Garnet stepped up the stairs of the Galaxy Warp and looked over the sea of broken warp pads. The air felt heavy around her, as if it had been disturbed by something other worldly. The Warp Pads remained deactivated and broken, and did nothing to explain the huge release of energy that the sensors had picked up in the area while they’d been working on the drill.
She glanced around the area, her guard up as she patrolled the area looking for anything that was out of place. With the drill a top priority, Garnet was forced to work this mission alone.
Well, as alone as she ever could be.
Garnet smiled to herself at her own joke, and skipped down the stairs of the platform on the other side. To the right, she caught sight of a small stack of smoke rising behind the trees. Activating her gauntlets, she headed toward the rising smoke with caution, ready to attack or flee depending on the severity of the situation.
The smoke came from an indent in the ground; a landing site.
Garnet reached the depression and pressed her lips together in a frown at the small, oblong space ship. Not an escape vessel, it looked to be a single-person transport. Severely damaged, smoke came from the back of the engine in a small stream. There was no mistaking where this ship had come from, however. She’d seen enough of modern Gem Technology to recognize it at this point.
A snap and an explosion on the back sent an entire new wave of the thick smog into the air. Garnet waved her hand in front of her face to clear the air, and took note of the fire that had started on the back. And that the door had yet to open.
“Should probably see who’s in there,” Garnet muttered to herself, sliding down the steep hill of dirt.
With ease, she yanked off the door from its hinges and was met with the form of a small, shivering Pearl.
Garnet’s three eyes widened behind her visor and she threw herself away from opening. She backed up, and felt herself begin to fracture. She shook her head and held it together, having no idea if this was a threat or not and there was no way she’d leave Ruby and Sapphire alone if there was danger, but the feeling of familiarity was so strong on Sapphire’s half that it was disturbing.
The Pearl turned her head up, noticing that the door was gone and crawled out. Her hair was long, falling in waves down her back and bangs covered her upper face in a hair style that both Garnet and Ruby knew on sight. Her color was an equally familiar blue, and her dress was thick with petticoats; her sleeves puffed at the top. The large, oval pearl was easily visible on the back of her hand.
The Pearl looked at Garnet, and spoke with a shaking voice. “Y-you! Rebel Gem! Have you seen Mistress Sapphire?”
“Pearl!” Garnet exclaimed, before she felt the divide and fell into darkness.
“You know her?” Ruby exclaimed, standing up immediately from her fall into the dirt. Sapphire held her cheeks and kept staring at the Homeworld Pearl that had landed in the tiny spaceship. “What’s going on?”
“She—She’s,” Sapphire said, in an unusual display of shock. Ruby gripped her fists, looking up at the much taller Pearl, who had tears tripping down her cheeks. Sapphire pointed up slowly. “That’s Pearl.”
“Yes, I know it’s a Pearl! I’m asking who she is!” Ruby stressed, tugging at her hair.
“Oh, Mistress Sapphire!” The Pearl interrupted, falling to her knees. Her dress puffed up around her and she reached out and grabbed Sapphire’s hands with her own. The Pearl knelt and put her forehead to the back of Sapphire’s small, gloved hands and sobbed. “I knew you were still alive. I knew, I knew it!”
“How,” Sapphire said, breathing hard. She shook her head and took in a deep breath. Continuing in the much calmer, serene voice Ruby had come to know her best for, Sapphire said, “How did you get here?”
“I had to steal a ship,” The Pearl said. She squeezed Sapphire’s hands and shook her hair, her bangs swishing back and forth. “It took me over five thousand years of breaking rules and pretending to serve other masters, but I finally got a ship to Earth. Oh, I’m so happy to see you.”
“What is going on!” Ruby exclaimed, tired of being out of the loop. Fire burned at her feet as her temper got the best of her. “Who is she? What is she doing here! Do you know her?”
“I’m Mistress Sapphire’s Pearl, of course!” The Pearl answered. She stood and held her hands at her waist, her pointed nose and thin shoulders so much like the Pearl that had become their family. Ruby had almost forgotten what it was like to be around other gems this way. The Pearl nodded. “I was her faithful Pearl for eons before she disappeared on her mission to Earth.”
The Pearl sucked in a breath and turned back to Sapphire. She clutched hard at Sapphire’s hands and her voice hitched in sobbing breaths. “Oh, Ma’am. Please don’t send me away. I’ve done so much wrong, and brought so much shame to your name, but please let me keep serving you!”
“Calm down,” Sapphire said, squeezing the sobbing Pearl’s hands back. She soothed, her voice low and calm. “It’s alright. You haven’t brought shame to anyone.”
“Is that true?” Ruby gaped, staring at Sapphire and the tall Pearl bowing at the knee. “You had a Pearl?”
Sapphire pulled her hands away from the Pearl and clasped her hands together. She turned her head to the side, and her voice was full of something odd. Ruby didn’t like it. She didn’t like it one bit. “i was in Blue Diamond’s personal court, Ruby. I was a dignitary. You knew that!”
“Yeah, but you didn’t like, have a Pearl with you when I met you,” Ruby said. She ran her hands up the side of her face and just stared. Blue Diamond had her Pearl with her. wouldn’t that mean all the ones who had Pearls would have done the same? “I didn’t think you had one.”
“Why would I have brought her to Earth? I was supposed to be attacked there, remember?” Sapphire stressed. She put a hand to her chest and shook her head. “Why would I make her watch that?”
“You never said anything about it before!” Ruby said, throwing her arms toward the Pearl that was just standing there. Quiet. Attentive. It was a little creepy.
“I had other things on my mind,” Sapphire said, frowning.
“Oh right!” Ruby smacked her fist into her palm, and felt the grin stretch on her face. She winked at Sapphire. “You were busy thinking about me.”
Sapphire smacked Ruby on the side of the arm.
It was worth it.
Two hours later, and neither Ruby nor Sapphire had any idea what to do with their Homeworld Guest. The new Pearl absolutely refused to leave Sapphire’s side. She had made it quite clear that she’d rather risk disobeying Sapphire’s command than to leave, and the way she’d said it made it sound like the Pearl would kill herself before she abandoned Sapphire again. Ruby thought it was disturbing. Sapphire just felt bad for her. And that meant forming Garnet was out of the question. They both felt incomplete and alone without her, but they’d have to manage.
Sapphire sat her hands in her lap and kept her breath even. Future vision was no use to her right now. There were so many scenarios where this all went wrong, that frankly, she’d gotten tired of looking for the one good scenario that would bring everyone some sort of peace. But Ruby was here, so she felt more comfortable just winging it and letting things happen as they were meant to happen. Ruby had that sort of affect on fate, it seemed.
Though that still didn’t calm anyone down.
Or help Sapphire figure out what to do with her Pearl now. The poor thing had come a long way, and if her story was accurate, done things inconceivable for a Homeworld Pearl to do it. Her loyalty and dedication to Sapphire was on the verge of making the Crystal Gem’s Pearl look like Amethyst when it came to Responsibility.
And that was terrifying.
Sapphire pressed her lips together hard and frowned. This was going to be like dealing with Peridot all over again, but worse. Because Sapphire’s Pearl and the team’s Pearl meeting was going to be a disaster.
She didn’t need future vision to see that coming.
“So, what are we going to do with her?” Ruby said, crossing her arms. “You both shot down my idea of just sending her home, so I don’t know what you want.”
“We can’t leave her to fend for herself, Ruby,” Sapphire said. And that too was true. She looked over at the Pearl and felt her heart ache. In her love for Ruby, and her new life with the Crystal Gems, Sapphire had abandoned Homeworld and everything it stood for. And somehow in learning that all Gems were of equal value and could be themselves, she had somehow forgotten about the Gems that were her responsibility at home. Sapphire couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt this guilty. “She worked so hard to get here.”
“Yeah, but she can’t really keep doing the servant thing now that she’s here,” Ruby said, throwing her hands up. “We got rid of all that! And plus, it’ll be horrible for Pearl to have to be around that. She’s already had all those old issues dredged up thanks to Peridot.”
Sapphire’s Pearl fidgeted, the slightest movement of her fingers. Sapphire frowned, and tried to remember her behavior before. For a Homeworld Pearl, that was practically the equivalent of throwing her arms up and screaming for attention.
“You may speak without my permission. You’re on Earth now, and we have different rules here,” Sapphire said, channeling every inch of her diplomatic skills. “What is it?”
“I was wondering why things would be bad for me, and why your Ruby thinks that I’ve met a Peridot?” Sapphire’s Pearl said, clasping her hands together. “I don’t understand, ma’am.”
“She’s talking about another Pearl,” Sapphire said, unsure if she should correct the “Your Ruby” that had come out of The Pearl’s mouth. On the one hand, it was true. On the other, she doubted Pearl had meant it in the same way Sapphire did when she referred to Ruby as her own. “There’s another Pearl living with us.”
“You got a new Pearl!” She exclaimed, holding her hand to her cheek. She quickly corrected herself and shook her head. “Forgive me. Of course you did. You’ve always deserved more than one.”
Ruby made an odd squeak to the side, and Sapphire but her face in her hands. This was going to be a long afternoon.
“So what are we going to call her?” Ruby asked, walking back to the Warp Pad with Sapphire in tow yet another hour later. She was still upset that they were bringing the new Pearl back to base, but she couldn’t argue with Sapphire when she was being this stubborn. It just didn’t happen. Ruby glanced at the Pearl and frowned. “We can’t call them both ‘Pearl.’ It’ll get confusing for Steven.”
“I agree,” Sapphire said. She turned to her companion and asked. “Do you have a preference for a nickname?”
“I’ll go by any name you select for me, Ma’am,” The Pearl answered, smiling beneath her bangs. The Pearl held her hands up, clasped and walked a step quicker to be closer to Sapphire. “It would be my pleasure to be given a new name by you.”
Sapphire sighed, and her shoulders dropped. “I’ll think of something.”
Ruby watched as the Pearl kept exactly two steps behind Sapphire the entire time, her eyes locked on her former master. Or current master. Ruby scrunched her forehead together trying to really think about what that was like. Sure, she had an idea thanks to their Pearl, but Rubies had always just…served whoever they were told to. It wasn’t even until she met Sapphire that she had someone special. Pearls devoted their entire beings to someone. Was it similar to how she felt for Sapphire? How Pearl felt for Rose?
She clenched her hands together and huffed before jealousy could flare up. Sapphire shouldn’t have to deal with an insecure Ruby, should she? Ruby waved her hand up toward the clouds. “We can call her Sky, ‘cause that’s what color she is.”
“I suppose that will work for now,” Sapphire said, tilting her head with a tiny, teasing smile. “Though perhaps a little unoriginal.”
“Yeah, will you have a better idea, I’d love to hear it,” Ruby muttered, feeling the blush on her cheeks. It wasn’t like they could call her ‘Blue’ without bringing up bad memories of Blue Diamond. And anything to do with the water would bring Lapis back up. Ruby sighed as she hopped up onto the platform and crossed her arms. “What are we going to tell everyone else?”
“I have no idea,” Sapphire said.
That gave Ruby no comfort as the Warp activated and they were whisked back to the temple.
“Woah, did you two have a fight?” Amethyst said, staring at the Warp Pad as she dug behind the counter for a snack. Pearl had sent her to go check on what was taking Garnet so long, but she had hardly expected this! Ruby and Sapphire stood side by side, and that usually meant nothing good. She turned and gaped at the third figure on the stand. “Pearl? I thought you were still helping Peri! Did you get a makeover?”
“Amethyst,” Sapphire said, holding her hand out. “This is Sky Pearl, a Homeworld Gem. We found her crashed ship at the Galaxy Warp.”
“What is it with Homeworld Gems all showing up now?” Amethyst said, crossing her arms. Part of her thought it was sort of fun getting to meet more Gems, but the other half remembered some of the things Peri said and decided she didn’t want to put up with that over and over again. Even if Peri did turn out to be kinda cool. “Oh well, the more the merrier I guess?”
Amethyst looked back at the three gems on the stand and pointed between Sapphire and Ruby. “So what’s up with you two?”
“We have a disagreement about Sky over here, and it’s uh, not been resolved yet,” Ruby said, frowning at the ground.
Sapphire folded her arms on her dress, answering in the same monotonous tone that made Amethyst’s skin crawl. “Ruby felt we shouldn’t have brought her back with us, but I felt leaving her alone would be cruel. We remain at an impasse.”
“I see you won though since she’s here,” Amethyst said. She hummed and walked up to the warp pad to walk around the new Gem. She was quiet, and her Pearl was cream against the light blue skin. Her hair covered her face in the same style as Sapphire’s and Amethyst was curious. “Never met another Pearl before.”
Sky remained quiet, and didn’t say a word.
“Is she cracked or something?” Amethyst said waving a hand in front of her face. She hopped up and down as she did it to reach. What was it with Pearls and being so dang tall!? “Hello!”
“She’s from Homeworld, Ameythst,” Sapphire said, something strained in her voice that caused Amethyst to drop still. “Sky is behaving as she believes she should, despite trying to tell her otherwise.”
“So she’s like Peri?”
“Yup,” Ruby said. “And remember what Peri said about Pearls that pissed off our Pearl?”
“That they were rich people’s possessions and meant to stand around and look pretty?” Amethest said, looking at Sky again. Her eyes widened and she gaped. “I thought Peri was just being mean! That wasn’t true, was it?”
Neither Ruby nor Sapphire answered, and Amethyst felt cold inside. The more she heard about Homeworld the happier she was from Earth. Even being ‘defective’ as Peridot had put it was better than being from that planet. Amethyst looked at her again. “So what’s she going to do here?”
“Adapt, hopefully,” Sapphire said, leaning her hand into her cheek. She shrugged and dropped her shoulders. “If Ruby and I could, and if Peridot can, than I see no reason that Sky here can’t.”
“You speak far too well of me, Ma’am,” Sky spoke, She covered her mouth and gaped, sending all the frills on her dress to waving. Amethyst took a step back as Sky dropped to her knees and grabbed Sapphire’s hand, bowing her head. “Forgive me for speaking out of turn! I’m just so happy to be here and serve you again that I’ve lost control of myself.”
“I told you, it’s okay,” Sapphire stressed. She looked nervous and Ruby was jumping from foot to foot, unsure of what to do or handle the situation. “There aren’t any rules on Earth about this! You’re okay!”
Amethyst wasn’t sure if she wanted to laugh at the excessive devotion that reminded her of their Pearl’s love of Rose, or run from the room at the total submissiveness that just felt wrong on someone who looked like the defiant and proud Pearl Amethyst admired.
A spear stabbed through Sky’s waist, saving them all the trouble.
Sky’s form vanished with a pop as Pearl caught Sky’s Gem. She poofed the gem to The Burning Room. Pearl brushed her hands off and smacked the end of her spear into the ground as everyone else stared at her.
“Honestly, a Homeworld Gem breaks into the Temple and all of you stand here and do nothing,” Pearl said, something off about the way she stood. She was too tense; she stood too straight. And Amethyst thought the smile on her face after just taking out a Gem without a second thought was disturbing. “I was wondering what was taking you all so long to get back to the barn and now I know. But it’s all been handled, so let’s get back to work on that drill.”
Pearl left the room with that same smile so fake it gave Amethyst the shivers, letting her staff disappear in the air.
“Well, that was one way to handle it,” Ruby said, smiling nervously at Sapphire.
Amethyst made her escape from the room the second Sapphire turned her head toward Ruby. She heard the start of an argument and dashed outside to follow Pearl back to the barn.
Things were definitely about to get interesting around here.
“Don’t you dare tell Steven,” Pearl said as if reading Amethyst’s mind, her fake smile still threatening and plastic.
“Darn it!” Amethyst huffed, kicking a rock.
And I wouldn’t leave you guys on a cliffhanger that long! And funny enough, with the new episode we’ve now seen two other pearls. Ha ha ha. Should be fun and help inspire Sky’s personality. Though, still taking liberties that Pearls are something any noble can have, even though right now we’ve only seen Diamonds with them. Oh well! That’s how fanfics go~
It was funny how bubbles make a gem so light, Sapphire thought to herself as it hovered above her gloved hands. The setting sun’s light pierced the pink bubble, revealing a slight gleam on Sky’s pearl. Ruby paced behind her on the porch as they sat outside the temple. The wind slipped through their hair, a harsh breeze that seemed to pick up on Sapphire’s mood.
“You know, we could just leave her in there?” Ruby suggested, wincing even as she phrased the statement as a question. Sapphire turned her head at her and Ruby held up her hands. “Come on! She’s bubbled! Time doesn’t pass, she’s not being hurt or causing trouble. For all we know, Pearl just did us a favor.”
“We are not leaving her in there,” Sapphire said. She kept the bubble in her lap, frowning at the small, precious girl. Guilt still nipped at her skirt edge for forgetting about her once faithful servant. It had been so easy to forget her past life, and now it’d caught up with her. The least Sapphire could do was to make sure her Pearl wouldn’t suffer. “But I’m not sure I want to wake her up before we settle things with our Pearl.”
“Yeah, probably should make sure she doesn’t stab her again,” Ruby huffed. She put her head in her hand and looked at Sapphire. “How are we going to do that again?”
“I was considering explaining the situation, and then asking her nicely to keep her staff to herself,” Sapphire said. She shifted closer to Ruby, and set her head on the other gem’s shoulder. She relaxed into Ruby’s warmth, watching Sky’s Pearl closely through her bangs. “Pearl’s reasonable. She should understand.”
“Yeah, but she’s also got her own set of baggage,” Ruby huffed, putting her hands on her thighs as she shifted to give Sapphire a better spot to lean. She let her head sit against Sapphire’s and sighed. “I mean, you saw how she reacted when she saw Sky!”
“I know, but I’ll count it as overreacting,” Sapphire said. She held the pearl in one hand, and laced her arm through Ruby’s with the other. She missed being Garnet, but right now they needed an actual conversation, not just a symbolic one. “I’m sure if we explain things properly, it’ll work out.”
Ruby snorted, frowning and looking off in the distance toward the farm.
“And if all else fails,” Sapphire said, snuggling up closer. “We’ll introduce her to Steven.”
Ruby snickered, falling back into Sapphire’s snuggle. She felt herself smiling in return, and started to feel much better about everything.
Amethyst looked over her shoulder when Sapphire and Ruby showed up on the horizon. The sun had been up for a few hours, so those two had taken their sweet time coming back from the temple. She noticed that Sapphire was holding something in her hands, close to her chest and Amethyst had a pretty good idea what—or rather who—that might be.
She looked over at Pearl, currently arguing with Peri over something about the drill, and called over. “Ruby and Sapphire are back!”
Pearl looked over her shoulder and scrunched her nose. The confusion was clear on her face, though Amethyst didn’t know why Pearl should be confused. It wasn’t like they left on good enough terms. Pearl asked all the same, “Not Garnet?”
“Nope,” Amethyst said, popping the “p” in the “nope” as loud as she could. She snickered and shrugged her shoulders. “Guess they’re still fighting over that new Sky Pearl.”
“Of course they are,” Pearl said, rubbing her face. She looked at Peri and back to Amethyst. “I’ll handle it.”
“Like you did at the temple?” Amethyst snorted.
“Go keep Steven busy,” Pearl said, stomping away toward the two approaching gems.
Amethyst rolled her eyes, long used to Pearl’s modes changing faster than the weather, and headed in the opposite direction, pretty sure that if a fight broke out she’d be able to hear it.
Peri caught her as she passed, gaze suspicious. “Did you say ‘Sky Pearl’ a second ago?”
Pearl had warned Amethyst not to tell Steven, but she hadn’t said anything about Peri. Amethyst put her hands behind her head and nodded her head toward the group arguing in the distance. “I’m not sure about all of it, but Ruby and Sapphire showed up with a new Pearl and our Pearl might have lost her temper.”
“A new Pearl?” Peri asked. She put down her hammer and turned to watch Pearl, Sapphire and Ruby at the edge of the farm. Her eyes narrowed behind her visor as she squinted. “Like, a normal one?”
“Hey, our Pearl is normal!” Amethyst said, huffing. Peri was getting better about that whole Homeworld bias thing since she officially became a Crystal Gem, but some of it still leaked out of her like that syrup Steven put on pancakes. “And I couldn’t tell you. Pearl poofed her before I even got a chance to really talk to her.”
“I would say that was an extreme reaction, but I found myself under similar scrutiny a few times when I first arrived as well,” Peri said. She crossed her arms and looked off in the distance. “Why do you think she’s here? It’s not like Homeworld to send a Pearl to do anything.”
“Dunno,” Amethyst said. Pearl had begun to argue in earnest, her hands waving enough to be seen from the distance, but there was no yelling yet. They might get this solved peacefully yet. Amethyst huffed, wondering if she should have gone over too, but resigned herself to stay hanging out with Peri. “But I’m sure they’ll fill us in. Eventually.”
“I still think she could be a spy,” Pearl said, crossing her arms over her chest and keeping her nose up. She was tired of arguing this over and over again and she didn’t even care that the new Pearl had already picked another name to avoid confusion. Sapphire continued holding “her” Pearl and there was sure to be a glare that could rival the one Ruby was throwing under her bangs. “Homeworld could be trying something new, since their other attempts had failed. They’re smart.”
“As I’ve explained,” Sapphire said. “I know this Pearl. She was my Pearl. You of all gems should know about dedication and loyalty when it comes to Pearls. I don’t think it’s even possible for them to betray their,” Sapphire paused, and finished with enough resignation in her voice that Pearl could forgive the next couple of words, “their masters.”
“I still think we should leave her in there, until at least the cluster has been taken care of,” Pearl said, holding her hands out. Loyalty was something she knew. And she was loyal to her friends, and there had been five thousand years for that Pearl to have found someone new to latch onto. It happened. Pearl didn’t want to risk her friends for a Pearl who might have chosen someone new. “It’s also been said that Pearls can’t fight or learn engineering and here I am.”
“Neither of those things having anything to do with loyalty,” Sapphire said. She huffed and straightened her dress. “And considering how much you’re still utterly devoted to Rose Quartz to the point of obsession even after all these years, I think it proves my point!”
Pearl stilled, her arms tightening around herself, even as Ruby sucked in a breath and Sapphire flinched.
“I apologize,” Sapphire said, quietly. Her voice was thick with remorse; something Pearl ignored in her hurt. “That was uncalled for.”
“No, no,” Pearl said, rubbing her arms. She sucked in a breath, and put away the memories that flashed before her eyes. Memories of pushing Connie too far. Of sitting on a plateau with Steven and a literal memory. Pearl dropped her shoulders. “Honesty is always better.”
“It isn’t a bad trait,” Sapphire said, her hands still clutched around the intruding Pearl. “No more than Ruby’s bravery and temper, or Amethyst’s headstrong nature.”
Pearl stayed quiet.
“I know that we worked long and hard to live in a place that lets us be who we are, without restriction or being forced to fit into a mold,” Sapphire said, “but I also think that embracing the traits that we excel at isn’t a bad thing either. I don’t think we should be ashamed of those things that make us strong, even as we use those traits to redefine ourselves in new ways.”
“Ever the diplomat, aren’t you?” Pearl said, smiling slightly. She dropped her arms at her side and chuckled.
“It’s what I’m good at,” Sapphire said, shrugging. She held out her hands, the small Pearl in its pink prison floating quietly. “And I know you’re good at taking care of people, be it Steven or Amethyst. So, I’m asking you to help me take care of this Pearl when Garnet comes back.”
“I suppose,” Pearl suckd in a breath, “that I can give this ‘Sky’ a chance.”
“That’s all I ask,” Sapphire said. Ruby let out a breath of relief behind her, and Pearl hoped she didn’t regret this.
“Did you two have a fight?” Steven asked as Ruby and Sapphire came up over the hill. He wasn’t used to seeing Garnet split up, except when they were fighting or arguing over something. Connie stood next to him, her eyes wide but not saying anything. Steven racked his brain for a reason his favorite fusion had been split up but couldn’t think of one. “Are you okay?”
“Why does everyone assume we’re fighting if we’re split up?” Ruby huffed, folding her arms in front of her chest. “You’d think it was some sort of crime to get to look at each other.”
“Because you’re always fused,” Peridot said, rolling her eyes. “After you went on and on about it, I’m pretty confused myself.”
“Don’t worry Steven, we’re not fighting,” Sapphire said, smiling. She brushed her hand through her hair and it was then Steven noticed the gem she was holding. “Just for now, it might be best if we tackled this next line of business separately.”
Amethyst put her hands on her hips. “You finally talk Pearl into playing nice?”
“Oh shut up, Amethyst!” Pearl said, crossing her arms over her shoulder. “I won’t be blamed for playing things safe with so much on the line between the cluster and getting Yellow Diamond’s attention.”
“I think it would be best if we dropped that line of thought, and instead why don’t I introduce you Steven?” Sapphire said, slightly in a rush to cut off the growing glare on Pearl’s face. She held up the gem and popped the pink bubble. “This is Sky Pearl. She was my Pearl back on Homeworld. She’s come a very long way to find us, so I think we should all do our best to make her welcome.”
Steven’s eyes widened as the Pearl floated in the air for a second, before glowing and turning white. In a flash, the body expanded around the gem and there was a lanky, tall girl standing in its place.
“She’s beautiful!” Connie said, holding her hands together. “Wow!”
Steven agreed. She had a face like Pearl’s, but her hair was short and had bangs covering her eyes. Her skirt looked like Sapphire’s, but it was short and puffy around the top of her thighs. Her top was a body suit, and her sleeves were puffed and short. As her feet touched the ground, Steven noticed she wore the same sort of ballet flats as Pearl, only in dark blue with white soles.
“Oh no!” Sky shouted, holding her hands on her cheeks. She spun around a second and bit the edge of her finger. “I wasn’t ready and formed too quickly! My carefully created outfit is gone! Oh, Mistress Sapphire. I’m so sorry. All that customization has been wasted!”
“No, no! It’s fine, Sky!” Sapphire said, holding her hands up. She smiled and took Sky’s hand, the one without the Pearl, gently and patted the back. “This look suits you. It’s your natural look, and I rather like it.”
“Oh, alright then,” Sky said. Her voice was soft and delicate, a lot like Sapphire’s and Lapis’. Steven thought it suited her; perhaps it was a blue gem thing. “If you like it, then I like it!”
Pearl scoffed and rolled her eyes, but otherwise didn’t say anything. Amethyst began to snicker, and Peridot was looking at them all with narrowed eyes. Even Ruby seemed tense, and Steven didn’t like how it felt.
He grabbed Connie’s hand and dragged her over to Sky. It was time to break the tension!
“Hi!” Steven said, holding his hand up. “I’m Steven! Sapphire said your name is Sky, right?”
“Yes! That is what my Mistress is calling me now,” Sky said, holding her hand at her waist. She smiling brightly, and Steven agreed with Connie. She was as pretty as their Pearl! “Are you friends with Mistress Sapphire?”
“Yup,” Steven said. “It’s nice to meet you!”
Sky smiled in response and Steven grinned back at her. She seemed nice, even if his stomach did twist at the nervous way Pearl and Sapphire kept glancing at each other. Or how Ruby kept standing too close to Sapphire, eyes everywhere but on Sky. Or—Steven shook his head.
There was a new Gem here, and she was nice and Steven was all about making new friends. Just look at how well Connie, Lapis and Peridot turned out! And maybe this time, things would go well without anything bad happening like Malachite or Yellow Diamond.
Steven breathed in and out. He was doing it again. Sky was here. His friends were here. His dad was here. Things would be okay.
No sense in worrying until something bad happened. Right?
And another chapter. Huzzah. Downfall of this fic: Got the ending planned, but getting there is proving to be difficult. Ah well. I’ll get to it.
“So, you two have been apart for a while,” Amethyst said, putting both her hands behind her head as she walked up to Ruby. It was weird being head to head with her, when she was so used to looking up at Garnet. It was totally throwing off Amethyst’s groove. “Is Sky causing that big of a rift between you two?”
“We’re not fighting,” Ruby said, hunching her shoulders up, and crossing her arms even tighter over her chest.
The two of them were standing next to the fence while Sapphire and Pearl were helping Sky with her Earth knowledge. And catching her up on the Crystal Gem’s history or something. Amethyst hadn’t been totally paying attention. Connie and Steven were busy keeping Peridot out of the way, leaving Amethyst and Ruby to the side.
Ruby looked at Amethyst with an accusing look a few seconds later. She dropped to the ground and sat, crossing her legs. “Why does everyone keeping asking that?”
“Uh, it’s the usual reason you two split up?” Amethyst asked, innocently as she could. Ruby continued to stare blankly at her and she gave up with a grin. “What? It’s not my fault you and Sapphire are literally fused nearly twenty-four seven unless you’re fighting.”
“That’s not true,” Ruby said. She shifted on the ground, giving away that it was totally true and Amethyst and everyone else knew it. Ruby bit her lip and huffed. “We just like being Garnet. That doesn’t meant we don’t split up once in a while.”
“Name the last time you two unfused for something that wasn’t a fight,” Amethyst said, unable to help the teasing. She couldn’t get away with this when it came to Garnet, but Ruby and Sapphire were fair game split up. She grinned and put her hands on her hips. “I bet you can’t do it.”
Ruby scrunched her nose together and opened her mouth.
Amethyst cut her off: “And getting captured by Jasper doesn’t count!”
Ruby’s mouth snapped shut and stared at the ground. Her little fists tightened, and Amethyst raised an eyebrow. “It’s been a while, I know. But that doesn’t mean anything.”
“I know, I’m just teasing you,” Amethyst said, wondering if she might have gone a bit too far. She rubbed under her nose and jumped up to sit on the fence post. Looking down at Ruby was even weirder than being eye level. “I am surprised you two haven’t, you know, fused back yet.”
“Sapphire wants to wait until Sky’s a little more used to being around everyone,” Ruby huffed. She changed positions, hugging her knees to her chest while she watched Sapphire across the field. “She thinks if we form Garnet without a good reason, Sky’ll get too upset.”
“But you two are going to go back, right?” Amethyst asked. “You two love being Garnet.”
“The original plan is to go back as soon as we think Sky and Pearl can get along for ten minutes without something happening,” Ruby said, rolling her eyes.
“Ah, so I won’t be seeing Garnet for a while then, will I?” Amethyst snickered, thinking of how delightfully stubborn Pearl could be.
Ruby agreed; by punching Amethyst in the leg so hard she fell off the fence laughing.
Sapphire would give Sky credit: She still knew how to listen quietly.
Which was definitely a virtue when Pearl went into teaching mode, and began filling Sky in on the entire history of the Crystal Gems starting with Rose Quartz and ending with the latest issue of the Cluster and the importance of protecting Earth.
The end result involved Sky gaping for a bit, and her head turning in Sapphire’s direction for confirmation that what Pearl said was truth after every couple of sentences. Usually two glances when the subject of Garnet came up.
“Alright, I think that covers everything,” Pearl said, clapping her hands together. She looked across the yard to where Peridot was examining the drill alone with Steven and Connie. The two children poked something and a bit fell off, drawing a rather large frown on Pearl’s face. “But it seems I’m needed elsewhere.”
“Looks that way,” Sapphire said. She closed her eye for a moment and took a quick peak. “But on the bright side, in most cases you get them to listen before something important breaks. I suggest gearing up and working on the drill to keep them busy.”
“Wonderful,” Pearl said. She held a hand up and started toward the others, picking up her welding mask as she went. “I’ll be back later.”
“Take your time,” Sapphire said.
She brushed her skirt out from the seat on the box, and took a moment to look over at Ruby and Amethyst across the yard. Her favorite person was sulking, and even from a distance it was as cute as it was worrying. Sapphire made a note to make it up to Ruby later.
Maybe she’d sing.
“Well, it certainly seems like you’ve been active all these years, Ma’am,” Sky said, folding her hands in her lap, and drawing Sapphire’s attention back to the present.
Sapphire had to admit, that all considered, Sky was taking things rather well. She was even speaking first, which was progress in Sapphire’s book. After only a short few hours, that was comforting.
“Yes, and it’s been rather eventful as you can see,” Sapphire said. She reached over and took Sky by the hand. She held Sky’s palm over her gem, and patted the back of Sky’s gem. Sky relaxed, but still remained tense. Sapphire squeezed her hands around Sky’s hand. “And things are very different on Earth, but it’s most definitely for the better.”
“If you say so,” Sky said, using that tone of voice that Sapphire didn’t need her future vision to tell that it was unsure. Well, they had time for her to adapt. So at the moment, staying out of the way would be the best case hope for her. Sky cleared her throat and said, “I suppose it’s going to be a lot to get used to. But I will do my absolute best to aid you in any way I can, Mistress Sapphire.”
“Just ‘Sapphire’ is fine, Sky,” Sapphire corrected. “I’m not really your master any more.”
“But you are!” Sky insisted, grabbing hold of Sapphire’s hands. Her grip was desperately tight; worryingly so. “No matter where you are in life or what you chose, I will always be your Pearl!”
Sapphire pressed her lips together. She had to treat this delicately. So many possibilities, and so many answers. Sapphire glanced at Ruby, and steeled herself.
She’d need to take a peek into the future, wouldn’t she? Look at a few possibilities and make use of that one trait she was best at. Just to check. Sky continued squeezing her hands and Sapphire closed her eye. She’d get an idea of the various ways Sky could react and pick the best case.
Sapphire made it half-way through the first scenario, when something else rather important got her attention first.
At least she could put off this awkward conversation with Sky for at least half a day.
Ruby looked up immediately when she saw Sapphire heading in her direction. Sky was on her tail, but Sapphire didn’t seem to be paying her any mind.
“Sapphire!” Ruby said, hopping up from the ground. Sapphire didn’t look worried, but she was moving a bit faster than usual. Something had to have happened. Ruby took a few steps so they could meet even faster. “What’s up?”
“I had a vision,” Sapphire said, stopping before Ruby. She looked at Amethyst and continued addressing them both. “There’s a small herd of corrupted gems just outside the city. They’re headed our way, but if we leave now, we should be able to take care of them.”
“On it!” Ruby said, smacking one fist into the other. Corrupted gems weren’t her favorite to deal with, but that meant they were finally going to have some action that wasn’t the end of the world or bringing a Homeworld gem into their crew. This was downright normal for them! “Is it just you and I?”
“And maybe one other,” Sapphire said. She smoothed her skirt down and held out a hand. Ruby took it eagerly, and loved the cool touch of Sapphire’s hand against her skin. “I think Garnet can handle it easily, but it wouldn’t help to have back up.”
“Should I come with?” Amethyst asked, stretching her hands up over her shoulders. “I could really use the action!”
“Sounds good to me,” Ruby said. She gave a thumbs up, and squeezed Sapphire’s hand. She laced their fingers together and grinned. “Ready?”
“Always,” Ruby said, holding her hand up to take Sapphire’s other hand.
That was the word. Sky held her hands together and stared in awe at her wonderful and amazing master as she glided around in a small circle with her small Ruby bodyguard. When they were talking about fusion, and how in the future Mistress Sapphire wouldn’t be around alone for a while, they had said that you fused with dancing.
It really was a rather lovely thing.
Up until Mistress Sapphire and her Ruby began to glow, and that tall Gem that Sky first met when she landed appeared.
“Garnet! Welcome back!” Amethyst said, laughing on the fencepost. “Been awhile, huh?”
“A little bit, but the circumstances surrounding it aren’t quite as bad for once,” Garnet said. She looked at Sky, though it was hard to see what she was thinking past the visor. “Hello, Sky. I don’t think we were properly introduced before.”
Sky nodded, rubbing her hands together. She so desperately wanted to ask “Where’s Sapphire?” but she knew. Sort of. She’d been told this. By Mistress Sapphire. And that other Pearl. And it was explained. But seeing it was so different.
“I’m Garnet.” Said Gem, held her hand out, the one with Mistress Sapphire’s gem showing brightly and Sky took it. Garnet covered the back of Sky’s hand, gently touching her gem. “And it’s very nice to meet you.”
“Same, Ma’am,” Sky said. She could feel it, in that delicate hold. It was the same. Mistress Sapphire did the same when she wanted to be stern but comforting. Sky’s master was in there! “It’s a pleasure.”
Garnet let go of Sky’s hand, and put her hands on her hips. She looked across the field, and called out. “Team meeting! Everybody line up!”
The authority she radiated was wonderful. Sky put her hands on her skirt and slid into place next to Ms. Garnet. She wasn’t her wonderful Mistress Sapphire, but it was the best she was getting for the moment.
“Garnet? What’s the matter?” The other Pearl asked, jogging up and arriving first.
“Garnet! You’re back!” Steven said, popping up immediately afterwards. His friend—Sky paused, was that the right word? Yes, yes.—Connie followed close behind. The Peridot too, came into view, but said nothing. Steven spoke for the group it seemed. “What’s up?”
“There’s a corrupted gem headed our way. It shouldn’t be anything I can’t handle, but I think it would be good if one person came with me, while the rest of you stayed here to look after Sky and work on the drill. Amey—”
“I volunteer!” The other Pearl said immediately, throwing her hand up and interrupting Garnet. Sky forced herself not to frown at the eagerness. Who did she think she was? Mistress Sapphire—so by association Garnet—was Sky’s master. Not hers! But the other Pearl didn’t read her mind and continued. “I’ll go. It’ll be great. I think I need the break anyway.”
Garnet paused, stunned by the quick response no doubt. “I was going to say that Amethyst volunteered a moment ago, but if she doesn’t mind?”
“If Pearl wants to go that bad, I don’t mind sitting out,” Amethyst said. She shrugged and wrapped a bit of hair around her finger. “But you owe me later Pearl!”
“I’m sure I’ll think of something,” the other Pearl said. “So, that’s settled, right? I’m coming?”
“Yes, Pearl you can come with me,” Garnet said. She crossed her arms and looked over the group. “The rest of you, hold down the fort until we get back.”
“You got it, Garnet!” Steven said. He crossed his arms and nodded. “And you’ll call if you need help, right?”
“Of course, Steven,” Garnet said. She ruffled Steven’s hair, smiling softly. And Sky took note: Steven too, was special to Mistress Sapphire. Her collection of important people was growing by the second.
Sky was going to have to keep a notebook.
“Now that that’s settled,” Garnet said, clapping her hands together. “Let’s go.”
“I need to go put this gear up, but I’ll be right back,” The Pearl said. She dashed off, and Amethyst followed her.
“Sky,” Garnet said, drawing her attention. Sky immediately turned her head and stood at attention. “I shouldn’t be gone long, but you’ll be fine here with Steven and the others.”
“Of course, Ma’am,” Sky said. “Everything will be fine.”
Amethyst grabbed Pearl by the elbow as she reached the barn and began to dump her protective gear from the drill. “You volunteered awfully quick. What’s up?”
“There is no way on Earth that I’m going to be here with Sky when Sapphire is not,” Pearl said, laughing. The sound was nervous and bitter and Amethyst didn’t like it one bit. Pearl turned and swept both of her arms out in a “No” motion. “Not a chance.”
“What?” Amethyst asked. Pearl couldn’t still be hung up on having another Pearl around, could she? But then again, Amethyst had never been around another Amethyst before. She had no idea what this must be like for Pearl. “What’s wrong with Sky? She’s been quiet and nice so far.”
“That’s because you’ve only seen her when Sapphire is around,” Pearl said, pointing her finger at Amethyst. “You’ll see. I know Pearls and what they’re like when the Master is away. I’m not dealing with it.”
“You’re sounding like Peridot before she had her attitude change,” Amethyst said, putting her hands behind her head. “Don’t you usually get mad about that sort of generalization?”
“This is different,” Pearl said. She wiped off the front of her tunic and looked at Amethyst. “Trust me. You’ll get it.”
And with those words, Pearl dashed out of the barn and joined Garnet. Amethyst put her hands on her hips and watched as the two left the yard toward wherever Garnet had seen the corrupted gem coming from in her vision.
Sky waved at them as they left, before looking down to smile at Steven.
Amethyst scoffed and laughed. “How bad could she be?”
Alright, let’s get this show on the road. You also might note that from here I’m pretty sure events will be AU/Non-Canon compliant. It just makes things easier. But yes! On to Sky vs Peridot. Round One.
Steven and Connie sat side by side at the barn’s wall. Sky had taken a seat on an overturned crate, and Amethyst had talked Peridot into playing a game of checkers while they all waited for Garnet and Peridot to come back. Steven thought it was a pretty nice way to spend the evening, all considered.
“It’s so amazing that you came all the way here from Homeworld just to see Sapphire again,” Connie said, her hands on her knees and leaning forward with eager eyes. Her smile lit up with that same smile she always got when she was learning something new, and Steven loved it. Connie clapped her hand together. “I can’t believe everything you went through to get here!”
“It was worth it of course to see Mistress Sapphire again,” Sky said, holding a hand to her chest. She swelled with pride, and her hair moved with her head as she turned it. “Seeing her again has been a dream come true. I haven’t felt this amazing in centuries.”
“I’m glad you got to see her again,” Steven said. Sky looked so bright and happy since she’d finished her talk and met Garnet. It was relieving to see her starting to fit in. Steven leaned against the barn and grinned. “I’m sure she was happy to see you, too.”
“I do hope so,” Sky said. She put her hands in her lap and blew a bit of hair out of her face. Steven thought he caught a glimpse of a single eye instead of two, but didn’t want to pry. “I feel like I’ve caused her trouble.”
“It’s not your fault,” Steven said, waving his hands back and forth. He held his back straight and smile warm. “Everyone’s really stressed with everything else going on. Between the cluster threatening to destroy Earth, and Peridot’s call with Yellow Diamond, everyone’s on edge.”
“Yellow Diamond?” Sky said, sitting up straight. She leaned forward like Steven had said some magic word. She sounded like she was gasping in shock as she spoke. “You had a direct line with Yellow Diamond?”
“It was awesome!” Amethyst shouted from her game. She fist pumped the air and grinned. “Peridot called her a clod! It was epic!”
“Oh my,” Sky said, holding her fingers to her lips. “How, um.”
“Awesome,” Amethyst said, holding her thumb up. Steven chuckled in response and smiled reassuringly at Peridot as she started to flush from embarrassment. Amethyst reached over and shook Peridot’s shoulder. “That’s the word you’re looking for. Because Peridot was totally great!”
“I’m not sure that’s the word I want, considering how rude that was.” Sky chuckled and put her fingers to her lips. “Well, I suppose I shouldn’t have expected much more from a peridot. It’s not like they have the upbringing to use their words properly.”
Steven’s smile dropped.
“So how bad do you think Sky’s going to be back at base?” Garnet asked, hopping down the cliff. The corrupted gem made a sprint for it the second they’d appeared over the horizon. It wasn’t too much trouble chasing it down, especially since if it kept going that way the ocean would be in it’s way. Plenty of time to get to the bottom of things before they headed back to the bar.
“What makes you say that?” Pearl asked, head up.
“You wouldn’t have volunteered, leaving Steven alone with her, otherwise,” Garnet said, cracking a smile. She pointed and shook her head. “I know you, Pearl. You don’t think she’s a threat, but you definitely don’t want to deal with the attitude.”
“Let me put it this way,” Pearl said. She smiled at Garnet and shrugged, indulging in some fond memories of the past. “Do you remember what I was like around Greg when Rose wasn’t around when he first started hanging around?”
“Far too clearly.”
“She’ll be like that, but worse,” Pearl said. She pulled her spear from her head as they approached the corrupted gem on the horizon. “I’d bet money on it.”
“And your solution to this problem?” Garnet said, summoning her gauntlets.
“Leave her alone with Steven,” Pearl smiled. She charged at the corrupted gem, dodging low when it struck with a twisted, elongated limb covered in sharp spines. “It worked wonders for me.”
“He is a little wonder when it comes to that sort of thing,” Garnet laughed, throwing a punch at the corrupt gem. It flung back into the wall, but came back with full force. It was a tough one. Garnet jumped back, hugging the wall and ducking a tail slash. “So we’ll give it some time.”
“Agreed.” Pearl spun her staff. She darted forward and swiped at the beast. It attacked, she dodged. Garnet struck. They worked so well together; Pearl adored it. She did a pirouette out of the way of the next swipe and smiled. “Anything else on your mind?”
“Let’s concentrate on this monster and get back to the team,” Garnet said, smashing her gauntlets together. “We do still have a cluster to deal with.”
“On it!” Pearl said, rushing forward.
Garnet followed, but didn’t go at full strength. Perhaps she should give Pearl’s plan some time to work, and take their time with the monster. Steven could probably use all the time he could get if her tiny glimpse at future sight was any indication.
“Can’t we all calm down and just agree that uh, all the diamonds are good in their own way?” Steven said, holding his hands up. Connie was at his side, ready to jump in, but even she seemed to be at her limit of peace negotiations. “You’re going to have to agree to disagree or something.”
“It’s adorable that you think that, Steven, it really is. But it’s just not how it works! Blue Diamond is superior in every way, and I won’t stand for someone who insults their own diamond to sit here and tell me hers is better” Sky said, tilting her head to the side, holding a hand out. “Blue Diamond is the center point of culture, diplomacy and the arts on Homeworld. She’s the heart of our planet.”
“So she looks pretty and talks with locals we’re going to take over anyway,” Peridot shouted back, bristling at the edges. Her teeth were bared and she stomped her foot. “Without Yellow Diamond, nothing would get done! She organizes all the troops, and the colonization efforts, and you wouldn’t even have those fancy buildings if it wasn’t for her work!”
“And yet she can’t teach her little workers any manners,” Sky said, pulling her shoulder up in a sly manner. Steven wanted to groan, and Peridot’s shaking anger only increased. Sky hummed lightly before throwing her hands out. “You’d think a Certified Kindergarten Tech would have a little more respect for her betters.”
“I don’t see any betters!” Peridot shouted. “I see a trinket who holds stuff and stands around!”
“Excuse me?” Sky said. “Now I know that Yellow Diamond is worthless. She can’t even teach her gems about proper hierarchy. I may be a servant, but I serve a diplomat who is leagues above you, which means that I am leagues above you.”
“And yet you still sink to the point of throwing insults,” Peridot said, attempting to be coy.
Steven just wanted them both to stop before someone actually started a fight.
“As your superior, it’s my right to talk down to you,” Sky said. “That’s how it works.”
“I thought Yellow Diamond was one of the bad guys,” Connie whispered to Steven. “Why is Peridot defending her so much after going to all the trouble to tell her off?”
“I have no idea,” Steven said. “Maybe she still likes her.”
“Yellow Diamond is misguided and the enemy right now, but that doesn’t mean she’s a lesser Diamond than Blue Diamond!” Peridot said quickly, turning around toward Steven and Connie. “I still have fond memories of serving her that I don’t want to lose.”
“Like what? Fond memories of getting shouted at,” Sky said, giggling into her hand. “Her voice could be rather grating.”
“She sings like an angel, you take that back!” Peridot screeched.
“Like you’ve ever been in to hear it,” Sky laughed. She put her hands on her hips and held her nose in the air, in a way that Steven found way too familiar to when Pearl was right about something. She hummed. “Though, I’ll concede on this one issue. I, unlike you, have indeed attended an audience when she did a rare performance, and Yellow Diamond does indeed have a singing voice unbecoming of her otherwise brutal and pedestrian nature.”
Peridot shivered in rage. “The point is, you agree she sings well, yes?”
“Of course,” Sky said, clasping her hands together. “When you’re raised in the utmost culture of our society, you learn to recognize it.”
Steven breathed out, putting a hand to his chest. They’d found a common ground. They both found something to like about Yellow Diamond. This was a good starting point. He puffed up his chest and held his hands up. He could work with this!
“She’s nothing of course to Blue Diamond though,” Sky tacked on. “Just so you know.”
Peridot screeched and Steven took a seat next to the barn again. He covered his face in his hands and groaned, even as Amethyst started to laugh and Connie bit the edge of her finger.
“Well, this is about what I was expecting,” Pearl said, stopping near the edge of the fence line. Even from the distance she could see Amethyst holding back a flailing Peridot, who was making a go for Sky’s throat. Sky, on the other hand, was snickering into the side of her hand a few paces away with Connie at her side, looking rather horrified, and Steven was at the barn. Pearl rubbed the side of her face. Miracles didn’t happen over night. She tapped the side of her cheek. “Only this is slightly better than what I was expecting to walk in on.”
Garnet lifted an eyebrow.
Pearl shrugged. “I half expected Amethyst to let Peridot go.”
“We should get down there and keep the peace.” Garnet started down the pathway, gauntlets at her side.
“Agreed,” Pearl said. She trotted close to Garnet, and smiled. “I believe in Steven, but he looks like he needs a break.”
“You can say that again.”
As they got closer, Pearl caught wind of the ensuing argument. She almost smirked hearing the circular argument over which diamond was the better one. There was only one obvious answer to that anyway: Rose Quartz.
She was better than all the diamonds.
“You all look like you’re having fun. And here I thought Steven was the only child around here,” Pearl said as she waltzed into the middle of the fight. They all paused momentarily to look her direction, though even Pearl knew they had stopped the fight because Garnet had also walked up. “I trust you didn’t encourage this, Amethyst.”
“I didn’t have to encourage anything,” Amethyst said, dropping Peridot on the ground. She motioned her hand back and forth between Sky and Peridot, looking almost bored. Which meant even the joy of fighting had gotten old already. Perhaps Pearl and Garnet shouldn’t have taken so long. “These two helped themselves without me.”
“Mistress Garnet! You’re back!” Sky said, turning away from Peridot. She smiled warmly and clasped her hands together on the front of her skirt, as if she hadn’t been mercilessly mocking Peridot three seconds ago. She was good, Pearl would give her credit for that. “Was your mission successful?”
“It was,” Garnet said. “It looks like you all have kept yourselves busy while we were gone.”
“Yes, it was lovely conversation,” Sky said, not missing a beat. “You have such wonderful friends.”
Pearl snorted at Peridot’s aghast expression, and the blank stare Amethyst was sending Sky. She had warned them, and they didn’t listen. This is what happened when you didn’t listen to Pearl.
“Homeworld is very different isn’t it?” Connie said, ever the voice of reason. She looked between Sky and Peridot, and pressed her lips together. “You’ve told us about it, but seeing someone from there first hand has been quite educational.”
“That’s one way to put it,” Peridot muttered.
“Oh, I bet it was,” Pearl said. She clapped her hands together and smiled at the group. It was time for her to do her thing. Garnet kept all the control, but the personal relations were Pearl’s department. “Since it seems like everyone had a fun day, why don’t we turn in early tonight, hm? Steven, why don’t you show Sky where the beds we set up are? I’m sure she would love to sleep with you and Connie tonight.”
“That’s a good idea,” Garnet said, speaking up before Sky could object. Pearl smiled inwardly as the other pearl shut her mouth, unable to say anything against her Mistress’ wishes, even if she was fused at the moment. Garnet and Pearl made a great team when it came down to it. Garnet smiled. “It’ll be like a sleepover.”
“What’s sleep?” Sky asked.
“It’s when you totally shut down and rest for a few hours,” Amethyst said, yawning and stretching her arms over her shoulders. “We don’t need to do it, but it feels really great when you wake up.”
“I think you’ll like it,” Garnet said. “Steven and Connie can show you how to do it.”
“As you wish,” Sky said. She turned to Steven and Connie and tilted her head. “Shall we?”
“Yeah,” Steven said. He reached up and grabbed Sky’s hand, taking her toward the back of the barn where his and Connie’s bunks were set up.
Pearl crossed her arms and nodded at a job well done. The fighting was diffused, and spending some time alone with Steven and Connie was sure to do Sky some good. There was no way Steven wouldn’t at least attempt to ask Sky to be nicer tomorrow. It was going to work out, Pearl knew it.
“You were right,” Amethyst said, smacking Pearl on the hip. “Second you guys left, it was like someone flipped a switch.”
“She was definitely most irritating,” Peridot added, frowning. “When I first got here, I would have killed for someone who understood how things were supposed to work, like the way they did on Homeworld. Now I just want to beat her with my robot suit.”
“Welcome to the club,” Amethyst laughed. “If you weren’t an official Crystal Gem before, you sure are now.”
“Regardless, now that we have a better grasp on the situation, we should be better prepared to deal with it tomorrow,” Garnet said. She sighed heavily and rubbed at the spot just under her third eye. “I trust you all will do your best to avoid fights? Steven and Connie do not need to deal with this sort of behavior.”
“I’ll hold my tongue if she does,” Peridot said.
Amethyst held her hands up. “Hey, I didn’t start anything.”
“All the same,” Garnet said. “Behave. I’ll talk to Sky myself in the morning.”
“Now that that’s all done, let’s call it a night ourselves, shall we?” Pearl said. She dusted her hands off and headed around the corner. “If you need me, I’ll be finishing up some chores we’ve been neglecting for the drill while everyone else sleeps.”
“See ya,” Amethyst said. Peridot nodded in response, and Garnet had already gone off to do, whatever it was she did at night. Amethyst stretched her arms and said, “Man, I’m beat.”
Pearl hummed lightly to herself as she settled down to clean some laundry. Now that everyone had a better grasp of the situation, she had a good feeling things could only look up.
And if they didn’t, well, Pearl had a few tricks up her own sleeve to deal with a wayward pearl herself.
And let’s keep moving along. This is one of the few fics where I have a definite ending planned, so I kinda want to get to it. Hah. Fun times. Thanks for reading!
Connie woke up first, despite her best efforts to sleep in. Having a regular schedule that she adhered to was great for her internal sleeping clock in the long run, but not so much when you were always the first to get up.
Being an early riser was not all it was cracked up to be when all your friends slept in.
She yawned, stretching her arms over her head before looking for her phone to check the time. As much as she’d like to get the day started, Connie didn’t want to wake Steven up before she absolutely had to. If things were as normal, it was likely around eight which—
“Good morning, Ms. Connie,” Sky said, surprising Connie enough that she dropped her phone. She turned quickly to see the other pearl sitting up brightly on the sleeping back they’d put out for her. She had both legs to the side, and her hands in the lap of her short skirt. “Did you sleep well?”
Sky stumbled slightly over the word “sleep” as she asked, and Connie pressed her lips together. Steven had mentioned that gems don’t need sleep, and it was only natural that extended to Sky as well. That and she wasn’t quite sure Steven had done a great job last night trying to convince Sky that she could sleep in the first place.
Pearl didn’t like to sleep either, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Sky proved resistant to it as well. Who knows how many hours she actually managed to sleep last night? Connie looked out the window and saw the sun up, and figured she must have woke up with the light.
“Yes, I did,” Connie said. She smiled down at Steven, who was snoring softly with his hand thrown over his face. “It’s a nice surprise to see someone who gets up before I do.”
“Oh, I didn’t sleep,” Sky said. She adjusted her skirt over her knees, before placing her hands back in her lap. “I made an attempt, but it didn’t work.”
“That makes sense,” Connie said, crossing her arms. She voiced her earlier deduction to let Sky know she wasn’t alone. “I know that Pearl doesn’t sleep from what Steven told me, and I don’t think Garnet does either. But Amethyst does, so it was an—wait! Does that mean you were sitting there awake all night?”
“Yes?” Sky asked, tilting her head. “Is there something wrong?”
“What did you do all night?” Connie asked, looking around. Nothing seemed to have moved from when they bunked down last night, and even Sky’s bedroll looked mostly unruffled. Like she hadn’t moved. “You didn’t sit there and watch us alone all night, did you?”
Sky continued to look confused. “Is that a problem?”
“I guess not,” Connie said, shifting. She rubbed the back of her hair and pressed her lips together. “Weren’t you bored though? Sitting there all night with nothing to do?”
“Of course not,” Sky said, sitting up straight. An aura of pride fell over her, and Connie took mental notes. Sky almost looked coy as she tilted her shoulders one way and her head the other. “I’m a high class pearl you know. We could be needed at any point in time, so we have to be ready to go when we’re called. However, our capable and wonderful masters don’t need us all the time. That often means we spend many, many hours of the day waiting. I’m well used to sitting quietly and awake until I’m needed next without fidgeting.”
“I see,” Connie said. She glanced at Steven, still asleep under his roll. Well, if he wasn’t going to get up, then Connie was going to take this opportunity to learn more. “What do you do when you’re sitting there alone then? Think to yourself? Or do you have something to keep you busy?”
“Under normal circumstances, I’d spend my time recapping the day, or taking inventory of the things my master had trusted me to hold, or if we’re visiting someone, I might have a chat with a fellow pearl,” Sky said. “But if none of that is available, I might practice my singing quietly, or people watch.”
“Well, like you said, you had a lot of practice,” Connie said. “So you must be good at it.”
“Thank you,” Sky said, puffing up. “I’ve worked very hard to get this good.”
“Is there anything else you’d like to do or try?” Connie asked. She crossed her legs under her and smiled. “Like, now that you’ve got the time and freedom? I know Pearl learned swordsmanship now that she’s had the chance. Are there any hobbies that you like?”
Sky shook her head. “No. Not really.”
“Ah,” Connie said.
That wasn’t quite the answer she had expected. All those nights in lessons and scheduled structure with her mom had left Connie with thousands of ideas of things she’d rather be doing. With as long as Sky had been alive, surely she’d thought of something else! Maybe? Either way, Sky had the opportunity now! And they mustn’t waste it!
Connie sat up straighter in her seat. “At least now that you’re on Earth, you can try a whole bunch of different things. I’m sure we’ll find something you like, and that can keep you occupied.”
“Hopefully not too much,” Sky said. “I do hope to be a help to Mistress Sapphire as much as possible when I can.”
Steven shuffled to the right, and Connie nudged him with her arm. It was about time for him to wake up anyway. That sleepyhead!
“I’m up, I’m up,” Steven said, shoving his blanket off the bedroll. He stretched and rubbed his eyes. “Good morning, Connie. Good morning, Sky.”
“Good morning, Steven,” Sky said.
“You two been up long?” Steven asked.
“Not long, Steven. Sky and I have been chatting,” Connie said. Sky turned and leaned out the barn window, and it distracted Connie from answering further. “Is something the matter, Sky?”
She turned back and touched her finger to her lip as if she was hesitant to ask a question. Connie waited patiently, and eventually Sky blurted, “Why are Miss Sapphire and Ruby still fused? Is there still danger?”
Steven and Connie joined Sky at the window and saw Garnet down below, walking the perimeter. She looked up, catching them all in the window and waved. Steven and Connie waved back obediently before.
“Garnet is always around,” Steven clarified. “She likes being that way.”
“Oh,” Sky said, and Connie was sure she looked a little ill.
Peridot and Amethyst walked in on Steven and Connie doing their best to explain why Garnet was fused twenty-four seven.
It only took a second for Peridot to conclude they were failing miserably.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Sky said. The bratty pearl had taken to pacing on the other side of the room, her skirt swishing behind her around her legs. The agitated look was good on her, Peridot smirked to herself. Served her right. Sky held her hands out as she spoke. “Even if you take the, um, oddity of two different gems fusing together that is in this case, fusing is for emergencies and situations that require extra strength. Why would you stay fused long after the mission has ended?”
“She’s not wrong you know,” Peridot said, having already guessed the second she got upstairs what the conversation was about. If there was anything to gossip about around here that wasn’t the engineer-fighting pearl or the mini-amethyst, the near permafusion was the next best bet. “It is odd. Even Amethyst and Pearl only formed Opal for as long as it took to move something.”
“See!” Sky said, pointing at Peridot. The pearl looked more ruffled than ever and Peridot tried to hold in the snickering. “Even she agrees with me! I understand Mistress Sapphire and Ruby formed Garnet to fight the monster, but why are they still like that? When will I see Mistress Sapphire again?”
“Maybe not for a while, Sky,” Connie said, carefully. Peridot held in the snort at the human’s attempts to save the other pearl’s feeling. And then immediately corrected herself. Peridot wasn’t like that anymore. She huffed as Connie continued. “Ruby and Sapphire like being Garnet.”
“Because they love each other,” Steven said, joining the conversation. Peridot wondered if she should pull out the camping show and the relationship chart to help explain. That’s how she got used to the permafusion anyway. Steven continued doing his best however. “Garnet said that they were a conversation and an experience!”
“They’re still Sapphire and Ruby, Sky,” Connie said, attempting to clarify for Steven. “You saw that yourself yesterday, didn’t you?”
“I did,” Sky said, shifting. “I did and I saw that she’s in there, but it’s not the same. You know? Garnet’s a third person.”
“Also true,” Peridot said.
“You are not helping, Peri,” Amethyst said under her breath at Peridot.
“What? I’m pointing out facts,” Peridot said. She held her head up and put her Kindergarten Education to work. “Fused gems of two different types for an entirely new gem that has its own personality and mind. That’s why normally in fusion, you stick to gems of the same type, to avoid that.”
“I thought you got over this thing about Garnet?” Amethyst asked, glaring.
Peridot took a step back, straightening her back. “I have! Just because I’ve accepted her, doesn’t mean I still can’t think it’s weird they prefer to be a third entity over their individual selves!”
“It is a weird day when I find myself agreeing with a Peridot,” Sky said, sticking her cheek in her hand.
Peridot refused to comment.
Not that she had to. Steven, Connie, Amethyst and Sky all broke out into a new argument over the matter. Gossip, arguing. All the same. Peridot sighed and crossed her arms. What a day.
“I wonder what’s keeping everyone,” Pearl said, hands on her hips. They had sent Peridot and Amethyst up to fetch Steven, Connie and Sky about ten minutes ago, and they were still no shows. Garnet tried not to worry, but that was fine since Pearl was doing it enough for the both of them. “They normally don’t sleep in this long, especially with Connie up there.”
“I’m sure that they’re fine.”
“I wish I could believe that,” Pearl said. She rubbed the side of her face and counted to ten under her breath. “I just know there’s trouble. I can feel it.”
Garnet didn’t even bother to check future vision for this one to check whether Pearl was right or wrong in that assumption. She had a feeling that whatever was up there, would be difficult to deal with no matter what she saw. So Garnet should probably take care of things sooner than later.
“I’ll go get them,” Garnet said.
She entered the barn, heading for the stairs on the side that led up to the hay loft where everyone had set up their bunks. Garnet could already hear the voices coming down the stairwell and knew that wasn’t a good sign. She made it to the top to find the whole lot of them bickering.
“I don’t mind Miss Garnet, but I want to see Mistress Sapphire, too!” Sky shouted. She stomped her foot and huffed. Her hair was ruffled, and her hands clenched. It wasn’t a good look for her, and almost surreal considering how calm and put together she normally was. “What is so wrong about that?”
“Because you’re not thinking about how Garnet feels,” Steven said. Ever the one to try and keep the peace, Garnet could see how the fight was taking a toll on him. At least Connie was there with him, a silent support. Steven was stern though, and Garnet couldn’t be prouder. “And that means you’re not thinking about Sapphire and Ruby. This is their choice, not yours.”
Sky straightened her back, and Garnet stepped in before this could get any worse, or Steven had to strain himself further.
“I could have sworn you all were supposed to be working on the drill,” Garnet said. The entire room jumped and turned to face her. Garnet crossed her arms and did her best “Mom” impression, as Steven had put it once. “The day’s wasting away. Let’s go.”
“Come on, Peri,” Amethyst said, grabbing Peridot and dragging her down the stairs.
Steven and Connie shifted in place, but a tilt of the head from Garnet sent them both downstairs as well, both looking out of place. That left Garnet alone with Sky.
“You’re not in trouble,” Garnet said immediately. Sky popped her head up, her bangs shifting just out of place to show off her monoeye. That was one of the few traits she’d picked up from decorating herself after Sapphire that she still kept automatically. Garnet fixed her bangs for her and sighed. “Everything is still very new to you here, isn’t it?”
“I knew things would be different, but not this much, ma’am,” Sky said. She grabbed her skirt, clutching the fabric under her fingers. “I’m sorry for causing so much trouble.”
“I think if you took some time to learn more about Earth, that maybe you’d be able to better understand some of our own changes,” Garnet said, but that thought was only from Sapphire.
Garnet held the side of her head and sucked in a breath. She should have known that when things came to Sky, Ruby and Sapphire wouldn’t be on the same page. “It would be for the best.”
The Ruby side made herself known, furthering Garnet’s theory. “Or we could just help her out while finishing the drill. That’s kind of important right now, too.”
Garnet would not be the center of a fight today. Especially not with Sky watching her double conversation. She steeled herself and calmed down. It was hard to keep herself together when the parts of herself disagreed, but that didn’t mean they had to break out into an argument. Ruby, Sapphire and Garnet were not fighting. Disagreeing was not fighting, Garnet told herself over and over.
There was a peaceful solution to this.
“Are you alright?” Sky asked, hesitantly.
When Garnet felt two different reactions, she decided to make the choice for them before they really did split for a fight. “I’m fine. I’ll see you in a bit, Sky.”
Garnet went to sleep for a while.
Sapphire brushed off her skirt as she and Ruby stood in the top of the barn. Sky looked happier than she had in the past few hours, smiling brightly at seeing her mistress again. Though she kept her tongue this tie, letting her excitement bubble under the surface.
Ruby stared at Sapphire and asked. “Why’d we unfuse?”
“I was thinking that you had a point,” Sapphire said. She turned and took Ruby’s hand, patting the gem on the underside of her palm. “The drill is very important, and we need to keep working on it.”
“And that meant Garnet left because?”
“Because I also think it’s important for Sky to learn about Earth, and this way we can do both,” Sapphire said. This was the best idea. She and Sky could work their way toward getting her used to Garnet being around all the time by switching her exposure from Sapphire to Garnet back and forth more often. She’d normalize the two of them, and there wouldn’t be any more problems. It would be perfect. “I’ll take Sky into town, where she can learn and we’ll be out of your way while you help with the drill. You’re strong enough on your own to help with anything they need.”
“Aren’t you going to help?” Ruby asked.
“The half that was helping with the drill was all you, Ruby,” Sapphire chuckled. She kissed the side of Ruby’s cheek and grinned. “I’d just be getting in the way like this.”
“But Garnet,” Ruby said, almost sounding hurt.
Sapphire watched Ruby’s worried expression and told herself to remain calm. This was a big step for them, as well as for Sky. It’d been far too long since they were apart for any reason that hadn’t been a fight, or even been apart this long before. Maybe this tiny break would be good for them as well. If there were an emergency in the future and they were split up, it wouldn’t help either of them if they couldn’t function because they were apart.
“The best part about being two people Ruby, aside from getting to see each other of course, is that we can be in two different places at the same time,” Sapphire said. She squeezed Ruby’s hands and smiled softly to reassure her. “We’re going into town, not across the country. It’ll be fine.”
“If you say so,” Ruby huffed. She looked at Sky and put her hands on her hips. “You better watch out for her while you’re in town.”
“Of course!” Sky said, the pride dripping from her voice. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and nodded. “I wouldn’t even think of doing anything otherwise.”
“Good,” Ruby said. “Then I guess, I guess I’ll see you later.”
“You will, Ruby,” Sapphire said. She pecked Ruby on the side of her lip and turned to take Sky’s hand. “Come on, let’s get to town before it gets too late in the day and everything is closed.”
“Yes, Mistress Sapphire!”
Sky followed Sapphire as she headed toward the main road, as she reached the fence, Sapphire turned and waved at Ruby who was still watching them from the entrance of the barn. She looked sad, but Sapphire reminded herself why she was doing this.
This was for Sky. This was for her. This was for Ruby.
Things would work out.
And our resident lovebirds spend some time apart. Horror! I kid, I kid. I'm sure they'll be fine. ;D
“Should we be worried about you two, or what?” Amethyst said, crossing her arms as Ruby carried supplies back and forth for Peri and Pearl. The tiny red gem muttered angrily as she went, mumbling to herself under her breath. Her attempts at being subtle were amusing, but she was far from it. “Because you keep saying it’s not a fight, but for real. This is the longest I’ve seen you two apart willingly.”
Ruby dropped her supplies and looked over her shoulder with a glare. She split up her sentence, punctuating each word with a stomp of her foot. “We. Are. Not. Fighting!”
“Okay, okay,” Amethyst said, holding her hands up. They were so fighting. But she sure as heck wasn’t going to say that to the angry little gem. So Amethyst lied instead. “I believe you. I do! But that still doesn’t explain why you’re here and Sapphire isn’t.”
“She went into town with Sky because she thought it’d be good for her to see humans,” Ruby said. She kicked a loose part over and huffed. Ruby tugged on the edge of her hair, pouting. “She’s not. She’s not wrong, but still. We didn’t have to split up for that.”
“Peridot and I needed your help with the drill today. Production can’t halt because we’re babysitting a homeworld gem,” Pearl said, walking by with her own hands full of loose parts. She eased herself into the conversation with all the grace she could muster from years of meddling. Amethyst was still impressed at how easy she made it looks. Pearl shifted her grip on the supplies and smiled brightly. “This keeps Sky out of the way, and keeps us from being a hand short.”
“I know,” Ruby said, probably also lying if Amethyst had to guess. Self denial counted as lying, right? Ruby curled her lip, glaring at the ground. “I get it! I just. I don’t like it.”
“Things will be fine, Ruby.” Pearl put her stuff down and looked over her shoulder. Peri was waist deep into the side of the drill, working hard with the tools at her side. Pearl crossed her arms. “It looks like the heavy lifting is done. Why don’t you get your mind off things, and go find Steven and Connie? They’re sparring, and I’m sure they’d appreciate your input as our resident warrior other than myself.”
“Yeah, Red,” Amethyst said. She slapped the smaller gem on the shoulder and gave her a thumbs up. “It sounds like a distraction is just what you need!”
“Yeah, maybe,” Ruby said. She rubbed the back of her hair and knocked the dust off her hands. “I’ll go do that. Been a while since I got to practice knocking heads around on my own, anyway.”
“Make sure to hold back!” Pearl shouted, as if she’d had sudden second thoughts.
“Yeah, yeah!” Ruby said, holding her hand up in a wave.
Amethyst watched Ruby disappear over the hill to the back of the barn where Steven and Connie were training. Pearl watched her go, a mother hen look of worry falling over her face. She bit the edge of her finger and Amethyst could already see the internal debate of whether or not she should run after them. Amethyst peered over her shoulder to make sure Peri was still distracted herself.
She took a step closer to Pearl and put her hands behind her head, feigning calm. “You think those two are going to be okay?”
“Long run?” Pearl said, already knowing which “two” Amethyst was talking about. Pearl tipped her head up, tapping the side of her chin. “Of course. Sapphire and Ruby are far too close to let something like this get between them.”
“Short term?” Amethyst said, picking up on the unspoken “but” that Pearl had left out.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be a storm and I’m not looking forward to being in the middle of it,” Pearl said. She rubbed her temple and glanced toward the back of the barn. “I had told Garnet that I wasn’t worried because Steven would be a good influence on Sky, but that was before we had the complication of Sapphire and Ruby bickering.”
“They’re not fighting, you know,” Amethyst said, holding in the smirk as she quoted the fiery red gem.
“Not yet,” Pearl said.
Amethyst flinched from the forewarning in that simple statement.
Pearl went back to work with Peri, somehow managing to be civil as they participated in the shared chore. Amethyst took a seat next to the pile of junk and started to sort the various extra parts into their respective groupings.
She only hoped that things were going better in town.
Sapphire nodded politely as they passed the residents of town, accepting the odd looks, but happy that enough weird things went on that no one really questioned two new blue-skinned guests. There was one blond boy with a camera who seemed to want to capture Sky on film, but Sapphire vaguely remembered he wasn’t too much of an issue.
Mostly, Sapphire enjoyed walking along the Beach like she belonged. She tilted her head back, pushing her hair out of the way as she looked at the sun. The weather was beautiful, the breeze was light, and it was days like this that Sapphire could see how easily Rose Quartz fell in love with this planet oh so long ago.
“So this settlement is called ‘Beach City’, yes?” Sky asked, speaking first to break the silence, but comfortable, walk. Sapphire inwardly praised her progress at opening up and learning to talk for herself. “And this is the boardwalk?”
“That’s right,” Sapphire said. She lifted her skirt to step over a crab that had wandered up on the beach. “This is a heavy tourist center for the city. Humans like to visit the beach for recreation.”
“How delightful,” Sky said.
She looked genuinely engaged by the scenery and people around her, taking in all the sights while maintaining an air of dignity. Sky did the Blue Court proud. Sapphire frowned to herself, touching her cheek. The Blue Court wasn’t exactly something she should be praising, even if there were things about it she missed.
Sapphire closed her eye, thinking of Ruby and her energetic smile. The way she lit up when she was happy. The way Sapphire got to see it because they weren’t back on that planet. Sapphire smiled to herself, feeling warm. Rose Quartz. Pearl and Amethyst. Steven. Connie. And even now, Peridot.
Anything she missed back on Homeworld, it wasn’t worth giving up what she had now.
“Would you like to go into the city proper, or shall we keep walking the boardwalk?” Sapphire asked, as much to distract herself as to give Sky a better picture. Apart from Ruby, she’d let her thoughts wander far too much. Sapphire stopped by the fry shop and waved her hand down a street. “There’ll be less tourists, and more permanent residents the further into the city we go.”
“Is there any place you enjoy most in the city?” Sky asked. She rubbed the gem on the back of her hand, her thumb moving in a nervous circle. “We could go there.”
“I’m asking what you’d like to do, Sky,” Sapphire said, chuckling into her hand. Sky bit the edge of her lip. Poor thing must be so confused at Sapphire’s behavior. “We have plenty of time, so if you’d like to stay on the beach, we can. Or if you’d like to see more of the city, we can do that, too. It’s your choice.”
“I’m not sure,” Sky said. As they passed the next alley, Sky looked down the street and her head perked up. She took a few steps toward it, holding her head to the side as she listened. “I hear something.”
“I hear it, too.” Sapphire followed her gaze and concentrated. A few strummed chords later, and Sapphire grinned, knowing that particular sound very well. “Why don’t we go see what it is? I have a feeling you’ll like it.”
Sky smiled, holding her hands up. The music continued to drift around them, barely audible through the wind and the busy boardwalk. Sky nodded toward the source of the sound. “Do you know the cause?”
“I do,” Sapphire said. She reached out and took Sky’s hand, tugging her lightly. “But I want to keep it as a surprise. Come on.”
“Yes!” Sky said, blushing as she stared at their linked hands.
Sapphire put any thoughts that accompanied that aside as she pulled Sky along, heading to a very familiar destination.
“You seem distracted, Ruby,” Steven said. He put his shield away, and Connie put down her sword. He trotted over to Ruby’s side and put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you okay?”
“Sorry, Steven,” Ruby said. She looked toward the fence again and growled to herself before almost literally burning out and sitting down. She crossed her legs on the ground and put her hands on her knees. “I’m trying to figure out if Sapphire and Sky should be back by now or not, or if I’m just too impatient to see them again.”
“A little of both, I think,” Steven said. He squat next to Ruby and rubbed the back of his neck. “On the one hand, they’ve only been gone about an hour, which isn’t all that long for a tour of town if you’re stopping places and talking to people.”
“Yeah,” Ruby said, fidgeting. Connie sat next to Steven, patting his back in support. He appreciated that more than he could say. Ruby crossed her arms, pouting. “And the other half?”
“Well, I would be a little upset my friends didn’t give me an idea of how long they’d be gone if they knew I was waiting,” Steven said.
He wasn’t completely sure what was going on between Ruby and Sapphire, alleged fighting or not, but it was odd to see them apart for so long. Even his dad had said they were always together if they could help it. Heck, even when they they were unfused before at the hotel they stayed next to each other the whole time. This had to be hard on the both of them.
Steven crossed his arms on his knees. “Sapphire should have told you how long she was going to be away.”
“Right!” Ruby said, holding a fist up. The energetic gem did a few practice punches in the air before grinning wide. “That’s exactly right! I don’t have her future vision, so I have no idea when she’s going to be back. Thanks Steven! I’m going to let her know that!”
“That should help for next time,” Connie added, quite helpfully. She clapped her hands together, nodding. “Waiting for someone isn’t nearly as bad when you know how long they’ll be gone.”
“Next time?” Ruby said, freezing in place. “What do you mean by next time?”
“Uh, in case this happens again?” Connie put her hands in her lap. “I mean. It’s bound to, right?”
“Excuse me for a second,” Ruby said. She stood up and walked stiffly out of view.
Steven and Connie both flinched at the sudden sound of yelling and something breaking just around the corner. At the sign of flames, they both wisely retreated to get Pearl.
“Hello, Greg,” Sapphire said, stopping next to the man. He jerked up, slamming his hand on the strings of his guitar to stop the sound before calming. Sapphire patted the top of the instrument, glad to see it in good shape. “It’s good to see you have a chance to play with all that’s going on.”
“Yeah, well, as much as I love helping you guys, I gotta work the car wash too,” Greg said, throwing his thumb over his shoulder. He put his guitar next to his chair and frowned. “Not that I’ve had many customers.”
“I’m sure more will come,” Sapphire said. “And you have time to practice while you wait.”
“A little too much,” Greg said, mumbling under his breath. He brightened, sitting straighter as he noticed sky. “And who’s this little lady? I don’t think I’ve met you yet.”
“This is Sky Pearl,” Sapphire said when Sky made no move to introduce herself. She pushed Sky forward on the back until she was closer to Greg and could take his hand to shake it. “She’s come to live with us from Homeworld. I’m showing her around to get a better picture of human life.”
“Well it’s nice to meet you, Sky. I’m Greg Universe, Steven’s father,” Greg said, shaking her hand up and down. Sapphire appreciated his willingness to accept Sky without question. But then again, after his first meeting with Peridot, this was easy going. “Always nice to see a new face.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Sky said. She took her hand back and tilted her head. “Father?”
“You can get the crash course on that title later,” Greg said, laughing. “But the short version is I’m a member of his family unit.”
Sapphire smiled, amused Greg remembered the proper word for it.
“I see,” Sky said. She curtseyed at the waist, fluffing out her skirt when she straightened up. “Then it is doubly nice to meet you. Steven is a very pleasant young boy.”
“Thank you! I’m pretty proud of him myself,” Greg said. He looked around and crossed his arms. Sapphire already knew who he was looking for before he even asked. “Where’s Ruby? She hanging around causing trouble somewhere close by?”
Sapphire smiled brightly, happy that for once someone didn’t assume that they were fighting.
“Ruby’s helping with the drill while I escort Sky around town,” Sapphire said. “There isn’t much for Sky to do while Steven and Connie train, and while Pearl, Peri and Ruby work on the drill.”
“Ah, so you’re escaping the work,” Greg said, slapping his knee. “I get you.”
“Only technically,” Sapphire said. “Truthfully though, it is good for Sky to learn her way around town and this keeps us both out from under foot.”
Sky held up a hand and Sapphire nodded at her to speak. One step forward, and two steps back. Sky pointed at the guitar. “May I ask what you were doing earlier when we arrived? Was that an example of earth music?”
“Uh, yeah!” Greg said. He picked up his guitar and slung it across his lap. His cheeks turned pink, and he flustered under the attention. “I’m a musician. I have an album out and everything.”
“Would you mind playing more for me?” Sky asked, holding her hands clasped together in front of her chest. “Music was always one of my favorite cultural activities on Homeworld. Mistress Sapphire has such a lovely singing voice, and seeing music shared on this planet is most wonderful!”
“You want to hear me sing?” Greg asked, almost stunned.
“Well, alright!” Greg laughed. He turned in his seat, pulling up one leg to support his guitar. He strummed a few times, before starting a quick melody on the strings. Sapphire smiled as brightly as Sky when he continued. “Here’s a little number I wrote when I was young. Rose loved it, so it’s gotta’ be a good Homeworld favorite!”
Sapphire took a seat on a box as Greg began to play his guitar in earnest, singing along. Sky’s rapt attention seemed to be a motivating factor, raising Greg’s volume and confidence. Sapphire closed her eyes and listened as Sky settled next to here.
Greg Universe gave them a private concert, and Sapphire couldn’t have imagined a better way to end Sky’s first day in town.
The only thing that would have made it better was if Ruby were there to hear it, too.