row did not mean she could drive. Now she stands up from the bench willingly enough and even lets Steven tug her along by her fingers, like pulling a piece of metal along behind a magnet.
The Horror Movie Club goes better this time — which is to say, no monsters interrupt it besides the ones on screen. Steven glances at Peridot at the end of the movie and finds her fiddling with her finger screen instead of watching the TV. He tries to get a look at what she’s doing and she shuts it down.
‘Didn’t you like the movie?’ he asks.
Peridot shrugs. ‘It was boring. That kind of thing happens, there’s no need to make a moving picture display.’
‘Um. I’m pretty sure the government performing secret experiments that turn people into giant toxic feral monsters doesn’t happen,’ says Steven.
‘Actually, as you can read on my blog, hundreds of disappearances…’ Ronaldo begins before being nudged into silence by Sadie.
‘I think maybe you’ve got the wrong impression of humans, Peridot,’ Sadie says carefully.
‘You don’t want me thinking you perform valuable science experiments?’ Peridot shrugs. ‘Fine, I’ll reduce my impression of your intelligence, it was already pretty low.’
Steven thinks of the fusion experiments and wonders what the horrifying (if not terribly well acted) movie they’ve just seen would look like to someone who doesn’t think that’s anything to get excited about.
‘Ugh.’ Peridot buries her face in her wrists. ‘Stop looking at me like that.’
‘Sorry.’ Steven covers his eyes with his hands, not sure what else to do.
Lars sighs and puts the next movie in. Peridot doesn’t pay much attention to that one, either, but she doesn’t comment.
Steven finds the picture on the floor. It’s unmistakably Peridot’s. Peridot draws by taping a pencil to one of her fingers and the result has an angular precision — everything in perfect proportion but obviously made up of basic shapes. This picture is dogcopter, except coloured green. On closer inspection the body is also longer and the toes of the paws are little free floating balls.
Steven grins and can’t resist taping it to the fridge.