18. “This is without a doubt the stupidest plan you’ve ever had. Of course I’m in.”
“This is without a doubt the stupidest plan you’ve ever had. Of course I’m in,” huffed Peridot, crossing her slender arms. “You need someone to make sure you don’t make a fool of yourself.”
“Good,” said Jasper, grinning. “I knew you’d come along.”
~~a few hours later~~
“I don’t know how I get into these situations,” mumbled Peridot, a faint blush lining her cheeks as Jasper—surprisingly gently—took her hand.
“It’s gonna work,” said Jasper. “Trust me.”
“Seems like I have no choice but to.” Peridot adjusted the tie around her neck and pushed her round glasses back up the bridge of her nose. “All right. We’ve been dating five years and we want to celebrate our anniversary here. That will earn us a complimentary dessert. And if the server asks, we do not want to announce our anniversary to the entire restaurant.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Jasper. “C’mon, Peri.”
She nearly dragged her small datemate into the foyer of the establishment. The server standing near the front counter stepped forward, smiling pleasantly. “Good evening, ladies. Table for two?”
“Yes,” said Jasper, putting an arm around Peridot. “We’re celebrating tonight.”
“Anniversary number five,” added Peridot, managing a smile.
The server’s face lit up. “Congratulations! Right this way.”
He led them to a table in the back with round booth seats. “Your waiter should be out soon.”
Jasper couldn’t help but casting a toothy smirk at Peridot as the server went back to the front. Peridot sighed and patted Jasper’s arm. “I can’t believe we’re doing this just so you can impress your football friends.”
“Well,” Jasper said, leaning over to Peridot. “Maybe that’s not all?”
“Jasper,” said Peridot, “I love you and all, but please, maintain personal space.”
“Hey, we’ve been dating five years. I think we better act like it.”
“That’s true.” Peridot tapped her metal fingers on the table. “Fine.”
She gave Jasper a swift kiss on the cheek. The jock grinned and put her arm around Peridot again. “Thank you.”
“There are your football friends,” said Peridot, interlacing her fingers with Jasper’s. “They aren’t going to notice us.”
“That’s okay,” said Jasper, squishing the smaller woman against her. “You’re my date and I should pay attention to you.”
“Hmm,” said Peridot, smiling, satisfied. “Yes. That’s proper etiquette.”
“Hello!” said a waiter, appearing suddenly at their table. “I’ll be your waiter for the night. I hear you’re celebrating your anniversary tonight?”
“Yes!” said Jasper with a bit too much enthusiasm.
“Five years,” said Peridot. “We’re very happy to be together.”
Only one part of that was a lie.
Later, Jasper enjoyed the way chocolate cheesecake tasted when she kissed Peridot and winning the approval of all of her fellow football players for her choice in datemates.
32. “I think I’m in love with you and I’m terrified.”
“I think I’m in love with you and I’m terrified,” mumbled Jasper. She summoned her orange helmet. “I think I love you. I’m scared.”
The big orange gem looked at her reflection, green-tinted and warped slightly. The helmet on her brow was distorted. She let it disappear back into her gem as the ship under her feet quavered slightly.
From down the hall came the faint thudding noise of Peridot’s feet. Jasper turned away from her reflection. “I love you. And I’m terrified,” she whispered.
“Jasper!” said the green technician gem. “We will arrive planet-side in exactly two hours, fifty minutes and thirty-seven seconds. Are you prepared?”
The soldier made a contemptuous noise at the back of her throat. “Of course I’m ready. I’ve been preparing for the last few days.”
“I’ve noticed,” said Peridot. “Now, remember, we’re here clear out the Kindergarten outpost.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” said Jasper. She turned away from Peridot. “I know that.”
“Your acknowledgement is appreciated,” said Peridot drily. She continued past Jasper, back to the control room.
“Hmmph.” Jasper watched the smaller gem go. The moment Peridot was around the bend, she let out an exhale. “I’m terrified, aren’t I? No. I’m not. I’m Jasper. The soldier. I was made to fight. This will be easy. Why am I terrified?”
She growled in frustration and smashed her fist against the wall. “I’m not afraid of anything!”
There was a moment of pause where Jasper half-expected Peridot to reappear and scold her for damaging the ship (again). And Jasper wanted Peridot to come back, because in that moment, she had the courage to say she loved the green gem’s uptightness and the way she didn’t really put up with Jasper’s insistent ordering around.
She could never say that, could she?
“Am I afraid you’ll do something stupid?” asked Jasper to no one.
The answer was silence.
“You’re too smart for your own good,” continued Jasper. “You’ll let me do all the fighting while you play with your stupid robonoids.”
Peridot was just like that. Always staying in the shadows. Letting Jasper do everything for her.
“I think you hate me.”
Who knew with that gem. Jasper looked at her reflection again. The hole in the wall made her image seem twisted. She flexed her arms—they looked like thin squiggles.
“Peridot, I love you and I’m scared that this mission won’t go the way we expect it and something’s gonna go wrong—”
The ship jolted as they entered atmosphere. Jasper clenched her fists and summoned her façade again.
“I’m not scared of anything.”
But I’m scared of losing myself—or you.
11. “Don’t you dare throw that snowba-, goddammit!”
“Don’t you dare throw that snowba-, goddammit!” Peridot shrieked, ducking too slow to avoid a well-packed ball of ice and slush. She crinkled her nose in displeasure and attempted to brush the snow off her hair and shoulders.
“You gotta admit,” said Jasper, bending down to create another, “that was pretty great, huh?”
“It may have been enjoyable for you,” Peridot replied, “but for others it was an unpleasant experience.”
“What? You don’t like a little snow?” Jasper teased, tossing her latest weapon in the air and catching it. “Too cold for you?”
“I dislike the sensation of frigid water running down my skin.” Peridot took off her jacket despite the goosebumps running up and down her arms and shook out the stubborn snow still stuck inside. Behind her, Jasper grinned with the usual ‘up-to-no-good’ glint in her eyes.
“Hey, Peri!” she called. “Catch!”
As Peridot turned around, fury and confusion raging in her eyes, the snowball whistled through the air and struck its intended target smack in the face. With a soft noise of protest, Peridot fell backwards into the snow.
“Augh!” she said, sitting up immediately and shaking her head. Her glasses were skewed sideways across her cheek; she rectified the situation hastily before snapping: “JASPER!”
“Sorry.” Jasper shrugged. “I couldn’t help it.”
Peridot wiped at her face with one metal hand, the other still clutching her jacket. It was crumpled underneath her, filled with more snow now. She looked down at it and pried it up, scowling. Snow dribbled off her face and onto her pants. In a restrained tone of voice she hissed: “I just explained to you why I did not want any more ice and slush on my face or any other part of my body and you go and prove how you never listen to anything I have to say—”
Jasper reached down and picked Peridot up, bridal-style. The latter’s frown deepened, but a blush began to creep unwarranted across her dark skin. Jasper grinned again, her breath making small clouds in the cold air.
“Put me down,” said Peridot. As Jasper shifted position, Peridot slung her free arm around Jasper’s shoulders automatically.
“Are you comfortable?” asked Jasper, her eyes betraying a hint of genuine concern.
“No.” Peridot attempted to maneuver her jacket over herself. “I am cold and the snow is melting on my face and you are squishing one of my arms too tightly.”
“Oh.” Jasper’s face dropped. She set Peridot down. “Are you all right?”
Without a word, Peridot flicked her jacket with exceptional precision and sent all of the snow clumped inside directly into Jasper’s face. She shook it again, put it on, and zipped it up. Jasper stood quite still, snow running down the bridge of her nose.
“All right,” she said after several seconds had passed. “I guess I deserved that.”
Peridot pushed her glasses back to their optimal spot and something akin to a smirk crossed her face. “Yes. You deserved that.”
Jasper exhaled gustily, and then shook her head with an excess of vigor, sending droplets of sleet in several directions. Peridot shielded her face with an arm, the smirk replaced with another soft frown. When Jasper had finished, she put her hands on her hips.
“Let’s go get hot chocolate,” she suggested. “I’m starting to get cold.”
“Think of how cold I must be,” muttered Peridot, “after all that snow I’ve been subjected to.”
Jasper chuckled and put an arm around the smaller person. “Hey. Chill out, awright?”
“Your puns are not going to make it any better,” retorted Peridot.
“Yeah, okay.” Jasper lifted Peridot up again in her arms. “C’mon, shortstack. Let’s go to the café.”
Peridot allowed a smile for Jasper. “That sounds rather satisfactory.”
“Good.” Jasper brushed her nose against Peridot’s. “You’re really cute when you’re mad at me.”
“Always,” said Peridot.
A thoughtful pause from Peridot, then: “Yes. I love you too.”
18. "This is without a doubt the stupidest plan you've ever had. Of course I'm in."
“This is without a doubt the stupidest plan you’ve ever had. Of course I’m in,” said Peridot, folding her arms and sighing with an excessive amount of implied regret.
“Great!” said Lapis. “I can’t wait to get back at that huge jerk.”
“Yes, there is some degree of satisfaction in attaining revenge,” said Peridot.
Lapis handed her a toilet paper roll. “Now, since I know you like details, here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna break into her dorm while she’s out at practice in the evening and just cover the whole damn place in toilet paper. Everything. I’ll make sure some of it’s really disgusting and wet and put that on her bed.”
“Yes.” Peridot frowned. “That is a nefarious yet petty scheme.”
“Oh, whatever,” huffed Lapis. “Now, when does she go to practice?”
“In approximately twenty six minutes,” said Peridot, glancing at her green wristwatch. “That is, if she leaves at her usual rate of being a minute tardy to the field.”
“All right.” Lapis tucked another toilet paper roll in her hoodie’s front pocket. “We’ll just hang out here until then.”
“It will be an uneventful twenty six minutes,” said Peridot, sitting down on the couch. She put the roll of toilet paper in her lap, took out her phone, and utterly tuned out the world. Lapis shrugged and went into the communal kitchen for a snack.
Jasper was also in the kitchen several dorms away. She was engaged in the cinnamon challenge with a classmate from her English class. His eyes were watering but he kept furiously chewing and attempting to swallow. Cinnamon flecks dribbled miserably from his lips. Jasper grinned and swallowed the last of the cinnamon in her mouth. She wouldn’t admit it, but she was in desperate need of water. So with a lazy hand gesture she picked up the water bottle sitting next to her and downed it in one gulp.
The other contestant grabbed a napkin and spat out the cinnamon, coughing. He wiped his eyes with his forearm and reached for his own water bottle. After drinking he spluttered: “You win.”
Ten dollars was exchanged between the pair and Jasper sent him packing with an over-zealous slap on the back. She pocketed the money and checked the clock in the kitchen. Seven minutes past six twenty.
Jasper packed up some of her football gear—the rest was in the locker rooms—and was about to swagger out of the dorms down to the field when she heard footsteps outside the building. The rasp of the doorknob sounded and two people entered.
It was the brat Lapis Lazuli and a girl Jasper had seen only once or twice—Peridot? Jasper’s eyes narrowed. Just yesterday Jasper had “accidentally” pushed Lapis into the swimming pool after the other made a snide remark about Jasper’s muscles. Now she was obviously back for revenge, with a lackey in tow.
The big beefy football player went out again into the kitchen and hid behind the counter to watch the events unfold. Lapis stalked right through the communal lobby, a roll of wet and dirt-soaked toilet paper clenched in one fist. Peridot—if that was her name—came treading heavily behind her in sneakers a couple sizes too big. Another roll of toilet paper was in her hands.
“There’s her dorm,” said Lapis, pointing at the door with several dents in it. “Seems like she’s acquainted her fist with the door a couple dozen times.”
Jasper scowled. She had punched the door only seven times—and with perfectly good reasons. Peridot squinted the door, shrugged, and reached for the doorknob.
“Is it locked?” asked Lapis, reaching in her pocket with a free hand.
“Well, allow me to test the doorknob before you ask that,” snapped Peridot.
Jasper’s scowl turned into a grin. Peridot seemed like an interesting person. The football player crept with as much stealth as she could muster into the lobby’s doorframe. Peridot opened the door, Lapis making a surprised noise as it swung open.
“The door is not locked,” said Peridot in a flat monotone.
“Thanks,” said Lapis, entering Jasper’s room. She looked around for a brief moment and then set about slathering the bed with muddy paper. Peridot, on the other hand, started to carefully wrap the desk in paper, her motions calculated and stiff.
“Those idiots,” hissed Jasper, storming towards her room. “This is pathetic.”
Lapis, with a shred of common sense, had shut the door behind them, but Jasper slammed it open with a low growl. Both of the intruders whirled around. Lapis made an incoherent noise of fear and bolted out of the room, tossing the dirty paper behind her. Peridot, on the other hand, was much slower and stumbled on her way out.
Jasper grabbed her roughly and held the smaller person up. “What’re you doing?”
“Lapis!” yelled Peridot, furious. “Lapis, you traitor!”
The other conspirator was gone, as her fading footfalls suggested. Peridot’s mortified facial expression turned into livid fury as she made eye contact with Jasper.
“Unhand me!” she snarled, striking out but missing Jasper’s torso by a few inches.
“Nice try,” scoffed Jasper, setting Peridot down. “You missed me.”
Peridot brushed herself off and straightened out her green sweater-vest. “I know.”
“Soooo,” Jasper continued, leaning against the doorframe in as casual a manner as possible. “What were you guys up to?”
“Lapis convinced me to assist her in attaining revenge for what you did to her yesterday.” Peridot seemed entirely apathetic to Lapis’ cause, judging by the way she delivered her confession without breaking into emotion.
“Oh? That all?”
“Yes. Will you let me leave now?” Peridot stepped to the side, aiming to exit the room.
Jasper begrudgingly let her pass, admiring Peridot’s backside in the process. “It was a pretty pathetic attempt to get back at me.”
“Lapis planned it.”
“’Course she did. Little thing doesn’t know how to pull of these sorts of things.”
“I suppose you think you are significantly better at that than her?”
“Yeah.” Jasper peered into her room. “Aw, shit. I gotta change my sheets now. I just did that yesterday. You didn’t do much damage other than that, though.”
“Are you going to seek retribution yourself?” Peridot asked, turning back around midway through the room.
“Nah. I’m late to football practice as it is.” Jasper went to her desk, pulled out a notepad and a pencil and scribbled something down. “Wait a moment—Peridot? That’s your name, right?”
“That’s my name,” affirmed Peridot.
Jasper tore off the scribble, slung her football bag back over her shoulder and left the room. This time, she locked it. Peridot was still standing in the middle of the room, looking at a painting on the wall.
“Here,” said Jasper, shoving the scrap of paper at Peridot.
“What?” Peridot took the piece of paper and looked at it.
Jasper looked down at the smaller student, grinned, and said: “You’re doing my laundry when I get back from practice.”
A blush was making its way across Peridot’s face. She lowered her eyebrows and managed: “If that’s all you want…”
“Later,” said Jasper, leaving the dorm with a few broad strides.
Peridot looked at the scrap of paper again.
CALL ME U NERD UR PRETTY CUTE
Jasper’s number was scrawled underneath. Peridot swallowed, neatly folded the paper, and looked out the window to where Jasper was walking past. It seemed like someone had taken an interest in her.
1. "Come here and make me."
“Come over here and make me,” slurred Jasper, holding her partner’s bra over her head. “You can’t reach it.”
“Dammit Jasper,” said Peridot, groping for her undergarment with one hand—the other covered her chest. “Give it—”
“Nah,” Jasper said, tossing it behind her. The bra hit the coffee table and slid off; clinking on its way down against a half-empty bottle of some alcohol Peridot couldn’t remember drinking. Jasper put her hands around Peridot’s waist and pulled her in for a messy but passionate kiss.
“You still wanna go through with this?” whispered Jasper, her breath hot against Peridot’s cheek.
“Yes,” said Peridot, still conscious of her actions—the alcohol hadn’t quite hit her just yet.
“Good,” said the other, grinning. Jasper buried her face in the crook between head and shoulder and began to lay a variety of kisses against Peridot’s skin.
Peridot made a soft noise of either pleasure or surprise as Jasper bit down on her neck. She slid her hands off her own chest and began to run her fingers along her partner’s ribcage, smirking as goosebumps followed her fingertips.
Jasper moved off Peridot’s neck onto her chest. Her tongue ran a smooth line against the collarbone, and another grin crossed her face as the other squirmed underneath her.
“You like that?” she asked, pulling her face up to meet Peridot’s eyes.
“Ye-ah,” said Peridot.
As Jasper resumed her previous action, Peridot sank her fingernails into the other’s back. Jasper skimmed her lips along Peridot’s skin as her hands slid down to where skin turned into soft corduroy pants. She managed to fumble open the buttons with her limited dexterity and slide them partway off.
Peridot swallowed hard, aware of her vulnerability and the warm feeling running up and down the insides of her thighs. Jasper, surprisingly, managed to gently put a hand under Peridot’s back and get the other resting just below her waist.
“Doing awirite?” she managed.
“Yeah—” Peridot began, flushing dark red, but Jasper crushed her mouth against her own. At the same time, one of her fingers slid under the waistband of Peridot’s underwear.
“Not fair—” gasped Peridot against Jasper’s mouth. She sank her nails deeper in the muscular back of her girlfriend as Jasper inserted two more fingers.
“You’re really fucking wet,” hissed Jasper, biting down again on Peridot’s neck.
Jasper twitched one of her fingers inside Peridot in just the right area and Peridot bucked her hips involuntarily, feeling herself build up inside—
“Oh—right there, huh?” teased Jasper, pressing her other hand against Peridot’s ass at the same time she moved a little deeper inside her.
“Jas-per,” growled Peridot, moving her hands down Jasper’s bare back and into her jeans.
“O-oh,” Jasper rasped. She licked Peridot’s neck and kissed her again as she maneuvered her fingers around until she reached the optimal spot.
Peridot came very fast after that. She clenched her hands against Jasper’s ass and bit down on the other’s bottom lip hard enough to make it trickle blood.
“You don’t last very long,” mumbled Jasper, pulling out her fingers.
“Shut up,” said Peridot, breathing hard, her chest rising and falling against Jasper’s.
“You can let go of my ass now.”
Peridot smirked weakly. “Nah.”
Jasper licked her fingers with overzealous slurping noises. Peridot groaned at the back of her throat, eyes closing again.
“You’re fun to fuck,” Jasper said, pressing her forehead against the side of Peridot’s head.
Peridot didn’t know how to answer that in her current state.
Fun Fact: This was my first time (haha.) writing sex in fanfiction. It was...an interesting process.
27. "I'm pregnant."
“I’m pregnant,” Peridot blurted out. “Jasper—”
“You’re carrying my eggs now?” cut in the bigger gem, eyes widening in shock. “But I thought you weren’t in heat.”
“I was unaware of my condition at the time—the usual behaviors were off—asymptomatic on my part—” Peridot trailed off into one of her thinking states.
“And now you’re gonna have our babies?”
Peridot snapped into reality. “The eggs will most likely be laid within the next six weeks and it will be about a month before they develop sufficiently to hatch.”
“That’s a long time, huh?”
“It is actually a short period of time for growth and development. The gemlings will be entirely reliant on us for anywhere from one month to upwards of five post-hatching—”
“I can’t wait,” interrupted Jasper, grinning widely.
“I, too, am excited,” said Peridot in a tone that seemed to suggest otherwise.
“We’re gonna be great parents,” continued Jasper. Then, suddenly, her zeal shut off like a power outage. “Parents. I never had those—how—by Yellow Diamond, how’re we gonna do this?”
“It should not be that hard,” insisted Peridot. She looked down at her abdomen, which was already beginning to show signs of pregnancy. “I don’t think there will be many eggs.”
“Are you all right?”
“I am fine.”
Jasper ran her fingers lightly over Peridot’s midsection, smiling as she traced the faint outlines of the eggs inside. Peridot looked away from the research on her hologram screen to scrutinize the other gem’s behavior. A tiny smile flicked across her face.
“It’s taking so long,” mumbled Jasper.
“Growth and development of gemlings is a long process,” said Peridot, repeating what she had said every time Jasper had brought up that point.
“I just want to see what they look like.”
“Yes, I do, too.”
“Will they be like tiny versions of us or like our fusion?”
“I have no information on that.”
“Oh.” Jasper resumed her circling of the eggs. “I bet there’s at least one little me in there.”
“That seems likely.”
The orange gem impulsively leaned forward and kissed Peridot’s abdomen. “I wonder if they know we already love them.”
“They probably do not,” said Peridot, giving Jasper another tiny smile. “Cognizant thinking does not begin until after they are outside the parent’s body. As in, once they are laid.”
“I am certain, however, that these small displays of affection will have an impact on their personalities and or growth.”
Jasper’s face lit up. “I like the sound of that.”
“Of course you do,” said Peridot, returning to her work.
Jasper had underestimated Peridot’s grip strength. The small green gem packed surprising power in her detachable fingers, and now they were absolutely crushing Jasper’s own big paws.
“You’re doing great,” said the orange gem, trying to reassure her mate.
Peridot couldn’t manage words but the brief expression of gratitude in her eyes was enough. The collection of green and orange eggs underneath her was only six strong and there were more still inside her.
Jasper struggled to keep from yelping as Peridot pushed another egg out. She kept her focus on the pile of gemling eggs—their eggs.
“It’s gonna be okay,” she said, adjusting the arm she had slung around the other. “You’re almost done.”
Both gems were exhausted after the last egg had been laid—Peridot for the obvious reasons but Jasper was fatigued simply by the stress of the prior few hours. There were still marks on her hand from Peridot’s fingers.
She pulled the green gem into a half-embrace, half-cuddle position and shut her eyes. Peridot rested her head against Jasper’s shoulder.
“Eleven,” mumbled the soldier. “I can’t believe we have eleven.”
“That is an…unusually high number—for a first pregnancy,” said Peridot, her words stumbling together and apart from her exhaustion.
“You did great.” Jasper opened her eyes and squeezed Peridot gently.
Both gems looked at the arrangement of eggs lying in the basket Peridot had set up for them. Jasper picked one up—Peridot made a noise of protest.
“I’m not gonna hurt it,” insisted Jasper, looking at the egg’s smooth surface. It was a dark orange color—the same shade as Jasper’s facial and arm markings.
“Just put it back,” said Peridot, a hint of threat lingering in her tired words.
With the most gently of movements Jasper returned the egg to its position. She looked down at Peridot. “Now we wait?”
In the months following their arrival, Jasper had integrated the eggs into her daily routine. After fulfilling her daily exercise quota she would sit next to eggs and talk to them. She never let Peridot see her like this, acting in such a maternal manner.
As Jasper plunked herself down next to the basket she heard quiet cracking noises. She peered inside the basket to see one of the larger green eggs starting to shake. Jasper picked it up in her huge hands and examined it. Three large fractures were splitting the sides. Something orange was inside.
Suddenly, down the hall, Peridot’s heavy clunking strides could be heard.
“JASPER!” shouted the green gem. “PUT THE EGG DOWN.”
The orange gem hastily set the egg down with as much tenderness as she could muster. Peridot stomped into the room, scowling.
“There are security cameras on every wall,” Peridot snapped, gesturing broadly to said walls. With a little less venom she added: “You sing fairly well.”
“WHAT—” began Jasper, eyebrows snapping together.
One of the eggs split open with a loud crackling noise, stopping Jasper mid-exclamation. Both of the gems looked down at their progeny.
The large green egg had finally split open. A miniature Jasper sat in the eggshells, tiny and ridiculously adorable. Peridot’s mouth opened a little.
“It’s me,” said Jasper in awe. “Peri, look…”
“Fascinating,” Peridot said, kneeling next to the box. “It appears that gemlings are miniature clones of their parents.”
“Why aren’t its eyes open?”
“Give it a few moments, Jasper—she’s just come out.”
“That one’s hatching too!” the soldier pointed at a smaller orange egg. “Yellow Diamond, this sure is something…”
The first miniature Jasper opened its eyes. Her pupils were colorless, more like Peridot’s than Jasper’s. She looked around, blinking.
“Can I?” asked Jasper, her attention turning back to their first-hatched.
“Be gentle,” was all Peridot said.
Jasper picked up the gemling and cradled her in her palm. she remained sitting in her dark red outfit and stared up at Jasper for a long time. Then, out of the blue, she growled and bit down on Jasper’s thumb.
“Hey!” yelped the orange gem, attempting to detach her daughter from her thumb.
“Four more are in the late stages of hatching—Jasper please be kind to her—and the remaining six are all showing signs of beginning to split.”
The little gemling finally let go of Jasper’s thumb, leaving a score mark where her teeth had been. Jasper grinned and began to laugh.
“I like this one—it’s a fighter.”
“I hope they are not all just like you,” said Peridot.
They almost all were Jaspers. The last egg took a long time hatching, and finally opened several hours after the last of the other eggs had. Jasper had all ten of the mini-Jaspers gathered in her lap. A variety of teeth-marks were spotted on her fingers and hand.
Peridot scowled at the last egg, hoping it was a little more like her than the rest of the rambunctious gemlings. It shook a couple times and then opened, the shells falling apart to reveal a Peridot gemling.
“Hey, it’s you!” said Jasper, detaching a little Jasper from her wrist.
“Yes,” said Peridot, picking it up with all the care she had. The Peridot was unusually small and quiet. It curled up in Peridot’s fingers—where it fit snugly—and didn’t move.
Jasper was silent for a few moments and then asked: “Dead?”
“No. Underdeveloped,” said Peridot. She looked down at the only one of their daughters that resembled her and sighed.
“On Homeworld,” said Jasper in a somber tone of voice, “there’s the practice of eliminating runt gemlings to…uh…only let the strong survive.”
“We’re not doing that,” said Peridot fiercely. “I think she’ll make it.”
Jasper smiled. “Yeah?”
The little Peridot put an arm over her face and rolled over. Peridot let a smile touch the corners of her mouth.
Fun Fact: By far the MOST popular piece of fanfiction I posted to Tumblr. It garnered over 250 notes...which is a LOT.
6. "Is there a reason you're naked in my bed?"
“Is there a reason you’re naked in my bed?”
Jasper opened one eye halfway, squinting against the morning light streaming through a window. She opened the other, and an unfamiliar figure swam into focus.
“Hey!” repeated the voice—presumably it belonged to the figure. “I know you’re awake.”
“What?” said Jasper, putting an arm over her face. “So?”
“I need you to get up before my roommate comes back.” A pair of cold hands pried Jasper’s arm off her face.
Jasper’s eyes opened wide in realization. “Wait a moment.”
“All right, fine,” said the figure, sighing in exasperation. Jasper turned her head to get a better view of the person. She was small, that was for certain. And familiar. She continued on to say: “But if you don’t get dressed before eight, you’re going to be really embarrassed.”
“And it is…?”
“We had sex last night.” Jasper sat up, pulling the blanket over herself. “Was I drunk?”
“From my headache, I would assert both of us were.”
“What’s your name?”
A pause. “It’s…Peridot.”
Peridot appeared again by the bed with a glass of water in hand. “Are you fully conscious now?”
“I think so.”
“Good. I thought I was going to have to splash water on your face.”
“Oh, no thanks…” Jasper looked around the room. “Nice dorm.”
“I decorated it myself—thank you.” Peridot drank some of the water and set the cup down on her nightstand. “Your clothes are over here.”
Jasper had all on but her shirt when she realized it was several sizes too small. “Hey—um, Peridot?”
Peridot was sitting at her desk, writing something. “Yes?”
“I think this is…your shirt.”
“What? Is it?” She turned around and looked down at her own clothing. “I thought this shirt was a little too big.”
“It’s huge on you,” said Jasper, grinning. “Swap?”
Peridot took off Jasper’s shirt and passed it to its owner. As Jasper passed back Peridot’s shirt, the door to the dorm opened.
Peridot’s roommate stared for a brief moment at the two of them awkwardly holding each other’s clothing. “Did I—uh—interrupt something?”
“Yes—yes you did,” Peridot snapped, “I thought you’d be back at eight!”
“And so you decide to have sex within that extra time?”
“It’s not what it looks like.”
“Sure? ‘Cause it looks like you two were about to—um—”
“That was last night!” growled Jasper, throwing on her shirt. She remembered only bits and pieces—a dorm-wide party—getting hammered—meeting Peridot (unofficially)—almost not making it to the bed—and then now.
“Oh. Oh. And…now…?” The roommate scratched her chin. “Actually, y’know what…I’m gonna step outside. I think I need to…uh…take my morning run.”
“Good idea,” said Peridot, pulling on her shirt at last. “Give me like twenty more minutes.”
“Yeah—you do that.” She turned around and left.
Jasper watched her go, then looked down at Peridot. “Well that was hellish.”
“I don’t think she was expecting me to have anyone in here—I mean, I’ve been single for every year of school and even outside of it—and did I tell you—” Peridot sighed. “—that was my first time last night.”
“You were pretty awkward,” said Jasper. She looked at the bed. “Can I sit down?”
“So…um…how’re you feeling?”
Peridot sat down next to her. “I’m tired and I have a headache. Other than that, good. You?”
“Same thing as you.”
There was awkward silence.
“This is weirdest way to start a relationship,” remarked Jasper, staring at the floor.
Peridot got up and wrote something down on a scrap of paper. She handed it to Jasper. “My number.” She felt her cheeks heat up as she added: “Would you like to have lunch with me today? Like…a date?”
The answer was a hearty affirmative.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8 (NSFW!)
20. “You need to wake up because I can’t do this without you.”
The former warrior was too quiet. Peridot was starting to become more and more concerned for Jasper as the days passed on their journey home. The big soldier gem would sit for hours on end in the observation room, staring out into the cosmos as stars and planets flashed by.
It hadn’t been long since Jasper regenerated. Peridot remembered carrying the thin orange gem to safety as the Crystal Gems chased after them. Thank Yellow Diamond for the rescue ship that picked the two marooned Homeworld Gems in the nick of time. Peridot was missing two fingers on her non-hologram summoning hand, an inconvenience and annoyance; the rescue ship was bereft of any technology to replace the missing digits. The captain wasn’t very talkative either; a grim Dravite gem with a specialty in engineering who hadn’t even acknowledged Jasper’s status as a commander.
If she even was still a commander.
“You need to wake up, because I can’t do this without you.”
Jasper remembered those words. They were Peridot’s, spoken right before Jasper’s return to physical form. Strange how she had heard the green gem through her own gem state.
Some days Jasper could feel water against her skin and she shivered in the artificial cold of the starship. Those days were the worst, when she remembered Malachite. The dark of the ocean was always there, stuck at the back of her mind.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” asked Peridot one day when the ocean hissed in Jasper’s head, singing a siren song of resentment and regret.
“I can’t—stop—thinking about…Earth,” Jasper managed.
Peridot was not trained to be a counselor—she was a technician. But technicians knew when things were broken. Jasper was reaching that point. “Does staring at space help you forget?”
“It doesn’t.” Jasper shut her eyes. “Nothing helps.”
“Do you need a distraction?”
“Distraction?” Jasper’s eyes opened slowly. “I—could—use one.”
Peridot moved closer to Jasper, so their arms touched one another. It was the nearest Peridot had ever dared to move to the soldier. How often she had thought of this—but those things were not meant for conversation.
“You need a distraction, too,” said Jasper, an unsettling grin appearing at the corners of her mouth. “We all do…don’t we?”
“If you need to talk about anything, I will listen. I have nothing better to do.”
Jasper’s grin disappeared. She looked at Peridot and there was little left of her in her eyes—something dark swam behind them—something Jasper hid. And suddenly she put her hand under Peridot’s chin and brought their faces so close together Peridot could see herself reflected in Jasper’s amber pupils.
“Take this to a room?” asked Peridot, her breath becoming shallower with the intensity of the closeness.
“What’s wrong with here?”
Peridot’s gaze flickered to the walls. They weren’t visible to the untrained observer, but the technician knew security cameras were there. Jasper followed her gaze; then shifted her hold on Peridot to more of an awkward embrace and rose unsteadily, carrying Peridot.
The ocean holds many secrets. Things in the deep never see the light. And the ones that do are not normal to the surface world. Bubbles in the sunlight, bursting in the froth, and gone in an instant. Some say the ocean’s beauty comes from the unknown.
What Peridot didn’t know was the magnitude of Jasper’s ability to go from one extreme to the next. One moment she was a melancholy statue, the next red-hot and blazing with passion. The door barely shut behind them before Jasper had phased out of half her outfit, and pinned Peridot to the wall. She kissed the green gem with a trace of her old roughness, hands wandering up and down Peridot’s lower midsection.
You can drown easily in the black of the ocean.
Jasper had nearly done so.
The smaller gem managed to slide her hands up the other’s chest, feeling the unusual heat coming off Jasper, and wrapped her arms around the orange gem’s neck.
“How long,” growled Jasper, snapping the kiss off, “have you wanted this?”
“Time is irrelevant,” answered Peridot.
They both wanted to fuck the other, wasn’t that enough?
Somehow Peridot managed to get Jasper to phase out of the other half of her clothes as well as remove her own. The floor was uncomfortable, frigid, and stiff. Jasper ran her rough tongue against Peridot’s skin and grinned in satisfaction as the other shivered.
Rough seas ahead for some, said the forecast. They weren’t wrong.
When Jasper finally did move in on Peridot—after several minutes of agonizing teasing on her part—it was an experience. Her fingers grinded against Peridot’s insides.
“I like it when—you squirm,” said Jasper hoarsely as the other gem wriggled in pleasure, her detachable fingers leaving auburn bruises on the soldier’s back.
When she came, Peridot crushed Jasper against her with surprising strength, moaning softly into the orange gem’s white mane—
—but Jasper wasn’t satisfied, and she asked Peridot to turn the tables.
Two more fingers were damaged to the point of no repair after that.
What has the ocean done to you?
It’s made you a stranger.
“Are you better now?” asked Peridot, lying next to Jasper, one arm curled around the other gem’s waist.
“Maybe,” muttered Jasper.
“I’m here if you need me.”
Don’t let the ocean take her back away, not now.
42. “I swear it was an accident.”
“I can’t believe you almost completely ran me over,” snapped Peridot, glaring at Jasper.
“Fuck’s sake, calm down. I just got here,” Jasper said, holding up one hand. “I wanted to apologize.”
“Did you now?”
“Hey—I brought you flowers.” Jasper put them on Peridot’s nightstand. “They said I could take ‘em in.”
“You knew I was going to cross that crosswalk.”
“Peri, let me explain.” Jasper pulled up a chair and sat on it backwards. “I didn’t know you were gonna walk. I really didn’t.”
“Uh-huh.” Peridot looked at the cast on her leg. “Yeah.”
“I mean—you don’t normally act like that…impulsive and shit.”
“Jasper, I had the right of way!”
“For like two more seconds!”
“That’s enough to merit a yield on your behalf.”
“Yield schmield. Whatever.” Jasper crossed her arms. “I’m sorry I broke your leg. I swear it was an accident.”
“Unless you were trying to take me out…”
“Peridot!” Jasper gasped. “Baby! I’d never—”
“You might not have crushed me but it still hurt. And you did hit me. So don’t you say ‘you’d never.’ Because you did.”
“If you’re gonna get technical on me I’mma leave and take the flowers until you stop sassing me.”
Peridot sighed. “I have nothing better to do and it’s entertaining to irritate you.”
“You like pissing me off?” Jasper asked. “What kind of sick satisfaction is that?”
“It’s too easy,” muttered Peridot.
“PE-ri,” hissed Jasper, grabbing her hand. Her expression softened. “I’m sorry. I’m really, genuinely sorry. I hope your leg gets better quickly.”
A smile graced Peridot’s mouth. “Thank you.”
“Love you, too. Even if you don’t know traffic rules.”
“IT WAS TWO SECONDS!”
16. “It could be worse.”
“I need you to navigate for me,” Peridot said, handing Jasper the map.
“And how do I do that?”
“You read it. And tell me if I’m taking a right or a left or which freeway I’m going onto next. I’ve highlighted the first part of our trip in yellow, the next part in orange, the third in pink, and the last bit in blue. All street names are highlighted in green and I circled the hotel’s location.”
“I can’t read this.”
“I made it very clear where we’re going.”
“There are too many colors.” Jasper tried to unfold the map and suddenly swore. She stuck her finger in her mouth.
“Papercut?” asked Peridot drily.
“Yeah.” Jasper scowled. “I don’t like maps.”
“Just tell me what street I’m taking next.”
“What street are we on?”
Peridot looked out the window. “Huckleberry.”
“And what color?” Jasper turned the map upside down and squinted at it.
“Oh. Um. Then you’ll make a left—or is that a right?”
“I swear to Yellow Diamond—it’s not that hard to read a map—it’s upside down—”
“Erh—then—that’s definitely a leeefffttt…yeah.”
Peridot gritted her teeth. “What street?”
“WE JUST PASSED FIG.” Peridot clenched the steering wheel, eyes glaring straight ahead.
Jasper shrugged and crinkled the map up. “Make a U-turn.”
“That’s illegal here.”
They drove through a few intersections before coming to one that allowed for U-turns. Peridot muttered something distasteful under her breath as she swung the car around. Jasper started to press buttons on the radio until she came to a hard rock station; at that point she upped to volume to around 24. Peridot’s grumblings increased in vitriol.
“Navigator,” she said as she made a left on Fig, “I need you to start navigating again.”
“Aw man,” Jasper said, unfolding the map. “Why do I have to do it?”
“Because there are two of us, and I’m driving. So you are the navigator. Simple,” said Peridot, through clenched teeth.
“Yeah,” mumbled Jasper. “Um. From what I can tell, you make a right on Peach after Fig and then take that for a while before going right to the freeway.
“That wasn’t so bad. It could be worse.”
“What could be worse?”
“Your navigating skills.”
They drove in silence for a little bit, the car vibrating from the hard rock still going on. Peridot would much rather have put it on the classical music station, but she decided to humor her girlfriend for once and let her listen to her music.
There were three more fights about the map; it was flipped upside down twice; a rip was torn through the midsection, the volume of the rock was turned up to 45 at one point, and they missed another street for some reason and drove six blocks before making a U-turn. Peridot eventually removed the map from Jasper’s hands and threw it in the back of the car. However, despite all of this, they arrived in one piece at the hotel, wherein they proceeded to take their luggage inside and then promptly collapse on the bed.
Peridot decided right then she was going to navigate on the way home.
Jasper decided right then she was never touching a map again, especially one with highlights.
Chapter 11: Chapter 11 (mild NSFW!)
35. "You heard me. Take. It. Off."
It was a quarter to eight, and she was still not at the restaurant. Peridot checked her watch a second time just to verify the fact that her date was completely and utterly late. The waiter approached her table, ice water pitcher in hand, and offered to refill the empty glass in front of Peridot. She accepted.
“Your date still not here?” he asked, setting the full glass down.
“Unfortunately,” said Peridot.
“I just don’t understand how some guys can do that to their girls.” The waiter shook his head. “Just isn’t right the way some men treat women.”
Peridot folded the napkin in her lap into a small triangle. “Yes. She isn’t the best at keeping to a schedule.”
The waiter’s eyes widened and then returned to normal in a split second. “Oh. Yeah.” He let out a nervous laugh. “Sheesh.”
Peridot watched as he retreated to the kitchen, unfolding her napkin absentmindedly. Her phone buzzed in her bag. She took it out and examined the message:
J-ASS-PER (she really needed to adjust that name): hey u still there???
She frowned and typed out:
Yes. You are late by—she checked the watch; 7:48 now—thirty three minutes. Where are you?
The reply was succinct and also infuriating: lol not there
Peridot set her phone down and drank half of the freezing water in front her, ignoring the impending brain-freeze. After setting the glass down she put the phone away. Jasper or no Jasper, she was still going to have dinner.
A different waiter appeared now and took Peridot’s order. He looked briefly at the empty seat across from her, smiled with false sympathy, and left. At five after eight the door to the restaurant opened and Peridot looked up from the Rubik’s cube in her hands. Disappointment. Not Jasper. She sighed and continued fiddling with the puzzle, bored and hungry.
The phone buzzed once more—J-ASS-PER: r u mad @ me???
“Maybe.” was all Peridot offered in response. She put her phone on silent and spun the Rubik’s cube around in her palm.
The waiter returned with her food at ten after eight; by that time Peridot had assembled a small army of origami swans from the loose paper in her bag as well as completed the 11x11 cube. She crushed one of the swans between her hands and placed it where Jasper would have sat. The waiter raised his eyebrows, set the food down, and made no comment other than asking if she’d need anything more. She declined.
At twenty minutes past eight Peridot set down her fork, not entirely full, but in an odd sense already done with the meal. It was almost gone, anyway. She swept the origami swans into her bag along with the Rubik’s cube. The atmosphere in the restaurant was starting to liven up again as more people—more couples—came in.
Someone passed by her table and then stopped a few feet beyond it. Peridot glanced up from her reflection in the half-full water cup, her green eyes meeting golden-hazel ones.
“You are more than an hour late,” she said.
“Sorry,” was all Jasper said, sitting down in the empty chair.
“Well,” sighed Peridot, “you’re just in time for dessert.”
“Don’t want any.” Jasper picked up the smushed swan. “What’s this?”
“A metaphor,” answered her girlfriend, snatching it out of Jasper’s huge hand.
“For me or you?”
“Never mind.” Peridot balled the swan up further and tossed it in her bag. “It isn’t important.”
“Do you have a good excuse?”
“I don’t.” Jasper picked up the lukewarm glass of water nearest to her and drank it in one gulp. “I had practice and it ended thirty minutes ago. Then I had to go home and get ready to meet you.”
“You should have told me! Then we could have rescheduled,” snapped Peridot. She pinched the bridge of her nose, pushing her glasses up. “Sometimes you just do not get how to arrange for these sorts of things.”
The waiter arrived with the check. He looked at Jasper, then at Peridot, then back at the former. Without a word he set the check down, winked at Peridot, and bustled off. Jasper grinned—Peridot flushed red.
“I’ll pay,” said Jasper, sliding the check towards herself.
“If you insist,” Peridot agreed, watching as Jasper put some money inside along with a tip, and shut it. “Are you hungry?”
“I had a power bar on the way here.”
“That’s—not… a sufficient dinner.”
“Let’s just go back to your place.”
Jasper wanted to watch a movie and eat a frozen TV dinner. Peridot wanted to curl up in a blanket and read. A compromise was, of course, in order. Peridot put on headphones and sat on one end of the couch; Jasper sat on the other and watched the movie.
About midway through the film Jasper paused it and moved closer to Peridot. She wrapped her arms around her girlfriend, who removed her headphones and raised an eyebrow.
“What’s this?” asked Peridot. “Are you trying to—?”
Jasper silenced her with a kiss. She put one hand under Peridot’s chin and used the other to take off her glasses. Peridot dropped the book—it hit the carpet with a soft thud—and wrapped her hands around Jasper’s waist.
“I’m sorry,” whispered Jasper. “I didn’t have a good excuse.”
“Just—don’t…let me know beforehand…”
“Mmhm.” Jasper tugged on Peridot’s shirt, lifting it up a little. “Hey. Take this off.”
Peridot blinked. “What now?”
“You heard me,” said Jasper. “Take. It. Off.”
Peridot smiled coyly and started to pull her shirt up. When it was about halfway off she suddenly yanked it down and pushed forward onto Jasper, knocking her girlfriend onto her back. Jasper’s expression was one of both terror and amusement.
“You take your shirt off,” said Peridot.
“Yes.” She kissed Jasper, then: “Now. If you want me to forgive you entirely…”
“All right…all right…”
Later, Peridot traced her name across Jasper’s stomach while her other hand was...occupied with other manners. She ignored Jasper’s clenched hand on her ass and grinned throughout it.
It took some time for Jasper to recover from that. She put her arms around Peridot again and said:
“Maybe I should almost stand you up again.”
“Don’t you dare…”
“The sex was worth it.”
“I said don’t.”
Jasper grinned. “No?”
“Okay.” She kissed Peridot’s forehead. “Promise.”
9. “Don’t ever do that again!”
“I probably shouldn’t be doing this,” said Peridot. She looked at the basketball hoop, Jasper, then back at the hoop. “I’m too short.”
“Nonsense,” said Jasper. “It’s not like it’s a real match. Just practice.”
“I have a Calculus test to study for.”
“You have straight A’s.” Jasper twirled the basketball on her finger. “C’mon.”
Peridot sighed. “Fine. But only this time.”
“Great!” Jasper dropped the ball into her other hand. “You know how to dribble, right?”
“Nooo…?” said Peridot. “I might have faint memories of elementary school sports, however.”
It was Jasper’s turn to sigh. “This is gonna take a while.”
A while by Jasper’s terms was about two hours. By then Peridot could manage a semi-decent dribble while stationery and in motion. That was something.
“Okay,” said Jasper, “let’s try actually shooting hoops.”
The first ball bounced off the backboard and nearly smashed into Jasper’s head. She caught it and demonstrated a better throw.
“I’m too short for this,” muttered Peridot.
She tried again. The ball hit the edge of the hoop and shot off on an unknown trajectory. Jasper fetched it.
“Like this,” she said, showing Peridot again. “You’re a little uncontrolled, but that’s natural. I mean, you’re still learning.”
When the fourth shot skewed off the rim, Jasper made a frustrated noise through her teeth. “All right, one more time, Peri.”
Peridot scowled, took the ball, and prepared to shoot it. As she made the small jump forward, Jasper grabbed her around the waist and lifted her into the air. The ball fell out of Peridot’s hands and through the net.
“Good one!” said Jasper, grinning. She set the other girl down.
Peridot reeled a few feet, shook her head, and then turned to Jasper. “Don’t you ever do that again!”
“What?” Jasper shrugged. “I was helping you.”
“By lifting me several feet in the air? I don’t think so.”
“C’mon, Peri,” said Jasper, putting an arm around her, “at least you made the shot that time.”
“Let’s wait a few more months before resorting to lifting each other up to win basketball games,” said Peridot, taking a deep breath. “Not that I can lift you up…”
“Good.” Peridot rubbed the back of her neck. “Now—”
“Want to try again?”
46. “Hey, have you seen the…? Oh.”
If it was one thing Peridot had to have at all times, it was organization. Everything had a place. At least, it should. So when she opened the doors to the pantry and discovered something was quite off, her first thought was: who’s been disrupting my things?
She checked the food pantry. Something else was missing there. Peridot narrowed her eyes and slammed the doors shut. She went through every shelf in the four pantries they had, checking and double-checking for missing items.
“One here,” she muttered. “One there—and over there—this asymmetry is really putting me off—what on earth could she need? Normally she’d just ask me to—”
There was the sound of something heavy being dropped in the room down the hall—Jasper in the spare room again. Peridot closed the door of the cupboard and gave the kitchen one last sweeping examination. If there were going to be answers for this, Jasper would give them to her. She hoped.
Peridot strode towards the room. Another thing clattered against the floor.
Jasper’s voice floated down the corridor. “Ah, shit.”
“Jasper?” called Peridot.
“Oh—dammit—yeah? Peri? That you?”
“Who else lives here with you?”
Her girlfriend poked her head out of her room. Jasper’s hair was wilder than usual, and there appeared to be chocolate syrup running down her forehead. “What’s up?”
“Hey, have you seen the…?” Peridot began, her voice trailing off as something whirred violently inside. “Oh.”
Jasper turned around and shut the door, shouting: “Nothing! It’s—nothing!”
“It is most certainly something—and it has to do with my—our—kitchen appliances!” Peridot retorted. She opened the door and was promptly splattered with chocolate syrup. At least it had the consistency and taste of chocolate. There was also a hint of vegetables.
Peridot removed her glasses and wiped them hastily. Through her blurry vision she could see Jasper attempting to fix something. Then, with the glasses on—
“Oh my God,” she said. “JASPER!”
“Um?” managed Jasper, rubbing her face on her shirt sleeve. “I can—explain.”
“Why on earth are you using a mixer in the spare bedroom? And with the spinach I was going to use for dinner tonight? And the chocolate syrup from last week’s ice cream?” Peridot exclaimed.
Jasper held up her hands. “Lemme explain.”
Peridot took a look around the room. The curtains had green splatters across them; the topmost blanket was torn in half—actually that was from a particularly rambunctious night that may or may not have involved alcohol in some way—well, the topmost blanket was drizzled with the chocolate syrup in an abstract pattern that would have been worthy of an art gallery.
“This better be good,” she said, crossing her arms.
“It is.” Jasper picked up the bowl full of greyish-green liquid and set in on the dresser. Peridot couldn’t help but wince as the mixture slopped out of the bowl and onto the polished knobs of the drawers. “Okay,” continued her girlfriend, “I was, uh, trying to make a protein shake.”
“A protein shake?” echoed Peridot.
“Yeah. But anyways—things got a little out of hand—I guess I grabbed the wrong items to make it with…”
“Hell yeah you did,” snorted Peridot, walking to the bed and picking up the hand mixer. “A mixer? You use a blender for these sorts of things!”
Peridot facepalmed with her free hand. “You have an awful lot to learn about kitchen appliances—or just…appliances in general.”
“I was trying things out,” said Jasper.
“Just ask me for help next time! So we can avoid—this—” She pointed the mixer about the room.
Jasper frowned. “I wanted to do this on my own.”
“It doesn’t end well.”
Peridot let the hand with the mixer drop back to her side. “Let’s just clean this up.”
“Probably a good idea.”
Together they washed the blankets and curtains. Then as Jasper cleaned the last few stains out of the carpet, Peridot looked up a decent recipe for protein shakes and began to prepare it in the kitchen. By the time her girlfriend had finished the cleaning, there were two glasses of it sitting on the counter.
“This for me?” asked Jasper, entering the kitchen with a towel slung over her shoulder and pointing at a glass.
“Yes.” Peridot brought the other glass towards her, even if she wasn’t going to drink it right then.
Peridot nodded, paused, then added: “I think I should handle the food from now on.”
Jasper downed the shake in one gulp. When she finished: “Agreed.”
“And don’t touch my things!”
28. “Marry me?”
The whole getting-down-on-one-knee business was starting to become a natural move for Jasper. How many times had she done it? How many times had they faked marriage for food?
The ring in its box in her pocket was starting to burn a hole through the fabric. She patted her thigh and turned her attention back to whatever Peridot was saying. Jasper smiled and nodded even if the conversation was starting to go over her head.
She hoped Peridot wouldn’t think it was like all the other times. The waiter came and set down their drinks. Jasper drank half of her water in one go and crunched a piece of ice between her teeth.
“That’s bad for your teeth,” said Peridot.
“I’ve never had any problems with it.”
Jasper grinned. “Sure.”
“This place is quite elegant,” Peridot remarked, looking around at the elegant light fixtures and then down at the menu. “I wonder what sorts of culinary options they offer.”
“Yeah. I figured it’d be a good place for dinner.” And something else.
“They have seventeen different kinds of noodles.”
Jasper opened her menu. “Really? Seems excessive to me.”
“Some people enjoy the diversity.”
“Yeah.” Jasper flicked through the pages of the menu. “They have a lot of meat options.”
“Desserts look good,” said Peridot, a smile appearing at the corners of her mouth.
Jasper stuck one hand in her box and turned the small box over. How small it was, and yet—it held an awful lot. She took another gulp of water and unconsciously bit down on another piece of ice. Dessert. That was what they got most often at other establishments. Or a free appetizer. It depended on the kind of restaurant.
Peridot ordered noodle plate number twelve (Jasper didn’t catch the name) and she ordered a steak plate. The night progressed, the conversation drifted lazily through the various streams of topics and the food eventually arrived.
Jasper couldn’t eat. She poked at her food, scowled, and tried to convince herself to work up an appetite. Nothing. Peridot noticed her concern.
“What’s wrong? Not the way you wanted it?”
“I—uh…lost my appetite.” Jasper set her fork down and looked out the window to the garden outside.
“That’s peculiar.” Peridot ate a forkful of the noodles. “Just earlier you were saying you were starving.”
“Earlier.” Jasper was about to prop her cheek up with her palm but remembered the etiquette rules and decided against. “Oh well. I’ll get a box.”
“So, no dessert?”
A few more couples entered the restaurant. Jasper turned her attention back to her own girlfriend, smiling broadly. Peridot dropped a few noodles back into the plate and wiped her mouth, a faint blush spreading across her cheeks.
“I forget how much I love your smile,” she said.
“Oh. Thanks. You have a nice smile too.”
The waiter wore a bemused expression as Jasper put the entirety of her steak inside the box, but commented on nothing.
They went outside to the garden to admire the flowers. The other hand was stuffed into the pocket with the ring. Jasper set the box with food in on the fountain’s edge and sat next it. After a moment of examining a bed of roses, Peridot joined her.
“This is nice,” she said.
“Yeah.” Jasper reached out and held Peridot’s hand. “Sure is peaceful.”
She pulled the black box of out her pocket and set it next to her lap. “So—um—I have a question.”
“Uh—I know this is rather—sudden but…” Jasper opened the box with her thumb and held the ring out. “…Marry me?”
Peridot’s mouth opened a little. “Oh…um? Isn’t this a little—delayed? I mean—” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “We could’ve earned a free dessert inside.”
Jasper exhaled and squared her shoulders. “Peri…”
“I’m being serious.”
Her girlfriend’s eyes widened. “Oh my gosh. You’re—this isn’t—Jasper?”
“Will you marry me?” Jasper said, giving Peridot a lopsided smile.
“I thought—yes, yes I will!” exclaimed the other young woman. She flung herself into a hug with Jasper.
“Wo-a-hhh!” Jasper said, wrapping her arms around Peridot. “A little—oh no—”
The sudden embrace had caught her off-guard. They tumbled backwards into fountain, splashing water everywhere. Jasper kept the hand with the ring above the water until they resurfaced, soaked and grinning.
“Yes,” said Peridot in a much calmer tone. “Yes, I will.”
Jasper pulled her close for a kiss.
Inside the restaurant, the management staff considered whether or not offering the ecstatic couple towels and possibly a free dessert.
33. “Please don’t do this.”
“I’ve been reassigned.”
Peridot looked up from the readings on the ship’s console. “You have been what?”
Jasper’s hand descended on her shoulder with unusual gentleness. “Reassigned.”
The green gem turned in her chair, expressionless except for her eyes. They met Jasper’s yellow ones—strange for a nonfused gem, Peridot had always thought, yet they were attractive—and then away again. “When did Yellow Diamond tell you?”
“Some time ago.”
“And you did not inform me?”
“I waited—I waited for a change in instructions. I hoped there would be one.”
“No.” Jasper let her hand return to her side. “I’m leaving once we reach Homeworld.”
“Then it is over.”
Peridot gave the floor a pained frown. “For how long? Reassignments happen for good reason—and tend to be permanent.”
The technician snapped then, emotion shattering through the veil of stoicism she wore. “Please don’t do this—is it possible for you to refuse? Can you say no to the reassignment?”
“I cannot refuse an order,” Jasper said. “I’m sorry, Peridot.”
“I should not be concerned about this,” said Peridot, half to herself, half to Jasper. “I’m just your colleague. Just—that.”
“You’re much more to me.” Jasper leaned forward and pressed her gemstone against Peridot’s—a rare act of emotional bonding.
“I will—miss you.”
“I’ll…miss you too.”
The ship was incomplete without the hulking presence of Jasper around. True, the new gem onboard (Tourmaline) was just as much a brute and warrior, but she wasn’t the same. Peridot went about her own business and she went about hers. They collaborated when necessary but there weren’t any of the odd half-quarrels Peridot and Jasper used to engage in and the times when they would be silent around each other for days on end because someone—usually Jasper—had ticked the other off.
The new assignments and duties were boring too—the Diamond Authority had Peridot running around performing maintenance checks on every blasted warp pad on every woe-begotten planet in every system the Diamond Authority had set their colonies on.
“Just an escort,” said Tourmaline. “You do all the hard stuff.”
“Right,” said Peridot. She added under her breath: “And you just stand there and guard against the intruders that never arrive.”
The days with Tourmaline blended in months and then years. The relationship cemented itself as a cold, mutually apathetic one and both gems were quite content with that.
Rumors of a small-scale war with yet another rebel group were springing up. Rebels reminded Peridot of the Crystal Gems. No one talked about them anymore.
At least no one talked about her complete failure to finish that mission, too.
They were—Peridot was—examining a partially destroyed computer system on the abandoned colony planet 42109 (of approximately 50000) for their—Peridot’s, more like it—current assignment. The rumors of the rebels were real in this system. They lurked on the distant moons of the outer planets, biding their time. Insurgents were not on Peridot’s ‘to dispose of’ list. That list had more urgent priorities.
“It’s quiet in here,” said Tourmaline, striding behind Peridot down the stone corridor.
“Yes.” Peridot said. A robonoid (prototype 3-Alpha, a significant upgrade from her previous model) skittered across the masonry in front of her. “According to the map—” she used her fingers to pull it up and proceeded to examine it, “—we are close to the main area where the damage was most severe.”
“Reeks of smoke and sulfur down here.”
“Olfactory distractions are a minor concern.”
They emerged at the edge of a crater. Dark light poured down from a hole in the domed ceiling. Yard below them was the computer system, buried beneath rubble.
“Someone was busy trying to remove this.” Tourmaline crossed her arms. “There better not be any rebels around here.”
“Be on alert.”
Peridot followed the robonoid down. The blast site had seemingly gone through several floors’ worth of rooms. The computers had a thick coat of dust and rock shards. She wiped one screen off and began to perform the usual checkup.
In the distance, there was a rumble like something crashing into the earth or something burning through the atmosphere. Peridot paused. Both options made her uneasy. Tourmaline showed no concern, however. Her attention was drifting amongst the smaller impacts on the walls.
“Tourmaline!” Peridot shouted. “Maintain alert.”
The warrior stiffened to attention, resentment glittering in her eyes.
There came a hollow smashing noise, much closer now. The robonoid moved close to Peridot’s leg. If its AI was warning it, something was wrong.
Three gems erupted through the ceiling, weapons drawn. Peridot stepped back against the shadows, her fingers twitching in anticipation. If they wanted to fight, she would give it to them—with sufficient provoking.
Tourmaline yelled from above. There was the clash of metal on metal, shouts, a screech, and then silence.
“That’s one of them,” said a gem.
Peridot froze. They had taken down Tourmaline in mere seconds. Even with the numbers against her, the green and pink gem was still a remarkable fighter—nothing like Jasper, but still considerable an enemy.
“Where’s the other? I received reports of a second gem.”
The technician remained immobile. The sound of footfalls above her echoed through the crater.
“I’m gonna explore down there.”
A gem, short and brawny, leaped down into the computer pit. Peridot summoned a sword at her side. There was only a one in approximately three thousandth chance she could defeat all three fighters; she would still try, anyway.
It didn’t take long for the gem to find her. She summoned her own weapon, a double-headed axe, and charged forward. Peridot moved towards her and dodged the first strike, attacking back with one of her own. Parry. Attack. Swing. Dodge. It only took moments before her movements began to fall into a pattern.
“Third rule of fighting—patterns are dangerous; they make you predictable, easy to attack. Don’t get into a rhythm.” Jasper’s words came out of nowhere. Peridot stopped for a second, and the blade of the axe whooshed centimeters from her head.
“Pay attention!” snapped Jasper now.
Peridot jumped back a few paces, feet sliding in the rubble. The other gem struck out again—Peridot blocked it and with her other hand, drove a second sword through her midsection. The gemstone of her enemy clattered to the ground.
“What was that?” asked another one of the rebel gems.
The technician stared at the gemstone. Had she really just—? Yes. She had.
“More gems are approaching the area!” shouted a different gem.
“Damn! Find that second gem and eliminate her! We don’t want anyone messing with this place.”
Peridot returned one hand back to normal and picked up the bronze-colored gemstone. She hoped the owner of the gemstone wasn’t a fast regenerator.
Shadows fell across half the crater. All inside looked up to see five new gems framed in one of the light sources.
“There they are!” shouted an orange gem, pointing above Peridot. “The rebels. Take them down!”
The other four leaped off the platform in peculiar unison and surged towards the two remaining insurgents.
The fifth one made her way down to Peridot, skidding in the loose shale. She stopped a few yards from the green gem.
“Give me the gemstone,” said the orange gem, holding out her hand. The red markings across it were familiar.
Peridot extended her own hand and dropped the gemstone into the larger warrior’s palm.
“Your job hasn’t changed much.”
Realization began to work its way through Peridot’s mind. “Neither…has yours.”
Jasper was different—regeneration had changed her, clearly—but she was still the same soldier Peridot knew. And quite possibly loved.
“I’m glad you’re still around,” said Jasper, tucking the gemstone into a small pouch at her side.
There were exclamations from behind them and they whirled around. One of the gems that accompanied Jasper waved her hand. “All clear. Let’s get outta here before they bring reinforcements.”
The ship Jasper and the others hand arrived on was only a short distance away. It was different from any ship Peridot had ever seen—bulky, armored, built for combat. Jasper took Peridot’s hand in her own and led her around the ship in a brief tour. They stopped in the armory last of all. Jasper sat on the bench, still holding the other gem’s hand. Peridot sat next to her.
“It’s been quite a while,” said Peridot.
“Yeh.” Jasper looked at her. “I did miss you.”
“It was strange without you yelling all the time.”
Jasper smirked. “Quieter, huh.”
“I have some good news.”
“Hm?” Peridot raised her eyebrows.
“I’m up for reassignment soon. And this time—I think I’ll ask for a particular charge.”
Peridot smiled for the first time in too many years. “Oh. I think—she will approve of that.”
“Tourmaline can be reassigned, too. I think she would enjoy it.”
Jasper pressed her gem against Peridot’s. “I’ll wait as long as I need to.”
The ride back to Homeworld was significantly better than the ride there in both gems’ opinions.
36. “I wish I could hate you.”
“Why do you always look the other way?”
I don’t know you.
“I want to know you.”
You’re not my type.
“But you don’t know me.”
Do you like me?
Who are you?
Peridot snapped her leather-bound journal shut with an exasperated sigh escaping from her lips. Her pen, still uncapped, tumbled from her fingers and marked a small line across her pants. She frowned and capped it, rubbing the mark out with her thumb.
“What’re you doing?” asked a gruff voice. A shadow loomed in front Peridot. “I thought people like you didn’t ‘waste time’ on the bleachers.”
She jerked her head up, adjusting her glasses in the process. “I—uh—just admiring the scenery.”
The beefy football player smirked and crossed her arms. “Yeah? Not much to look at out here. Just dry grass and dead trees.”
“At least it’s better than a freezing classroom full of annoyances,” Peridot said.
“What’s that?” The other girl pointed at the journal. “You’re not one of those melodramatic writers, are you?”
“N-no.” Peridot hugged the journal closer to her chest with one arm. “It’s a…personal journal.”
“Oh. For feelings. I get it.”
“Jasper!” someone called from down the field. “Practice starts in five!”
The girl waved back at her teammate. “Coming!”
She smirked again at Peridot and turned away, setting off at a jog down the field. Peridot dragged her eyes away from Jasper’s backside and to her lap. Time to move on.
“Did you look me in the eyes?”
You wear glasses.
“Your eyes are amazing.”
I knew that already.
Yes. I’m perfect.
“You go to Homework club?” sneered Jasper, hands on her hips as she watched Peridot write her name down on the sign-in sheet. “What for?”
“I’m a mentor,” said Peridot. “What are you here for?”
Jasper’s eyes widened but then resumed their normal half-glare. “Math’s a pain in the ass.”
Peridot passed her the pen, their fingers brushing for a second. She stepped back and said, “I find it quite easy.”
“Yeah, well, you’re not me.”
“I can help you, if you’d like.”
Jasper tossed the pen down on the table with noticeable contempt. “You want to help me?”
“S-sure. I’m supposed to, at least.”
They sat down at a table in the back corner. Jasper’s knees bumped into Peridot’s underneath the surface, but neither complained.
“What’re you having trouble with?” asked Peridot.
Jasper lay out her books and materials. “The entire lesson.”
“Oh.” Peridot stared at the cover of the textbook. “Well—let’s start from the beginning, then.”
“I guess.” Jasper drummed her fingers on the table as Peridot skimmed the text.
“I can see where you’re getting confused—”
“I’m not confused—the lesson is just difficult—” interjected Jasper, scowling.
“Sorry.” Peridot flushed red. “I—um—well—”
The football player waved a hand. “Just explain it.”
“Do you get it now?”
“I like you.”
I don’t get math.
“Let me help you.”
“You still sit here?”
Jasper plunked herself down next Peridot. “Weird-ass place to hang out. Just sit on the bleachers and write, huh?”
“I like the solitude.”
“It’s too quiet.” Jasper gazed over the empty football field. A janitor was picking up trash on the opposite side of the stadium. “I like it better when there’s people in the stands.”
“I’m a people,” muttered Peridot, tapping her pen against the cover of her journal.
“What’d you say?”
“Do you—need something from me?” Peridot asked. “You never just approach me or whatever without wanting something.”
Jasper shrugged. “Nah. You looked lonely.”
“Oh.” Peridot blushed. “Thanks for the company.”
“I have to stay her for after-school practice anyway. Might as well stay in the area.” Jasper dug around in her pockets before turning to Peridot. “Spot me a dollar?”
“A dollar? For what?”
“Vending machines. I forgot to pack a snack.”
“I don’t have—much money on me. It’s my bus fare…”
The football player frowned. “Huh. Son of a bitch, seems like I’ll have to rough someone up to get it.”
She rose and stalked off.
Peridot watched her leave, again having to pull herself from Jasper’s backside. The company had been very short-lived.
“Did you hurt yourself?”
No. I’m too strong.
It’s a scratch.
“Let me put a Band-Aid on it. You shouldn’t fight people.”
“I guess we’re partners for this project,” said Jasper, setting her materials down next to Peridot’s. “Not a bad match.”
“Yes.” Peridot nodded. “Well, we’ll need to start planning things out—hey—are you paying attention?”
“Uhhgh—please pay attention—”
“Can’t we work this out later?”
“No, Jasper, we have to outline the entire project today and then work on it at home. One of our homes.”
The football player propped her cheek up on her hand. “Yeah, sure.”
“Fine.” Jasper’s exhale sent a few papers scattering across the table.
They spent—well, Peridot mostly, with Jasper chipping in whenever the teacher approached their table—the remainder of class plotting out the project itself.
Then the following two weeks were devoted to completion of said project.
And the night before the presentation, Jasper accidentally deleted the file with the essay on it from their Dropbox and the computer.
Peridot had never typed so fast or sworn so much.
“I wish I could hate you.”
Hate me then. I fucked up.
“Yes. You did. But—I—”
Thanks for having my back.
There were football tickets shoved into Peridot’s locker. Two of them, with a Post-it note attached reading, “come 2 the game on Sat. @2 please.”
The scrawl was all-too familiar. Jasper. Peridot hid a smile beneath her hand as she took the tickets and stowed them in the small pocket of personal items in her bag. It seemed like the big jock was starting to take a liking to Peridot. That was—certainly something.
“You play well.”
“Thanks for the invite.”
We needed more fans.
“Is that why?”
“I’m not going to a math tournament with you,” huffed Jasper, crossing her arms. “It’s a ridiculous idea.”
“Please?” Peridot leaned over the textbooks sprawled on the table between them. “I went to your football game—and liked it a little.”
Jasper narrowed her eyes. “Okay. Sure. Whatever. I’ll go to your little math convention. But—”
“—really? Thank you!”
“—but—let me finish, Peridot, goddamn—we’re going to dinner afterwards to celebrate.”
“Dinner? To celebrate?” repeated Jasper, raising an eyebrow.
Peridot opened and closed her mouth. “I—erm—I mean—celebrate…my victory?”
“You’re gonna trump everyone else. I know it.” Jasper smirked. “You got it.”
The other girl turned dark red. “Dinner…okay…”
“You’re way too obvious when you like someone.”
“Just sayin’.” The football player picked up her books and stood. With her free hand she took one of Peridot’s and kissed it, still smirking. Peridot let her mouth drop open a little and turned even redder.
“See you ‘round,” said Jasper, turning and sauntering off.
Peridot was in shock for the remainder of the day.
“Dinner was nice.”
“I like you.”
Don’t cross yourself out. I like you too.
23. “Just once.”
Peridot had never fused before. She had never needed to. As a technician, she was there to solely maintain order. It was something she did quite well. Fusing, however…was quite a different matter.
“Just once,” insisted Jasper.
“For what purpose? Fusion is a waste of time for gems such as myself. We can handle our jobs well enough as individuals.”
“I…need to fuse.”
Jasper retracted her proffered hand and frowned. “I need someone else…with me—up there.”
“Is this why you’ve been acting so unusual? Because of fusions?” Peridot shook her head. “Jasper, Homeworld’s not going approve of this behavior when we arrive.”
“Maybe just now. For a few moments. Then we can be apart. But—please fuse with me.”
Peridot had never heard Jasper ask for anything before in such a polite—or desperate—tone. She sighed and rose from her chair. “All right. But not for too long.”
Jasper took Peridot’s hand with her usual roughness, only her hands were shaking slightly. It had only been a few days since they were picked up by some fortunately timed Homeworld ships. Jasper had been fine for the first couple, but lately she had taken falling silent at odd times and pacing. From what Peridot could make out—Malachite, a fusion, had nearly corrupted at the bottom of the ocean—and Jasper was still reeling from it.
Neither one of them could dance very well. Jasper’s huge steps kept putting Peridot off balance, and the short green gem’s clunking maneuvers worked poorly as dance moves. Despite these setbacks, Peridot’s gemstone began to heat up and glow. The fusion dance, however poor, was working.
The process of fusing itself was strange. Peridot’s material form melted into Jasper’s in a ball of light and warmth, and suddenly they were one. The new gem’s body was a conglomeration of the two of theirs. Peridot opened her eyes slowly—how strange, she felt tall—and moved her—their—arms.
“What—this is—different…” she managed.
“Your mind is odd—” hissed some part of her—them—that was not her—Jasper…
“How do you…feel?”
“Are you okay?”
“I think so.”
“I can feel your pain—Jasper—are you okay?”
“It’s…better…with you there.”
“What will we do now?”
“Can we…stay like this…for a while?” Jasper’s voice was half-choked, almost pleading yet still clinging to her seemingly unshakeable strength.
The voice that spoke next was theirs together, as one:
10. “Teach me how to play?”
“Are you ignoring me?” Jasper asked, leaning over Peridot’s shoulder.
“No,” said the other college student. “I’m concentrating.”
“It feels like you’re ignoring me.”
“I’m just attempting to take a mental break.”
Peridot was silent for a few moments, her thumbs working the joysticks on her controller frantically. Jasper scowled. “From what, Peri?”
“Not now—” Peridot hissed, mashing a finger against a button. As sudden weight descended on her shoulders she yelped: “JASPER, GET OFF MY BACK—! Oh for chrissake’s I’m gonna lose this game!”
“I just want to spend time with you…” said Jasper, piteous sounding. “Please?”
“Look,” huffed Peridot, narrowing her eyes at the screen. “I just finished your biweekly electronics checkup to make sure the two hundred viruses you accumulate every three days are gone. That’s plenty of bonding time.”
“Stop leaning on me—I’m losing because of you!”
Jasper slid to the floor. The screen in front of Peridot flashed LAST PLACE—TRY AGAIN? She swore under her breath and tossed down the controller.
“Last place?” asked her girlfriend.
“Thanks,” muttered Peridot. She frowned and then reluctantly picked up the controller, confirming for a redo.
“Teach me how to play?” Jasper asked suddenly, rolling over and lying on her stomach. “Please?”
“What?” Peridot gaped. “You? Play a video game?”
Peridot sighed and stood up to retrieve the second, rarely used, controller from its drawer. Jasper grinned, a smug glint of satisfaction in her half-closed eyes.
“You hold it like this,” explained Peridot, demonstrating. She reached over and adjusted Jasper’s thumbs, which were a little too big for the joysticks, into a better position.
Jasper studied the controller. “Which button do I hit to punch?”
“This isn’t a fighting game, Jas. It’s a racing game.”
“You know the type: drive around on a track in a car and try to win first place while avoiding both other players and their weapons.”
“Yes.” Peridot tapped the little ‘start’ button on Jasper’s controller to input a player two into the game. “All right, let’s play.”
She flicked through the menu to find the training course, hoping Jasper would be able to handle it. Cheerily labelled GREEN GARDENS, the track looked simple enough. Few tricky patches, mostly straightaways and mild bends. Peridot confirmed.
“What’s this?” asked Jasper, kicking her feet in the air. “Characters?”
“Pick which character you want to be.” Peridot scrolled until she found her favorite: a scrappy-looking androgynous cyborg. They were a speed-racer, but had enough fortitude to handle a hit or two.
Jasper, of course, went right for the opposite: a tank-build alien with four arms and the slowest speed of all the racers.
“Let’s go!” crowed the announcer at the start of the race. Peridot shot off the starting line with a burst of blue energy coming from the little cyborg’s ship. On the split-screen view, she could clearly see her girlfriend’s struggle to even go forward.
“What the hell is this?” snarled Jasper, twirling the joysticks in different directions. “I can’t move!”
“You have to use the gas,” said Peridot, not taking her eyes off the screen. At the rate she was travelling, she could easily beat her original time.
“I thought I—it’s right where you index finger is.”
“Jaassspeer,” Peridot hissed. “The right finger.”
“Oh.” Her character finally burst off the starting line with incredible lethargy. “He’s so slow.”
“You picked that character.”
“Can I change it?”
“Yes, but not now.”
Jasper began to randomly punch buttons until the menu came up. Peridot gasped, eyebrows snapping together. “Jasper, goddammit! What are you doing?”
“Changing my character.”
“I said NOT NOW!” Peridot tried to override Jasper’s control on the system, to no avail.
“Why not?” Jasper hovered over ‘back to menu.’
“We’re still in the middle of this!” The bespectacled young woman reached over to her girlfriend’s controller. “Don’t do anything!”
“Hey!” said Jasper, sitting up to keep the controller away from Peridot. “Lemme do this.”
Peridot’s hand was still on the device as the other young woman lifted it up. She teetered for a moment and then fell over into Jasper’s lap. “Hey!”
She glared at her.
“Hi,” said Jasper, grinning.
The little chime of a confirmed action resonated through Peridot’s ears. She could see the achievement for a record time on the tutorial level crumbling away in her mind.
Jasper set down the controller. Peridot remained staring at the ceiling, partially aggravated, partially tired. She rubbed her eyes under her glasses and stifled a yawn. After a moment, she realized that the game music wasn’t playing in the background anymore.
“You gonna lie there?” Jasper asked, starting to play with Peridot’s short hair. “I kinda like it.”
“What did you do?” Peridot managed to mumble.
“I turned it off.”
“WHAT—” she exclaimed, beginning to rise, but Jasper wrapped her arms around her.
“This is nice.”
“I can’t believe—”
Peridot exhaled slowly, letting her muscles relax. She rested her head against Jasper’s chest. “Love you, too.”
Requester wanted Jaspidot cuddles/fluff!
“What do you want to watch?” asked Jasper, pressing the up and down buttons on the remote and flicking between just two channels.
Peridot looked over at the screen and grimaced. “Stop that.”
“It’s hurting my eyes.” Peridot set down two mugs of hot chocolate on coasters.
Her girlfriend stopped the annoying motion and grinned. “Thanks for the drink.”
“It’s hot,” warned Peridot, sitting next to the other young woman.
Regardless of the heeding, Jasper took a gulp of the scalding cocoa. She plunked it down with a hard thud, droplets bouncing onto the wood.
“Mmmmmmmm—” Jasper said. “I burned my tongue.”
“Serves you right.” Peridot snatched the remote from Jasper’s hand as she was distracted. “I would like to watch…a documentary.”
“A documentary?” echoed Jasper.
“Something intellectually stimulating.”
“That’s a really boring choice, Peri.”
“Oh, here’s an interesting one about geology. And another about the formation of forests after nuclear fallouts.”
“How the hell do these things get funding?”
“People are fascinated by these topics.” Peridot blew on her mug of hot chocolate and took a tentative sip. A little too hot still. “Geology or forests?”
Jasper snorted. “Neither.”
“Fine. I also have, courtesy of your mother, the tapes of you as a child. That itself is a documentary of an exquisite childhood.”
“You wouldn’t dare—”
Peridot pointed. “They’re up on that top shelf—I’d need a chair but…if you don’t like the other options…”
“Rocks are great. I love rocks. I got an eighty-eight percent on the geology unit test in eighth grade. Did you know that? Man, rocks,” Jasper said in a hurry.
“I love rocks, too,” Peridot pressed PLAY on the documentary. She leaned her head on Jasper’s shoulder, and the latter wrapped a strong, comforting arm around her.
About halfway through the feature, Peridot was sitting in Jasper’s lap. The narrator’s droning voice was putting even the enduring young woman to sleep. She reached for her chocolate, and upon being unable to grasp the handle, Jasper passed it to her. The drink was lukewarm by now, but Peridot liked it lukewarm.
“Can we just…turn this off?” Jasper asked, gesturing vaguely at the television.
Peridot managed to push the mug back onto the table. “Go ahead…”
The screen went black. Satisfying.
“I guess rocks aren’t that great…” Jasper looked at Peridot. “Hey, are you falling asleep? This was your idea.”
“Shut up.” Peridot took one of Jasper’s hands in both of her own, intertwining her fingers with that of her girlfriend and feeling the rough callouses on her palm. “It’s not very entertaining.”
Jasper fell over on her side, taking Peridot with her. “Can we at least stay here for a bit?”
“All right.” Peridot half-shut her eyes. “But at this rate, the cocoa will be cold.”
“I burned my tongue. I’m not trusting it.”
Peridot stifled a laugh and snuggled closer against Jasper. “Whatever you say.”
Both of them fell asleep…and dreamt of rocks.
COLD SHOULDER: write about your OTP having a legitimate argument over something that couples argue over, and working it out in a normal and healthy way (sex doesn’t solve all problems, and neither do empty apologies)
“This is the third subscription this month,” muttered Peridot, throwing the magazine down on the counter. “Another sports magazine. How many of these damn things do we need?”
She rifled through the rest of the mail; nothing but more advertisements for more sports magazines and related junk greeted her. Peridot sighed and set the whole stack down. She reached behind her for a stool and sat down at the counter, head in her hands.
There was the sound of footsteps in the hallway outside the apartment. Peridot ran her fingers through her short hair and looked towards the door. Jasper was home.
“Hey,” she said, setting down a bag full of what appeared to be clothing on the floor. “You mind helping me with this?”
“Jasper,” said Peridot, turning around in her seat, “we need to talk.”
“’Bout what?” The buff young woman folded her arms.
“Take a seat.”
“I think I’ll stand for this.”
Peridot sighed through her teeth. “Fine. It does not matter if you sit or stand.”
“You’re pissed at me.”
“What did I do?”
“Both of us are very aware of the situation at hand. We are two college graduates with limited funds. We can barely afford the rent for this place on top of other things such as food, clothing, bills…anyway, what I am attempting to make clear is that we are very near to being broke.”
“We have jobs.”
“Correction: I have a job. You—” Peridot waved a finger at Jasper, “—are seeking a job.”
“I got an interview tomorrow.”
“Seeking,” reaffirmed Peridot. She took a deep breath. “We can’t afford these magazines.” She held up one to demonstrate. “These cost more money than our budget allows for on frivolous items.”
Jasper strode forward and plucked the magazine away. “These aren’t frivolous—I need them for tips and other things—they’re important…”
“We have, or rather, you have, subscribed to an ultimate total of twenty-seven magazines. All of them cover the same material! I don’t understand why you need so many—”
“—I think I have the right to do what I want with our money, seeing as we are living together and all—you get your portion, I get mine—”
“—I have not used a cent of what’s been considered ‘my portion,’ because I’ve been trying to save money—and then you come along and screw things up. It’s getting far too out of hand, Jasper! We need to cancel these subscriptions while we still can.”
“I’m not doing that…”
“Yes, you are, or we’re going to lose this place because we can’t fucking afford to live here anymore.”
Jasper’s expression tightened in anger. Then, very gradually, she relaxed her tense muscles, shoulders coming down from beside her ears. Peridot lowered her eyebrows. The two stared at each for several minutes.
“It’s bad, Jasper. I know it sounds silly we’re arguing over magazines—and clothing—” Peridot gestured to the bag of clothing, “—I know you bought more workout tees at the mall today…but we’re going down financially. You have to stop.”
“All right…” Jasper frowned. “All right…fine, if it’s that bad…I’ll get the damn refunds.”
“And return the clothing. You have a wardrobe full of clothes. We don’t need anymore.”
“It was on sale—”
“No more, Jasper, I mean it—we’ve got to get a better handle on this. Together. Okay?” Peridot took the magazine back from her girlfriend. “Okay?”
Peridot set the magazine down. “And when you’re done—we’re making a new budget plan.”
Jasper sighed. “Okay.”
She turned around to go collect the recently purchased clothing. Halfway to the door she stopped and looked back. “Hey—I’m sorry.”
“Really?” asked Peridot.
Peridot nodded. “Okay. Yes. Apology…accepted.”
Jasper opened the door again and went out. Peridot took up the phone, examined the magazine, and dialed the number printed there for contact purposes.
this is one of a couple fic prompts based off ideas, not sentences/dialogue
HOW ABOUT NO: write about something one half of your OTP does that annoys the fuck out of the other, and finally they decide to stop tolerating it (can be something something little or big)
There was a certain part of town that no one went to unless you had special clearance. Special clearance was, of course, defined as being part of the street gang that lurked in that part of the city. Jasper belonged to said gang and she was unnecessarily smug about that fact. It didn’t help her reputation with either the neighbors or the ladies, but there was a definite pride she took in it.
Every day on the way to work Peridot had to wait at a bus stop on the fringes of the gang’s territory. Today was no exception, save for the fact that she was twelve minutes earlier than usual. With a soft sigh that hovered in the cool morning fog, the young woman sat down on the glacial metal bench and prepared herself.
“You’re early,” said a voice.
Peridot offered no reply. Best to remain silent.
“You get kicked out of your apartment this morning?”
The cold was not helping Peridot’s temper.
“We can actually try to hold a conversation today, y’know,” persisted the voice. There was a thump on the glass. Peridot glanced up, fingers fumbling slightly as she adjusted her glasses. Jasper was leaning on the glass barrier, palms pressed against transparent surface. A smirk was plastered across her face.
“I like your scarf today. Green looks good on you,” Jasper remarked.
Peridot narrowed her eyes at the uncanny gangster. “You’re treading a fine line between street harassment and small talk.”
The scarf-wrapped young woman took out her phone and buried herself in her emails. 598 of them to sort through.
“Are you gonna be early tomorrow, too?”
“You’re awfully cute.”
Peridot had to roll her eyes at that one. “Nice try…” she muttered.
“You’re too quiet. Speak up.”
“The bus comes in nine minutes.”
“I have coffee at my place.”
“I bet you’re really successful at your job to get all those emails.”
“You want my jacket? It’s freezing out.”
Peridot shut off her phone and stashed it in her purse. She had gotten here early because she had stopped at the local bakery for her breakfast, and the service had been unusually fast. Walking slowly to the bus stop hadn’t helped, either, and now she was stuck. Jasper’s voice was becoming a bother faster than normal.
“You ignoring me?”
The slight inhale before Jasper’s next comment was plenty of time for Peridot to assemble some thoughts. She rose suddenly and turned to Jasper, who was still leaning on the glass. The smirk began to fade the moment Peridot rose.
“Look here—you…Jasper—whatever—I need you to shut the hell up and move the hell along. I’m done with your comments and commentary on my life. I don’t know what you’re doing or what the hell you’re trying to accomplish, but if it’s pissing me off, congrats. You did it. I’m pissed. I try to buy myself breakfast instead of making toast like every other morning, but no. I get here early. And you’re still here. You are always here. Bothering me. And I don’t want any more—bullshit from you in the morning. It’s a damned awful way to start a day.” Peridot pointed a metal finger at Jasper. “So you can go and—and shove off before I take action against you for harassment.”
The smirk had become a mildly frightened open-mouthed gape. Jasper’s palms slid down the glass with a horrendous screeching noise until she removed them, wiped her hands on her jeans and took a few steps back.
“Don’t think that just because this is your gang’s territory it means you can do what you want to other citizens,” added Peridot, glaring ferociously at Jasper.
“Sorry…” mumbled the other woman. She threw Peridot one last look, seemed as if to make a parting comment, and then strode off into the shadows of the nearby building.
Peridot exhaled—it felt like the first breath in a long while. Then, as soon as it had arrived, the ferocity drained out of her and she sat back on the bench with a jolt. Three minutes until the bus arrived.
The day after, Jasper wasn’t there. The rest of the week was quiet in the morning. Peridot enjoyed it very much. Three weeks passed without the gangster bothering her.
One day at six am. Peridot got up and went for a run. At six forty am. she returned to her apartment, changed into her work attire, and went to the bakery. A hot drink and a breakfast sandwich sufficed as her first meal of the day. Then she went to the bus stop, twenty minutes early. That was fine. She had a book.
The first gunshot echoed through the air seconds after Peridot sat down. She jumped and looked around, the book slipping into her lap. There was a second report. Closer. Shouts. A car skidded around the corner and roared down the street, another pursuing it.
It happened very fast. Guns were going off, the noise ringing in Peridot’s ears and near-immediately setting off a major headache. A stray bullet shattered the glass, and that was when Peridot got up and moved. She had no knowledge of how gangs worked. But she wasn’t about to be stuck in crossfire.
Then came the searing pain through her shoulder and chest. Peridot stood stiffly, taking a moment to register the brutal sensation. Her fingers worked their way to touch where her shoulder met her torso. They came away damp and sticky. Red, too. The young woman’s body reacted to this with alacrity. Her breaths came in short and sharp.
Maybe it was an overreaction, but she wasn’t expecting to hit the pavement.
Footsteps resounded near her after what seemed like an eternity.
“My God,” said a voice. Familiar. Unfamiliar.
“Give me a phone—quickly—dial the ambulance…”
A pair of hands rolled Peridot over. She blinked, vision swimming. Funny, how physically weak one seemed when injured. It was really just a small injury.
“There’s blood up and down your shirt…” mumbled the voice. Orange hair clarified in Peridot’s line of sight. “Fuck. It’s not that bad…looks like shit…”
Sirens. The police were fast. Made sense, in a gang-riddled city.
“Hey—hey—hey—stay with me…stay with me, dammit.”
“You—what—nice…” slurred Peridot.
“I’m sorry—I’m really sorry—”
Somehow Peridot managed to get out: “Why…”
“Fuck don’t say that. I’m such an awful person—what—and now this…”
“I shouldn’t have—”
Lights up again.
Peridot blinked. Artificial lights. Something attached to her wrist. Sensations came back like a tidal wave, crashing over and around, drowning in sounds and smells and tactile reactions.
It smelled like flowers, too.
Cheap, off-the-street flowers.
There was a card attached to it—made of cardboard, but still, a card.
An apology was written on it. Peridot read it once. Then again.
She set her head back down on the pillow.
“I don’t like you that much,” she said, staring at the ceiling. “Maybe…you’re just a huge…pain in the neck.”
Somehow Jasper managed to secure a visit with her. In the artificial lighting she was a little more than scruffy, and there was dried blood painting her shirt collar and cheeks.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hello,” said Peridot.
“I think you made that clear already.”
“I mean it. I was awful to you. I know that. And I kept doing it. Which was idiotic. And even if it was under the intentions of…uh…flirting…”
“You can’t flirt to save your life,” snarked Peridot.
“…yeah. And I hope you can accept my apology and maybe we can start over?”
“I’ll need time to think about both those things.”
“Yeah. Understandable. I guess.”
There was a pause.
“You like the flowers?”
“They are a nice touch,” Peridot admitted.
Another pause. Jasper scratched her chin, shrugged, and sighed. “I guess I’ll go. That’s really all I wanted to say.”
“Maybe I’ll come back some…other time?”
“You do that.”
Peridot stared at the ceiling some more.
Time. It would take time.
Lights fade. Quiet, like the morning.
4. "I'm flirting with you."
The wall veritably creaked when Jasper leaned her full weight against the lockers, a smug grin spreading across her face. Peridot glanced up from her biweekly sorting of her locker’s contents, raised an eyebrow, and resumed her organization.
“Whatchu doing?” asked the football player, peering into Peridot’s locker. “Cleaning?”
“I am cleaning,” affirmed Peridot. “You are very observant.”
“No, I am capable of doing this on my own.” She dropped a wad of paper on the floor. Immediately, both girls bent to pick it up, Jasper’s hand engulfing Peridot’s much smaller one. The latter blushed and retracted her hand.
“Here,” said Jasper, flashing an almost flirtatious smile at bespectacled girl.
“Thank you,” said Peridot, sticking the paper in a second bag, labeled in green Sharpie with: RECYCLING.
“You hear about that school dance on Saturday in a coupla weeks?” Jasper asked.
“Yes. It was announced on the schoolwide speaker system.”
The football player chuckled lowly. “Yea. That one. Tickets are pretty expensive.”
“Fifty dollars is a moderate price to ask for a simple school dance,” agreed Peridot, neatly folding an old sheet of graph paper and tossing it in the recycling bag.
“I guess it would really be worth it if I went with someone pretty damn special, right?”
“It is just a Homecoming dance. There is a Formal dance later in the school year.”
“Yeah…but it’s the first dance of the year…better start it off good, huh?”
“True.” Peridot paused and pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “I do not think I will be going.”
“Oh—what?” Jasper paused in the middle of buffing her nails. “You’re not?”
“I do not think anyone will be interested in going to the dance with me.”
“You are a real idiot sometimes, you know that?”
Peridot looked over at Jasper, frowning. “I am an A’s only student…what are you implying?”
Jasper let out a gusty sigh. “I’m flirting with you, Peri. Good Lord…”
“Flirting?” echoed Peridot. “With me?”
“I want to go to the dance with you, okay?” Jasper said, huffing. “But you can’t pick up on any social cues.”
“I am trying to clean out my locker.”
“Well—uh—stop that for a moment.” Jasper put a hand on Peridot’s shoulder. “Will you go to the Homecoming dance with me?”
“Yes,” said Peridot, blinking. “I would rather like that.”
“Okay. Good. I was getting worried you weren’t picking up even my most obvious statements.”
“I was merely distracted…” said Peridot.
“Shoosh.” Jasper tugged on Peridot’s jacket and pulled her in for a brief, passionate kiss. When they separated, the smaller student’s glasses askew and slightly fogged up, she said: “Sorry. I—kinda…you’re really fucking cute, okay?”
She let go of Peridot’s jacket. “Need any help with your locket?”
“N-no…I think…I’m okay…” Peridot managed. “Thank you for offering.”
Jasper grinned again. “Okay. I think I’ll stick around for a li’l bit. Practice doesn’t start for a few more minutes.”
She rested her back on the lockers again, metal squeaking ever so slightly. Peridot continued to clean, Jasper holding the bags for her when necessary.
Homecoming was going to be very fun, in the latter’s opinion.
14. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
Tap. Tap. Tap. Peridot’s fingers drummed without relent on the surface of the bleacher, the hollow metal sound ringing through Jasper’s ears.
“You almost done?” she asked, peering down over the smaller girl’s shoulder.
“I’m still making calculations,” muttered Peridot.
“Class is gonna start soon.”
“You ready for the presentation?”
Peridot sighed, the drumming speeding up. Then she stopped and looked at Jasper. “No.”
“I think we’ll be okay,” said Jasper.
“It’s just a five-minute presentation.”
“Five minutes is a longer time than people expect.”
Jasper shrugged and glanced at Peridot’s watch. “Two minutes. C’mon. Let’s go.”
Peridot packed up her stuff and slung her pack across her shoulders. They walked down the bleachers and joined the milling mob of other students making their way to the classrooms. Out of the corner of her eye Jasper could see Peridot clicking a pen in her hand, expressionless, as if she was automatically performing the action without thinking. It was mildly distracting to the bigger student.
The classroom was buzzing with apprehension as the two girls took their seats. Jasper leaned over to see the notecards of a boy next to her. He had managed to write an entire script on three index cards. Impressive. Jasper chuckled.
To her right, Peridot pulled out her laptop and opened up the presentation. Jasper noticed she was editing the presentation.
“Hey,” she hissed, “what’s up? I thought we finished that thing.”
“I am making some minor adjustments.”
“Not now!” Jasper leaned farther over, her chair tilting. “There’s nothing to fix.”
“There’s always something to fix…” Peridot began to tap her fingers.
Jasper frowned and put her hand over Peridot’s to stop the noise. The other girl looked at Jasper and scowled back.
“What? It’s infuriating,” Jasper said.
Peridot said nothing.
After the last presentation went, Peridot hastily packed her stuff up and was the first to the door. Jasper, although tall, somehow managed to lose her companion in the throng of students. The bell rang; everyone surged out.
Peridot rolled a little ball between her palms under the bleachers. She had messed up on the presentation, she just knew it. And now she could fail the course. What would her parents say? Certainly no praises.
“Hey, hey,” said someone. Peridot looked up to find Jasper standing there. “What’s up?”
“I am trying to de-stress,” explained Peridot, rolling the little ball even faster in her hands.
“You very well know what.”
Jasper plonked herself down next to Peridot. “Yeah? The presentation?”
“We did great—stop rolling that thing, it’s distracting.” Jasper reached for the ball; Peridot pulled away.
“No, it’s soothing. Stop touching my things.”
“Soothing from what? You’re just rubbing a ball.”
“You don’t get it, do you? Anxiety, Jasper, it’s anxiety—this helps with it.”
“Yes, dammit…you’re not being helpful at all. Just let me be.”
Jasper hesitated before speaking. Her hand dropped back to her thigh. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
Peridot sighed. “Now you do. And you’re not making any more comments.”
There was a lull. Footsteps tramped on the field. Jasper gazed out across the green expanse of land, only to be pulled back by Peridot’s question:
“Do you really think we did all right?”
“I don’t see why we didn’t.”
“You’re worried ‘bout your parents?”
Jasper put a hand on Peridot’s shoulder. “You did good. You’ll get a good grade, no doubt. He likes you. You’re one of the best.”
“I mean it.”
Peridot smiled slightly. “Really?”
The smaller girl continued the roll the ball, but with a little less franticness. Jasper told herself to ignore the motions, it wasn’t that hard, really.
They earned an A on the project, with a special note about the visuals Peridot had created detailing how their teacher had really enjoyed them.
18. “Do you think we should just stop this?”
In the beginning, there might have been love. In the beginning, there had definitely been something. The notes left on nightstands when one went to work before the other. The tender kisses after sex. Winter nights spend under three blankets huddled together. Holding hands in public despite Peridot’s embarrassment.
And now there was very little of that left. A smile flashed across the table at breakfast, maybe a kiss on the cheek before leaving the house. They didn’t hold hands anymore.
Jasper was sorting through old boxes in the attic. She had been meaning to get through the piles of junk for some time. There was an old certificate in here somewhere. A trophy, too, from her high school days of lacrosse. In this box there was nothing but calendars. Odd. Peridot liked to keep the strangest things.
“This is ancient,” muttered Jasper. “This is from our senior year at college. What was that? Six years ago?”
She flipped through it. Something caught her eye in the month of July. Circled in bright orange highlighter was the 27th. A little heart was scribbled next to the words: JASPER’S BIRTHDAY. Her mouth opened a little, but no words formed.
In a calendar from four years ago Peridot had put down their third anniversary in bold lettering. Jasper bit her lip and looked for a calendar from last year. The only things on that one were dates and times of conferences, deadlines, and assorted other things. On July 27th: Jasper’s birthday.
No heart. A small smiley face.
“Maybe we were going through a rough time,” said Jasper. “Yeah. Rough…times.”
She resisted the urge to ball the calendar up and set it back in the box. With one foot she shoved it away from her and dug through another. The first thing in this one was a scrapbook-photo album mashup.
The title read: FIVE YEARS!
This was a year old, and Jasper had never seen it. She opened it hesitantly. The first photo in the front was them in freshman year of high school, awkwardly standing in front of their science project for the fair. Jasper turned the page, to more photos. Field trips. A selfie. Jasper tripping over a box of something. College registration. Their—first date.
Jasper shut the book and put it back in the box. She didn’t need those memories, not now.
There was the sound of feet on the old stairs. Peridot was coming.
“What are you still doing up?” asked Peridot. She was holding a mug of something hot in her hand and there was a green sweater wrapped untidily around her waist. “It’s eleven fifty.”
“Oh. I didn’t realize it was that late.” Jasper sighed. “Guess I bet—”
“What were you doing with that box?” Peridot said. She pointed at the one in front of Jasper. Her eyes narrowed. “Didn’t you read the box?”
“What?” Jasper stared at the box and rotated it around until she saw: DO NOT LOOK. PERIDOT’S BOX. “Oh my God.”
“That is a private box—Jasper, I cannot believe you—”
“I didn’t know! I was just looking for some things of mine!”
“As if I’d keep anything you wanted!”
“I didn’t read the box!”
“You should pay attention to those sorts of things!”
Jasper gritted her teeth. “Well, if you wanted to keep things private, you would put them somewhere not in the open!”
“You never come up here—”
“—that doesn’t matter! You should have put it somewhere else—”
“—don’t make this about me and what I’ve done! What did you see? What did you go through?” Peridot set the mug down with a clink on a nearby chair and stormed forward.
“Just this dumbass scrapbook,” growled Jasper, thrusting it at Peridot. “Here. I didn’t do anything with it.”
The other woman’s face fell as she took the book. “God. I—this…you saw this?”
“Yeah I did.” Jasper frowned. “I believe our five year anniversary was last year, too.”
Peridot’s shoulders dropped. “Yes. It was.”
“Is there a reason you kept it in the box?”
“We were—we were having a fight, remember? I was pissed, you were pissed…” Peridot sighed and sat down, thumbing through the book. “You weren’t supposed to see this.”
“I figured as much.”
Peridot shut the book and looked at her girlfriend. After a long moment of silence, she said: “We shouldn’t go on in this state.”
Jasper tilted her head. “Do you think we should just stop this?”
“I don’t know.” She rubbed at her forehead. “It was fun at first…but now…I don’t know. I really just…don’t know.”
“I think—it would probably be for the best if we…y’know, maybe took a break?”
“Yeah.” Peridot’s mouth quirked downwards. “Six years…”
“It’s not gonna get any better if we keep fighting like this. And hiding things. And yelling.”
“So this is it?”
“I guess so.” Peridot put the scrapbook back in the box. “Doesn’t feel right. Not at all.”
“I still love you. Just…maybe not in the way I first felt.”
Peridot rose, Jasper standing soon afterwards. The former looked away at the floor before gazing up at Jasper. “Not like the first year or two.”
The place had originally belonged to Peridot, so Jasper packed her stuff and left a week later. It was a cold, prolonged end. But there was no bitterness. No anger in the end. A quiet, trailing finish.
The scrapbook remained in the box.
1. “Can I kiss you?”
There was a one in three thousand chance both gems would come back alive. Individually…the odds were worse.
Peridot slowed the ship to impulse power as they approached the solar system. Behind her, Jasper fiddled with the collar of her cape.
“This is ridiculous,” muttered the orange gem. “We need backup.”
“We are mere scouts,” said Peridot. “Whatever data we collect will be transmitted back to Homeworld.”
“Even if we die?”
“They are counting on us dying, in a sense.”
“Bastards,” Jasper snarled under her breath. She would never speak out directly against Homeworld. She respected the Diamond Authority, admired them, and took their orders like a complacent soldier was supposed to. But when under duress—she chafed against the invisible collar against her neck. Jasper was not meant to be pinned down.
Peridot set the ship’s system to automatic and rose from her station. There were a few things on the lower decks that needed investigation.
“Where are you going?” demanded Jasper, taking a stride so that she just barely blocked Peridot’s path.
“Lower decks for maintenance checkup,” said Peridot.
“Actually, I need you with me.”
“Me? I’m a soldier. I don’t tinker.”
“There are certain aspects of this job you might enjoy.”
“Hmrph.” Jasper squared her shoulders. “Fine. I’ll come with you.”
They walked to the elevator and squished inside. It was not designed for gems of Jasper’s size, but somehow managed to fit both of them. Peridot detached a finger to press the down button.
The elevator whirred to life and plunged downwards into the depths of the ship. Jasper glanced down at Peridot. The small gem was calm. Collected. Stone-faced. The usual.
“You feel anything about this?” she asked. She had to.
“No. It is a mission we have been instructed to complete. We will do just that.”
“What if we survive?”
“There is a slim chance we will. Do not count on it.”
“You’re gonna go and face certain death just like that?”
“There are other Peridots.”
“No, there aren’t.”
Peridot raised an eyebrow at the big soldier. “Your assertion is incorrect.”
“I mean,” said Jasper, struggling to find words to fit her thoughts, “I mean, you’re special. You’re different. You’re you. The Peridot I work with. And sometimes hate. And sometimes like.”
“You are saying I am different because you experience certain emotions towards me?”
“Dammit, Peridot, I’m trying to say you’re a unique gem. To me.”
“You have never said this before.”
The elevator stopped. Neither moved.
“I didn’t need to.”
“What is different about now?”
“We’re gonna die, Peridot.”
“Yes, and so?”
“I just want—our last real conversation—you’re a pain in the ass. This is awful. You’re awful.” Jasper sighed, sounding more exasperated with herself than the technician.
“You were just saying—”
“Can I kiss you?”
Jasper gritted her teeth. “May I kiss you, Peridot?”
A pause. Peridot knitted her eyebrows together. Then: “You may. Although it will be difficult in this confined space.”
Jasper slid out of the elevator; Peridot followed. And then the soldier kissed the technician, lifting her up into the air so that, maybe, just for a few moments, they were literal equals. Peridot’s visor slid up her forehead, catching on her gemstone and tilting off to the side. It was a long time before they broke apart.
“I’ve waited five years to do that,” said Jasper.
“Five years is a very long time.”
“Granted, that desire was mixed with the desire to absolutely crush you for your smug superiority about your higher intelligence.”
“You are not romantic.”
“Neither am I. We are not gems of that nature.”
“No. Good thing, too.”
“We should work on the ship. There is limited time left before we reach the planet.”
“Yeah. Yeah, okay, we should.”
They kissed again, shorter, quieter, lingering. It would be the last time either of them felt those sorts of emotions, and both knew it. There was a one in three thousand chance the two gems would come back. They knew it. Homeworld knew it.
Maybe that was all right.
Maybe it wasn’t.
Later, Peridot sat on board a Homeworld vessel departing from the planet, holding a diamond-shaped orange gem in her palm. One in three thousand was a long shot, but sometimes…
The word luck didn’t often find its way into Peridot’s everyday diction.
2. “I can’t let you do that.”
Jasper was, once again, sitting in the nurse’s office with a black eye and abrasions up and down her arms. Peridot rapped on the door. The nurse glanced up from her file-work. “Can I help you?”
“I have something for Jasper,” said Peridot.
“Okay,” said the nurse. “Brief visit only, all right, sweetie?”
“Yes,” said Peridot, inwardly curling her lip at the use of the word “sweetie.”
Jasper looked up from her palms and grinned crookedly at Peridot. Dried blood cracked around her mouth. “Hey.”
“This is the third time this month,” said Peridot. She sat next to Jasper. “I brought you your books. You’re probably going to go home, judging by the magnitude of that black eye and the abraded quality of your limbs.”
“Oh, thanks.” Jasper took the books from Peridot. “Yeah. Oh well. At least I’ll miss that test in math class.”
“You will have to take it at a later date,” said the other student.
“I didn’t study for this time so it’s probably for the best.” Jasper wiped at her nose, staining her thumb with droplets of blood. “Shit. It’s bleeding again.”
“Language,” muttered Peridot, passing her the tissues box. “Here.”
“Stupid cliques tryin’ gang up on me. I’ll get ‘em back next time.”
“No, you aren’t.”
“I have to.”
“You don’t have to do anything.”
“This is a matter of dignity.”
“I can’t let you do that.”
“You’re going to critically injure yourself if you keep this up! They have not only superior numbers but several upperclassmen.”
“You shoulda seen the other guys.”
“I’m glad I didn’t.”
“How can you stop me, anyway? I weigh like a hundred pounds more than you.”
“I’ll fight with you.”
“What? You’ll get killed. Maybe not killed but pretty damn close. You can’t even—”
“Just a few more minutes,” said the nurse. “And Jasper, honey, your parents will be coming by shortly to pick you up.”
“Yeah, okay,” said Jasper. She looked at Peridot. “You’re not gonna fight.”
“I’ll fight if you fight. I’m not having you hurt yourself anymore.”
“Since when do you care what happens to me?”
“Studies have shown a correlation between school time brawls and criminal activity as far as violent behaviors tend to go, as well as troubled households having a moderate influence on the rate of a student’s aggressive tendencies—”
“Jesus, okay, enough, I’m good, shush.” Jasper looked at the tissue. “Thank God it’s stopped bleeding.”
“You wouldn’t have to bleed if you didn’t—”
“Are you lecturing me? I think you’re starting to lecture me. Please don’t lecture me.” Jasper sighed. “Look, if you’re gonna keep this up, I think I’d rather lose dignity than have you prattling on.”
“It’s not very dignifying to keep losing fights.”
“God dammit Peridot—you know what—you know what, I don’t lose. I am merely overcome because they have superior numbers and that is a cheap tactic to overwhelm your enemies.”
“Just let me know when you arrive home safely. I can help you with your math test studying tonight if you want,” said Peridot. She rose from the bed and left the room.
The nurse looked over at Jasper and smiled. “Friend of yours?”
“Girlfriend,” corrected Jasper. “Friend works too.”
Jasper looked at the books. Out of curiosity, she opened the front cover and saw a little note folded up inside. It said:
get well soon
(stay out of trouble I want you in one piece when we graduate)
Requester wanted Jaspidot bodyswap!
“Did you go through decontamination?” asked Peridot, filing through several reports of the planet. She glanced up at the hulking orange and red and then back to her holographic screen.
“Yeah,” Jasper replied, “I did.”
“That was a remarkably fast cleansing.” Peridot extracted a particular piece of data and began to analyze it. “I hope you were through. It appears as if the planet contained several strains of illnesses with unknown effects on the body.”
“We’re gems, Peridot. That won’t bother us. And I’m tough enough to handle a weak little illness.”
“It appears to be extremely infectious and is spread through physical contact.” The green gem squinted at Jasper. “You touched many objects on that planet.”
“You told me to,” countered the soldier, crossing her beefy arms. “I was just following instructions.”
“For once,” Peridot retorted. She picked out another bit of information. “Are you certain that your decontamination was a complete one?”
“Yeah. Of course.” Jasper snorted. “And even if I did have it, not like I’m gonna go around touching you or anything.”
Peridot frowned, raising her eyebrows. “That is an interesting argument.”
“Look, I’m the Commander here. I have more authority than you. If I say I’m fine, you say I’m fine in the logs, okay? Okay.” Jasper turned and strode out of the room.
The maintenance worker whirled in her chair. “Jasper.”
“Which way to the decontamination chamber?”
“You—you make a right from the entryway and then down a hallway and through a set of doors on the left.” Jasper’s face contorted. “What is it?”
“The chamber’s to the immediate left of the entryway, marked in bold lettering.” Peridot paused for what appeared to be dramatic effect. “You didn’t even go through it.”
Jasper slammed her palm into the doorway, shaking the room a little. “Damn! All right, so what? I didn’t ‘cleanse’ myself of this—this illness you found on the planet that I may or may not have contracted. And—”
“—before you go on and repeat the phrase you used before: ‘we’re gems,’ Commander, I would like you to stop and dig your brain out of whatever box it is currently residing in.”
“You little—!” growled Jasper. She stepped back into the room, fists clenched.
There was a definite sense of regret Peridot was beginning to feel. “Correction: perhaps dust off the brain and use it to consider the fact that we are on an alien planet much farther beyond our normal scope of exploration. We have already encountered energy beings out here. Who can say what else may live out here? I expect and rather enjoy the prospect of a disease that affects gemkind. It is a clear sign that evolution is taking place. Other lifeforms are responding appropriately to our encroachment by either A. developing biological warfare weaponry or B. there are minute lifeforms, known on Earth as ‘bacteria’ and ‘viruses’ that are attacking us.”
Throughout this whole lecture Jasper was scowling, teeth exposed in a menacingly grimace. Peridot noted this and was well aware that at any moment Jasper could lash out, but continued regardless. She had studied extraplantery lifeforms for quite a while. It was a bit of a hobby for her. After all, despite what one was created to do, there were certainly other outlets for the pursuit of knowledge. Peridot figured it was only right to study different cultures. If Homeworld wanted her out here exploring, then she would be complete in every aspect of that.
She blinked, and then Jasper was looming over her. A hand descended and picked up by the shoulder in such a fashion that Peridot was tilted at an uncomfortable angle of about seventy degrees, if it was a given that Jasper was ninety degrees.
“Listen up,” hissed Jasper. “You may be the smarter one on these missions but I have the last word on everything. You may have been giving orders on this expedition but I was always in charge. You hear me? And if I think that I don’t need a bloody decontamination, then I won’t take one. There is no way anything like a virus can affect gemkind.”
“Put me down,” said Peridot in the firmest tone she could muster. One of her feet collided with Jasper’s abdomen. The orange and red gem made a low noise of irritation and tossed Peridot over the control panels.
Several buttons were hit as the green gem skidded over the various mechanisms. An alarm sounded. She rolled backwards and bumped a viewing screen. Her mind buzzed as she considered the options. Jasper needed to be put through decontamination. It could be too late for the ship itself. The soldier had touched the wall, and undoubtedly many more objects since she reboarded the ship. Peridot herself was at risk.
This was all going off the theory that this virus would harm them. Ah, but better safe than sorry, right? She would put Jasper in the gem state of regeneration, then stick her in decontamination, and check up on the ship. All would be fine in the end.
The green gem wriggled forward. She pressed a small button on the underside of the control panel and took out the destabilizer. Normally she kept it topside, but without a proper need for it on the latest mission, Peridot had stowed it away. The weaponized tool in hand, she rose. Jasper was still in the room, examining a blown-up chart being projected on the far wall.
Peridot was not a stealthy gem. That was left to the Amazonites and Fluorites. But she made a valiant effort to cross the room quietly. At the last possible moment, the soldier turned. Peridot flicked on the destabilizer.
Somehow Jasper managed to land a punch on the green gem through her condition. A few seconds later, two gemstones clattered to the floor, destabilizer landing neatly next to them.
The ship continued on its programmed route to the next planet. The mission was simple in wording: gather knowledge about the Radicus System. Ventarci X was the most promising, with many needed materials for the war. Therefore, it had be the focus of the expedition.
A few days later in the control room both gems began to glow brightly. The ship was entirely unaware its two occupants were undergoing radical changes and automatically slid into orbit around the fifth planet in the Radicus System.
Peridot blinked. She was quite tall. Much too tall for her liking. She had specifically chosen to remain the same in the regeneration, but here she stood, well over eight feet tall. This would make controlling the ship difficult. The chairs would have to be modified.
She went to reach for the destabilizer and instead let out a noise that was somewhere between a shriek and gasp.
Her hand was Jasper’s hand—and there she was, at least, her usual form, standing in the stiffest position Peridot had ever seen (she was mildly impressed Jasper could hold such rigid form, if that was indeed Jasper).
“What’s happening?” said Jasper in Peridot’s voice. “What in the name of Yellow Diamond is going on here! Why am I so puny?”
“I could ask the same thing,” said Peridot in Jasper’s voice. It was rough and overall very uncultured sounding. “This must be a side-effect of the disease.”
“Or,” said Jasper, “we janked up our regenerations.”
Peridot walked to the control panel. It was difficult to get used to the huge strides Jasper’s form was capable of. She went to sit in the chair and accidentally crushed the backrest with her hand. That was no good.
“We need to go to decontamination. Although it is your body that is infected, it could very well be mine as well now. We have apparently swapped bodies and I am unsure of what this means. Although it would make for a fascinating report to Homeworld.” Peridot paused and mustered up a high-pitched voice, as close as possible to her real one. “Log Date 819. Since Commander Jasper was incapable of basic procedures after visiting a planet, we are now rendered useless in capabilities because of an unfortunate body-swap. I, Peridot, am looking into the matter in a responsible fashion. Jasper is attempting to argue that this was just an unfortunate coin—”
There came a small sensation of physical touch on her leg. Peridot looked down and saw herself—Jasper—attempting to punch her.
“That is an unlawful way to treat your superiors!” growled Jasper. In Peridot’s voice it sounded ridiculous.
“This is all confusing. Am I the superior now that I am in your form? Or are you still the Commander?”
Jasper crossed her arms. “You have the worst form I’ve ever had the misfortunate of being stuck in. This body is barely cut out for any physical work.”
“I am a technician and repair worker,” said Peridot. “Not a soldier.” She reached down and picked up Jasper. “Now. Decontamination, before this gets any worse.”
It was fortunately only a short walk to the appropriate chamber. With Jasper’s long legs the journey was much shorter. She set Jasper inside and squeezed herself in there, too.
“Activate,” she said. No response. “Activate decontamination process!” she repeated. Still nothing.
“What’s wrong with it?” huffed Jasper. She moved to avoid being pressed against the wall and found herself between Peridot’s arm—technically her arm—and hip.
“It only responds to my voice,” said Peridot. “Go ahead and say, ‘activate.’”
“What? It could just be broken.”
“Say it,” Peridot ordered. Jasper’s voice was useful in giving directions.
“All right.” Jasper paused. “Activate.”
The process started immediately. Peridot had never actually found much purpose in the decontamination chamber but she always used it, per protocol. Now it seemed like it was most needed.
If this body-swapping was indeed a side-effect of the disease then appropriate measures would be needed for a response. Decontamination was just one step. The cure for it would most likely be found back on the planet. They would have to delay the mission and get back there as fast as possible.
The process stopped and the two gems stepped out.
“That was unpleasant,” said Jasper. She took off the visor and wiped it down. “This thing got all foggy. Annoying.”
“We must head back to the planet and seek a cure.”
“I assure you that despite the lack of ears that you are capable of hearing, Jasper. Now.”
It took some maneuvering but Peridot managed to settle into the chair and change the course. The ship exited orbit and began a rapid retreat back to Ventarci X.
“I don’t see why we need to find a cure for this. Doesn’t seem that bad to me.” Jasper leaned against the wall of the control room.
“We are lucky—if I may use the term—that our corporal forms can be easily changed. However, the virus will persist in our systems and maybe find a way to alter things.”
“I don’t understand how it even managed to do this.”
“Evolution creates many interesting things.”
“Have you been studying those old texts from Earth again?”
“No wonder you’re so damned fixed on this disease. Look, Peridot, it’s probably nothing.”
“Homeworld wants a full report.”
“This is what you consider a full report?”
“Yes. All the details possible. If Homeworld was to come here and contract the disease and pass it to soldiers, then we would an ineffective army in the war. Being stuck inside another gem’s usual form is unpleasant.”
“Try zapping me with the destabilizer, then. Maybe that’ll fix it.”
“That is a possibility,” mused Peridot. She rose, ungainly, and picked up the destabilizer. “This will be a trial run. In fact, I will record this.”
“Full report, huh,” said Jasper. “All right.”
Peridot said a few words of explanation before turning the destabilizer on Jasper. Nothing happened. She tried again. Still nothing. Jasper scowled.
“It appears we are locked into our forms. The destabilizer is not broken, either,” said Peridot. “It is on full energy, nothing has been altered. It would appear we are stuck as each other.”
About two days passed and during that time Jasper and Peridot tried many ways to break into the gem state of regeneration, with no success. It was on the second day of being stuck as each other Peridot realized that Jasper (in Peridot’s form) still had the technician’s gemstone on her forehead.
Her logs became full of miscellaneous notes about the disease and how it would impact soldiers and other gems. Her conclusions were all the same: the planet was to be avoided, despite being the richest in supplies and materials.
On the third day they stepped back onto the planet. Peridot instructed Jasper on how to use the holographic screen to scan for various substances. Together (for once) they managed to sort through several hundred diseases (all of which, with the exception of the one, did not impose any threat to them) and find something akin to a response to the malignant strain.
“This is so far-fetched,” muttered Jasper. “One disease of hundreds on a remote planet manages to affect gems. And there is also a cure.”
They managed to extract the cure. Peridot was deep in her thoughts. As they went back to the ship, with the intent of going to the decontamination chamber right away, she said:
“I think we must leave Ventarci X right away. Nothing here is making me feel safe. I am intrigued by it all but I have a suspicion—I rarely have those, so this one must be important—that this whole planet is very dangerous.”
“Yes. This planet is akin to a laboratory. Something or someone has made those diseases in the hopes of finding one that would affect gems. Unfortunately for whatever end goal they were hoping to achieve, they also created a cure and left it behind. Clearly they did not intend it so.”
“How can a whole planet be a lab?” Jasper narrowed her eyes at Peridot.
“We have already experienced higher-level beings. Who is to say there aren’t lifeforms that exist in places we would not consider acceptable?”
“You mean they live in a void or something?”
“Possibly.” Peridot directed Jasper to the chamber. “There are many resources. Too many, in fact. This is all an elaborate setup. They are clearly after gems. Our expedition took place early on in their experiments. They have everything ready to make it seem nice, but they are preparing to also destroy us. We caught an early form of the disease.”
“And the next ones they create” —Jasper squished her form next to Peridot’s larger one— “will be even more dangerous?”
“Assuming they are still creating.”
“This is even more far-fetched,” mumbled Jasper. She removed the visor as the lights flicked on. “You think about some strange things, Peridot.”
“I am just intelligent,” replied the other gem. “It is all speculation with high chances of it being true.”
“I’m inclined to believe you.” Jasper paused. “Do you think these lifeforms are allied with—our enemies?”
“There is a chance.”
Jasper nodded. “Are you gonna hit me with the destabilizer again?”
“No. You will. And I will punch you, as you did to me when this first happened. If all goes right, we should be regenerating.”
“And then…we wait.”
The ship zipped along a route back to Homeworld. Peridot’s findings and theories had been gathered and stored appropriately. Two gemstones sat on the floor again, in the control room.
This time, when regenerated, Peridot was delighted to find herself looking up at Jasper’s familiar frowning face.
“Looks like everything’s all good,” remarked the soldier. She clapped Peridot on the back a little too hard. “Nice work.”
“Thank you. I will have to present all of this to Homeworld and arrange their approval to cancel all further missions to Ventarci X until we figure this entire conundrum out.”
Peridot settled herself in her seat. She began to fiddle with some controls that had been disrupted when she had been flung across the control panels but then stopped. “Commander Jasper?”
The technician paused again. “Jasper. Next time…will you please use the decontamination chamber?”
“Yes, but isn’t that scenario exactly how you figured out the mess?”
“While that is true I do not expect it to hold constant for every planet—”
“I’ll see you later, Peridot.” Jasper’s footsteps receded in the distance, and the door to the room shut.
For now, it seemed like everything would be normal. Peridot flexed her fingers, grateful they were back to their normal slim deftness.
Requester wanted trans!Jasper--Jasper uses both they/them and she/her pronouns, but I stuck to just they/them in this fic.
Peridot had never much enjoyed dresses but seeing Jasper in one was an entirely different matter.
“You look good tonight,” said Jasper, joining Peridot outside the restaurant.
The young woman fished around for an even better compliment and managed: “Well…not as good as you.”
“Thanks, babe.” Jasper leaned over a kissed Peridot’s forehead. “We good to go inside yet?”
“Yes. I was waiting for you.”
“Not too long, I hope?”
“Just about ten minutes.” Peridot checked her watch. “We’re still early, anyway.”
They went inside and checked their reservations. The waiter, beaming, grabbed two menus and took them to a booth near a window with a view to the gardens behind and around the sides of restaurant.
“Would you two ladies like anything to drink?” he asked, setting the menus in front of them. His name tag, once clearly visible, said ROY.
“Water,” Peridot said automatically.
Jasper nodded. “Water’s fine.”
“Okay. That’ll be out shortly.” Roy turned and left.
Jasper was grinning with a sort of embarrassed and happy smile.
“You’ll never stop getting a kick out of that, huh?” Peridot asked, smiling back.
“It’s just nice.” Jasper pulled their bag into their lap. “Hey. I gotchu something.”
“You did? But I didn’t—”
“Here.” Jasper slid a small box towards Peridot. “I just wanted to give it to you. It’s nothing, really, just…sentimental…I guess.” They shrugged their shoulders slightly.
Peridot undid the handtied ribbon and opened the box. Inside were a couple pieces of paper and something in a box. She opened the box first. Nestled inside it were two rings. Both were very refined and polished stones.
“They’re for us, aren’t they?” said Peridot. She held one up. “Jasper and peridot.” A smile crossed her face, brief but sweet. “I figure I’ll be wearing this one.”
“I know Jasper’s not a very dazzling stone but I just figured for the sentimental value…y’know…it might not look like much but it’s something.”
“It’s wonderful,” mused Peridot. “Touching, too. Thank you.”
She put the ring with the jasper stone on the index finger of her left hand. Jasper watched her silently turned it over and over, the stone reflecting the light from above. Then they took the peridot ring and put it on the same finger but on their right hand.
“The rest are just—little things—I figured you might enjoy the memories.”
Peridot unfolded the papers. They were all notes, handwritten, dated from her senior year of high school and throughout college. There were long stretches of neat, blocky writing and then heavy thick scrawl interspersed.
“It’s all the things we wrote to each other in classes,” she said. “You kept them? All these years ago…seems like forever since we graduated from high school.”
“I know. I wanted to at least show them to you again.”
Peridot thought a moment. “Can I keep them?”
“I’m not much of a sentimental person” —here Jasper nodded— “but I’d rather enjoy keeping these. For memory’s sake.”
Peridot packed up all the little things and readjusted the new ring. She picked up a menu. “Guess we better look at these things.”
Roy came with their water a little while later and waited patiently as Jasper made a last-second decision between dinner choices. After the deliberation he picked up the menus and left.
“Six years, Peri,” said Jasper, “as of next month. Funny how that happened, huh?”
“You ever think about getting married?”
“No. To anyone, really.”
“Sometimes. I mean, yes, it’s a good notion and I’d like to be married someday but right now…I think I’m just focused on establishing myself.”
“Did I offend you?” Peridot frowned a little. “I’m sorry.”
“No, no. I just…I have a lot of the same thoughts. I mean, marriage is good but right now…we’re still kinda young, aren’t we?”
“Twenty three is fairly young, yes.”
“I’d like to see if I can join any sports leagues. And you—well you’re…”
“Succeeding so far in certain pursuits.”
They exchanged smiles.
“I’m just happy we can be together,” said Peridot.
Peridot took a long drink of the cold water.
“I love you.” Jasper put their hand out, and Peridot intertwined their fingers.
“I love you, too,” Peridot answered.
The restaurant’s portions were a mite too big for eating in one sitting so Jasper helped Peridot carry the leftovers home in boxes by carrying them all. They set them on the counter of their kitchen and collapsed on the sofa, kicking off their shoes.
Peridot pulled a book off the shelf and sat next to her datemate. She flipped to the bookmark and began to read. Jasper put an arm around her and pulled the young woman closer to them. Eventually, somehow, Peridot wound up in their lap, Jasper’s muscular arms wrapped loosely around her waist, and their chin propped against Peri’s shoulder.
“Good book?” she asked.
“What’s it about?”
“They’re still figuring that out.”
“Is the detective one of those moody guys?”
“No. She’s a brilliant young mind with insufferable energy and enthusiasm.”
“She’s aromantic and asexual.”
“Jasper. Would you like me to read it out loud to you?”
“I mean—if you want—”
Peridot’s eyebrows knitted together. “Okay. This is quite silly.”
“All right. I’ll start from the beginning.”
Jasper’s answer was a tiny yay. Peridot flipped to the front of the book and cleared her throat. “I’m not the best at out-loud readings but…”
“Don’t you dare…”
Jasper grinned. “What?”
“You know what.”
“Okay.” Peridot pushed her glasses up her nose. “The beginning is slow but—”
Jasper bit Peridot’s earlobe, gently. “Go, Peri.”
“Eeeeee,” mumbled Peridot, “all right.”
About a quarter of the way through the book, Jasper’s presence on Peridot’s shoulder disappeared. Peridot shut the book and leaned back. She was unsure whether to take Jasper’s descent into sleep as a compliment or otherwise. They hadn’t even gotten to the best part.
Peridot twisted the ring around her finger, picked the book up again, and kept reading from her original stopping point.
Requester asked for something along the lines of "I can see you're judging me as you ring these items up but I swear I'm not using them for their intended purpose."
They were the only corner store for several miles around to carry fresh produce and sometimes it came with certain regrets. Peridot had seen some strange people come and go through the shop—well, she lived in a strange town—but this young woman was really taking the cake for oddest purchases.
“ID please,” said Peridot, holding out her hand. There were three bottles of assorted liquor amongst the items. The card was placed in her palm and her metal fingers closed around it. As she checked it, her eyes flicked over the customer.
She was tall, beefy, definitely a sports player. There were several bruises along her arms and her knuckles were scabbed over. Or she just really liked to fight. Peridot slid the ID back and picked up the next item. Her mouth opened a little and she raised her eyebrows.
“What?” asked the woman.
“Nothing,” said Peridot. She grimaced at the cucumber and scanned it, trying to keep her mind on something else.
“Oh—oh you think—oh—” said the woman. “I swear—”
“I don’t want to know,” said Peridot. She shook her head and set the cucumber down. Her hand reached for the next purchase. “For fuck’s sake…” she muttered, scanning the lotion.
“It’s for a friend—” insisted the young woman, holding up her friends.
“Yes, and I performed a satanic ritual for my grandmother,” answered Peridot.
“I didn’t actually do that. I was just—nevermind.”
“You think I’m really gonna—gonna…y’know…”
“Frankly, I’m not sure and I’m very concerned.” Peridot began to pack everything up but then the young woman tossed a chocolate bar on the counter.
“Uh. That’s actually for me.”
“Okay.” Peridot rang it up. “Thirty-nine seventy two.”
“Not bad, I guess.”
“Is it really for a friend?”
The young woman set the money down, coins clinking against the counter. “Everything but the chocolate and alcohol is.”
“Oh.” Peridot handed back her change. “You okay?”
“I’m fine.” She cracked a smile. “I don’t know what he’s gonna do with the other stuff, but probably not what they were intended for.”
Peridot made a noise of disgust. “You’ve a strange friend.” She looked around the store and saw that no one else was around. It was one in the morning, though. Not many people were awake, even in that strange town. “Doesn’t he know where the—uh—right place to get—uh—those sorts of things are?”
“Dude’s drunk and I’m not doing that, even for him.”
“Sounds like a good idea.” Peridot realized she was still holding the bag and hurriedly gave it to the woman. “Sorry about delaying you.”
“No, it’s okay.”
“You must be very dedicated to him if you would do this for him.”
“Yeah. Oh, wait, no, we’re not dating. Hah.” She shook her head. “He’s just a friend of my sister’s and sometimes he asks weird favors. But the guy’s a good mechanic and he fixes my motorcycle when I break it. No. I’m not dating anyone.”
“Is that why you’ve got alcohol and chocolate?”
There was a long pause. Peridot drew back from leaning across the counter. “Sorry.”
“She found out some stuff—‘bout things I did a long time ago—and just quit on me.” The young woman frowned. “I got angry. I didn’t take it out on her, no, but I rode my bike for hours around that old track outside the town. Just thought maybe I could get her off my mind for a bit. Blew out a tire on the bike and went flying.”
“I hit a sandbank and bruised a few ribs even with all my gear.” She shrugged ruefully. “Went to Tommy and got him to fix it—the bike, not me. He was sober then but got drunk right after. Guy drinks too much beer for his own good. Then he handed me a list with two things on it and told me to get them.”
“So here you are.”
“Yeah.” She clapped her hands on her thighs, sighing. “I don’t know why I just told you all of that.”
“I won’t tell anyone, if that’s what you think I will do.”
Peridot nodded. “I don’t really have anyone to tell anything.”
“It’s just weird. Telling strangers what the hell’s been going on with you.”
“I shouldn’t have pried—”
“No. It’s fine, really, I just…I should get back to Tommy. He gets mad when he’s got a few beers swirling around in his body.” She hefted the bag in one hand. “Well, I guess I might see you around.”
“Small town, so probably,” agreed Peridot. “Say, what’s your name?”
“Jasper,” said the woman, “it’s Jasper. And you’re Peridot, right?”
“Heh. Yeah.” Jasper turned and exited. “Later, Peridot.”
“Have a good—uh—morning…Jasper…” said Peridot, her voice trailing off. She rubbed her hands together, the prosthetics grinding together in an odd way.
He gaze drifted over to the fresh produce section and she suppressed a shudder. Just a few more hours until her shift ended. Hopefully, no one else would come and buy fruits or vegetables until she was off-duty.
Requester asked for something along the lines of "Jasper's been slated for execution, but Peridot manages to rescue her because she [Jasper] is the only gem willing to go with her [Peridot] to Earth."
“I have run through a dozen lists of candidates with enough experience to accompany me on this mission, and she is the only one of them all who is willing to go,” said Peridot, stalking along the hall next to her superior officer.
“We are allowing you to choose your escort,” said Chyroprase. “We are not allowing you to save someone from a righteous execution.”
“I understand the call for justice in destroying a known offender, but I need her.”
Chyroprase stopped and turned around to face Peridot. “Give me one reason—a solid reason—why she’s the best candidate for this Earth mission.”
The technician narrowed her eyes. “She’s been there before.”
“Is this some kind of interview?” asked the soldier gem.
Peridot scanned through several digital files before bringing up the one boldly labelled: JASPER. She glanced at the gem in front of her, a preliminary check before engaging in conversation. She was big, hulking, with clear muscular definition. A good choice of physical form for a warrior. There were stripings on her face and arms. Odd, but perhaps, again, a willful decision. On other worlds, stripes were used in warpaint designs. Perhaps this Jasper was cultured.
“I don’t like this,” continued the soldier. She eyeballed Peridot. “You a techie gem?”
“I am assigned to routine maintenance checkups on colony worlds containing Kindergartens,” explained Peridot. A blank or maybe irritated stare prompted: “Yes. I am.”
“Good. Okay. That explains all the white walls and glaring lights.” Jasper squinted at the ceiling, upper lip peeling back in a grimace. She had fangs. Worth noting.
Peridot let her holographic screen disappear. “Jasper?”
“Yeah?” The warrior’s attention gradually settled back to her.
“I have been interviewing several candidates for a mission to a colony known as Earth,” said Peridot. “You were one of the more qualified ones.”
“I’ve been to Earth,” said Jasper.
“Your file says that.”
“I have a file?”
“Most registered soldiers do.” Peridot continued on another subject: “How comfortable do you feel being in space for long periods of time?”
“Fine by me.”
“With little to no stimulation?”
“Also fine.” Jasper’s face broadened in a smirk. “I can stimulate by other means.”
Peridot let impassiveness wash over her countenance. “A lewd remark, Commander.”
“What? Isn’t honesty good?”
“I would have preferred that you had kept that information to yourself.”
“Okay. Sorry. Yeesh.”
“Moving on.” Peridot pulled up the screen again. “How strong is your knowledge of the Kindergarten experiments?”
Jasper paused. “I have decent knowledge of it.”
“You understand the reasoning behind it?”
“And what happens?”
“You understand basic protocol when it comes to dealing with unsuccessful…subjects?”
Jasper bit her lip, exposing a bit of fang. “Yes. Unfortunately.”
“Have you had experience?”
“No. Learning it was bad enough.”
“You feel sympathy or empathy for those?”
“No. I just don’t want to end up like that.”
“I do not see Homeworld using good soldiers as fodder for experiments,” said Peridot.
“Was that a compliment?”
“No.” Peridot exhaled through her teeth. “A fact.”
“Would you be willing to come to Earth on a mission to investigate the Kindergarten there?”
“I would be your boss, wouldn’t I?”
“Yes, but I would have priority over certain practices.”
“Are you willing?”
“None perceived,” said Peridot.
“When would I go?”
“The paperwork, digital or not, would require some time. I would lead a preliminary investigation…and then if you’re needed, you’d come along.”
“Oh, so I’m just backup?”
Peridot shook her head. “No. You are still essential personnel.”
“That makes me feel great.”
“That is satisfying to hear.”
“Sarcasm, Peridot, it was sarcasm.”
Jasper tilted her head. “I’ll do it. Sounds like a routine business. And hey, if it gets me a nice rep, that’s a bonus.”
“Interview over, then?”
“Yes.” Peridot rose.
Jasper stood seconds later and extended her hand. The technician awkwardly shook hands with her, her detachable fingers squiggling. They were not designed for prolonged contact with physical surfaces in a manner such as the one they were being subjected to.
“If all goes well,” said Peridot, “I will be seeing you again in a few weeks to a month.”
“Wonderful,” Jasper grinned and left the room, shutting the door with a firm thud.
Peridot would not admit it then but she was rather fond of the prospect of working with the soldier.
“Yes, she’s been to Earth, that’s common knowledge,” said Chryoprase.
“She has experience with the clusters.”
Chryoprase rubbed her chin. “And that’s what you’re working with?”
“Can’t believe you want Jasper, of all gems.”
“She’s the only gem willing to go to some washed-out planet to run these ridiculous maintenance tests.”
“Now you don’t care about the mission?”
“No, I do care about my duty. Unfortunately, I am in an angry mood right now due to being juggled around all of headquarters this morning.”
“Oh. I see.” The teal green gem paused and added: “You know what she’s done, right?”
“The entirety of Homeworld is aware.”
Chryoprase shook her head and stabbed a thick finger at the center of Peridot’s chest. “All right, you’re a new gem, so I’ll let you have this little soldier on this mission. It’s a side mission on some backwater planet, yeah, but we could use the resources there, so that’s the only reason we’re sending you and some criminal.”
“Are we supposed to come back alive?”
“No perceived threats, remember?”
“If you do come back as expected, great. Jasper’s back on the execution waiting list and you get rushed off to some other techie’s assignment. If you don’t…oh well. There’s a thousand others like you, sorry.”
With those last acidic words ringing in the air, Chryoprase whirled and took off down the hall with her long strides.
Peridot stood there for a long moment. Then, to no one in particular, she muttered: “I’ll get the robonoids ready.”
Chapter 31: Chapter 31 (implied NSFW!)
Not based on any requests/prompts!
Peridot was pretty damn sure the entire college campus would hear about this night by six am the next morning. She was tipsy, with just enough conscious left to make somewhat rational decisions. This definitely wasn’t one of them.
Maybe her subconscious had something to do with it. Lord knew Peridot had been side-eyeing Jasper since day one. In fact, several other students knew it.
“Good taste,” an underclassmen snickered as they walked out of a seminar. “She’s got a great ass.”
Peridot would never admit she liked Jasper solely for physical appearances. All right, the big beefy jerk type was not typically her kind but there was something about Jasper that attracted Peridot like a moth to a fluorescent lightbulb.
Peridot was thinking all of this as she fumbled with the top buttons of her shirt. A polo? When you might be expecting a little intimacy? Nice move, Peridot.
“You want some help with that?” Jasper asked. Her voice was a little husky. It appeared she’d been drinking more than a glass or two.
“I’m good,” said Peridot and the button slid out of her fingers for the third time. “You’re probably not much better than I am—”
Somehow Jasper managed to remove the last stubborn button. It was like a scene out of some B-class romantic movie. Hot love interest removes awkward protagonist’s shirt. Cue sex.
Peridot shivered when Jasper’s hands touched her skin. They were warm. Really warm. Oh boy.
The nearest couch was only a few feet away. They managed to stumble towards it and that was when Peridot discovered all of Jasper was quite warm. Like a toaster. A big, muscular toaster.
The first few kisses were a little sloppy, granted, but Jasper soon discovered Peridot’s little hotspot around the jawline and it was pretty much set in stone after that. Peridot wriggled as Jasper ran her tongue along the inside of her jaw, her face flushed dark red. Somehow her hands landed on Jasper’s thighs. Then her ass.
“You do have a great ass,” muttered Peridot.
Jasper snickered. “Yeah?”
Jasper crushed their lips together. She smelled like an odd mixture of body spray and grass. Peridot was unsure if that qualified as attractive or not. Oh well. When you were at least a little tipsy those sorts of trivial details didn’t quite matter.
A few seconds later both Jasper and Peridot discovered the latter rather enjoyed collarbone kisses as well.
Somewhere in the steamy jungles of a makeout session the sex emerged. It was strangely civil for something lost in the jungle but Peridot wasn’t to complain. All of those sports practices had made Jasper brilliant with her hands. Maybe there was profanity. Peridot dimly remembered biting Jasper’s shoulder as she came.
Yes. The whole college campus was going to hear about this.
Peridot didn’t mind that as much as she minded the sudden attention Jasper gave her the days following their intimate encounter.
Holding hands was one thing.
Picking up Peridot and lugging her around like a human-sized football was another matter entirely.
At least the occasional night in the jungle was extremely enjoyable.
"Person B knowing they’re undoubtedly about to die within the next few seconds, likely from the gaping wound they’re bleeding out from. Instead of calling for help, they phone Person A and carry on a casual conversation as if nothing is wrong, making sure to mention how much they love them before their time runs out."
The paramedics would be on the scene shortly but for most of the people involved, it was too late. Jasper lay between the sidewalk and street, struggling to keep a feeling in her limbs. Her vision was marred with blurriness and the dark clouds above spun like carousel horses. She felt the wound on her chest. She had a couple of minutes. Maybe.
Somehow Jasper managed to find her phone in her pocket. Her fingers were slick with blood but she dialed the number anyway.
“This is Peridot,” said a familiar cold voice.
“Hey,” said Jasper, her voice raspy.
The coldness melted a bit. “Jasper?”
“Yeah.” She wiped the corner of her mouth and saw blood on the back of her hand.
“No—no,” Jasper said. “Just wanted to check on you.”
“Everything’s well at home.”
“I received an email from the journal publisher today.”
“You did?” Jasper held the phone away from her face when she coughed. In the far away distance the whine of an ambulance sounded.
“They’re going to publish my article.” Peridot sounded excited, which was unusual for her.
“That’s great—congrats, babe.”
“Thanks.” Peridot paused and then added: “I was wondering if you’d like to go out to dinner tonight? As for a celebration?”
“Sure. You pick the place.”
Jasper could feel everything begin fade away. She looked at the clouds and tried to take a breath but wound up coughing again. When she had regained her ability to speak, she said: “I…have to go now.”
“I love you, Peri.”
“I love you too.”
"I mean it. I love you a whole damn lot."
Before Peridot could say anything else, Jasper hung up the phone and let it fall on the hot pavement. She looked at the clouds again with what little vision she could still maintain. One of them looked remarkably like Peridot’s head.
She exhaled, and the sound of the paramedic’s alarm echoed around her head. Dimly, she could hear her girlfriend say, “I love you too.”
Then absolutely nothing.
"You fell asleep and I started making funny faces at your kid to keep them amused and the steward mistook us for a couple AU"
The flight was thirteen hours long, nonstop. Peridot couldn’t begin to reason why someone would want to bring their young child on such a long journey, but here she was, sitting next to another young woman and her son. The mother was asleep but the boy was still wriggling around in his seat, evidently looking for some amusement. He looked at Peridot and grinned. She noticed he was missing a few of his teeth.
On a whim, and also partially because she, too, was bored, Peridot made a face she had seen children at the playground in the park near her apartment make. The boy seemed delighted, and mimicked the face back at her. Peridot pressed her thumb against her nose, fingers splayed, and stuck her tongue out. Again, the boy responded, but he made a different face back at her.
This continued for some time. Peridot found herself quite involved in the game and the boy appeared to be having an excellent time out of it. Occasionally his mother stirred in her sleep, but she remained unconscious.
A steward came by and noticed the Peridot and the boy.
“Is this your little boy?” she asked, smiling at him.
“Wh-what?” Peridot replied, snapping out of her frivolity.
“He looks a lot like her,” the steward continued, nodding towards the sleeping woman. “Well, I won’t both you anymore. You two are awfully cute, though.”
She let out a soft giggle and continued moving. Peridot took a moment to register what had just happened, when the boy tugged on his mother’s arm, his gap-tooth grin reappearing.
“Hey Mama!” he said.
It didn’t take more than three seconds for the woman to snap out of her sleep. “What is it?”
“The steward lady” –the boy began to laugh and the woman shushed him– “she thought we were a family.”
“We?” the woman asked.
Peridot took the opportunity to give her travelling companion a small wave. “Hello.”
“Oh! You. Hello,” said the woman. She looked at her son. “Really?”
“We were having fun,” said the boy.
“He appeared to be bored,” said Peridot, “so I figured some stimulation would be good for him.”
“He’s supposed to be sleeping,” said the woman, but she ruffled his unruly white-blond hair. “Aren’t you, Tiger?”
“His name is Tiger?” Peridot asked.
“No,” said the boy, “just a nickname, but everyone calls me Tiger anyway.”
“I’m Jasper,” said the woman, extending a hand.
Peridot shook it, noticing how firm the other woman’s grip was. “Peridot.”
“You heading out there for family or…?”
“Oh. Always good. We’re going out to see some relatives.”
“I’m excited!” cut in Tiger. “I haven’t seen them in forever!”
“Forever’s a long time,” said Peridot.
“Last time he saw them was when he was about the size of a yardstick,” said Jasper. “Now he’s a little more than that, huh, Tiger?”
The steward passed by them again and beamed at the sight of them all chatting. Peridot didn’t want to correct her view of them. Jasper was, after all, quite attractive, especially in the soft lighting of the airplane interior.
“Are you married, by any chance?” she said suddenly, surprising even herself.
Jasper’s face grew stony. “Used to be. Didn’t work out.”
“Oh.” Peridot’s stomach twisted in a cold knot. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine.” Jasper looked at her son. “We’re all good now.”
Tiger blinked sleepily and tried to stifle a yawn. “Al-ll good.”
After a few minutes he fell asleep leaning against his mother. Jasper and Peridot continued talking as the night passed, gradually warming up more to each other. Their flight still had several more long hours to pass.
Fun Fact: I've been watching a lot of Bones (crime show, 2005-) and it doesn't help I keep visualizing Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan as Jasper and Peridot, respectively. So have some single parent!Jasper (with a son, like Booth and Parker). I've been wanting to write this for a while now.
Not based on any request/prompt!
There was a hammock in the backyard, swinging when the wind blew and sometimes even when it didn't. It hung between two old trees, their trunks gnarled and thick. The hammock itself was patterned with a variety of soft dark colors and there was a small blanket of leaves covering it.
Peridot brushed the leaves off the hammock with one hand; the other held a small book she'd recently checked out of the library. The cover was worn, the letters faded, but despite its faded appearance it was still a worthwhile read. It took some manuvering to get into the hammock--she hadn't bothered to come and rest in it for some time--but eventually she found herself rocking steadily back and forth, turning the pages of the book. A leaf fluttered down from one of the trees above, tickling her nose. She swatted it away, making a tch noise under her breath.
The solitude persisted for only so long. There was the crunch of leaves underneath someone's feet and the hammock curved inwards as Jasper joined Peridot on the hammock.
"There's not enough room for the both of us," Peridot said, casting a side-eyed glance at her girlfriend.
"I'll make it work," said Jasper.
The sun was already low in the sky, heading to the west to complete its daily journey. Peridot's eyelids began to close despite her best effort to stay awake and continue reading. She tried shifting position, resting her head against Jasper's broad chest. The steady rise and fall of the other woman's chest, though, soon proved to be a sleep-inducing experience. The book shut itself in Peridot's hands and she let her eyes close, mentally insisting it was just for a bit.
Jasper had one foot on the ground to accomodate the both of them and she began to rock the hammock, not too hard, just enough to keep Peridot resting. She picked up the book and tried to skim through it, but soon put it down. The jargon of the story was more than advanced for her.
Peridot remained curled up next to Jasper until the sun had gone down and the evening hung heavy in the sky. Jasper's leg was a bit tired from rocking the hammock with both of them in it, but she prided herself on stamina and being a good partner, and continued.
Besides that, Peridot looked even cuter when asleep.
Written for Jaspidotbomb, Day #1: College AU!
You know I have to study for this exam, right?” Peridot asked, glowering at Jasper as she put her books in her bag.
“You can study on the bleachers,” Jasper said. She held out a hand in a gesture that clearly indicated confusion. “Look, I just need you to be there. Sit and study and if I wave at you, wave back.”
“Wave at you? Why would I—”
Jasper placed a hand over Peridot’s mouth and said very quickly and quietly: “My teammates think I don’t have a partner and I’m trying to prove them wrong.”
“Is that what this is all about?” Peridot pushed Jasper’s hand away. “Fine. I’ll sit there and study and if they ask me about you, I’ll tell them all those embarrassing things you said to me at 4am when you were drunk.” She finished packing up and slung her bag over her shoulders. “Now, what time is the practice?”
It was cold on the bleachers, but Jasper had given her the varsity jacket she wore. It was surprisingly thick and warm. It smelled like Jasper, too. Peridot wrapped it around herself, put on her headphones, and immersed herself in studying for her bioengineering midterm. There was a thermos of coffee sitting next to her; she occasionally took a drink of it and used the opportunity to watch Jasper in action.
She’d never actually been to a practice, despite having known Jasper for three years and dated her for two. Jasper was good. She wasn’t quite as fast as some of the other players, but she could tackle. Peridot thought it quite interesting that Jasper’s arm, while extremely powerful out on the field, could be very gentle—she snapped out of the thought, acutely aware of her face growing hot. She busied herself in the work, bouncing her leg without thought.
There came the sound of the whistle, piercing the autumn air. Peridot glanced up and saw Jasper waving towards her. She raised an arm and waved back. One of the other girls crossed her arms and said something to Jasper. Before anything else could happen, the coach whistled again and practice resumed.
It was getting late and Peridot had stopped studying. The thermos was half-empty (half-full with air, she thought) and lukewarm. Lukewarm coffee was unpleasant. Peridot couldn’t find a comfortable position on the bleachers and looked at her watch. Thirty two more minutes of this.
Around this time, quite unexpectedly, one of the footballs came out of nowhere—Peridot had taken off her glasses to clean them—and bounced off the bleachers; it spun and then knocked Peridot on the head, not hard, but forcefully enough to cause her glasses that she had just put back on to go flying. It hurt, a painful ache.
“Peri!” shouted a voice; Jasper, clearly, and then there were lots of footsteps up the bleachers.
“Are you okay?” asked the coach.
Peridot rubbed her head with one hand while the other fumbled for her glasses. A familiar, callused hand set them back into her palm.
“Hey, you all right?” asked Jasper. “Do we need to go to the health center or something?”
Peridot blinked, sliding her glasses back on. “I think I’m going to need an icepack.”
“Do you have a concussion?”
“I don’t…think so.” Peridot screwed up her face. “But I am getting a terrific headache.”
“Everybody back up a little,” said the coach, turning to face the other football players. She turned back to Peridot, biting her lip.
Jasper sat next to her. “I can take you to the health center, if you want.”
Peridot noticed one of the other players picking up the rogue football. There were murmurs of concern amongst them. She turned her attention back to her girlfriend. “You have practice. I’ll go myself.”
“Coach?” Jasper looked at her instructor. “Peri—uh—Peridot needs an icepack. Can I go with her?”
“How long d’you think it’ll take?”
“No more than ten.”
“I’ll just go back to my dorm afterwards,” Peridot said. “I need to lie down or rest or something.”
“Go on, then,” said the coach. “Jasper, you get back here in fifteen minutes, okay?”
“Yeah, Coach.” Jasper nodded. “C’mon, Peri.”
She put an arm around Peridot, and once again the latter was reminded of how gentle Jasper could be at times. Peridot gathered her things and together they walked down from the bleachers, along the sidelines and up the path to the health center.
Getting an icepack was a simple matter. Peridot saw other students with more serious injuries and averted her gaze. Jasper sat with her for a few minutes.
“You got your studying done, at least?” she asked.
Peridot put the icepack on the area where the football hit her, wincing at the cold. She hadn’t needed an icepack since middle school. “Yes.”
“That’s good.” Jasper looked over at Peridot’s wrist. “I should get back, huh.”
“Thanks for coming with me,” said Peridot.
Jasper got up to leave but Peridot suddenly added: “Did I make a convincing girlfriend?”
A lopsided grin spread across the football player’s face. “Yeah. You did.” She gave Peridot a thumbs up. “See you later, Peri.”
Peridot thought about saying, “Love you.” but the words were lost on her lips. Jasper’s eyes, normally as hard as the amber resin they were colored like, were affectionate enough for both of them. So Peridot simply smiled back, and watched as Jasper disappeared through the glass door into the late afternoon.
Written for Jaspidotbomb, Day #2: Height Differences.
There were some things in life that made being short a difficult experience, and getting things off high shelves was one of them. Peridot usually managed to retrieve whatever she was trying to get at, but there were days when she had to call in Jasper to help her out. Jasper was the tallest of the baristas and made a big show of it whenever she had to come in to help Peridot. It was infuriating.
“Here you are,” said Jasper, handing Peridot a box of cups. She grinned, and Peridot sensed another jab at her height coming. “Hey, maybe next time you should sit on my shoulders.”
“Not with your big head in my way,” Peridot snapped back, and carried the cups to the counter.
She could almost hear the cogs turning in Jasper’s head as she processed the remark. Peridot sighed and unboxed the cups, handing a few off as was necessary. The smell of coffee was everywhere. It was one the reasons she had stopped drinking the stuff after college. One became sick of certain things after too much exposure.
It was a slow day at work, and Peridot spent a few extra minutes in the breakroom playing Solitaire with the tattered pack of cards they had stored back there. Jasper came over and sat backwards in the chair across from her.
“You good at that?” she asked, resting her chin on the back of the chair.
“When I can concentrate,” said Peridot.
“I never really got into card games,” Jasper said. “I prefer physical things. Y’know, I could have played professional football if that one jerk hadn’t broken my ankle right before tryouts. What was her name? Janice. That’s right.”
“That’s unfortunate,” Peridot said, only hearing something about Janice and a broken ankle and possibly football.
“Are short people really closer to hell?”
Peridot looked up, raised an eyebrow, and went back to playing her game. “I don’t think tall people are any closer to a heaven.”
“Good point,” said Jasper.
“Really?” Peridot glanced up, her coworker’s response surprising her some.
“Yeah.” Jasper looked at the clock on the wall. “We gotta get back to work.”
Peridot put down the last card and left them like that. She washed her hands in the sink and heard Jasper do the same before they both returned. It was still slow, but at least a few people wanted iced coffees in the abysmal heat.
The bus was late the next day so Peridot came into the coffee shop fifteen minutes late. The manager tapped his watch and told her to go get something from the back. As usual, it was up on a high shelf.
Jasper came in suddenly with a stool. “Hey. Use this or something.”
She set it down and left, heading back into the morning bustle. Peridot looked at the stool and raised her eyebrows. Her name was written on it in big green letters with a bunch of red hearts around it. She would have yelled after Jasper but that would have annoyed everyone else, so she settled for grinding her teeth.
At least she had a stool. It was hers, too. The manager said no one could use the customer stools. He’d said nothing about personalized stools, though. Peridot stood up on it and got the box down with renewed efficiency. It was a nice commodity.
As she stepped down from it, she saw something else scribbled on the very edge. A number, and then:
call me! ;)
Peridot felt her face heating up and she scowled as she tromped back to the front with the manager’s requested box. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Jasper laughing quietly as she prepared someone’s order. Infuriating.
But also…kind of attractive.
There's a bit of backstory that goes into this one: somehow, perhaps by outside help from Homeworld or intervention by the good ole Crystal Gems, Malachite defuses and Jasper is returned to Homeworld (Peridot either before that or after, we're going without a Redemption Arc for her). The war Homeworld's fighting is going horribly and they're trying to save their super-soldiers (like Jasper) from being found and used by their enemies (I'm going with the theory that Homeworld's fighting on two fronts). Somewhere in this kerfuffle, Peridot and Jasper have eleven little gemlings (gem egg hell!!!) while on their missions. They don't tell Homeworld because of the potential for their non-Kindergarten gemlings to be brutally euthanized. Things continue as normal, until...
Written for Jaspidotbomb on Day #7: Family!
Taking care of eleven rambunctious gemlings was no easy feat. Peridot found they got underfoot, sometimes literally, in nearly every situation and even Jasper found herself worn out after seven play sessions in a row. Peridot had walked into observation lounge two to find her mate lying on the floor, motionless, being mobbed by all of their children.
Well, not all. Ten of the eleven resembled Jasper in various forms—some were colored like Peridot, but built like mini-Jaspers—and the eleventh was a tiny Peridot. She was the quiet one who sat on the edge of main console and chewed on her floating fingers. It was a strange habit Peridot had tried to break, but it always returned.
Homeworld had no knowledge about the gemlings on the ship, which was fortunate. Unregistered gemlings were typically euthanized due to overpopulation concerns. Peridot and Jasper did their best to keep their offspring well-protected and safe from harm; some of the more dangerous missions they embarked on were stressful in that regard, but everything usually turned out well at the end of the day. Usually.
“I don’t like this place,” Jasper sneered, putting her hands on her hips. “It’s too fragile to be any part of Homeworld’s colonies.”
“If I recall correctly,” Peridot commented, “that was what you said about the last outer world we visited.”
The orange gem waved a dismissive hand. “There’s no Kindergarten here, right?”
“Not to my knowledge.” Peridot finished logging the data they had collected from the workers in the mines.
“Anything that would come out of a Kindergarten on this pitiful asteroid wouldn’t be worth stocking the armies with.” With an over-dramatic turn of her cape, Jasper turned on her heels and stalked back to the ship. These missions, in her opinion, were worthlessly mundane. Homeworld, however, had its reasons. The war raged on; the once great galactic power had grown weak both internally and externally. The ‘super-soldiers’ of old, like what Jasper had been born to be, were hidden away from their enemies on routine assignments. It was no place for a warrior to be.
The ship itself was long outdated, a scrap model built off plans from the days of the green-hand ships. Peridot was one of a few dozen gems with the knowledge of how to pilot them; thusly, the two of them, warrior and technician, were paired together.
Peridot settled into the chair in front of the control panels, preparing to take the ship off the asteroid. The seat creaked with age and she made a quick note to deploy a robonoid to fix it. The ship rocked off the planet’s surface, heading for the atmosphere. The temperature gauge for the outer hull registered high levels of heat, but that was normal. Peridot was beginning to settle into the usual routine when footfalls echoed down the hall and Jasper strode into the room, coming to stand off to the side of the chair.
“We’ve got a problem,” she said.
“The ship or the planet?” Peridot asked.
“There’s only ten of them in their room,” Jasper said, speaking of the gemlings and the old storage room used to contain them while their parents were away. “The little Peridot’s gone missing.”
That seized Peridot’s undivided attention. She turned away from the controls. “What? Ridiculous. She was secure in the room when we left.”
“Not anymore.” Jasper crossed her arms. “I’ve looked at every part of the ship she could’ve gotten to. Nothing.”
“The only other place she could have gained access to—the asteroid—”
“We need to get back there.”
Peridot didn’t need telling twice. She switched to manual control and brought the ship around. A system beeped, querying why the command for engaging orbit had suddenly been denied. The landing on the asteroid’s rocky, pseudo-jungle surface was rough, and the entire ship rocked for a few seconds. Jasper gripped the edge of the control station and when she let go, there were imprints left behind.
“I’ll go,” the command volunteered. “The asteroid’s not big. I’ll find her.”
“Alone? That will not be an efficient search.”
“You need to stay here.” Jasper glanced behind them as the mewlings of the Jasper gemlings echoed through the corridors. “Make sure those ones don’t escape.”
Peridot watched as her mate strode out of the room, ignoring the plaintive cries of their offspring as she went. The green gem turned the ship’s primary drive off and sat on the floor, an exhale akin to a sigh escaping from her mouth.
“We have not seen any small green gems,” said one of miners, her forehead gem still shining brilliantly. “Is everything all right? You came back very quickly.”
“No, we’ve got a problem,” said Jasper. “You’ve seen nothing?”
The warrior gem scowled and turned away. Night was beginning to fall on the asteroid, casting darkness across the land. It had been midafternoon when Jasper had set out to find the small Peridot gemling. She seized an ash-grey tree in her frustration and hurled it into the forest. The miners all flinched at the crashing noise.
Jasper had been born to keep fighting, no matter the circumstances. But this time there was an unusual sense of desperation building up in her mind. Homeworld had repeatedly warned about the dangers of raising gemlings; they said an intense bond built up between parent and child, one strong enough to cause a gem to die defending their young. Yet regardless of that, Jasper and Peridot had offspring.
It wasn’t until the early hours of the morning that Jasper returned to the ship, empty-handed. She had lost her cape in the rocky jungles; all that remained was the collar, ragged-edges and all. Peridot was still sitting in the control room, for once allowing the small Jasper gemlings to play with her detached fingers.
“Did you have any success in your search?” she asked.
“No.” Jasper sat down next to her. “I looked everywhere.”
“This is unfortunate,” said Peridot. Despite the usual robotic quality to her voice, Jasper could sense that same attachment she was feeling.
“I don’t know how—” Jasper said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“This ship has more secrets than even I am aware of.” Peridot looked up at the tubes lining the ceiling. “It was built with hidden compartments to store warriors, resources, and more. We would have to rip it apart to find them from the outside.”
Jasper watched as one of the gemlings scrambled up her muscled arm, hiding in her mane of white-gold hair. When a second tried to attack the first, she plucked both out, setting them down on the cold floor. They continued to tussle.
“It’s interesting how they have adopted so many of your characteristics,” Peridot noted.
“Yeah,” agreed Jasper. She glanced over at Peridot, who was collecting her fingers from their scattered positions. None of the Jasper gemlings resembled the Peridot in the remotest sense. The little Peridot had been the only one of the clutch to take after her.
There were several quiet moments of silence, only broken by snarls from the Jasper gemlings. In a way, they were like cubs.
A robonoid came in suddenly, unbalanced and stumbling about. Jasper automatically lifted it up and lowered her eyebrows.
“You deploy this?”
“No,” said Peridot. “I was planning to when you came in with the…news.”
“It looks bust,” the warrior continued, preparing to crush it. “No good to us.”
As the metal began to bend, there came an odd peeping noise from inside it.
“What was that?” Peridot asked hastily.
“I don’t know,” said Jasper. She turned the robonoid over. “Where’s that hatch?”
Peridot took it from her and opened the control panel. It was empty. Suddenly, a tiny green foot stabbed out. Another peeping noise came from inside.
Quite gently, Peridot tipped out the eleventh gemling, who was curled up in a little ball, chewing on her fingers. She adjusted herself and peeped again.
“By Yellow Diamond,” Jasper said, the old saying still coming to mind.
“She must have gotten into one of the empty spares,” Peridot said, picking up the little one. “Somehow she managed to get it to walk. Quite the prodigy. The academy would have been pleased.”
Jasper rubbed her chin. “All that searching…and she was right inside the ship.”
“At least,” said the technician, setting the little Peridot down, “we are all back together.”
“Yeah,” agreed Jasper. She grinned and patted the top of the eleventh gemling’s head with one of her rough fingers. “I hope our next assignment isn’t this stressful.”
Peridot thought nothing could be more stressful than raising gemlings.
Written for Jaspidotbomb, Day #6: Relaxing!
"Imagine your OTP sledding in the winter, person B sitting in the front, person A sitting in the back. Person B turns around and kisses person A, and when they pull away they whisper “you have to carry the sled back up” and run away, leaving Person A to yell at them."
It was a bitter sort of nipping cold in the mountains, but when the person in front of you on your sled was as warm as a toaster, it didn’t really matter anymore. Peridot was bundled in practically an entire shelf’s worth of jackets and shirts, but even then she was cold. Jasper, on the other hand, was wearing a sweater and a snow jacket, and that was it. Peridot had her arms wrapped around Jasper, her nose slightly smushed into her girlfriend’s back. Jasper was that snuggly sort of hot chocolate and blankets warm, an odd juxtaposition with her personality.
“I haven’t been sledding like this,” Jasper said, a grin plastered on her face, “since I must’ve been like four!”
“I take it you enjoy winter?”
“Just the fun parts!” Jasper whooped as they went over a slight bump, causing the sled to lift off the ground for a few seconds. Peridot’s grip on her girlfriend tightened for those few seconds, her shoulders elevating straight into her ears.
“This is great!” continued the other girl, still grinning from ear to ear.
There was hardly anyone else around, except a family a couple hundred yards away. The snow bore tracks of previous visitors, but for now, only the falling snowflakes and white-dusted trees were their companions.
“To tell the truth,” Peridot mumbled, “this is my first time doing anything fun in the snow.”
When the sled had come to its gradual rest at the end of the hill, Jasper twisted around, her face reddened.
“Really?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Peridot.
“Are you having a good time?”
Peridot nodded. “Except for that face that parts of me are quite cold, I am truly having a good experience.”
Jasper suddenly leaned forward, pressing her lips against Peridot’s. The latter was startled for a second and then kissed back, wrapping her arms around Jasper’s neck. The other girl cupped Peridot’s cheek in one hand, her gloved palm still warm.
They pulled away from each other after several long seconds. Jasper smiled again; Peridot’s face was too flushed to manage much more than an almost bashful grin. They both rose from the sled and Jasper stretched, flexing her muscled arms. Then she said quietly:
“You’re taking the sled back up.”
“What?” asked Peridot, but it was too late; Jasper had already sprinted halfway up the hill. She spun around and yelled: “Come on, Peri, or we won’t have enough time for more sledding!”
“Unbelievable!” Peridot answered, putting her hands around her mouth like a megaphone. “You’re never up to any good.”
Still grumbling a bit, she hauled the sled up the hill. Jasper was waiting for her, hands on her hips, wearing a smug look about her.
“You are the absolute worst,” Peridot said.
“I know,” said Jasper. She started towards the sled when Peridot abruptly shoved her down the snowy hill. She started laughing about a quarter of the way down, and when she finally tumbled to the bottom, covered in snow and ice, she shouted up the hill:
“Does this settle it, Peri?”
“Now we’re even!” Peridot affirmed.
Jasper shielded her eyes from the sun and squinted up at her girlfriend. “Hey, I love you, y’know?”
“I know!” Peridot said. “Now get back up here before I send the sled after you.”
Jasper takes her and Peridot’s daughter, Andalusite (Anda for short) to the carnival for a fun day out, and winds up winning the grand prize at the high-striker game!
The day was a sticky humid hot, sending sweat running down one’s temples in a matter of minutes. Jasper shaded her eyes against the sun’s rays; even with sunglasses the beams were still obnoxiously bright. There was a tug on her hand and she looked down at her daughter, Andalusite, Anda for short.
“Can we get icees?” Anda asked, giving her mother a winsome, if a bit puppy-dog like, look. “It’s so hot.”
“Icees?” Jasper echoed. “Already?”
Anda nodded. “Please?”
Jasper scanned over the heads of the other carnival-goers until she located a turquoise and white stand with the words ICE COLD ICEES boldly written on top. After a moment of deliberation, she looked back at Anda. “All right, but you can’t get anything later.”
“I’ll make it last,” promised the young girl. She gestured for Jasper to pick her up. With practiced ease, her mother lifted her up, holding her against her chest. Anda, reveling in her sudden height difference, pointed enthusiastically towards the icees stand.
They worked their way through the crowds, eventually coming to a small break in the hordes. Anda gave a tug on Jasper’s shirt collar.
“What?” Jasper asked, not unkindly.
“Lookit that!” Anda exclaimed, gesturing towards the game and prize center.
“What’re you pointing at?” Jasper asked, struggling to follow her daughter’s erratic motions.
“That big teddy bear over there!” Anda’s eyes were alit with a glow that Jasper instantly identified as nothing short of want-want-want.
“By the high-striker?”
“You want that teddy bear?”
“Yeah!” Anda appeared to have completely forgotten about the icees or anything, aside from the enormous plush bear.
Jasper pushed through the crowds to the small line gathered around the high-striker. A man was lifting the hammer and he brought it down with a significant amount of force, but the marker only budged halfway up the column before miserably sinking back down.
“Can you get it for me?” Anda pleaded. “Please please please.”
“You already have like five giant stuffed animals.”
“I like six much better than five.”
Jasper grinned. “Okay, okay. I’ll give it a try.”
She set Anda down, who immediately clung to her mother’s arm as they approached the booth. Jasper shelled out the small fee for three tickets (three tries) at the striker and joined the line. It had decreased a considerable amount since the man had tried his luck. A woman swung the hammer and it shot up, but still far below the bell.
“You can do it!” Anda said to Jasper. “I believe in you.” She grinned, the smile strikingly similar to Jasper’s.
“Good luck,” scoffed a teenager as Jasper stepped up to give it a go. She passed a ticket to the ticket-collector man, who handed her the hammer at he was supposed to.
“There’s no way,” said another person, crossing her arms.
“Even I couldn’t do it,” said the man who’d tried valiantly before.
Jasper scowled, cracked her knuckles, and tossed the hammer from side to side a couple of times. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed several people had gathered around her and Anda.
“Hey kid,” said a woman, “don’t get your hopes up. No one can get that bloody bell.”
“My mama’s quite strong,” said Anda, tilting her chin upwards.
There was a murmur of laughter around them. Jasper lowered her eyebrows resolutely. She swung the hammer up and slammed it down. There was a pause for a fraction of a second, and Jasper’s stomach turned into a polar cap during that split second, fearing she’d let down her daughter and made a potential fool of herself in front of the crowd.
Then, like an elevator on steroids, the marker shot upwards and crashed so terrifically hard into the bell it cracked.
“Gee whiz!” shouted the ticket-man. He looked from Jasper, who was setting the hammer down gently, to Anda, who was a veritable beacon. “Gee whiz,” he repeated, softer.
“That’ll be one giant teddy bear,” Jasper said. She cast a sideways look at Anda, smiling again. The prize was lowered down to them and Anda gleefully accepted it. The plush animal was nearly larger than she was but she carried it with ease, only tripping once or twice. Jasper steadied her child as they went away from the high-striker.
“Well, folks, the grand prize is gone,” said the manager behind them. “But you can still play for one of our lower tier prizes!”
The crowd dissipated, their enthusiasm waning. Jasper pulled her phone from her pocket and called a certain someone.
“This is Peridot,” said a familiar dry voice.
“Hey, babe,” said Jasper.
“Jasper!” Peridot said, and the dryness became a bit more palatable. “Someone wrong at the carnival?”
“No, no, it’s all good.” Jasper looked down at Anda, who was squishing the teddy bear hard enough to make its button eyes bug out. “So, uh, you know that collection of plushies or whatever Anda’s got in her room?”
“We might need to make room for one more.”
“Oh, she got a new one?” There was a pause. “What did you do to get that stuffed animal?”
“I almost broke a high-striker—” Jasper began.
“I’m going to speculate that this ‘almost breaking’ of the high-striker won you the grand prize.”
Peridot exhaled. “Okay. I’ll make room for this one when I get home. Does it have a name yet?”
Jasper put a hand over the phone and hissed to Anda: “Have you named it?”
“Cassie!” Anda said.
“Cassie,” Jasper repeated into the phone.
“I’ll make room for Cassie.”
“Thanks, babe. You know how she gets about her friends.” Jasper grinned.
“Is that all?”
“All right. I love you.”
“Love you, too.”
There was a beeping noise once Peridot hung up, and Jasper put her phone away.
“All right, champ,” Jasper said, putting her hands on her hips and watching Anda and Cassie perform a convoluted tango, “where to next?”
Somehow, she anticipated the next word before Anda even opened her mouth.
Jasper wondered if Cassie would want an icee as well, and scooped up Anda and the plush animal before heading off, once again, to the icee stand.
Peridot and Jasper meet at an on-the-college-campus benefit sponsored by none other than Peridot's parents. They get a little drunk. Implied sex at the end, but it's really just a passing mention.
"I don't dance." The words were slipping off Peridot's tongue faster and faster each time someone asked her to join them on the dance floor. She didn't, in truth, even want to be here. It was some on-campus benefit her parents were sponsoring, so, of course she had to attend. The music was too loud, too full of pop songs, and the dance floor was crowded. There was not even a glimmer of consideration in her mind about dancing-with or without someone.
She went to the bar, flashed her ID (they continued to ask despite her showing it to them a mere thirty minutes ago), and ordered something that would keep her awake until it was over. She'd been up late the previous night studying for one of her bioengineering classes. University was destroyed her sleep schedule.
She took a drink, the fiery liquid burning her throat.
"Hey," said a husky voice. Someone settled themselves next to Peridot. "You're the daughter of the people running this event, right?"
Peridot stopped herself from saying "Unfortunately," and settled for a thickly-voiced "Yes."
"No." Peridot turned her head to look at her pseudo-interrogator. It was a woman, around her own age, absurdly muscular-Peridot thought 'sports scholarship' with a touch of disdain-and with a veritable mane of white-blonde hair. She was attractive, despite Peridot's skepticism of her academic pursuits.
"Jasper," said the woman, sticking out her hand. It was rough and callused, dwarfing Peridot's tiny palm and fingers. There was the distinct smell of alcohol about her.
Peridot knocked back the last of her drink and ordered a glass of ice water. "Peridot," she said."I've never seen you around campus before. You look very distinct; I would have remembered you."
Jasper grinned, revealing a crooked set of teeth. "I don't go to this school, I go to the more sports-friendly one a few miles away."
Peridot raised an eyebrow. "Sports-friendly?"
"I play rugby," Jasper said with a great deal of pride. "It's one of the best sports out there."
"Never heard of it." Peridot clinked the ice cubes in her drink together. "I don't play sports. I'm studying to be a bioengineer."
"Well I've never heard of being a bioengineer, so--"
"It's difficult. I have high marks but they were absolute hell to attain. What are you studying?"
Jasper frowned and busied herself in her drink. When she finished it, she looked at Peridot again. "English. And my parents are making me minor in biology. They say it'll help."
"My dad was a big name biologist or whatever the hell he called himself."
"Oh. I see. Do you like it?"
"No! It's boring. I'd rather be on the field."
Peridot almost laughed but managed to stifle the impulse. "Really? How funny."
"I like rugby," Jasper groused. She leaned a little ways towards Peridot. "Look, you're real cute. I don't think I'd be talking to you this nicely if your weren't so damn cute."
"I'm not sure if that was a compliment or not."
"Me neither." Jasper snatched the turquoise paper umbrella out of someone's drink and twirled it between her thumb and forefinger. "This place is killing me. I hate dances."
"Why are you here then?"
"Some jerks I call friends dragged me here. I don't have a clue where the hell they went."
"I'm here because I have somewhat of an obligation to my parents. If they hadn't splurged on my college funds, I wouldn't be here."
"Do you like it here? At school, I mean. Not this dance party."
"Sure. It's very educational."
"You and your academics." The crooked grin reappeared. "Say, you want to get out of here?"
"Not if either of us has to drive."
"We can walk to that pond or something. There's fish in there."
"Fish are boring."
As if on cue, someone tapped Peridot's shoulder and asked those three dreaded words: "Care to dance?"
"I don't dance," said Peridot, sighing. She looked at Jasper, who had broken the umbrella in half, the upper half dropping miserably.
"Let's take a walk," she said, slinging an arm around Jasper's muscular one, watching out of the corner of her eye as her latest care-to-dance inviter trailed off. "There's a nice garden a little ways away."
She mentally promised to tell her parents that she had left early to study, and then rose, Jasper with her. Unconsciously, she still held onto the taller woman as they strolled out past the drunk and dancing. The cool air outside was a relief from the stuffy environment of the cramped building.
There was a garden, although far from nice; it was student maintained and therefore a disaster area.
"Some garden," Jasper muttered.
"Better than a dance."
"True." Jasper yawned suddenly, and sat down on the nearby bench. "Why'd your parents sponsor this anyway? Don't they have companies for that?"
"They like to be involved in what I'm doing. Even if it is college." Peridot joined Jasper on the bench. There was little room for either of them, but they managed. "I told them they didn't have to but...here we are."
"Hmph." Jasper smoothed out the wrinkles in her shirt. "If my parents were rich, I wouldn't bother going to things they sponsored. Too damn awkward."
"You can say that again." Peridot scowled. "The number of people who asked me if I was the daughter of the people who were funding the benefit--you must have been the twentieth person!"
Jasper laughed in a low tone of voice. "You are cute. The moon likes you."
"The hell does that mean?" Peridot snapped, perhaps a bit too irritably.
"You look good."
Peridot paused. "Oh. Thank you."
"I know we've just met," Jasper began, and Peridot thought a million different strange things to ask someone you just met, "but I'd like to kiss you. Can I kiss you?"
This was not nearly as strange as some of the things Peridot had been thinking. They were both slightly intoxicated. It was late at night. Oh, hell, she thought, I'll never see her again, anyway.
She leaned forward and pressed her lips against Jasper's. It was a strange feeling at first, but then Jasper wrapped her arms around Peridot and it became something entirely different.
It was fortunate her roommate was out of town that weekend, because there would have been an entire slew of awkward explanations the next morning. Peridot had never woken up next to someone before, and the sensation was surprisingly tender. She'd heard that people looked different in the morning, but Jasper just looked even more beautiful.
"So much for never seeing you again," she said quietly, putting her head in the crook between Jasper's head and shoulder.
Inspired by a few lyrics from 'Wheel in the Sky' by Journey:
Haven’t been home in a year or more,
I hope she holds on a little longer
Sent a letter on a long summer day
Made of silver, not of clay
Jasper is called away overseas to fight. Peridot writes to her about life and their baby.
“I’ll write to you every time I get the chance,” Jasper said.
Peridot managed half a smile. “Promise?”
“Promise,” said Jasper. She looked at her watch. “I’ve got to get to the airport now.”
“I have work soon,” Peridot said.
“You take care of yourself,” Jasper said in a firm but gentle voice. “And the baby, OK?’
“We’ll be fine.”
Jasper smiled and embraced Peridot, who stood on her toes to kiss her wife. A few seconds later there was the sound of a car in the gravel driveway, and Jasper reluctantly pulled away.
“I’ll write,” she said. “And you write back. Send me updates.”
She grabbed her few pieces of luggage and headed for the door, Peridot following behind.
“Be safe,” said Peridot.
“I’ll do my best,” said Jasper. She opened the door, hesitated, and looked back at Peridot. “I’m sorry I’m leaving right now.”
“Yeah, but the baby and all—”
“We’ll take care of ourselves.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Jasper smiled again, a little less enthusiastically, and moved away from the doorjamb to the driveway. Peridot stood on the front porch and watched Jasper get in the car with an old friend from the first time she went overseas, and waved. A handkerchief could have been more appropriate, but they didn’t have anything of the sort.
With a sigh, Peridot turned and went back into the house to prepare for her own line of work. It was not the first time, but she hoped it would be the last.
The first letter arrived a couple of weeks later.
I’ve been terribly busy getting settling in here but I finally got an evening to rest and write. We all did, really, but for some people like myself we haven’t gotten a break since we arrived. Everything is good. The commander says that the front lines are still some distance away, but we will probably see advance troops (aka combat) within the month. It won’t be too big of a deal.
How is work? Have you gotten that promotion? You really deserve it.
P.S. tell the baby I send my love
P.P.S. are they a kicker or not?
Peridot reread it several times before writing back:
I hope all goes well with getting settled in (although by this time you must be adequately comfortable in the new environment). The baby appreciates your love although they cannot process it yet. And no, they are not a kicker. Still too small for that. Are you with any of your old friends?
The stream of letters went back and forth over the months. Jasper usually wrote in response to Peridot’s letters, but on occasion there were two letters; one was written before Peridot’s letter and then the second apologetically written later.
An ultrasound revealed the baby’s conventionally assigned gender as female.
Jasper wrote back to the news with:
Let’s not try to raise a ‘girl.’ Let’s raise our child with as much freedom to explore their identity as possible.
Despite knowing that the baby would not be listening or even remotely be interested, Peridot relayed the information to them. There was a faint kick in response, which she told herself was coincidence.
The frequency of letters gradually diminished and the news began to broadcast reports of warfare on the front. Peridot was not alarmed but she found herself on edge whenever the information was being televised.
I hope this letter finds you in good health. I have seen the horrible reports about what is happening and I sincerely wish that nothing bad has happened to your unit.
In other news, you are officially a parent. The doctor said we could hold off on naming the child until I had your input. So I’m asking for it. I know we made a list of potential names but I believe it has been misplaced. I remember one name: Andalusite. A nice respectable name. Tell me what you think.
I’ll tell you more in my next letter.
Peridot (and the as-yet unnamed baby)
P.S. I find myself no longer craving peanut butter and sour cream sandwiches. It is a huge relief.
The response to this was short, but full-hearted.
I am in a good condition; just a little knocked up. More tired than anything.
How wonderful! I’m so happy. The rest of my unit keeps telling me congratulations. I think Andalusite is a nice name. We can use ‘Anda’ for a nickname. I don’t know if you can get this from my writing but I feel remarkably happier upon hearing these news. I wish I had a picture of you two. I can’t wait to come home.
Is peanut butter and sour cream a combination worth trying?
Sour cream and peanut is not worth trying, unless you’re pregnant. I told the doctor the name and she said it is a nice name. Andalusite is currently at home with me. She’s very quiet and hardly makes a fuss. I’m on maternal leave for a bit, but it’s paid, so I can managed with groceries and all.
Take care of yourself!
Peridot (and Andalusite)
There was a lapse without letters after this. Peridot was occupied with taking care of Andalusite, and judging by the news, Jasper was occupied with fending off the encroaching battalions. It was a wary period without letters.
Andalusite was six months old when Peridot turned on the television to hear the news about the war suddenly being over.
“There was a quiet surrender,” said the reporter. “Simply done and over with. Everyone, I’m sure, is grateful for this turn of events.”
There was one last letter from Jasper:
I’m coming home within the month.
P.S. Give my love to Anda, would you?
It was a grey autumnal afternoon when the same car that had driven away just over a year ago pulled up on the gravel. Peridot stood on the porch with a neatly swaddled Andalusite in her arms and watched as Jasper, a little older-looking, a little gaunter, but still the same woman that had left just over a year ago. Her hair was shorter, which Peridot secretly preferred versus the long hair of before.
“Hey,” said Jasper as she climbed up the steps with her few bags. “I’m home.”
Andalusite promptly began to make noises of concern and it took several moments for Peridot to calm the baby down.
“Welcome back,” she said to Jasper when it was quieter.
Jasper kissed Peridot’s forehead. “I’ve missed you.”
“Let’s go inside.” Jasper grinned broadly at Andalusite. “I’ve got some catching up to do.”
Highschool AU: Delinquent Jasper and Straight-Laced Peridot.
“Can anyone explain the particular significance of the dove’s appearance during this last scene?” the teacher asked, her watery green eyes scanning the sea of teenaged faces. Few of them expressed any interest in the lesson at hand.
Then, from the back, a hand shot up.
“Yes…Jasper?” she asked, quirking an eyebrow. There was a scuffle in the chairs as students twisted around to look at the solidly built girl sitting in the last row, feet on her desk, dressed in a letterman jacket.
“The hell does a dove have to do with this book at all?” Jasper asked with an air of arrogance. “It’s just some stupid bird. It’s not gonna alter anyone’s fate at all.”
“Well, you’d be surprised, Jasper,” said the teacher with tense patience, “about the effect of symbols.”
“A dove is not a symbol,” scoffed Jasper. “If a dove were to come into this classroom right this instant I wouldn’t call it a symbol. It’s just lost, because some dumbass left a window or door open.”
“Watch your mouth,” the teacher said sternly. She took a small inhale. “Well, since no one else wants to talk about the dove, I’ll explain it—”
“—it’s gotta do with their marriage, right?” Jasper cut in. “Like, there’s a new beginning for them ‘cause the dove says so. They’re in love. Duh. Even I get that.”
The teacher said nothing more. She went to her desk, sat down, and wrote something on a slip of paper. After a moment she went to the back of the classroom and gave it to Jasper. “Principal’s office, young lady. Right now.”
Jasper narrowed her eyes and took the paper, crumpling it with her fingers. She pushed back her chair, slung her bag over one shoulder, and stormed out. A few students made ‘ooh’ noises but the teacher cleared her throat and there was quiet again.
“Now, does anyone want to expand intelligently on the dove?” she asked. A couple of tentative hands went up.
Fifteen minutes passed and a girl near the front dressed in a neat green sweater and jeans raised her hand.
“Yes, Peridot?” the teacher asked.
“May I use the restroom?” Peridot asked.
“Certainly,” said the teacher. “Take a hall pass.”
Peridot took the laminated paper from its jar and stuck it in her pocket before sauntering out, down the hall. She had barely gone a hundred feet when she turned the corner to the outside hallway and saw Jasper, sitting on the bench. She was fiddling with an unlit cigarette, rolling it between her thumb and index finger.
“What are you doing?” Peridot asked, stopping short.
“Huh?” Jasper asked, swinging her head around. “Oh. You.”
“What are you doing?” repeated Peridot.
“Nothing. None of your business.”
“You shouldn’t’ve argued with Ms. Beryl. She is just trying to teach us.”
“I know. It’s pointless. Never shoulda signed up for an honors class.” Jasper put the cigarette away, an almost guilty look in her pale amber eyes. “Goddam doves.”
“Are you going to the principal’s office?”
“Hell no.” Jasper waved the slip around. It was half-burnt. Peridot noticed a match sticking out of Jasper’s pocket, the same one where the cigarette was. “I’m getting out of here. My mom doesn’t give a shit what I do, so long as I pass school.”
Peridot sniffed. “People like you drag our society down.”
“Sorry, we all can’t be smart.” Jasper shoved her hands in the pockets of her jacket and scowled. “Aren’t you going to the bathroom?”
“I was,” said Peridot. “You are much more interesting. And strange. What are you even here for? This school is designed for gifted students." She paused for a second. "Not that I am implying anything—”
“I was smart. In freshman year. Now I just play football and since I’m good, unlike most players, they let me stay on.” Jasper brushed a dried leaf off her shoulder. “Only got another year, though. Then I’m going to play professionally. Maybe get a sports scholarship somewhere.”
“Football is dangerous.”
“Who doesn’t know that?” Jasper smirked. “You play sports?”
“Tennis on weekends,” said Peridot. “To keep limber.”
Jasper’s mouth opened a little. “To keep limber? My God. Tennis. Of all things.”
“It can be entertaining. My coach says I am quite skilled.” Peridot looked over her shoulder at the artificially lit hallways. “I better go.”
“Yeah. Don’t want Ms. Beryl sending your straight-A ass down to the office, huh?”
“You think you are very funny.”
“I am.” Jasper grinned. “Be seeing you.”
“If you are not expelled.” Peridot turned on her heel and went back to class, suddenly not at all in need of the bathroom. As she went, something hit her shoulder and she turned to find a balled up piece of paper lying on the ground.
Here’s my number. You’re a weird nerd. Jasper.
Underneath the few words was a scribbled phone number. Peridot ran back to the bench. No one was there. She shoved the paper in her back pocket and sprinted down the hall, glad that student patrols were virtually nonexistent. Ms. Beryl raised an eyebrow at her hasty entrance, but nothing was said.
Peridot slid back into her seat, thinking of Jasper’s cocky grin and nonchalant attitude towards education. We are, she thought, in no way alike. She shifted in her seat and the paper crinkled.
Then again, attraction was a weird thing.
Jasper and Peridot watch a crime show.
It was a quiet evening in the dorms. It was also Friday, which meant that it was Jasper’s pick for Netflix night.
“A crime show?” Peridot asked, raising her eyebrows at Jasper’s choice.
“Yeah!” said Jasper. “This one’s good, I swear.”
“Aren’t they all the same?”
“No.” Jasper drew out the word indignantly. Nooo.
The two of them were lying down on Jasper’s bed; Peridot rested on her stomach, her fuzzy-sock-clad feet absently kicking the air above her. Jasper was on her side, her elbow digging into a thick pillow. The old-ish laptop in front of them illuminated their faces.
“We watched a documentary last week for your pick,” Jasper said. “About rocks.”
“Geology,” Peridot countered, “is a fascinating subject.”
“Sitting on my ass and listening to some Brit drone on about sedimentary pebbles is not my idea of a fun night.”
Peridot squinted at her girlfriend.
“Sorry,” Jasper said. “Just being honest.”
“Crime shows are cardboard cutouts of each other.” At Jasper's look, she said. "Just being honest."
“Fair, but have you seen this show?”
“Then at least give it a chance.” Jasper smirked and clicked on the first episode. “C’mon, Peri, just watch. You’ll like it. It’s a smart show. You like smart shows, right?”
“Yes.” Peridot propped her chin up on the knuckles of her right hand. “I do.”
The smirk broadened to a grin. “Great.”
The episode went on for about twenty minutes before Peridot’s first comment was muttered.
“It’s the gardener,” she said, “it’s got to be her.”
“What?” Jasper asked. “What? No. No no. You’re guessing.”
“It will be the gardener,” said Peridot.
“You haven’t even seen the show!”
“The gardener is the perfect killer.”
Jasper’s face contorted into a mixture of confusion and annoyance. “Are you saying that just to annoy—”
Peridot put a finger up. “Keep watching, Jasp, it’s going to be her.”
Twenty minutes later and the gardener was in handcuffs, tearfully confessing to running the Victim of the Week over with the maintenance golf cart. Peridot gave Jasper a smug smile.
“Okay, one lucky guess doesn’t mean they’re all going to be like this,” said Jasper.
“If I guess the next one,” said Peridot, “you owe me.”
“Owe you what?”
“You pay for the next date.”
“Woaa-h,” said Jasper. “This is just television you’re talking about.”
“If I don’t guess correctly, I can pay.”
Jasper lifted an eyebrow. “You’re weird.”
“You’re weirder.” Peridot bit back a snicker. “We sound like kindergarteners.”
“This is the worst bet I’ve gotten myself into since I got here,” Jasper said, sighing. The credits for the start of the next episode flashed across the screen in archetypal crimson and grey colors. “How can you even know?”
“It’s the people you’re not expecting,” said Peridot. “Very simple. They buildup for one character and then—boom” —She slapped the bed and Jasper’s shoulders jumped— “it’s someone else.”
Jasper rolled over and buried the lower half of her face into the pillow. “I don’t get paid until next week.”
“Are you giving up?”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s going to be the secretary.”
Jasper’s next words were muffled by the pillow. “Fuck you.” They were not unkind, almost joking. Mostly resigned.
At the end of the episode, Jasper’s face was completely immersed in the pillow and Peridot was struggling to hold back a grin. The secretary was being carted off in the police car, his face comically distraught.
“Look,” said Jasper from the pillow, waving a broad hand, “you’re a goddamn super genius, and you know these sorts of things. Now, if I pay for dinner when we go out sometime next week, can we just watch an episode without guessing at things?”
“Sure,” said Peridot.
Jasper lifted her head up. “Thanks, baby.”
“You can’t make comments about my documentaries anymore.”
Peridot leaned over and kissed Jasper’s cheek. “Thanks, baby.”
Jasper grinned and clicked play on the next episode. “This one’s good, I swear.”
“That’s what you said in the beginning.”
Peridot looked at the screen and tilted her head. “I’m beginning to agree.”
Mentally, she looked at the park warden and checked him off as the Villain of the Week.
Fun Fact: I've been watching a LOT of Bones lately, and in the latest episode, the groundskeeper was the culprit, and I totally called it twenty minutes into the episode. The victim had been run over...and guess who owned a golf cart? That's right.
Jasper takes Peridot out on a special date. Meteor showers are involved.
It was half past six. Peridot shivered in her three layers of sweaters and jackets and pulled the faux-fur-lined hood of her parka closer around her ears. It was quiet under the street lamp outside the restaurant. A few pedestrians strolled past on the other side of the street. Then there was the crunch of snow under feet nearby and Peridot turned.
“Hey,” said Jasper, who was dressed in only a tee-shirt and a windbreaker. “Sorry I’m late.”
“You’re right on time,” answered Peridot. She let one of her rare smiles grace her cold-reddened face. “Let’s get inside.”
“It’s cold out here,” Jasper remarked.
“You should have worn something thicker.”
“I don’t need fifty jackets like you.” Jasper pulled the door open and held it for Peridot. She shut it behind her.
“Something more than a windbreaker, then.”
Jasper scraped her feet on the supplied mat and came up to Peridot as the latter talked to the waiter on hand. They were led to a nice table in the corner, away from the other dinner patrons in the hustle and bustle.
“This is a nice place,” said Peridot. “I haven’t been somewhere this fancy since the last time my parents decided a family dinner out was a good idea. That was senior year of highschool.”
“Damn,” said Jasper, “that’s a long time.”
“You have good taste.”
“I closed my eyes and pointed at list.” Jasper grinned. “Thanks, Peri. I figured you’d appreciate a more elegant restaurant.”
Jasper accepted the water glass a waitress passed to her. Peridot took a sip from her own drink, the ice clinking gently against the rim of the glass.
“It’s midwinter and they’re still putting ice in our water,” Jasper said. “I don’t get it.”
“It’s fancier.” Peridot smirked over the rim of her drink and set it down. “So how’ve things been? You sign on for that contract.”
“Yeah, I did. They’re paying me a lot more than I expected. A lot more. I think I can start looking for an apartment soon. Maybe somewhere…” Jasper paused and her eyes drifted to the pristine blue tablecloth. “…somewhere we can stay together.”
“That’d be an ideal situation.”
“You think so?” Jasper’s pale hazel eyes met Peridot’s bright green eyes. “Awesome.”
“I mean,” said Peridot, “maybe not right now…but in the future.”
“That’s what I meant, yeah. In the future.” Jasper took another drink from her glass and set it down too quickly, making the table rattle some. “Ow. Brainfreeze.”
“You shouldn’t drink cold things so quickly.” Peridot looked at her girlfriend’s contorted countenance. “Putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth helps.”
“Ugh.” Jasper scowled. “Don’t get why they put ice in the damn drinks…”
Peridot picked up a menu and began to flip through it. Jasper copied her, turning the pages swiftly. Her thumb caught on the edge of one laminated sheet and blood welled up from the small wound. She put her thumb in her mouth, muttering a choice few words under her breath.
“Not too expensive,” said Peridot. “That’s also very nice.”
Jasper’s face brightened. “Yeah. The reviews said the food was extremely good for its lower prices. For a fancier restaurant, I mean.”
The same waitress as before came by and took their orders. Jasper asked for water, minus ice, and the requested drink, at its lukewarm temperature, came shortly.
“How’s your game going?” asked Jasper after things had returned to the lull of before.
“Great,” said Peridot. “We’re almost at full funding. People really love the idea and we’re getting a lot of fanmail. Some hatemail, but hey, not everyone likes everything.” She took a small breath. “We’re thinking about a release sometime in the next three months.”
“That’s awesome! You do so many cool things.” Jasper grinned again. “When can I play?”
“Sometime in the next three months,” Peridot quipped, prompting a small groan of mock annoyance from Jasper. “I’m serious, Jasp. You play with the rest of the public.”
“But I’m dating the lead developer…”
Peridot waved a hand. “No special privileges.”
“Let’s say I just happened to be at your place while you were testing the game. Could I maybe get a try then?”
“If that entirely theoretical situation was to occur…maybe.”
“I like the sound of that.”
The rest of the dinner passed without event. The food arrived promptly and there was a stretch of time where the only conversation occurred through eye contact and the occasional eyebrow wiggle. Both passed for the dessert and Jasper took the bill before Peridot could object.
“C’mon,” said Jasper. “I want to show you something.”
“What?” asked Peridot.
“C’mon.” Jasper took Peridot’s slender hand in her own massive one, their finger automatically intertwining. They sat in Jasper’s old truck for a few minutes as the heater warmed up. Peridot took off one of her jackets as she had done in the restaurant.
“Where are we going?” Peridot asked as Jasper pulled away from the curb. “Is there a bus station near where we’re going?”
“I’ll drive you home, Peri,” said Jasper. “Now, sh. It’s a surprise, okay?”
They drove for some twenty odd minutes out of the city until they reached a little cluster of buildings. Several cars were parked around it and Peridot craned her neck to see warmly bundled people setting up blankets on the cold ground.
“You and your questions.” Jasper parked the car and then leaned over to kiss Peridot’s cheek. “It’s going to be good.”
Jasper took a blanket out of the back and spread it on the truck-bed. Peridot jumped up onto it with some struggling due to her short stature, and Jasper joined her with two thermoses in her hands. She passed one to Peridot.
“Hot chocolate,” said Jasper. “I think the marshmellows melted.”
“Thanks, Jasp.” Peridot a small sip and the rich flavor filled her mouth.
“Okay, now we wait.”
It took but a few minutes for the first meteor flickered across the sky. Peridot’s mouth opened a little.
“I forgot,” she said quietly. “The meteor shower.”
“I remembered,” said Jasper. “Knew you wouldn’t want to miss it.”
“God, it’s lovely.” Peridot’s eyes were big enough to fit the entire night sky within.
Jasper put an arm around Peridot, bringing her closer. “You like it?”
Peridot rested her head against Jasper’s shoulder as the rest of the meteors came shimmering, shining, tumbling after the first of their brethren, filling the night with a dancing light show.
Imagine the child of your OTP coming back to the past from the future to prevent something that would result in the death of the OTP. Bonus: Your OTP is not together when their future child meets them.
It was a hot early June morning and already the sun shone fierce and bright on the asphalt and concrete of the streets. Traffic was unusually busy for a Tuesday, and speeders were common, as police authority with the speed limit was lax.
Peridot stood on the corner of the street, adjusting the strap of her bag on her shoulder. The metal buckle was hot and burned to the touch, and she hastily removed her hand, muttering under her breath.
Next to her stood the imposing figure of the school’s varsity football captain, Jasper, who was easily a foot taller than Peridot. Her expression was, as always, void of any interest in anything. Peridot was tutoring her in math, but they hardly ever spoke outside of that situation.
“When will this damn light change?” Jasper asked no one in particular. “I gotta get to school already.”
Peridot raised an eyebrow and looked up at the taller girl. The latter’s eyes slid off the stoplight and met Peridot’s. There was an awkward moment of staring and then both glanced away.
The light finally changed.
The motley handful of highschoolers left the corner at varying paces. Jasper strode brazenly ahead, her long legs taking her strides beyond the rest of them. Peridot followed at a more relaxed pace, knowing there still were a good twenty minutes before the first bell rang.
There was the sound of a roaring engine, getting closer. Peridot turned her head to see an azure sports car barreling towards the crosswalk. There was the squeal of brakes, but at the close distance there was no chance of a full stop.
“Jasp—!” Peridot blurted out but from behind her a louder voice yelled:
“Jasper!” A young woman no one than twenty pushed Peridot back and then overtook Jasper, pushing her out of the way with almost superhuman speed and reflexes. Jasper whirled around as she stumbled onto the asphalt. The young woman had knocked Peridot back enough to make the latter trip over and join the crowd of now-stopped stragglers.
Everything above happened much faster than it sounds.
The car came to an agonizing stop and there was a third thump.
”Jesus!” said Jasper from a spot on the other side of the car where Peridot and the others couldn’t see her.
“What the fuck happened?” asked a scrawny boy next to Peridot.
“I don’t know,” said Peridot. Her shoulder hurt from being shoved unexpectedly. She approached the car, saw the driver looking dazed. They made eye contact with Peridot, almost guilty and looked away before unbuckling their seat belt and opening the door.
“Jesus,” repeated Jasper, rising, dusting off her elbows. She bent over someone; as Peridot came around the hood of the car at a faster pace, she saw it was the young woman from before.
Traffic seemed to have stopped entirely.
The woman looked stunned. She tried to move, wheezed, and grabbed at her leg. Both legs were red and bleeding, the thin cotton fabric of her pants torn.
“You two all right?” the woman asked softly after a moment.
“Fine, we’re fine,” said Jasper and she eyed Peridot before returning to the woman. “Who are you?”
“No one important,” said the woman. “But you can call me Anda.”
The driver came around the hood of their car and swore. By now the rest of the highschoolers had come over as well.
“I called an ambulance,” said the same scrawny boy.
“I’ll be fine,” said Anda. “Just a little shaken.”
Traffic was now creeping along carefully.
“I’m so sorry,” said the driver.
“Better me than these two,” said Anda, trying to smile. “Ooh. Actually, I think I broke something.”
“You’re awfully cheery for someone who just got hit by a car,” said Peridot.
“Optimism makes people less dreary.”
“Thanks for saving us,” Jasper said. “Really heroic stuff, y’know. Bet you’ll get on the front page of the paper.”
“Oh, I won’t,” said Anda, almost mysteriously. “There’s a lot more to come that’ll be more interesting than me.”
Jasper said slowly: “Okay, all right then.”
“Hey,” said the scrawny boy, “we betta get to class, huh? This shit’s pretty cool but Ms. Davison’s gonna kill me if I’m late again.”
“Don’t worry about me,” said Anda, more at Jasper and Peridot. “Go to school, huh?”
The driver was looking at all of them, quite pale and sweating a bit.
“You won’t sue, will you?” they asked Anda.
“What’s to sue?” asked Anda in return.
Jasper and Peridot followed their peers to the school.
“You all right?” Peridot asked Jasper.
“Fine, just a little scraped up.” Jasper stopped suddenly and looked at Peridot. “You know what’s weird?”
“The fact she knew my name. I’d never seen her before in my life.”
“You’re the captain of the varsity football team. A lot of people would know you.”
Jasper narrowed her eyes and looked back at the woman lying on the asphalt. In the distance, an ambulance wailed.
“I guess that’s it,” she conceded at last.
They continued walking along the sidewalk.
From the street Anda tried to sit up, winced, and looked over at the retreating backs of the two highschoolers. She smiled faintly, distantly, and mumbled: “A lot more to come…a lot more…”
“Hey,” said Jasper, leaning over the railing.
Peridot turned around, struggling to keep a grip on her textbooks. “Yes?”
Jasper leaned closer towards Peridot. “You’re a nerd.”
“What?” One of Peridot’s eyebrows rocketed upwards.
A grin spread across Jasper’s face. “And you’re my nerd, too, don’t forget that.”
“I am no one’s—no one’s anything!” said Peridot indignantly. “I am my own nerd, thank you very much.”
“You’re cute when you’re flustered,” Jasper said, and she kissed Peridot’s nose. There was a sudden loud thudding noise and Peridot immediately ducked down to pick up the books she’d just dropped, her face suddenly a shade of crimson.
“I should get to class,” she said all in a rush, avoiding eye contact with Jasper.
Jasper watched her for a moment. “Hey. Love you.”
“Love you, too,” Peridot said without hesitation. After a moment, she added: “I’m still not your nerd.”
“But you’re my girlfriend?”
“You sure?” The same cocky grin reappeared. “I mean, you could be a multitude of things. Chess player, video gamer, teacher’s pet…it goes on, y’know.”
“You should get to class.”
“I will, I will.” Jasper rocked back on her heels and crossed her arms. “Peridot?”
“I mean it.”
“I know you do.”
Jasper leaned over again. “How about a kiss goodbye, huh?”
“We’ll see each other in two hours.”
“That can be a very long time. A lot can happen in one hundred and twenty minutes.” Jasper grinned again. “C’mon.”
Peridot rolled her eyes. “For someone who used to take lunch money from her peers, you sure are a romantic.”
“Just with you.”
After a moment Peridot took a half step forward and pressed her lips against Jasper’s. She shuffled the books in her arms to tuck them in one arm and cupped Jasper’s jaw with the other hand. It lasted until the pre-recorded bell sound came over the P.A. system several long moments later. There was a pause before they completely broke away.
“See you in a hundred twenty minutes,” said Peridot.
“You want me to buy you lunch?”
“Not if you stole the money.”
Jasper laughed. “I didn’t.”
“Well, I packed my lunch today, so maybe tomorrow.” Peridot let a slight smile cross her face. “I should really run to class now, though.”
“Don’t get yourself another detention.”
Jasper waved a hand. “I’ll try.”
They set off in opposite directions, Jasper walking with her long strides and Peridot doing her best to speed walk with her much shorter legs. For the second and last time, the bell sounded again, signaling the end of the before-school-period and the beginning of class.
Prompt: "Aw, you're blushing like a rose!"
"Aw, you're blushing like a rose," said Jasper, grinning at Peridot.
"I am not!" snapped Peridot, furiously trying to cover her face with the turtleneck part of her fuzzy green turtleneck sweater. "I am merely experiencing an influx of heat and blood to my face--"
"C'mon, admit it--"
Peridot's bespectacled gaze slid over to Jasper in a ill-wishing glare. "Jasper..."
"Well, all right," said Jasper, changing the subject, "do you like your gift?"
"Yes," Peridot said. She lifted the handmade sculpture of a certain rectangular robot up from its tissue-paper resting place. "It's unique and quite charming." She paused and rotated it. "I didn't know you could sculpt."
"My mom thought I needed a more...uh...refined hobby. Outside of bloody sports, that is." Jasper crossed her arms. "I don't usually make stuff...I just sort of play with it. Or smash whatever I made and create blobs. That's more fun."
"I will put it on my shelf of honor," said Peridot. She rose from her sitting position and put the craft on a nearly overflowing shelf above her desk. "There we are. Front and..." she adjusted it a little to the left "...center."
"I feel special," said Jasper.
Peridot settled herself next to Jasper. "You are."
"I made something for you, too." Peridot took a small box out from under her bed. "Here you are."
It was a necklace composed of a computer chip, a minature clay football, an orange bed, and a green bead.
"Wowza," said Jasper, "that's awesome." She leaned over and kissed Peridot's cheek. "Thanks again."
Peridot's face burned up in a crimson hue. "You're w-welcome."
"You're blushing again."
The turtleneck face guard went up again. "Just put the necklace on."
Jasper clasped it neatly around her neck and grinned again. "It's great. Very suiting." She put an arm around Peridot. "Happy six month anniversary, Peri."
"Happy six month anniversary, Jasper," Peridot replied. She pulled down her turtleneck to swiftly kiss Jasper's cheek in return before covering her cheeks again.
"Hey--" said Jasper, a slight flush twinging her own face. She shook her head and said jokingly, "Unbelievable."
"I love you," said Peridot quietly.
"Love you, too, babe."
"Imagine your OTP goes on a vacation and Person A is mad because the wifi is bad and Person B is mad because it’s raining outside and they can’t do anything and they both end up just taking a nap instead."
"Well, so much for those sunny skies that brochure promised," Jasper grumbled, setting down her suitcase on the small couch.
The sky was pouring down torrential sheets of rain with the apparent intent to wash everything away. Peridot removed her glasses and wiped them clean on the inside of her sweater, which she had the foresight of wearing to their new home away from home.
"This is just great," said Jasper. "I was hoping we could go outside, but no."
She drew out the 'no,' eventually letting it fade away into annoyance.
Peridot took out her phone. After a moment she blinked, then looked at her girlfriend. "There's no signal in here."
"Well, I wouldn't think there would be, as this is a mountain retreat!" Jasper snapped, crossing her arms in short, jerky movements.
Peridot rolled her eyes. "Forgive me for wanting to keep up to date with my emails and favorite blogs."
Jasper sat on the couch, moving her suitcase out of the way and placing it on the floor. "So, do we wait for this storm to pass, or what?"
"I'm going to unpack, and you might as well, too. No good sitting around and waiting for the clouds to go by." Peridot hefted her bag, tried to locate a signal again, and found none. She sighed and went into the bedroom. After a moment, Jasper picked up her own luggage and followed her.
An hour passed, in which they unpacked, looked out the window a few times, found the utilities, and continued settling in. After that, Jasper sat back down on the couch, picked up a magazine long outdated, and started to read. Tried to, would have been more accurate. She gave the gossip columns up after several minutes and groaned.
"Why does bad weather have to strike JUST as we get here? Clear skies all the way up, and then this?" She twisted her head to look at the raindrop splattered window. "Just fantastic."
"It's late, anyways," said Peridot, sitting next to her. "I would be inclined to think that going out now, even in good weather, would not be pleasant."
Jasper waved a hand. "Eh. I just wish our first day here wasn't going to be stormy."
Peridot moved closer to Jasper, until they were practically cuddling. Unconsciously, Jasper slung an arm around her smaller girlfriend. A minute passed, with only the sound of the rain on the roof to accompany the quiet.
Then, Jasper realized Peridot was sleeping, slightly curled up and huddled over, resting against Jasper's chest. By unwritten law of couch cuddling, Jasper was now not allowed to move lest she disturb Peridot.
More minutes passed, and Jasper felt a weight on her eyes, as if they were closing with a mind of their own. She resisted the drowsiness at first, but a full day of driving, hauling bags, and unpacking luggage had done a number on her energy levels.
Jasper fell asleep, too, and now the rain poured on alone. Over the mountains, the first break in the clouds appeared, and the beginnings of a rainbow blossomed into color.
Prompt: "♤ taking a bath together"
It took five minutes—although it felt like ten—for the water to warm to a temperature that wasn’t several degrees below the freezing point. And then another five more minutes for the water level to rise to where it was a bath instead of a bathing puddle.
Peridot got in first, very gingerly. After she had fully immersed herself, Jasper joined her.
“It’s still cold,” Peridot complained.
“Feels fine to me,” Jasper replied.
The bathtub was large, but so was Jasper, so there was only a bit of wiggle room.
“You have a ridiculously fancy bathroom,” she remarked. “Kind of overkill.”
“Well, I like it,” said Peridot. “Be careful, you’re leaning on the—”
There was a loud whooshing noise, and then something turned on.
“Holy SHIT!” yelled Jasper, jumping a little and splashing water onto the floor.
“—jets button,” Peridot finished.
“This is insane!”
“You can turn it off, if you want.”
“No, I like it.” Jasper grinned and fiddled with the small dial. “Dude, it’s got…settings. You are living the high life with this bathtub.”
“The jets came with it,” said Peridot. She pulled a magazine out of the holder on the wall and began to read it. The cover said TECHNOLOGY WEEKLY.
“Are you reading?” Jasper asked.
“I always read in the bathtub,” Peridot replied, without looking away from her magazine.
Jasper tilted her head, ducking the ends of her long hair into the rippling water. Then, after a moment, she splashed water towards Peridot, catching the magazine.
“What the hell?” Peridot exclaimed, and in her surprise, dunked the entire magazine underwater. “Oh, shhhhh—”
“You don’t read in the bath!” Jasper said. “At least, not when you’re with someone else.”
“You ruined my magazine!” Peridot said, waving the soaking piece of pop literature around.
Jasper changed the subject by picking a rubber duck off the side of the bathtub. She held it up. “You’re like twenty-three, Peri. What are you doing with this?”
“Excuse me,” said Peridot, still clutching her magazine. She reached out for the duck. “That duck is named Waddles, and he doesn’t like being held by strangers.”
“Oh, my bad,” said Jasper. She set the duck down on the water. It bobbed erratically in the currents of the jets.
Peridot looked at the magazine in her hands, sighed, and set it down on the carpet by the side of the bathtub.
“Can I use this?” Jasper asked, holding up a bright pink bottle for ‘BUBBLE-BATH FUN!’ There was a crooked grin on her face.
“Only a little—” Peridot began, but Jasper had already dumped most of the bottle’s contents into the bathtub. Giant, rose colored bubbles began to froth up. “Only a little!” Peridot repeated uselessly.
“This is great,” said Jasper. “I haven’t had a bubble bath in forever.”
“I was saving that…” Peridot mumbled.
The bubbles were beginning to tower high, until neither of them could see each other through the dense miasma of BUBBLE BATH FUN!
“Wow,” said Jasper. “This is a really intense bubble bath.”
“That’s why I said only a little! It makes bubbles like there’s no tomorrow.” Peridot batted a few erratic spheres away from her face, popping them in the process.
“I should get some of that for myself.”
“I’ll buy you some for Christmas.”
“Aw, thanks, babe.”
Out of the fog came Waddles, upside down and slowly sinking. Peridot righted him and pushed him back in Jasper’s direction. This went on for a while, until Waddles decided that creating a hole in his side and filling up with water was an excellent idea, and he sank. Peridot fished him out and squeezed him so that all the water sprang out. After a brief second she stopped, realizing there was potential in Waddles.
She squished him again, this time aiming the water spout towards Jasper. The accuracy was pinpointed by a loud shout from Jasper.
“Are you—? What are you—?”
“This is payback for ruining my magazine,” Peridot said calmly.
And then, with a great splash, Jasper got out of the bathtub. She took two dripping footsteps, snagged her towel and clothing, and left the room.
“Hey!” Peridot exclaimed. She rose from the bathtub as well, wrapped a towel around her body, turned the jets off, and let the water drain out. “Jasper?”
Her clothes were still in the bathroom with her, so she pulled on undergarments and pants before following Jasper by the trail of wet footsteps to the bedroom.
Jasper was pulling on a shirt, and for one brief moment, Peridot was rewarded with a nice sight of her girlfriend’s abs before the garment was yanked all the way on.
“What happened?” Peridot asked.
“Oh.” Jasper grinned and sat down on the bed. “Yeah. I was beginning to get all wrinkly.”
“You left…because you were getting wrinkly…?”
Peridot sat next to Jasper. “You’re weird.”
“Not as weird as you.” Jasper rubbed Peridot’s towel over the latter’s head, creating tufts and spikes of blonde hair. “Who reads in the bathtub?”
“It’s a relaxing way to spend the time.”
“Uh-huh.” Jasper paused, and then seemed to scrutinize Peridot’s face. “Hey, you got something on your face.”
“What?” Peridot began to pat at her cheeks. “Where?”
“Right here,” said Jasper, and kissed Peridot. It was slightly wet and slightly sloppy, but still something wonderful all the same. After a moment, they both pulled away.
“That was the cheesiest thing—” Peridot began.
“But it worked.”
Jasper smirked and then they kissed again. Peridot put her hands on Jasper’s broad shoulders, and Jasper cupped Peridot’s cheek in one of her hands.
In retrospect, both of them thought the bath leading up to that moment was a very good idea.
Jasper convinces Peridot to keep a scruffy stray dog.
Peridot heard Jasper running down the hall long before there was the sound of the apartment key being shoved in the lock and turned in a hurry. Only one person on the fifth floor took such long, heavy strides, and that would be the former high school quarterback.
Jasper shut the door and spun around in one movement. Peridot shuffled out of the living room in her socks, a mug of cold coffee dregs in one hand and a scientific journal in the other.
“What on earth are you doing, making such a racket? People live in this building besides us.” Peridot took a slurp of the dregs, grimaced, and adjusted her glasses.
“Peri,” said Jasper. “Peri, look.”
Jasper was holding a dog.
Peridot blinked once, took a step forward, set the mug down on the table, and cleaned her glasses with the inside of her shirt. The scruffy, multi-hued dog was still in Jasper’s arms. Its tongue lolled out, and it looked like it was smiling.
“Jasper—” she began, holding up a finger. Peridot paused, and then continued. “Why do you have a dog?”
“I found it,” said Jasper, stepping further into the apartment. “On the street. It was running like it stole something.” She laughed, and rubbed the dog behind the ears. “No collar. And the vet said there wasn’t one of those microchip thingies. Besides, no one else was gonna stop for it.”
“Oh my God. You are already attached to it.” Peridot took a deep breath. “No.”
“We are not keeping the dog.”
“I haven’t even—”
“You were thinking it.”
Jasper looked at the dog and then at Peridot. “Look at it.”
“I’m trying not to.”
“You know you want to keep it.”
“I know you want to keep it.”
“What’s wrong with having a dog?” Jasper glanced around their apartment. “We have enough room. The apartment lets us keep pets.” She shrugged, and grinned. “It likes me.”
“What are we going to do with it?”
“Um. Love it? Cherish it? Take it on walks. Long, romantic walks on the beach.”
“We are not taking the dog with us on romantic walks.”
“Take it on runs! It runs really, really fast, Peri. Like those weirdos that were on the track team.”
“Neither of us run.”
“But we can, with the help of—” Jasper stopped. She scratched the top of the dog’s head, and then checked its underbelly. “It’s a girl. Her name is—”
“Don’t name it!”
“Jasper!” Peridot dragged her hands down her face. “Now we are never getting rid of her.”
“Molly likes you.” Jasper brought the dog closer to Peridot.
“She is trying to lick me.”
“That’s how they show affection. Pet her. C’mon. You know you want to.”
“I do not.” But Peridot rolled back the sleeve of her sweater and gingerly rubbed at Molly’s head. “Soft.”
“And feisty.” Jasper adjusted her hold on the dog. “Can I put her down? My arms are getting a little tired.”
“Fine.” Peridot stepped back and Jasper set Molly down.
The small dog sniffed at both of their legs before taking a tour around the apartment and smelling everything. Jasper stood with her hands on her hips and grinned again.
“I can’t believe this.” Peridot rubbed at her forehead. “I’m going out.”
“Yes. Clear my head.”
“Don’t make a mess. Don’t let…Molly…make a mess.” Peridot grabbed the keys to their car and exited the apartment.
When the door was shut, Jasper kneeled down and whistled. Molly came running from the kitchen, wagging her tail, and sat in front of Jasper.
“Well,” she said, “at least you’re sort of trained.”
Peridot returned an hour later with a plastic bag of assorted things, and a dog food bag over one shoulder. Her expression only read ‘weary,’ and she thumped the dog food down on the couch.
“Holy shit,” said Jasper. “You didn’t.”
“Unfortunately,” said the other woman, “I did.”
“And a leash?”
“You’re a saint.” Jasper kissed Peridot’s forehead. “I knew you’d like her.”
“Yes, yes,” said Peridot. “We better go down to the landlady and sign one of those pet forms before a neighbor reports us.”
“Great. This is great. I always wanted a dog.” Jasper looked in the bag again. “Wow. Even a chew toy.”
Peridot pushed her glasses up. “It is good for their teeth.”
“Hey, look at this.” Jasper whistled again, and Molly trotted into the room. “She’s trained.”
“One less thing to pay for.”
“C’mon. You know you really wanted to get an animal. And look. One practically landed in our lap.”
“All right. I like Molly. I do. She’s cute. And appears intelligent. And you like her, so…well, that seals it.” Peridot smiled at the dog, before turning back to Jasper. “First thing tomorrow, though, we are going to the vet and getting her a checkup.”
“As long as we can keep her, I’m cool with anything.”
Both of them crouched down to pet Molly, who was clearly relishing the attention. Peridot took the collar from the bag and put it around her neck. And that was that. Jasper and Peridot were officially the owners of Molly the mutt.
Fun Fact: Molly was the name of the pitbull my family had when I was little. She was an absolute sweetheart, and, according to my mom, a skilled agility dog! I really love dogs. And cats. But dogs just a little more.
Inspired by the video game DOOM (1993). Jasper is a soldier Peridot is a computer technician; they've been assigned to a Martian base interested in capitalizing on unusual energy located at the planet's core. One day something goes terribly wrong.
Night had fallen on the planet some three hours before, and the temperature correspondingly plummeted. Inside the sprawling base that engulfed a small hill, two survivors waited.
The lights overhead flickered every few seconds, casting shadows against the walls that tickled at one’s paranoia. Blood congealed in pools throughout the base. Some of it was human. Mingled with the familiar crimson bubbled a viscous substance, acidic to the touch. Corpses of fatigue-clad soldiers lay scattered in the hallways, dead from not gunfire, but teeth and claws. The owners of those teeth and claws lay in bits and pieces next to the soldiers. Most were dead.
Jasper shifted in her sitting position, muscles complaining with even the smallest movements. Her fingers curled tighter on the shotgun in her lap at the sound of a distant thump . Dark circles accentuated her eyes. Sleep had dropped to low priority following the invasion. Vigilance, constant vigilance, had drained her of energy.
The unassuming computer technician beside her had her face buried in a barely-functioning radar. She’d altered the audio systems to prevent it from beeping, but now it remained impossible to tell what the flashes on the monitor went. Peridot believed shorter intervals meant closer, but Jasper wanted one hundred percent certainty. Under these circumstances, though, the wish probably wasn’t going to be fulfilled.
“Bloody machine,” Peridot growled, brow furrowing.
Jasper turned her head, helmet scraping against her cheeks. “What’s wrong?”
“It lost connection to the damn satellite.” She tapped at the screen with a finger. “The map’s gone offline.”
Peridot shoved the radar into the busted-up satchel at her side and folded her fingers together. “What now, marine?”
“We’ve gotta get to the communications lab. It’s probably not more than a mile or two from here. But in the dark, and with those...demons out there...I dunno how long it’ll take us.”
Demons. The catch-all term for what had invaded and destroyed their base. Something had gone wrong in the underground labs where they were sampling unusual energy signatures. The next thing everyone knew, hundreds were dead and the snarls of beasts filled the dark halls. Jasper had been on sentry duty. Perhaps that was why she was still alive. Perhaps it was luck. Either way, the demons were still skulking through the base. They couldn’t go outside. The environmental suits were inaccessible. The temperature and lack of oxygen would kill them in seconds without the suits.
They would have to slog through, or wait for a slow death where they were.
“When do we go?”
There was a roar, somewhere too close for comfort. Jasper stood up, ignoring exhaustion, and checked the chamber of her shotgun. Just a few bullets left. She frowned.
Peridot rifled through the contents of her satchel until she came up with a small, square object. “It’s a stun-gun,” she said. “Good in a pinch, I suppose.”
“Better than nothing,” Jasper said.
They moved out from their alcove, Jasper leading the way. Despite the armor she wore, the soldier moved with unusual quietness, each footstep deliberate and wary. A flash of the lights helped them avoid a pool of the acidic blood, and they continued down the tight corridor.
The roar came again, husky, primal. Jasper moved her finger to the trigger, heart beginning to speed up. It was worse when it was one of the corrupted marines, those who weren’t killed but instead turned to vassals of the demons. Faces familiar yet foreign. She tried to make it quick for them.
A corpse lay across their path. Jasper stepped over it; Peridot skirted around the body, throwing a nervous glance over her shoulder as she walked.
An imp dropped from the ceiling in front of them, guttural noises ripping from its throat. A spark began to build up in its hand. Jasper squeezed the trigger. The sound of the gunshot and the death wail the imp produced echoed through the halls. A drop of blood splashed on Jasper’s boots and sizzled against the steel plating. She shook her foot and it slid off, burning against the corridor floor.
“Nasty,” Peridot murmured.
Jasper ignored the comment and kept moving forward. A sign posted at a junction indicated they were to turn left to reach the lab. Blood stained some of the words, making them impossible to decipher. Irrelevant information.
There were fewer bodies of any species here. It made the hair on Jasper’s arms stand up, pulse still riding the higher frequency, unable to come down. In a word, it was unnerving. Just hours ago the halls were brightly lit as people bustled through them, oblivious to the impending chaos about to be unleashed.
Peridot drifted too close to Jasper and bumped against her arm. The soldier jumped, muscles tensing.
“Watch where you’re going,” she hissed.
They turned a corner and found themselves in the entryway of a small room. There was half a person on one side of the room. Their other half was on the other side. Jasper kept her eyes off either one.
They made it halfway through the room before trouble struck. The torso half moved, not enough for Jasper or Peridot to notice, and began to crawl forward. Then one of its hands grabbed Jasper’s ankle. The soldier kicked out violently, the metal on the toes of her boots impacting the zombified human’s throat. It gurgled, but retained its grip. And then a pair of Imps entered the room. Jasper thrashed her leg again, mind racing.
“Stun it!” she yelled to Peridot.
“The electric shock might--”
“Damn the shock!” Jasper turned her shotgun to the Imps. She stepped sideways to give Peridot clearer access to the creature still clinging to her leg. A fireball whizzed past, singing her shoulder. She fired. The shell blasted through the first Imp’s chest.
Peridot plunged her stun gun into the nape of the zombie’s neck and gave it a full charge of electricity. It howled, but released Jasper’s leg. The soldier grunted as a small current of the shock travelled through her body, but pulled the trigger on the second Imp all the same. There was a squelch next to Jasper, and she turned to she Peridot lifting her shoe from the head of the zombie. The engineer’s face was visibly pale even in the poor lighting.
“Shit,” she whispered.
Jasper put a hand out to steady the smaller woman. “It’ll pass.”
Peridot swallowed, face contorting with disgust. “I’m not supposed to do those sorts of things.”
“Rules don’t apply in emergency situations.”
Peridot turned her stun gun off and stuffed it into a pocket on the side of her heavy jacket. “Let’s just keep going.”
Jasper nodded once, and started moving forwards. Peridot scraped the bottom of her shoe along the floor, grimaced, and continued after her companion.
The communications lab was eerily quiet. Jasper stood by the front door and held guard as Peridot took a seat at the main console. The screen blinked: ENTER ACCESS CODE. The soft click of the keys was the only sound in the room as she typed.
“What’s your plan?” Jasper asked.
“This base is equipped with a standard distress beacon. Hopefully it will transmit. In a a day or two--”
“Hold on.” Jasper turned around. “ A day or two? ”
“The beacon is not designed for emergency situations, only sub-level crises.” Peridot continued to work away. “We must wait until then.”
Jasper inhaled through her nose. “Then another few days before a rescue ship gets here.”
“Fine.” Jasper turned back to face outwards. “I guess we’ll have to make do until then.”
“Mhm.” Peridot pressed the button that read ENGAGE BEACON. “And there it goes.”
“And now we wait,” Jasper said.
Peridot sighed. “I don’t like waiting.”
In the distance, something screeched a war-cry into the halls of the base. Jasper mentally counted the number of bullets she had left. Every one had to count.
Peridot turned back to the computer. She could try to fix the broken door systems. She could try to fix the broken electricity system. There was time to kill. Why not try both? She gritted her teeth, willed the sound of the zombie’s skull caving in under her foot away, and set to work.
Captain’s Log. Yesterday we picked up two survivors from one of the Mars colonies. They were both in critical condition, and we’re trying to stabilize them now in our medbay. The soldier appears delirious. We keep hearing things about demons and the dead. I’m going to report back to my superiors on Earth and see about sending a team back over to investigate what happened. Not every day a base goes ka-put like that. Damn shame about all those other folks. Hopefully our next mission goes better.
Peridot, a hunter, has been charged to track and kill a Great Spirit that has been terrorizing a local village. In her venture, she encounters one of the others hired by the village, a mercenary and part-time hunter named Jasper.
The woods grew denser as she moved further into the midst of them, their trunks clustering together until there was little room to slip between them. The ground underfoot was soft and loamy, her footsteps masked in the sounds of twilight.
Little stirred here. This was His domain. The last of the Old Ones, the Great Spirits from ages gone by. The air was thick, the wind hardly whispered. Leaves rustled, but only for the birds that darted in and out of the treetops.
Peridot paused at the edge of a clearing. Bushes ringed it, and a single sapling sprouted out of the middle. Food offerings lay at its roots, tribute from the nearby village. She slid her satchel down and took out a small sack of nuts and berries. Half of the contents she poured into her hand, and this she deposited alongside the other offerings. Even if she was under contract to find and hunt Him, offering tribute was still the right thing to do. Offending an Old One by refusing to show respect could ruin the whole hunt.
Task completed, she moved across the clearing, through the bushes. The bow on her back caught in one of the branches, and she wrested it free. No damage. She kept going.
Night had started to settle. The dark in the forest grew darker. Peridot considered lighting a torch, but the risk of setting a forest fire remained too high for it to be worthwhile. There was still at least ten minutes of light left. She could find another clearing before then.
A small creek snaked across her path, and she stepped over it, turning her head to watch it babble away into the shadows.
And then something caught her eye.
A sudden flash of orange in the distance. Peridot frowned, puzzled. The way it moved—a fire! Someone else was out here. She took out her bow, and started forward. If the fire-starter was friendly, there was warmth for the night. And if not…
She nocked an arrow, and kept an eye out.
The fire came into full view. Another clearing, no sapling, no bushes. Just a treeless space. Someone had pitched a tent from canvas and sticks. The fire was a simple one, kindling ringed with stones. Yet the occupier of the area was nowhere in sight.
Peridot moved along through the undergrowth along the side of the clearing.
A rustling, across the way. She crouched. A woman emerged from the trees, tall, broad-shouldered. She carried a log over her shoulder, and dropped it to the ground with a grunt. The resulting thump sent birds scattering from the trees. The woman clapped her hands on her pants, and sat on the log. She opened a bag at her side, and took out something. A flask. She drank.
Peridot stepped forward into the clearing, bow and arrow lowered but at the ready.
The woman noticed her. She kept drinking, and then put down the canteen.
“You another hunter?” she asked.
“Are you?” Peridot replied.
“Sure.” The woman capped the flask. “Hired by that village.”
“So was I.”
“Seems like they called every hunter, tracker, and mercenary in the whole kingdom. Must be desperate, eh?”
“He has been terrorizing them,” Peridot said, “or so they say.”
“You good with that?” The woman pointed to the bow.
"I prefer the blade.” She unsheathed a broadsword from her side. “Simpler.”
The sword returned to its place. Peridot put the arrow back into her quiver. “I hope our common objective does not make us enemies,” she said.
“I welcome a worthy companion,” answered the woman. “What’s your name?”
“We must hail from the same region. It’s been a long time since I met someone named after other precious stones.”
“I was born in the village near the Mines of At-tuan. But I’ve not been there in many years.”
“The City on the Red Mountain is my birthplace,” Peridot said. “I traveled from there to the village.”
“May I join you for the night?”
She sat down, putting her things beside her. “I had been wondering if I would find someone else out here.”
“There are lots of people in this forest, but it’s too big. Can’t find anyone. Well. Except you.”
"I imagine many are lost. It is easy to get lost here.”
“Not if you’re familiar with the area.” Jasper looked around. “I’ve been in these woods before. Only once, but I’ve got a good memory. I know He lives deeper, in the heart of it all. We’re just barely inside.”
“Is there long before we reach Him?”
"A few days, maybe. There is a canyon a day from here that cuts through the forest like a big scar. From the earthquake of 304. You can’t go over it. No bridge. You have to go down, across the floor, and then scale it again. That’s a day itself.”
“Unless, of course, someone has built a bridge since I was here.”
“That will be interesting,” said Peridot. She took out the nuts and berries, and ate a handful. “I have rope. Not much, but some twenty feet or so.”
“That won’t be enough,” said Jasper, shaking her head. Her hair caught the light of the fire, and seemed to glow. “It’s far down.”
“Then let us pray for safe passage.”
“If you’re into that.” Jasper opened her bag again, and took out a piece of smoked jerky. She bit into it, and chewed.
Quiet settled. The nighttime noises played like a backdrop to their scene. Peridot watched the fire. Still blazing.
“How long have you been hunting?” Jasper asked.
“Eight years, since I was old enough to strike out on my own.”
“That’s a long time.”
“Are you a hunter, or one of the other hired kinds?”
“I’m a mercenary. But I dabble in hunting.” Jasper grinned, displaying crooked teeth. “It’s like a hobby. I’m good at tracking things, human or otherwise.”
The grin disappeared. “I don’t want to say we’re companions, or a team, just yet. Morning will tell if one of us betrays the other. But if we become a partnership, we split the reward.”
“I am aware.”
“I want the larger share.”
“But it would be an even split, no?”
“Not the way I see it.”
Peridot frowned. “Ten thousand gold coins. What do you want, six of that ten?”
“Six is enough.”
“Four for me, then.”
“If we are split it.”
“I told you I’ve not been back to my village. I intend to return after this hunt. The money would be to help my family.”
“Noble of you.”
“Once I’ve returned, and given the money, I’m free to leave. All this time I’ve been trying to figure out how to stop feeling guilty for not being there. But the money would allow me to provide for them, and then go.”
"That is less noble.”
“I don’t need to be tied down to a family.”
“No. You like freedom.”
“I prefer a nomadic lifestyle.”
“So, you will take the majority of the money to pay off a moral debt, and resume your mercenary business.”
“Yes. It’s simple.”
“Well.” Peridot looked at Jasper. “I suppose I am okay with that. Four thousand gold is still a great deal of money.”
“Excellent.” Jasper stood, and held out her hand. “Let’s shake on it. If it comes to the end, we split the reward 60-40.”
Peridot rose and shook Jasper’s hand. “It is official now.”
The fire sputtered. Jasper went around and picked up a stick from a stockpile Peridot hadn’t noticed. She threw a few of those on, until it danced vigorously again.
“We ought to sleep,” said Jasper. “There is much to do tomorrow.”
Peridot turned to kneel, intending on using her satchel as the pillow and her overcoat as a blanket.
“You shouldn’t sleep on the ground,” said Jasper. “Nor without a roof.”
“I know what dangers a forest brings,” Peridot said. “I have been fine before sleeping like this.”
“Not in this forest.” Jasper shook her head again. “My tent has room for the both of us.”
Peridot looked at the tent. “Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. It will be safer, trust me.”
“Hm,” Peridot mused, to herself.
“You’re welcome to stay out here, and risk it, if you’d like,” Jasper said. She crouched next to the tent. “But I’d willing to share.”
“60-40?” Peridot asked.
“You are smaller,” Jasper said, and grinned again.
Peridot picked up her satchel. “All right.”
Jasper held open the tent flap for her. It was larger on the inside, but when they lay down, there was little wriggle room. Peridot, her back on the chill canvas floor, heard the sounds of the forest, dulled by their enclosure. And then, after a moment, the sounds of Jasper sleeping.
She closed her eyes. Tomorrow, things were sure to be even more interesting.
First off, a bit of an apology for the delay. I know I haven't updated this collection in a long time. Things are terrifically busy in my life. Thank you for being patient with me.
Also, let me know if you're interested in seeing this become a longer work. I'm willing to write a full piece if folks are into it.
Chapter 53: Chapter 53
Finishing things off with the one AU I haven't done before: the iconic coffee shop situation.
She always came in on Wednesdays at four pm. And every Wednesday, she would go to the back of the café, set down her textbooks and messenger bag, and then come up to the counter to order her drink: a chai tea latte.
Jasper usually didn’t pay much attention to the patrons of the café. Faces were all the same to her after a while, and sometimes she didn’t even look at them between ringing up their drink and writing their name on the cup. But Peridot, she was different.
After a month of two or this routine, Jasper found herself starting to make a chai tea latte right at four pm, even if Peridot wasn’t there yet.
One time, it had been waiting on the counter for her. Jasper watched as Peridot approached the drink, a confused look on her face, and then picked it up.
“Is this mine?” she asked.
“Yeah. The chai tea latte, your usual—right?”
“Yes. Is this how you treat all your regulars?”
Jasper hesitated, then said: “Not usually.”
Peridot smiled faintly, and went to her spot by the window. Jasper kept a subtle eye on her as she cleaned out the dishes in the sink. In the dying afternoon light, Peridot’s hair glowed with a strange, luminous aura. She looked like something out of a fantasy story, some elven high queen. Jasper didn’t read much, but she had watched all of The Lord of the Rings once at a New Year’s Party.
After that, Jasper put out the latte early every Wednesday, and sometimes hustled through other orders to get a chance to talk to Peridot at the counter.
“What do you do over there?” she asked once, pointing to Peridot’s usual spot.
“I study," answered Peridot matter-of-factly.
“I’m getting my Ph.D. in bioengineering.”
“Oh.” Jasper didn’t really know what that meant. “I only went to college for a couple years.”
“What did you major in?”
“Uh.” She squinted. “World history. You see, I was really—”
There was a man waiting to be helped, and he waved at Jasper to get her attention. She went over to attend to him, and to her surprise, Peridot stayed at the counter, and waited until Jasper returned to resume their conversation.
“You were really what?” she asked, adjusting her glasses. They had rather big, boxy frames, but weren’t at all unsightly.
“I was on the lacrosse team,” continued Jasper, pumping vanilla syrup into the other customer’s sugary excuse for a caffeination boost. “Got a scholarship. My grades weren’t good enough for college otherwise.” She shrugged. “I didn’t really care.”
“Oh.” Peridot nodded as if this explained everything. “Do you still play?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m on a team. This barista stuff—it’s just a side job. I’ll be in the big leagues soon enough.”
“Good luck with that,” Peridot said. She paused. “Well, I best go and study. Thank you for the drink.”
“Oh, yeah…no problem,” Jasper said.
Shortly after that her coach called and told her that some big-name manager was interested in her after having seen her performance at a recent game. Jasper went out east for a week, and came home with a contract in her back pocket.
The following Wednesday, when Peridot showed up at her regular time, she appeared almost relieved by the sight of Jasper, back in uniform.
“Is it weird I was worried about your absence?” she asked, taking her tea from Jasper’s hand. “Of course, there are several hypotheses as to why you took a day off—but I couldn’t help thinking you had gone off to lacrosse fame and glory.”
“Oh, actually,” Jasper said, “I am joining a team. Got a contract and everything. It’s not official, but…it’s happening.”
“Oh!” Peridot blinked behind her glasses. “Congratulations.”
“When do you leave?”
“Here? Uh, end of the month.”
“It’ll be strange not to see you every Wednesday.”
“Yeah. It’ll be weird…not to make a chai tea latte…every Wednesday.” Jasper paused, crinkled her forehead, and added: “I do make ‘em other days, but not on a regular basis like with you.”
“It’s funny how we get so used to routine.”
Jasper nodded. “Yeah. It is.”
She went home that evening, signed the contract, and sent it to the manager. But however excited she felt, a nagging sensation pulled at her gut. It didn’t take long for her realize it was about Peridot.
She resolved to do something with that.
On the last Wednesday of the month, she handed over Peridot’s chai tea latte as usual, and waited. The other woman seemed confused by Jasper’s silence, but she was a quick one, and noticed a mere second later the phone number scribbled at the edge of the cup.
“How does next Wednesday at eight sound?” asked Jasper.
Peridot pushed up her glasses, and smiled. “Sounds fine by me.”
This is the last piece of flash-fiction I'm posting in this work. I've been writing for this collection for almost three years now, and however much I love Jasper and Peridot and all their exploits, I've come to a point in my life where I need to take a break from this sort of stuff.
Feels weird to be saying that after so much time spent writing fan-fiction for you all. I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I have.
If you want to get in contact with me, please feel free to message me here. I used to have a Tumblr, but recently quit the site, and I keep my other social media private for personal reasons. Any thoughts/comments/questions are welcome in my inbox! :-)
Until next time--thank you for reading!
Chapter 54: Chapter 54
This chapter is loosely based on and in the Mojave Wasteland as seen in Fallout: New Vegas.
If you haven't played the game, Mr. Handy looks like this. The NCR = The New California Republic. Caps = bottlecaps, or the post-apocalyptic currency of choice. A synth = synthetic humanoid (androids, basically).
The night had grown long. Few patrons moved about on the casino floor. Most had taken their earnings—or losses—and headed out before midnight. Peridot watched the scene from the balcony above, dark green eyes behind wireframe spectacles surveying the landscape. There was an impassive, almost bored, expression on her thin, fair face. She tapped her fingers—five real, five metal—on the wooden railing. The alternating soft and harsh sounds were faint, overwhelmed by the saccharine blare of the jukebox by the bar. It was an old machine, but it still sang its heart out.
There was a familiar whir by her side.
“Hello, Claude,” said Peridot.
“Hello, Mistress,” said the Mr. Handy bot, hovering by her head.
The black bowtie she had glued to his chassis was askew. Peridot adjusted it.
“I’ve just compiled today’s revenue report,” continued Claude. “You’ll be most pleased to hear that we earned three percent more than usual today.”
“Go ahead and upload it to my personal computer. I’ll look it over later.”
Claude began to turn, obedient as ever. Peridot snapped her fingers suddenly and he stopped.
“Who’s that at the bar? I could swear they haven’t moved in hours,” she asked.
Claude made a humming noise. After a moment, he responded: “That is a female patron. She arrived at three twenty-four pm and has ordered a drink at an average rate of two every ninety minutes.”
“Huh,” Peridot said. When Claude remained at her side, she added: “You can go now.”
“Right away,” replied the robot.
Peridot drummed her hands on the railing for a few seconds longer, and then decisively spun off to the staircase on her left. She crossed between the blackjack tables on a direct course towards the long bar situated against the opposite wall. The woman hadn’t moved, but the bartender was pouring a new drink.
“This one is on the house,” she said, taking a seat. The bartender acknowledged with a little nod of his head and went back to polishing glasses.
“I won’t say no to a free drink,” said the woman. She picked up the drink, swirled it idly, and then tilted her head back and drank it in one long go.
Peridot tried to avoid curling her lip. “I see you’ve mastered the art of alcohol consumption,” she said, voice dry.
“Had plenty of practice,” came the reply. She looked over at Peridot. “What do you want?”
“Well,” said Peridot. She ran a critical eye over her: the woman was tall, at least six feet, with a broad frame, accentuated by the metal-and-leather armor she wore. Her nose was just a little crooked, and there were two faded diagonal scars running across her tanned face. Her hair was sun-bleached and unruly. It had not seen a proper brush in far too long. “I was hoping we could talk.”
“Let’s begin with introductions. My name is Peridot. I am the proprietor of this establishment.”
“Uh-huh. I’m Jasper. Ex-merc. Ex-NCR. Nice to meet you, whatever.”
“You seem to have formerly been many things.”
“Got kicked out of the Republic for being too aggressive. And the caravan I was hired to protect just got wiped off the face of the wasteland, so that makes me, for now, an ex-merc.”
“What’s it to you, anyway?”
“Only curious. So, you do exclusively mercenary work now?”
“Yeah. Whoever’ll take me on. For the right price.”
“What happened to the last one? The one that was…wiped off.”
“Oh.” Jasper laughed. “Oh. They got ambushed by some energy weapon freaks. I put bullets in the bastards, but one of ‘em zapped my arm. Then I saw what had happened to the traders and hightailed it. I’m no coward but I don’t fight losing battles.”
“Is your arm all right?”
Jasper held up her left arm. The sleeve of her shirt had been torn off and the skin underneath was red and singed. “Hurts like a bitch, if you want to know. But I’ll be all right.”
“I have an Auto-Doc in the back, if you’d like to have that addressed.”
“I’m not having a robot touch me,” Jasper said. “I’ll just tough it out.”
“A stimpack would be better for you than alcohol,” Peridot replied.
“Well, it’s my caps, so I’ll do with ‘em what I please.”
Peridot took off her glasses and cleaned them with the hem of her blouse. “Very well.”
“Any other questions, proprietor?” Jasper’s voice landed hard on the last word.
“I don’t smoke anymore.”
“Well, at least you’re free of that vice,” said Peridot. She removed a mostly-empty pack from the pocket of her pants and then a matchbook. She stuck the cigarette in the corner of her mouth and lit the match on her cybernetic arm.
“What happened to you?” Jasper asked, jerking her chin towards the metal limb.
Peridot shook out the match and dropped it in Jasper’s empty glass. There was a soft hiss when the head found dregs of alcohol. “Had a run in with some raiders as a teen. They don’t take kindly to budding entrepreneurship. Ran off with just about every bit of earnings I had scrounged up. At least they left me the robots.”
“And they cut your arm off, too?”
“Oh, no. I had to get it amputated. Small cut from a knife turned nasty.”
“Mm.” Peridot took a drag of the cigarette and blew out smoke before speaking again. “Robots aren’t so bad, once you get used to them.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
“Although, usually, most patrons do prefer human faces. It’s why I have a real bartender instead of another Mr. Handy unit. And the bouncer’s no synth, either. Some people are scared of the automata, but oftentimes another person is more convincing, more threatening. There are certain things robots just can’t learn.”
“I don’t follow,” Jasper said. She scratched her chin.
“You like being employed, don’t you?”
“I need somebody for security on the casino floor.”
“You want me to work for you.”
Peridot exhaled, nodded through the smoke. “Yes.”
“You’re tough, intimidating, and most importantly, available. I assume nobody’s picked you up since whenever you were relieved of your previous duty?”
“No,” said Jasper. “How much will you pay me?”
“It’s a very competitive salary,” Peridot said. “Twenty caps an hour to start, thirty if I like what I see. Although, truth be told, I do already like what I see, but performance is where it matters most.”
“I can perform just fine.”
"Your real human bouncer confiscated my hunting shotgun on the way in.”
“Shotguns are messy in close quarters. Effective, but the bullet spread can be…bad for customers.” Peridot paused, mused, and then said: “We collected a battle rifle from a patron just last week. Good condition. I think I have a box of ammo for it, too. Would you—?”
“I can handle any gun you put in my hands,” Jasper said, with a touch of arrogance. “But I’ll want my shotgun back.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“When do I start?”
“Well, I don’t anticipate you’ll be feeling one hundred percent in anytime before noon, so you can cool your heels until the evening. That’s when we’re the busiest, anyways.”
“Do I get sleeping quarters?”
“Yes. We have a spare room.”
“Sounds like a contract to me,” Jasper said. “Do we, what, shake on it?”
“No need,” Peridot said. “I promise I’m a fair employer.”
“No guarantee I’m a fair employee, though.”
“No, but you need the caps, so…” Peridot smiled, and extinguished her cigarette in the nearby ashtray. “How about I show you to your room?”
“What about my gun?”
“You won’t need it for a while. Come on.”
Peridot slid off the barstool and started towards the staircase. After a few steps, she turned around. Jasper got up, put a handful of caps on the countertop, and then followed her.
Well, I really thought Ch. 53 was going to be the last chapter, but it seems not! I played a lot of Fallout: New Vegas over my winter break and was randomly hit with some inspiration for a mini Jaspidot fic, so here we are.
Also, this year will mark four years of me writing Steven Universe fan-fiction. Crazy! I had just started high-school when I wrote most of this work and now I'm in college. Once a Jaspidot stan, always a Jaspidot stan. Or however they say it.
Chapter 55: Chapter 55
Request submitted by Dragonsrule18, who said: “I'd love to see a story where instead of leaving Jasper on the ship when the Crystal Gems are on it and it starts to crash, Peridot tries to go rescue Jasper, even though she's tied up, and possibly Steven goes back for Lapis and helps all three of them get out.”
I tweaked this a little bit and wrote about Peridot and Jasper escaping the crashing Homeworld ship together. I couldn't quite crack having Steven go back to get all three of them, so I left it there. I hope you like it despite the alterations, and thank you for sending in the request!
The ship jerked backwards with the explosion of the reactor core. The tiles of the bridge tilted away underneath Peridot and she found herself freefalling through the corridor, limbs still straitjacketed by that Amethyst’s whip. She hit the corner of something, spun around, and found herself teetering on the edge of a hole in the ship floor. Panic seized her as she saw the smoking wreckage of the core down below.
She tried to inchworm backwards, but the ship pitched about again. She rolled closer to the edge. It felt like they were going into the atmosphere. No telling how long it would be until they hit the surface.
There was a loud, growling groan from amid the smoke.
“Jasper?” Peridot asked, in a whisper. When the frustrated snarl repeated itself, she said the name again, louder, and craned her neck to peer down and try to spot the other gem. It proved to be one of her less-than-bright ideas. The ship shuddered and sent her head over heels into the hole. Pain lit up and down her body. Peridots were not built to withstand such rough treatment. Her visor was cracking. She could still see, even if the world had a widening split through it.
“Jasper!” she called again.
A hand burst out of the rubble. The orange coloration and blunt fingers confirmed the identity. The rest of Jasper soon followed, revealing a disheveled, furious looking gem. Her hair was somehow even wilder than before. Chunks of the ship were caught up in it. She shook her head, dislodging a few bits. There were scorch marks along her arms.
“Where’s Garnet?” she roared.
“There’s no time for that!” Peridot snapped back. “Free me and I’ll get us an escape pod! The ship’s going to hit the planet any moment now!”
Peridot managed to roll over and face Jasper. The big gem pushed aside a hunk of debris and stormed over, each of her footsteps shaking the ground almost as much as the dying ship. She grabbed the bindings around Peridot and ripped them off. Peridot started to stagger to her feet, when Jasper pulled her arm, almost wrenching it out of its socket, and hauled her the rest of the way up.
“What about that escape pod?”
“You’re going to have to make yourself smaller,” Peridot said. “It’s not big enough for a gem of your size.”
“You don’t give me orders!”
“It’s the only way we’ll make it out of here!” She touched her gemstone and felt the floor at her feet start to reshape itself. “Hurry up!”
Jasper scowled but obliged, crouching beside Peridot. The escape pod formed up around the two gems. Its walls squeezed them together, the interior not quite big enough to fit more than one occupant. Peridot found herself practically sitting on Jasper’s knees. Neither of them liked the arrangement, but it would have to do. The pod dropped down, then rotated as it rolled on an invisible track towards the chute. They would be shot from the pointer finger of the ship and sent, with all due luck, out away from Earth.
The inky blackness of space greeted them for a moment.
Then it fell away.
“Where are we going? I thought this was an escape pod!” Jasper said.
The trajectory of the pod felt wrong. They could see the ship, growing smaller in front of them. It was hurtling downwards, which meant—
“We must be headed for the planet’s surface!” Peridot said, trying to stifle the fear-induced crack in her voice.
“Is there some way to turn this thing around?”
Peridot tried to pull up the controls but found them unresponsive. They were jammed. The emergency override protocol was also offline. “Everything’s broken!”
“You’re telling me we’re stuck in a broken escape pod?”
“Y-yes,” Peridot replied. Jasper’s anger was almost tangible. “But we can use one of the warp pads on this planet—it still has an active one, at site—”
Her sentence was cut off by the impact of the pod smashing into the ground. They were slammed around in the pod, hitting the walls and each other. Jasper’s elbow wound up in her face. Her visor had cracked even further. The lights inside spluttered before dying, plunging everything into green-tinged darkness.
“Urgh!” she said.
“Did we land?” Jasper asked.
“Of course we did! What do you think that was?”
“Hey! Don’t talk back to me like that.” Jasper managed to get an arm free and punch through the already-damaged window of the pod, opening up a jagged hole. She pushed Peridot aside in her efforts to get out. “Looks like we’re in some kind of field. I don’t see anything around.”
“Good,” Peridot said. She stuck her head out. “Hopefully we’re far away from those Crystal Gem clods.”
“Where do you think they landed?”
“I don’t know.” Peridot stared up at the sky but couldn’t see any signs of a smoke trail or the ship itself. “I’ll start looking for that warp pad.”
“Are you crazy? We can’t go back to Homeworld empty-handed. We have to find those gems. Rose Quartz won’t get away from us again.”
“You want to find them? Do you think you can face them all at once?”
Jasper whirled around. “I did before. I can do it again. You don’t believe me?” She stepped closer to Peridot and stared down at her. “I don’t need any tools or anything to beat them.”
Peridot swallowed nervously, said nothing. She pulled her personal screen up and checked the map she had of the planet. Jasper was pacing around. Each of her steps kicked up a dust cloud.
“I don’t know where we are,” Peridot said, “but it looks like something big crashed by the coast over there.” She paused, then exclaimed: “Hey, that’s where we landed the first time!”
“Do you know how to get there?”
“I can plan a route.”
“Good. Do that.”
“Do it!” Jasper repeated, more aggressively. “You think Yellow Diamond will be happy with us going back empty-handed? I’m a Jasper. I don’t leave missions unfulfilled.”
“If there were two or three of you, I would say our odds of success were favorable. As it is right now, I estimate our chances are…slim to none at all.”
“I don’t need to hear any of that probability junk,” replied Jasper, waving a hand. “Just tell me where I need to go, and I’ll take care of business.”
“We need to head that way,” Peridot said, consulting the screen. She pointed to their left. “It is the most direct and efficient route.”
Jasper, without further comment, started off in the direction Peridot was indicating.
“I’m not crazy,” Peridot muttered. “You’re crazy.”
There was a strange noise from somewhere nearby. It sounded mechanical. There were voices. Human voices. Peridot hurriedly crawled out of the pod and began to follow Jasper. If they stayed together, those slim chances of success increased. Marginally. It was, she consoled herself, better than nothing. Even if this was a bad idea. A very bad idea indeed.
I'm taking requests again! :-)
Chapter 56: Chapter 56
This one features an older Jasper and Peridot (early/mid-30s).
There's not really a plot to this one; more of a character/dialogue study. I don't recall if I've done a chapter where they're a bit older. Jasper is portrayed as someone who's mellowed out with age, with references to a more ambitious, competitive youth (and service in the Marines). Peridot is a blend of her personality before and after regenerating the first time, so reason-driven with an emotional intelligence that's still being fine-tuned.
Jun. 20th, 20XX
HEROIC SECURITY GUARD INJURED WHILE THWARTING ART THEFT
On Tuesday night, around approximately eight pm, a pair of would-be thieves broke into the Galleria Studio downtown. They didn’t get very far past the entrance—the security guard on duty, who asked that she only to be referred to as Jasper, quickly spotted and apprehended them in the main foyer. While one of the trespassers was more than compliant in the face of an armed authority, his co-conspirator was less cooperative…
“I don’t see what all the noise is about.”
“You’re a hero. Didn’t you read the headline?”
Jasper made a sound that was somewhere between “pft!” and “hah!” and tossed the newspaper onto the nightstand. “I could have handled it better. Shown some real heroism.”
“Considering the circumstances,” replied Peridot, picking up the newspaper, “you did a good job. You were hired to protect the gallery. You stopped a robbery.”
“—an art theft. Isn’t that a job well done?”
“Could have been better,” Jasper reiterated.
“Hmph.” Peridot stood up from her chair. She rolled up the newspaper and tucked it under one arm. “Well, you keep daydreaming about being more of a hero. I’m going to check on dinner. Do you need water?” She pointed at the mostly empty glass on the little table. “Painkillers?”
“I’m fine,” said Jasper.
“You will tell me if you need anything, right?”
“You’re not going to recover from a bullet wound on sheer obdurateness.”
“Do you mean stubbornness? Look who’s talking, Peri. I saw you fight a flu with your stubbornness. I’m fine. Just gotta rest for a while and I’ll be back on the job in no time.”
“No time being a couple weeks,” clarified Peridot.
“You want me to take a painkiller?”
“If you need it.”
“Oh, go away.” Jasper waved a dismissive hand. “I think you’re making it worse.”
Peridot walked out to their kitchen. There was a pizza in the oven. Jasper had asked for pizza. Normally Peridot didn’t like pizza, but it was a good stay-at-home dinner and she lacked the energy to make something from scratch. Her manager had agreed to let her work from home while Jasper was convalescing. It was supposed to have been less stressful. Someone it was more stressful. And easier to get distracted. Jasper was quiet most of the time, hardly ever asking for Peridot, but Peridot nonetheless found herself frequently checking in on her fiancée. They were both stubborn. Jasper refused help and Peridot wouldn’t stop trying to care for her. She had never really cared for somebody before and she would be damned if she didn’t do all she could. Unfortunately, the woman she was currently caring for preferred a DIY approach to…most things.
She took the pizza out of the oven milliseconds after the timer beeped. She cut it into neat little slices. Eight slices. Jasper would probably eat at least four. Peridot put three slices apiece on two plates and left the remaining for later. It was hot. She ran her fingers under the cold tap water. The pizza was also greasy. She grabbed a random handful of napkins from the napkin holder and then went back to the bedroom, carrying the plates and the napkins.
“Thought I smelled the pepperoni,” Jasper said. She took the napkins Peridot handed her, and then the plate. “Thanks.”
Peridot carefully placed a napkin on the nightstand, then her plate on top of it. She sat down on the chair by the bed again, spread a napkin in her lap, and then picked up the plate. “Be careful with the pizza. It’s greasy,” she said. She began to blot her slices.
“I’ve never understood why you…do that,” said Jasper around a mouthful. “A little grease isn’t gonna kill you.”
“Depends on how much pizza you eat.”
“Nobody is eating enough pizza to overdose on grease, Peri.”
“It’s just how I eat my pizza.” Peridot crumpled up the napkin and lobbed it towards the trashcan by the door. It missed. “Damn.”
She set her plate back on the nightstand and went over to the trashcan. So close, yet so far. With a sigh, she picked up the napkin by one non-greasy edge and dropped it into the can.
“That cartoon show you like is doing reruns,” Jasper said. She pointed at the television screen on the dresser across from the bed. “Camp whatever.”
“I liked it when I was younger,” Peridot said, a touch defensively. “Perhaps a little too much.”
“Season five, episode six. The campers must compete—”
“—season five is garbage. One or two were the best, when they had the most original ideas.” She sat down again. “I stopped watching after season eight.”
Jasper wiped her fingers on a napkin and picked up the remote. “What do you want to watch?”
“Anything on local news?”
“I thought potential candidates were announcing their run for the mayoral election today.”
“You want to watch that?”
“It’s important to be an informed voter, isn’t it?”
Jasper scrolled through the guide and clicked on the channel. There was a moment of buffering, and then the blonde news-anchor said:
“—now is the owner of Galleria Studio, who has just returned to town as of this morning. Good evening, Ms. Egan. It’s very nice to have you with us tonight.”
Ms. Egan was an austere woman. She wore a sleeveless black dress and had an intense, if a bit distant, look on her face. She smiled at the anchor’s greeting. “Oh, it’s very nice to be back, even if the circumstances are less than ideal.”
“We understand you had to cut a vacation short to return home.”
Ms. Egan nodded slowly. “Yes, I was in New York. Of course, once I heard the news, I booked the next plane to come back and make sure everything was okay.”
“Of course. It must have been a great relief to know nothing was taken or damaged. You’ve worked on curating the gallery for some time, now, right?”
“Oh, I was overjoyed! The gallery is near and dear to my heart. I’ve spent the last two decades putting it together, creating and recreating the themes. There have been a few attempts to steal or thieve, but of course, they’ve always been thwarted.” She paused for a moment, seeming to gather some thoughts, and then added: “I am of course extremely grateful to the security guard who was on duty at the time. I heard she was injured?”
“Unfortunately, yes, the security guard was shot in the leg, but she was released from the hospital last night and is on the mend.”
“Oh, that’s good to hear. I owe her everything, really, I can’t bear to imagine what would have happened to my gallery if she hadn’t been there—”
Jasper muted the broadcast.
“Maybe they’ll do the announcements later,” she said, and switched over to one of the sports channels. A collegiate soccer match was playing.
“I don’t get it,” said Peridot. “Jasper, why don’t you like the recognition you’re getting?”
“Anyone could have done that. If it wasn’t me on duty, it would’ve been some other guard. There was nothing exceptional about it, Peri, why should I be getting all this attention? I was just doing my job.”
“I don’t think many other people would have had the fortitude to take a bullet in the leg and then successfully neutralize the gunman who put the bullet there. Someone with a little less steel in their spine probably would have wound up dead.”
Jasper’s dark eyebrows knit together. She frowned.
“You know you did something special. You just won’t admit it. Maybe I misspoke. It’s not that you don’t like the recognition. You think you don’t deserve it.”
“Hey, we’re not getting into my insecurities here, all right?” Jasper said, raising her voice. She stopped herself, sighed, and then said, “It could have gone better. I’m getting older and the Marines training isn’t as sharp as it used to be. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone anymore, so…I’m just being modest. All right?”
“Okay,” Peridot said. She nodded.
“I’m glad I stopped them and I’m glad that Ms. Ian is overjoyed or whatever. There’s a hole in my leg, but I’m alive, so that’s something.”
“It’s Ms. Egan. You said Ian.”
“Oh.” Jasper blinked, and then an amused smirk broke across her face. “Ian, Egan. You know, I didn’t even know what she looked like until I saw her on the news just then.”
“You didn’t know what she looked like…? She hired you!”
“No, she hired my employer. They assigned me to work there.”
“Yeah. I did not expect her to look like that.” Jasper fell quiet and looked down at her pizza. She pulled off a slice of pepperoni. “You are right.” She chewed on the pepperoni, the frown returning at the corners of her eyes.
“About what exactly?”
“Most of the other guards I work with…well, uh, for lack of a better way to put it, they’re kinda like the Pillsbury Dough Boy if he were a human. Now I’m not in my prime, but I’d say I’m still in good shape. Better than them, for sure. Uh. Yeah, none of them could’ve taken that bullet and still finished the job. Hell, I barely did. Maybe it’s something special, maybe it’s just me being as stubborn and determined as I’ve always been. Mission comes first and everything.”
“Just, in the future, don’t—don’t press me on things like my insecurity and stuff. I don’t like it very much. Maybe we put a line in front of those topics. No man’s land,” she said.
“Okay,” Peridot said. “I apologize for getting under your skin earlier. It wasn’t my intention—but that doesn’t matter. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah. Apology accepted.”
Peridot held out her hand to Jasper, and Jasper took it, and they held hands for a moment. It reminded both of them when they were a little bit younger.
Then Jasper said, “Is there any more pizza left?”
“Could you get me them? I would go myself, but…you see, I was shot…”
“Yes, yes.” Peridot relinquished Jasper’s hand and put her plate back on the nightstand. “Anything else for you while I’m up?”
“Was that sarcasm?”'
Jasper opened her mouth, paused, and then said, “If you want, you can cut that article out of the newspaper and stick it on the fridge. If you want.”
“Okay,” said Peridot, and smiled.
After a second, Jasper smiled back.
I haven't watched Steven Universe in a long time (i.e. I stopped watching around "Three Gems and a Baby"), but I've done my best to keep up with the news and more recent episodes. (I'm happy Jasper's back!) I'm definitely going to try and catch the Movie when it comes out later this fall.
I might post another chapter or two before the year runs out. I keep thinking "this is the last chapter, I swear!" but I just can't seem to quit on Jasper and Peridot. I'm glad (and surprised) to see people are still reading.
If you want to give me a prompt, feel free to comment! I read all of them (but I'm bad at replying, sorry).