"Go, Will," the woman said. She was leaned up against the kitchen counter, arms folded, facing her husband. She brushed a dark brown lock out of her face as she said, "Stop waffling and go find him."
Her husband also had his arms folded. "Sharon, I don't even know where to start looking for my brother."
"You're the one who even brought up finding your brother, Will. Didn't you mention asking your cousin's about where he might be?" Sharon asked.
"You know I barely have a better relationship to Andy than I do with my brother," Will defended.
"Doesn't Andy still live on the farm that your aunt and uncle owned?" Sarah prodded.
"I think so, but he's into aviation, just like Aunt Linda and Uncle David always were," Will said. "So he's probably not even there."
"Still," Sharon said. "A plane's got to land sometime."
"That is true, I guess," Will conceded.
"So try, Will. It won't hurt to try," Sharon said as she gave him a hug.
Will couldn't believe his eyes as he drove up to his cousin's farm. What had happened to the barn!? The silo was now at a 45 degree angle off of the barn, half a truck was propped out over the barn, there was funky.. windmill?. off of the roof, among other odd decorations.
Will stopped his car in front of the entrance of the barn. Cautiously, he walked to the door of the barn. The strange decorations continued to make their appearance. "Andy?" he called out to the barn. "Andy?" he called again as he walked around the side of the barn. "Maybe he's not here?"
Will turned at the shout to see a short woman dressed in green running towards him from the fields. Another woman trailed in her wake, dressed in blue.. wait, was her skin blue?
"What are you doing here!?" the shorter woman demanded. Will realized that this woman's skin was green and the other woman's skin was indeed blue.
"I- I don't w- want any trouble. I- I'm just l- looking for m- my cousin Andy.." Will started to explain as the green woman cut across him again.
"Whatever. Where are my attack drones?" the green woman asked.
"Uh, remember what happened last time a human came here? Maybe we should listen to why he's here, like Steven did with the last one," the blue woman said.
"Good point, Lazuli. What are you doing here!?" the green woman shouted at him.
"I-I'm just looking for m-my cousin, Andy DeMayo," Will repeated.
"Wait, wasn't that the name of the last one who was here?" the blue woman asked.
"It was!" the green woman shouted. "And Steven put his number on the wall!"
The green woman ran into the barn and returned with a sheet of paper. She handed it to him, proudly. The paper read 'Uncle Andy' with a phone number. Since he had nothing to lose, Will pulled out his phone and put in the number. It rang twice before it was picked up.
"Andrew DeMayo speaking," the voice on the other end of the line said.
"H- hey, Andy. I-it's Will," Will started as his cousin cut him off.
"Wirt!?" Andy shouted. "I haven't heard from you in years! How you been? How did you even get my number?"
"I- Uh, I drove over to your parents' old farm, and- and I got it from the ladies who are here," Will said.
Andy sighed. "Right, them. What do you need, cousin?"
"I was.. I needed.. um, I was calling to ask if you had heard from my.. brother," Will finished.
"Sure have," Andy said, and Will felt himself perk up. "Saw him a couple months ago," Andy continued. "And if you're at the barn, he's pretty close to you. He's living down in Beach City, owns a car wash there, or something."
Will sighed. Of course Gregory had ended up washed up in some random, summer beach town. "I think I'll pay him a visit then."
"Good to see you two finding each other," Andy said. "By the way, he's got a- sorry I gotta go!"
Will heard the click of Andy's phone as he asked, "Got a what? What does my brother have?" But he already knew that the call had ended. He gave a sigh before walking back to his car. Will glanced back at the barn to see the two women sitting up in the suspended truck bed.
"Bye!" the green woman shouted, waving as Will drove back the way he came.
Beach City was a tourist town and was rather sleepy in its off season. As he couldn't seem to find a information booth in town, Will stopped by the Board Walk to see if one of the shop owners could give him directions to the car wash in town. The closest place was some fry shop. Will attempted to speak to the teen who was working the counter, but he found that he couldn't get a straight answer out of the boy. After a few minutes, the teen was pushed aside by a younger boy who was far more helpful. The boy gave him exact directions to get to the car wash.
Armed with directions, Will drove over to 'It's a Wash' car wash. As he pulled up, he noticed a van parked in front of the office portion of the building. A large, sunburnt man got out of the van as Will parked. The odd thing was that while the man was bald on the top of his head, yet he had hair that reached down his back.
"Looking for a wash?" the sunburnt man called out to him as he drew near, but then faltered in his step. "Wirt?" the man asked cautiously.
"Greg?" Will asked.
A smile split across Greg's face. "Geeze, I haven't seen you in years, Wirt! What are you doing here?"
Will tried not to cringe at the sound of his childhood nickname, which had been given to him when Greg had just begun to talk. His brother looked a far cry different from when he left home at twenty- one after dropping out of college. "L-looking for you," Will told his brother. "Looks like you got dad's hair."
Greg rubbed his mostly bald head. "Yeah, the top was gone by the time I was thirty... though it looks like you didn't!'
Will smiled. It was true that despite being six years older than his brother, he still had all of his hair.
"How did you even find me, Wirt?" Greg asked
"I called and asked Andy. He said that he saw you a few months ago," Will said.
"Oh, yeah," Greg said. "So, why are you looking for me?"
Will crossed his arms. "Greg, you dropped off the map twenty years ago. I realized that if I could, my kids should be able to meet their uncle."
"Yeah.." Greg muttered, looking down, then he looked back up. "You have kids?"
"Yes," Will said proudly. "Lucas and Alexia."
"Did you end up marrying Katie Allens?" Greg asked with a smirk.
"No, we were over a few months after you left," Will explained. "I married Sharon Valdez."
Greg's smile faltered. "I don't think I know her."
"I met her a few years after you left, which how did you do at being a musician?" Will asked. It was petty, but he felt a bit of satisfaction at Greg's discomfort over the question.
"Well, it.. uh.." Greg tried to find the words. "I have two albums around and I give guitar lessons." Which was not the success that he wanted. "But I like the town I ended up in," Greg defended.
Will resisted rolling his eyes. Of course he did, Greg could survive just about anywhere, and this was probably the town he ran out of gas in.
"Hey, this town's got some amazing qualities," Greg defended.
"I'm sure it does." Evidently, he must have not been that successful at suppressing the eyeroll.
"After all," Greg started, "it is where I met-" At which point he was distracted by the kid who came flying up the street, and was shouting, "Dad! Dad! Dad!"
The kid came to stop in front of Greg. "Hey, Stu-ball, what's up?" Greg greeted the kid.
Holding up a flier, the kid asked, "Dad, we're doing Beach Palooza this year, right!?"
"Steven, Beach Palooza isn't for months. And we always play in it," Greg said with a weak smile.
"I know," the kid said. "But last year I had to play with the Gems instead of you."
"Oh, yeah," Greg said with a ting of regret, rubbing the back of his head. "Still you had fun playing with the Gems, didn't you?"
"Yeah," the kid said slowly.
"And we'll do it together this year, like we planned," Greg promised.
Will had stood silently as he watched his brother interact with the kid. As Greg made his promise, the kid seemed to suddenly realize that there was another person near them. "Uh, Dad, who's this?" the kid asked, turning to Greg.
"Steven, this my brother, Wirt," Greg said. "Wirt, this is Steven, my son."
The kid's eyes lit up. "It's really great to meet you!" Steven exclaimed.
Will chuckled to himself. It was like he had gone back in time. Greg had had the same bright personality and charisma as a kid.
"I guess that makes you my uncle," Steven continued.
Will smiled. "That it does." Steven looked like Greg too. Short, round, though Greg's hair had been light brown and straight, while his son's was black and curly.
"A few months ago I didn't think I had any family, and now I've got two uncles!" Steven said.
Will gave his brother a quizzical look when Steven mentioned two uncles. "Andy insisted on being 'Uncle Andy'," Greg whispered to his brother.
The three of them looked up the street to see a woman waving at them. "That's Amethyst," Steven told them. "The Gems probably need me for Gem stuff."
"Okay," Greg said as Steven took off up the street.
Will regarded his brother with a critical glance. "I was going to ask about who Steven's mom is, but what's 'Gem stuff'?"
"Well, it ties together," Greg said. "The Gems are aliens from another planet.."
Will stopped his brother with a raised hand. "Don't make up stories, Greg."
Greg frowned at him. "I'm not, Wirt."
"Fine," Will said. If Greg was going to insist on it, he might as well her it.
"Like I was saying, the Gems are aliens from another planet," Greg continued. "A group of them are called the Crystal Gems who have taken it upon themselves to protect the Earth. Rose was one of them, until she gave up her physical form to create Steven." Greg glared at his brother. "You don't believe me, do you?"
"Greg, listen to yourself. Aliens aren't real. They're fantasy," Will tried to reminded his brother.
"No more fantasy than the Unknown was," Greg muttered.
"Don't talk about that place," Will warned.
"What? Was that fantasy too, Wirt? Because we both know what happened in those woods," Greg said.
Will closed his eyes and then glared at his half brother. "Fine," he said. "If it's real, prove it."
Which was when the ground shook and the air filled with the sound of an explosion. Greg looked up at the hill at the edge of town that housed the light house, then looked back at his brother. "I think that can be arranged. Get in."
Will got in the passenger side of his brother's van, and Greg drove them onto the sand of the beach. As they rounded the hill, Will looked up in wonder at the giant statue carved into the hill. At the base of the statue there was a house, cusped in the hands of the statue. But the action was on the beach.
There was a giant monster that reminded Will of things he hadn't seen since leaving.. that place. As though it wasn't enough, a red streak shot towards the monster. As the streak rebounded off the monster, Will realized it was a woman. There were two other women, one pale as the moon and the other a violet purple, who moved to attack the monster. The pale one wielded a spear and the purple one appeared to be using a whip.
As Greg parked the van, Will noticed the two children. One was a girl who was wielding a pink sword almost as tall as she was. The other was his nephew.
Will could only watch, leaning forward in horror as the two children ran towards the monster. Turning to his brother, Will demanded, "Aren't you going to do something!!?"
Greg seemed to shrink a little into his seat. "They've got it covered, Wirt. I would only get in the way."
Will stared at him. "Since when did you hide?" he asked his brother. Will had always been the one to hide and run away from things. Greg had always been to run towards it without fear.
"They don't need my help," Greg repeated.
Will looked up in time to see a flash of light that dissolved to reveal a person who was wielding the sword the girl had had and the shield that his nephew had had. The person lept forward, driving the sword through the monster. The monster paused, and then poofed into a cloud of smoke.
With the monster gone, Will lept out of the car. Greg quickly followed him, shouting, "Wirt, wait up!"
As he drew near to the group, Will realized that the three ladies also had skin that was not the colour of any human. He stopped, and Greg came running up beside him.
"Uncle Wirt! Da-niverse!" the person stumbled out before disappearing into a flash of light. As the light dissipated, Will could once again see his nephew and the girl.
"Uh, were you two watching the battle?" Steven asked hesitantly, twirling his fingers.
"Um." Both Greg and Will tried not to look at him. "We were just going," Greg said, and dragged his brother back to the van.
As they drove back to the car wash, Will asked, "What was that thing?"
"A gem monster," Greg responded concentrating on the road.
"And who was the.. person?"
"Stevonnie is.. well, there's this ability that the Gems have called fusion," Greg explained. "They can combine together to create a different Gem. The fusion has a combination of their abilities. And we saw Steven fused with Connie."
Connie must have been the girl with the pink sword, Will thought. "Is Connie a.. Gem then?" Will asked.
"No," Greg said. "She's a friend of Steven's who learned to use a sword. Gems can only fuse with other Gems, but because Steven is half- human, half- Gem, he can fuse with either... we think... the only human he's fused with has been Connie.."
"Who were the other ladies? Because I think I saw some more of them at Uncle David and Aunt Linda's farm," Will said.
"Yeah, you would have," Greg said. "The two up at the barn are Peridot and Lapis. Peridot's the green one and Lapis is the blue one. The tall, red one you saw on the beach is Garnet, the purple one is Amethyst, and the other one is Pearl. Steven's mom was Rose Quartz, I'll show you a picture of her when we get back to the wash."
True to his word, back at the car wash Greg showed Will the picture with Rose, who had been tall, pink, and it was quite clear where Steven had gotten his curls from. Greg also showed him an.. interesting.. music video that showed another fusion, this one being of Rose and Pearl.
"Greg, why are you living in your van?" Will had finally worked up the nerve to ask his brother the question that had been weighing on him the entire time.
"Because I'm used to it," Greg said.
"If you need money.." Will started.
Greg cut him off. "Look I didn't do that well at the time with my music, but since then it's gone fine. If I wanted to live somewhere else, I could, but I don't want to. So, drop it."
Will decided to stay overnight at the local motel, and in the morning he said his goodbyes to his brother and nephew.
"Is 'Wirt' actually your real name?" Steven asked. "Because I found out a few months ago that 'Universe' isn't really our last name."
"Yes it is, Steven," Greg argued. "It just isn't for the rest of the family."
"No," Will told his nephew. "My real name is William and I usually go by Will, but when your dad first started talking he kept calling me 'Wirt' and it stuck."
"So, should I call you 'Uncle Will'?" Steven asked.
Will thought for a moment. "No, just call me Uncle Wirt." It was.. nice.. to hear the name out of a kid's mouth again.
"Okay, Uncle Wirt!" Steven said as he gave his uncle a hug.
Will then turned to his brother. "First of all," he said, "I still don't believe you that your kid is fourteen."
"He is," Greg insisted.
Will held up both hands. "And second, I have one last question for you. Why didn't you ever come home? You didn't even let us know that you were alive."
Greg gave a sigh. "Wir- Will, I know how hard you tried to ignore what happened to us. And here I was, in the middle of more magic." He looked away from his brother. "I couldn't drag you into it again."
Will put a hand on Greg's shoulder. "Thank you. And for the record, Alexia's middle name is Beatrice."
"Huh." Greg looked up with a smile. "Bye, Will."
"Bye, Uncle Wirt!" Steven added.
"Bye, Greg. Bye, Steven," Will said as he drove away. But he would be back.