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Catching Up

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“...So then Peridot said ‘You’re just in time for the end of the world!’” Steven pinched his nose together to make his voice more Peridotty, and Connie laughed as Steven started to chuckle and cough.

“That sounds like her. Always room for snark no matter the situation. Need another water?” Connie held out a bottle to him with a smile.

“Like you wouldn’t believe.” He took it and tapped it against hers with a grin. “Clink!” He took another long drink, and leaned back with a sigh.

They were sitting together on the beach outside Steven’s home, bathed in a soft pink glow from the excess poison still left to clean up. Steven was enjoying a short break before he got back to kissing away the leftover taint of the poison and Connie was eager to get caught up with what had happened before she had to return to Space Camp.

“So what did you do next?” Connie asked.

“Well, I didn’t want to wait, so I figured I’d try to pick up the drill.”

Connie snorted and fell over laughing. “You didn’t!

He laughed a little with her, happy just to hear her laugh. “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time! It’s hard to remember your powers don’t work until you have to use them.”

She sat back up, brushing sand from her hair as she tried to fight off giggles. “But the injector was the size of an office building!”

He brushed it off. “P’shaw. Wouldn’t have been any problem for these guns.” He flexed a little, and Connie covered her mouth to keep in another giggle. “I was lifting it fine until my gem power gave out, but then jostling it just made it worse!”

Connie blinked, sure she had misheard. “You… you lifted it? The whole drill?”

“Well, only like a couple of feet.” He held his hands apart, trying to measure the distance.

“But it was the size of an office building!” She started doing math in her head. “And it was full of enough liquid poison to kill the Earth! It must’ve weighed thousands of tons!”

“Well, it wasn’t easy to lift,” he teased. “Anyway…”

Steven continued his story while Connie looked down at her hands, trying to imagine what that kind of strength must feel like. Eventually he noticed, and she awkwardly laughed and asked him to tell her again. But even when she was looking at him, listening and responding and laughing, she couldn’t stop thinking about it. Even when she kissed his cheek goodbye before mounting Lion, the sight of him blushing again didn’t clear her mind.

She just couldn’t get it out of her head.

 

Catching Up

 

Connie’s heart pounded, sweat pouring down her face as she ran next to Steven. He barely seemed fazed in comparison, and yet he was the one bellyaching as they ran. “How many more laps of Little Homeworld?” He groaned.

“Just one more,” she panted between steps. The path around the gem community was well-kept and new, and she was glad that there weren’t many tourists here to gawk and clog up the path this time of year. It was hard enough to run a 5k every day without dodging people.

“Are you sure I need to do this?” He asked for the hundredth time. “I really don’t think the cardio is helping me much.”

“You are human in every way until proven otherwise,” she huffed in reply. “And humans who want to live a long time require cardio.”

“It doesn’t seem like I’m getting much out of it,” he grumbled.

The question of Steven’s actual biology was definitely not as cut-and-dry as she pretended. He was obviously something more than human, even the parts of him that seemed mostly human. Connie really didn’t have a lot of proof that he needed the exercise. But better safe than sorry. In any case, she had a backup motivational strategy that hadn’t failed yet.

“You’re getting my company,” she said with a bright smile. “Isn’t that enough reason?”

Steven mumbled something she couldn’t quite make out, but his smile and the way he picked up his pace a little were enough of a response.

It had been Connie who had recommended that all of the Crystal Gems start doing regular training after the Spinel incident a year ago showed how much their skills had atrophied. Steven had been happy to agree at the time. Right up until she had revealed her weekly exercise plan for the both of them and he realized how much of it was working out instead of combat or fusion practice.

“How do you even have time for this?” He asked as they rounded the final curve and the finish line came into sight.

“I never stop moving!” She laughed as she sprinted ahead, leaving him behind her as she flew past the ramp leading up into the gem settlement. She stopped, hands on her knees as she caught her breath.

“Seriously, though.” He started ticking off on his fingers as he caught up, completely unaffected by the run. “College classes, school, exercise, two kinds of training…”

“Don’t forget the gem studies with Peridot!” Connie puffed up a little, proud of her attempts to understand the seemingly magical (and often actually magical) wonders of gem technology.

“I didn’t forget.” He chuckled. “But that’s a megaton of stuff! When do you find time to sleep?”

“Weekends, mostly. But only two weeks until school is out!” She giggled with him.

But on the inside, Connie worried. She didn’t want him to notice how hard she was having to work to juggle everything. Even now, she was sure if he looked close, he’d see how tired she felt. She didn’t want him to think less of her.

She’d been up late the night before, and the two nights before that. Six courses had big assignments due this week, two of them college, and when so much of her time was spent here, training and keeping fit, she was having trouble keeping it all together. If she wasn’t careful, her mom was going to notice. At least once school was out she’d have more chances to catch her breath for a few weeks. But before that she was going to have to study for end-of-term tests, and… well, Peridot would understand if she needed to take a rain check from their meetings for a week or so. She could catch up on that during summer, too.

She let Steven lead her up the ramp to Little Homeworld. Most of the gems there were used to his presence, but there were always one or two who wanted to stop and say hi as Steven passed by them on the way to the warp pad, either visitors or new arrivals. She was glad for the break. It gave her a chance to rest while he took the bulk of the conversation. She needed the break, both in body and mind.

But soon enough they were at the pad, and Steven warped them both up to their normal training grounds in the Sky Arena. No one was waiting for them; the gems had trusted them to do any necessary combat training without supervision for ages now. Unless they needed an opponent for fusion training, this was time for them to practice alone.

“Five minute break?” Connie asked, trying not to sound as desperate as she felt.

“If you insist, but if we end up late to the next activity, it’s on you.” Apparently she’d pulled it off. Steven grinned as he reached into Connie’s bag to distribute water and snacks.

“I’ll just have to kick your butt real fast,” she said between bites as she wolfed down her protein bar.

He smirked. “If you can."

She kicked herself internally. She was tired. She shouldn't have riled him up. He might notice she wasn't giving her all.

It's not like she could beat him in a fair fight anyway. That ship had long since sailed.

 


 

Connie felt like she had been hit by a steam train. Hammering her sword against Steven's shield and flipping around trying to make an opening were incredibly draining. She didn't know if Steven realized how strong he'd become, but she was wiped while he was still trucking right along.

"One more?" he asked with a grin. At least he was breathing hard. That had to be a victory, at least a small one.

"No." She was doubled over, her sweatband soaked through while her sword sat on the ground. It wasn't the first time he'd knocked it from her hands today. "None more." He offered another water, and she drank greedily.

"You sure you're okay?" He sounded concerned, and she kicked herself again. She should be keeping up. This was her idea!

"Yeah! I'm fine. Just need some rest." She smiled with all the brightness she could muster.

"Sure you don't need a top off?" He beamed, kneeling next to her.

He was just so sweet and genuine. She couldn’t deny him. “Well… Alright. Go ahead.” She flushed and looked away.

He popped a finger in his mouth and tapped her legs with it one at a time. She let out a sigh of relief as her overworked muscles healed in moments. He tapped her left hand, then took her right and gave it a sloppy kiss. “Steven! Gross!” She squealed with laughter as she pulled away.

"Sorry. Couldn't resist." He laughed as he stood back up to pull his jacket back on.

"You're lucky I need a shower anyway." She stowed her sword back in her bag and stood up, stretching her restored muscles. He really was a miracle worker, even if his miracles were sometimes very wet.

"Sure there's room in the schedule?" He teased.  She realized with a blush that she was not sure there was.

But whatever they had scheduled was wiped from their minds as they warped back to Beach City and took a look around, only to see a small gem ship floating above Little Homeworld in the distance. They could hear snatches of a message being broadcast, but couldn’t make out the specifics. Steven frowned, scratching at his hair. “I don’t remember any transports coming in today.”

“That’s unusual.” Connie felt a twinge of worry. “Wanna check it out?”

“Probably should.” He let out a long-suffering sigh. “They’ll probably want to see me. They usually do.” He drew himself up, trying to look as official as any seventeen-year-old could manage as he activated the warp again.

--YOUR TRUE PURPOSE! IN YOUR INDOLENCE, YOU DENY EVERYTHING THAT YOU ARE! REGAIN YOUR LUSTER, I BEG YOU ALL, AND JOIN US IN OUR CRUSADE TO RETURN THE GEMS TO THEIR RIGHTFUL PLACE AS GUARDIANS OF THE STARWAYS!”

Steven and Connie both covered their ears against the painfully loud speech coming from the ship above. Gems were watching it hover over the settlement, uneasy but unsure how to react. As Steven appeared, all eyes turned to him, and the ship’s message ceased. When it resumed, the passionate cry from before was gone, and a new voice smoothly intoned his name. “ Steven Universe.

Steven opened his mouth to reply, but Connie covered his mouth with a hand to interrupt him. “Who wants to know?” He gave her a puzzled look, and she rolled her eyes. She remembered what happened the last time a mysterious voice came looking for him. Might as well make them work for it this time.

The ship slowly turned, its nose pointing down at the warp pad and the two of them. “ We, the stewards of the Gem Empire, have come to demand your immediate surrender and complete capitulation.”

Connie dropped her bag and pulled her sword free, but Steven put a hand on her shoulder before she could raise it. “You wanna talk? Fine. We can talk. But not while you’re pointing a cannon at me.” He raised a bubble around himself and Connie. “Come down! I’m sure we can work through this.” He smiled up at whoever was manning the ship.

“You are in no position to make requests.” The ship turned very slightly to the left, and a bolt of light flew into a building on the edge of the warp pad clearing. The building exploded, and two gems too close to the blast clattered to the ground, poofed by the force of it. The other gems gathered around let out cries of panic and started to run.

“Everyone take shelter in the windmill tower!” Connie ordered, raising her voice as loud as she could.

“Stop!” Steven demanded of the ship, shield appearing on his arm. “If you want me, you don’t have to hurt anyone else! Just come down and tell me what you want!”

Previous encounters indicate that threatening others is a reliable way to ensure your cooperation.” Another bolt flew, sending gems flying.

“Not if I can protect them!” The bubble dropped, and Steven let out a grunt as he raised a new shield overhead, this one a huge polyhedral construct that covered half the square. Connie could see sweat bead on his brow as he struggled to make it as big as he could. Gems rushed to be underneath it, piling into the much more secure tower at the center of the community while staying out of the way. A quick cluster of shots hit the shield, and she could see him struggle to keep it up. The gems were remarkably quick to get to safety, and he drew more of the shield in, lessening his burden.

“Are you okay?” She asked.

“Yeah. I can hold it. But we’re going to have to do more.” As the gems cleared away to shelter, he held out a hand to her. “Fuse with me?”

For a moment, she faltered. What if he noticed her weariness? What if she was too weak, and Stevonnie--

She banished the thoughts and grabbed his hand. “Of course.” None of that was important. She was here, and the best aid she could give him was as half of Stevonnie.

He gave her a weak smile before twirling her close. Their bodies became light, then became one.

Steven and Connie had both grown, and Stevonnie was taller than them both. They stood together nearly eight feet tall, Steven’s jacket fluttering like a half-cape over Connie’s exercise outfit, with Connie’s sword in one hand and Steven’s shield in the other.

Stevonnie glared up at the ship. “Land. The other Crystal Gems will already be on their way.”

Are you sure? The Steven half of Stevonnie asked themselves.

They can’t have missed all of the explosions. There’s no way at least one of them isn’t coming, right?

I wish we had called somebody first, though. I didn’t expect this.

The ship faced off for another moment before they got their reply. “ If you insist. You can clearly withstand the ship’s primary weapon.” A portal opened on the tiny craft, and from it a beam of light emerged, warping down a slender figure, nearly Stevonnie’s height. “A more direct approach is required.”

Stevonnie took a step forward the new figure. A fusion , they realized. The light blue figure was almost completely coated in translucent white armor, and two gems adorned her: a light blue-green speckled rock on the forehead, and a clear yellowish faceted stone set in one shoulder. Her features were thin and tight, even thinner than Pearl’s despite a similar build, and each of her four arms ended in a dainty hand.

Do you recognize them? Connie asked.

The yellow is an Adamite, I think? I don’t know about the other one. Stevonnie raised sword and shield. “Who are you? Why are you here?”

“We are Tanzanite. And we were dispatched to capture or eliminate Steven Universe and any gems or organics accompanying him in order to more expeditiously return the gem empire to its rightful state.” A small ball of yellow-white light appeared between her fingers, humming ominously. “Will you surrender peacefully?”

“Its rightful state? You mean draining worlds of life across the galaxy?” Stevonnie glared. “Everyone is at peace now! How is any state more rightful than that?”

“As a member of ‘everyone’, I disagree with that assertion.” Tanzanite raised her arm and tossed the ball, and the hum grew to a whine as it flew towards them. Stevonnie dropped the shield above them and raised a bubble on instinct. A split second later, the ball exploded in a flash, sending the bubble and Stevonnie flying back until they crashed into the tower.

They winced as they stood back up. Right. Adamite is a demolition gem? So expect explosions.

Glad we remembered the name first and not the fighty part! Stevonnie dashed forward, darting under another explosive sphere to bring up their sword and aiming for the hand that had thrown it. At first glance, the strike looked unblocked.

Then, at the last moment, a light blue panel appeared between sword and target, and the sword rebounded with a crystalline chime. That’s not an Adamite thing!

They raised their shield to block a close-range explosion, then tried two more slashes, each met with another panel. A feint, then, hoping that Tanzanite could be tricked, but she simply summoned a second panel to follow the altered course of the blade. Stevonnie let out a frustrated growl and leaped back.

“If you don’t have any alternate forms of attack, perhaps we could move this along?” Tanzanite asked plainly, eyes narrowed. “You’re not going to hit me with that.”

Stevonnie wavered as Connie felt a stab of panic within them. Sword skills are the only thing I’ve got!

We’ve got plenty other options, Steven assured her. It’s okay. We’ve got this.

Stevonnie collected themself and smirked, bolstered by Steven’s confidence. “If you’re so sure of that, then why are you armored?”

“Practicality.” Tanzanite leaned down and picked up a small piece of rubble, tossing it towards Stevonnie. “I wouldn’t disregard a potential advantage.”

Stevonnie watched the rock clatter to a stop at their feet and sighed. “You don’t really get flustered , do you?”

“I do not.” She gazed impassively as another ball of light appeared between her fingers. Then, without warning, the piece of rubble was back in her hand, and the humming explosive was on the ground at Stevonnie’s feet. They barely had time to take a breath before it detonated.

Steven was tough, and Stevonnie even more so, everything they had amplified by their bond. The explosion hurt as it tossed them into the air, but not enough to do anything permanent. But Connie’s sword was ripped from their grasp as they flew high into the air.

There was a moment of tension as they were tossed. Stevonnie knew they needed to figure out what had happened. The gem could teleport those bombs around? That was going to be a problem.

But beneath that, Connie wanted to jump for the sword as it flew away in a wide arc. She needed it. Without it, she was just-- She wouldn’t be--

Steven tried to reassure her, tried to pull her back, but it was too late. Thirty feet up, Stevonnie burst apart in a flash of light. Connie screamed as she suddenly plummeted away from Steven, sword forced out of her mind as the ground rushed up to meet her. She tried to orient herself, half-remembered training jumbling in her head as she prepared for impact.

“Connie!” Still floating, Steven tried to make a bubble big enough to hold them both. But he couldn’t judge the distance right, and Connie kept falling.

She braced herself with her arms, making sure her head didn’t hit first, and was rewarded with a bolt of white-hot pain and a wet snap. She choked back a cry of pain and rolled off of the broken arm, tears filling her eyes and blurring her vision. She was sure she had more injuries than the arm, but she had to stay up, keep fighting. Her vision swam. She hadn’t been able to keep her head from hitting, even if her arms had cushioned the blow.

She heard Steven call out to her, and tried to mumble something back to him, but she could barely get the words out. Somewhere in her brain the word concussion floated. Everything went pink, and she knew they must be inside a bubble. She could see him over her. He looked so worried. She didn’t want him to worry. She knew he was strong enough for this. She was the one who wasn’t.

Another explosion rocked her, and the tiny jolt sent another rush of pain rocketing through her. That, finally, proved to be too much for her fragile hold on consciousness. She passed out.

 


 

Connie burst back into awareness with a cry of pain. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” Steven mumbled as he backed away. She could feel fading pain in her arm, the bone already knit back together. The pain of it must’ve woken her up.

In a flash, she remembered where she was and tried to leap up, to get back in the fight, but Steven held her back with one hand. “Take it easy, Connie. It’s done.”

A rush of shame hit her. She’d missed it, then. “What happened?”

“It’s alright. You were right about help coming. It’s only been, I dunno, five minutes?” He looked over her, and when he seemed satisfied that she was healed enough, he sat down next to her on the ground. “Peridot, Lapis, and Pearl showed up about a minute after you fell, and Tanzanite couldn’t get another bomb thing past my bubble. They got poofed. Pearl’s got their gems bubbled while we figure out what the heck they wanted.”

She rubbed up and down her arms and legs, making sure she didn’t have any lingering wounds. She never stopped being amazed by what he could do. “I think they were pretty clear about that. Some kind of anti-rebellion? Trying to undo all the changes?”

He frowned. “I don’t know. Sounded like it. But… why? Everyone seems happy.”

“Yeah. You’re right. It doesn’t make sense.” Connie pushed to her feet. Steven made a noise, but she shook her head. “Don’t worry. I’m fine.” She sighed. “Well. I guess all’s well that ends well, right?” She gave him a weak smile. “You kept me safe and everyone else took care of it.”

He looked troubled as he got to his feet. “Connie… what happened?”

Her brain locked up for a moment as she looked back at him. “What do you mean? We just, we got knocked apart. I can’t float. It’s fine. We fight together. These things happen.” Her fingers anxiously pulled at the edges of his jacket, and she suddenly realized she was wearing it. “Oh! This is yours. Sorry. Hope there isn’t any blood on it.” She handed it over.

His brow furrowed. “It wasn’t the bomb, though. When we were fused--”

Steven was cut off as the warp pad chimed and four figures appeared: Pearl, Amethyst, Garnet, and Peridot. “Connie!” Peridot shouted as she rushed over ahead of the others. “Good to see you ambulatory again!”

“We were so worried!” Pearl fretted, fidgeting her hands as she looked Connie over.

“Sorry we were late,” Amethyst grumbled. “Nobody told us there was a party today!”

“I apologize, Connie.” Garnet was as cool as ever, but Connie could see a little sag in her shoulders. “I haven’t been searching the future for things like this often enough. I should’ve seen this coming.”

“Everything’s fine!” Steven assured them. “Connie’s fine, no gems got cracked. All the poofed gems are already gathered up and safe.”

All safe. All taken care of.

She wasn’t really needed at all.

Connie cleared her throat. “I should go find my sword. It flew, uh, over that way.” She pointed to where it had fallen, between two buildings. She knew exactly the last place she had seen it as it flew.

“We’ll help!” Peridot said eagerly. “It’s metal, right? That’s a snap for the mighty Peridot!”

“Um, I think there’s enough to keep you guys occupied.” She looked around at the rubble left by the attack. A wall was kind enough to crumble as they watched, making her point for her. “I’ll find it. I know pretty much where it went.”

“I’ll look with you,” Steven promised. She could see how he worried over her, nearly as much as Pearl did. He was at least thoughtful enough not to say that it was to make sure she wasn’t hurt.

“Thanks, Steven.” She led him towards where she’d last seen it, leaving the other Crystal Gems to start trying to clean up and restore order.

It didn’t take long to search. Even in Little Homeworld, a four-foot multicolored sword stood out, and it was far enough away to not be amid the rubble. She looked it over and sighed with relief. “Still good. Bismuth’s work really holds up, huh?” She joked weakly, looking at Steven.

He looked down at it, brow furrowed again. “Connie…”

She sighed. There was no avoiding it, then. “Yeah?”

“When we were fused, something happened. It’s like, when the sword got knocked out of our hands, you went with it.” He hesitated, and his eyes met hers, searching for something. “What happened?”

“I… I don’t really want to talk about it.” She looked down. “I was just worried.”

“Connie, it’s just a sword. If it broke, Bismuth could fix it. Or make a new one! Maybe you could even work with her, figure out what works best?” He smiled brightly.

She grimaced. “It’s not that! I wasn’t worried that it was broken. It’s way too sturdy, anyway.” She rapped her knuckles on the flat of the blade.

“Then what was it?” She was silent for a few moments more, and he took a step closer, putting a hand on hers. “Connie. C’mon. We promised we’d be honest with each other. I can’t be without my strawberry.” He hummed their jam song, trying to cajole her.

And it was working. She groaned. “It’s not that it was broken, it was just gone! We were Stevonnie, and…” Deep breath. She could get through this. It was going to come out eventually. “Do you ever think about how much of Stevonnie is, you know, each of us?”

“Half,” he said automatically, smiling gently. “I don’t understand what you mean. It’s us! Both of us, in harmony.”

“Well, yeah. That’s technically true. But, like, when we fight.” She scuffed her shoe on the ground. She wanted to look up at him, but it was hard enough just saying this without seeing his reaction. “The strength, the floating, bubbles, all your shields, the way we jump… that’s all you , Steven. I’m just bringing a sword.”

“It’s not just a sword! You’re a master with it!” Steven protested. “And I’m not nearly as agile as you, either. That’s you too! The way we ducked under that ball, I woulda just got hit!”

“You don’t need to be agile! You’re hard as a diamond!” She swallowed hard. She was going to have to say it herself. “When we fuse to fight, Steven, sometimes I feel like I’m just a powerup. And you’ve gotten so much better, so much stronger, that… that I don’t really think it’s a powerup you need.”

She could feel his distress without even looking. “So, what? You don’t wanna fuse anymore?”

“No! I do!” She forced her head up. “I love being Stevonnie with you, Steven. I’d never give that up for anything. Stevonnie isn’t just a combat thing.” She sighed. “But I learned to fight so I could fight with you, Steven. To be your knight. And I want to, Steven. I want to so badly. But since then, you’ve gotten stronger, faster, you’ve learned all these new diamond powers, and you’re incredible, Steven. I’m not jealous, okay? It’s not that.” She leaned against a wall. She was too tired for this much emotional junk.

“Alright. It’s not that.” He leaned with her, trying to keep her comfortable. “So what is it?”

“I think it’s selfish of me to insist that I fight with you. You’re stronger than me by miles. You’re faster. But most of all, you’re sturdy.” She frowned. “Floaty powers or not, you could’ve taken that fall and been totally fine. And if one of those bombs had hit both of us… you’d probably be hurt, sure, but me? I might just…” She blew a raspberry instead of saying the word, trying to lighten the mood. But it didn’t work.

“You’re as good as any Crystal Gem, Connie,” Steven said seriously. “Ask Pearl. She’d tell you.”

She shook her head. “Nope. There’s one Crystal Gem who outshines all the rest.” She poked his side. “And that’s you, biscuit.”

His brow furrowed again. She could tell he wanted to argue, but honestly, how could he? Diamonds had magic powers coming out of their ears, Steven included. He’d had years to master them. At this point, anything that was a real threat to him was probably too much for any other gem to handle alone. And they all knew it.

“You still matter, Connie. You’re still a Crystal Gem.” He smiled reassuringly.

“And I always will be. I just need to think about some stuff.” She went in for a hug. “Thanks for listening, Steven. Sorry to be such a downer. I’m gonna find Lion and head home a little early, okay?”

He nodded. “Yeah. Pretty sure he’s back at the house. Besides, I’m definitely going to have to tell the diamonds about this stuff soon. And that’s probably gonna take all evening.” He sighed. “See you Friday?”

“Wouldn’t miss it.” She smiled back at him.

 


 

Steven went off to help clean up, and Connie hitched a warp with Peridot back to Beach City. Lion wasn’t hard to find, and her house was blissfully empty when she arrived home, both of her parents out on night shifts. She needed that. She needed the break.

She put a casserole in the oven, and sat, and thought.

She’d been building to this for a while, she realized. It had been so long since any danger had come up with her nearby that she’d been able to table it, to let other things occupy her time.

...But it had never quite gone away, had it? She was pushing herself, but her pushing was all towards an end. Her classes might look odd from the outside, focus split between sciences and philosophy, but that was all in the service of becoming something she felt Steven needed. He had the heart to be a leader, stars knew that. He had heart enough a thousand times over. But he needed someone to help him, someone with brains and knowledge. Connie knew she could fill that role. Everything she was studying was in service to filling that role. Her parents might not realize it yet, but Connie knew that was the place for her. She was never going to be President. She was a Crystal Gem.

And the Crystal Gems were never going to be entirely free from conflict. The gem empire spanned the galaxy. Trouble would always develop, trouble that would find its way to them. They were a beacon signifying all the changes Rose had started and Steven had implemented. Peace would never be something they could just enjoy. They’d have to fight for it.

And Connie would always be human. She was a Crystal Gem, but always the one most at risk. Eventually, she’d make a big mistake, and then… poof. No more Connie.

Steven would never forgive himself.

The oven chimed, and she took the casserole out to cool.

What could she do about it? Humans weren’t going to be able to help her. No amount of protein powder or juice or even steroids would have saved her if one of those bombs had gone off in her face. Or if Spinel had dropped her off of an injector. Or any dozen of other things the gems had survived.

The simplest solution would be to do what her parents had never secretly stopped wanting: give it up. She could still work with Peridot, sure, and be involved, and maybe she’d even carry the sword since there were plenty of small-fry problems that she was more than fit to fight. But when something like today happened, she could just… bow out. Admit that some things were beyond her. Let Steven face them without her.

She stabbed her first bite of casserole a bit harder than necessary. Unacceptable.

So. Human science couldn’t help Connie. Connie wasn’t willing to budge.

Could the gems help her?

Bismuth’s forge made more than swords. Peridot made everything . Did it all have to be for gems?

Connie wolfed down her dinner in a way her mother would have certainly scolded her for, then ran upstairs, her mind awhirl. She pulled out a notebook and started writing everything she could think of.

Of course this was the right path. She should’ve considered this years ago, as soon as she’d been given a new sword. She’d seen magic and technology that beggared belief in her time with Steven and the Crystal Gems.

And tomorrow, she was going to find a way to use it.