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Lightning and Other Metaphors

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Even after her heart to heart with Steven, Peridot still detested thunder with every photon of her being. She was a creature of logic, of routine, and having jarring noises sound off at random intervals went against the order of things. The act of nature was infuriating, unreasonable, disruptive, and downright cloddy to the ninth power. Those were her feelings, loudly expressed every time a pleasant rain shower grew into a proper storm. Nothing short of being placed in a harvesting station would get her to admit that behind her outwardly expressed ire was fear. Dread that one of these days, as the humans called the light cycle of their planet, the noise won't just be some natural weather phenomenon. Fear that one evening she was going to open her vision spheres and find everything she had grown to love destroyed. This foreboding, much like the thunder whose noise brought the dormant thoughts to the surface, was entirely unfounded; or so she thought. Steven being dragged away to face the wrath of Homeworld did nothing to ease the distressing sense that her happiness was on borrowed time. Now that the Diamonds knew Rose Quartz still existed in some form they were sure to bring their wrath upon her happy blue mud ball.

After all she wasn't created to be happy, no gem was, she was created to be of use to her Diamond. A being content with its place in the world had no reason to serve any sort of authority. Authority thrived on striking fear into anyone who wasn't at the top of the proverbial food chain. Without access to her limb enhancers Peridot was about as valuable to a Diamond as a legless robonoid. What possible use could anyone have for a technician who could no longer interface with the technology she was supposed to be using? How could she be of value to someone when even the simple act of running caused her to get tangled on her own feet? Even the cloddy pearl was able to outclass her at the one thing she had been made to do; engineering. The only reason she had declared herself the winner of their robot duel was she destroyed Pearl's machine. Broken robot or not it was Pearl, not her, who the Crystal Gems showered with praises and the coveted "High Five". At the time their reaction had felt so thoroughly backwards that she was rendered speechless. On Earth her existence served no functional purpose and yet she had found a strange comfort in it.

There was a strange sense of pride in putting together meep morps that symbolically represented her growth. She felt big when she showed off her creations to Lazuli and the blue gem snorted with laughter at her rambling explanations. Earning Lapis' friendship taught her the importance of giving others the space they need to process things. Days spent tending the crops afforded her chances to observe lifeforms that she would never have known in her old life. Her crops also offered visual proof that nothing stays the same on her new home. Earth was always in a state of flux and it was both terrifying and the most beautiful thing Peridot had ever known. Time watching Camp Pining Hearts with Lapis in their constructed balcony introduced her to the contentment one could feel in the company of another. Before Earth she always worked alone if she could, other peridots would just mean more egos to contend with. Earth showed her something beyond blueprints and gem injectors; it showed her that living was more than existing. Existence, as laid out by the Great Diamond Authority, wasn't enough for her anymore, not after Earth. After everything she knew now about being her own person she would rather shatter herself than go back to being a number. Peridot Facet-2F5L Cut-5XG was gone and in her place was just Peridot, the goofy farmer who lived with a water gem and magic pumpkin.

Still for all the enjoyment Peridot was able to express there were still times where she felt she didn't deserve it. Out of the blue she would get overwhelmed with the perception that she was too low on the food chain to be afforded such frivolities. Yellow Diamond's words still echoed in her head "Which Peridot?", she was so trivial that she didn't even have a name. Thinking about the worlds she had harmed by planning Kindergartens made her feel sick to her gem's very core. What if one of those colonies had sentient creatures as amazing as Steven living on them? What right did she, and to an extent The Authority, have to decide which species were worthy of being spared a brutal extinction? Experiencing all she had of Earth's beauty, it was impossible for Peridot to think of any place as resources meant for harvesting. Organic life may have been primitive when compared to gems, but the organics had something gems didn't; freedom. Peridot also found herself regretting the way she had imprisoned everyone she now called a friend. She had been so blinded by Diamond rhetoric that she hadn't even seen them as people. Over and over those thoughts swirled through her head as unpredictable as the thunder she loathed.

In some ways Lapis leaving with everything the two of them had ever cared about wasn't much of a surprise. Yes it hurt but in the back of her mind Peridot knew she deserved the pain. She was garbage, a working class drone that mindlessly followed orders hoping for what amounted to little better than a pat on the head. The things she had willingly participated in were monstrous and Earth media was very clear, monsters never got a happy ending. On Earth killers and criminals were isolated from the things they loved for their ill deeds. As this place was her home now she would faithfully follow its customs. Steven's archaic thinking chamber would be her prison cell leaving her isolated from the company she felt was better off without her. Deep in the recesses of her mind that little voice who reminded her of her lack of worth purred. Thoughts rumbled like far away thunder echoing the voice's sentiments; she was nothing. On her worst nights she would find herself bitterly wishing that she had been cracked beyond repair when her escape pod struck Earth.

It was that same sense of bitter disappointment that led her to stomp the "flower" in the Prime Kindergarten. Sure it turned out to just be a colorful lure for a horrible mutated gem monster but at the time she didn't know that. All she knew in that moment was that she was angry and needed to lash out at something. Peridot zeroed in on the flower; something growing and thriving while she was stagnant. How dare something as inferior as a plant be able to have stability when everything she loved was taken from her? When her foot hit its mark she felt a flash of blissful triumph before regret stung her eyes. Here she was again, childishly lashing out at those around her because she was sad. She thought she had matured in her time on Earth but at her core she was the same angry ball of hair that needed to be leashed to the fence at the barn.

Bolts of self loathing struck her psyche akin to the wild lightning she so detested. Remaining positive was beginning to feel more and more like an impossible task. Inwardly she began to wonder if she had any redeemable qualities whatsoever. She was convinced that the positive traits she possessed would have made themselves known by now. Instead all she was left with was a turbulent flurry of brackish nihilism and melancholy. For the umpteenth time she longed for her old tape recorder and the logs it contained. Summoning her newfound magnetic abilities she called her gifted tablet into her hands and pressed the speech function. Bile rose in her throat making her voice come out choked, "No matter how good I try to act I'm still the same gem who let Jasper punch Steven in the face so I could get a promotion. It's basically meaningless; the Diamonds are going to destroy this place and nothing I've done can change that."

She continued speaking to her electronic device pouring out the frustrations she had been harboring since before her time at the barn. Right about the time she started talking about Lapis her eyes commenced that infernal prickling that always preceded a breakdown. Not long after the first irritating prickle her words gave way to inarticulate sobs. Each turbulent exhale delivered a deep pulsing ache to the crux of her being that steadily grew until she felt like she would poof. Tablet forgotten, her diminutive form curled around itself within the confines of the bathtub. Time seemed to lose all meaning then; all she knew was she felt hollowed out and raw. Drained wasn't the right word; to her that phrase implied a slow, steady, release of built up pressure. This was more like everything had exploded out of her in a cataclysmic blast of thunder. For perhaps the first time since emerging from her hole in the Kindergarten she was tired. By the time the last of her sniffles died away her eyes were sliding shut and her mind was blissfully blank.

Warm hands around her middle jostled Peridot from the pit of self loathing she had been wallowing in for days. Green eyes opened to see themselves reflected in a shiny pair of black sunglasses. "Hello Peridot", Garnet greeted fondly as she placed the squirming green gem in her lap. "You looked comfortable so I thought I would join you, you've been sleeping for quite a while. Steven and Amethyst have gone to the store to look for more gardening supplies for you." Maroon hands, the very things that had once squeezed her hard enough to dissipate her form, now rubbed gentle circles in her hunched shoulders. Peridot sighed and leaned into the contact savoring the heat that encompassed Garnet's mass. It reminded her of bright summer days spent repairing holes in the barn's roof so her television wouldn't get wet. The cool porcelain bathtub she laid in was a poor substitute for the truck bed balcony where she and Lapis would spend their nights together. Peridot hadn't realized she'd started crying again until Garnet spoke, "Stop bottling yourself up and talk to me. We've been so worried about you and you've been hiding from us since you got here."

The shredded remains of her pride practically compelled Peridot to argue that she hadn't been hiding. Hiding implied that she was making herself difficult to locate, which she hadn't done. She was still residing in the same primitive washing receptacle that had served as her home when she was first captured. Unlike the previous time she had holed herself up in the bathroom she hadn't even locked the door. Should they wish to locate her all any of the Crystal Gems had to do was turn the knob precisely as Garnet had done. How in the stars was Peridot to blame for the fact that other than their failed adventure at the Prime Kindergarten no one had bothered to visit her? Besides being illogical, such accusations were blatantly false, but if they were false why did she feel like Garnet was right? Couldn't she have just as easily opened the door and joined Steven for his morning ritual of viewing emotionally unstable food? How many times had she heard Amethyst loudly announce that she was going off on an adventure to Beach City?

Argument deflating before it could pass through her pursed lips, Perdiot allowed herself a quiet sigh. Garnet's talented hands were making quick work draining the perpetual tension her green companion carried. The green gem was having trouble articulating the tempest of emotions cascading around in her brain like one of those strange games Steven played to amuse himself. Ultimately she decided against trying to make sense of what she felt and simply let the words gush forth. "The presence of you and the others causes me to feel an odd sense of foreboding and distress. You're all so", she paused trying to find the right phrase, "happy here with your current existence. In my present state I fear I am intruding upon that joy and making it lessen or, as Amethyst would say, I am a buzzkill." That statement earned her a rumbling chuckle from the gem she was currently using as makeshift furniture. She was suddenly struck with just how preposterous her current seating position was. A defect like herself lounging atop what was maybe the most perfect fusion in the history of gemkind. It was ludicrous, so much so that a weak smile appeared on her face for a brief moment. "Experience has taught me that I am unworthy of being happy but I do not wish to dampen the moods of others."

"Listen to me very carefully Peridot", Garnet replied sternly; she turned the gem in her lap around to face her for added emphasis. "Everyone is worthy of happiness, everyone is worthy of love", Peridot opened her mouth to argue but Garnet raised a hand to silence her. Garnet's black shades fizzled away leaving Peridot under the full weight of her three eyed gaze,"We have all done things we are not proud of. Despite what you've been told mistakes don't immediately negate your other, positive, accomplishments. Whether you think you've earned it or not we still love you, I still love you. Love doesn't care if you're worthy or not, it simply is, that's what makes it so special. Now come on I'm taking you into the living room, Steven will be returning soon in desperate need of a shower." With that Garnet lifted a protesting Peridot out of the bathtub and placed her atop her afro like she would do with Steven. And although the green gem continued to state that she was perfectly capable of transporting herself all Garnet heard was the implied thank you.

She knew, even without the use of future vision, that one instance of affirmation would not heal her friend's fractured sense of self worth. Hidden underneath her massive ego Peridot harbored more insecurities than the fusion wanted to think about. Homeworld's rigid standards of "be useful or be shattered" had its claws in her deep. The Crystal Gem's shameful treatment of her in the beginning hadn't helped; Garnet knew and a pang of guilt shot through her. Life was never as simple as the writers of television shows would have people believe. Self actualization took repeated effort on the part of the being trying to achieve it and the ones around them. Still this heart to heart was a step in the right direction that she hoped was the first of many. Peridot remaining in her lap when the television was turned on seemed like a good indication that some of the message was heard.