There was something about the waiting that she couldn't stand. Connie was a patient girl, disciplined at that, but it didn't help. She tapped her foot anxiously as she waited for him to come out of the bathroom. It was just a bruise , she thought, catching a glimpse of her own reflection in the window and suddenly very aware of her anxiety. The sky was dark, and the moonlight reflected off of the ocean. It calmed her. It reminded her of fusing for the first time, confident and excited and jumping off cliffs into the endless, roaring waves. It reminded her of nights since then, spent staring out at the water while ukulele or guitar chimed gently next to her. It reminded her of time with Steven, her first friend, her best friend, her-
"Steven!" She turned immediately to attention, "-I mean, are you okay?"
The boy looked sheepish and a little surprised, "Uh, yeah, I'm good. I- I think it's just a bruise. No big deal."
Connie let out a deep sigh she'd been holding in for at least ten minutes, "You're sure?"
Steven brushed a hand over the small purple blotch on his arm, "Well, if it was cor... a gem thing, the diamond essence would have fixed it. I tried that, it did nothing, so I guess I'm okay?"
"It still doesn't hurt? That's what's so weird to me," She walked over to him, lifting his arm, "Let me try..."
"Ow!" Steven jumped as she pinched into the spot.
"Sorry! Well, it hurts, then! That's kinda good." She smiled at him.
He rubbed his arm, "Yeah, I think that I would feel that anywhere, Connie," He looked up, noticing the puffiness in her eyes, "Hey, I'm alright. It was just a bruise, problem solved." Her smile faltered, and he took her hand, "This isn't like you, is something else wrong?"
Connie sniffed, looking down, "It's just... I barely see you anymore. I thought it's okay, there's nothing to fight now, nothing to protect you from, but what if I'm wrong?" She looked at him, tears pricking her eyes, "I thought- I thought something happened and that I was gone and maybe that I could've-" She let a few tears fall and focused on their interlaced hands, "Maybe I could've done something. And I didn't."
Steven pulled her into a tight hug. Tears fell down her cheeks and wet the shoulder of his jacket, but he didn't seem to care. Connie took in his body warmth. "I'm so sorry..." She worked in between sobs.
"No need. It's okay, we're okay." He brushed his hand through her hair, "You didn't do anything wrong."
She pulled away and wiped her tears off on her sleeve, “So, um,” She sniffed and let out a quiet chuckle, “Can I stay a bit longer?”
* - *
Connie went home, and kissed him on the cheek, leaving them both a little flustered. Steven hoped that was the end of it. He hoped he’d resolved another conflict, fixed another relationship, gotten it out of the way. And for all he knew, he had. At least, until it spread. The small purple blotch on his arm went from little bigger than a quarter to the size of his hand, almost overnight.
“Ugh! What is happening to me?!” He shouted as he shuffled to the bathroom. The gems were in the temple, or on a mission, or somewhere else; not needing him and assuming he didn’t need them. He didn’t have to worry about being quiet. He poured a bit of each diamond essence onto a small wash towel, and gave is a kiss. He put it to his arm. Nothing. He licked the towel. Nothing. “Well, it’s not that-” just then he saw something that he swore hadn't been there before. A second spot. Smaller, about two inches down from the original. He yelped and went to grab more diamond essence, knocking down half the contents of the mirror cabinet in the process.
“Steven?” A voice came from the other side of the door.
He fell silent.
“Steven, is that you?” He heard the unmistakable sound of a weapon materializing.
“Pearl! I’ll- uh. I’ll be out in a minute. Don’t worry! Just... brushing my teeth.”
That seemed to take care of it. Steven hurriedly put the content of the cabinet back and threw on his jacket. He opened the door to a rather relieved looking Pearl, “Oh, goodness, I thought someone broke in!”
“We talked about watching me sleep.”
She blushed an intense shade of blue, “N-no, that’s not what this is! I respect your boundaries. I just...”
Steven raised an eyebrow.
Pearl took a deep breath, “Garnet said you might be... struggling. She said it’s best to leave you be for now, but I couldn’t help myself.”
Steven forced a smile, “Struggling? What would make her think I’m struggling?”
“You’re brushing your teeth at 3 in the morning.” She said plainly.
Steven averted his gaze, “I was, uh...” he scanned the room behind her, “Reading?”
“...Are you asking me?” Pearl sighed, “Come here.” She walked away and sat on the couch, patting the seat next to her.
Steven, who was still in the door frame, tentatively joined her.
“Steven, please, talk to me. I’ll understand.” She thought about the gardening incident not too long ago.
“You... wouldn’t get it. Really, it’s nothing, I should go to bed.”
“I should go to bed.” He stood, facing away from her.
Pearl reached in vain towards him as he walked away. She felt a burning in her eyes as he laid down in his bed. “I’ll be in the temple,” She told him. He shifted deeper into his blankets.
This is my first posted fic! I'm a bit rusty, so I hope it's okay. Thoughts and constructive crit are encouraged!
I'm not very good at html formatting, so it's not going to look fancy, sorry.
I have some ideas for continuing this, but we'll see.
Let me know if you want more, thanks so much for reading!
<3 - prrogi