"Yeah. You too?"
"Yeah....Do you want to come over?"
Connie slips out like a shadow, skipping the creaky third and twelfth steps as naturally as breathing. She opens the front door only exactly as wide as she needs to to slip through, and closes it slowly and carefully behind her. The chilly night breeze nips lightly at what her nightgown doesn't cover, but the sharp feeling is more refreshing to her than uncomfortable. A voice in the back of her mind tells her she should have changed, should have brought her sword, should have prepared for the worst- but shorts and a nightgown is reasonable for fighting, and beyond that- she doesn't want to bring battle with her. Not right now. Even if something bad happens... there are a million things that could go wrong, and a million reasons nothing will, and she's not going to work herself in knots over something as small as this if she can help it. But it might not be small-
She walks forward and feels icy gravel dig into her bare feet. Shoes would definitely have been a tactical choice, but she has a feeling she won't need them.
Pink light explodes across her lawn.
Echoes of an otherworldly roar ripple down the street as gravel sprays her legs from Lion's skid, and Steven holds out his hand for her to grab and in a motion she's halfway through on instinct before she realizes what's going on, she slides into place behind him. Before she's even fully settled, pink consumes her whole world and melts into familiar patterns of blinding color around her. She notices that the dull warmth of Lion's soft fur is a relief she wasn't expecting on her legs- it must've been colder than she thought.
Lion's second landing is much less sudden, leap turning into a gentle lope and fading to a standstill before flopping heavily down.
"Whoah-" They only have a second to scramble out of the way before Lion's flop is complete and he's splayed out across the sand.
In the dark, Connie takes a moment just to breathe with Steven. Her dark blue nightgown flutters lightly in the soft breeze. His own striped set of pajamas hangs loosely over him, makes him look younger than his better fitting daily wear does. They meet eyes, facing each other merely feet away, and there's a noise rising up in Connie's chest that makes her feel a hair away from exploding- sick and bottomless dread and fear as she watched White Diamond pull him apart, desperate and painful hope as she offered one half of him up to the other, the joy of holding him whole- the nightmares of waking up to an empty prison room- the nightmares of waking up pink like Lars and Lion-
He's not wearing shoes either.
They don't dance, not even a cursory second to sway to the same invisible beat. They just step closer and collapse into each other, and Stevonnie wraps their arms around themself and starts to cry.
The moon isn't that much further in its arc when Stevonnie gets up again, scrubbing away tear tracks on the backs of their hands. Sand clings to their back, their legs, their arms- anywhere it had a chance to cradle them. They spend a second dusting the less stubborn grains away in quick swipes, but they know cleaning off totally is a futile effort without a shower.
A pink bubble forms around them in petals that seal together and smooth out as fast as they form, and they take a deep breath and being walking.
They haven't done this in a while, and never as Stevonnie before, but Steven and Connie found something relaxing and grounding in exploring the oceans together. After the mess with Kevin's party, after the first time Steven came back from space- it was a way to reconnect, to feel like everything was still okay if they could ignore the surface for a little while.
Stevonnie... doesn't need to reconnect. Not just in the literal sense. Not when their components have a hard time sleeping alone, and not when they've called each other in the dead of night every night for five days. But they do need to forget the surface for a little while.
And... it's nice like this. Only hanging out to recoup from nightmares or insomnia makes them feel... drained. Heavy. Steven is so busy meeting and explaining and doing damage control between the uncorrupted homeworld soldiers and the new-old crystal gems and the diamonds and Beach City-
They take a deep sigh and pointedly wonder for the millionth time how their bubble produces oxygen.
....Does it filter it from the water?
That would be the easiest answer but it produces oxygen in space too!
But how much? I was definitely light-headed out there, especially after I had to pop and remake it to let Eyeball out...
But you still could breath!
Maybe I just need less oxygen than a normal human? I haven't tested it...
Yeah, that's a good point, but you do eat and drink the same amount-
But I don't know if I have to!
Can Stevonnie survive on less?
And they snap back together sharply enough that they trip and land on their face.
It's... pretty indescribable, the moment of fusion, but Stevonnie kinda feels like they just did that in miniature- the incredibly sudden and sharp difference between being a theoretical construct and a real entity. There are fish outside, and hundred different shapes and sizes, boggling at them as they ogle back. The inside of the bubble is getting colder as they spend more time down here. There's still some sand on their feet, and they feel it where their feet press against the smooth, glass-like bubble.
The last time they fused, they got their friends poofed and were locked in a dark, colorless jail cell for days without food or water beyond what Connie had on her.
Everything is pink, and they very suddenly cannot stand it a moment longer.
Water crashes in as bubbles rush up, cold and salty and soaking and real, and Stevonnie kicks and kicks their way upwards in stuttering strokes of their long legs. It's weird to exist, weird to have knowledge of bodies that aren't theirs, weird to be neither one person nor two, weird to be- anything- they burst into the air with a great burst of rain and heaving breaths-
But it's the most normal thing in the world to be here, saltwater drying cold and sticky on their skin, looking up at the moon and the stars as they sit still and shining in their sockets, moving too slowly to track in any single moment.
Everything has changed so, so much, and it's still changing, and it might never stop changing, but Stevonnie treads water and refuses to think of anything but the quiet and the scenery for just a moment. Just... just a moment. Just to breath for a second.
There is the smallest, slightest hint of light on the horizon. Just a hairsbreadth of blue resting on the ocean's surface. It is time to go home.
...Home is quite a ways away, they are suddenly realizing, squinting at the small dark spire that is the lighthouse blocking out stars.
Do they swim? They probably don't have that much stamina. Floating on your back is a lot easier than swimming. Do they call lion? Lion isn't the best at answering, but it's worth a shot, since he can run across water-
Wait! Steven can control his decent- you mean my floating powers?- yeah! I bet that's a weight thing, and maybe if I get my weight lighter than water-
Like family, or donuts, or defeating holopearls, or-
Or hanging out with...
Stevonnie's giggles are a sudden warm break in the still quiet of the night as the water gently lets them go and they settle on its smooth surface, watching ripples send the stars' reflections dancing. Idly, they reach out and scoop up some, raising a cup of starlight to their face before letting it trickle back to where it came from.
They stand up and turn back to where they came from, and they trickle back with the sunrise to push them forward.