Jasper still couldn’t believe that she was free from Lapis. Free from Malachite. Free to feel the fresh air from the field in her face, free to be warmed by the sun. She tilted her face toward the setting sun as she stood a little ways from the Crystal Gems’ “barn,” as they called it, trying to catch as much warmth as she could.
Lapis was at the barn as well, but the Crystal Gems made sure that there was at least another person between the two of them if a team huddle was called. Usually, Lapis stayed with Steven almost everywhere, and became fast friends with Connie as well. The three would constantly play in the field while the rest of them worked on the finishing touches of the drill.
Jasper opened her eyes and looked toward the barn. When she had arrived, she had been surprised to see Peridot among the Crystal Gems. Immediately, she had tried to rescue Peridot, and had successfully reached her when Peridot finally had managed to cut through the battle rage. Looking back on the exchange, Jasper clamped down on the giggles in her throat.
“I called Yellow Diamond a clod!”
“What do you mean, ‘you called Yellow Diamond a clod’?”
“She was being unreasonable! I was just so mad at her!”
“You called Yellow Diamond a clod!”
“Yellow Diamond! A clod!”
That was all she could remember before Garnet knocked her lights out. When she came to, Garnet and Pearl had explained how Peridot took a direct line to the Diamonds and made contact with Yellow Diamond. Ever since then, Peridot had avoided her, tending to stick with Pearl, Steven, and Garnet when they were working on the drill.
Jasper sighed to herself. She knew why Peridot was avoiding her; she was scared that Jasper was going to, as Steven called it, “poof” her and then crush her Gem. But Jasper wasn’t interested in that; she wouldn’t have anyone to really talk to. Steven was still a child, not a soldier, Lapis for obvious reasons, and the rest of the Crystal Gems were still obsessing over the drill. She really didn’t talk to them as well, which explains why she didn’t know them very well.
Jasper missed talking to Peridot. The green Gem was sarcastic, naïve at times, and often would come up with creative inventions. The pair of them had worked together for a long time, and even though Peridot screwed up their possible rescue, Jasper couldn’t hold it against her.
Jasper looked down to see Little Ro-Steven and his tiny hands pressing against her calf. She stiffened a little.
“Yeah?” she grunted.
“Team meeting. It’s about Peridot,” Steven said, chubby face concerned. Jasper felt a spike of anxiety. Peridot had been hiding from her, but she hadn’t seen her for a couple of days. Jasper nodded and followed Steven to the forming huddle close to the drill. She took a spot next to Steven and Amethyst, eyes on Garnet.
The fusion cleared her throat and all eyes went to her.
“Peridot found the rest of the Camp Pining Hearts tapes,” Garnet announced solemnly. Jasper raised a brow but looked down at Amethyst when she groaned. A quick glance at Pearl revealed that she had her hand against her forehead, looking disappointed.
“What’s Camp Pining Hearts?” Lapis asked, her tone suggesting that she really didn’t want to know.
“It’s an old TV show that my dad recorded on VHS tapes. Peridot saw the first episode and watched it for three days straight. I don’t know how she found the others; I thought I hid them pretty well. But since she found them, I guess not,” Steven explained sheepishly.
“She’s been watching them for two days, going on to three,” Garnet added. “And it’s not your fault, Steven.”
“So how do we get her to stop watching ‘em?” Amethyst asked. Jasper kept her mouth shut to see how Peridot had been treated while among the traitors.
“We’ll need to hide them, I guess. Or at least restrict them so that we can get the drill finished up?” Pearl suggested.
“Why is she so interested in those, what you guys call them, ‘tapes’? I thought she would reject human things,” Lapis asked with a frown.
“She likes Percy and Pierre,” Steven said simply. Garnet nodded in agreement. Jasper stayed silent.
“We need to get the drill done. In order to do that, we need Peridot’s help,” Pearl said. Jasper hesitated for a second before kneeling down to Steven’s level so that her size wouldn’t intimidate him.
“Steven,” she whispered. Steven whipped his head toward her, eyes wide. She could hear his heart beat a little faster, but ignored the sound. Jasper continued, “Has she sought contact with anyone?”
Jasper had met many peridots, but the reason that Jasper was often paired up with Peridot Facet 2F5L Cut 5XG was that she didn’t mind touch. Many peridots did not like touch, but Peridot was actually touch-oriented, so any time that something went right, Jasper would reward her with hair ruffles and other little gentle rewards. Jaspers by nature were very touchy-feely, and she was not an exception. She had lost track of how many times she had her hands swatted by other peridots before she met her Peridot.
“Um, Garnet gave her a pat on the back when the drill was almost done, but nobody’s been really doing anything with her. Why?” Steven said.
Jasper could feel her face go into a deadpan look before scrubbing her face with a giant hand.
“All right, I’m going to need your help and Amethyst’s, but it might take a while to get things into motion,” Jasper said briskly as she stood to her full height. She began marching toward the barn, yelling over her shoulder, “I got this!”
She could hear two sets of footsteps follow after her. Reaching the main door, she turned around and knelt down to Steven and the runt’s level so that she didn’t have to raise her voice and alert Peridot to what was going on.
“Peridot’s done this before. When I first met her, we didn’t interact much. I was just her escort to and from places. My previous experiences with peridots were that they didn’t like to be touched,” Jasper began before pointing a finger toward the door. “Not so with my Peridot.”
Amethyst bared her teeth in a snarl at “my Peridot,” but Jasper ignored her. Amethyst may be another quartz that hung around, but Jasper was closer to Peridot than she was. After all, Peridot really was the one in charge of her, and Jasper couldn’t let centuries of missions, jokes, and stories go to the dust.
“Peridot goes a little…nutty…if she’s without some form of constant contact for a while,” Jasper continued. “First mission I had with her, she started to get obsessed with some sort of weird broadcast that uploaded its videos every week. An amber manager finally tore me a new one on not ‘properly interacting with Facet 2F5L Cut5XG.’ She told me that Peridot was a special case and to end her obsession before someone ended her.”
Jasper peered around the corner to see the TV thing still singing its strange language of hypnotism to Peridot, its screen giving off an eerie blue glow.
“I convinced her to show me the videos, and ignored them in favor of luring her to sleep. And it worked; I found her sweet spot and set her straight to sleep. After that, I got rid of the videos and their links,” Jasper finished, returning her attention to Steven and Amethyst. “Gonna do the same principle here, only Steven’s gonna take the tape things and Amethyst is going to hide them until the drill’s done. You all can come and get them when the walls try to cave in on themselves. She snores something awful.”
Amethyst opened her mouth to protest, but Steven clapped both of his hands over her mouth. Over the muffed protests, Steven glared at Jasper and asked, iron in his voice, “You promise you won’t hurt her?”
Jasper was taken aback by Steven’s tone. Why would she hurt Peridot? Homeworld wouldn’t come for them now, since Peridot called Yellow Diamond a clod. To be perfectly honest, she found it hilarious, after getting over her rage of no rescue. If Jasper had hurt Peridot, then she wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. None of the Crystal Gems would tolerate it, and she would definitely “poofed” and bubbled. She liked having her freedom after being Lapis’s prisoner for so long, and she missed Peridot and her dry sarcasm.
Jasper got right into Steven’s face, unflinching, and vowed, “I give you my honor.”
Steven nodded in agreement. Jasper stood up and walked into the barn. She went over to the loft area with the TV and called, “Peridot?”
“Yeah-huh,” came the nasally response. Jasper jumped up and hauled the top half of her body over the edge to see Peridot staring at the TV screen intently, her nose almost making contact with the flashing images.
“Hey,” she said. “You’ve been avoiding me, and apparently everyone else.”
Peridot didn’t answer, but Jasper can see her thin throat swallow. Jasper crossed her arms and placed her head on them, hooking her legs on one of the supports that held the loft together. It creaked ominously, but nothing more.
“What are you watching this time?” she asked, feigning curiosity. She hoped Peridot would take the bait, like all the other times she would become obsessed with something when Jasper wasn’t around. Peridot didn’t answer her.
Jasper frowned in concern and was about to ask something else when Peridot spoke.
“Are you mad at me?” she asked quietly. Jasper was shocked.
“Why do you think I’m mad at you?” she asked, hurt. Peridot shrugged, closing her eyes tightly.
“Because I ruined your only chance at rescue?” she whispered.
Jasper could tell she was trying hard not to cry. She unhooked her legs from the support and dropped down to the floor. She sprang up onto the loft (a rather impress feat for a heavy quartz like her) and knelt down. Peridot curled up farther into herself, eyes wide with fear. Jasper hooked a finger under Peridot’s chin.
“Do you know what happens to failed escorts?” Jasper asked quietly. Peridot nodded. Jasper continued, “Yeah. You know. Peridot, I missed you. And I’m so proud of you. You survived this dirtball, avoided the Crystal Gems, made it to the Kindergarten, and gathered information about the Cluster. Without needing me!”
Jasper crept closer Peridot, opening her arms out in invitation. “Come here?”
Peridot uncurled and launched herself at Jasper, who enveloped her in a giant hug, nuzzling the top of Peridot’s triangular hair-do. She could feel Peridot sobbing quietly into her neck. She rubbed her back gently, whispering little nothings to her. After a little bit, Peridot pulled away, wiping her eyes and smiling weakly.
“Feel better?” Jasper asked, wiping away a stray tear. Peridot nodded, a hiccupping giggle escaping her. Jasper smiled at her before returning her attention to the TV.
“You never answered me. What’s on the TV?” Jasper asked. Peridot’s face lit up and she raced over to the TV.
“It’s called Camp Pining Hearts! It’s got a complex system of characters, though Paulette has no place to go, and they compete throughout the summer and and and I’ll just put in the first episode so that you can understand!” She raced over to the TV, pressing a button that spat out the tape before shoving another into the TV. Jasper resisted the urge to chuckle, knowing that it was Peridot’s habit to show the first episode of her latest obsession. She took over the couch, leaning against the little corner between the arm and the cushions and having her legs hanging over the other arm. She smirked at Peridot’s shocked face when she turned around to see Jasper lounging. She patted her torso, inviting her to lay on her. Peridot scrambled up to lie on Jasper’s chest, stretching delightfully against her.
The episode started to play, and Jasper began to bid her time. She knew that if she started too early, say five minutes in her obsession, then Peridot would pick up on her trap. If she started too late, then the show would be over and Peridot would get up from her perch, breaking the flow of luring relaxation. She needed to time this perfectly and prevent Peridot from getting up to put in the next tape.
About twelve minutes into the show, she started with little circles on Peridot’s hip, her thumb barely grazing the bare skin of her leg. Peridot snuggled closer to Jasper. Inwardly, Jasper preened. She still had the touch. Peridot had often sought her out when there wasn’t a mission just so that Jasper would cuddle her.
Jasper’s hand began to rub Peridot’s back, rubbing circles into any knots she found, keeping the other hand on her hip. Peridot shifted so that she was flat on her belly, allowing Jasper better access to her back. She kept her eyes on the TV, still not clued in on Jasper was doing.
Jasper barely understood the premise behind the series. She might understand after a couple more episodes, but not just the first one.
“I still can’t believe I called Yellow Diamond a ‘clod,’” Peridot muttered. Jasper chuckled.
“I can’t believe I couldn’t unfuse soon enough to see her face when you did,” she replied. Peridot finally shifted her gaze away from the TV.
“It’s not funny!” she snapped, horrified.
“You’re right; it’s hilarious!” Jasper laughed, smirking. She laughed as Peridot slapped her biceps playfully. Still laughing, she continued, “I knew that you had a temper, but I never knew your fuse was as short as your limbs!”
“You take that back!” Peridot squawked, raising her upper-body up on Jasper’s chest, outraged.
“No!” Jasper continued to laugh, tickling Peridot’s belly. Peridot shrieked with laughter and retaliated by tickling Jasper’s neck, her one ticklish spot (that Peridot’s found so far). Jasper laughed before pinning Peridot to her chest. Peridot gave a few more giggles before relaxing under Jasper’s hands.
Jasper returned her attention enough to see the humans on the tape performing what looked to be fusion. She tried to suppress a shudder at the memory of Malachite as the humans’ mouths met and the moans filtered through the speakers. A tiny hand on her arm told her that Peridot saw her shudder.
“We can skip the ‘kissing’ scenes if you want,” she suggested lightly.
“Are they fusing?” Jasper asked cautiously. Peridot shook her head “no.”
“Steven and his parental maker, Greg, said that it’s one of the ways that humans show affection to one another, especially with mated pairs,” Peridot explained. Jasper relaxed. She returned to rubbing Peridot’s back.
The tape ended and Peridot moved to get up, but Jasper pushed her back down to her chest. Shapeshifting her arm longer to reach the tapes, she picked up a handful to show Peridot. The green Gem picked up a tape and nodded her head excitedly. Jasper dumped the rest of tapes to the loft’s floor gently and replaced the first episode with the tape in her hand.
Peridot wiggled in excitement as the show’s main titles appeared. Jasper began to scratch gently in a rhythmic pattern. Peridot mewled and arched her back towards Jasper’s fingers, asking for more pressure. Jasper obliged, and Peridot began to purr.
Jasper smirked to herself. When Peridot began to purr, it meant that all other thought went out the window. Jasper was actually surprised that she was able to get her to purr so soon. She must have been alone for a long time. The first time Jasper did this for Peridot, with the first obsession, Peridot insisted on playing with Jasper’s hair, making little braids through the course mane. Now, Peridot was kneading her chest, eyes closed in bliss. Jasper knew that she’d insist on doing something nice when she wakes up from her “nap,” but for now Jasper wanted Peridot to relax.
Peridot began to bat at a few stray strands of Jasper’s hair. Jasper chuckled at her attempts to reciprocate, and knew that Peridot would be more attentive the next time they cuddle.
Jasper began to rub Peridot’s back again. She could feel Peridot turn into a puddle of green putty against her chest, her eyes fighting to stay open. Carefully, Jasper rubbed up her back, getting closer and closer to her neck. Peridot’s purrs became chirrs as her eyes closed completely.
“I know what you’re doing,” Peridot murmured. Jasper’s smirk grew wider.
“Oh, really?” she said, amused. Peridot must have figured out what was happening, but Jasper’s touch was more appealing than Camp Pining Hearts.
“You’re gonna take away my tapes, and I’ll never be able to show you the dynamics,” Peridot slurred. Yep, she figured it out.
“Perhaps,” Jasper mused. “You may get them back, you may not.”
“I never get things back,” Peridot complained quietly as Jasper’s hand massaged Peridot’s neck. Jasper felt very pleased with herself as Peridot drifted into a light nap. Now for the pièce de résistance.
The hand that was on Peridot’s neck travelled up to her soft spot under her jaw, stroking gently.
“Mmmmm,” Peridot moaned. Five strokes under the jaw, then Jasper’s hand dove into Peridot’s hair to massage her scalp.
That was it. Peridot began to snore, slowly gaining volume with each exhale. Jasper smiled at how Peridot looked, lower lip in a pout and face stress-free. How she missed this! Looking at Peridot being so relaxed made up being stuck at the bottom of an ocean, just a little bit.
A noise towards the TV alerted Jasper of company. She tightened her grip on Peridot, hand still massaging her scalp. A little head that she recognized as Steven popped up from behind the TV, Amethyst right behind him. Jasper smiled at them.
“You can take the tapes now,” she whispered to them. Steven nodded, but instead of moving to the TV, he dragged something toward the couch, and in relation, them. Jasper raised a brow, watching the halfling cautiously.
“Here!” Steven offered the object he was dragging to her. Jasper looked at the offering in surprise; it was a comforter. Gingerly, she took the comforter from the boy’s hands and draped it over their bodies. It was a little short; Jasper’s boots poked out from underneath.
“Garnet’s gonna bubble the tapes and send them back to the Temple. That way, she can have them after the Cluster’s gone,” Steven explained in a whisper. Jasper nodded and whispered, “Thank you.”
Steven grinned and went back to Amethyst, who had gathered all the tapes while Steven had given Jasper the comforter. The pair went back to behind the TV and disappeared. Jasper huffed a laugh, giving Peridot’s scalp one last rub before reluctantly withdrawing from Peridot’s hair.
She was in for an earful for tricking Peridot, but it would be worth it in the end. She wanted to do one last sign of affection. Remembering the “kissing” scene from Camp Pining Hearts, she gently pressed her lips to Peridot’s Gem. She leaned back enough to see Peridot’s pout change into a smile before her relaxed state slipped into a dreamless sleep.