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nerd. n.

1. A foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious.

2. A single-minded expert in a particular technical field.

Peridot squinted at the dictionary, trying to reconcile the word with her image of herself. Clumsily, she uncapped the pen Steven had given her. She tried to draw a box around the definition, but accidentally struck black ink through the last line. A single minded.

She could hear the television on Steven's loft. Amethyst and Steven were watching wrestling.

The word felt strange--it turned over in her mouth. Wrestling.

Amethyst shouted with joy. The sound carried easily into the bathroom. And, after it, Steven's voice:

"Oh, no! Amethyst, do you think he's okay?"

Peridot felt herself smile. Steven's genuine ignorance had surprised her, at first. The longer Peridot spent with Steven and these Crystal Gems, the heavier his optimism became.

Something about the knowledge that such innocence could never last through what was coming.

Amethyst hadn't responded to Steven. It suddenly seemed imperative to her that he should receive an answer.

She pushed herself to her feet and set the dictionary down next to the sink. When she'd first arrived here, leaving the bathroom had always felt like crossing some significant threshold, but now it felt like nothing.

She tripped on the first step. Something in her own clumsiness reminded her of how small she was. Her feet felt strange, her arms felt strange. She felt strange. The sound of Steven's primitive image cube had always made her ears ring. Suddenly she wasn't sure what she was doing here. She stopped, frowned.

"Hey, Peridot!" Steven was peeking over the top of the stairs.

"Steven," she responded evenly.

Now that she was looking at him, she felt foolish. She'd forgotten what she wanted to tell him so badly. Earth's setting sun glared into her eyes through Steven's open window. She wasn't sure if she should turn around, back to her dictionary.

Steven reached out his hand to her.

Amethyst spoke. "Wanna watch wrestling with us?"

Something about their earnest expressions made it feel like it wasn't much of a decision at all. She supposed that even on Homeworld, she hadn't known how to say no to her superiors.

She sat on the other side of Steven and watched the humans on the screen. They seemed to be engaged in some primitive kind of combat. She wrinkled her nose.

"What is... wrestling, anyway?" She paused on "wrestling". She'd been sure of the word before, but something about saying it to Steven and Amethyst's faces made her doubt she'd heard it correctly. She glanced at Amethyst. If she'd pronounced it incorrectly, it didn't show on her face.

"It's where people get together and, like, beat each other up," Amethyst said. She mimed punching the palm of her hand, as if to demonstrate.


"I dunno. Because it's fun."

"Because they want to know which is stronger."

Peridot jumped and turned toward the new voice. The Pearl had come up the stairs and was now sitting on Steven's bed. She had come so silently, Peridot hadn't sensed her approach.

"Competition is the reason behind most things humans do," the Pearl continued. "Their systems of power are largely based on skill, rather than the inherent caste system gems have."

"Hmm." Peridot had to acknowledge that it made a kind of sense. "That's so... primitive. I'll never understand what you Crystal Gems see in this place."

"Well--" the Pearl started, but was cut off when Steven gasped.

"Idea!" He scrambled to his feet to face them. "We should show Peridot everything there is to love about Earth!" He stretched his arms out to the sides, as if his tiny body couldn't contain the brilliance of his epiphany.

"I think that's a great idea, Steven, but we have to keep working on the drill," the Pearl responded reasonably.

"Steven and I will take her," Amethyst interjected. "That way you can keep working on the drill." She glanced at Peridot wryly. "We all know who's the better engineer anyway."

The Pearl blushed, Peridot scowled. It seemed her fate was sealed.


"Is this really necessary?"

Peridot squinted at the building. The light was even more obtrusive outside. Amethyst and Steven had brought her to a "Big Donut". She wasn't sure what she would encounter inside, but based on Steven and Amethyst's comments, she suspected it would involve "eating".

"Of course it is!" Steven said. "The Big Donut is one of my favorite places in town!"

Peridot held her tape recorder up to her face. "Log date, 7118. At the annoying bequest of the Steven, I am about to enter what the humans call a 'Big Donut'. They seem to be under the impression that 'eating' will help me to understand the strange culture of the humans." Frustration began to creep into her voice. "What they don't seem to understand is that Earth is annoying and everything is annoying, but perhaps nothing is grosser or more annoying than eating!" By the end, she was shouting. She took a deep breath to calm herself. "Peridot, facet five. End log," she finished.

Steven and Amethyst stared at her. After a moment's silence, Steven spoke. "You don't have to eat if you don't want to, Peridot."

"But you do have to come in with us!" Amethyst slung her arm over Peridot's shoulders and pushed her towards the building. Steven held the door open for them.

"Afternoon, Lars, Sadie," Steven said.

"Hi, Steven. Who is this?" It was the smaller human that spoke. The taller one stood in the corner, prodding the floor with some kind of tool.

"Sadie, this is Peridot. She's a gem. She's helping the Crystal Gems save the world."

"Sounds important. What'll you be having, Peridot?"

Peridot furrowed her eyebrows. She didn't really want anything.

Amethyst answered for her. "She'll have one of the powdered sugar ones. Make that two, actually."

Peridot shot her a glance.

Amethyst shrugged. "What? More for me."

And so Peridot found herself sitting on the beach--itchy from the gross Earth sand--staring at her strange "powdered sugar one". Steven's lion had appeared, and Steven was down the beach trying to feed him bits of his chocolate one. She had to admit, she liked the smell of these "ones". She liked the smell of the ocean, too. So far, she hadn't found much else to like here.

Her powdered sugar one was covered in an unfamiliar white substance. Powdered sugar, perhaps? Tentatively, she sniffed it. The sugar went up her nose and made her sneeze.

Amethyst laughed loudly. "You're not supposed to smell it, you're supposed to eat it."

"I'm still not sure if I want to eat it," Peridot responded.

Amethyst snorted. "Come on, it's good. Here. I'll do it with you." She held up her powdered sugar one and looked at Peridot expectantly.

"If I must," Peridot muttered. She gathered the thing up into her hands--the sugar almost felt worse than the sand, because it was also sticky.

"Ready? One, two..."

It was good. The powdered sugar one, that is.