The stars were bright over Beach City, and Garnet watched them, leaning against the railing of the veranda outside the temple. She didn’t react when the door to Steven’s house opened, and then closed again. She’d seen that coming. Nor did she react when the other Gem scrambled up onto the railing and sat next to her, the perch giving them nearly equal height. She’d seen that coming, too.
“Hello to you, too,” Peridot replied, because she’d learnt that this was the accepted human custom. Her gaze drifted upwards. “Great view of the stars tonight,” she said, for the want of something to say to fill the silence.
“Yup.” Garnet didn’t look away from the sky, but meant every syllable of her short reply.
“That’s what I appreciate about you, Garnet. Most lifeforms would waste valuable time and energy on endless prattle, but you know exactly how many words are required and you say them – no more, no less.”
“So I’ve been told.”
“Well, when I say, ‘the thing I appreciate about you,’ I, of course, mean, ‘one of the things’. I actually have a list, organised alphabetically and numerically.”
“But I doubt you’re interested in that at this precise moment.” Both of them still stared up at the sky. An hour passed. A second followed.
“Sooo –“ Peridot scooted closer to Garnet, drawing out the word as she gathered her thoughts, it trailed off, her thoughts lost with it. Her heels kicked against the railing, and Garnet waited patiently. Finally, “Future Vision, huh? I imagine that must be pretty interesting...”
“Peridot – I can’t.”
“But I didn’t even ask my question!” Peridot broke her gaze with the sky to glare at Garnet.
“Future Vision, remember?” Garnet met Peridot’s glare, and responded with pulling down her shades a fraction and winking with her third eye.
“But that’s what I don’t understand! If you can see me asking you this question, then why can’t you see the answer to it?”
“It’s not that simple. There are so many possible futures, so many paths Lapis could take.”
Peridot stared at her hands, lacing and unlacing her fingers, “But it’s like that for everyone,” she said, looking at Garnet again. “And you’re accurate an above average number of times.”
Garnet laughed, “I do pride myself on my above averageness. But, corrupted Gems are driven by instinct, so their movements are easy to predict. And my years of friendship with Pearl, Amethyst and Steven means I know how they’ll react. And as for humans – they lead very short, very dull and very predictable lives. “ She sighed, “But I don’t know Lapis, not like you do. So that makes it harder for me to choose the most likely outcome. I’m sorry, Peridot.”
“So, then, if you can’t see what I should do, or what Lapis is going to do – what would you do if one of your component Gems just vanished into space and you had no idea where they were or if they were ever coming back?”
“I wouldn’t do anything,” replied Garnet, shrugging. “I wouldn’t exist.”
“Okay, fine. What would Ruby or Sapphire do if one of them left?”
Garnet looked at the palm of her left hand, thoughtfully, watching the starlight reflect off her gem.
“Ruby thinks in the moment. She would follow Sapphire into space, and she would search one end of the universe to the other until they were reunited.”
Peridot groaned. “Well, I can’t do that, can I? The other Ruby stole our only working ship, and Lapis is the only one of us capable of interstellar travel under her own power. What about Sapphire?”
This time, Garnet looked at her right palm.
“Sapphire would search the future and look for the point where she and Ruby were reunited. Then, she would work backwards until she knew what to do.”
“Well, that’s no good either, is it?” Peridot’s arms flailed out, and then she folded them. “I need something I can do.”
A comforting hand was placed on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze.
“You can wait, and have patience. I don’t know what Lapis is going to do, but if she loves you as much as you love her, then she’ll come back. It might just take a little while.”
“’Love’?” Peridot spluttered over the word, “We weren’t ‘in love’. I should know, I’m an expert in all forms of love from my CPH observations.”
“My mistake,” Garnet gave Peridot’s shoulder another squeeze and then removed her hand.
“We weren’t… I mean, we weren’t – like you.” Peridot made her hands into two fists and bumped them together. “You know.”
“Not every couple expresses their love in the same way. After Lapis’ experiences I doubt she’d ever want to stay a fusion. And humans don’t fuse at all.” Garnet paused, then added, “Well, most humans don’t fuse. It doesn’t make their love any less real, or amazing.”
“Still, I don’t know. It wasn’t love.”
“Well, what would you call it then?”
“I don’t know. What would you call it when you want the other person with you for the rest of your existence, and when they’re gone thinking about them hurts, but you don’t want to stop thinking about them because you don’t want to forget anything about them. And you want them back so you can yell at them for leaving and then do that thing that humans do, with their mouths?”
“Yeah, that. And you want them with you so you can hold them and know they're safe, and then spend the rest of your lives on your farm working your kindergarten, just the two of you and your pumpkin?”
Despite not needing to breath, Peridot took a deep breath.
"Well," she snapped, "what would you call it, then?"
“I would call that, ‘being in love.’”
“Oh.” Peridot stared back up at the stars, “Then… I guess I was in love with her…”
They watched the stars until morning, and Peridot wondered which one was Lapis’.