Steven was asleep when Amethyst began her nightly rummage in the fridge. To the untrained eye Steven had enough food to last him for at least a week, but Amethyst knew what to look for. She sniffed around the cheese drawer and found a few packages that were about to turn bad. Amethyst wasn’t surprised. Steven never liked the pre-shredded stuff. He always liked making every part of his food for himself. She grabbed both bags and gave them a critical look before tipping her head back and eating them both whole.
The freezer was no better--the vegetables were covered in frost bite and there was a depressing lack of ice cream. Amethyst shook her head sadly before opening the bag of vegetables, popping them one by one into her mouth while she surveyed the state of the pantry. No chaaps (which might have been her fault, but the new cheez-e flavor was too delicious to resist.) Pearl had stocked up on enough spices, noodles, and canned vegetables to feed Steven for ages, but she refused to buy the things Steven really wanted. With a sigh Amethyst closed the cabinet door, a mental list running through her head as she headed toward the exit.
“Amethyst?” Steven was standing at the top of the stairs, blinking the sleep from his eyes. “Where are you going? I thought wrestling was tomorrow night?”
“It is buddy, but I’m gonna go out for a bit right now.”
“Is it a mission?” His face lit up, any thoughts of sleep forgotten.
“Nah, nothing like that.” Amethyst continued to inch towards the door.
“Well...can I come with you then?” There was barely a pause after the question before Amethyst shot him a wicked smile and gestured for him to keep quiet. She creeped out of the house, Steven following behind a moment later. He’d thrown on his puffy (loud) jacket over his banana pajamas and stuck his feet in his rain boots. Amethyst bit back a laugh at the sight.
“Alright Amethyst, where are we really going?” Steven asked once they’d made it onto the beach.
“We are going to go get some food that is actually worth eating. None of those weird slimy vegetables Pearl is always trying to get you to eat.”
“Are you talking about the cans of spinach? I hate them.” Steven shuddered and Amethyst threw back her head and laughed. Next time she felt like snacking on some cans she’d need to remember to eat those first. They walked along in silence for a bit before they rounded the last curve and the city came into view.
“I didn’t know anything was open this late at night.”
“That’s because there isn’t anything open right now.” Steven gave her a suspicious look and she grinned even wider. “Steven, this is...a HEIST!”
“A heist!? So it IS a mission!”
“Yeah, it is. It’s the most secret mission of all…” Amethyst swung her eyes from side to side before leaning in and whispering, “We’re gonna steal all the cheez-e chaaaps from Gergins.”
“Whaaaa?!” Steven’s eyes grew wide and sparkled under the moonlight. “This is gonna be AWESOME!”
Steven’s excited chatter kept up nonstop until they reached the store. Amethyst pulled on the back of Steven’s shirt, pulling him to a halt. With a wink she ran around the back to make her way into the store.
“Tadah!” She threw open the front door with a flourish. Steven stepped in timidly, starry eyed and overwhelmed.
“Wow! I can’t believe this! Do you do this all the time?”
“Yeah, duh. Who do you think gets all the good food? Pearl?” Amethyst laughed.
“Well I’ve been grocery shopping with Pearl. She has this list of things I need to eat to get ‘adequate human nutrition.’ Whatever that means.” Steven shrugged as he pulled out a shopping cart. “But honestly, I kind of thought Garnet was the one who picked up the good food.”
“Garnet?! No way! She doesn’t even like food.”
“Yeah, well, but she has future vision. She could see what foods I would like, right?”
“I mean, I guess.” Amethyst shrugged and lifted Steven up into the cart. She pushed hard off of the floor and shot them down the front of the store toward the frozen foods.
“Plus, you’re not exactly the most responsible person I know.” Steven said after he had reigned in his snorting laughter.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well...you know...buying groceries has always seemed like such an adult thing to do.”
“Steven, we’re hundreds of years old. I am definitely an adult.”
“But you don’t act like one...you act like me!” Amethyst wasn’t sure how to react to that, so she grinned and ruffled his hair.
“Hey, go pick out some ice cream.” She dropped him onto the floor, watching as he scampered down toward the pints to pick out some options. Amethyst already knew what he'd get--neapolitan, cookies and cream, and lion lickers for lion--but she wanted to see that dopey face he makes while trying to make a decision.
It was dumb, but Steven saying those things about her made her...feel bad. Which made her mad. She takes care of Steven all the time! She made sure he was safe when they wrestled, didn’t she? And any time he wanted to do something dangerous she’d distract him by doing the dangerous thing herself. (Like the time she’d danced on the edge of the cliff. That was hilarious. Or at least, it should have been hilarious.)
Sure, Pearl was all proper and clean. Amethyst had to admit there might be someone out there who’d like that. But not Steven! He loved rolling around the garbage piles in her room.
And yeah, Garnet always knew what to do. Like always. Even Amethyst had to admit that Garnet had calmed her down more than once. But Steven was spontaneous and fun, and when you’re looking for fun Amethyst is the only Crystal Gem for the job.
“Ahh! I can’t choose!” Steven slid down the glass freezer case dramatically.
“Here, let me show you how it’s done.” Amethyst hoisted Steven back into the cart and threw in the ice cream she had always picked for him. Then she sped them down the next aisle to grab string cheese and those awesome squeezy tubes of yogurt.
Amethyst used her gem-strength to rocket the cart through the rest of the store. She transformed one of her hands into a make-shift prize crane that she’d drop onto every item before swinging them over to Steven who was waiting in the cart with his arms wide open to catch his prize.
“Wow Amethyst! I can’t believe it! This is everything I wanted!” Steven was now sitting in a pile of junk food that passed the tops of his shoulders. In his arms he held one of every flavor of chaaps, cradling them to his chest like newborn babies. Amethyst grabbed a pen from behind the checkout counter and drew crying faces on the bags to complete the effect.
“You must have been paying special attention to all the things I like! That’s so nice of you.” Steven grinned up at Amethyst before wrapping her in a warm hug. A happy blush rose in her cheeks.
“Ugh, Steven. Let me go, the heist isn’t over yet!” She ducked her head when she pulled away, hoping to hide her obvious delight.
“Oh yeah, we need to sneak everything out of here…But how are we gonna do that...” He tapped a finger to his chin and hummed thoughtfully.
“Leave that to me.” There was a flash, and then a purple replica of lion stood in her place. “Load me up Steven!”
“Oh wow, so cool!” He tied the bags together and scrambled up to sit on top of her before resting the bags in his lap. “Okay Lionthyst, lead the way!”
With a roar Amethyst sprinted out into the night. They had only made it a few feet away from the grocery store before Steven pulled on her ear to get her to stop.
“Ow dude, what was that?”
“Amethyst...I don’t like stealing.” Even without seeing his face Amethyst knew Steven was on the verge of tears.
“Well...I didn’t want to give away the secret...but it’s not stealing.” Amethyst kneeled down to slide Steven off her back before changing into herself again.
“Amethyst, do you even know what stealing is? Because what we just did is pretty much the exact definition.”
“I know what it means Ste-ven.” She sighed and flipped her hair down to cover one eye. “I just..pay for the groceries.”
“But...we didn’t pay for them just now?” Amethyst sighed.
“That's because I work for the Gergins. I load and unload stock at night. They let me take the same groceries every week...and they let me eat the garbage.” She added the last bit as an afterthought, her mouth watering at the thought of scarfing down a package of cookies that had been damaged in transit. “It’s a pretty sweet gig, actually.”
“Wow Amethyst, I never would have thought of you as a working member of society! I’m so proud of you.”
“Yeah, y’know, I am pretty great.”
Amethyst quickly transformed back into lion so Steven wouldn’t see the happiness written plainly on her face.
“AMETHYST, HOW COULD YOU?!” Pearl paced the kitchen, gesturing wildly at the grocery bags that littered the countertop. “I don’t even know where to start!”
“How about we start with taking Steven from the house this late at night. It is way past your bedtime young man.” Garnet looked down at Steven. He met her gaze with his most adorable teary eyed pout.
“I’m sorry Garnet but--”
“But nothing!” In her anger Pearl had unbagged all the groceries, folded the bags, and was now sorting them according to size and color. “Everything Amethyst did tonight was inexcusable. Now we have to go back and pay for all these groceries that she stole. ”
“But she didn’t---” Steven started.
“Amethyst, I can’t believe you’d set such a bad example for Steven.” Pearl cut Steven off again. But Amethyst couldn’t take another minute of this.
“You think I stole this, Pearl?! You think I’m an irresponsible, lying thief?!” Amethyst yelled, voice getting scratchier with every word.
“Amethyst please, now is not the time.” Pearl pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “Be a good role model for Steven by paying for these things and apologizing.”
“I don’t need to apologize for anything!” She slammed a hand down on the counter and Garnet fixed her with a weighty stare. “I know you guys are better role models than I am, but me and Steven had fun --”
“Stealing isn’t fun, Steven.” Pearl cut in with a worried glance toward the teary eyed boy.
“Pearl!” Amethyst moved toward Pearl, leaning in and pinning her between the counter. “We had fun . And you know what, I’m not even sorry about a single thing that happened tonight. Because we. had. fun ! I’m the fun one! You guys get to be everything else, so let me be the fun one, alright?”
Pearl’s face had drained of all her anger and now looked...sad. Ugh. Amethyst hated when people made that face.
“Whatever, I’ll be in my room.” She stalked off, closing her temple door before anyone else could follow.
She shifted into Purple Puma and began knocking down all of her perfectly crafted garbage piles. Purple puma was ruthless, angry, and tough. Purple Puma didn’t have feelings, she didn’t worry about what anyone thought. Amethyst knew how to be Purple Puma, even when she didn’t know how to be anything else.
“Amethyst…?” Pearl’s voice echoed out of a corner of the room. “Amethyst, I’m sorry, please come talk to me!”
“Stay away from me!” Her fist shot out and knocked down another tower in an impressively large crash.
“Steven told me everything--about your job, and the snacks…”
Amethyst froze and Pearl waited until the last sounds of tumbling garbage faded out before continuing.
“I was wrong for doing what I did.” Pearl was closer now, just around the corner of another garbage pile. Amethyst slumped down and waited for Pearl to find her. Her footsteps stopped a step or two way before they stuttered to a halt.
A moment of silence passed, and then Pearl sat down right next to her. Amethyst’s head shot up, eyes wide with surprise. Pearl hated being dirty. But there she was, her voice apologetic and her smile as sincere as it could be under the circumstances. After all, she was sitting in a pile of freshly turned garbage.
“Listen…” Amethyst sighed and dropped her head onto her pulled up knees. “I know you guys...you try, but” The words wouldn’t come to her, and she ground her teeth in anger before hissing out, “...for so long, it was us...just us as Crystal Gems. But you treat me like I’m a kid...like I’m just like Steven!”
“Amethyst,” Pearl sighed again, sadness weighing heavy on the sound. “I know you don’t feel like a kid, but...you’re so much younger than us. So new and full of this world. We had to teach you everything about being a gem, and now we’re teaching Steven that too! I know it’s unfair to treat you like that, but we did raise you…” Now her eyes were watering. “I guess that means you have more in common with Steven than any of us ever will.”
Amethyst sighed, fighting tears away. She fixed an obnoxious grin in place before lifting her head to meet Pearl’s stare.
“You’re right. Steven and me, we’re the only cool ones around here!”
“Amethyst!” Pearl huffed, clearly annoyed with her for ruining the moment. Amethyst threw her arms around Pearl’s shoulders and laughed.