Love Like You
Go to America, they said.
It would be easy, they said.
So far the exchange program at Empire State University had been a never ending succession of orientation exercises, staff introductions, outlines of policies and tours starting at eight that morning. A parade of faces, paper packets and staring at her watch waiting for each little segment of formalities to finish so that she could go to her dorm and unpack.
All hopes of being released were dashed for the third time today as her group was lead into a spacious and empty feeling lecture room. They were told to take seats where they please. Peridot chose the back left corner, dropping her leather satchel down beside the seat. It was hard, small, and Peridot was less than enthusiastic about having to use them all year. Day one and she was already counting the days until her return home. To be fair she would be graduating then, and who wouldn’t be enthusiastic to leave university behind? Especially after being pressured into a year long exchange in a foreign country.
She looked up as another stack of papers was passed around by an all too peppy student assistant with strawberry blonde hair. When the dwindling stack finally neared Peridot she leaned forward to take it from the girl two rows in front of her. Big brown eyes gave her an apologetic look as the girl stretched as far as she could. It was hardly enough.
“I’m sorry, here- I can stand,” she said and began to pull away.
“This is fine,” Peridot said and put forth enough effort to take the last of the papers. More English words to give her a headache. The girl gave her a small smile and turned back around.
“Okay everyone we’re going to go around and everyone say your name, your country and one interesting fact about yourself.” The assistant instructed. “I’ll begin to give an example. My name is Pearl, I’m from America and I’ve been dancing ballet for twelve years.”
Peridot had to stop herself from groaning. She just wanted to go back to sleep. The nine hour flight the day before and time zone shift had her jet lagged worse than any other trip she could remember. She hardly listened to the others speaking in this cliché exercise.
“My name is Jasper, I am from Germany,” a tall blonde girl up front said. “I’m going to join the school track team.”
Peridot zoned out, trying to think of some fact about herself. The most interesting thing about her she didn’t plan on exposing. Being heir to a small private diamond business caused problems. Mostly people wanting free shit. She rest her chin on her hand, scrolling through a suddenly short list. Something good, something interesting… A boy was reprimanded across the room for stating his major as his fact.
Shit. Can’t use that… But how interesting could software designing be?
The introduction was coming around closer to her. By the time it had reached the girl in front of her Peridot was still at a loss and feeling anxious. Why whenever someone asked for personal information did it always fly from her mind? She realized her knee was bouncing. She tried but couldn't stop it.
“I’m Lapis Lazuli Rivera, I’m from Spain and I learned English mostly by listening to music,” she said.
“Oh that's very clever,” Pearl commented before turning her attention to Peridot.
Peridot shrank in her seat. “Uh…” She paused and forced herself to sit up straighter, a memory popping to mind. “My name is Peridot, I’m from Russia, and I attended the Socchi Olympics last year.”
Other students gasped, some groaned, Pearl voiced their thoughts. “Oh I’d love to go to the Olympics.”
Lapis turned in her seat. “I’m very jealous,” she said. She was smiling.
Peridot nodded. “It was impressive.” The word did nothing to justify what the games actually were but Peridot had no desire to go into further detail. Not in front of so many people. The exercise continued on to the boy seated four seats down.
Peridot turned her attention to the new paper, a list of the other exchange students, their phone numbers and their rooms in the dorms. Useless. Peridot wasn’t here to make friends. Just work and go home. She folded it and stuck it in her satchel pocket. When she looked back up Lapis gave her a glance over her shoulder. Peridot was unsure what to think.
Despite preferring solitude, she found it felt nice to know that someone wanted to give her a second look.
Chapter 2: Love Like You Chapter 2
First dinner in America
I'm probably 10000% wrong about how programs go but I'm just doing my best man
A knock at the door made Peridot groan. She didn’t hold it in like she had all day. At this point she didn’t care if anyone heard her but she doubted that anyone could hear anything through the thick dormitory door. She placed the shirt in her hands into the dresser drawer and went to the door.
“Hello Peridot,” Pearl said with a smile. One of the American student assistants was with her, peering eagerly at Peridot.“Some of the other students in the program decided to go to the dining hall for dinner together. I wanted to extend the invitation to everyone.”
“It’s gonna be a ton of fun,” the American student assistants said. She had been there all day, Peridot had seen her purple hair, what was her name… Amethyst?
“I’m not so sure I should go,” Peridot said. “I have clothes to unpack still.”
“And you’re probably jet lagged. We understand.” Pearl said with a sympathetic smile.
“Figured we’d try anyway,” Amethyst added. Peridot didn’t like how she spoke. If Americans hated learning other languages so much couldn’t they at least use their own correctly and speak in full sentences? Peridot hated how it took her a minute to fully process what Amethyst was trying to say.
“If you decide to come anyway, the hall is marked on your student map if you don't remember how to get there.” Pearl said. “I hope you decide to join us.”
“I’ll save you a seat.” Amethyst said as they turned to leave.
“Thank you,” Peridot said, not entirely sure what ‘saving a seat’ was.
Her attention turned back to her room, suitcase open on the bed. Only a few pairs of pants were left. After unpacking she had planned to take a nap but it was nearly eight in the evening now and if she laid down she would never sleep through the night.
And she was hungry…
Peridot took the black slacks out of her suitcase and looked them over. Well… She’d need to change for dinner. These were too formal.
When she opened the pants drawer she dug down a few pair, looking for something more appropriate.
After some research on her smart phone about what Americans thought was appropriate to wear to an informal group dinner and wondering if the students would prove to be as critical as her family Peridot decided on her clothes and left her dorm room.
The corridor was quiet and Peridot realized she had been the only one to truly decline the invitation. Peridot paused.
Was it worse to arrive late or not go at all?
“Derr ‘mo,” she said out loud and started toward the dining hall.
With a red face she entered the hall, working to conceal her anxieties. She bought her dinner from one of the few places that didn’t serve exclusively fried food and approached the program group taking up an entire corner of the hall. Five tables and no where she wanted to sit. She wanted to leave.
But the only thing worse than coming late was coming late and then leaving.
“Peridot!” Amethyst waved at her.
Hesitantly Peridot approached her, feet heavy.
“Hey, I saved you that seat.” Amethyst moved her backpack from the chair beside her and scooted it toward Peridot.
“Thank you,” Peridot said as she sat. The phrase made more sense now, she thought. Peridot meant what she said, she hoped the American girl understood. Peridot hadn’t expected the program assistants to actually care about them.
“We were just talking about the clubs at the school,” Amethyst informed her.
Peridot glanced around at the six other students crammed at the round table.
“You got any you wanna join?” Amethyst spoke a little too fast. Peridot felt like a fool when she had to hesitate before answering.
“I hadn’t thought about it,” Peridot answered.
“We have all sorts of cool stuff.” Amethyst said, slouching back in her seat. “Fishing, hiking, swimming, lots of sporty things. Then there’s the cool club like Gamer club, Spectrum, Flight club, you know, airplanes and stuff.”
That was an impressive sounding club.
“Wait, you said swimming? It’s not the team?” The girl that had sat in front of Peridot for introductions asked. The girl from Spain, Lapis Lazuli Riviera. Peridot remembered her whole name.
“Nah, we’ve got a club too. It’s for the people that just want to swim and not compete.” Amethyst said.
“Oh my god,” her voice went up a little, her accent coming out strong. “I have to join.”
“It’s pretty easy, you can just sign up.” Amethyst said. “O Days is next week, you’ll be able to sign up for whatever club you want.”
“What’s O Days?” Jasper asked, squinting a little.
“O Days is what we call the four days of the first week of school when all the clubs have tables out on the concourse. They just advertise to get new members. It’s really fun. I’ll be out there for Gamer and maybe Spectrum.”
“What’s Spectrum?” Jasper asked, amused by all the strange names. Peridot didn’t understand the origins of O Days if it was about clubs. Where did the O come from? Why not C Days?
“Spectrum…” Amethyst trailed off a little, looking like she was making a hard decision. “Spectrum is uh, that's what we call the pride club.”
“’Pride Club’?” Peridot broke her silence to ask. Amethyst looked a little more uncomfortable.
“Yeah, like, gay pride and stuff. It's to support kids that are on the sexuality spectrum.”
No wonder she looked uncomfortable. The subject wasn’t exactly easy in many of the countries the students came from. Peridot felt the same as Amethyst looked but kept her expression neutral to try to ease any attention away from herself. The protests against the Olympics the previous year hadn’t been a point of pride for her country.
“That’s… That's pretty nice.” Jasper said with a nod. “We have some things like that in Germany.”
“We don’t have that at my school,” said a girl from China, trying to seem casual about the subject.
One of the students from Greece looked at his plate, not saying anything.
“I know it's sort of a hot topic,” Amethyst said with a nervous laugh. “You don’t have to join or anything, it's not even that big of a club.”
“Oh I’m definitely going to join.” Lapis said. “That’s really cool.”
Amethyst smiled, relaxing more. “Yeah? We’d love to have you.”
“Are you a member?” Lapis asked.
“Oh yeah, I was Historian.” Amethyst said. “But I sucked at it so now I’m just a normal member. We have all sorts of parties and stuff. It’s a lot of fun.”
“I’m excited, I didn’t know there would be any support like that here.” Lapis said.
“Are you uh…” Jasper started to ask before realizing what she was saying. It was easy to see how embarrassed she felt. Jasper looked down at her plate and then back at Lapis.
“Yeah,” Lapis shrugged. “It’s just part of who I am.”
“Right on.” Amethyst said, back to her relaxed disposition. “It’s open invitation to everyone.”
Peridot stared down at her food, wanting to melt into the floor. Her country’s laws had been protested in front of the entire world. Her mother was nothing short of frigid on the subject and something about the entire concept of homosexuality was just so unsettling for her. Not because she hated seeing any propaganda for it, nor was she against the want for rights, just the basic concept was so… Complicated. Then again, she felt odd on the subject of any relationship.
“Well I’m definitely going to join.” Lapis said, sitting back in her seat with a warm smile.
Peridot was grateful for the girl’s enthusiasm but she still felt like the table was staring at her.
Despite the awkward topic of conversation at dinner, Peridot returned feeling less like a number and more like a member of a group. It was… Nice. She hadn’t expected these students to be as casual as they were. Especially the ones from warmer climates.
It did reinforce her theory that people from warm countries were generally nicer and more pleasant than the ones from colder countries. The theory was based on her own experiences with her family’s circle of friends. Maybe this year would prove her wrong. Maybe it would prove her right. Peridot didn’t care at the moment.
She needed to shower. She needed to email her mother again. She needed to dig in the closet and finish inventory of her things and the things provided to her. She needed to consider something to put on the walls. Everything was bare. She missed the painting hung in her own room at home. It wasn’t much but it was something to make the space feel like her own.
However she didn’t feel like leaving her room. She didn’t feel like pulling out her laptop. She didn’t feel like taking off her clothes. It felt too vulnerable even in her room. Instead of any of those things she flopped on her bed and tried not to think of anything, hoping the vague feeling of wanting to be back at the table would go away. Graduation was in sight and honors don't come from spending time socializing when there’s studying to do.
And her mother expected perfect grades, not friends.
Peridot fell asleep already stressing over tests she knew nothing about from teachers she hadn’t met, knowing she was working herself up for nothing but unable to stop herself.
And wondering if a club would be a good idea, wondering if she would be good enough to get in… Maybe swimming club. For exercise.
Chapter 3: Love Like You Chapter 3
Peridot finds the pool in her off time.
The first day of classes passed in a smooth, uneventful flow. Peridot chose the appropriate clothes for which she was thankful. Even the casual Americans dressed up somewhat for the first day, however she got the impression this did not continue to the rest of the school year. Still, she was proud to get compliments on her coat in all four of the classes she had that Monday. Other girls gave her envious glances in the hallway.
It was important for Peridot to choose the proper clothing to blend in as one of her peers. The only time the other students seemed to notice she was different was when she spoke. Her accent was complimented once but she wished she could stop it.
To spend some time between class and studying Peridot did a lap around part of the campus, looking for the recreation center. That was where the pool was, right? In an email from her mother at lunch she had been encouraged to join one club provided it did not detract from her advanced level classes. After the group dinner last night Peridot had decided swimming would be best. Pearl recommended it. A student from Italy also named Pearl and Lapis had expressed interest.
When at last Peridot found the center it could hardly be mistaken for anything else. A wall of windows from ground to the top of the two story building showcased the rock climbing wall, suspended track and a court of some sort. It was impressive to say the least. In the lobby she found a mural against the far wall of an array of people participating in every sport imaginable. Peridot made her way to the reception desk.
“Excuse me,” she said politely to the smiling girl behind the desk. “I’m looking for the pool.”
“Oh yeah? It’s pretty cool, we just added it.” The girl said. “Take this hall to your right and its down at the end. Opposite side of the center.”
“Thank you very much,” Peridot replied and headed off down the hall. It wasn’t long before she was hit with the strong smell of chlorine. For some reason she had always enjoyed the smell. She enjoyed swimming… But she wasn’t any good and rarely had the chance to go. Her mother didn’t enjoy many sports and their vacations were only once spent at the sea.
Peridot was at a loss for words when she entered the pool room. It was huge. The pool was Olympic sized with lanes designated in black tile on the pool floor and floating lines of buoys in one half and the other left vacant for recreational use. There were two high dives and two low dives. The looks of both made Peridot’s stomach flip. She did a scan around of the few students collected in little groups around the pool sitting in chairs, a few sitting with their feet in the water, and two standing giggling at the far corner. Two girls were testing the pool temperature with their toes. They both had dyed blue hair.
Peridot circled around the pool half hoping to see her program mates and half wanting to inspect the pool in peace. The ceilings were high with blue fabric hung looping around overhead. It kind of looked like waves. Very clever touch. Peridot found herself getting warm in her coat, the room heated considerably from the chilly air outside. Just as she began to relax in the pleasant smell of the water, soft glow of the pool lights and warmth of the air she was pulled out of her reverie by a shout.
“Peridot!” Someone called.
Shocked at her name being called in a new country Peridot looked around until her eye was caught by one of the blue haired girls waving. She could have kicked herself for not recognizing Pearl and Lapis.
“Peridot!” Lapis called again, waving at her. The Italian Pearl stood beside her, smiling.
Not entirely sure of what she could speak to Lapis about Peridot approached slowly. Why was their hair blue? When had that happened? Why the both of them?
“Hi,” Pearl greeted with a timid smile. Would it be rude to comment on?
“Your hair…” Peridot said before she could stop herself.
“You like it? Amethyst helped us last night. We thought it would be fun.” Pearl said.
“It's uh… Vibrant.” Was all Peridot could think to say.
“Come to join us for a swim?” Lapis asked. “I was trying to convince Pearl to go in first.”
“It’s really deep,” Pearl said. “I think we should use the stairs at the other end.”
“Yeah but stairs are no fun.” Lapis argued. She smiled at Peridot, a different smile than when she had handed her the papers the day before. Warmer. Lapis seemed to be happier near the pool. “Do you want to swim with us?”
“I don’t have a suit with me,” Peridot said lamely. She had at least brought one considering Empire City University was an hour from the coast and she felt like taking a day trip. Just in case.
“I’d suggest just swimming in your clothes but I don’t think that's allowed.” Lapis offered.
“Who swims with their clothes on?” Peridot asked, thinking of how awful that must feel.
“I mean I have.” Lapis said. “We live on the coast, though. I go swimming a lot.”Peridot stopped herself from looking down at Lapis’ swimsuit. Her face felt hot. The pool room was too heated.
The coast of Spain must be really pretty…
“The coast is only a short distance from my home as well,” Pearl said. “I’m glad we’re close to the coast here.”
“Salt water is best water.” Lapis said.
Peridot didn’t say anything, just kept quiet. She preferred pools.
“So do you want to go get your suit in your room and we’ll wait for you?” Pearl offered.
That gave Peridot pause. Swimming did sound nice. But she should spend time looking over her syllabus and starting on her American Literature reading assignments… It was kind of them to offer but still, if she went and came back they might not really want her there any more. Any chance of going in today was lost, the moment would pass by the time she got to her dorm.
“Not today, I have reading assignments.” Peridot replied.
“That’s fine, then. Maybe some other time.” Lapis said. “You have our numbers on that contact sheet, right? Is your phone international?”
“Yeah, it works here.” Peridot said, putting her hands in her pockets, taking her phone in her right hand. “Do you want me to uh, call?”
“Texting is easier, in case I’m in class. Amethyst told me.” Lapis said. “Or email, I don’t mind.”
“Sure, I’ll contact you.” Peridot agreed.
“I can make it easy for you, if you like,” Lapis offered.
Peridot gave her a look. What was that supposed to mean?
“I can put my number in your phone for you.” Lapis clarified when she saw Peridot’s expression.
“Oh, um, if you want.” Peridot hadn’t expected to save any numbers into her contacts beyond her advisor and the program leaders. She took her phone from her pocket and unlocked the screen, pulled up the contact app and handed it to Lapis.
“Whoa, is it still set to Russian?” Lapis asked when she saw a few of the symbols on the corners of the screen.
“Yes.” Was the short answer.
“I changed mine to English to help learn.” Pearl said. “It’s sort of working.”
Lapis tapped in her number and offered the phone back to Peridot. “I don’t know your alphabet to spell my name.”
“I can type it in.” Peridot typed in her full name and saved the contact.
“Contact me and we’ll figure something out.” Lapis said. “And we’re all getting dinner together again. Same spot in the dining hall.”
“What time?” Peridot asked to be polite. She wanted to, but didn’t intend on spending another hour or more being social when there was work to be done. As much as she didn’t want to admit, she was slow at reading English.
“Probably eight so everyone can finish assignments.” Lapis said.
“I’m probably going to be late though,” Pearl offered. “I have a late class at seven. Don’t feel bad if you come later again.”
Peridot shifted her weight, less than happy that they remembered. “Thank you.” She said. For an excuse she looked at the time on her wrist watch. “I should go.”
“Yeah, go do your assignments and we’ll see you at eight.” Lapis said, not giving Peridot a choice.
“Thank you,” Peridot repeated. “I’ll see you later.” And she walked off, holding up a hand when they waved her off.
At the door Peridot heard a squeal and splash. When she turned back she saw Lapis jumping in after Pearl. The Spanish girl stayed under water for a long moment and Peridot waited until she saw her surface again, not exactly concerned but curious. Lapis could hold her breath a long time…
As much as she wanted to go swimming with them she wasn’t sure what else she could say to them while they were in the pool. Reminding herself that she wasn’t exactly friends with them Peridot left the pool room and rushed out the door, resenting the cold air when it hit her again.
Chapter 4: Love Like You Chapter 4
O Days has arrived
That's what we called it at my school
I still don't understand why. It keeps me up at night.
Have you ever walked into a room and you feel this tangible weight on you because you just /know/ people are looking at you?
Let's all take a moment to appreciate that Rose is like six foot seven and garnet is like six three
And Peridot is like five foot five on a good day
O Days came at the second day of school with loudly colored banners on tables manned by even louder students. They lined the concourse making the walk way narrow and crowded and it looked twice as long as it had looked the day before. Peridot would have to use it twice on her walk to class that day.
She stood paused to take it in before walking through. Her heart was racing, it made her chest hurt. Her hands were clenched in her coat pockets, clutching her phone in one and a pen in the other. Eyes darting around at the students passing out fliers Peridot tentatively stepped onto the concourse and began the walk to the end. Any other way around would make her late to class.
The tables were crammed with diagrams, photos, in one instance a drag racing car which admittedly caught her attention. The engine was exposed, showing off the build of the entire car. It was …cool. When one of the boys in the club flashed her a smile she started off again before he could speak to her.
Empire State University had a club for everything. Sewing, international politics, the stock market, history, many of the tables accompanied by a professor that lead the club. She didn’t see a swimming table anywhere. Peridot stopped when she heard a nice melody. She saw a balding man with long hair sitting at a nearly bare table playing a guitar. When he noticed her he gave her a smile but kept playing.
“Hey there,” he said.
Peridot glanced to either side of her. He chuckled.
“My name is Greg, I teach music classes. C’mere.” He offered up a flier. Not wanting to be rude Peridot took a few steps forward and accepted it. It had a very silly drawing of a man with a guitar and sunglasses.
“Did a child draw this?” She asked as she examined it.
“Yeah, my son Steven drew it a few days ago. He comes to the meetings sometimes.” Mister Greg said.
“It’s cute,” Peridot commented. It wasn’t convincing. Greg just smiled a kind smile. “Do you know where the swimming club is?”
“Oh it's down a few tables.” Greg said, leaning forward and pointing down the concourse. “It's right across from the spectrum table. My wife is down there with them. She has really big strawberry blonde hair. She’s really tall, completely gorgeous, way out of my league. You’ll know her when you see her and swimming is right across.”
“Thank you,” Peridot said, not letting on how much she didn’t want to have to stop anywhere near the spectrum kids.
“You’re welcome. Come by the meeting next week if you want.”
Peridot gave a nod and went on her way down the concourse. Maybe Lapis and Pearl would be there at the table, maybe she could talk to them for a minute, maybe she wouldn’t have to look at the spectrum table at all. What would her mom say if she knew her daughter was in the program with a lesbian to begin with?
Quick glances for Greg’s wife made Peridot wonder if she would accidentally make eye contact and obligate her to listen to some member’s pitch. She didn’t have to look too far, she saw Amethyst before she saw Greg’s wife. Everything he said about her was true, she was beautiful. She stood smiling and speaking with the students gathered around her, standing next to another very tall girl with dark skin and a mess of curls. They were both stunning.
Peridot tried not to think about that.
She stopped at the table across and turned her back to the table surrounded by gorgeous giant women.
“You’re the swimming club, correct?” She asked a silver haired woman sitting at the club station. She looked older than the other students, Peridot wondered if she was a member or an endorsing professor.
“Yes, It’s just me here for right now but I promise there’s more of us.” She smiled kindly. Her voice was soft and calming. It made Peridot feel a bit better. “You can take a flier, it has all the meeting dates listed. And,” she pushed a clipboard closer, “This is our emailing list if you want to sign up. It’s helpful if a meeting gets cancelled or moved and for updates about events. At the end of the year we have a party and we’ve invited an Olympic swimmer to join us.”
She seemed particularly proud of that but Peridot found it hard to listen when she felt like she was being stared at by the girls across the way. Why did she feel like they were staring? It took all her will power not to turn around and look. She made herself focus on the woman’s smooth voice.
“So the first meeting is next week?” Peridot asked.
“Yes, next Tuesday. I’ll be there and you can meet everyone else.” The woman offered her hand. “My name is Sapphire. I’m actually the professor that heads the club. It’s a pleasure to meet you…?”
“Peridot.” Peridot took her hand and gave a polite shake. “Peridot Pavlov. I’m an exchange from Russia.”
“We would be very lucky to have you. Some of your fellow exchange students have signed up already, it’ll be wonderful to have you as well.”
Peridot looked at the email list and scrolled until she saw Pearl and Lapis. Good. They had already been here. Now she knew she could go to club and not worry about knowing no one.
“You just missed them,” Sapphire said. “But they should still be at the spectrum table just across. I believe they're talking to my daughter Garnet.”
“Garnet?” Peridot asked. “Your daughter?”
Was everyone in the damn spectrum club?
“Yes, the very tall girl next to Misses Rose Quarts-Universe.” Sapphire said, smiling across the concourse. “She’s the most beautiful girl there, and the president.”
Peridot felt a skip in her heart. Her mother never spoke about her that way. Not with that tone. Not with that genuine praise. Definitely not if she were to associate with the spectrum club. She found herself turning to look at the tall dark skinned girl. She had aviators and a warm smile. She was taking pictures with Amethyst. Garnet looked cool and Peridot felt herself wanting to talk to her. That thought was quickly stopped.
“Oh, I see her.” Peridot said and started to turn back around, not before she heard her name called.
“Peridot!” It was Lapis. She skipped over, a rainbow pin on the strap of her backpack and a bracelet of rainbow beads on her wrist. “Hey, you just missed Jasper and Pearl.” She smiled at Sapphire. “Hello again.”
Sapphire returned it with her own serene smile.
In contrast Peridot wanted to drop dead. Her heart raced in her chest, glancing at the phone in Amethysts hands as she snapped another picture, this time of Garnet and Misses Rose Quarts-Universe.
“You wanna come over and meet everyone?” Lapis asked. It was a polite formality, Peridot knew it must be. Why else would anyone offer to speak to the girl from the homophobic country? Even Amethyst had been uncomfortable around her at the dinner.
“Um, I don’t know, I should go to class.” Peridot said, hoping it was a good enough excuse.
“Sure, okay,” Lapis said.
There. It was a formality. They didn’t really want her there. They didn’t really think she would belong with them, in any way there would be for her to belong with them. But she was free to go at least.
“You should probably drink some water though, you look kind of pale.” Lapis said, tilting her head a little to look at Peridot. A lock of her blue hair fell into her face.
Peridot thought she might be getting her wish. Maybe she was actually dying.
“Yeah, I’ll drink some water. Sure, I should go, though. To class.” Peridot said, wanting to take a step back but not entirely sure how to make her legs move. “I have class now.”
“Oh!” Lapis said, just as Peridot managed to move a foot. “Do you want a pin?” Lapis held out her hand, a rainbow pin resting in her palm. Peridot stared at it there. She could feel the entire spectrum table staring at her. She could feel Sapphire staring at her. She knew they were staring at her. She wondered if they were taking a picture of her.
“Sure.” Peridot spat out. She couldn’t refuse. Not here. Not in front of everyone. She couldn’t do what they thought she would, what they expected she would. She couldn’t look like one of those people. Not in front of Amethyst who had saved her a seat, Sapphire who hoped to see her at a swimming club meeting and whose daughter was President of the spectrum club.
Peridot took the pin even though it felt like it was burning her. Maybe that was because she touched Lapis’ hand. She shoved it in her pocket.
“Thanks. I’ll talk to you later. I have to go to class now.” She repeated, taking a step back.
“We’re having dinner at eight again, come if you can make it!” Lapis said.
“Sure.” Peridot managed to get out before turning and forcing herself not to run away. She didn’t stop to see the reactions of the people that she just knew were watching her.
The pin burned in her hand.
Chapter 5: Love Like You Chapter 5
I fucking love all the dumb phrases we have in the English language and I love how non native speakers sometimes just don't get it.
Because the English language is stupid but wonderful
Peridot wanted to throw the little pin away. In class she had reached for her pen in her pocket and it had pricked her finger. It hurt. She was far too nervous to throw it away in public, in any of the classes. She resolved herself to throw it away in her dorm room.
The way back was too far for her liking. When she took the concourse to return it was mostly abandoned, all the representatives gone to their business. Peridot hadn’t felt so relieved since the time her mother had cancelled an introduction dinner with a couple and their son who was “Just a few years older than you, Peridot.” A boy that was also “handsome, well educated and had a superb family”. She had almost cried when it was cancelled.
Now relieved and feeling something like proud of herself for taking the pin for everyone to see that she was not like the others in her country, that she wasn't condemning, that she was maybe even cool Peridot made her way home. This was fine.
A thought occurred; what if they expected her to wear the pin?
That meant she couldn’t throw it away now. She couldn’t wear it either.
Not that she didn’t support people of that lifestyle she just… Didn’t want to look like she did support it.
The new dread made her stomach drop. She wanted to throw up. She wanted to disappear forever. Was it too late to hop a plane back? Peridot rubbed the heels of her hands over her eyes. Her head hurt. Her chest hurt. She was cold despite the January weather here being nothing like the January weather back home. She should take a shower to warm up when she got back, if she had the will to leave her room.
Lost in a sea of indecision and worry she almost didn’t notice her name being called. Again.
“Peridot!” It was Lapis. Again.
Peridot didn't want to stop but she was afraid of upsetting anyone in the exchange program. She didn’t want to be anyone’s best friend but she didn’t want to become public enemy number one either.
“Peridot, hey.” Peridot stopped so that Lapis could catch up. “Hey, do you have a minute?”
What sort of question was that? Why did people use such stupid idioms? Why were they expected to learn them?
“Yes, I have a minute.” She answered. “Can I help you?”
“I just want to say that I’m sorry about earlier,” Lapis said. “I just offered you the pin without thinking about what it meant for you.”
How could she not have thought about it? How could she have forgotten the protests and scandal at the Olympic Games? How could she not think of it?
“It’s okay,” Peridot lied.
“You looked uncomfortable, I didn’t mean for that to happen.” She looked worried. Did Lapis want her forgiveness?
Lapis wanted her forgiveness. She was worried that Peridot was angry. She cared enough that Peridot might… What? Hate her? Resent her?
“I know you didn’t mean to,” That was a lie too. “It’s fine, it’s over now.” That much was true.
Lapis looked relieved but still guilty. She still didn’t feel right about it. Lapis really cared that much? Why did she care that much?
“Thank you for offering it at all.” Peridot added, hoping it would make Lapis feel better. “It was nice of you to include me.”
That was the whole truth, though Peridot wished she could have been included in something else.
“You really don’t mind?” Lapis asked.
“No,” somewhat a lie. Peridot’s chest still hurt.
“I’m relieved, then,” Lapis looked more at ease and less like a child in trouble. Just as Peridot thought she could walk away with the subject closed for good, Lapis spoke again. “You didn’t come to the dining hall last night.”
“Er, no,” Peridot said as though she were admitting a secret. She felt guilty.“I had a lot of reading homework.”
“I understand,” Lapis said. “We saved you a seat, though. We’ll save you another tonight if you want.”
Peridot wanted to ask why but decided it would be rude and make Lapis uncomfortable. She didn’t want that.
“Yeah, maybe I can make it down.” Peridot said, unsure if she wanted to go or stay. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. She wanted to go more than she wanted to stay in her room, if only by a little. “Yes, I should be down at the hall tonight.”
Lapis took this as the final sign of forgiveness. She gave Peridot a smile that made her feel warmer head to toe. “Very good! I’ll save you a seat at our table. Come down at eight if you can.” Lapis started away, pulling her scarf up around her chin. “I’ll see you then.” She waved at Peridot and turned to go on her way.
Peridot watched her walk away. Why did her chest hurt even worse if the issue was resolved now?
Chapter 6: Love Like You Chapter 6
Dinner on day 3
It's really really amazing how much and how fast you can change once you realize you have freedom
I promise a time skip is coming, I know it's slow moving
Homework finished by six thirty Peridot sat in her desk chair staring at the wall for nearly twenty minutes, avoiding the email from her mother in her personal account. She knew what must be in it, questions about would the program allow her a car, how many class hours was she taking? They didn’t ruin your schedule did they? Don’t drop a single class. Is your advisor competent? Does your card work? Can you access your bank account?
Despite not wanting to hash out such minute dull details Peridot opened the account anyway. An email from her mother was there but she was shocked to find seven notification messages from FaceBook.
She hadn’t gotten more than two at a time and not for months. The account was just a formality, a way to lurk and see what her peers from university classes were up to in case a conversation was started.
“Always ask people about themselves. They don’t want to hear about your life, they want to talk about their own,” her mother had told her from a young age.
Her mother’s email forgotten for the moment Peridot opened each of the messages from FaceBook. They were all friend requests. Amethyst, both Pearls, Jasper, a girl from one of her classes that had complimented her coat, Jenny Pizza, a class mate from Russia and Lapis Lazuli Riviera.
Peridot could hardly believe it. How had they found her that quickly? Silly to use so much time on FaceBook. It was just a tool of procrastination and vanity.
Peridot logged in and accepted every request.
That finished she returned to her email. One new from mother. It was nice to read her mother tongue again.
I hope that your classes are suitably challenging for you. Notify me when you have attended a meeting with your advisor and what was said. Be certain that you will graduate at the end of your program and not lack a single credit.
I received your email speaking about the other exchange students joining clubs. I advise you to join only one and be certain they will not interfere with your class times. I encourage you to seek a debate or rhetoric club though perhaps you would find a financial club more beneficial.
I have given your email address to the Sokolov family’s eldest son. He is twenty eight but handsome and heir to their silver business. You might find his letters romantic in the sense that you’ll not meet until your return and graduation.
Notify me when he has contacted you.
Peridot squirmed in her seat. Another boy. This one made four. Of course her mother would use this as an opportunity to set up another relationship that Peridot had no desire to enter.
Thus is the life of society.
The hope was likely that the boy would be able to make some impression with words rather than presence and vice versa. Her mother had remarked after the last two that Peridot’s lack of charm was likely the source of lost interest.
A thought came; Peridot was all the way on the east coast of America. Who would make her answer? Could she lie and say that he never wrote her and that her email must be at fault. No one would be there to fact check her.
No, that would be rude to the boy. Man. Four years her senior, does that make him a ‘man’?
It didn’t matter now. Peridot clicked back into her web browser to look at FaceBook. She scrolled the news feed to see photos of old classmates, two of her cousins on holiday in Austria, someone she didn’t recognize had married, and tossed in were selfies of Amethyst, Lapis and very amusingly worded commentary on the American Pearl’s first classes… She was a professor? Peridot scrolled her profile to confirm.
She was a professor.
She spent so much time around her students, being so … Personable. Why?
How informal could Americans be?
Though maybe she spent time with them because she was still so young.
It was beyond Peridot to assume.
Her phone buzzed when the time turned seven thirty. She pressed the side button to silence it. Without answering her mother’s email Peridot closed her laptop and changed for dinner.
Upon reaching the dining hall Peridot chose from the food that was not fried and took it to the corner of tables that were even more crowded than before. American students had come to join them. Jenny Pizza was one standing and talking to a group of boys at one table. She waved when she noticed Peridot. Peridot raised her hand to acknowledge her.
Was that supposed to be some nickname now?
“Peri! P Dot!” Amethyst kicked her backpack out of the chair beside her. They had saved her a seat. Her hands felt warm.
“Good evening Amethyst.” Peridot replied, shrugging out of her coat. She looked around seeing only Jasper at the table and three empty chairs. The girl from China had moved to another table, Lapis and Pearl were nowhere to be seen.
“What’s up?” Amethyst asked.
“I have finished my assignments and have come to join you.” Peridot responded, feeling as though it was obvious. “How was your day?”
“It was awesome!” Amethyst said with a grin. “We got like a million new members for Gamer club. I’m stoked.”
“She dragged me in,” said Jasper, pressing in the buttons on the lid of her drink. “She’s going to teach me how to build a tower.”
“What’s a tower?” Peridot asked, brow furrowed.
“That's a desktop hard drive.” Amethyst said with a shrug. “A lot of people I know buy the outside and a bunch of parts and build it to what they want. Extra RAM and stuff like that. Mine’s pretty sweet.”
Peridot snorted. “You do all that for video games? A computer built right should be able to run the heaviest software for rendering and modeling, even creating new software, not for video games.”
“What, are you some sort of computer nerd?” Amethyst teased.
“I’m a software engineer.” Peridot answered with pride. “It’s my field.”
Amethyst held up her hands. “Whoa, big shot.”
“What would it take for you to build mine?” Jasper said with a smile. “I want it to be better than Amethyst’s. She’s been bragging all day.”
“Rude, Jasper, very rude.” Amethyst chided with a smile.
“Bring me the parts and I’ll get it done.” Peridot said, not letting on how happy she would be to show off at something Amethyst was interested in. Maybe Amethyst would ask for Peridot’s help with her own tower.
“Sorry we’re late,” Pearl said as she approached the table with Lapis and another girl in tow. Peridot recognized her as Garnet.
She reminded Peridot of a statue. Some graceful statue that belonged in a fountain. A work of art that she wanted to see closer but know she should stay outside and look from a distance.
“Hello everyone.” Garnet said. “Jasper, it’s good to see you again.”
“Hey,” Jasper nodded.
Garnet took the seat across from Peridot. Pearl and Lapis sat on either side of her, blue hair twins back together. Garnet turned her attention to Peridot.
“I don’t believe we’ve met.” Garnet said in a voice that was almost as soothing as her mother’s. Did she not recognize Peridot from the concourse? Had she not noticed when Lapis gave her the pin?“My name is Garnet. I usually help with the exchange program but the volunteer spots filled up too quickly this year.”
“Peridot Pavlov.” Peridot replied.
“Garnet’s mom is from Russia,” Lapis said.
“She moved here a long time ago, though.” Garnet added. “She wasn’t expecting to, she moved right after she turned fifteen.”
“Fifteen?” That’s young, Peridot thought. “Why did she move here?”
“For my mother.” Garnet shrugged.
Lapis threw a glance at Peridot.
“She moved for herself?” Peridot was completely certain that was wrong. She knew what was coming.
“No, for my other mother.” Garnet clarified, expression serene.
Peridot felt like everyone was looking at her again. This time she looked. Jasper was eating, Amethyst had her phone out, Pearl was leaning around Garnet talking to Lapis about something. Lapis gave Peridot a glance but not of any expectant expression. It seemed almost like she hadn’t meant Peridot to notice.
“That’s very… Romantic.” Peridot replied, confident it would suffice for a response.
It sounded supportive, but did she even care? It wasn’t an out right statement. And it was romantic. That was fact.
“I think so as well.” Garnet nodded, lacing her fingers together on the table top. “However I was told that if I tried to leave home that young I would be in huge trouble.”
“Not like you have any reason to.” Amethyst said, putting her phone down on the table. “Your moms are awesome.”
Garnet shrugged. “They’re protective.”
“My dad was worried I’d want to stay here if I left, but I had to get out for a while,” Jasper said. “See some other part of the world.” She waved her hand.
“I wanted to stay in Greece when we went on holiday,” Garnet said. “But I realized it wasn’t where I was meant to be and that I wasn’t at a part of my life where I could know where I am meant to be.”
“Do you know where you’re meant to be now?” Lapis asked in a soft voice.
“Not a clue.” Garnet replied simply. “But I’m in no rush to figure it out.”
“Why do you always sound like the Dali Llama when you talk?” Amethyst said, squinting at Garnet.
The tall girl shrugged.
“Three whole days in America got you gunnin’ to leave Germany?” Amethyst teased Jasper.
“Oh absolutely,” Jasper nodded. “Yeah, this place is the bomb. There’s definitely nothing else to see off campus or anything. I’m going to live here forever.”
Pearl and Lapis started laughing. Pearl snorted on accident, face turning red, and everyone else laughed as well. Peridot found herself smiling too.
“Are you staying the full year?” Peridot asked Jasper.
“Yeah, I’m here until December.” Jasper said, leaning her elbows on the table. “Whole twelve months.”
“I’m only here until May,” Pearl sighed. “Maybe I can get an extension.”
“Please do!” Lapis leaned around Garnet to look at her. “What am I going to do without you?”
“I’m sure you’d be fine,” Pearl smiled.
“How about you, Peridactyl?” Amethyst asked.
Peridot wondered if Amethyst would beg her to extend her time if Peridot said she would only be there until May. She wondered if Lapis would do the same. She wondered if someone would ask what they would do without her.
“I’m in the program until December, then I’ll fly home in time for the Russian graduation.” Peridot answered.
“Niiiiiiiice,” Amethyst said, slouching in her chair. “Full year up top.” She held up her hand, palm out to Peridot.
Peridot clapped her own hand against Amethyst’s. High five. Up top meant high five.
Peridot noticed Garnet looking at her when she turned back around to ask Lapis about her program length, despite having figured it out already. She felt her face turn red. Why was Garnet looking at her?
“L-Lapis, I presume you’ll be here for the full year?” Peridot said even though she could guess the answer.
“Yep, whole twelve months. But maybe I’ll stay with Jasper. We can have a flat together.” She elbowed the girl beside her. “We can get a cat.”
“I’m partial to dogs.” Jasper said. “I’m allergic to cats.”
“You can get one of the bald ones!” Amethyst tapping her hands on the table, a wide grin on her face. “Get a bald one, they're hypoallergenic!”
“Those look like rats.” Pearl said, making a face.
“No, they look like the little alien, uh, E.T.” Jasper corrected, pointing a finger at Amethyst. “Hell no.”
“Oh come, on, you don't want a little alien cat?” Lapis teased.
“Get a basset hound.” Peridot said. “They’re usually quiet and calm.”
“What's a basset hound?” Jasper asked, raising an eyebrow.
Peridot pulled her phone up, doing a quick search for the dog breed. “Here.” She handed the phone over.
“They look so sad,” Jasper said, eyes wide.
Lapis leaned over her shoulder to look. “I want ten.”
“I still think you should get an alien cat.” Amethyst said.
“I vote alien cat.” Garnet agreed.
An alien cat. Peridot pictured Lapis and Jasper in a flat with a little bald cat. It didn’t seem right. Not where they're meant to be, she thought. She imagined herself in Russia with the Sokolov boy in some home bought with their parents money.
Not where she belonged.
“Can you text me a picture of that dog? I have to show my mom,” Lapis said.
Peridot wondered why Lapis would want the photo sent to her when she could just search it herself. When the phone was slid back to her Peridot obliged.
Lapis’ phone dinged in her pocket. “Thank you.”
Peridot didn’t make it back to her room until nine thirty that night. She knew she should feel bad about wasting all that time but couldn’t bring herself to do it. She had realized that no one was there to chastise her about how she spent her free time and it was liberating. Garnet had taken a picture of Amethyst with a straw stuck up her nose and posted it on FaceBook.
Peridot decided it would be in her best interests to download the app. Once it was installed she opened and logged in to another friend request.
For a long moment she stared at the little icon photo, not ready to add someone that she had only known a few hours but too guilty to ignore it. After accepting she decided to take a glance at her news feed before going to shower. Garnet’s recent status update was at the very top.
“I just had a great dinner with an old friend and a bunch of new ones. I hope we can have many more this semester.” Below was the picture of Amethyst. Somehow she managed to look cool, even with a straw in her nose.
The status repeated in her mind as she gathered her towel and other things. Friends. Garnet had called them her new friends.
Peridot was someone’s friend.
Chapter 7: Love Like You Chapter 7
Are you ready for Rose?
Have some Rose.
Peridot starts to understand
Waiting for her advisor was taking forever. Peridot had set her appointment for after her classes finished that Friday and she was ready to begin work on a paper that was due in a week. With luck and focus she could have it finished by tomorrow afternoon. The class was entirely too easy but she wouldn’t complain.
“Miss Pavlov?” The receptionist looked up at Peridot. “She can see you now.”
Peridot stood and left into the little hall of offices. All of the advisors in one place, very convenient. The receptionist had told her the correct office would be the third on the left. Peridot froze when she noticed the name on the door.
Why was this happening to her?
Couldn’t she meet a single one person that didn’t have connections with the Spectrum club? Just one person. Was that so much to ask?
Peridot knocked on the door that was already ajar.
“Come in,” came the answer, another melodious voice.
With a gentle push the door swung open to reveal a very pink office with childish drawings framed all over the walls, a photo of the beautiful woman with Mister Greg eating a hot dog, more of a little dark haired boy on a beach.
“Good afternoon, Peridot.” Rose Quarts-Universe greeted. She sat behind her desk looking like an queen in a portrait. Peridot remembered Greg’s words, ‘way out of my league’.
“Good afternoon, Misses Quarts-Universe,” Peridot replied, taking a seat across the desk from the tall, beautiful woman.
“Please, call me Rose.”she said with a smile like an early sunrise. Peridot nodded. “Let’s take a look at your files here.” Rose turned to her computer. “It looks like you’re taking five classes this semester, that’s sixteen credit hours. How do you like it so far?”
“I’m sorry?” Peridot was confused, what did that mean?
“How do you like your classes? Do you enjoy your professors and the curriculums?” Rose folded her hands in her lap.
“Oh, yes, they’re satisfactory,” Peridot answered. Why did Rose care if she enjoyed her classes? Did it really matter? She had to take them to graduate, why did enjoyment matter?
“Satisfactory, that’s good,” Rose nodded and one of her giant cascading curls fell over her shoulder. She seemed to understand better now. “You’re perfectly on track to graduate. Are you planning on attending our ceremony or return home?”
“I will return to Russia. None of my family would be here for this ceremony if I stayed.” Peridot replied. In truth she wasn’t sure that anyone besides her mother would attend. Not that the ceremony mattered.
“If you have the chance to attend both, I would be more than happy to support you when you walk.” Rose said. “And your fellow exchange students would as well, I’m certain. Many of the ones graduating will attend. Graduation is a big deal in America, we throw parties and there’s school hosted celebrations and dinners. Everyone attends, it's quite the time.”
“Perhaps I’ll attend some of the festivities.” Peridot said to be nice. She had no intention of spending time in a crowd. Though if her program mates were going maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
“I’ll email you the schedule from last year, I think the dates will be the same this year.” Rose said and turned to her computer to send the files. “Are you able to log in to your school accounts easily enough? Canvas works well for you?”
“Everything works properly, yes.” Peridot nodded. Was this all the meeting was? A conversation?
“Very good,” Rose seemed pleased. “I’d like to ask you one more thing, Peridot. Why did you choose America for your program?”
Peridot froze, she hadn’t expected to be asked why. In truth she didn’t have one big reason, just little ones.
“It was far from home,” she admitted, then realizing what she had said she quickly added.“It forces me to be independent and resourceful. That makes it the biggest challenge and more pleasing to succeed at.” And also a little bit just to get away but Peridot wouldn’t admit that. What was there to run from anyway?
“Is that all? It’s a good reason,” Rose said but looked at Peridot as though she knew something. Could she see the truth?
“It’s warmer here,” Peridot said. It was the humorous reason. It earned a laugh from Rose. She felt pleased to have amused the beautiful woman. She smiled with her.
“I’m certain it is. This weather must be nothing like what you’re used to.”
“In my home town it reached below zero on your Fahrenheit scale before I left.” Peridot said, hoping that this would impress Rose further.
“I could never live somewhere so cold, though it must be so beautiful.” Rose said. Her eyes looked miles away, picturing the snow.
“It is, I assure you,” Peridot replied.
“Perhaps it will snow in the next few weeks and you can have a laugh when you see no one can drive in the weather.” Rose leaned back in her chair. “My son Steven likes to come here when it comes down. He knows Garnet and Amethyst well, we’re all from the same town. They all go sledding together on the school green. You should join them if we get the chance.”
Peridot hadn’t been sledding since she was a child. She had broken her leg and her mother had forbidden her from doing it again. A nasty scar still wrapped around her left ankle as a reminder.
“Maybe…” She answered but reminded herself that no one could stop her if she wanted to.
Rose tilted her head a little, regarding Peridot with kind eyes. “I’m very involved with the exchange students, in March I cook a big dinner for everyone. I hope I’ll see you there.”
“I would be happy to attend,” Maybe seeing Rose again would be nice, especially outside of her office.
“That’s very good to hear.” Rose replied. “I’ll email you when we set the exact date and time.”
“Thank you.” Peridot shifted in her chair, wondering if she should go.
“I would like to say that I’m very happy to have you with us, Peridot.” Rose seemed to mean it with all her heart. She slid a card across the table to Peridot, her name, email and office phone number listed. “My personal cell phone is on the back. If you need anything at all, please call me. Even if it’s just a ride somewhere in the city. I’m here to help you.”
That sounded like so much trouble, how did she be so sincere about it?
“Thank you, Rose,” Peridot replied, tucking the card in her satchel pocket. She stood and gathered her bag. “It was nice to meet you.”
“It was a pleasure meeting you as well. Please come to me for anything at all.” Rose said.
Unsure if the woman meant it Peridot gave her a polite nod and left. She got the distinct feeling that Rose could sense something was wrong.
Nothing was wrong, right?
Chapter 8: Love Like You Chapter 8
Nice time skip of roughly five weeks
Alternate Title: Peridot Pukes
The days began to move quickly once Peridot found a routine. After proving herself on homework assignments she felt more comfortable speaking in class, she knew the professors wouldn’t mind someone with grades like hers answering questions. Jenny Pizza spoke to her before their class started every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Mostly she spoke to Peridot about clothes and a few times about music. It was hard for Peridot to talk much about both except to share a few stories from shopping in designer stores. Jenny liked those, she lamented not being able to afford anything.
“I mean, I don’t even want a full closet, you know? Just like one bag. One good purse. Or pair of shoes.” She said with a sigh.
The teacher came in before Peridot could do more than nod.
That night she had taken time to look on the internet for a nice purse since she didn’t know Jenny’s shoe size. It occurred to her that Jenny might not be comfortable with an acquaintance giving her something so expensive and so obviously just purchased.
Instead Peridot looked through the purses her mother had made her pack. Her mother did so love projecting an image. After waiting a week to make it look more casual Peridot carried it in to class.
“Oh my god!” Jenny exclaimed. “That’s so cute!”
“I brought it for you,” Peridot said calmly. “I plan on getting some clothes while I’m here, so I probably won’t be able to fit it in my luggage.” Just like she rehearsed, she shrugged. It was a perfectly reasonable explanation, she knew.
She could see the stars in Jenny’s eyes when she said, “Oh I shouldn’t…”
“You should,” Peridot was prepared for a polite decline and to insist. “I want you to have it. You’ll know what to wear with it.”
Jenny had bit her lip before excitedly holding out her hands. Peridot handed it to her, feeling proud to have caused a reaction like that. Jenny looked like Peridot felt when she got a friend request on FaceBook. She had received twelve so far and an invitation to a special group for the exchange students to post in. She hadn’t posted anything yet, she knew it had to be good.
“Oh my god thank you!” Jenny said, grinning as she clutched it to her chest.
Peridot kept glancing at her throughout the class to see Jenny held it in her lap the whole time, rubbing her thumb absently over the leather handle.
It was an excellent day.
That night when she got home it was the first status she had ever been tagged in. She tapped the little heart button on the bottom of the post, certain that it would be acceptable for her to do so in this case.
Swimming club was more fun than she had anticipated. The club was composed of Lapis, Peridot, Pearl and a girl named Sadie. There had been others but they didn’t choose to stay. Peridot preferred the smaller group. Miss Sapphire, who insisted on being called only Sapphire was a good teacher. She taught them how to tread water, something Lapis excelled at and was happy to show Peridot when she didn’t catch on at first.
As excellent as a swimmer Lapis was, Pearl was in some ways better. She was certainly more graceful in the water. Peridot liked watching her make the turns when she swam laps, arms arching out of the water with each stroke. Like a dance of some sort.
Lapis was more fun to watch. She splashed more and treated it more like a competition when she shared a lane next to Pearl. In something of a mad dash Lapis could close a distance in an instant to reach the wall first. On the third meeting Sapphire suggested the girls swim as many laps as possible, for fun.
Peridot made it four laps before she had to stop. Sadie made the same amount and she stopped in the lane next to Peridot and gave her a sympathetic smile.
“I’m kind of out of shape,” she said with a nervous laugh.
“I’m just not that good.” Peridot blurted out before she could stop herself.
Thankfully Americans appreciated self deprecating humor and took many things she said as a joke. Peridot felt like she was being depressing to be around sometimes, but she learned to use it as a way of making people laugh. Over time it was starting to make her feel better. She was a bad swimmer, but Sadie hadn’t made it any more laps than she had. Peridot wasn’t alone.
“I think that’s probably my problem too,” Sadie admitted with a smile.
They turned to watch Pearl and Lapis still swimming… And swimming… And swimming. Sapphire walked over to sit on the edge of the pool between Peridot and Sadie.
“I wonder how long they can go,” she said in a curious tone.
“Maybe forever.” Peridot replied. The hyperbole wasn’t entirely untrue. She suspected the two could possibly go forever.
At the twenty minute mark Sapphire dove in and tapped them on the shouldered they passed her, each in turn.
“Ladies, as impressed as we are, it’s time to try under water flips. You can sign autographs once we’re out of the pool.” She said before diving down under the water to swim out of the lanes and into the recreation part of the pool.
Lapis giggled despite being nearly out of breath. Pearl splashed her. Lapis splashed back. Peridot watched them, wondering how they were so comfortable with each other. She almost envied them. Almost.
Garnet began attending every dinner at their table, part of a group that emerged. One night Amethyst caught Peridot at the door and steered her to a fried food restaurant. Peridot had protested but Amethyst paid for the food, assuring her that it would be fine if she didn’t like it.
“Whatever, I’ll just eat what you don’t want.” Amethyst said.
But she did like it. Peridot ate her whole fried chicken sandwich and the French fries that came with it. It tasted delicious but the grease made her sick not even an hour later.
She had never vomited in a public bathroom before. Nor had she vomited in front of people. She would not recommend it. Amethyst hovered over her in the door of the stall, apologizing over and over for making her eat it.
“You didn’t force me,” Peridot managed to get out as she leaned against the stall wall, feeling better but shaking from the efforts. If she had had the energy she would have let her anxiety get the better of her and send her spiraling down into a fit. Throwing up had mercifully taken that energy from her.
Garnet pushed past the others with a damp paper towel and offered it to her. Peridot wiped her face with it and dropped it in the toilet. Garnet kicked the lever to flush it all away. Leaning heavily on the stall Peridot emerged, feeling embarrassed but flattered to see the rest of her table mates looking worried.
When Lapis gently rubbed circles on her back Peridot felt like she might pass out. A second paper towel was pressed to her forehead to help cool her off.
“You look red as a beet,” Lapis said in a soft voice.
“Shh, don’t talk about food!” Amethyst said nervously, as if Peridot might puke again.
“Let’s give her some room,” Garnet said, putting a hand on Amethyst’s shoulder.
Lapis didn’t listen. She gently held the back of her hand to Peridot’s cheek, checking for a fever. “I hope this won’t give you a virus,” she said.
“It’s just the food, I’m sure.” Peridot replied weakly. She pulled away, trying to take the attention away from herself, despite how touching their concern was. “Let’s go back to the table.”
Pearl held the door open for them, obviously unconvinced. When the smell of food hit her again Peridot’s face paled and she put a hand over her mouth.
“Oh my god- oh my god!” Amethyst exclaimed, looking for a trash can.
Peridot waved her off. “I’m fine, I’m fine, it's just the smell. I should go to my room and lay down.”
“I’ll walk back with you,” Lapis said. Peridot looked over at her but didn’t argue. Something in the Spanish girl’s eyes told her any refusal would end poorly.
“I should get my stuff,” Peridot said, throwing a glance at her coat and bag still at the table. Her legs felt too wobbly to make it there and then to the door. Much less to her dorm.
“Here,” Garnet went to the table to retrieve Peridot and Lapis’ things. She held out Peridot’s coat to help her into it.
“I can help too-“ Amethyst started to say but Garnet put a hand on her shoulder again.
“Lapis has it under control.” She said.
Lapis nodded, shouldering both bags. “I should get my home work finished up anyway.”
“I don’t want you to miss out,” Peridot reached for her own bag. Lapis snatched it. All she had to do is walk steady out the door then she could drag her feet all the way back, anything to keep them from worrying and going out of their way for her.
“I’m walking back with you.” Lapis closed the subject. Peridot was relieved.
“You uh.. You want me to carry you?” Jasper asked, at a loss for much else to do.
“I think I’m fine.” Peridot managed a weak laugh. Jasper looked like a confused puppy. Concerned but not sure how to help. Pearl didn’t look much better.
“Come on, I’ve got your bag. Let’s go.” Lapis said. She held the door for Peridot and began the little trek uphill to the dorms.
“Thank you,” Peridot said after a long moment of silence. She raised her coat collar, the wind not helping how clammy she was starting to feel.
“It’s no problem. I shouldn’t stay as late as I do anyway.” Lapis replied, hugging herself. “I do have homework. I just don’t like math.”
“What math is it?” Peridot ventured to ask, not out of civility but curiosity.
“Calculus,” Lapis answered, walking closer beside Peridot as they turned a corner. “I don’t understand it at all.”
“I love calculus,” Peridot admitted. She knew math wasn’t the cool thing to be good at but maybe she could help.
“Oh my god, I don’t know how,” Lapis gave her a teasing smile. “Would you mind helping me some time? It’s just one formula I’m having trouble with.”
“Yeah, I see no problem with that,” Peridot tried to sound nonchalant about it. “Since you’re helping me, I owe you one.”
Did she get that idiom correct?
“Peridot, you don't owe me anything.” Lapis said as they stopped at the building entrance. Lapis scanned her card and held the door. Peridot was glad to be out of the cold. Her nose was starting to go numb.
“I mean,” she persisted, “It’s just nice of you to do this for me. We haven’t known one another long.”
“No, maybe not,” Lapis said as she closed the door back. “But I don’t like it when people are sick. Being left alone while you’re sick is the worst.” There was something in her voice that wasn’t normally there. Something Peridot could recognize.
“It is,” Peridot allowed the same thing into her own voice. Lapis looked at her and Peridot looked back. Peridot couldn’t tell if something was passing between them but she was pretty sure there was.
“Where’s your key?” Lapis gestured to Peridot’s bag. Peridot took it from her pocket.
“Right here. I don’t like to leave it in my bag.” She walked the short distance to her room, thankful she lived near the end of the hall. She unlocked the door and stepped inside. Lapis followed her just through the door way to put Peridot’s bag into the computer desk chair.
“Your room is nice.” Lapis said as she looked around. She stopped when she saw the black and white poster of a grainy photo of a UFO and the words ‘I want to believe’.
“That’s- that’s from a show!” Peridot rushed to explain. “I watched some of it when I was little. It’s called the X-Files. It’s about aliens.”
Lapis smiled. “Does that mean you want an alien cat?”
“I’m more of a dog person.” Peridot said, somewhat shocked Lapis didn’t laugh at her for such a silly poster as a UFO. She had felt silly buying it at the poster sale that came to the student center but loved having it in her room. That and the other one...
“That?” She nodded at a green and white flag with a maple leaf in the center.
“Also from a show.” Peridot said with a sniff. She wasn’t enthusiastic to reveal she watched sappy Canadian romances.
Peridot had picked up a few tv shows to watch in her spare time while her mother was at work, pirating them from the Internet. She preferred shows in English for the excuse that watching TV was helping her study the language and that her mother didn’t fully understand what was being said in the shows when she caught Peridot watching. Truthfully she felt guilty for liking TV at all. No one else in her circle considered it very captivating.
“I didn’t peg you for someone that likes any shows.” Lapis said. “You look more like a reader to me.”
And Peridot had been until the age of fourteen when her mother insisted she be more social and get her face from between the pages of books. Not that she had found any books that sounded interesting lately.
Peridot just shrugged. “It’s really only the two I like. I don’t have time for much else.” Peridot dragged her feet to the bed to sit down. Carefully she leaned down to unzip her boots, the room spinning just a little with the effort.
“Do you study that much?” Lapis asked impressed.
“Mostly. The rest of the time I spend at my mother’s business learning how to run things.” Peridot kicked off both her shoes, content to let them lay on the rug for now.
“Mind if I ask where she works?” Lapis asked, touching her fingertips to the desk top.
Peridot hesitated a minute. “It’s a family business. We work in sales.” She might let her guard down but not that much. Not yet anyway.
“That’s pretty cool,” Lapis replied, glancing at the posters again.
“I guess,” Peridot wasn’t exactly interested in the business. She wanted to work writing software, maybe for Adobe. She liked their formats. Maybe for some other company. Who knew? She rolled her socks off and into a ball, tossing them into the clothes hamper in the open closet.
When she looked up she saw Lapis staring at the scar on her foot. Peridot moved to hide it behind her right leg. Lapis’ face turned bright red.
“I-I’m sorry,” she stammered.
“It’s fine,” Peridot replied. She had seen them looking at it in swimming club. “It’s really old. I got it in a sledding accident. It’s not as ugly as it used to be.”
Maybe it would be better to tell Lapis so that she wouldn’t have to guess. Maybe even worry. Maybe. As selfish as she felt to see her friends express any concern or any energy over her, she enjoyed them paying that bit of attention to her.
“I don’t think it’s ugly.” Lapis said.
Peridot just blinked at her, not sure if Lapis was only being nice. Peridot’s mother wouldn’t let her wear certain shoes that would show it and griped when she wore shorts and sandals.
“Really, I don't,” Lapis guessed what she must be thinking. “I have a big scar on my back. It’s really pale now. I’m sure you’ve seen it at the pool.”
Peridot had tried very hard not to notice anything about Lapis at the pool. Though she had seen it.
“It happened when I was little too. I got burned really bad. Thankfully it didn’t go very deep. My doctor thinks it’ll be almost gone by the time I’m thirty.”
“Don’t you worry about people seeing it?” Peridot couldn’t wear shoes at the pool but that didn’t mean she didn't’t try to direct attention away from it.
“Not really,” Lapis said with a shrug. “Scars are pretty in their own way. Kind of like the saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. It means something happened and you survived. Now you’re more prepared if it happens to you or someone else around you. I can help a burn until a doctor arrives and you can help someone with a broken leg maybe.”
Peridot understood what she meant but found it hard to apply to herself. Of course Lapis wasn’t ashamed of her scar. She wasn’t ashamed of anything. Lapis was bold and strong. Things Peridot envied just a little. Things that she wanted to be but couldn’t.
“Though I’m not entirely sure what a broken leg is like. I don’t know if there’s much to do.” Lapis admitted.
“There’s a few things. Mostly it all requires a doctor, but I guess I could do something.” Peridot replied without confidence.
“See?” Lapis said, still taking it as proving her point. “So don’t feel bad about it. It makes you different. It’s part of you. In a good way.”
“I fail to see how that makes it pretty,” Peridot admitted, not sure if she was getting upset or not.
“Not in the way you’d think. When you have a scar it means that your body was strong enough to heal itself. When I have a hard time I remember that my body healed this much after being burned. If I can survive a burn and you can survive a broken leg and walk again, I think that means we can do about anything.” Lapis said. “Because so many people don’t heal. That makes us special.”
Wasn’t healing just something that bodies did? Something they were supposed to do? Peridot hadn’t considered until just now that she might not have learned to walk again. When Lapis put it like that it did sound impressive. Peridot didn’t feel impressive.
“Thanks,” she said anyway. “I think I get it.”
“Sorry to get so serious.” Lapis apologized. She took a step back toward the door. “I don’t mean to be so heavy.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Peridot replied, shaking her head. “It’s something to think about.” That was for sure.
“Well… I hope you feel better.” Lapis said, stepping back into the hallway.
“I’m feeling better now. Thank you for helping me.” Peridot said quietly, not wanting to talk more about her scar but reluctant for Lapis to leave.
“Well, I hope you sleep well. If you need anything just let me know.” Lapis said. “Good night.”
“Good night,” Peridot repeated and Lapis pulled the door shut.
Peridot’s room was too quiet after that.
Chapter 9: Love Like You Chapter 9
Spectrum Club is having a Valentine's Day party.
We get more insight to her main concerns about her involvement.
It isn't what you think.
Someone give this child some Xanax
“Hot off the presses!” Amethyst announced as she made it down for dinner. She was late which was unusual. Peridot had come to learn that Amethyst would mostly camp at the table in between classes to do her work and play on her phone. The second more than the first. Peridot had saved her a seat anyway.
“What’s that?” Jasper asked. As a reward she was the first to have a paper thrust into her face.
“Invitations to the Valentine’s Day party next week.” Amethyst said proudly.
Peridot had seen the fliers on the school cork boards for weeks now. The Spectrum club hosted a party every year for Valentines Day, love being their main theme. Peridot knew everyone from her circle would be going. Even if she wanted to go to a party, it couldn't be this one. She wasn’t even comfortable wearing her pin. She had kept it but put it in her desk drawer. Tossing it out felt wrong, even if there was no one around to see it.
“Do we need them to get in?” Lapis asked, taking one.
“No, but they’re fun to make.” Garnet answered. She was in graphic design, Peridot had learned. Or she used to be. One of the two. Peridot wasn’t sure of a lot of things about Garnet.
“Requiring tickets was really hard. Rose can’t turn people away at the door so she just let everyone in. We agreed it was a better policy.” Amethyst explained.
“That’s very nice.” Lapis said, looking the paper over.
Following Lapis’ precedent on the concourse, Amethyst slid an invitation to Peridot. She knew it wasn’t because they wanted her there. Just a formality.
Peridot felt like someone was watching her. She looked up but only saw Garnet. Lapis was talking to Jasper and Pearl about something. Amethyst was passing more papers to the other tables. She blinked and Garnet did not look away.
Peridot turned her attention to her food. It was suddenly so interesting.
The night seemed to crawl by. Everyone at the table talked about the party and asked questions and started making plans. Peridot was thankful that she had begun using FaceBook and used it to amuse herself on her phone for the rest of the night. When FaceBook got boring she checked her school email. She reread the emails from her professors that week and the one Rose had sent her.
After learning that Peridot had gotten sick Rose had sent her an email wishing her a full recovery and offering assistance again. Peridot had replied to politely thank her and assure her that everything was better. She had saved the email in the Favorites folder. After only an hour she decided to excuse herself, hoping they didn’t notice her discomfort with the subject, praying they didn’t think she was leaving because of it.
“I’ve got a literature test tomorrow.” She explained. “I want to read it again, just to skim it.”
“Good luck,” Jasper snorted. She was less than fond of her own literature classes. Peridot had admitted that she was slow to read English only after Jasper had as well. It was nice to have something in common with the tall girl.
“I should get going as well,” Garnet stood and stretched. “I’ll see you all tomorrow.”
“Awww, bye G.” Amethyst said as she came back to sit at the table.
“Tomorrow.” Garnet repeated and walked toward the door. She was only a few paces behind Peridot.
Peridot could feel Garnet’s eyes on her again. She walked faster to be sure to hit the door first and power walk ahead. It wasn’t enough.
“Peridot,” Garnet said once they were outside. It wasn’t a call, it wasn’t a question. “Peridot I’d like to speak with you.”
The Russian girl was slow to turn around. “Yes?” She did her best not to sound guilty.
Garnet tilted her head in the direction of the parking deck, just across from the dorms. “Would you mind walking with me to my car?”
“No,” Peridot lied. She waited for Garnet to start and trailed two steps behind her. It wasn’t until they nearly slowed to a stop did she realize Garnet was trying to hang back to walk side by side.
“Are you enjoying your program?” Garnet asked.
“Yes, it is going well,” Peridot responded. The question didn’t get any easier to answer. It wasn't like the program was for fun.
“I don’t mean to pry, but something seems to be on your mind.” Garnet said. “I want to be sure that it isn’t to do with us.”
“’Us’?” Peridot asked, feigning ignorance.
“The Spectrum club. You’re the only one at the table that doesn’t attend meetings. You get quiet when the subject is brought up.”
“I don’t have time for any other clubs,” Peridot said. “I just don’t have anything to contribute to a conversation about a club I don’t attend.”
Garnet nodded. “I understand. But I want you to understand something.” Garnet said as they neared the deck.
Peridot only just managed to say, “Yes?”
“We don’t care if you don’t attend club.” Garnet said. Peridot wanted to melt into the floor. “No one at the table expects you to attend or support or come to the parties, we don’t care if you’re not supportive of it. What we do want is for you to be comfortable around us.”
“I’m comfortable around you.” Peridot said quickly.
“You are,” Garnet agreed. “But you seem uncomfortable when the topic is brought up. I just want you to know that we don’t expect you to support the club.” Garnet took out her keys. “What we do hope for is that you will accept this part of us and be our friend anyway.” She clicked a button and inside the deck a car beeped in response.
“Y-you think just because I’m from Russia I don’t support it?” Peridot snapped, feeling defensive. “Is that what you mean?”
“Not at all,” Garnet’s voice stayed serene. “I don’t mind where you come from. I just want you, Peridot, to know there’s not pressure on you. I don't want this to push you away.”
“I’m perfectly fine.” Peridot persisted.
“I want to be sure,” Garnet said again. “You’re my friend, Peridot. I want to keep it that way.”
“Well it’s not going to change in the near future.” Peridot said, refusing to look Garnet in the eyes.
“I’m glad to know that,” Garnet said and paused before adding, “I’m sorry if this upset you.”
“I’m not upset.” Peridot knew she wasn’t being convincing. She just wanted to be left alone on the subject, to pretend it didn’t exist, that this part of her friends didn’t exist. She wasn’t sure what to say, if she should say anything at all when they talked about it. She didn’t know anything besides what she had been told to think. She didn’t know anything about the subject of sexuality. Shit, she didn’t know anything about sex. It’d be a cold day in hell before anyone found that out.
“I’m sorry anyway,” Garnet said. She obviously didn’t believe Peridot.
Peridot couldn’t fault her, couldn’t stay mad. She knew Garnet came from a place of genuine care. She sighed and relaxed.
“It’s fine.” She said. “It’s just not something I’m used to.”
“If you want to get used to it or ask questions, I’m here for you.” Garnet said, tone softer.
Peridot wouldn’t know where to begin, even if she did want to talk about it.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” She said, glancing in the direction of her dorms.
“I’ll let you go, then.” Garnet twirled her keys on her finger. “Friends?” She held up her hand.
Peridot clapped her own against it. “Friends.” She said feeling something she had never felt before. An odd satisfactory relief but something like a swarm of butterflies just beneath the surface.
“Good night, see you later,” Garnet started toward her car, waving.
“Later." Peridot echoed.
She felt calm but hollow like she was missing something.
Chapter 10: Love Like You Chapter 10
Peridot vibrates into the fifth dimension while her friends are at the Valentine's party.
However the next day she remember she has a no limits Visa card and tries to learn how to use it like the irresponsible kid she very much is not.
Steven is 9-10
Valentine's Day came and went. Lapis and Pearl brought chocolates for the table on the thirteenth but on the fourteenth Peridot found herself alone in the dining hall. She decided she wasn’t hungry and went back to her room.
For a whole two minutes she checked FaceBook for lack of anything else to do but saw pictures of her friends dressed up for the party and decided to turn her phone off for the night. They all looked very stylish in their dresses and suits. Lapis wore a necklace with a little white gem. Peridot wondered if it was a diamond and who gave it to her.
As much as she had been taught that anything but heterosexuality was wrong(apparently there were a million sexualities) Peridot found it difficult to keep those opinions in the last weeks.
Now that she found comfort in knowing others of different sexualities she found it harder and harder to recall all the negative stereotypes placed on the community. None of them were true.
After what Garnet had said to her at the parking deck Peridot made a real effort to think about their position instead of just her own. She concluded that most of the world ridiculed them, some kids were disowned and sometimes violently, and many of them kept their mouths shut out of fear of abuse or even death. So it wasn’t choice.
As she came to understand these things, she realized why Garnet had spoken to her at all. Russia was by far not the worst country but Peridot wasn’t ignorant of the way the cultural stigma looked to the rest of the world.
Peridot wondered if they were afraid she would yell at them. Were they really so afraid she would let it come between them?
It seemed absurd to her, she had never yelled at anyone in her life. However, they didn’t know that. Peridot knew that Lapis had a supportive family as did Garnet. Pearl’s remained a mystery and Peridot wasn’t certain if Jasper cared about anyone in a remotely romantic way at all. As Amethyst had said, “She’s in a standing relationship with the gym, dude.”
Amethyst, however, had obviously had a difficult time. The one time the subject was brought up she had stayed silent, not even adding a comment. In another conversation Peridot noticed Amethyst talking about living with the Quarts-Universes.
“You lived with an advisor?” Pearl had asked.
“Yeah, it was pretty great. Steven still calls me his big sister,” she bragged.
Peridot suspected it had happened out of need instead of voluntarily. She came to understand why Rose was so ready to help anyone. It was just the way she was. A giant beautiful woman full of love. Peridot could respect that.
As Peridot lay staring at the ceiling of her dorm room she mulled it all over again in her mind. She thought about it a lot lately. She also realized that a small part of her wanted to go to the party but there was a very real reason she could not.
Peridot had, in her short friends list, two of her cousins, one aunt, a handful of university class mates and her mother had mentioned making an account to “see your progress.” Her mother had heard from her cousins that Peridot became a more frequent poster. “I hope you don’t spend much time on that silly website.”
Any tagged photos from the party would land her on a plane home, she was convinced. As much as Peridot was learning to accept this part of her friends, she knew her mother would never understand.
Even thinking about it made Peridot worry, like her mother might find out anyway. As though simply thinking about it would make a picture magically appear on the Internet.
Besides, she should reply to the Sokolov boy.
They had been exchanging emails for a few weeks now, each taking a few days to reply. Despite not having someone to force her to reply Peridot thought it was best to do so anyway. He wasn't as terrible as he could have been but he was full of formality that Peridot felt she could not match. Again, she fell short of someone’s level. She wanted to stop communications but found herself incapable of doing so.
She wondered if Garnet would know something to help, but it seemed as though it would be above her. Perhaps Rose…
At that Peridot put the whole matter from her mind, picked up her current literature novel and read until she felt she might fall asleep. At some point she did.
The next day Peridot woke up to a text from Garnet. It said: We missed you at the party. We saved you a surprise.
What surprise? Why had they missed her? Did they know she missed them too?
Peridot’s mind raced, chest starting to hurt a little. First the candy and now a surprise, they were doing so much for her! Peridot had yet to do anything for them, even though they had helped her when she was sick.
How had she left that unpaid for so long?
In a moment of desperation she penned an email to Rose, asking for a ride to a store. She had to do something, Twenty long minutes later Peridot went back and forth checking for a return email and rereading Jasper’s text until Rose sent a reply asking Peridot to call her.
“Hello, Peridot,” came Rose’s soothing voice. “Do you need a ride?”
“Yes,” she answered, hoping she didn’t sound as desperate as she felt. “I need to go to a store to pick up a few things.”
“What sort of things? I need to know what store to take you to.”
“Somewhere with chocolate and flowers.” Peridot replied, digging out a pair of boots from her closet.
If Rose assumed it was for “someone special” she didn’t show it. “Would you mind if I bring my son Steven?” Rose could bring a lion for all Peridot cared.
“No, that’s fine.” It would be good to meet the little boy that everyone was so familiar with. Even Lapis and Pearl had met him when he had visited Rose’s office the previous week.
“I can meet you at the parking deck beside your dorm in one hour, if that’s quite all right with you.” Rose offered. “Do you need more time to get ready?”
“No, no, I can be ready by then.” Peridot said before pausing. “Thank you.”
“It’s no trouble at all. We’ll be right there.” Rose said. She sounded like she might be smiling. “I’ll call you to notify you when we’ve arrive.”
“Yes, thank you.” Peridot said.
“Good bye for now, Peridot.” Rose said. She allowed Peridot to say the same before hanging up the phone.
Once the call was ended Peridot felt stupid.
What was she going to do? Get all of them presents late? How careless would that look? Too careless. Like she had gotten them out of guilt. How could she make it look less like guilt even though that was part of the reason she was getting anything at all?
Halfway through pulling on a pair of pants it hit her:
Rose arrived five minutes early but Peridot was ready. She had been ready for fifteen minutes and sat in her desk chair wearing her coat and holding her wallet, keys and phone in her lap.
She had to stop herself from running to the car.
A short boy with dark curls like his mother’s was leaning half way out the back sliding door of the old van, waving at her. “Peridot!” He must be Steven. Rose leaned across the passenger seat to open the door for her.
It felt weird getting in such a tall car.
“Hello, Peridot,” Rose smiled. “This is my son, Steven.”
Steven leaned up between the seats, stars in his eyes. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you too.” Peridot replied, never adjusting to how enthusiastic Americans could be.
“Buckle up,” Rose said and they both complied. Steven shut the back door and Rose turned up the heat. They pulled away and out onto the road.
“Where are we going again?” Steven asked.
“I think perhaps a grocery store would be best.” Rose said. “We need candy and flowers.”
“Can I pick out some candy?” Steven leaned up to ask Rose. “Pleeeeease?”
“I’ll buy it for him.” Peridot said quickly. Rose didn’t seem the type to accept money for favors. This would be an indirect way to thank her tangibly.
“You may choose one thing.” Rose told him. “Peridot you don’t need to pay for his things. He’s had plenty of candy at school on Friday anyway.”
Steven looked slightly crest fallen. Peridot glanced at him in the back seat. “I really don’t mind.” She said. “I’d like to. As a thank you.”
Rose looked over at her for a brief moment, thinking it over. “Very well, if you truly want to.”
“I do.” Peridot felt the same feeling she had after giving Jenny the purse. It was nice. She wanted more of it.
When they reached the large grocery store Rose ushered her to the candy aisle, red heart boxes of chocolate still on the shelves as well as packs of all kinds of sweets decorated in tacky hearts.
Peridot looked at the stars in Steven’s eyes. Before she could worry about how it would look to contradict Rose she said, “Get whatever you want.”
Steven gasped and disappeared into the aisle. Rose chuckled.
“Now, who are we buying for?” Rose asked, leading Peridot down the aisle.
“The table,” she answered then stopped herself. “The group I eat dinner with. Lapis, Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, Jasper, and Lapis- wait, I already said her.”
“You didn’t come to the Spectrum party last night. You know, Lapis said she wished you could have made it. She insisted on them taking home a plate of cookies for you.” Rose said casually, picking up a medium sized heart shaped box. “I bet they would like this.”
“Pearl would.” Peridot said, reading the label. “She likes the coconut ones. Lapis likes the peanut butter ones.” Peridot picked another bag off the shelf, chocolate covered peanuts. “Amethyst and Garnet both like the caramel ones- well, Amethyst likes them all. Jasper likes this chili chocolate.” Peridot was picking up bars and boxes of each while Rose watched in amusement.
“Are you going to buy the whole store?” She teased, chuckling when Peridot spun to face her.
“Yes.” She said simply. No point in turning back now. She was going to provide sweets to her friends until she didn’t feel guilty anymore. Peridot never wanted them to think she might hate them again. With a black Visa card it wouldn’t be a problem.
“I think we should get a buggy then,” Rose said.
“What’s a buggy?” Peridot asked.
“A cart, I’ll be right back.” And she left to go to the front of the store.
When Peridot turned around she saw Steven staring at her, eyes wide and holding two small boxes.
“Can I get something for my friend Connie?”
“Literally get whatever you want.”
Amethyst’s speech patterns were starting to wear off on her.
Halfway through the trip Steven seemed to feel bad for getting so many things for a stranger to buy. Peridot hadn’t minded at all.
“Maybe we should put some things back,” Rose said, trying to soothe her son’s conscience.
“I-I mean…” Peridot interjected. “If you really want it all. I don’t mind.”
“I don’t want to spend all your money.” Steven explained, looking embarrassed.
Peridot snorted and walked over to him. She didn’t hesitate before bending down to his level-it wasn’t far for the short girl to go- and saying, “My family owns a really really really big company. We have a lot of money. So much money. I hardly ever spend it at all.” Weeks ago she had been ready to drop seven hundred dollars on a purse for a girl she hardly knew. “I want to buy you whatever you want. Not to mention this is all half priced.”
Rose stood silent, watching her son.
Steven looked between Peridot and the basket full of red and pink boxes. Almost everything in there was Peridot’s. Steven hadn’t chosen but four things.
“Do you want those things?” Peridot asked.
Steven nodded, obviously conflicted now that his main concern of money was eased. He still didn’t want to take too many things.
“Please let me get them for you,” Peridot said, accidentally letting show how she wanted to, what? Impress him? Spoil him?
She had never had a little brother or sister. No older siblings either. Gift giving was something she had never experienced. Now she felt almost desperate to do it. A world away, no one could stop her.
Steven slowly nodded, looking like he understood something now. He narrowed his eyes at her. “Let’s do this.” He whispered.
Rose put a hand over her lips to conceal a smile. Peridot saw it anyway. It made her feel like she was doing the right thing. She liked the feeling of confirmation, it was… Grounding.
“Okay, what else should we get?” Peridot asked, feeling like she was missing something. “Oh! Flowers!”
“Wait, these are your friends, right?” Steven asked as Peridot was picking roses from the flower display.
“Yes…?” She said, turning to look at him.
“You should get these instead.” He picked a bouquet of artificially colored daisies. “Give one to each of them. Otherwise it comes off as romantic.”
Peridot considered it and put the roses back. How was the child so wise?
“That’s very clever, Steven,” Rose said, ruffling his hair. “Much better than having to carry all the flowers and candy.”
Carrying it… Peridot hadn’t thought of that. She looked back at the cart and glanced at everything. It was a bit much.
“Here,” she returned to the cart and began to sort through everything. Steven followed her.
“Garnet really likes these,” he said. “Amethyst really likes these, they’re her favorite.”
An inside opinion! How had she not realized it before? As much as she memorized their tastes from just the short time they had all spent together Peridot didn’t stop to consider that Steven had lived it.
She consulted with him until they had subtracted and added a few things to the pile, considered some cupcakes but decided against it since the frosting might get ruined on the trip back and then to the table.
Peridot walked out of the store forty five minutes later with three heart shaped boxes, a bag of American candy she didn’t recognize, individually wrapped candies, two bars of chili chocolate, one bag of chocolate covered raisins and one bag of chocolate covered peanuts.
Steven walked out with a bag of lollipops, a little heart shaped box of chocolates, a bar of special dark chocolate for his friend and a candy bar for his dad. Rose helped carry the flowers. Peridot and Steven insistent on carrying the rest of everything else.
On the car ride back Steven looked like he had something to say.
“Yes…?” Peridot prompted him.
“Okay, so, we have this movie called Anastasia.”
Peridot knew where this was going. As much as she enjoyed the Don Bluth film it was completely inaccurate.
“I’ve seen it too.” Peridot nodded. She had pirated it last year.
Steven went starry eyed again. “Is she really still alive? Is her grandmother with her in Paris?”
Peridot scratched her chin, not sure how to begin.
“Well… The short answer is no.” Peridot said. “The Romanov family was over thrown and replaced with new government a long time ago.”
“So… Where did they go?” He asked.
Peridot was reluctant to shed any more negative light on her country, especially not to Steven.
“Steven is learning a little about the French Revolution in his history class. The Russian Revolution might be on an upcoming test.” Rose said to help her feel at ease.
Peridot hesitated. “Revolutions can be good things.” She started, not wanting Steven to view her country in a bad light. “A lot of times it’s in the best interest of the people, like the American Revolution however revolution means war and war means that… How do I say it…”
“They died?” Steven said to fill in the blanks. He didn’t seem shocked. It was silly that Peridot wouldn’t have guessed that. He was a smart boy.
“Yes. The Romanov family died in the revolution.” She said. “Even the grand duchess.”
Steven looked a little confused.
“That means princess according to their court titles.” Peridot said and Steven nodded. “Even if she had lived she would be very old now.” She had never been good with dates but Peridot was certain that the grand duchess would have already passed away due to old age.
“That’s pretty sad.” He said. Peridot bit her lip.
“It is very sad,” Rose said. “But it happens sometimes in the world, my love. The important thing is to spend time with the people you love as much as you can and then it's a little less sad.”
Peridot looked at Rose who continued to drive, carefully watching the road.
“Maybe the revolution was scary for them, maybe it was a hard time for her but I remember reading that she had so much fun playing in the palaces and she spent every day with her brothers and sisters. Her grandmother especially did love her.” Rose went on. “I think she must have felt very lucky to get to have all that time with them”
Peridot kept her mouth shut. She knew for a fact that the family had been executed by firing squad. She couldn’t imagine how terrifying that could have been for them to have to stare at the pointed guns. Picturing the family huddled together made her chest hurt.
Rose noticed her discomfort, Steven had taken it perfectly with his mother’s explanation.
“When you live a life filled with love of every kind, with your friends and family and children, it's hard to be sad except for the want of more time. But even death isn’t so scary if you have the ones you love around you.” Rose said.
“And being a princess must have been pretty cool,” Steven added, unbothered by the concept of death. “I wish I could be a princess.”
Peridot turned in her seat to look at him. “You want to be a princess?”
Steven shrugged. “Or a prince. It’d be cool to live in a palace.”
Peridot decided not to question it further. “You can visit the palace she lived in. The one from the movie.”
Steven’s mouth dropped open. “No. Way.”
“Yes.” Peridot said. “I believe it’s the Catherine Palace. You can go on tours and see inside.”
Steven looked like he could explode. “Mom, can we go?”
“Maybe some day, sweet heart.” Rose replied as they pulled into the parking deck.
“If you come visit me, I’ll take you. You can do an exchange in Russia.” Peridot said as she got out. Steven opened the back door so she could get her bags of candy.
“Maybe I can stay with you!” He said excitedly. “It would be great!”
“Yeah maybe,” She would have to have her own home. Her mother would never allow some American child to stay with them.
“That would make you my exchange sister.” Steven said. Peridot paused from putting the bags on her arms.
“If I stayed with you it’d be like you’re my sister.” Steven looked so utterly genuinely excited by the concept Peridot wondered why he would want to be her brother.
Well, she did offer to buy him an entire shelf of candy. That must be it.
She wasn't entirely convinced that was it.
Rose smiled back at Steven. “She needs to go home, sweetie and so do we. Your father is making Together Breakfast Dinner.”
“Yes!” Steven cheered.
Peridot wasn’t sure what Together Breakfast Dinner was but it sounded good. Peridot almost wished she could go with them but knew that was expecting too much.
“Thank you for helping me,” Peridot said as she walked back around to the passenger door. “This… Means a lot.”
“I know it was important, I was very glad to help. Thank you for calling me.” Rose gave her a bright smile. Peridot thought this time it looked like the bright noon sun instead of an early sunrise.
Peridot nodded. Before she could say good bye Steven poked his head between the seats, eyes narrow as he looked her up and down.
“Are you related to her?” Peridot could only assume he meant Anastasia. “Are you a princess?”
Peridot stared back at him. “No.”
“You kind of look like one.” He said, looking her over again.
Peridot turned red, face hot despite the chilled air around her. No one had ever said anything like that to her before. She didn’t think she looked much like a princess. Lapis on the other hand did look like a princess- wait, what?
“Come on, my love, it's time to go.” Rose said and Steven returned to the back seat, eyes never leaving Peridot.
The Russian girl shut the door, bags of candy swaying on her arm.
Rose waved at her from inside. Peridot raised her own hand as they pulled away.
Steven thought she looked like a princess…
All she could think was that he had low standards.
Chapter 11: Love Like You Chapter 11
If I could begin to do
Something that does right by you
I could do about anything
I could even Learn how to love
You have no idea how much this tore me up.
Peridot felt a confidence she hadn’t felt in…. How long? Too long. Maybe never. Marching down to the dining hall with all her bags of candy and the flowers she couldn’t wait to see the looks on their faces.
“Whoa!” Amethyst would say. “Thank you so much Peridot!”
“This is very kind of you,” Garnet would say. “I realize now that you’re very nice and I was wrong to be worried that you wouldn’t like us.”
She wasn’t sure what Jasper would say. She didn’t say much.
Lapis and Pearl would hug her for sure.
Hugging seemed to be a very common thing for other people. They would hug Peridot first and that way she could hug them back. She wasn't sure how to initiate it herself.
Peridot grinned as she walked laid down with the gifts.
However when she pushed open the door she saw across the dining hall that the table was empty. Confusion replaced elation as Peridot looked around, wondering where they went. After checking that they were no where to be found she took out her phone.
Amethyst didn’t answer. Peridot moved past confusion to concern. What if they didn’t want her to call them, had they moved to a completely different spot to avoid her? Had they changed their minds about her?
Before she let her anxiety get the better of her she called Lapis. Four rings before finally a soft “Hello?”
“Lapis?” Peridot said, feeling stupid for asking. Who else would it be?
“Hey Peridot.” Why did she sound so quiet?
“Where are you guys?” Peridot tried to sound casual. “Was dinner cancelled tonight?”
“Oh,” Lapis replied. “I don’t know, I’m not coming tonight.”
“Are you sick?” Peridot asked, hoping it wasn’t prying. Something felt wrong.
“No, I just-“ Lapis cut herself off. “I just don’t feel like being social right now.”
“Oh.” Peridot relaxed. It wasn’t her fault after all.
“Sorry,” Lapis said.
“No, you don’t have to apologize. I just, I got you guys some gifts today. It’s nothing impressive but I was going to give them to everyone.” Peridot looked down at the bags in her hand. “Can I bring yours by your room?” It was a risky request but maybe she could speak to Lapis alone again. It was no nice the first time.
“I’m not there right now.” Lapis replied.
Peridot was quiet a moment. “Do you want me to bring them where you are? If I leave it in the hall someone might take it or think it's trash.”
“Uh…” Her voice trailed off, Peridot waited until she wasn’t sure if the call had cut off.
“Yeah, but I mean, it's kind of far. I’m at the pool.” Lapis cut her off.
“You sure?” Peridot wasn't positive the blue haired girl would want her around.
“Yeah, I don’t mind it.” Lapis said. Peridot thought she heard Lapis sniffing.
“I uh… I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Peridot said.
“No problem.” Peridot answered and hung up.
Halfway out the door Amethyst was calling her back. “Dude, I answer faster if it's a text.”
“I felt it more appropriate to call.” Peridot explained. “I went to the dining hall and none of you were there.”
“Yeaaaaaaah,” Amethyst drew out. “I thought Garnet would have told you, we’re not coming down tonight.”
Peridot started down the hill to the Rec center. “Why not?” This was annoying. She’d been waiting for hours to give them their gifts.
“Well, shit kinda happened last night.”
“What ‘shit’?” Peridot wanted to know what would interrupt their standing dinner plans. What could possibly be so important?
“Uh, well, we went out after the party. That bar like right across from the main auditorium, and well.. This guy followed Lapis to the bathroom.”
Peridot stopped walking.
“Yeah, she got up to go and in like a half a second later we see Jasper just jump up and make a bee line after her. I didn't know what was going on but a second later this guy rushed out the door.”
Where was the guy? Had he not been captured? Had he just gotten away? That's what it sounded like. Peridot clenched her fist around the bags. Her chest hurt in a wholly different way.
“He just ran off?” She demanded.
“Yeah. We hardly saw him and Lapis just kept saying she wanted to go home so, yeah, we just took her back.” Amethyst explained, guilt coating her voice.
“What.. What happened?” Peridot asked.
“She shut herself in her room and she isn’t answering anyone.” Amethyst said. “She just needs some time. She’ll come around in a little. Until then we’re just… All taking some time.”
But Lapis had answered Peridot…
“Yeah, okay.” Peridot nodded even though Amethyst couldn’t see it. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, we’ll see you tomorrow. If Lapis says anything I’ll let you know.” Amethyst offered. Peridot felt a twinge of guilt knowing that she was going to see Lapis. Maybe she didn’t want to see anyone from the night before.
“It’ll be okay, Peri. She’s just shaken up. She knows she has us.”
Peridot wasn’t so sure. Was having friends enough in a foreign country? She was used to handling everything on her own, she didn’t know.
“Thanks for telling me.” Peridot replied.
“Yeah man. Text me if you need me.” Amethyst said before saying her good byes and hanging up.
Peridot put her phone back in her pocket and made her way to the pool in the Rec Center.
When she arrived the door made a loud clanging sound that echoed off the walls. The entire room was completely still, illuminated only by the fixtures submerged under the water. It took Peridot a moment to see Lapis sitting on top of one of the high dives feet hanging over the edges, bathed in the low blue light. Peridot didn’t like that she was up so high.
“Hey.” Peridot called up to her, voice too loud in the empty silence. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Hey.”
Lapis looked over at her. “Hey.”
“You uh… You want me to come up there?” Peridot offered, hoping she wouldn’t fall.
“No, I’ll come down in a minute.” Lapis said in a soft voice that barely reached her. “It’s kind of nice being up so high, you know?”
Peridot did not know. “Kind of.”
“How cold is it outside?” Lapis asked. “I forgot my coat.”
“It’s pretty bad.” Peridot answered truthfully. She hadn’t thought to wear gloves in her excitement and now that her fingers were numb she regretted it.
Lapis sighed. “Shouldn’t have forgotten… Stupid.”
“It’s not stupid.” Peridot offered. “I forget stuff all the time. I forgot my gloves. We’re not so different.”
“You’re more used to the cold I bet.” Lapis replied, looking back outside the wall of windows that showed the campus green.
“Some times, yeah. The real secret is wearing a hat.” Peridot made her way around to sit on the end of the low dive to the right of Lapis’ high dive. She carefully set her bags down, holding only the flowers in her hand. She felt like she should say something, do something. Sitting all the way down here felt only like she was intruding. Peridot wanted to be closer. Maybe that would help more.
“I’m not a big fan of hats.” Lapis replied. “I don’t like wearing heavy clothes.”
“I don’t like wearing light clothing.” Peridot confessed. She hadn’t ever spoken about it. “I prefer boots and slacks and long blouses.”
“You don’t wear jeans very often do you?” Lapis looked down at her.
“My mother says they aren’t professional.” Peridot shrugged. They really aren’t.
“Your mother seems kind of up tight about everything.”
Peridot paused. “How do you figure?”
“Well you’re really rich, aren’t you?” Lapis said, swinging her foot in small circles. “I bet she’s an executive. You’re an only child. So you don’t get to do much of what you want. She holds you to high standards.”
Peridot looked down at her hands. “That’s some good guesses.”
“It’s subtext,” Lapis replied. “And I know a family like that. Except their daughter is exactly like them. All nice things all the time. Etiquette, formality, always doing to proper thing or whatever.”
“Is this at home in Spain?”
“Are you and her friends?” Peridot ventured to ask, wondering if talking was helping Lapis relax after what had happened.
“Uhhhh,” Lapis gave an empty laugh. “She’s my ex. The first and only.”
Peridot was dead set determined not to shy from the subject this time. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out.” There, perfect response of sympathy.
“Don’t be. I’m not.” Lapis said, her foot stopping it’s swinging. “It needed to end.”
“Oh,” was all she could think to say. Peridot wanted to fall into the pool and never resurface. Was she just doomed to always be totally lost on the subject of relationships? Was this her life now?
“I wasn’t on her level or something.” Lapis said to provide some explanation. “I just didn’t measure up. It was great at first when we were by ourselves but we weren’t the most welcome in her family’s circle. At first I thought it was my fault. I didn’t stand straight enough or I didn’t smile enough, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. She did everything she could to make me better like she was then I realized it was because of who we were.”
“Was it … That you weren’t wealthy enough?” Peridot ventured to ask.
“No, her family just hated that I was a girl. Their friends would talk about us behind our backs. I wanted to leave to just end it but she wasn’t ready for it to end. She spent months trying to get me back. I tried to tell her but she just followed me everywhere.”
“She stalked you?” Peridot asked.
“Not in a threatening way, like she was going to hurt me. She just wouldn’t listen. She’d show up and freak out and leave crying. One day she followed me to a friend’s house and when I left for the train home she yelled at me and called me a slut and said I was cheating.” Lapis’ voice wavered.
When she paused the silence felt like the vacuum that astronauts claim space is.
“I’m so sorry,” Peridot couldn’t imagine what it must be like. Living in fear and confusion, it must have been awful. Though she could somewhat relate, knowing that she was always being monitored and corrected and judged and questioned. She meant it with all her heart. “I’m so sorry.”
“I haven’t heard from her since but I know she’s acting like I never happened. She’s off living her life now and I'm left in… Peace.” Peridot felt like Lapis had been about to say ‘pieces’.
“At the very least, I’m glad it's over.” She offered.
“To be honest, Peridot, I don’t think it will be.” Lapis said quietly. “Last night this guy, he uh, he followed me to the bathroom when we went to this bar. When I saw him, I wasn’t even worried that he might attack me, I just thought he was her.” Lapis forced out a broken laugh. “Jasper saw him. It must have been funny. She came in to help and I was just screaming in Spanish at him. I think I might have screamed at her a little bit as well.”
“That’s unacceptable.” Peridot snapped but what could she do? Lapis was opening up to her, what was Peridot supposed to do to help her? More than anything Peridot wanted to find the creep that had done it and… What? Make him apologize? No. She wanted him to hurt like he had hurt Lapis. She stared down at the flowers in her hands.
Lapis sniffed above her. Peridot realized she must be crying. “Could have been worse.” Lapis said. “Could always be worse.”
Peridot sat quietly, wishing she could hug Lapis. This felt like the time to initiate a hug. She wanted to do something to help now, like Lapis had helped her. She understood that the best thing she could do was keep her distance. When Lapis was ready to be close to people she’d come down from her perch.
“That doesn’t mean it isn't still bad, you know.” She offered. “It still hurt you. But it is over now. You’re in America, she’s not coming to get you. Even if she did I bet Jasper would beat her up.”
Lapis let out a choked laugh.
“She followed the guy following you?” Peridot asked.
“Yeah.” Lapis answered, sniffing again.
“Can you imagine how terrified he must have been? Worst mistake of his life.” Peridot went on, fishing for another laugh.
“I bet he won’t follow anyone else.” Lapis replied.
Peridot snorted. “I bet he skipped town.”
Lapis gave another half laugh. “Just packed all his bags and left town.”
“Maybe changed his name. Can’t be too careful.”
Lapis giggled. “She looked pretty mad.”
“I never want to see her get mad. Ever. Remember last week she flexed?” Peridot was smiling now too.
“I have never seen muscles like that before.” Lapis said. “I never will again. I wonder what her secret is.”
“I wonder what the secret of her height is.” Peridot said. “Forget the muscles.”
“You can ask Garnet the same thing.” Lapis answered. Peridot could hear her moving. When she looked up Lapis was walking back to the ladder. “She wore heels to the party. I had to look straight up to talk to her.”
Peridot watched her climbing down and got up. Peridot stood at the bottom of the ladder and held her arms up. Heights made her nervous, even to see someone else up high was unsettling.
“Please be careful,” she said quietly as Lapis neared the ground. Peridot touched Lapis’ back as she came down, not sure what real good it would do steady her. The blue haired girl glanced at her as she touched down.
“Worried?” She asked, watching Peridot.
“Yes, I am not fond of heights.” Peridot answered, putting her arms down by her side quickly. “I don’t want you to slip and fall.”
Lapis stood looking at her a moment, Peridot wondered if she had done something wrong. Was it too soon for Lapis to be near someone? What a clod! Why had she thought that was okay?
Just as she was about to pull away Lapis reached out and wrapped her arms around Peridot. For a moment Peridot wasn’t sure what was happening but when she realized she quickly hugged Lapis tightly back. Because Lapis needed it. Not because Peridot wanted to be close to her. No. Lapis needed this. That's why.
The hug was easier than Peridot had expected. She had been hugged only once before on her exchange. Amethyst had given her a parting sideways hug that felt awkward and forced. Peridot had almost smacked her in the back of the head on accident. Amethyst hadn't tried again after seeing how bad Peridot was at it.
This was different.
This was easy.
Lapis fit her arms around Peridot’s shoulders and pressed her cheek into Peridot’s hair. It was easy for Peridot to hug her around the abdomen, one hand resting on Lapis’ shoulder, the other on her waist. Peridot’s face was tucked into Lapis’s neck.
Everything perfectly in place, almost like it was rehearsed. Lapis was just the right height for Peridot to hold her and she was just the right height to support Lapis leaning into her. It was so comfortable, like laying in your own bed for the first time in days.
Peridot couldn’t help but spend just a moment admiring their symmetry before she noticed that Lapis smelled good. Not like any perfume or soap, just good.
And she was so warm, Peridot could feel through her coat that Lapis was just so damn warm.
For just a moment Peridot felt like she could feel Lapis’ heart beat.
Her face flushed, heart started racing. How long had they been there? How long was she holding Lapis? Was she holding too tight? Did Lapis want to pull away?
But Lapis stayed still, unmoving, just holding on to her.
Peridot felt like she might pass out.
Both too late and too soon Lapis slowly pulled away and wiped at her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I hope I didn’t-“
“You didn’t.” Peridot was quick to look away though she was certain Lapis must see how red her face had become.
Lapis sniffed, pulled the sleeves of her sweater over her hands and crossed her arms. She nodded at the bags.
“Are those the gifts?”
“Oh!” Peridot snapped to attention, grabbing one of the bags. “It's candy. I bought it for everyone today. Since I didn’t see you on Valentine's Day. You know. I um…” Peridot stopped and cleared her throat. “The point is that I bought everyone a lot of things. Even these.” Peridot picked up the flowers from the floor. She had dropped them in her rush to help Lapis down. Peridot straightened to present them. “I was going to give everybody one each but there’s a full dozen and well, you probably need them most.”
Lapis stared at the bouquet as she took it and sat on the low dive. “This is very sweet of you, Peridot.”
“Well, I just-“ Peridot cut herself off, remembering what else Garnet had said, they didn't expect her to go out of her way to support them.
“I wanted to do something for you, since I wasn’t at the party.” She finished.
Lapis smelled the flowers, holding them to her face. She looked at Peridot with big brown eyes. “We figured you wouldn’t want to go.”
Peridot felt an icy shot of fear run down her spine. It settled in the soles of her feet.
When Lapis noticed the look on her face she lowered the daisies. “You don’t like crowds.”
“I never said I don’t like crowds.” Peridot shifted her weight to one foot. “I go to plenty of dinners and such at home. I’m fine in a crowd.”
“You fidget at the table when it gets loud. It’s pretty easy to tell.”
Peridot opened her mouth to argue but closed it again. What was the point? Lapis was right.
“I know.” Peridot’s shoulders slumped a little. She put her hands in her coat pockets.
“It's not a bad thing.” Lapis said, glancing through one of the bags.
“I uh…” Lapis had been honest with her, right? “I figured you would think it's because I’m uh, um… Homophobic.”
Lapis snorted, picking out the chocolate covered peanuts. “You're not homophobic.”
Peridot just stared at her. “I'm not? I mean-of course I’m not but I thought you guys-“
“You obviously haven't been around gay people much, that's for sure. But you just don’t know what you're doing. We know it's because you aren't sure how to act. Maybe you were at first but not anymore.”
Peridot bit her lip. “My mother always said it was a choice and that it's disgusting.”
Lapis seemed unfazed. She opened the bag and picked out a few of the peanuts. “That's what a lot of people tell their kids. That's what my aunt told my cousins when I came out.”
“Didn't that upset you?” Peridot watched her eat the candy, wanting to ask if she liked it.
“Yeah, it was pretty hurtful. It always is but I can take it. I don't care what they think. They don’t own me.”
Peridot’s eyes widened and her jaw clenched.
That was right. No one owned Lapis.
Not her ex girlfriend and not her aunt or her cousins or her… Parents.
“It hurts and it's scary sometimes, believe me. That's just part of being open about it. And if I can accept that people will be cruel then I can handle it.”
“If a burn can heal,” Peridot added. She felt her stomach turn a flip.
“Exactly. Whatever those people say, it can make me cry sure but I don’t let it get to me too much.”
How did she make it sound so easy? Every single little thing anyone said to Peridot made her feel awful. For hours. Even days.
Her mother came to mind. She felt bad for thinking so negatively of her mother, hadn't she given Peridot everything?
“Hey,” Lapis’ voice pulled her back. “You okay?”
“Fine! I'm fine.” Peridot was quick to answer.
Lapis eyed her, not trusting that to be the truth. Instead of pressing she held up the bag. “These are delicious. It was sweet of you to get them.”
“N-no problem.” Peridot shifted her weight, not liking the feeling she had in her gut. Now she was the one feeling distressed. She wanted a hug, maybe that would help? She didn't dare ask for one. Lapis was the one that needed the attention.
The blue haired girl looked down at her lap, a strange expression on her face. Peridot looked around the pool room. Everything was so still. It felt like time had stopped outside of this room. What time was it? Did that even matter?
“You can make a crown out of these.” Lapis said, making Peridot jump.
“The daisies, you can make a crown with them.” Lapis set the candy aside and pulled some of the flowers free. She snapped the stems a little shorter and then pinched holes in them. “You just connect them like this.” Lapis threaded the flowers together until she had a fragile loop. She placed it on her head and looked up at Peridot.
Peridot felt like she might die.
Why was this happening?
Lapis batted her eyelashes at her. “How's it look? Childish?”
“N-no, it looks pretty. Really pretty.” Peridot fumbled to say.
“My mother taught me.. Makes me feel like a child again. Safer. You know.”
Peridot did not know. “Oh yeah.”
Lapis took the last of the daisies and stood. Peridot froze when she came closer. Her heart hammered as Lapis tucked it behind her ear.
“There. Now we both look silly.” Lapis said before turning back to clean up the candy and bags. Her crown slipped down her hair a little. She carefully put it back. “I should probably go back to my room.”
“Me too,” Peridot tried to relax but her hands were shaking and her heart was racing.
“Do you… Will you walk with me?” Lapis gave her a hopeful look.
“Yes! Yes.” Peridot took a deep breath. “I'd be happy to.” It wasn't right to ask Lapis to go anywhere alone now. And Peridot didn't want to leave her anyway.
She caught Lapis throwing a glance out the windows at the campus robed in the night. Peridot remembered about the coat… She shrugged out of her own and offered it to Lapis.
“What's this?” Lapis said with a faint smile.
“You’re going to get too cold.” Peridot stated. “I want you to use it.”
“Are you sure?” Lapis asked, slowly reaching a hand for it.
“I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t mean it.” Yes she would. She would offer for appearances and to earn favor points, some of the same reasons she had bought the candy. “I can take the cold.”
As she watched Lapis slip the coat on Peridot felt a sense of … Not satisfaction but reassurance. Lapis wasn’t impressed, not grateful, or giving Peridot praise. She was warm. Peridot didn’t care if she said thank you or told the others. That didn’t matter.
The only thing that mattered was that Lapis would not freeze after being in the warm pool room. For the first time Peridot felt satisfaction from doing something that she couldn’t find a way to measure and she didn't even remember to try appraising it.
When they stepped outside white flurries twirled in the air around them. The girls stood staring up at the snow falling down, dancing in the breeze. Everything was silent. Everything was still. Peridot was certain time had stopped. Lapis held up a hand to catch a few in her palm.
Peridot looked at her hand, palm up to the sky and slender fingers open.
Peridot wanted to hold it in her own.
Chapter 12: Love Like a You Chapter 12
Let it snow
Let it snow
Let it snow
its great getting stuck in the weather together.
Find someone that looks at you the way Steven looks at candy
The snow lasted for four days. Every day at noon Steven, Rose and Greg would arrive and the six friends would pour out of the dorms and apartments to come meet on the green. The back of the van had everything inside. Every day the family brought a sled and a wooden boogey board that Steven pointed out could be used as a make shift sled. Jasper had other plans.
They watched in awe as she got a running start and tossed the board ahead of her and hopped on, skimming down the hill with ease. Steven was beside himself with excitement. They raced Jasper on the board against Steven on the sled. It was obvious that Jasper leaned her weight on the back of the board to slow herself down so he could win.
Steven didn’t notice.
Lapis, Peridot and Pearl cheered him on as he went. Peridot considered it odd that Rose and Greg seemed to have disappeared while their son had his race. The reason became obvious when Garnet was hit in the back with a snowball. It didn’t surprise her at all and she only turned in time to catch a another to the chest.
Rose ducked down behind a little barrier of snow, giggling with Greg. “Hurry!” She urged him. Greg popped up and lobbed a snowball at Amethyst. It missed.
“Well hello everyone-“ The American Pearl strode right into the line of fire, the snowball colliding with her arm. She gasped, looking deeply offended. “Who threw that?!”
Rose and Greg ducked down further, still giggling. Pearl could still see them.
“Oh, honestly!” She bent down and scooped up a handful of snow and pranced over to the little barrier and nailed Greg right in the butt. Rose shook with laughter as Greg scrambled to get away. Rose was rewarded with a handful of snow sprinkled in her direction.
“Don’t get soft on me Pearl.” She said, packing another together in her hand. As her hand drew back Amethyst shouted.
There are two kinds of people in snowball fights and the group quickly sorted themselves. Garnet, Peridot, Jasper, Greg and both Pearls sprinted in different directions to try to find cover. Amethyst, Lapis, Steven, and Rose ran after them, trying to land a shot.
Peridot caught many on the back from Steven and found it difficult to run from the little giggling boy chasing her. She stood with her hands up, backing away, stammering a surrender. That cost her when Amethyst realized she was the only one left in range.
“Heyyyyy, P Dot,” Amethyst said as she crept slowly forward, a wicked smile on her face. “C’mere.”
Peridot felt her blood run cold.
It was silly, she knew that snowballs couldn't hurt her but she was caught up in the game and choked. She looked left and right but couldn’t decide which direction to take. Just as Amethyst started laughing and raised her arm, a snowball came from nowhere and hit her in the face.
Amethyst stumbled back, trying to wipe the snow from her hair and cheeks while Peridot was grabbed by the back of her jacket and hauled away. Keeping up with the track runner was more than impossible and she stumbled the whole way.
“Retreat and regroup!” Jasper ordered as she rushed Peridot to get behind a bench where Garnet and Greg sat waiting.
Peridot went down on her hands and knees when Jasper released her. Garnet offered her a snowball from a little pile she had made.
“What are you doing back here?” Peridot said, looking around.
“We gotta strategize, kiddo.” Greg said, trying to get a clear head count of everyone still outside of their bench fort.
Jasper took a knee beside Garnet. “What's the plan?”
“Ambush.” Garnet answered as she divvied out the snowballs, everyone got three. “This will be enough to get a little revenge. After that we have to improvise our ammunition.”
“Good. This is good.” Jasper said, poking her head up to look. “We should try to make it back again. Run a lap and come back.”
Peridot risked a glance around the side of the bench. The two Pearls jumped out from behind a tree and chased Lapis and Steven up the hill. She couldn’t help but smile.
“On the count of three,” Greg said, holding his ammunition. Garnet and Jasper nodded, crouched and ready to go. Peridot looked down at the three in her hand.
“One… Two…” She shifted to get ready, entirely unsure about where she would run and how she would get back. “Three!”
The four of them shot out from behind the bench, Jasper and Garnet taking an easy lead. They both honed in on Amethyst, sending the short girl running as fast as she could with her arms over her head.
Greg went right for Rose who took every one like a sport.
Peridot tried one at Steven and missed. He chuckled and returned, hitting her in the knee.
“Hey!” She said, not realizing until then that she was laughing. She threw another and he dodged. “Hold still!”
“No way!” Steven said as he darted for Lapis. He hid behind her, peeking out at Peridot.
Lapis smirked at her, snowball in hand. “Are you after Steven?”
Peridot stopped in her tracks, almost unsettled by the look in those big brown eyes. “I uh…” Her voice trailed off.
“Are you after my Steven?” Lapis repeated, tossing the snowball up and catching it again. “See, I just can't allow that. This is my Steven and no one can get to him while I’m around.”
“Yeah!” Steven shouted in agreement. He stuck his tongue out at Peridot.
“So you have two choices right now. You can stand there and take it like a man in the face or you can run and I’ll hit you in the back.” Lapis put a hand on her hip, voice dripping with mischief.
Peridot just froze again.
“Okay stay juuuuust like that,” Lapis said as she pulled her arm back, closing one eye.
Peridot turned and ran away as fast as she could. Lapis shouted something after her but Peridot couldn’t hear.
A split second later she heard foot steps. She chanced a glance behind her and saw Lapis hot on her trail. Shocked, Peridot let out a scream and tried to run faster.
But she was short and graceless and she slipped and landed right on her face. Even more humiliating was the fact she slid a few inches.
When she rolled over Lapis hit her knees and slid to a stop at her side.
“Oh my god, you weren’t supposed to bust it!” She exclaimed, trying not to smile. “Are you okay?”
Peridot groaned loudly, only then remembering she still had a snowball in her hand. Lapis leaned down closer.
“P-Peridot?” She was starting to get worried.
Peridot pressed the snowball into Lapis’ face, smearing the ice across her nose and lips. Lapis opened her mouth in a shocked ‘o’ and gasped.
“Peridot!” she exclaimed but didn’t pull back. Seconds later Lapis smeared snow across Peridot’s face. “I absolutely can't believe you!” She was smiling and trying to sound offended. The two did not match.
Peridot could see the stars in those big brown eyes like she had the day Steven had picked out his candy. She snickered a little when a bit of snow fell from Lapis’ cheek onto her own.
“You’re absolutely the worst for scaring me.” Lapis reprimanded. “I was scared you’d broken something.”
Peridot could feel the warmth of her breath.
“I healed once, remember?” Peridot said with confidence.
“That doesn’t mean you get to be reckless and go busting your ass.” Lapis said, sitting up.
“I’ll be more careful next time.” She hadn’t expected Lapis to be concerned at all.
As fun as it was to roll in the snow eventually fingers became too numb and they were left with no choice but to return to the shelter of their dorms and the Quarts-Universes returned home. The first day they gathered in Jasper’s room to defrost together. Peridot was somewhat shocked to find the walls covered in band posters. They stayed hours, exhausted but happy.
The second day Amethyst extended the invitation and she had the foresight to stock up on snacks. That day Pearl fell asleep on Amethyst’s bed after eating and everyone spoke in low voices to keep from waking her. Jasper and Amethyst were talking to Garnet about an event for Gamer Club. Lapis and Peridot sat on a pile of pillows in the corner and discussed a schedule for calculus tutoring.
The third day Lapis brought everyone into her room. Almost everything was blue from the bed covers to picture frames and the lamps. Peridot found it soothing. That day she fell asleep curled up next to the bed. Lapis woke her hours after everyone had left with a soft smile and gentle touch.
“Come on and I’ll walk you to your room,” she offered.
Peridot didn’t want to go anywhere, the days of playing had left her exhausted. She let Lapis help her up anyway and shuffle back to her room down the hall. Lapis kept a hand between Peridot’s shoulders the whole way.
Peridot found it incredibly grounding.
When she crawled onto her bed Lapis watched with amusement in her eyes. Peridot’s arm slipped out from under her, sending her down onto the mattress. A giggle from behind her made Peridot feel somewhat embarrassed. Twice in two days. It was no wonder her mother had forbid her from playing outside. When she rolled over Lapis was at her bedside, pulling the blankets back.
“You want me to get out some of your pajamas or something?” Lapis offered.
Peridot knew she didn’t intend for it to sound as forward as it did. She’d rather not have Lapis sort through her drawers and seeing the very bland clothes she had. Not that Lapis hadn’t seen them on her, but being in the drawer would make it somehow worse.
“I think I can handle it.” Peridot groaned. She didn’t actually care about changing out of her day clothes before bed. Just something about being bare in any space that wasn’t her bedroom in Russia…
For a short time Peridot had considered it was due to the mirrors on her closet doors. She didn’t like the sight of herself. No matter what angle she viewed herself from nothing looked like she felt it should. In Russia her bedroom had no mirrors.
“I was going to tuck you in,” Lapis said in a teasing voice. “But I suppose I can’t if you're not ready for bed.”
Peridot wanted to laugh. She hadn’t been tucked into bed since she was maybe six. The idea of being tucked in now was comedic.
“Are you going to sing me a lullaby too?” Peridot gave her a sleepy smile.
“A lullaby?” Lapis said, considering. “The only ones I know are Spanish.”
“Too bad I don’t speak Spanish.” Peridot replied, laying her arm over her eyes.
“I could teach you if you like.” Lapis sounded almost hopeful.
“Maybe one day.” Peridot said.
“It’s very easy,” Lapis said. “Verb conjugations are usually the most troublesome. But our phrases are simple and short.”
“Yeah? Teach me one.”
“Te amo.” Lapis said softly.
“It means ‘I love you’.”
Peridot lifted her arm and looked at Lapis. She was smoothing down the sheets with her hand.
“It was the last thing I said to my mother before I boarded the plane. I miss her.” Lapis offered.
For a moment Peridot had felt like Lapis might have meant something else. As shocking as it would have been the fact that her heart wasn’t racing and she didn’t want to drop into the floor was more so. Maybe it was because she was so tired. That must be it, right?
“You’ll see her again soon.” Peridot offered for reassurance. She couldn’t empathize. She hadn't missed her mother much.
Or at all, really.
That made her chest hurt.
“I know, it just seems like a long time from now.” Lapis shrugged, glancing around the room. She walked back towards the door. “I’ll find an English lullaby for you for next time.”
“I look forward to it.” Peridot was starting to become more truthful. Not because she changed what she said, she was becoming more sincere. In the last few days she had started considering going to the American graduation ceremony. Picturing Rose, Greg and Steven in the audience was starting to convince her. She wanted to go to events even if just a little. She wanted to hear Lapis sing.
She wanted that fully.
“I’ll let you know,” Lapis said giving her a warm smile. Peridot thought she could see stars in her eyes again. That made her feel warm. “Good night.”
“Good night.” Peridot echoed quietly as Lapis closed the door gently.
On the fourth day the snow began to melt. Peridot watched Lapis drawing silly faces in the snow with a stick. She shivered with a strange feeling when Lapis turned away to find a new patch of snow. When Peridot turned she saw Garnet staring at them.
Chapter 13: Love Like You Chapter 13
Lapis is bad with math and she needs a lot of help.
This one is very short and the next one will be longer.
I want to give you all advance notice that 14 is going to be dealing with body insecurity in a very real way. There are no EDs in this story and there is no body dysphoria but I'm not naive enough to think that there's no chance that cant be triggered.
I love each and every one of you reading this absolute garbage and I want to keep you in your comfort zone. So what I'm going to do is at the end of that chapter the notes will just be a summary of what happens so you don't have to read the whole thing. I don't want to risk hurting anyone.
I'm just giving you a heads up.
Mid-Terms arrived at the start of March. Dinner became shorter the week prior as they wandered in and out to study. Peridot kept a book open in front of her while she ate, hardly saying anything as she reviewed. It was the most time she got to study for herself on many days, the rest of her time spent helping Lapis with calculus.
She was really really bad.
Lapis had told Peridot, “It’s just the one formula I have trouble with.”
In reality there was maybe one formula that she didn’t have trouble with. Despite how much work there was to do Peridot wouldn’t let Lapis fail her tests. It meant long afternoons and late nights but Peridot didn’t care. Lapis needed her after all. She had nearly perfect marks in all her courses already, what would missing a question or two on the exams hurt?
Perhaps she learned more about Lapis during those hours they studied together. She learned that Lapis had a habit of pressing her lips together when she focused, that Lapis would drop her forehead to the desk when she was exasperated and that Lapis preferred to stare at Peridot’s hands rather than what was being written on the paper. It wasn’t long before Peridot came to suspect Lapis might be dyscalculaic.
Lapis’ calculus exam was on the last day of that week. Peridot finished her own exam early and spent most of the day waiting to hear back from Lapis to see how she had done. It was harder than she thought.
While checking her email accounts she received one good luck message and a congratulations that the week had ended so well from Rose and one from the Sokolov boy asking if he might make a visit to her during her spring holiday.
Peridot felt a lump in her throat when she read the email a second time. She knew better than to even consider saying no without a proper reason. What could she possibly give for an excuse?
A text from Amethyst spared her a reply.
“YOOOOOO GET DOWN HERE!”
Where was ‘here’? Peridot could only assume she meant the table. Not needing to be told twice she grabbed her keys and hurried to the table. Something was up, something was happening.
It was exciting.
“PERIDACTYL!” Amethyst called from the table. She looked ecstatic as she waved Peridot over. “Come on!”
She noticed that Lapis hadn’t come down yet-how late could the test run?
Garnet sat with her laptop open on the table, Jasper on one side and Pearl on the other looking over her shoulder. Something was certainly holding their interest.
“Another cat video?” Peridot ventured to ask as she approached. Surely Amethyst hadn’t brought her here for so little.
… But this was Amethyst after all.
Amethyst slapped her on the back. “Sooo much better! We’re going on vacation!”
“Vacation?” Peridot asked as Amethyst pointed to the computer screen. Even sitting Peridot could hardly see over Garnet’s shoulders. On the laptop screen was a confirmation of booking at a small hotel in Beach City.
“Wait, isn’t that your-“
“Home town? Yeah. Rose said if we go there she’ll make us dinner and stuff. And it didn’t hurt that Steven called and begged.” Amethyst said.
“Tiny voices are my weakness.” Garnet added, taking down the booking information in her phone’s note app. “Mom and mama said to tell you all that if we want a fire pit they’ll help us build one.”
“Fire pit?” Peridot asked.
“Yeah, for bonfires. Roasting marshmallows and hot dogs and stuff.” Amethyst said. “They’re great.”
“Can we bring fireworks?” Jasper asked.
“I mean I guess so.” Amethyst shrugged.
“They’re legal to fire on the beach. We’ll be just fine.” Garnet answered. “We’re due in Friday night. Everyone be packed and ready by four and we’ll leave at four thirty.”
Peridot shifted uneasily. She didn’t have enough casual clothes to last an entire week on the beach. She had no towel, no sandals and no tee shirts. Fuck. She’d have to go shopping next weekend.
She’d have to wear shorts.
But she’s be damned if she stayed and spent a week with the Sokolov boy. Alone. Without her friends.
“What’s all this?” Lapis asked, her voice making Peridot jump. Lapis smiled at them, looking confident and tired. Peridot hoped the test had gone well.
“Pack a bag, Lappy!” Amethyst said with a grin. “We’re going to the beach.”
Chapter 14: Love Like You Chapter 14
Peridot goes shopping and confronts some body image issues.
She rips on herself in a pretty rough way so if you feel up to reading the whole thing, go ahead. Rose is there and does a lot to help her out. Peridot thinks she's being slick about her problems but Rose is pretty on top of it.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“Thank you for driving me,” Peridot said as she and Rose browsed through racks in a department store.
She had tried to convert her clothing size and shop on the Internet but she lacked the confidence to commit to anything. Ordering things from her dorm to her dorm seemed the best option but Peridot realized that she couldn’t find any consistency in brand sizing which left her one option.
“It’s no problem, Peridot.” Rose said as she picked a pair of jean shorts. “I can’t wait for you all to come next week. It’s going to be so much fun. You’ll just love it.”
Peridot stared at a shirt covered in blue flowers, thinking about how Lapis would like it.
“You don’t like shopping for yourself, do you?” Rose asked, watching Peridot skirt around the racks.
“It’s a lot of trouble,” Peridot said. She hated talking about herself but it was getting more and more difficult to deflect away when Rose spoke so gently. “My mother picks out my clothes for me. I don't have much ‘taste’.” Peridot made air quotations with her fingers.
“This will be a fun learning experience for you then.” Rose made everything sound so positive. “What's your favorite color?”
“Blue.” Peridot responded. “Green. Cold colors.”
“Yes, you seem more suited to those. Much better with those remarkable eyes of yours.”
Peridot blinked, not sure what Rose meant. “What about my eyes?”
“They’re a beautiful shade of green.” Rose specified, picking through a stack of folded striped shirts. She picked out three different sizes and handed those and the shorts to Peridot.
Peridot wasn't sure how to respond. She knew she should say thank you but the way Rose sounded it reminded her of the way Sapphire had spoken about Garnet at the O Days table.
No one ever spoke about her like that.
Nearly a half hour later Peridot was carrying half the store into a dressing room. She hung up what she could and set the rest in the chair provided. She regarded the long mirror with contempt.
“Let me know if you need an opinion.” Rose said from the hall.
“What do you mean?” Peridot asked, looking at the door.
“If you’re not sure how something looks or if something matches you can step outside and I can help. That is, if you want me to stay.”
“Yes,” Peridot hoped she hadn’t said it too quickly. “Yes, I would like for you to stay.”
Rose took a seat next to a trifold end mirrorl. “I’m here for you.”
Peridot wondered why Rose said it like that and why she liked it so much. When she started to undress she focused her energy on convincing herself that there was no reason to fear a public dressing room.
When Peridot groaned and cursed quietly Rose was concerned. “Is everything okay in there?”
“Fine!” Peridot managed through gritted teeth as she tried to free herself from a strappy top. First one and she was stuck. For a terrorizing moment she thought she might have to call Rose in but squirmed out at the last second. “Just uh… Didn’t fit.”
“It’ll probably be very difficult to find a good size in American clothing.” Rose lamented. “But it’ll be okay. You only need a few things.”
In truth she needed a whole wardrobe as Peridot was coming to realize that her clothes were too formal for the casual American culture. Being used to dressing in business attire all the time, nothing seemed to look right together. She tried on almost everything she had brought in only making herself angry.
Nothing fit right, nothing felt right, nothing looked right and nothing matched right. The twelfth shirt she almost ripped off before throwing it as hard as she could at the stupid mirror that did nothing but let her know just how awful she looked.
A quiet moment passed of Peridot standing and looking herself over. Her beige bra and blue panties didn’t match. They looked ridiculous. Her shoulders were too small for her hips, her waist was so low, had her left hip bone always poked out like that? Her legs were so thin but she stopped herself before she looked at the scar.
No wonder none of the boys her mother sent to her would stay. Who would want a flat chest and bony hips? She couldn’t even own being lanky like Pearl who looked so graceful, or her height like Amethyst or the way her hair stuck out like Garnet’s beautiful mane. As much as Peridot tried to emulate good posture she still couldn’t manage to carry herself like Jasper. She damn sure wouldn’t ever fill out like Lapis and her perfect figure.
Lapis was everything Peridot knew she should be. Just short enough that she could wear high heels and not be taller than most boys. She had a slender figure with a full bust and perfectly curved hips. Her feet were small and her toes were cute. Her fingers were slender and nimble when they moved. She had two perfect dimples in the small of her back and even though she had the scar she never once gave any indication that it didn’t belong there. It might as well be a freckle. Just like the freckles sprinkled over her cute little nose and rosy pink cheeks and how was it that she had so much light behind those big brown eyes all the time?!
“Peridot?” Rose’s soft voice pulled her attention back from the downward spiral but her mind was already there.
“Yes?” Peridot managed to get out, swallowing around the lump in her throat. She hadn’t cried in so long, what was wrong with her? As much as she hated her reflection she hadn’t cried about it in years. It must be how awful all the clothes looked on her. That must be it.
“Is nothing fitting?” Rose asked.
“No.” Peridot said, trying to pull on a tee shirt so that she wouldn’t have to sit in the open air any longer. “It’s just all so different.” It was a truthful excuse but Peridot could feel the rising guilt in her gut for not being honest with Rose.
“Do you need any help?” Rose offered.
If only Rose knew what the real problem was.
“With what?” Peridot rubbed her eyes.
“Well why don’t you just come out with what you have now.” Rose suggested gently. “Just whatever you have.”
Peridot looked around and pulled on a pair of jean shorts with designer holes in them. She stood in her thoughtless outfit and took a deep breath before stepping out. If Rose could just see how bad it looked maybe she would just take Peridot home.
Instead Rose gasped. “That looks wonderful! Does it just not fit right?”
Peridot stood stunned. “What.”
“It’s a striped tee shirt and jean shorts, that's a classic summer look.” Rose crossed her legs and leaned forward. “You said you don’t like it, so it must not fit right.”
“It fits fine.” Peridot admitted and tugged the hem of the shirt down.
“So do you want to get it?
“I don’t know.” Peridot looked back at the mirror. Standing from the side the shorts didn’t look awful but what would her mother say when she brought the clothes home?
“You know, Peridot, it really does look good on you. With some black flats that's a perfect summer outfit.” Rose said.
Peridot didn’t answer, just shifted a little to see from the front that her reflection wasn’t completely terrible. Clothes roulette hadn’t been cruel to her.
“If you’re not sure why don’t you just put it in the ‘maybe’ pile, hm? Once you’ve gone through the rest you can think about them again. That’s what I do.” Rose suggested.
Peridot eyed herself in the mirror again before stepping back in and closing the door. “The ‘maybe’ pile for now.” She agreed.
“Have you tried on those green shorts yet? I want to see those.” Rose said from outside.
Peridot dug them out and kicked the current outfit into the corner to start the ‘maybe’ pile. When she walked out with the green shorts and black tank top Rose praised that as well.
“Those shorts have good pockets, that's hard to come by. You should buy them just for that,” Rose joked with her.
Peridot still wasn’t sure so they went to the same pile as the previous.
“It's just that pale wash of denim that looks so good on you.” Rose observed with a shake of her head. “I’ve always liked it too. That’s a good color for you.”
Peridot looked down at the fifth pair of shorts.
“You can wear that striped top with those too. And the gray washed one too. Those would look best.” Rose continued.
“You say everything looks good.” Peridot said quietly.
“That’s because it does.” Rose replied as though it were simple. “Except for that yellow shirt, I’m afraid it just isn’t your color. The same one in the green though, that’d work perfectly.”
“They can't all look that good.” Peridot said defensively. Was Rose blind?
“And why not?” Rose said.
“They just can’t!” Wasn’t if obvious? Everything looked so strange on her from the shirts to the pants to her own posture.
“Why not? That isn’t an answer.” Rose persisted gently. “You’re beautiful, Peridot. Why shouldn’t everything in the world look absolutely perfect on you?”
Peridot stood locked in place as Rose held her in her kind gaze. The tone of Sapphire’s voice that day came back to her. It was the same tone that Rose spoke in now. It was a foreign language that Peridot didn’t know.
“I know you usually dress pretty formally and it suits you well.” Rose made it sound like a compromise. “But everything looks good on you, Peridot. I think once you get used to these clothes you’ll really enjoy them.”
Peridot looked down at herself and then back at Rose. What she said made sense objectively but Peridot wasn’t one for dressing carelessly. She shouldn’t wear short skirts, her mother said that it made her look shorter. Crop tops would never work, Peridot was certain for the same reasons. Sandals showed her scar.
But she wasn’t trying to hide that anymore. She was trying to think about it like Lapis did. It wasn’t as hard as she had thought. Hard still but not impossible. It occurred to her that trying things Rose’s way might be the same. She was certainly as confident about it as Lapis.
She looked at the now knee high ‘maybe’ pile. It really wasn’t all terrible. Or even bad. Some of it was even good. Jeans were comfortable she was starting to realize. They were thick and tight in a few places and they felt as secured as shorts could feel. The shirts weren’t bad either, it just took a few ones to find the right size.
To take a moment to review the pile Peridot stepped inside. She was distracted half way through when her phone buzzed a text from Lapis.
“You’ve been gone for a million years.”
“It’s a big store.” Peridot replied. The answer came before she could put the phone down.
“We’re all going swimming when will you be back?”
“I don’t know. Do you want to meet for dinner after?”
“No I want you to come with us.”
Peridot stared at the text for a long moment. She thought back on the first day of class when Lapis and Pearl had offered to wait for her to change. Had it not been a formality after all?
“I’ll be back in an hour.” Peridot sent back.
“Text me when you get here.”
Peridot looked back at the pile that she had agonized over. Why shouldn’t it all look good on her? Rose wouldn’t lie about it either. She had no reason to.
After quickly replacing everything onto hangers and poorly executed folded stacks Peridot replaced what she didn’t want and headed to the register with almost a third of what she had taken in. Rose helped her carry a few things, going on about how she would love the American coast. On the way to the register she grabbed a neon green tee shirt with an alien face on it.
She bought it without trying it on.
To get some clothes for the upcoming beach trip Rose takes Peridot shopping in a department store.
Peridot hates being in front of mirrors and so when nothing fits right and she gets angry she has a moment of weakness and spends time comparing herself to her friends which makes things worse.
Rose very gently pulls her back without calling her out. She gets Peridot to understand that being so negative about yourself is pointless.
The problem isn't solved completely but it's a step in the right direction.
The main thing to take away is that Peridot still thinks she kind of wants to be Lapis instead of be on her.
Chapter 15: Love Like You Chapter 15
Peridot pays for the means of her own demise.
I was asked and I figured I'll let you guys know I am on Tumblr.
URL is ancient-absent-goddess.
Like this account my tumblr is full of sin.
I was also asked if someone could draw fanart of this Au.
I will literally expire here on my keyboard if that is to happen jfc like that has never happened to me before. All I ask is that you link the story and then send a link to me so that I may die with your beautiful work in my eyes.
Literally why do you like this garbage so much. Welcome to my dumpster anyway.
“We need Angry Orchard, Fireball, Coconut Rum, Jose Cuervo-“
“But the Patron is so much better.” Jasper interrupted.
Amethyst rolled her eyes. “Look, when we’re not poor college kids we will be able to afford Patron. Right now, we reach for my good friend Jose.”
Peridot sat in the car surrounded by luggage and friends. They had left twenty minutes ago and the Amethyst Mobile had been designated as responsible for liquor while the Garnet Mobile was designated for buying snacks.
“I get Jasper and Peridot. Jasper is German and I’m sure Peridot knows a good vodka.” Amethyst had argued as though they were drafting for a sports team.
“I get Pearl. She’s Italian. I like Italian food.” Garnet replied. “And Lapis is Spanish.”
“I find it incredibly offensive that you think just because I’m German that I drink.” Jasper interjected, hands on her hips.
“Well do you?” Amethyst ventured to ask.
Jasper was quiet a moment before saying, “Yeah, I do.”
“Then just get your ass in the car!” Amethyst threw her arms in the air.
Peridot didn’t have the heart to tell them she only drank wine and only on occasion at that. She tugged at the hem of her new shirt, wondering if Amethyst would depend on her to pick anything out.
What if she picked a bad brand? What if she was told to pick vodka and accidentally picked up some other kind of alcohol instead?
She had been running the possibilities over in her head the whole time. Picking a bad brand, picking a liquor that wasn’t vodka, picking something that would end up tasting awful? It was with great relief that Amethyst had come prepared with a list.
“As I was saying, we need Jose and like a cordial or something. Maybe Jack.” Amethyst added as an after thought.
“How much alcohol do we need?” Peridot didn’t want to sound judgmental but damn.
“I mean we’re going to be here for seven days. Enough for at least two nights. It’s less than you think.” Amethyst shrugged as they pulled up to a very large store.
When they walked in Peridot could see there were model planes of all sizes hung from the ceiling. There was a tiki hut over a display of Captain Morgan and old oak barrels displaying Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and countless other displays themed to different alcohols scattered amongst the shelves.
Peridot wandered over to a shelf displaying bottles shaped like skulls.
“Ugh, I’ve been wanting to try that stuff forever.” Amethyst said when she noticed Peridot looking. “It’s made by a guy that was in Ghostbusters. They say its really good but expensive.”
“What is it?” Peridot asked.
“Vodka. But it’s like sixty dollars a bottle. I think I saw it for a hundred once.” Amethyst said.
Peridot picked one up and walked down the aisle to catch up with Jasper picking out a pack of Angry Orchard.
“So it tastes like apples?” She asked, looking at the label art.
“Yeah, then you put the Fireball in. It’s pretty good.” Jasper explained. “I’d get beer that's actually good but there isn’t any here.”
“Whoa whoa whoa!” Amethyst caught up to them. “First of all, Jasper, don’t be a snob. German beer tastes like diesel fuel. Second, Peri, we’re sticking to a budget.”
“Budgets don’t apply to me.” Peridot replied.
Amethyst just stared at her.
“Get what you want.” Peridot said and turned to walk around and look at the model planes and displays. Why were liquor bottles so cool looking? She hoped she looked just as cool when she casually picked up a bottle of the Patron tequila Jasper had mentioned. She was starting to learn the appeal of being rich in front of other people. Would her mother be proud if she could see they way her friend’s jaws dropped when she started shopping based on the price tag?
“What’s this?” Peridot asked as she looked over bottles of mixers.
“Triple sec. It’s just a mixer. Garnet’s picking up juice and soda at the grocery store though.” Amethyst said when she caught up with a few bottles in her hands.
“Is that all you want?” Peridot asked when she looked over Amethyst’s haul.
“I’m looking for a fun night with my friends, not alcohol poisoning.” Amethyst laughed.
Peridot tried to hide how embarrassed she felt, but she was glad that they had capped it. There it was all the same, the evidence she never drank. Though it was probably obvious to begin with. They would find out sooner or later when she actually started to drink and had no tolerance.
“I’ve got this.” Jasper said, holding two six packs of the angry orchard. “I think we’ve got a good haul. Let’s hurry up and check out. I want to swim before the sharks come out.”
“Sharks don’t come out at night like bats, Jasper.” Amethyst said as she led the way to the front.
“Aren’t they more active then?” Jasper asked.
“I mean yeah but they’re active all the time.” Amethyst replied as she set her bottles down on the counter.
“Yeah but like in the coast line, where people swim.” Jasper persisted.
Amethyst turned to look up at her. “Sharks live in the ocean. They’re always in the ocean because they live there. And there’s no big ones at Beach City.”
Peridot almost hoped to see a shark. It would be cool to see any kind of fish. She had only been to the coast once and the more she thought about fish, swimming and bonfires the more excited she got.
Having remembered where they were headed she got impatient.
Amethyst was digging in her wallet for her card when Peridot stepped ahead of her and put down her two bottles and offered her own instead.
“It’s all mine.” She set her passport down as well, open to the page with her birth date.
Jasper smacked Amethyst in the shoulder a few times.
“Hey, what do you think you’re doing? We’re splitting it, remember?” Amethyst argued as the clerk began to ring and pack everything.
“Consider it my treat.” Peridot kept her voice even and cool. “And by the time you’re finished fishing for your card the sharks will be gathered and conspiring against Jasper.”
Amethyst opened her mouth to try to argue again, determination in her eyes.
“Besides, you’re the one driving. Consider it gas money.”
That shut her up.
Chapter 16: Love Like You Chapter 16
Look at you go!
I just adore you
I wish that I knew
What makes you think I'm so special
Lapis is a weepy drunk
Love Like You
To say the Beach City Starlight Motel had been built in the eighties would be a generous estimation of its age. The neon sign flickered in the late afternoon sun as though it might turn out any moment. After checking into their two conjoined rooms with paint peeling from the doors Peridot found the outdated rose wall paper and water stained carpet to be almost quaint.
She couldn't’t fathom how the place was still running. Her mother would have a heart attack if she knew that her daughter was staying in such a filthy establishment. That almost made her want to stay even more.
Garnet and Amethyst must have had a charmed child hood growing up on the beach with such friendly people around. When Amethyst drove through the little city streets with her car windows down every person on the sidewalks stopped to wave. Everyone knew her and seemed so genuinely happy to see her again.
That must be nice.
The Amethyst Mobile had arrived twenty minutes before the Garnet Mobile which was just long enough to figure out how to sneak into the conjoined room next door and lay in wait. Jasper and Amethyst had to pick the lock since the key didn’t even fit in the door.
“Don’t say a word.” Amethyst said, taking Peridot by the shoulders and giving her a serious look. “Just stay outside and like be looking through the beach chairs and stuff, okay? If they ask tell them we’re going to go check the water for sharks.”
“Just be cool.” Jasper said before following Amethyst into the bedroom with two water guns.
Peridot failed to see how that could be in any way believable but agreed and waited at the door. Ten minutes into waiting Peridot was bored and decided to check her email. The Sokolov boy had taken the rejection of his plans well and had even said that he hoped she had a nice time. He didn't put up a fight. Her mother failed to see how experiencing an American holiday was somehow more important than meeting a potential fiancé. Peridot was shocked that her mother hadn’t sealed that deal already.
No more chastising emails to be found Peridot checked FaceBook to see Garnet had posted a selfie of herself, Pearl and Lapis in the car to announce they were headed out of town. Pearl and Lapis looked the most excited to return to the coast.
Peridot wondered if it would make them homesick.
A few scrolls down she saw that Jenny Pizza was also at Beach City, apparently also returning home to see family. Peridot saw her selfie with her twin sister, she couldn’t help but notice the purse strap on Jenny’s shoulder was the same she had gifted. It was thrilling to know Jenny was still using it.
Garnet pulled up in front of the neighboring room next to the Amethyst Mobile, the girls spilling out of the car. Peridot shoved her phone in her back pocket and stood up straight. She tugged her shorts, trying to make them feel even the tiniest bit more covering.
“How was the ride?” She asked politely. How well could it have gone?
“I know it was just forty five minutes but it felt so much longer.” Pearl said as she stretched. “I’m glad we’re here.”
Lapis was already pulling her duffle bag out of the back of the car. Peridot started to walk around and offer help when Garnet stepped in front of her. The intense gaze bearing down on her made Peridot shiver.
“Where’s Amethyst and Jasper?” Garnet asked though it sounded more like a command and even more like she already knew the answer.
“T-they um, they went down to the beach t-to check for sharks.” Peridot managed to stammer out. The hairs on the back of her neck raised.
Garnet’s expression did not change. “I don’t see them on the beach.”
Peridot didn’t have the guts to point out that Garnet hadn’t even looked.
“If they were still here, you would tell me, right?” Garnet persisted.
Peridot nodded weakly, praying instead of hoping that the setting sun might melt her into the pavement. Or set her on fire. Whichever was best for the sun.
Garnet regarded her from behind her aviator glasses until she seemed satisfied and took her room key from the windowsill where Amethyst had left it.
Peridot began to slowly back away hoping that Garnet wouldn’t see her. If Garnet noticed she would know she’d been lied to. All the same she seemed to know what was coming. She felt Pearl and Lapis watching her shrink away.
Garnet slid the key into the door.
Should Peridot stop her?
Garnet withdrew the key when the light flashed green.
Was it too late now?
Garnet turned the door handle and Peridot knew that it was too late. She backed up until the bumper of Amethyst’s car was behind her knees.
Garnet swung the door open.
Amethyst lunged out with her water gun at the ready. Before Lapis and Pearl could even duck for cover Garnet had twisted the gun out of her hands and turned it on her. Water gun to her chest Amethyst stepped back, looking stunned and not entirely like she understood what had just happened.
“Where’s Jasper.” It wasn’t a question.
Amethyst raised a hand pointing to the bathroom.
Silently Garnet advanced and pulled open the closet door instead.
A loud shout from Jasper let them know that Garnet had seen through the ruse. Peridot wondered how she could have known.
“Dammit.” Amethyst cursed under her breath. She jumped and tried to run away when a shot of water hit her in the back. “Hey!”
“Mutiny will not be tolerated.” Garnet said. She turned the gun on Peridot and shot her right in the chest. She just stood there and took it, knowing she deserved it. Lapis and Pearl giggled but were shot by a well soaked Jasper.
“Not so funny now, is it?” Garnet said.
Once everything was as unpacked and put away as well as college kids could manage they decided to walk the length of the beach before the sun set. It took a few minutes of deliberation and three repetitions of what Lapis had said for Peridot to have the courage to leave her shoes behind.
The sand was warm despite being so early in the year and it warmed the soles of her feet. Walking made her calves ache but not unpleasantly. Phone in hand Peridot stayed just a little behind the group to snap candid shots of her friends walking to the water’s edge. Lapis and Pearl waded in, letting the waves crash against their legs. She caught a nice shot of Amethyst and Jasper looking at the lighthouse at the top of a cliff.
“You look very happy.” Garnet said, walking back toward her.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Peridot said, pointing her phone back at Lapis and Pearl.
“You’re usually nervous. I’m glad to see you relaxed.” Garnet replied with a smile. “I think you’re going to really like it here.”
“I think so too,” Peridot agreed, looking at Lapis through the lens. Garnet looked over her shoulder.
“You and Lapis seem to be getting along. I wanted to thank you for helping her after what happened on Valentine's Day. She told me about you going to the pool.”
Peridot lowered her phone and put it away. “It was nothing, really.”
“You were very nice to listen to her though. She told me about how much it helped.” Garnet said, standing and watching the others with her.
Peridot’s heart fluttered. She hadn’t expected to do any significant good. “I’ve never lived with anything like that. I’ve never been stalked or anything. I wasn’t sure what to tell her.”
“Just listening is what did the most good, I think. You listened and that helped her process what she was feeling. It’s a psychology kind of thing.” Garnet explained.
“How do you know all that?” Peridot asked, looking up at her.
“I’m studying to be a trauma therapist. This will be my specialty once I’m finished.” Garnet replied. “It’s a calling.”
A calling, something Peridot felt as well but had to justify to her mother. Her degree didn’t mean much anyway, she’d be pressured into the family business and a beneficial marriage. She didn’t want that. She didn’t want to marry the Sokolov boy or any other boy her mother had chosen for her and no others had ever appealed to her. She knew better than to hope for any kind of compatibility but found herself wanting it anyway.
“Peridot?” Garnet’s voice pulled her back. “Are you okay?”
“Just thinking.” Peridot answered, tugging at her shirt.
“My point was if you need to talk to anyone I’m willing to listen and help.” Garnet said, walking again to follow the rest of their friends down the length of the shore.
Peridot watched her go a moment before following. Did Garnet think something was wrong? Everything was fine, this was just her life. She couldn’t complain when she had so much. It must look strange from the outside but the opinions of others didn’t really matter. That was assuming Garnet had some way of knowing what was going on.
She couldn’t know anything, could she?
Lapis doubled back and trotted up alongside Peridot with a big smile.
“It’s getting kind of chilly. Do you want to go back to the rooms in a moment?” Lapis asked.
Peridot nodded. “Yeah, and I’m ready to pass out from all that studying. I'm still tired.” She wanted to put her long pajama pants on.
“I don’t think we’re doing much sleeping tonight.” Lapis replied flippantly as she looped an arm through Peridot’s. The way she said it made Peridot’s face flush.
“You’re joking.” Jasper said as she sipped the drink Amethyst had handed her.
“No, Rose and Greg’s house is right at the base of that cliff. I’ll show you tomorrow.” Amethyst replied, mixing another for Pearl.
“We’d stop in and say hello tonight but they go to the movies every Friday night.” Garnet explained. She declined when Amethyst offered her a drink. “Someone’s got to be straight headed in case of an emergency.”
Jasper snorted. “What emergency could we possibly have?”
“You decide to go for a drunk swim and get attacked by a shark.” Pearl teased.
Peridot laughed at that. She couldn’t tell if Jasper was afraid of or fascinated with sharks but either way it was funny.
“I’m a little better at being drunk than that.” Jasper said, sipping her drink again. “God that’s good.”
“It’s the Crystal Head Peridot bought.” Amethyst tapped the glass bottle.
“We should name him.” Garnet said, looking the skull over.
“I think we should name him Henry.” Lapis said.
“I vote for Mister Bojangles.” Garnet dead panned. Peridot snorted into the drink in her hand.
“Obviously he should be named something cool. Like Bob.” Amethyst said.
“I like Bob.” Jasper agreed.
“Bob it is.” Garnet said.
Amethyst poured a heavy shot from Bob into a drink for Lapis. “Try this.”
Lapis sipped it and smiled. “Not bad, bartender.”
“I accept praise and tips.” Amethyst replied.
“So are we going to see some prime German drinking tonight?” Pearl teased, nudging Jasper.
“Just because I’m German doesn’t mean I-“
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, we know.” Amethyst cut her off. “You’re going to walk the straight and narrow.”
“If I out drink a German no one will believe me.” Lapis said, leaning back on the dilapidated pillows on the bed.
Jasper chuckled. “You’re not going to out drink me.”
“Says who?” Lapis demanded.
“Says your body weight and size.” Jasper replied. “I’m taller and I weigh more. It takes more for me to get drunk than you.”
“I’m not some pussy.” Lapis argued, sitting up again.
“Sounds like it’s time for a round of shots!” Amethyst interjected.
Peridot held up a hand when she was offered a little paper shot glass. She and Garnet watched the others kick back. Pearl, Lapis and Amethyst scrambled for chasers but Jasper just went back to her mixed drink.
“Pussies.” She muttered.
Peridot sipped her cider and Fireball, watching Lapis put down her chaser.
“Give me another.” She demanded.
Amethyst poured her another, raising an eyebrow as Lapis drank it with nothing else. Lapis stared Jasper in the eyes with an obviously pained expression.
Where shots that bad? Peridot didn’t want to find out tonight.
“She’s going to make herself sick.” Garnet said quietly. Peridot agreed. She felt some concern, she hoped Lapis wouldn’t throw up. Peridot knew how embarrassing that was.
“Do you ever drink?” Peridot ventured to ask.
“Not really. The mixes taste good but being drunk has no appeal for me. Amethyst gets giggly and relaxes so it's fun for her. I forget how to stand and that causes problems for me.” Garnet answered.
“I imagine that’s what I would be like.” Peridot said.
“If you want to drink more than you usually do tonight, you can. I’ll keep an eye on you and help you.” Garnet offered, looking down at her.
“I don’t think so.” Peridot said, watching the other girls sort through the other bottles. She got the feeling that something might happen. It didn’t make her uneasy or anxious but she felt better staying sober.
Garnet chuckled later when Lapis took another shot without a chaser. It looked so painful with the way she squeezed her eyes shut. Peridot smiled as well.
That is, until Lapis fell off the bed.
Peridot and Garnet stepped forward to help her up while the others just laughed.
“Yeah you wanna try to out drink a German now?” Jasper teased, looking at Lapis sprawled and giggling on the floor.
“I’m not done yet.” She argued, pointing a finger into the air.
“Maybe not but you should go splash some water on your face.” Garnet said as she helped pull Lapis off the floor.
Peridot found herself reaching out to help steady the girl. Lapis leaned into her a little, still giggling.
“Think you can make it to the bathroom?” Garnet asked.
Peridot nodded. “I’ve got her.”
“You’re a good friend.” Lapis slurred a little as she wobbled to the bathroom.
“Thank you.” Peridot replied, turning on the bathroom light. She turned the faucet on with a loud squeak.
“Ugh, I don’t want to drink water right now.” Lapis whined.
“I think you should.” Peridot persisted. “Just a little at least. You don’t want to be sick on the beach tomorrow, do you?”
Lapis looked at the sink then at Peridot. “You’re always taking such good care of me.” She said in a soft voice.
“I mean you helped me when I got sick all over the place.” Peridot said, taking a folded wash cloth from the towel rack and wetting it.
“Yeah but still, this is the third time you’ve helped me.” Lapis said, leaning in to Peridot’s touch when she wiped the cloth across her forehead and cheek. Lapis put a hand over Peridot’s to hold it there on her cheek. She looked at Peridot with big brown eyes. “You’re so kind to me. I don’t know how to thank you.”
Peridot was locked in her gaze, seeing nothing but those big brown eyes. “You don’t have to thank me.”
“I still want to.” Lapis moved closer to her. “I just want you to know how I feel. How thankful I feel.”
Peridot got the distinct notion that this wasn’t about gratitude. “I think I can guess.”
“You have no idea.” Lapis breathed before she leaned in and gave Peridot a soft kiss on the cheek. The contact burned, sending goose bumps up and down her arms. Heart pounded she wondered if this might be what it's like to be struck by lightning.
Peridot was rigid when Lapis pulled away. Her eyes followed Lapis like a deer in a car’s headlights. Peridot didn’t move when Lapis leaned in again and pressed a kiss to her lips. The bolt of electricity it sent through her body was enough to bring her out of her stupor and step back.
“No, Lapis, you’re drunk.” Peridot tried to reason, her mind scrambling to make sense of what had happened, trying to discount it. There was no way Lapis knew what she was doing.
Lapis didn’t feel that way. She didn’t want Peridot like that. It wouldn’t be possible. She wasn’t like that. Peridot wasn’t like her. Peridot was straight. Lapis was her friend. Lapis had always been her friend. Now Lapis was drunk and Peridot didn’t what she wanted to do but she knew Lapis didn't know either.
She was drunk and this wasn't right..
But if they were friends why did Lapis look like she was falling apart with every step away Peridot took. Her eyes tried to focus, she was trying to stop things from falling apart.
“W-wait, Peridot, I can explain,” she reached for Peridot’s hand to stop her.
“Lapis you’re drunk! I’m not doing this!” Peridot jerked her hand away, every tiny part that Lapis touched felt like burning fire and it was spreading over her body.
“Please just let me explain, I didn’t mean to do-“
“Lapis!” Garnet appeared as if by magic in the bathroom doorway. Peridot wasn’t sure if she should feel relieved or embarrassed to have someone witness this. “Lapis please calm down.”
Fat tears were rolling down her flushed cheeks. “I didn’t mean to tell you, Peridot I just wanted you to know so bad, it’s torture not being able to just talk to you!”
“Lapis, we’ve been over this. She’s straight, okay?” Garnet tried to soothe her, pushing past Peridot to put her hands on Lapis’ shoulders as she began to cry.
“I didn’t mean to tell her I just wanted to tell her!” Lapis objected.
How long had this been happening? How long had Garnet known? It was no wonder why they didn’t tell her but Peridot still felt a flare of anger in her gut. Why did Garnet feel like it was okay to dismiss Lapis’ feelings on Peridot’s behalf?
“Lapis you’re okay, you’re going to be okay. I need you to calm down for me. Breathe.” Garnet coaxed her.
Peridot backed out into the hotel room feeling very distinctly that she had no place there. Not anymore. Garnet spoke soothingly to Lapis to remind her of a conversation that she hadn’t been a part of and things she hadn’t known. She could feel the eyes of the other girls on her while she watched Lapis trying to calm down.
“I just wanted to tell her.” Lapis struggled to say with her voice cracking.
“It’s going to be okay, Lapis. You’ll see.” Garnet said as she tried to wipe tears from Lapis’ cheeks.
Peridot turned and looked at the others staring at her dumbfounded. When she saw them watching her expectantly she did they only thing she knew to do.
Peridot ran out of the hotel and into the night, sprinting for the small light at the bottom of the cliff.
Chapter 17: Love Like You Chapter 17
Peridot is asked a lot of questions.
Bless you all for reading this.
Running in the sand blind in the night was perhaps the hardest thing she had ever had to do. On top of her cheek and her lips and her hands still burning with Lapis’ touch her calves felt like they were catching fire too. Halfway down the beach she tripped and hit her hands and knees. Everything was so quiet and still. The waves reflected the big full moon in the sky. Everything was picturesque but she couldn’t enjoy it.
Peridot turned around to look for anyone following her. She couldn’t see or hear any of her friends. They must be talking to Lapis. Where they choosing her over Peridot?
Not this. Not now.
Picking herself up Peridot ran to the shore for the flat sand by the water.
Her friends weren’t abandoning her.
Her friends weren’t abandoning her.
She knew logically that they just didn’t want to crowd her, right?
That didn’t even fucking matter right now.
Lapis had kissed her.
Lapis was crying.
And she had just run away.
Feet hitting the damp sand and heart pounding she refused to think about anything but where she was running to. She prayed that Rose and Greg were awake, she prayed she got the right house, she prayed they wouldn’t turn her away.
With tears streaming down her face Peridot knew they wouldn’t.
Thankfully there was only one house at the bottom of the cliff held high on stilts with windows still glowing. Peridot thought she could see someone inside. She didn’t hold back running right up the ramp to the porch.
Rose and Greg were inside in the kitchen. They had obviously been talking over coffee but looked up in confusion when they heard the footsteps on the ramp. Peridot stopped on the threshold and rapped her knuckles on the door frame.
Greg answered, eyes going wide when he saw her. “Peridot?”
She wiped at her face, trying to look more presentable. When she spoke her voice cracked. “M-May I speak to R-Rose?”
“Yeah, yeah, come on in.” Greg stepped aside. He watched her with wide eyes and threw a glance at Rose.
Peridot brushed the sand off her feet and stepped inside, trying to look more collected so that they wouldn’t feel too burdened. Something in her wanted to leave but the rest of her wanted Rose to hug her and let Peridot cry into her shoulder. She just wanted to cry.
“Peridot, what’s wrong?” Rose looked worried and alert. “Is someone hurt?”
Peridot shook her head, gritting her teeth to hold back a sob.
“Are you hurt?”
Another head shake, her shoulders trembling.
“Did something bad happen?”
That took her a moment to decide. Was it bad? It certainly felt like the end of the world. She shook her head anyway, knowing that Rose might suspect danger.
“Do you want some tea or coffee?”
Peridot pointed at the still half full coffee pot.
Rose got a mug down from the cabinet and poured. “We found this coffee at a little farmer’s market near Jersey City. Maybe we can take you some time. Sugar?”
Greg pulled out a stool at the counter for her. “Wanna take a seat?”
Peridot took the offered spot and Greg sat beside her. Rose gave her the mug. Peridot held it in both hands, letting the heat soak into her palms. After a minute of sitting silently she took a sip. Why did it taste so much better than the coffee she always got at shops and cafes?
“I’m going to take a guess that something happened.” Rose said tenderly, standing across the counter from her. “If you want to talk about it, we will. If you want to sit up with us, that’s more than fine.”
“We love company.” Greg said with a kind but still awkward smile. He seemed more eager to ask what was happening but followed his wife’s gentle lead.
Peridot sat silently for a long time, staring into her mug. Everyone sipped their coffee. The silence was not uncomfortable. Finally Peridot trusted her voice.
“Lapis kissed me.” Peridot managed to say finally.
Rose and Greg stared at her for a moment. “What happened?” Greg asked.
“They were drinking and she fell down, I mean she’s fine, but when I helped her to the bathroom to splash some water on her face she just…” Peridot’s voice trailed off.
“Did she say anything?” Greg asked.
“She said that I did so much to help her and that she’s really thankful. She wanted me to know how she really feels or something.” Peridot looked up at them. “I just don’t understand.”
“What don’t you understand?’’ Rose asked softly.
“Why me in… Like a bad way or… A good… Way?” Greg glanced at Rose, trying to find a correct way to ask.
“I don’t know! How am I supposed to know?” Peridot gripped her cup tighter. “Why me? Why does she like me? What did I do to deserve this?”
Rose opened her mouth but Greg held up a hand.
“Feels weird, right?”
“Like why is she even looking your way?”
“What did you do that made her think about you?” He was watching her with kind eyes.
“I didn’t do anything.” Peridot said defensively. “I promise, I didn’t lead her on, I didn’t mean for this to happen! I just wanted to be her friend.” The tears were coming again.
“I mean you never thought she’d do that, right?” Greg said and sipped his coffee.
“But she did.”
“Now she likes you.”
“I don’t get it.” Peridot said, feeling exhausted but still sitting tense. She wiped at her eyes.
“I didn’t get it at first either. I mean look at Rose. I’m still not entirely sure I’m not dreaming.” Greg said, winking at his wife.
“It’s been twelve years, Mr. Universe. Get used to it.” Rose put a hand on her hip.
“See? This is definitely a dream. But I’ll be damned if I ever wake up.”
“It does kind of feel like a dream.” Peridot admitted. It was like time had stopped again. This reminded her of the night she had found Lapis in the pool.
“How do you feel?” Rose asked gently.
“Why is that?”
“Because I don’t know why she would want me like that.” Peridot repeated, wiping her eyes and trying to keep her voice even.
“Is that the only reason you’re confused?” Rose coaxed.
They looked at her, patiently awaiting an answer.
Peridot’s shoulders began to shake, her eyes filling with tears again. She put her hands over her face and leaned down over the counter. “I liked it!”
A tissue brushed across her hand. Peridot took it and pressed it to her face, wanting to disappear off the earth forever. Her chest hurt, she could feel her heart palpitating. As much as she tried to hold it in she was sobbing harshly. Each shudder that wracked her body threatened to topple her off the stool. Every choked breath raked her throat.
Two hands rested on her back. She could feel them on either side of her. Conflict roared in her head. She wanted to run and disappear, she wanted to be held, she wanted to apologize to Lapis and beg her forgiveness and she wanted to never see her again. Above everything else Peridot felt the very distinct urge that she deserved to be punished.
That scared her the most.
“Peridot, Peridot, my love, it’s okay,” Rose whispered to her. “I know this is very hard for you but I need you to understand that you are not in danger. We will not hurt you and we won’t let anyone else.”
They hadn’t met her mother.
It took every ounce of strength Peridot had left to block out every thought of her mother and what would happen if she were to find out.
“If you don’t want to go back to your hotel we won’t make you. We have a spare bedroom.” Greg offered. “You can stay here the whole break, we’d love to have you.”
How could they just say that? How did they mean it?! How could they want her around so badly?
Peridot let out a squeak, trying to stop the feelings in her mind and body that said she had no place with people this kind.
“If you liked it,” Rose’s voice reached her through the swarm of thoughts. “There is nothing wrong with that. I know it can be scary. I know it can be confusing. I know it can hurt. But please, Peridot, don’t shut us out. I know you need time but please let us help you. We want to you to know that you’re not alone and we’re here to support you.”
“Support me how?” Peridot managed to ask, refusing to look up from the counter in front of her nose. What could they even do? She didn't even know what to do.
“In whatever way you need us.” Rose said firmly. She was speaking that foreign language that try as she might Peridot struggled to grasp. “I will urge you to talk to us about it.”
“What’s there to talk about?” Peridot’s voice dripped with contempt. “I spent all that time tutoring her and talking to her and I gave her those stupid flowers.” She clenched her hands into tight fists, ripping the tissue. “I was too stupid to notice it!”
“You’d be surprised how well people can hide things, Peridot. If she wanted to she might have hidden it forever.” Rose immediately defended. “You’re not stupid at all.”
“She told me!” Peridot’s mind flashed back to Lapis speaking Spanish on the snow day. “She told me but she didn’t at the same time. She made it sound like-“
“She was hiding it. This is not your fault.” Rose insisted.
“It’s not her fault either.” Peridot was quick to defend Lapis. “She didn’t mean to do this, she didn’t mean to kiss me. She said that after I told her to stop.”
“It’s the alcohol.” Greg offered. “Loss of judgement and all.”
Peridot hated what that implied. Lapis wasn’t some kind of alcoholi- wait, no, slow down. That’s not what he said. Greg was right. That’s what happens when people drink.
“You told her to stop and then what happened?” Rose coaxed.
“I just backed out and Garnet stepped in. She told Lapis that they had talked about it and then I just… Ran.” Peridot managed to take a few deep breaths, whole body shaking from the effort of crying. Guilt washed over her like a wave. “She must think I hate her…”
“I sincerely doubt that.” Greg offered, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “I’m sure she’s mad at herself but Garnet is going to take really good care of her, okay?”
“Garnet is an expert in relationships.” Rose assured her, rubbing circles on her back. “Don’t worry about Lapis. I want to focus more on you. How do you feel?”
“I want to throw up.” Peridot said. “I want to just disappear. Kind of want to die.”
“Let’s steer clear of that one.” Greg said.
“I feel like I’ve ruined everything. Like I’m a bad friend.” Peridot looked down at her hands. “I’m a bad daughter.”
Rose and Greg were silent for a moment.
“Peridot, please listen to me very carefully.” Rose said, putting a hand over Peridot’s. “You are not a bad daughter because you have feelings for a girl. I don’t care what your mother thinks, you are not a bad daughter. You are simply a human and each human is different from the next no matter what the relation.”
“I-it’s not that she’d-“ Scream at her? Hit her? Disown her? Anything seemed possible. “It’s just there’s this boy I’m supposed to …” Her voice trailed off. She felt Rose tense.
“Supposed to what?” Rose asked.
“I’m supposed to marry him.” As Peridot said it, she realized how outrageous it sounded.
The air seemed to go cold.
“Do you want to?” Rose’s kind tone sounded forced.
“No.” Peridot admitted, feeling worse. “I haven’t even met him. He was supposed to fly out here for the break but I told him I would be on a trip. He was nice about me saying no. He told me to have fun. My mother’s so angry I cancelled. She said he might even propose to me when I get back, she said it's supposed to be romantic since it’s only letters but it feels like a trap!”
The last word hung in the air like a venom.
Rose gave her hand a little squeeze. “I can’t help you with that tonight.” Rose sounded serene but Peridot got the sense that she was ready to break something. “But I can help you with Lapis, if you want it.”
Peridot sat still a moment before nodding.
Rose’s hand moved away to slide the cup of coffee back to her. “Drink a little of this. Warm yourself up.”
Peridot did as she was told, hands shaking. To do so she had to sit up, she wondered if Rose had been counting on that. When she put the mug back down Rose and Greg were smiling at her.
“Well,” Greg said. “We’ve got the hardest part out of the way.”
“The hardest part?” Peridot sniffed.
“You admitted that you liked kissing Lapis.” He said. “That’s the hardest part is admitting it. Now we just need to figure out where to go from here.”
Peridot looked down at her coffee again. “I just want to know if she’s okay.” She said quietly.
“Would you like me to call Garnet?” Rose offered. “Perhaps Amethyst if Garnet is still speaking with Lapis.”
Peridot gave a small nod. Rose whipped her phone from her pocket. “I’ll be right back.” She said and stepped into another room leaving Peridot with Greg.
Even though they hadn’t spent as much time together as with Rose, Peridot found it hard not to like Greg.
“You uh, you wanna go outside? It’s nice and quiet out there. Fresh air and all.” Greg offered.
It was nice in the house but Peridot wanted to be somewhere that she hadn’t just broken down and cried so she nodded. Greg held the door for her as she shuffled back out into the night gripping her mug.
Three chairs stood facing the ocean. Peridot picked the one that obviously belonged to Steven. It was the only one remotely her size. Greg sat in his own beside it.
“It’s really pretty tonight.” He observed. Peridot was glad for the break in their attention.
“This is a lovely city.” Peridot said.
“Oh just wait until you see the rest of it. You’re going to love it.” Greg said with a smile.
“I don’t think I’ll get to see much of it.” Peridot had no idea what she was going to do now.
“We meant what we said, you can stay with us.” Greg reminded her. “Rose and I can go get your stuff from the hotel and bring it here. I know Steven would die to spend time with you. He really likes you.”
“He said I look like a princess.” Peridot remembered.
“I mean he isn’t wrong. You look really fancy most of the time.” Greg said.
“I’m nothing like a princess.” Peridot corrected.
“Well I mean…” Greg trailed off. “You look really fancy. You come from a far away country. You have some sort of arranged marriage thing going on and someone that is kind of falling for you. Sound’s like a pretty classic story to me.”
“I fail to see the appeal in this situation.” Peridot said.
“There is no appeal.” Greg said. “But that’s what makes it so much better when you do the right thing.”
“The right thing?”
“Yeah. What feels right to you.” Greg looked over at her.
Peridot stared out over the dark ocean, waves lapping at the shore below.
“Marrying who I’m supposed to. Graduating. Going home. Not exactly in that order of course.” Peridot listed off.
“Is that what feels right to you?” Greg asked.
“What feels right doesn’t matter. That’s the logical thing. It’s what I’m supposed to do.” Peridot said bitterly. “That’s been it my whole life.”
“Marrying someone you don’t love for reasons someone else made up to dictate what you do with your life, that’s what’s logical?” Greg pressed.
Peridot looked over at him. “I don’t expect you to understand.” How could he? Some music professor at college known for engineering and architecture.
Greg held up his hands. “That’s fair enough, I didn’t mean to press you like that. I just want you to get another opinion.”
Peridot didn’t know how to begin to approach this. It had never mattered. Nothing she wanted had ever mattered. She had known too and just ignored the fact. Now that she thought about it, she was starting to feel furious. All of the neglect and being ignored had reduced her to this, a sobbing mess starved for validation trying to buy friendship.
“If you could do anything in the world, whatever it was, you know, even be an astronaut, what would you do?” Greg asked. “Not even about this situation, just in general.”
“I’m in software engineering.” Peridot said simply. “So work in that field. I enjoy Adobe.”
“I hear that’s a great company with good perks. I think one of our professors that’s in your department worked for them. I’ll look him up for you if you want.” Greg offered.
“As tempting as that sounds, I can’t. I have a family business to run.” Peridot said.
“Then why come here to study?” Greg asked.
“I’m more appealing if I have a degree.” Peridot hated the sound of it as much as Greg seemed to. The implications were sounding worse with every passing second in this house. The air went quiet except for the sound of the water below. Peridot wanted to crawl out of her own skin.
“You know I wanted to be a rock star when I was younger?” Greg said, chuckling to himself. “I thought I was going to make it big. When I finally got my own tour I thought I had hit it big time.”
“What happened?” Peridot knew it sounded rude.
“One of my stops was here in Beach City. Rose was the only person that came to my show. After I was done we talked and I realized that I wasn’t destined for fame or fortune or anything like that. I don’t know that I ever really convinced myself that that was what I really wanted.”
Peridot thought back on the day they had talked about alien cats and where they were meant to be. She didn’t belong with the Sokolov boy on that day and she didn’t belong with the Sokolov boy today and she wouldn’t in the future either. But what was she going to do about it? What could she do about it? She was tired of feeling powerless.
“I abandoned everything I had planned for myself to stay here. I broke away from my controlling manager Marty. I kept all the equipment that doesn't have much use anymore, I dropped everything because after meeting her once I knew Rose was the one for me. She’s my destiny.”
Peridot stayed silent as she clutched her coffee mug and stared out at the sea.
“I don’t have any idea what my destiny would be.” Peridot said quietly.
“The only real way to find it is to do what you love. Even if you find out it’s not what you pictured or had planned, you just do what you love and it’ll come.” Greg said. “Mostly you have to learn that you can’t plan everything out perfectly. Life is messy and you can’t expect other people to do what you want. You can only do your best to be happy. Everything else will come.”
It sounded so easy but the reality was so hard.
Rose stepped out onto the porch and took her own chair. Peridot turned to her desperate for a report.
“Lapis is fine.” Rose said with a smile. “She’s calmed down but she feels bad for putting you in that situation. Garnet said that no one is angry or upset. They’re very worried about you though.”
“I’m always fine in the end.” Peridot shifted her left foot. For a moment she thought she could feel the scar.
“They’re mostly concerned about the fact that you’re not comfortable with homosexuality and you were just kissed by a lesbian with feelings for you.” Rose clarified. “It’s quite the situation to be in. If Lapis hadn’t been crying Garnet would have grabbed a hold of you instead. She’s mad at herself for not catching you.”
“She doesn’t need to feel like that.” Peridot said. She didn’t want anyone to feel bad about her. She didn’t deserve it, especially if they suspected her of behaving in discrimination. “I’m fine, I’m always fine.”
“I didn’t tell them what you told us. I only said that you had been shaken up.” Rose went on. “Apparently Lapis has had some feelings for you a long time but she thought you were straight. She didn’t plan on telling you and making you feel weird. She wants to apologize.”
Had her coffee mug always been so interesting? Peridot studied it closely.
“I can’t do that right now.” As much as she wanted to, rushing back into the situation was a bad idea. “I don’t know what I would say.”
“You have two obvious choices. One, you go to her when you’re ready and tell her that you’re flattered but you can’t. I’m certain she would be able to accept it. The other is that you go to her and tell her what you told us.” Rose said in a sure tone. Peridot wished she could feel that confidence.
Peridot looked up at the stars, half hoping they would arrange themselves to spell out an answer.
It didn’t’s happen.
“If I may ask,” Rose began, “how do you feel about her?”
Peridot’s heart jumped into her throat. How the hell could she answer that?
“I just want to hold her hand.” She said in a low whisper. It was both freeing and damning. “But I just don’t know how.”
“Well.” Rose said, leaning back in her chair. “If you need any help or a place to stay, you will always be welcome here.”
Try as she might Rose couldn’t hide the real meaning of that offer from her. Peridot decided to try to hide her consideration from Rose.
Chapter 18: Love Like You Chapter 18
Peridot is angryyyyyy at her mom
You guys are too fucking good to me. Look at this
You're too sweet. Check these guys out!
Peridot stayed with the Quarts-Universes that night. They had sat quietly on the porch as she weighed her options even though she knew she would take hours to decide. Rose had shown her to the guest bedroom where she tossed and turned until the clock said four in the morning.
She woke up at eight when she heard Steven helping make breakfast. When she walked out to greet them Steven looked like Christmas had come early. He rushed over to hug her and despite how exhausted and shaken she felt, hugging Steven made her feel a little better.
Greg and Rose treated her as though she had always lived there. Peridot had never felt so much like a part of the family. She couldn't help but notice that.
Breakfast was two eggs and bacon arranged into a smiley face. Juvenile but charming.
After they had eaten Steven insisted on walking down to the water and taking a morning walk. Without a second thought she agreed, deciding that it would be good to walk around. Some how doing things seemed to put more distance between herself and what had happened. She hoped it would make her braver.
“Do you want any company?” Rose offered to Peridot.
“I think we’ll be okay. We won’t get lost.” Peridot answered.
Spending time with Steven may help her forget. Not that she wanted to forget. She came to realize that she wanted to remember the kiss itself forever but she wanted to forget the other details. Talking with Greg and Rose had been helpful but she didn’t want to think about it right now.
This is all to say that she badly needed a break.
Steven led her down the beach.
The ocean smelled amazing. Taking deep breaths helped her to feel more at ease but nothing helped her feel any less sleepy.
“Are Amethyst and Garnet here too?” Steven asked with a smile.
“Yeah, they’re at the hotel.” Peridot said and threw a guilty glance at the old building.
“Do you think they’re awake?” Steven said as he followed her gaze.
“I don’t think so, no.” Peridot replied, looking back out at the waves rolling in. “We should let them sleep for now.” She hoped they had slept better than she had.
“Maybe we can play with them later.” Steven said cheerfully.
“Yeah maybe.” Peridot said quietly.
They finished their walk talking about hermit crabs and how Steven wanted to catch one. Peridot kept an eye on the hotel, half wanting to see one of her friends, half wanting to finish her walk in peace.
She could feel herself getting anxious.
When they came back in to the house Steven trotted off to get his bathing suit. Rose took Peridot aside.
“Garnet called and offered to bring your things for you. A change of clothes.”
Peridot looked down at her day old outfit. It felt gross.
“I should probably accept.” She admitted.
“Do you want her to bring them or do you feel comfortable going back?” Rose asked as she watched Peridot closely.
A short pause and then, “I really should go back.”
“Are you sure about that? I can accept them if you want.” Rose was kind to offer but Peridot shook her head.
“I’ll go but I may be back.” She said as she stared down the door. “… I don’t know what to do.”
Rose put a hand on her shoulder. “Do what feels right to yourself.”
That would be very irresponsible. Just like ignoring her own mid terms to tutor Lapis and spending so much time at the table and not using the snow days to study.
Well shit, why stop when she was on such a good roll?
Rose must have called because Garnet was sitting on the hood of her car when Peridot walked in off the beach. She raised a hand in greeting, her voice reluctant to work.
“Good morning, Peridot.” Garnet said.
“Good morning.” Awkward morning? Yes. Anxious morning? Yes. Good morning? That remained to be seen.
“I’m sorry about not being able to help you last night.” Garnet said quietly. “I hadn’t expected you to run away.”
“What could you have done, really?” Peridot didn’t want to discuss it but perhaps it was like ripping off a bandaid.
“Separated you for a little and spoken to you both in turn.” Garnet answered. “But I suppose the core plan of that has been achieved. Do you feel better?”
“Yes and no? Kind of? I don’t really know what to feel to be honest.” Peridot said, looking down at her feet. “There’s a lot to feel.”
“I agree.” Garnet said, looking at the door.
“So…” Peridot shifted uneasily. “What did you mean when you said that you had talked about this?” She knew the answer but she wanted to hear it anyway.
“After the snow day I went to Lapis and spoke with her. She told me about her feelings for you and that she had no plans to tell you. We agreed it was for the best considering that you’re straight and there was no future in it. Apparently she hasn’t moved on.” Garnet explained.
It was far less satisfying than Peridot had hoped and it made her angry. Why was everyone else so certain about her future?
“What did she say last night?” She asked.
“That I can’t tell you. What she told me was in confidence. If you want to know then you should ask her.” Garnet replied.
Peridot wanted to kick herself. What had she expected to get in answer to that? The fact remained that she wanted to know and she had no idea how to start talking to Lapis about it.
“You can ask her. She won’t mind it. She would welcome it.” Garnet offered for encouragement.
“I don’t know what to even say. I don't know where to start. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to come back so soon.” She looked back at the house at the bottom of the cliff. “Probably because waiting is worse than facing it.”
“That's very often the case.” Garnet agreed. “Would you like my advice?”
Peridot nodded. What did she have to lose?
“Just go in and tell her that you value her as a friend and you want to keep things that way.” Garnet said, waving a hand. “Things won’t go back to the way they were but it’ll be a start to something greater I think.”
“What if I don’t want to do that?” Peridot asked.
“What do you mean?” Garnet looked almost worried.
“What if I don't want to reject her? What if I want to be with her.” Peridot’s tongue felt thick in her mouth. Hard to use and hard to move, hard to say the words she wanted to because she was weighted by everything she had been told to do.
Garnet stared at her for a long moment. “I’m not going to tell you what to do, Peridot. I’m not going to tell you how you feel or how you don't feel but I want you to know that that little girl is head over heels for you and that telling her you want to be with her isn’t a way to keep things in the group smooth and easy.”
That stung but Peridot understood. She knew what it must look like. She knew how she had behaved all semester thus far and she knew that this must look suspicious. It must look like she was just hungry for affection. It couldn’t be anything but obvious.
“I know all that.” Peridot sat on the car next to Garnet and stared at the doors. “I know it's a commitment and I know that it means a lot more than I can even guess right now but…”
“But?” Garnet urged.
“But I liked it. I liked kissing her. I liked being close to her. I liked helping her. I want to do that again. I want to do it again but I want to do it better. I want to do it the way that is best for her.” Peridot stared at the tarnished doorknobs. Lapis was close but so far away. How do you even start that conversation?
Garnet turned to look at her. “What about your mother?”
That was certainly the question.
Peridot’s body answered for her when anger flared like a fire in her gut. “She never once asked me what I wanted.” Peridot said, brows furrowed. “I’ve only gotten to choose my major because a business degree isn’t much when I already know it all. I had to beg. I had to beg to be able to get formally educated in something I enjoy. Even after that she still directed everything. She picked the exchange program, I chose America because she wouldn’t shut up about it.”
Garnet stayed quiet and let her vent out everything she hadn’t already told Rose and Greg.
“She picks my clothes, she picked my car, she picked the language I learned and she picked my fucking fiancé!” Peridot tried to keep her voice quiet. She only half cared if anyone inside the rooms heard. She turned and looked Garnet directly in the eyes with fierce determination. “I’m not going to marry him. He offered to fly out and meet me but when I said I had plans he didn’t even insist he just gave up. He doesn’t want me any more than I want him. I’m not doing that.”
“Peridot that’s a lot… A lot. That’s a lot going on.” Even Garnet was looked surprised.
“No, that’s my life.” Peridot retorted.
Garnet nodded. “That’s a lot to deal with when facing a potential relationship.”
Peridot laid back on the car, staring up at the sun. Her chest hurt and she wanted to punch something. She felt guilty for doing this now while she was so worked up. Garnet didn’t mean to make her question herself but Peridot knew it was now or never. Rip the bandaid off.
“I’ve spent a lot of my life not dealing with things. I never had to deal with things. My mother handled everything.” Peridot clenched her hands into fists at her sides. “I don’t want to live like that any more. I want to deal with it.”
“You’re going to need to see the school therapist.” Garnet said.
“I don’t know about that-“
“You spent your whole life being told that this is wrong. You’ve been taught that this is disgusting and horrible and whatever else and now you discover that you are this thing? You’re going to need to speak to a therapist.” Garnet insisted.
Peridot didn’t argue with that firm voice. “How many of your club members see the therapist?”
“Every one.” Garnet said without hesitation.
“I don’t know what I would even say.” Peridot said.
“You’re going. Either for all that baggage with your family or to prevent any self hatred-you’re going.” Garnet said.
“Why do you care so much?” Something she wished she could ask Rose and Greg as well. Lapis she wanted to ask most of all.
Garnet was quiet a long time. Peridot could hear a car drive by, then another. “I’ve buried too many friends, Peridot. I’m not going to bury any more.”
“I’ll go.” Was the only response that Peridot could give.
They sat in silence together on the hood of the car as the morning sun rose. Peridot waited for any sort of movement in the rooms. She didn’t want to be the thing that woke them up and kept them up. No, she had done enough damage.
She started to think of getting up and leaving but Garnet put a hand on her arm. Could Garnet know what she was thinking? Peridot knew it wasn’t just because Garnet was nice.
Peridot sat up when she heard a loud laugh come from inside the rooms. Amethyst was up and so was everyone else it seemed. Peridot wished she could have slept this long. Sitting in the warm sun wasn’t doing her any favors.
Garnet stood and went to the door. Just before she opened it she looked at Peridot as if asking permission. Peridot nodded.
“You’re going to wake up the whole town.” Garnet said as she stepped inside.
Peridot stared at the cracked door for what felt like an eternity. She threw a glance at the beach house at the bottom of the cliff. Only part of her wanted to run back, the other part wanted to go back to the beach when they could all sit together with the Quarts-Universes and be together and not without Lapis’ hand in hers.
Finally the door opened and Lapis stepped out. Her hair was stuck up in the back and dark circles had settled below puffy eyes. Peridot felt a pang of guilt when she realized it was from crying.
“Do you know why I stopped you last night?” Peridot said, looking at her sleepy friend. Peridot wanted to smooth her hair down. It was a reflex desire and she recognized it from the time she had stood under the ladder of the high dive.
Lapis looked at the ground. “I’m sorry, Peridot.”
“What I mean is,” Peridot stood, realizing that she had sounded chastising. “I had to stop you because you were drunk.”
Lapis’ face flushed bright red.
Peridot felt her heart sinking.
“I mean, you were drunk, you didn’t know what you were doing.” Peridot explained.
Lapis put a hand over her mouth. “I know what I did. I knew what I was doing. In a way. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done any of it, I'm sorry.” Her voice was raw.
Peridot stepped forward. “I was scared you didn’t know what you were doing. I didn’t want to take advantage of you.”
Lapis looked at her with sorrowful eyes. “Please don’t try to make me feel better. Just get it over with.”
Peridot wanted to drop dead. Not because she was scared of what was happening or wanted to resist but because she never wanted to see Lapis look at her like that again.
“No, you’re not understanding.” Peridot said slowly, holding Lapis in her gaze. “I didn’t want to take advantage of you. If it weren’t for the alcohol… I’d have kissed you back.”
Lapis stood frozen.
“If I had been smart I would have realized my draw to you sooner. If I had been brave I would have told you about it. But I’m not very much like either of those things. All I could do was run.” Peridot held a hand up between them, palm out. “I ran because at that moment I couldn’t process what was happening. I was scared and you were drunk.”
Lapis looked down at Peridot’s hand and removed her own from over her mouth. Her hand was so warm in Peridot’s. The contact shot jolts of electricity through her fingertips straight to her heart. Big brown eyes looked at her, waiting.
“I can’t say that I love you. I don’t know what that even is but I want to be around you and I want to hold your hand and some time I want to kiss you again.” Peridot confessed, proud that her voice was staying even. She was shaking but she didn’t feel like crying. Maybe she had cried herself out the previous night, maybe she was anchored in the moment by the soft hand in her own. “Can you forgive me for how I acted?”
“Only if you forgive me for putting you in that situation.” Lapis said.
“I already have.” Peridot felt her face getting hot.
Lapis shifted her hand, lacing their fingers together. “Can we give this a shot?”
Lapis gave her a little smile.
“I swear to God,” Amethyst’s voice made them turn around. Peridot’s other hand jumped over Lapis’, holding tighter. “I swear to absolute God.” Amethyst repeated, shaking a finger at them. “I absolutely swear to God if I find you two making out in the closet I will put you both in time out I’m not doing this again.”
“Again?” Peridot said, brows furrowed. What the hell had happened?
“What happened on my last summer vacation stays there but I’m not doing that again.”
Peridot both did and did not want to know the story behind that.
Chapter 19: Love Like You Chapter 19
I thought Dragon Con would put me behind today. Thankfully I managed to get home early enough to tacked 20 and 21.
I'm hoping to keep 1 to 2 chapters a day.
You're going to like the next two. Shit gets cute. Lapis speaks Spanish.
Come talk to me on tumblr, I love getting messages from you!
Also, I have two time skip spots that I'm not 100% sure what to do with.
What would you guys like to see happen?
By spots I mean like a few paragraphs each like when I wrote about swimming club.
Hit me up and let me know.
Giddy. Peridot had never felt giddy before. It was certainly strange. It felt like champagne; bubbly, golden, and intoxicating. Jasper had stepped in just after Amethyst had and said she wanted to swim and that the wedding could come later.
“I haven’t forgotten that I’m a university student yet.” Jasper said as she held the door open for them. “I need to forget that I’m a university student for the next six days.”
“Maybe you can soak it off.” Lapis suggested as she went to her bag to dig out her swimming suit.
“That’s the plan. Just drown it all out.” Jasper said, her own suit in hand as she walked to the bathroom first.
“What is dead may never die.” Amethyst called after her.
“What is dead may never die!” Jasper answered through the door.
Peridot looked at Garnet for some sort of explanation.
“Amethyst why.” Garnet said.
“Game of Thrones is a great show and I’ll fight you.” Amethyst said pointing a finger at Garnet.
Garnet took a deep breath. “Jon Snow doesn’t want the Iron Throne.” She said calmly.
Amethyst puffed up her chest. “He’s the only one that deserves it!”
Peridot ducked into her own room before she could get caught in the line of fire. She had seen this argument once before.
It would not end well.
When they walked to the beach Lapis gently brushed her fingers against Peridot’s hand, asking permission. Peridot laced their fingers together again.
Now that she was being honest with herself Peridot noticed her impulses. She wanted to hold Lapis’ hand and kiss her knuckles and her cheeks. She wanted to kiss Lapis on the lips and hold her like she had gotten to at the pool that night. On complete and total accident she looked at Lapis’ chest without her noticing and contemplated going with her instincts and just dropping to the ground. She wasn’t at the point that she gave in to wanting to be one with the floor yet.
The whole day her stomach twisted with a mix of joy, warm affection, and on a few occasions jealousy. For the first few hours Peridot sat under an umbrella in the sand with Garnet.
“Does it always feel vaguely painful but you’re happy about it?” Peridot asked as she watched Lapis dive under a wave.
“For a while, yeah. When you have an argument, yes. When she feels sad you will too. When she’s happy you’ll be over the moon. For the most part.” Garnet explained.
‘How do you know all this?” Peridot asked, looking up at her friend.
“I’ve seen it many times.” Garnet answered. “With my moms and friends, I’m studying it in college now. It’s a weird beautiful thing.”
“Have you ever dated anyone?”
“That’s a bit of a complicated story. It’s definitely long. The best short answer is that the most important love I’ve ever known is my own. After I learned to love myself I learned to love fully.” Garnet said, looking at two thin scars across her palms.
“Do you have to love yourself before you can love other people?” Peridot asked with some anxiety. She wasn’t sure if she loved herself or not. If she had to question it then probably not.
“Yes and no.” Garnet replied, adjusting her aviators. “It’s certainly preferable but so few people truly love themselves. Relationships can certainly help that.”
“Do you think Lapis and I should wait?” Peridot asked. “I’m kind of a mess.”
“I think that you like most other couples should take things slow. This is new for you, I’m certain she’ll be patient. You need to go to the school therapist and work from there.” Garnet said. She placed a reassuring hand on Peridot’s shoulder. “I don’t think you’re unfit for a relationship, I just think you have a lot to work through.”
Peridot nodded, pulling her knees to her chest.
How much about her life had she just accepted without realizing the damage it could do? In the less than twenty four hours so much had happened and she was having one epiphany after another about her mother’s treatment and the marriage.
What would have happened on her wedding night?
Peridot jumped up and ran into the waves.
Lapis turned around in time to catch Peridot’s embrace with a smile.
“You can’t just jump on me!” Lapis laughed, sinking down up to her shoulders in the water. “If you jump on me I’m just gonna drown.”
Jasper swam over to them, holding the two of them an unblinking stare. “Would you this day consecrate your faith to the Drowned God?”
“Dammit Jasper!” Garnet called after her.
Lapis was beside herself when Sapphire and her partner Ruby came onto the beach with food, firewood and hugs. She loved her club leader. Peridot smiled as she watched Lapis helping to dig a little pit in the sand. It was fun to watch her smiling and laughing and Peridot was so mortified of Ruby that she made sure to focus on something else.
Ruby the former Russian who had left for her love at fifteen years old. Peridot had once regarded it as irresponsible but after seeing Ruby with Sapphire it dawned on her that it was much more obviously destiny. Destiny held by a very intense short woman that without words somehow managed to terrify Peridot even more than her mother.
“Peridot!” Sapphire said with a smile. “It's so good to see you again.”
Lapis trotted over happily and took Peridot’s hand. Would it ever stop feeling like lighting? Peridot hoped not.
“Ruby is going to teach us how to build a fire!” Lapis said excitedly.
“And later I’ll show you how to put out a fire.” Sapphire added. Something in her tone made Peridot shiver. Sapphire looked at their hands. Peridot watched her. “Finally.” Was all Sapphire said before returning to the main group.
“Are you going to sit beside me?” Lapis teased her.
“Would you let me sit anywhere else?” Peridot gave her a smile.
“Not at all.” Lapis replied. She draped her arm across Peridot’s shoulders. “I know this is going to have to go slow but… Just little things like that mean a lot to me.”
“They mean a lot to me too. So…” Her voice trailed off as she leaned in to Lapis. She was glad they could have those few things. “Slow but not standing still.”
Peridot nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard her name called in that very distinct pronunciation. With wide eyes she turned to look at Ruby, waving her over. Peridot knew some kind of conversation was inevitable between them. That didn't make her any more ready for it.
“Come here.” Ruby said in Russian.
Peridot swallowed, wondering but not wanting to find out why hearing her own language made her so nervous. She inched over to the short woman, loathe to leave Lapis behind.
“When Garnet told me she was bringing a Russian girl for the week I thought it would be fun to surprise you with our language. Apparently she told you ahead of time.” Ruby said. She patted Peridot on the arm. “How is the old place?”
“A wreck,” Peridot replied in Russian. “The Olympics divided the country, we still aren’t fully recovered.”
“Everyone’s too damn stubborn.” Ruby agreed.
“So you just… Left?” Peridot asked to get the elephant out of the room.
“Yes. Sapphire’s family came for a vacation. I met her and I knew that I needed to be with her. My parents caught me kissing her and I was given the choice of joining the church or leaving. I knew I would never look right in a habit and I left.” Ruby looked at Sapphire while she spoke. Her eyes held such warm adoration that Peridot was entranced.
“How did you know you needed her?” Peridot asked.
“I really don’t know.” Ruby said, brow furrowing. “There wasn’t one moment where I had some big revelation I just knew we were meant to be together. It was a quiet realization. Just an ‘Aha’ moment. It’s like that feeling you have sometimes that you’ve forgotten something and when I saw her I felt that same relief as when you find it.”
Peridot watched Lapis helping set the beach chairs in a circle around the fire pit.
“Was it hard leaving everything?” She asked.
“The hardest part was learning to read English. Still gives me a head ache some times.” Ruby said.
“Me too!” Peridot said, unable to help a smile.
“Must be the shapes. Who knows.” Ruby said.
“Do you miss it?” Peridot hoped she wasn't prying but she knew the real reason she was speaking with Ruby.
“Missing it is one thing, building a life that you love more than what you left behind is the only way to fix that.” Ruby explained. “Any one can try to go back to what they had but making something new is my way of handling things.”
She wanted to ask how Garnet was so tall if the both of them were so short. She decided not to. Had they adopted her? If they had searched her out to find her and gone through all that trouble, did that mean they loved her more? What made Sapphire so fluent in this language that Peridot only got to hear from Rose?
“Come on, it's time for me to teach you kids how to play with fire.” Ruby said as she started for the circle.
Lapis was over the moon when Steven ran up behind her and put his hands over her eyes and said “Guess who!” With a quick movement Lapis had Steven in her lap, both arms wrapped around him.
Greg and Rose came to join them with a guitar in hand. Rose handed Steven his little ukulele. Peridot thought it was very cute.
“We thought we’d come join you guys.” Rose said with a warm smile. Her eyes lingered on Lapis and she gave Peridot a wink.
Not knowing how to wink Peridot just returned with a smile.
“Come to serenade us?” Ruby asked Greg.
“Oh you know it.” Greg replied with a finger gun.
“Greg and I wrote a few songs together.” Rose said with a smile. “I’ve never written music before.”
“She did a great job too.” Greg bragged. “It’s beautiful.”
“Let’s hear it, mama.” Garnet said.
Greg plucked a few notes.
Rose sat up a little straighter, smiling at Greg as he played. “If I could begin to be half of what you think of me I would do about anything, I would even learn how to love like you.”
Peridot pulled her knees to her chest, entranced by Rose’s voice. The song was simple but contained so many things that Peridot understood perfectly.
“I always thought I might be bad now I’m sure that it’s true cause I think you’re so good and I’m nothing like you,” Rose sang with a sad smile, gazing at Greg as he watched her sing.
That part hurt a little. Peridot’s hand found her shirt and she held onto it. There was that pain, that aching feeling in her chest, the physical effects of sorrow. She wanted to look at Lapis enjoying the music but not with this feeling of inadequacy.
When at last the song ended Steven jumped up and cheered.
“Can I play mine now?” Steven said bouncing up and down.
“Let’s hear it!” Amethyst said clapping. “Go little man go!”
When Steven broke out into his song Cheeseburger Backpack Peridot wondered why Americans felt the need to make everything about burgers.
She jumped a little when Lapis’ hand slid through the sand and found hers. Their hands wrapped around each other Peridot wondered where all that guilt had gone. Was it just a temporary happiness? She didn’t feel scared or ashamed of sitting and holding hands with a girl she had feelings for.
Where had all of that guilt from the night before gone? Now it was only a feeling of sadness because she knew that she wasn’t the best person for Lapis. She was a mess of a human being that didn’t have any business with someone so happy and genuine.
“Anyone have any requests?” Greg offered.
“Can you sing La Vie En Rose?” Sapphire asked with a happy sigh.
“English or French?” Rose asked as Greg began to play.
“Oh, English of course.” Sapphire leaned against Ruby’s shoulder. “I still want this to be our first dance at our wedding.”
“You’re not married?” Peridot asked, sitting up straighter. “I thought same sex marriage was legal here.”
“Not in our state. Not yet.” Ruby explained. “We’d go to another state but we’d rather have it here when it’s legalized.”
Their marriage was still illegal here? Were the government officials stupid? Had they never seen Ruby and Sapphire? Who wouldn’t let these women get married?
“The Supreme Court will step in soon I believe.” Ruby said.
Supreme Court, Supreme Court…. Was it? Yeah, the one that all other legal divisions had to listen to. That would certainly be the thing to see. Peridot could only imagine what would happen to all those that opposed. One of the people she used to be. She wanted to see them all come around. They just needed to meet Ruby and Sapphire and Lapis. No one needed to be scared or dislike such a simple pure thing as love.
“Until then we’re heading up the world’s longest sleepover.” Sapphire joked. Ruby snorted.
“Sleep over?” Jasper asked with an eyebrow raised. “But you’re dating.”
“Until we’re recognized as a real couple we’re going to make the joke that we’re just having a sleep over party. That might as well be what it is.” Sapphire giggled.
It was funny but it made Peridot angry. She was a part of this now. Regardless of her and Lapis taking it slow she was in this group of people now. She belonged in the Spectrum Club. Even in America would someone shout at her and Lapis for holding hands in public? Now she was on the other side of the pointed accusing finger and it was intimidating.
So this is what they felt when she had sat silently at the dinner table.
Oh, wait, yeah, there’s the guilt.
She pulled her hand away from Lapis’.
“World’s longest sleepover party.” Jasper snorted.
“Yeah and the world’s longest baby sitting gig.” Ruby jerked a thumb at Garnet.
“I didn’t get that joke the first time they told me.” Garnet said. “For all of five minutes I thought that I had other parents.”
“I’ve never felt so guilty in my life.” Ruby laughed. “Sapphire almost killed me.”
“She was seven and she cried.” Sapphire said. “I’m her mama, I have to protect my baby.”
“Same thing happened when Garnet was a baby and I accidentally clipped one of her nails a little too close and she cried.” Ruby chuckled. “Ah, I wanted to cry.”
“Okay, okay, that's enough about me as a baby.” Garnet said with a forced smile.
“One time she-“ Sapphire started but Garnet leaned over and wrapped her arms around her.
Peridot stood and dusted herself off. She grabbed a few marshmallows from the bag for something to do and popped one in her mouth. It tasted weird, not really like anything at all but sugar and she walked down to the water’s edge. She could only feel Rose and Lapis watching her.
Feet in the water Peridot wished she had thought to bring a pair of shorts. The night air was getting cold and the shirt over her bathing suit wasn’t helping much. To be fair what good would shorts do?
“Hey there.” Lapis’ voice made her turn.
“Lapis.” Peridot replied. Her name rolled off Peridot’s tongue tasting like honey.
“Are you okay?” Lapis came to stand beside her.
“Yeah, it's just a lot of stuff is happening.” Peridot sighed. “Garnet says I need to go to the school therapist.”
“Maybe we all do. She told me the same thing after I explained about my ex. She called it trauma.” Lapis said, staring out over the water.
“That’s probably my problem too.” Peridot was past the point of guessing things about herself now. At this point she could have any sort of mental troubles.
“It’ll all work out you know.” Lapis said softly. She offered her hand and Peridot laced their fingers together, wishing she could understand that sentiment.
“My mother is going to uh, ‘flip her shit’ as Amethyst would say.” Peridot looked down at her feet.
“I thought my parents would too, you know?” Lapis said in a soothing tone. “When I told them they just said that they knew anyway. It wasn’t the exact same but for a lot of my friends it was better than they thought.”
“Was anyone ever kicked out?” Peridot gave a humorless laugh.
“Yeah.” Lapis said without hesitation. “They were. Two of my friends were kicked out. One was invited back and they’re still working through the changes and the other chose not to go back. His situation was kind of bad to begin with though.”
Peridot wondered if Lapis could guess how bad her situation was. Fuck, even Peridot didn’t know how to gauge her own life.
“That will probably be me.” Peridot admitted.
Lapis was quiet a long time before moving to stand in front of her. “I’m not going to ask you to leave your family. At the same time I won’t lie to you. I don’t think it's good for anyone to hide who they are.”
Peridot snorted. In truth she didn’t think she was much of anyone before coming to America.
“Peridot,” Lapis cupped a hand to her cheek. “No matter what you choose, I want you to be happy. I’ll support you in whatever way you need.”
Just like the night before the touch felt like fire. Peridot could feel little grains of sand on Lapis’ fingers, she could see the firelight reflected in those big brown eyes. The moon illuminated on Lapis’ blue hair to make a halo around her face. She looked like a star and Peridot was caught in her gravity.
“Can I kiss you?” Peridot asked. Her heart beat slow and steady in her chest. Time felt like it was coming to a stop.
“Yes.” A blush crept across Lapis’ cheeks just beneath her freckles.
This time she was ready. When their lips met Peridot felt that same bolt of electricity run right through her. Lapis’ lips were soft and she tasted like brine and graham crackers. Peridot’s other hand went shakily to Lapis’ hip both of Lapis’ arms went around her shoulders.
That time she was certain that she could feel the Spanish girl’s heart beat.
Chapter 20: Love Like You Chapter 20
A relationship is just two people asking one another what they want to eat until one of them dies.
I'm pretty sure I've figured out how to do updates on my profile-profile.
I'm going to type up some writing tips once this beast is finished.
My end game is going to be Peridot confronting her mother. That will be the end of the story.
It's going to rock your socks off.
The girls came home in a giant mess of sand filled clothes, brine filled hair and skin as red as tomatoes. Amethyst and Lapis sat down in a tipsy haze their last night and tried to count their new freckles. That night when they fell asleep Lapis and Peridot shared the same bed. Peridot tried to pick up where Lapis had left off and count her freckles while she slept. There were too many.
When they arrived back Jasper had a stack of parcels in her mail. Saturday she brought them all to Peridot’s room.
“So this is the casing…” Jasper said as she read over a little booklet that had come in the package. “And this is…”
“It’s a graphics card.” Peridot said, making a list of everything she had. The tower was so gaudy in design she wanted to roll her eyes but she wasn’t about to mock Jasper. “I know what this stuff is.”
Lapis sat on Peridot’s bed, watching them. “Are you going to build the whole thing for her?”
“I’m going to show her how to do it.” Peridot said.
Jasper gave her a big cheesy smile. “Well I’m not really good at this sort of thing so I wouldn’t understand it really…”
Peridot pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a long sigh. “Oh my god.” She mumbled under her breath.
“I really appreciate it.” Jasper gave her a guilty smile and a thumbs up.
“I’ll do it but you’ve got to go get me food. Both of us.” Peridot said, digging through her satchel for her wallet. She tossed it to Jasper.
“Sure, what do you want?” Jasper said as she caught the wallet.
“Lapis you pick.” Peridot said, looking over the boxes.
“I don’t know.” Lapis said with a shrug. “I’m good with whatever you want.”
“I don’t care it’s whatever you want.” Peridot leaned over and dragged the tower closer.
“I don’t know what I want.” Lapis said, kicking her feet.
“Oh my god you’re both getting pizza.” Jasper said and turned to march out.
When the door was closed Lapis slid down off the bed and wrapped her arms around Peridot.
“This just looks like a big mess.” She said, resting her chin on Peridot’s shoulder.
“I’m going to turn it into a computer.” Peridot said, feeling her face get hot.
“Are you going to ignore me while this thing’s around?” Lapis pouted.
“Are you jealous of a pile of hardware?” Peridot said with a smile.
“Maybe.” Lapis said. “I mean this is our first chance for some privacy. I kind of just want to stare at you in peace.”
“Oh my god.” Peridot replied with a laugh. “It won't take more than a day, this is easy stuff.”
“Do you mind if I sit in here with you or do you need like total silence or something?” Lapis asked.
“What?” Peridot snorted. “I’m not going to make you leave. But you might get bored.”
“I can handle being bored.” Lapis said and kissed Peridot’s neck.
Peridot really doubted Lapis meant for it to do what it did. Her stomach flipped hard and she felt dizzy.
When school started back Peridot and Lapis sat beside one another at the table and walked back to the dorms together each night. Lapis would hug her every evening but refrained from kissing her for which Peridot was thankful. As much as she liked Lapis’ touch she knew it was a bad idea to be in constant contact. At dinner that Wednesday she began to feel crowded. Something must have shown because Lapis pulled away. Peridot felt much better when she got to put her hands in her pockets.
They studied together in the afternoons, Peridot going down to Lapis’ room just before dinner. After learning each other’s class schedules it was an easy thing.
Two weeks later Lapis offered to walk with her to her first counselor appointment. Peridot decided she wanted to walk alone. Garnet seemed to know when and where to be and she saw Peridot just as the Russian girl had stopped outside of the office.
“You really need to go.” Garnet said quietly. “If for no other reason that you’ve been taught to dislike something that you are now. I want to make sure that you won’t be hurt by that.”
Peridot nodded. She had looked up internalized homophobia on Google. She felt her phone buzz and read a text from Lapis.
“Pearl and I are making cookies. Let us know when you’re done!”
The first session was spent on a brief summation of Peridot’s life and the changes she had experienced since moving to America. Doctor Maheswaran was very impressed with her natural transition out of a taught mentality and accredited it to a healthy capacity for empathy. He said that this was a good sign that she would experience less trouble accepting herself if she was so willing to accept her friends.
“Less trouble but we’re always more harsh with ourselves than others.” He told her.
“Rose told me that there’s nothing wrong with me. She says that I’m still perfect the way I am.” Peridot wouldn’t deny that she enjoyed speaking with Rose once a week at lunch now.
“No one is totally perfect, Peridot.” He said. “We all make mistakes and we all fall short of our potential at times. The important thing that she wants you to understand is that being with another girl doesn’t make you bad or wrong.”
Peridot nodded. It would be a good idea to discuss how she felt like she needed to be punished.
“In that sense you are perfect, yes.” He said with a smile. “But I want you to understand if you make any mistakes this does not condemn you. People are so much more than the summation of their actions and their words. What defines us in that sense is our compassion and I think that you have more than enough.”
It was surprising how good that made her feel. She sat up straighter.
“From what you’ve told me about this uh… Situation with the boy in Russia…” He hesitated a moment.
“You can call it an arranged marriage. I’m under no illusions now.” Peridot said evenly.
“For what you've told me about the arranged marriage, it seems like you’re putting your own desires and your own well being on the back burner and I want that to be the first thing we focus on.” He said, writing down in a little folder. “I want to help you focus on doing what's in your own best interests so that you don’t put yourself at risk for any danger or harm.”
Peridot was quiet for a moment while he flipped through a few more papers.
“Would have made for an uncomfortable wedding night.” She said in a quiet voice.
Doctor Maheswaran looked up at her, putting his pen down.
“I hope that you believe me when I saw it is my sincerest hope that you never find yourself in that situation.” His voice was serious but he was trying to be gentle. “If it’s within your comfort zone I will be more than happy to help you terminate that relationship and end that pressure.”
“That’s easier said than done.” Peridot replied, looking down at her knees. “You don’t know my mother.”
“With all due respect, Peridot,” Doctor Maheswaran said with a smile, “your mother doesn’t know me.”
That night when she got back to her room Lapis was waiting at the door with a paper plate in hand. She was leaning against the wall, watching Peridot with a little smile playing at the corners of her lips.
“Hey there,” She said. “You missed us making cookies at Sadie’s apartment. “I don’t know why we haven’t been hanging out with her more.”
“She’s a sweet girl.” Peridot agreed as she unlocked her door. Something felt a little different. Why was Lapis looking at her like that?
“American measurements are really stupid.” Lapis said as she followed Peridot into her room. “Who thought cups were a good idea?”
“A lot of things in America are stupid.” Peridot said. “Like their electrical outlets.”
Lapis put the cookies on the computer desk. Tracing a finger over the study lamp. “Any more news from Mister Sokolov?”
Peridot let out a long sigh. “Right now the plan is to keep him at arms distance which is basically what I was doing anyway. Take longer to answer and make the emails shorter and shorter. Eventually Doctor Maheswaran is going to help me end it and help me tell my mother.”
“I don’t like him.” Lapis said quietly.
“I know.” Peridot had told her the week after coming home from the beach. Lapis had not taken the news well.
“Por Dios!” Lapis had grit her teeth.
“Look, it’s not that big of a deal, it’s not official,” Peridot tried to soften the blow.
“No, no, no, no, no, no.” Lapis held up a finger to silence her, accent coming out strong as she switched between languages. “It is a big deal. He cannot make you do that.”
“He’s very nice, I’m sure it won’t be difficult.” Peridot felt herself shrinking in the fiery gaze in those big brown eyes.
“Bien por él." Lapis gave her a sarcastic smile. “Oh that’s wonderful for him, hm? Marrying a girl he’s never met! Very good.”
Peridot hated herself for wanting to defend him. He hadn’t been cruel like the others. Doctor Maheswaran had told her that week that his attitude didn’t entitle him to her time.
“It’ll be easy to end it now rather than later.” Peridot assured her.
“Ha!” Lapis threw her hands in the air. “It shouldn’t have happened at all. And you shouldn’t defend them.”
“Lapis…” Peridot’s shoulders slumped, she looked at her hands in her lap. “I didn’t mean for you to get angry. I wanted you to know everything. I want you to trust me. It’s difficult I know but… I want you to know. I want you to know and I want you to know that it means less than nothing.”
Lapis let out a long sigh and placed a hand over Peridot’s before leaning in to kiss her forehead. “I’m not angry at you. I don’t think that it means anything. I’m angry for you.”
Peridot looked up at her. “It’ll work out.” She didn’t feel as confident as she sounded.
“It’ll work out.” Lapis said in a velvet smooth whisper. It almost sounded like a song. “Gracias, Peridot.”
“De nada,” Peridot shrugged, proud of the whole hot two words of Spanish she had learned.
Lapis smiled and blushed deep rosy pink. “Oh, you’ve been studying.”
“I tried.” Peridot said, also turning pink.
Lapis leaned in close as she squeezed Peridot’s hand gently. A soft kiss was placed on Peridot’s cheek as Lapis whispered in her ear, “Cuán feliz me hacas.”
Peridot had no clue what it meant but that didn’t stop it from going straight to her heart.
Peridot sat in her computer chair and pulled her laptop out of her bag.
“I need this literature professor to stop assigning so much poetry.” She complained as she set her reading book on the desk by the cookies. “None of it rhymes and the meters are all off.”
“What’s not to get? I like poetry. I like it better in Spanish but the English language has some very nice things.” Lapis said and picked up the book to flip through. “Oh! Tennyson!”
“Most of it just looks like word salad and it reads poorly. I can’t pick up the flow. I just don’t know how the writers put all that down on paper. What made them think those things and write them just like that. Maybe I’m just stupid.” Peridot grumbled, opening her laptop.
“You’re not stupid. There’s no such thing as not understanding poetry. You just haven’t experienced it properly. Here.” Lapis sank to her knees and pulled Peridot’s chair out from the desk and spun her around.
“What-“ Peridot started to ask but Lapis had already draped one arm over Peridot’s lap and leaned her cheek on the back of her hand. In a soft voice Lapis began to read.
“As I walked out one evening, walking down Bristol Street, the crowds upon the pavement were fields of harvest wheat. And down by the brimming riverI heard a lover sing. Under the arch of the railway: ‘Love has no ending’.” Lapis looked up at her, pausing a moment.
Peridot sat transfixed by the sweet freckled face gazing up at her, blue hair falling into big brown eyes. Lapis’ voice rolled off her pink lips in a gentle rhythm like waves. Too soon Lapis looked back at the book.
“’I’ll love you dear, I’ll love you till China and Africa meet, and the river jumps over the mountain, and the salmon sing in the street. I’ll love you till the ocean is folded and hung up to dry and the seven stars go squawking like geese across the sky.’” Lapis replaced the book on the desk and folded both arms over Peridot’s lap. “Does that help?”
Heart pounding in her chest Peridot could only nod. Lapis brushed her fingertips over the back of Peridot’s hand sending goosebumps running up her arm.
“What’s the matter?” Lapis gave her a playful smile. “Do you need me to read more?”
“No, I think I get the picture.” Peridot tried to summon the will to turn her chair back to the desk but completely failed.
“Maybe I can help tutor you now.” Lapis laced their fingers together.
“Yeah maybe!” Peridot’s voice went up an octave.
Lapis gave a breathy giggle.
“Are you going to just sit there and flirt with me to distract me from school work?” Peridot finally managed to say.
“No, I’m tutoring you.” Lapis corrected her with a honey sweet smile. “Are you going to ignore me for homework?”
Peridot felt a pang of weak guilt. “I’m not going to ignore you, it’s called focusing.”
“Oh, is that it?” Lapis said leaning up on her knees. “I’ll leave you to it then.”
“Thank you.” Peridot said as she was held helplessly in Lapis’ gaze. After a moment she said, “I should really get to it.”
“Mm hmm,” Lapis said, leaning in to press a soft kiss to her lips. “I know, I know.”
Peridot leaned forward a little bit, wishing Lapis wouldn’t do this now. Lapis was smiling when she kissed her again, longer this time. Tilting her head a little Peridot pulled her hands away to rest them on Lapis’ shoulders.
Lapis put her hands on Peridot’s knees and slid them slowly up her thighs. Peridot squirmed and broke away. Lapis pulled her hands away.
“I’m sorry,” She said, looking concerned. “I didn’t mean to touch you too much.”
“N-no, that’s not it.” Peridot said, face feeling like a furnace as she slouched back in her chair. “I uh… I don’t really…”
Lapis tilted her head to the side. “Don’t really?”
“I don’t know what to do. At all. I have no instincts for this whatsoever.” She admitted, feeling her stomach flip. “I’ve never had a relationship before or anything, I don't know what to do, like how to uh,” she swallowed hard, “um, how to uh, touch you back.”
“Oh,” Lapis gave her a relieved smile. “Oh god, that’s easy. I thought I had over stepped.”
“Only in the sense that I’m way behind you.” Peridot hoped it didn’t sound as bad as she thought it did.
“It’s really easy, just like you were doing. Put your arms on my shoulders or on my waist, you know.” Lapis made it sound so simple.
“It’s not easy when you start feeling me up.” Peridot replied.
“To be fair, there isn’t much you can do when you’re sitting like that.” Lapis stood and pulled Peridot up with her. “Here.” She placed Peridot’s hands on her hips. “Now you can do…” Her voice trailed off as she directed the tips of Peridot’s fingers just under the hem of her shirt. “This.”
Peridot felt like she might pass out. All she could do was stare at Lapis’ waist.
“Are you okay?” Lapis asked with an eyebrow raised.
“I uh, I’m not, I don’t want to like, feel you up or anything.” Peridot stammered.
“Oh my god you’re not supposed to.” Lapis let out a light laugh. “I mean if you want to reach up my shirt don’t do it in public-“
“I wouldn’t ever do that!” Peridot exclaimed.
Lapis just giggled. “I’m teasing you. I’m not saying you should grope me it's just kind of hot if you just do it like this.”
Peridot slid her fingers over the waistband of her jeans, daring to move up and touch Lapis’ warm skin. When she looked up Lapis’ face was flushed to her neck.
“Yeah, like that.” She said quietly.
Something like courage swelled in her chest and Peridot kissed her again, just a little harder and held her waist just a little tighter. She couldn’t help but notice Lapis taking a deep breath when their lips parted for a moment before Peridot kissed her again. Moving her left hand to hold the small of Lapis’ back she moved her right to Lapis’ hip she pulled her closer.
As though they had done it a hundred times Lapis looped her arms around Peridot’s shoulders and leaned into the kiss more. She shivered when Peridot slid her hand up ever so little on her back.
Oh shit, it was so easy! Lapis was like putty in her hands, was this what it was like to have super powers?
Peridot’s confidence was interrupted when she felt fingers run through her hair. Leaning into the touch she hardly had a moment to enjoy it before Lapis fisted her hand in Peridot’s blonde hair and gave a firm but painless tug. Opening her eyes Peridot was met with a hungry gaze.
“You’re pretty good.” Lapis said as she pressed a chaste kiss to Peridot’s lips.
Her legs felt like jelly. Peridot had less than no clue how she was still standing.
“I guess I should let you study.” Lapis said woefully as she released Peridot’s hair and stepped back.
Peridot couldn’t do anything but stare dumbstruck at Lapis as her usual sweet smile returned and she went back to the door.
“Enjoy your cookies. Let me know when you’re done and we can walk down together.” Lapis blew her a kiss before disappearing.
Peridot stared after her for a long moment before running a hand in her hair and letting out a long sigh.
“Oh sweet Jesus.” She whispered.
Chapter 21: Love Like You Chapter 21
Pearl's departure date is nearing and everyone wants a little time with her.
While Amethyst gets hers Lapis visits Peridot.
Peridot experiences a new kind of validation.
I know I have readers speaking these languages. I triple checked myself this time so it should be good.
I'm trying I promise. If I'm wrong correct me.
Much thanks to alibeats
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As the class days came to a close Lapis excused herself from spending every day with Peridot. Instead she spent time filling Peridot’s Facebook feed with picture after picture with Pearl. The two girls had taken dinner privately a few times and gone swimming almost every day. Peridot worried how Lapis would take it when her friend left.
She wondered if she could find a way to purchase a flight back for a summer visit.
Even though they didn’t get as much time together Peridot called Lapis every night at ten to talk about their days. Nothing significant ever happened. Nothing ever went wrong. Peridot would have called it monotonous but speaking to Lapis was always the highlight of her day. One of the calls didn’t even last ten minutes but she slept better every night that she knew Lapis was happy.
Doctor Maheswaran was delighted to find out that Peridot and Lapis spoke even on the days they spent mostly apart.
“You’re not feeling jealous at all?” He asked as he wrote in her growing folder.
“Why would I? they’re just friends.” Peridot said.
“I just want to be certain that you don’t feel as though you’re being replaced. You mentioned that the night she kissed you none of them followed you.” He looked up. “You said that you feared they chose her over you.”
“I-I mean that was a moment of panic.” She defended.
“I see, yes.” He wrote something else down. “You’d say it was just an impulsive thought?”
“Well yeah,” Peridot said.
“Do those come to you often?”
Peridot was quiet a moment, picking at a place on her shorts. “Yes.”
“How often? How many times a day, would you say?” He regarded her with patient eyes.
“Um, maybe once or twice. It kind of depends on what’s happening.” Peridot tried to look as though she wasn’t bothered.
“You mean depending on how strongly you feel? If you experience any anxiety?”
“Yeah.” It came to her almost exclusively then.
“Peridot I believe you’re suffering from panic attacks.” He said as though it were the most normal thing in the world. “Moderate ones but all the same.”
“What’s a panic attack?” She wasn’t entirely sure that she knew what that meant.
“It’s a side effect of anxiety. Your mind works itself up over little things or sometimes nothing at all. Your heart starts pounding and your chest hurts. Many people feel dizzy or nauseous. Mine sometimes cause headaches.” He explained.
“Wait, you have them too?” Her brow furrowed.
“Not frequently but yes.” Doctor Maheswaran chuckled. “They give me headaches and I find it hard to catch my breath.”
“So… How do you stop it?” She asked, rubbing the back of her hand.
“The best way to start is by grounding yourself. Some people prefer counting things like windows on buildings, some prefer touching things. I see a girl that keeps a handkerchief that her father carried. He gave it to her when she left for college. It’s sentimental.”
“I don’t really have anything like that. Counting sounds king of weird.” Peridot said, looking down at her hands.
Doctor Maheswaran was quiet a moment before he took a slip of notebook paper and began writing. “What I want you to do is go down to the little supply store in the student center and buy a little pack of candy. Put a few down in your bag. When you start to feel your mind race I want you to eat one. Next I want you to get a blue hair tie. Or a blue beaded bracelet, something you can wear on your wrist. Eat your candy and hold your bracelet.”
“Why blue?” Peridot asked.
“That’s the color Lapis keeps her hair.” He answered with a smile. “And you smile when you think of her. That’s a strong tool to use. Of course if she’s there please tell her so that she can talk to you. Talking is very helpful in bringing yourself out of the place your insecurities take you.”
“I think I can handle it myself. She doesn’t need to know that I’m… Freaking out.” Peridot looked out the window, not wanting to look at him.
“Lapis cares for you, Peridot. Whether or not you tell her is up to you however you’re a couple now. The both of you are stronger together. You may prefer to handle these happenings yourself but I recommend telling her.” Doctor Maheswaran said as he leaned over to a stack of papers in folders, taking two out. “I have my recommendations here and here are two papers one for each of you. It’s okay to ask for help, Peridot.”
She only nodded, avoiding looking at him as she took the papers from him and tucked them in her bag.
“Our time is up.” He said with a kind smile. “I’ll see you next week if you have the time during reading days. Otherwise I’ll see you first week of the break.”
“Thank you.” She said as she stood, ready to leave.
“Who are you?” He prompted before she could head for the door.
“Peridot Pavlov.” She said, staring at her shoes.
“No, no, don’t look down.” He reminded her. She looked around at him.
“Peridot Pavlov. My name is Peridot Pavlov and I am a kind and generous girl. My girlfriend cares for me very much and I deserve it.” She said, repeating what he had instructed her to say every day.
“I know it’s really corny,” he said when he saw the look on her face. “But you need to believe it. Loving yourself is the cure for most anything. Work on the body positivity and keep saying that until it’s just natural, okay?”
She nodded, feeling silly. Talking about herself in a positive way felt stupid and unnatural. Yet every morning in front of her giant mirrored closet she said it twice.
“Next week.” She said as she left.
The mirror was as cruel as ever when Peridot stood in front of it after arriving home. Maybe better matching underwear would help? Once it was on she realized it wasn’t much improvement.
Rose’s words played in her mind. “You’re a beautiful girl.” Or something like that.
It wasn’t that she she doubted she was pretty she just found herself strange looking. Not even in comparison to models or other girls she just couldn’t see any appeal in herself.
Peridot gave a deep sigh, watching her shoulders slump. Why couldn’t she just like herself? Is it really that hard?
“Peridot?” Lapis’ voice came as a surprise sending Peridot scrambling for her clothes.
“Just a second!” She called back a little too loud.
She pulled a shirt on inside out and her shorts up before answering. “Lapis.” She said, leaning against the door.
“Can I come in?” Lapis gave her a bright smile and ran a hand through her damp curly hair. A bikini tie peeked out of the neck of her shirt.
“You know you can.” Peridot stepped aside for Lapis to enter and shut the door behind her. “How was the pool?”
“It was awesome! Pearl is going to hang out with Amethyst for a little while before dinner now. Everyone is taking turns to hang out a little longer.”
“What’s her flight date?” Peridot asked.
“She’s leaving on June fifteenth. We have time left but I just want to get as much as possible.” Lapis trailed a finger along the little stack of books on top of Peridot’s dresser, a sad longing in her eyes.
Peridot slid her arms around Lapis from behind and rested her chin on her shoulder. “It’s going to be okay. Skype is going to help a lot.”
“Yeah…” Lapis’ voice trailed off as she put her hands over Peridot’s. “She was just my first friend, you know?”
“I know.” Peridot said softly.
They stood together in silence a moment before Lapis turned to look at her. “Was I interrupting your studies?”
“Uh, just my homework from Doctor Maheswaran.” Peridot said with a weak laugh. “Nothing too important.”
“Anything he says is important for you.” Lapis corrected, brushing her fingers through Peridot’s hair. It felt amazing. Until Peridot remembered how Lapis had tugged it. “What were you working on if I may ask.”
“Uh… Body positivity.” Peridot’s face turned pink, she looked at Lapis’ hair to avoid her eyes.
“That’s a good one. Maybe I can help.” Lapis winked at her and Peridot felt her heart skip a beat.
“I think I’ve got it handled.” Peridot pulled away. She heard Lapis giggle.
“Were you standing in here naked?” Lapis asked.
Peridot’s face flushed. “How do you figure that?’
“Your pants are undone and your shirt is inside out.” Lapis pointed at the button and fly of her shorts. “So either you were just pulling them on or you were doing something else fun.”
Peridot huffed. “You were right the first time.”
Lapis winked at her. “I thought so. How’s your body looking today?”
“Still like a body.” Peridot replied, doing up her shorts.
“Just like a body?” Lapis sank down into the desk chair. “I’m sure it looks way better than that.”
“How do you figure?” Peridot said to humor her.
“I’ve seen you in a bathing suit. I mean that’s not naked but still, it’s pretty easy to tell that you’re smoking hot.”
Peridot snorted. “I wouldn’t go that far.”
“I would. I’m particularly fond of your chest. It’s very nice.” Lapis said as she played with her hair, combing her fingers in it.
Peridot looked down then back up at Lapis. “I don’t have a chest.” She pointed out.
“You do.” Lapis said. “I like smaller chests so that’s my preference.”
“Lucky me.” Peridot said. This went directly against everything she had been told, part of her didn’t believe Lapis.
“I’m starting to think that the problem is that you might not have heard it enough. But you’re really really cute. It’s a tom boy sort of way but I absolutely adore it.” Lapis went on, making a little braid across the crown of her head.
“How do you figure?” Peridot looked over at her, not moving from her spot.
“Well, I’m a textbook lipstick lesbian and you're a tom boy.” She tucked the end of the braid behind her ear. “The contrast makes us an extra cute couple.”
“I see.” She didn’t fully get it but she understood the basics.
“It’s just our aesthetics.” Lapis said. “You look much better in your shorts and tee shirts though, you know.”
Peridot slid her hands into her pockets, glad for the reassurance. “I’m not used to them yet. But thank you.”
“Come here.” Lapis sat up straight and waved her over. Slowly Peridot shuffled closer to stand in front of her.
“What are you up to?” Peridot watched her as Lapis put her hands on Peridot’s hips.
Lapis just toyed with the hem of Peridot’s shirt. “Trust me a minute?” She looked up at Peridot. “Just for a moment. If you don’t like I’ll stop.”
Peridot wasn’t sure what was happening but she agreed with a nod.
Lapis rolled her shirt up a few times to reveal the smallest space of skin. “You got a tan at the beach. It looks good on you.” Lapis said before holding Peridot’s waist and leaning in to kiss her tummy. Peridot felt her entire body go hot.
When she twitched Lapis paused and look up at her. “Are you okay?”
Peridot nodded quickly. She was more than fine. She was nervous but great.
Soft lips pressed against her skin again, a place no one had touched her before. Certainly not because they wanted to. Graceful fingers moved up her sides and took the shirt with them. Lapis trailed more feather light kisses up to Peridot’s ribs.
She wanted more.
Unsure what to do with her hands Peridot settled for resting them on Lapis’ shoulders. The touch made Lapis stop and look up at her.
“Are you still okay?” She asked, big brown eyes searching for any sign of discomfort.
“Just uh,” Peridot paused, not sure what words were. “Just uh…”
“I can stop.” Lapis said softly.
“I don’t want you to… I just don’t know what to do.” Peridot admitted. “Just like the other day.”
“You don’t have to do anything right now.” Lapis said simply. “I’m going to sit here and praise you like I’ve been wanting to.”
Peridot blinked down at her. “You want to?”
“Yes,” Lapis gave her a small smile. “If you want I just want to sit here and tell you everything I like about you.”
“Should uh,” Peridot’s face felt hotter. “Should I be naked?”
“Only if you want to.” Lapis pressed a kiss to Peridot’s arm. “I can do this just fine either way.”
“Maybe…” Peridot said. Torn between wanting Lapis to touch her more and worrying that she would find her charmless Peridot stared blankly at the wall with indecision.
Lapis kissed her tummy again. “Why don’t you go lay down and it’ll at least be more comfortable.”
Peridot nodded and took a step toward the bed. Lapis gave her a playful pat on the ass. Peridot shot her a look.
“So is this some slick way of getting in my pants?” Peridot asked jokingly as she sat on the bed.
Lapis sat beside her. “This is me showing you how I feel.”
“I kind of…” Peridot looked down at the blankets beneath them. Lapis wanted to help. She knew that. At the same time she wanted it to be something else. Being praised for nothing didn’t feel quite right but she enjoyed it, she wanted to hear Lapis say more sweet things and she wanted to know what Lapis thought. More than all of that she wanted to see Lapis. Peridot put her face in her hands and tried to sort through the shame, guilt, unease, and desire in order to find confidence and comfort.
This was the problem.
Why couldn’t she find solid ground for even a single thing?
Lapis gently pulled her hands away and kissed across her cheeks and the bridge of her nose, waiting patiently for Peridot to answer.
“I do.” She managed. “I want to try things. I don’t know what or how. I don’t know how to ask you, I feel like I shouldn’t. I don’t know if you want to-“
“Oh I want to.” Lapis said softly. “Just let me lead.”
Peridot sat stunned. She couldn’t believe it. What had she done to deserve this gorgeous woman being so sweet to her? It was hard to think with Lapis easing her back on the pillow.
Lapis pushed Peridot’s shirt up again and she trailed kisses down her neck. “You have such cute ears.” She whispered. “And I love your neck.”
Peridot wanted to laugh. What sort of compliment-
Teeth came down gently on her neck and all thoughts stopped here. Peridot’s hands found Lapis’ hair and tangled themselves.
“I love your shoulders.” Lapis said quietly. “I love the way you wrap your arms around me.” Lapis pressed her face into the crook of Peridot’s neck. “I love your back. I love your hips and your legs. I especially love your legs.”
Lapis moved down her body, leaving a trail of kisses down to rest her hands on Peridot’s hips before sliding them down her thighs. “I really love your legs.”
Peridot looked up at her a moment, those big brown eyes gazing down at her with warm adoration and longing.
She pulled Lapis down for a hard kiss. It only lasted a second before Lapis nipped at her lips and Peridot opened her mouth. Lapis kissed her again and dipped her tongue into Peridot’s mouth long enough to tease against the roof of her mouth before withdrawing again. Peridot gasped and reached over Lapis’ shoulder to tug at her shirt.
Lapis sat up for a moment and pulled it over her head. Peridot got stuck in her own but Lapis didn’t seem to notice, only helping to pull it off. By the time the shirts hit the floor Lapis had a hand beneath Peridot reaching for her bra. It only took a second of arching her back for the hooks to come undone.
Lapis tried to help pull it off but Peridot beat her to it. As though nothing were happening Lapis just kissed her again. Sweetly and better behaved without teeth. Peridot’s hands found the ties to the bikini top and paused a moment while she tried to think of how to ask permission. The answer came when she heard Lapis’ breath hitch just a little.
The string was long and Peridot pulled it slowly, the knot falling apart. In an almost shy way Lapis tucked her face into the crook of Peridot’s neck. It was unbelievably cute and made it easier for Peridot to reach the other tie around her back and undo it as well. She pulled the top from between them and dropped it to the floor.
Peridot slid her hand down Lapis’ bare back, wondering if anything more beautiful existed in the world. Obviously nothing could compare.
Her breath hitched when she felt Lapis cup her breast, fingers brushing over her nipple. Peridot almost wanted to push her hand away, she could only imagine how flat she must look while laying on her back but she stopped herself.
Lapis liked that about her.
The brief touch of a tongue on her neck made her shiver and forget her insecurities. Peridot leaned her head back and was rewarded with a gentle nip. She sucked in a deep breath when Lapis slid a hand down her stomach and touched the waist band of her shorts.
“May I?” The soft voice sounded so polite.
Unable to find her voice Peridot gave a nod. It took Lapis a moment to unfasten her shorts but when her hand slid into Peridot’s underwear she thought she might faint.
“Like it?” Lapis asked with a sweet kiss to Peridot’s cheek.
“Y-yea-“ her voice failed her as Lapis slid her finger up and down.
“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.” Lapis said with a playful smile.
“Yes I like it.” Peridot managed through clenched teeth.
“Much better.” Lapis moved faster as if to reward her. Peridot arched her back up. “You’re so wet.”
Peridot let out a little moan.
Lapis shifted down to nuzzle her face into Peridot’s chest. Peridot’s hands fisted in her hair and tugged just a little and completely on accident. Lapis stopped.
Peridot looked down at Lapis, wondering what she did wrong.
“You don’t know what you’re doing.” Lapis said, giving her a serious look. Her eyes were dark. “That’s pretty dangerous.”
“Pull my hair again and I’ll give you something to moan about.” Lapis said in a warning tone.
Just because she could Peridot tugged again.
Lapis slipped a finger inside her and ever so gently pressed up. Peridot watched her in confusion a moment until Lapis pressed harder and Peridot’s entire body jerked.
When she opened her eyes Lapis was staring at her with a wicked smile.
“How's that?” She asked in a cheeky voice.
The chance to answer was taken from her when Lapis pressed again and Peridot felt her legs twitch. She let out a little whimper as Lapis sped up.
“This is what happens when you behave like a little punk.” Lapis said as she caught Peridot’s ear between her teeth. A soft moan was all she got in return. “A cute little punk.”
It wasn’t long before Peridot was shaking all over and Lapis thrust deeper inside her a few times before pulling out and rubbing her again. Peridot arched her back and tried to push down on her hand desperate to feel more. It felt like a pressure was building in her and the faster Lapis moved her fingers the stronger it got. It felt like a rope ready to snap.
“Me estoy enamorando de ti.” Lapis whispered low in her ear.
Peridot wrapped her arms around Lapis and held tight as she came hard. Her hips bucked up and she let out a choked cry. Her body tensed.
After a moment Peridot tried to catch her breath. Lapis slowly pulled her hand back.
“What,” Peridot managed. “Does that mean?”
“It means that I’m falling for you.” Lapis said playfully as she kissed down Peridot’s neck. “You are really, really wet and I really, really like that.”
“Is that so?” Peridot pushed her hair back, wondering if that was part of the list.
Lapis lay on her side giggling. “I think you like the Spanish, hm?”
“I don’t know what you’re saying.” Peridot rolled onto her side to look at Lapis’ flushed face.
“That doesn’t mean it isn’t hot.” Lapis said as she stretched out onto her back. Peridot propped herself up on her elbow to look down at her.
“Fair enough.” It was certainly very hot.
“Why don’t you speak Russian to me?” Lapis asked, combing her fingers in Peridot’s hair.
“It isn’t exactly a Romance language.” Peridot replied as she traced Lapis’ collar bone across her chest.
“Try me.” Lapis said.
“Ti takAya voskhitltel’naya.” Peridot said quietly, looking down at her. It was funny how dark Lapis blushed even though she couldn’t understand.
It was then that she understood that this language barrier between them wasn’t as much of a hinder acne as she thought. It was freeing. She could put to voice all the things she thought about the beautiful girl laid out in front of her without holding back. Sure Lapis wouldn’t be able to know but just being able to say them was liberating.
“What’s that mean?” She asked in a quiet voice. Peridot didn’t answer but slid a hand down Lapis’ side to the top of her shorts.
“Lyublmaya moyA,” Peridot leaned down and gave her a soft kiss on the lips. “Ti takAya kraslvaya.”
“P-Peridot?” Lapis almost squeaked as Peridot teased her fingers inside the waist band of her shorts and back out again. Lapis arched into her touch.
When it took a moment of fumbling with the button Lapis was quick to help open her pants. Peridot slid her hand down. Before she could guess if she was doing a good job Lapis let out a little gasp. It was charming how she bit her lip and squeezed her eyes shut.
Peridot moved her finger in slow circles and watched Lapis begin to tremble. Lacking the confidence to try much else Peridot kissed her neck as Lapis murmured something she couldn’t hear. She worked faster, reading each little breath and moan to find what to do next.
On an impulse Peridot gently bit Lapis’ shoulder. It earned a choked sound and a buck of her hips into Peridot’s working hand. She bit harder.
“Peridot I’m getting r-really close here just-“ Lapis cut off as Peridot moved her attention up just a little.
“Ya tebyA lyublyU.” Peridot whispered in her ear as Lapis gasped and let out a barely contained cry as she came.
Peridot watched as Lapis clutched at the pillow and rolled her hips down into her hand.
“Oh my go-“ Lapis relaxed back on the bed and ran her fingers in her hair. “N-not bad for a first try.
“I didn’t really expect it to be that easy.” Peridot replied, feeling proud of herself.
“To be honest,” Lapis gave her a tired smile. “It was really hot when you wouldn’t answer me in English. I didn’t think it would be that good.”
“I’m glad you liked it that much.” A pleasant warmth settled into her body as Peridot looked at Lapis sprawled out beside her. It felt like sunlight. She liked the way Lapis’ chest moved as she breathed. She liked the way Lapis draped her legs, she liked the way Lapis looked up at her with sleepy eyes.
“What did you say?” Lapis asked as she brushed her fingers over Peridot’s cheek.
Was the truth safe to say? Could she tell Lapis that she loved her in words she understood?
If she was comfortable enough to tell Lapis she loved her then why had she said it in Russian?
“I was just saying how beautiful you are.” Peridot said and turned her head to kiss Lapis’ fingers. Lying was wrong and she knew it but some day soon she knew she would be openly honest.
“You’re so smooth.” Lapis smiled at her. “Come here.”
Peridot leaned down to kiss her again, resting a hand over Lapis’ heart. It was fluttering just like her own.
Lapis says "I'm falling in love with you"
Peridot says the same as well as "My love, you're so beautiful."
Chapter 22: Love Like you Chapter 22
The year ends. Finals come and go and Peridot's mother responds to the ending of the almost-engagement.
We learn a secret about Garnet.
Garnet wasn't planned to be a big part of the story like she ended up being. I really love how she butted in anyway.
“Do you remember when I told you that we didn’t expect you to come to the club meetings?” Garnet asked Peridot as they walked from Doctor Maheswaran’s office to Rose’s.
“Yeah.” Peridot replied. “It was really nice of you.”
“You’re gay now. So I don’t expect but I hope you’ll come to the Spectrum Club end of the year party.” Garnet said.
Peridot hated that her first instinct was to argue her sexuality. For the past few days she had spent a solid couple of hours with her hand down Lapis’ pants and vice versa. There was no arguing the fact.
“I kind of want to,” Peridot said, feeling bad that she had to turn Garnet down in public. “The thing is that you guys take tons of pictures. If I’m in any of them and they end up on Facebook… You’re going to be meeting my mother in person when she comes to personally drag me back.”
Her mother was going to come down on her hard anyway but it was best that Peridot tell her herself. The plan was only Half formed but still strong. Lapis would be introduced as her friend first and then the two would break the news carefully and together. Peridot knew it would take time for her mother to adjust but she would surely come around for her only child.
“Point taken.” Garnet said. “How’s the sex?”
Peridot stumbled and nearly fell.
“What s- we’re not-“ She tried to deny it but Garnet wore an amused smile.
“It’s okay. Lapis isn’t exactly a closed book.”
“Wait did she tell you?”
“No, I mean she’s easy to read. And you’re both covered in hickeys.”
So the make-up wasn't working.
“Is it that bad?” Peridot asked in a weak voice.
“It’s honestly funny.” Garnet said. “The ones on you are little and kind of pale. Then there’s the one on her shoulder that’s the deepest color purple I think I’ve ever seen.”
Peridot’s face went bright red. How could she help it that Lapis wanted to be bitten so damn hard? Though it was fun to do it. She made the best little sound-
“That’s her not me.” Peridot responded, trying to hold herself up straighter.
“Amethyst is going to tease you both when she sees it.” Garnet said.
“Oh I know.” Peridot wasn’t looking forward to it.
“I’m very happy for you, Peridot. You two are doing so well together and I see you’re taking the doctor’s advice.”
“What?” Peridot asked but Garnet pointed at the blue hair tie on her wrist. “Oh, yeah. How did you know this was from him?”
Garnet reached down on the strap of her backpack to show a worn strip of pale blue and peach cloth. “I got the same advice once.”
Peridot held the door for her when they reached the administration building.
“About the party,” Peridot wanted to direct attention back to the fun subjects. She spoke enough about her therapy with Lapis. Despite how patient and empathetic Garnet could be Peridot had had enough talk about relationships, coping, and adjusting. “Do you have to bring a date or something?”
She wasn’t about to ruin it for Lapis.
“No, you don’t have to bring a date. It’s just more fun that way.” Garnet said.
Peridot narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “Are you going to bring a date?”
“Peridot,” a cheerful voice greeted them. The American Pearl waved at them across the hall. “What brings you in here?”
“We’re going to see Rose.” Peridot shifted her bag on her shoulder.
“Garnet.” Pearl said with a polite smile. “Are you going to lunch with her?”
“Well I hope you’ll have fun together. I’ll see you later!” Pearl waved at them and kept on about her business.
Peridot looked up at Garnet standing still as a statue.
“Uh, are you..?” Peridot tried to ask. She had never seen Garnet stand still like that before.
“Fine.” Garnet replied before turning and walking down the hall. Something had changed.
“Are you going to bring a date?” Peridot decided to try again.
“Can’t.” Garnet said.
“Why not?” Peridot was having trouble keeping up. Was Garnet walking faster?
“Just can’t.” Garnet said as she took a corner and Peridot cursed her short legs.
“Can you slow down a little?” Peridot asked as she had to jog to keep up.
As if she didn’t know what she had been doing Garnet stopped and leaned against the hall wall.
“I’m sorry.” She said quietly.
“Are you okay?” Peridot felt like she had done something wrong.
Garnet was silent and stared across the hall at a bulletin board covered in papers. Peridot put her hands in her pockets.
“I can’t take anyone this year.” Garnet said. “I can’t take anyone at all.”
Something felt very wrong and set Peridot on edge. “Is something going on? Are you okay?”
“I can’t take anyone because the person I want to take can’t attend these things with a student. I can’t do anything until I’m no longer a student.” She said carefully.
It dawned on Peridot and she took in a deep breath. “Ooooooh!”
Garnet held a finger to her lips.
“I have to take her class next semester. I can’t say anything until I graduate.” Garnet replied.
“When is that?”
“December.” Garnet answered.
“Same as me.” Peridot brightened. If she stayed she would get to walk with a friend in the crowd.
“I know.” Garnet gave her a little smile. “Until then just… Waiting.”
Peridot nodded. “Does she know?”
Garnet looked around the hall before saying. “She can’t be ignorant of the way I have behaved but neither of us will speak until my degree will be left unquestioned.”
“I won’t say anything.” Peridot said.
“Thank you.” Garnet replied. “I must look so silly walking away like that.”
“It’s nothing I haven’t done.” Peridot reminded her.
Garnet nodded and waited a moment before saying, “I just want to hold her so badly.”
Peridot looked up at her. “You’ll get to.” She said with absolute certainty.
A small smile broke threw when Garnet bit her lip. Peridot could see stars in her eyes. “I can’t wait.”
In the end Peridot walked them to the party and then left. She realized that it was in the end the best plan since Lapis would be able to spend her focus on Pearl rather than having to keep tabs on her nervous girlfriend.
The free time was spent wisely as Peridot scrolled through page after page of flights and spent nearly a half hour on the phone with different airlines. In the end one round trip ticket was purchased for Pearl to arrive July second and depart on July eighth. Not terribly long but within her Italian university schedule and only a short while to be gone.
Besides, Pearl had just been bemoaning having to miss the American independence holiday.
Peridot pulled Pearl aside at the Swimming club end of year party and handed her an envelope with the flight details inside.
“I know we didn’t spend much time together.” Peridot said as Pearl stared at the papers. “But I think you’re probably the nicest person I’ve ever met and I don’t want to do the Fourth of July without you.”
Pearl pressed the papers to her chest, grinning. “I don’t know what to say!”
“Go tell Lapis then. Just…” Peridot paused. “Don’t tell her it's from me, okay?”
Pearl nodded excitedly and pulled Peridot in for a tight hug.
“Should we read it one more time?” Peridot asked Doctor Maheswaran.
“I think it’s time to send it.” The doctor replied as he watched her closely. “I will not make you do it, though. I’m not going to click anything for you. It’s your decision, Peridot.”
They both looked at the email addressed to the Sokolov boy.
He sat with her in silence for nearly ten minutes. When at last she pressed send Doctor Maheswaran gave her a smile.
“Don’t open any response without me. Call my office and let me know when it arrives so that we can see how quickly my schedule will allow me to be with you to read it.”
Peridot had replied with a weak smile and a little nod but that night Lapis held her while she fought tears of guilt and fear.
“Peridot, shhh,” Lapis held Peridot to her chest as she combed her fingers in Peridot’s hair. “It can’t go that poorly.”
Peridot knew in her mind that she was safe from physical violence, that there was no way she could be legally forced into the marriage and she knew that it was only emails but she still feared the backlash she knew would come. All the things her mother might say buzzed around in her mind, threatening to drown out Lapis’ soft assurances.
Two days later the Sokolov boy and Peridot’s mother had responded to the break up. He was polite and accepting and wished her a happy summer vacation. On the other hand her mother was frigid and obviously disappointed. Ultimately she understood Peridot’s reluctance to be with someone for a full year at a distance. She concluded that Peridot could expect introductions when she returned home but need not be distracted by a new boy for the duration of her program.
Doctor Maheswaran congratulated her and helped her write both responses and send them off to close the subject for good. Despite feeling relieved Peridot held tight to Garnet once she got out and cried.
“You’re okay ,” Garnet said as she stood with Peridot leaning against the side of the medical services building.
Peridot wiped her eyes with a tissue she had snatched in the office. “It doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel like it should have been that easy.”
“You’re allowing it to be bigger in your mind than it is in reality. Logically your reasons are sound. It truly is strange to be expected to hold any kind of relationship with someone you’ve never met and especially not for a year. Your mother is a business woman. She knows when a bad deal has to be dropped.” Garnet put an arm around Peridot’s shoulders. “Logic and clever wording convinced them.”
Peridot leaned into her side thankful for her friend’s calming demeanor. “I don’t get why I still feel so scared. It’s like I’m just waiting around for something terrible to happen.”
“That’s the anxiety.” Garnet reminded her.
“It’s just so fucking awful.” Peridot sniffed. “Like this catastrophe is at my back waiting to fall on me.”
Garnet was quiet a long moment. “I’m not really sure what catastrophe could fall on you, Peridot. Maybe something bad will happen. Most likely it won’t. But if anything terrible does happen you’ll have us. Even if it feels like you must bear this horrible weight you should know that you’re not going to bear it alone. For what it’s worth.”
For the first time in a long time Peridot felt as though she weren’t ultimately alone. Leaning against Garnet felt like standing on solid ground.
Chapter 23: Love Like You Chapter 23
Do you guys remember where you were when you heard the news?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
To console themselves after Pearl’s departure the remaining five decided to take a trip back to Beach City for a few days. They had sat around in awkward silence and lop sided conversation for two days before deciding that a trip would likely help.
It worked wonders.
Even though Lapis didn’t swim the first day Steven’s presence at their campfire that night helped pull her out of her rut. Having the Quarts-Universes along with Ruby and Sapphire at their little circle on the beach helped fill the gap left by such a good friend. A friend that Peridot hadn’t expected Jasper to mourn so much.
After returning home Peridot realized that Pearl and Lapis had spent significant time staying up talking into the wee hours of the morning. She knew this because Lapis wanted to stay up talking into the wee hours of the morning. Even though she loved her girlfriend very very much Peridot needed her sleep.
After conducting an experiment Peridot found it incredibly rewarding to discover that Lapis had a hard time staying awake after being fucked any number of ways. Despite her lack of experience Peridot figured plenty of ways to make her girlfriend scream just by paying close enough attention. Putting that knowledge to use was beneficial to the both of them.
“Ya khochu spat’.” Peridot whispered in her ear one night as she ground her hips down on Lapis’ thigh. “No vy derzhite menya razbudila.”
Lapis bucked up against her with a whine. Peridot responded by pulling her hair. When Lapis shot her a warning look Peridot regarded her with stoic eyes and pulled again. Lapis tried to buck her off but Peridot pinned her down.
“Ah, ah, ah,” Peridot smirked down at her, happy to actually catch Lapis. “Ya poymal tebyA.”
Indignant Lapis turned her head and looked away. With a low chuckle Peridot placed an especially sweet kiss to her cheek.
“Vy parshivets.” She said in a low voice before biting Lapis’ ear. The Spanish girl couldn’t stop the shiver than ran through her beautiful body. Peridot ground down harder on her, careful to rub Lapis with her thigh.
“God, Peridot,” Lapis arched off the bed, trying to find more friction. “Just fuck me already.”
“You’d like that wouldn’t you?” Peridot nipped her neck and slid a hand down.
“Yes,” Lapis said with a little gasp.
“Do you expect me to just give you everything you want?” Peridot asked rhetorically.
Lapis had a cheeky answer. “You do anyway.”
Peridot moved her fingers down to rub Lapis once before sliding two inside of her and thrusting hard. “I’ve spoiled you. Now you’re a pillow princess.” She said.
“But I’m your princess.” Lapis only just managed to say before rolling her hips to meet Peridot’s hand. “You love spoiling me.”
What could she say? Lapis was right. Instead of arguing Peridot ran her tongue over Lapis’ nipple and moved her hand faster.
Lapis reached over her head and gripped the pillows as she writhed under the attention. She held back a cry when Peridot bit hard on the side of her breast. A slight angle up on the next thrust made Lapis jump beneath her.
“Fuck!” Lapis gasped out. She sucked in a deep breath when Peridot repeated the motion. The moan Lapis gave came straight from her chest. Just as eager to please as Lapis was to receive Peridot quickened her pace. With hungry eyes she watched Lapis moving beneath her.
“Cum for me, your highness.” Peridot demanded as she thrust up again.
Lapis gripped the pillows so tight her knuckles when white as she came hard, whole body shaking with release. Peridot could feel it in her own as well. She watched her girlfriend relax on the bed to catch her breath.
Ever so softly fingertips touched her cheek and directed Peridot into a tired kiss. It was so sweet the way that Lapis held her to swap positions that Peridot hardly noticed.
“I want you to fuck me in the shower.” Lapis whispered as she slipped two fingers into Peridot.
“W-what? It’s a d-dorm shower, Lapis.” Peridot tried to argue but Lapis just kissed her neck.
“I know,” Lapis said quietly. “That’s what makes it so hot.”
“You’re too loud.” Peridot argued, rolling her hips down.
“You can just put a hand over my mouth, you know.” Lapis replied. “If I’m too loud then you can punish me and make me wait until we’re back in you room.”
“O-oh my god,” Peridot wanted to object further but found it impossible when Lapis reached deeper inside her.
“You can push me up against the wall and when I show you how good I can be you’ll be so happy you agreed.” Lapis whispered to her. “I may act like a princess but deep down I am a good girl.”
The thought of pressing Lapis against the wall of a shower pushed her over the edge.
“So we can do it?” Lapis asked in a deceptively sweet voice.
“Do what?” Peridot asked as lay limp on the bed.
“Fuck in the shower.” Lapis said with a hopeful voice. “You came pretty quickly just hearing about it.”
“Absolutely not.” She cursed herself for not trying to hold on longer. Peridot really wanted to but the chances of being caught were too high. And if they got caught they would be in very serious trouble. “Pearl’s been back in Italy for what, nine days? And you’re coming up with this stuff? Is this what you do in your free time is just come up with kinky things to try?”
“Don’t tell me you don’t enjoy them.” Lapis cuddled up to her with a mischievous smile.
“I enjoy the things that won’t get us written up.” Peridot replied with a yawn.
Lapis let out a long sigh. “Will you just think about it?”
“I’ll think about it.” Peridot agreed, glancing at the clock. Two in the morning. Tiring Lapis out with sex was growing less time efficient. “Let’s go to sleep. I don’t want to be dead on my feet for the hike tomorrow.”
“Fine,” Lapis’ voice was quiet. She was already half gone.
“Fine,” Peridot repeated as they drifted off to sleep.
The next morning two ring tones woke them up. Peridot groaned and tried to ignore both of their phones buzzing. Lapis stirred only enough to roll over. Just as the phones stopped they started again.
“Good god.” Peridot complained as she slapped a hand around the desk beside her bed. Her hand found a phone and answered. “Hello?”
“Lapis?” A voice called. The speaker crackled with Amethyst’s emotional voice.
“Peridot.” She sat up, fully awake. “Are you crying? Amethyst, what’s wrong?”
Lapis was scrambling for Peridot’s phone that was still ringing to answer. “Garnet?”
“Peridot! You gotta look at the news! Look at the news!”
Peridot jumped out of bed and turned on her laptop. She pulled up the Internet and asked, “What am I looking for? What happened?”
“Get on a news website! They did it! They fucking did it!” Amethyst was near tears.
“What?!” Lapis squeaked on the bed beside her. Peridot looked over to see a shocked expression on her face. Slowly Lapis raised a hand to her mouth.
Since she wasn’t going to get a straight answer Peridot pulled up CNN. The main headline read ‘Same-Sex Marriage Made Legal In All Fifty States’. Peridot stared silently at the headline while Amethyst cried into the phone.
“We’re fucking people, man,” Amethyst managed to get out. “We’re fucking people. We can get married now.”
A knot formed in Peridot’s throat as something welled in her chest. She took a deep breath as she played the live news feed video of reporters outside the courthouse speaking hurriedly to outline the full stack of papers detailing the ruling. A lump stuck in her throat.
“I’m so happy for you!” Lapis was trying to talk through the emotion. “Your mothers are going to be so happy! We have to do something!”
A loud knock came at the door making the both of them jump. When they didn’t answer immediately the knocking got louder.
“Hey!” Jasper called through the door..
Peridot scrambled for clothing while holding the phone and listening to Amethyst’s crying. “It’s okay, Amethyst, it’s going to be okay.”
“I’m so god damn happy!” Amethyst cried. Peridot thought she heard someone in the back ground. Garnet took the phone.
“Girls, listen a moment.” Garnet said. “Come to my apartment as soon as you can get ready. We’re planning a party to celebrate.”
Peridot pulled on a pair of Lapis’ shorts and the first shirt she could grab before opening the door. Jasper stepped in and Peridot put a finger to her lips to keep Jasper quiet.
“My moms are going to be here as well as Rose, Greg, and Steven. I need you to do me one favor, if you could stop by Jasper’s room and get her.” Garnet said.
“Absolutely.” Lapis said.
“Lucky for us Jasper just arrived.” Peridot said.
“Excellent.” Garnet’s voice wavered. “We’ll see you when you get here.”
When the girls hung up Jasper grinned at both of them.
“This is fucking history.” Jasper said. “Can you fucking believe that we’re here for this?”
Lapis jumped up, clutching the bed sheet around herself and latched on to Peridot, holding her tight. “It’s amazing!”
Peridot held Lapis tight and smiled at Jasper, trying to sort through all of the emotions fighting for dominance before settling on envy. Joyful envy.
When the three arrived at Garnet’s apartment they could hear the laughter outside the door. Peridot was about to knock but Lapis grabbed the door knob and walked in.
“Oh my god!” She said, running in. Lapis hugged the first person she found which happened to be a still crying Amethyst.
Garnet pulled Peridot and Jasper in wearing a bright smile with starry eyes. The joy in the room was tangible. The small gathering of friends and family energizing the room with pure unadulterated love left Peridot speechless.
“Congratu-fucking-lations!” Jasper said, wrapping an arm around Garnet. “I can’t believe it! I didn’t know it was going to be ruled today!”
“I still can’t believe it. It’s still sinking in.” Garnet said.
Peridot noticed the American Pearl standing with Rose and Greg. She wondered if Garnet had decided to tell her in lieu of the circumstances.
“Pride is going to be wild this year!” Amethyst said. “How many proposals do you think we’ll see?”
“Who knows!” Garnet was laughing but she looked on a verge of tears.
“The courts are going to be so busy tomorrow with the couples getting licenses.” Rose said with a laugh. “It’s going to be amazing.”
“Are we going to see?” Steven asked.
“Well…” Rose said, looking at Ruby and Sapphire.
“Everyone!” Ruby called over the conversation.
The room quieted down. Lapis returned to Peridot’s side and took her hand. Amethyst quickly pulled out her phone. The little assembly watched with rapt attention.
“Everyone I want to say that this is an incredible day to see.” Ruby said. “I never thought I would see it actually. We’ve been waiting so long.”
Garnet fumbled to pull out her phone as well, trying to hold her hands still so that the recording would be clear.
“What I mean to say is that you’ve welcomed us with open arms where others sent us away.” Ruby took Sapphire’s hand. “You have given us the best friendship we could ask for. You have given us a home. You’re the best family we could have. Today I want to say thank you so much.”
Rose couldn’t hold in the little happy sob that escaped her lips. Greg put an arm around her. Lapis squeezed Peridot’s hand as she stared dumbstruck at what was unfolding.
“Now that everyone is here, I can say thank you for being a part of our lives and thank you for gathering here together.” Ruby sounded so collected but when she turned and looked at Sapphire she froze. Peridot wondered if this was how Ruby had first looked at Sapphire.
Nervous and excited. A deer in the headlights. And totally enraptured like Sapphire was the most beautiful thing in the universe.
When Ruby managed to sink to one knee Peridot heard Lapis take a little breath.
“Sapphire,” Ruby’s voice came out quiet. Her hands were shaking as she took a ring from her pocket and offered it up. “Will you marry me?”
Pearl very quickly took Garnet’s phone to hold it still while the tall girl wiped at her eyes. Peridot watched her wondering what it must be like to see their family falling into place to be recognized by the rest of the country.
“Yes! Yes, of course I will!” Her voice broke when Ruby stood up and swept her off her feet. Garnet went to them and hugged them both tight to her chest.
Peridot felt as though she was intruding. Did she really belong with these people? Familiar doubt crept back into her mind. She had never seen anything like this before. This love, these people, the language that was still so foreign to her, did she belong here?
Her answer came when Lapis pressed a kiss to her cheek. Peridot couldn’t help but grin.
“Smile!” Amethyst said and Lapis wrapped her arms around Peridot.
When Amethyst showed them the picture Peridot didn’t recognize herself. She thought back to the start of the semester. When she looked at herself smiling and holding her girlfriend in the picture she felt like she was looking at someone else. Someone that belonged at the Spectrum table on O Days, someone that spent time stopping to talk to friends on the concourse, someone that gave in secret and not for show, someone that had other people to give gifts to, someone that belonged there in the room with this crowd of ecstatic friends that were more like family.
The day swept by in a happy celebratory blur of excited phone calls and conversation interrupted on occasion by watching the news on Garnet’s little TV. Lapis and Peridot spent a significant amount of time placing an order for two dozen roses to be delivered to Ruby and Sapphire’s home. The website was very hard to navigate on a phone and Lapis had a hard time choosing what arrangement to send before they settled on the roses. Lapis made a stealthy run to ask Garnet when they would be home to receive them. When Lapis turned to run back and deliver the information Garnet locked eyes with Peridot and mouthed, “Thank you.”
Peridot gave her a nod and wondered how she could say the same to Garnet.
I worried this chapter would feel too rushed or too awkward. It's really really really hard to capture the joy of June 25th 2015 and show the defining moment of when Peridot realizes that she has a place with these people that she sort of envied at first without realizing it. The two are battling for dominance here and I'm sorry if the balance is weird.
I'm trying to finish on a strong note. We only have 2 chapters left. It'll be an even 25. Thank you for sticking with it this far.
Chapter 24: Love Like You Chapter 24
The worst case scenario
Ahead of time
For the second day in a row Peridot was woken by her phone ringing. She found it quickly enough beside her on the floor of Garnet’s apartment. After Garnet extended the invitation they made the unanimous decision to stay over and keep the party going as late as they could. While spending time with her friends celebrating history was fun it made waking up harder.
“Hello?” She answered in English, crawling out from under the blankets toward the door.
“Peridot.” She nearly froze when her name was spat out in the distinctive pronunciation.
“M-mother?” Peridot couldn’t get out the door fast enough.
“Where are you right now?”
“I’m at a friend’s house.” Peridot answered as she settled out on the walk way beside the door.
“What friend?” Her mother’s tone came through the receiver ice cold.
“Her name is Garnet.” Peridot pulled her knees to her chest.
“Which one is she?”
Peridot sat confused a moment. She hadn’t told her mother much about her friends at all for fear of being accused of socializing too much and studying too little.
“Which one,” Her mother insisted, “is she?”
“I don’t really-“
“Is she the tall one, the purple haired one or this one you’re holding hands with?”
Peridot’s face went pale. “I’m not sure what you’re asking-“
“Don’t play dumb with me, Peridot.” Her mother cut in. “Your cousin sent me these pictures from your Facebook of you at a party celebrating this queer marriage ruling. The proposal looks so touching.”
Peridot put a hand to her aching chest. This was it. Her mother knew. Her plan of explaining to her gently and with the help of Rose and Doctor Maheswaran were out the window. She was blind sided and completely alone.
“They’re Garnet’s moms, they’ve been together for almost twe-“ She tried to explain.
“I don’t care how long they’ve lived in that lifestyle.” Her mother’s tone cut right to her heart like it always had but this time was somehow worse. “What I want to know is who this little blue haired girl is. Garnet?”
“No, her name is Lapis.” Speaking the name to her mother felt like talking about a stranger.
“She has a little rainbow bracelet. What is she?”
A person, Peridot wanted to say.
“I’m getting tired of this attitude, Peridot. Stop playing me for a fool. Who. Is. She.”
Peridot felt her heart sinking. “Her name is Lapis.”
“Is she your girlfriend!” Her mother’s voice crackled over the speaker.
A long silence and then a soft, “yes.”
No exclamation of anger, no shouting, just a low, “I thought I raised you better than that.”
“It’s not a choice!” Peridot’s voice was weak. She felt dizzy. “It’s nothing you did wrong, it's who I am-“
“What have they been telling you over there?!”
“I can’t help that I feel this way about her-“
“You know for a fact that you have a choice!”
Something inside of Peridot snapped. Her heart raced and her hands shook. “I love her!”
“What do you know about love?” It wasn’t a question.
Peridot didn’t care.
“Apparently more than you!” She spat out, fear turning to hot anger. “Y-you haven’t called me once this whole time! All you do is email me! Is that any way for a mother to speak to her daughter?”
“Is this any way for a daughter to speak to her mother?!”
But Peridot wasn’t going to let her turn this around. “You keep pushing me on these boys that I don’t like for marriages I don’t want! But that doesn’t matter because you don’t care what I want. You don’t care if I want to get married or if I’m ready to be married and you probably wouldn’t care if I was raped on my wedding night by some man you decided I should marry!” She was trying her best to keep her voice straight as hot tears stung her eyes. “You wouldn’t care at all! Lapis does! Lapis cares about me, she loves me and I love her. She would never hurt me like that!”
“Do you really think I would turn a blind eye to any disrespect shown to our family?” Her mother’s voice was seething.
“You already have!” Peridot’s voice broke as a lump formed in her throat. “You’re disrespecting me by trying to auction me off like a piece of jewelry. But you don’t care about that, just so long as I can catch a good family, right?”
Silence came over the phone and then, “You’ve been a good girl your whole life but you’ve let these people fill your head with their sick ways and you’ve let them convince you that you’re a part of their little group. I understand.”
Peridot bit back an angry sob. “No.”
“I know you want friends and you want to fit in.”
“No.” Her mother was avoiding it all, trying to turn it around on Peridot like she always did.
Peridot shouldn’t have been on the sled.
Peridot should dress more like a girl.
Peridot shouldn’t choose such a masculine field of study.
“You just want to fit in and these boys haven’t been as good to you as you think they should be. So you let these people fill your head with all this deviance and you let this little slut talk you into a relationship. Does she know the company we own?”
Peridot kicked the railing on the walk way. “No!”
“You didn’t tell her about our business and she has no idea how much money you have?”
It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. Lapis had no idea and she wouldn’t do that. Peridot clung to that logic.
“She isn’t like that. She doesn’t care how much money we have. She’s not a slut and she isn’t lying to me. She’s a good person and you don’t know anything about her!”
“Be quiet!” Her mother snapped, voice dripping with venom. “Listen to me. You are going to drop that little slut. You’re going to pack your things. You are going to come home tonight. Delete this Facebook, cut ties with these friends and come home.”
Peridot tightened her grip on her phone. “No.”
“No. I’m not doing any of that.” Peridot grit her teeth. “I love her and she loves me. I’m not leaving her because you don’t like it. I know for a fact that you’re wrong about this, about us, about “these people” and I’m not going to let you take away the best thing I’ve ever had.”
“Drop your queer whore and come home now or don’t come home at all.”
Her mother disconnected the call and Peridot felt like she might explode. She stood and kicked the railing over and over, screaming her frustration out.
“Poshel na khuy!” Peridot screamed as she turned and punched the wall. Her hand and her foot hurt, likely bruised, maybe broken. She turned again and reared her arm back, ready to throw her phone before she stopped herself, a better thought coming instead.
Her hands trembled violently as she dug through her contacts, breathing hard as tears came pouring down her face. The phone rang twice before a sweet voice answered.
“Hello? Peridot?” Rose sounded concerned as Peridot sucked in a shaking breath.
When she opened her mouth to speak her voice broke. Her shoulders jerked as a sob wracked her body. “Just-“ Peridot tried to ask for patience but her voice broke again.
“Peridot what’s wrong?” Rose’s voice was urgent. “Take a deep breath, okay?”
It was almost impossible to fill her lungs like Rose instructed but she did it. With that small completed task, she felt diminutive strength settle into her stomach. It was all she needed. Her friends opened the door behind her.
Peridot faced them, looking right into Lapis’ wide, scared eyes as she said, “I need to take a citizenship test.”
Jasper paled, Amethyst froze, Garnet immediately pulled out her phone and made a call. Lapis walked forward and wrapped Peridot in her arms and held her close.
“Are you certain about this?” Rose’s voice remained calm despite how it dropped.
“Absolutely.” Peridot replied with a loud sniff.
She leaned in to Lapis and closed her eyes. All the emotion bubbling inside her slowed and Peridot focused on the familiar scent of chlorine in her girlfriend’s hair.
Chapter 25: Love Like You
Consider playing this as you read.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“It’s supposed to go like this.” Garnet said.
“I can get it, I can get it.” Peridot replied, trying to find a balancing point. She felt stupid to be having so much trouble in the packed auditorium.
“Just let me.” Garnet took a bobby pin from her own hair and held the cap positioned on Peridot’s hair. “When you come down tomorrow I’ll be waiting with extra bobby pins.”
“I don’t understand why the hats can’t come with a better construction.” Peridot grumbled, batting the tassel out of her face.
“I wonder the same thing.” Garnet said as she got it secured.
“This is impossible.” Peridot mumbled as the tassel came right back into her face.
Garnet stepped back and smiled at her. “We need selfies.”
Peridot took out her own phone. “Only a few.”
The girls leaned in together and smiled. Just as Peridot started to snap the picture her phone rang.
“Lapis?” Peridot held a hand over her other ear to block out the noise from the crowd around them.
“Are you guys out yet?”
Peridot glanced around. “Rehearsal has let out but people are crowding the doorways. We’re just waiting for them to clear up.”
“Okay, we’re at the restaurant when you’re ready.” Lapis said. “Try to hurry.”
“Yeah, we will.” Peridot answered. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Are they getting impatient?” Garnet asked.
“Just a little. To be fair the rehearsal ran over time.” Peridot said. “We should probably push through here, I think almost everyone is just talking.”
“Lead the way, little mama.” Garnet said. Peridot noticed Garnet’s strange smile.
“Okay, what’s going on.” Peridot asked as they pulled up to the restaurant.
“What?” Garnet wasn’t even trying to hide her grin.
“You have that look on your face like you’re planning something.” Peridot paused. “Oh my god are you going to ask Pearl out tonight?”
Garnet chuckled. “No, not tonight.”
She parked and Peridot got out of the car.
“Something is up.” She said accusingly. “You need to spill.”
“I am offended first and foremost that you think I would tell you a secret that I’ve been trusted with, and secondly that you haven’t learned how much I love surprises.” Garnet hit the button and her car beeped.
Doors locked. No where to hide.
Peridot shuffled reluctantly towards the door. She remembered her surprise birthday party. Not one of her finer moments.
“So you admit there’s a surprise.” Peridot insisted as Garnet stood waiting for her to catch up.
“There’s lots of surprises. We’re doing graduation gifts tonight.” Garnet replied as she ushered Peridot into the restaurant.
“That’s not what I meant.” Peridot retorted as Lapis hurried to her.
“We’re in the back room.” She said and kissed Peridot’s cheek. “Everyone’s here and we ordered drinks already. How was the rehearsal?”
“Monotonous and long.” Peridot replied. It wasn’t much different from the first day of orientation.
“Welcome in,” Pearl waved at them from the doorway of the party room.
Garnet smiled. “Hope we didn’t keep you waiting too long.”
“Not in the least.” Pearl lead them into a room with a long table set with drinks and plates and covered in gifts and cards. Two chairs sat across from one another in the center of the table, one for Garnet and one for Peridot. A sign hung on the wall read “Con-GRAD-ulations!” It was obvious that Greg had chosen it.
The room lit up as they entered, all the friends and family rushing to hug them and wish them luck. Lapis stayed close to Peridot as the people moved around them. Pearl stayed at Garnet’s side.
Peridot hadn’t been able to figure out if Garnet had confessed to Pearl on the day of the ruling or not. Every now and then she suspected but couldn’t figure it out. Watching them now, standing so close but so professionally far away she felt almost bad for them.
Hiding a relationship was never easy, no matter the circumstances.
“Let’s get settled and order and that way we can start opening gifts.” Rose said.
Everyone sorted themselves into sides for the table. Peridot sat across from Garnet and tried to push the envy from her mind when Ruby and Sapphire took the chairs on either side of her.
After the servers took their orders conversation erupted around them. Ruby and Sapphire passed Garnet two gifts. Peridot watched and tried not to think about what would have been happening if she had just done what she was supposed to.
If she had kept to herself, if she hadn’t gone to that first dinner, if Amethyst hadn’t saved her a seat and if Lapis hadn’t apologized after giving her the pin Peridot would be back in Russia having dinner with some boy that she only pretended to like with a mother that could be proud of her.
She hadn’t cried much at first but after the aggressive messages from family and the phone call from the lawyer informing her that she was no longer a Pavlov, that she should change all her paperwork as soon as she could and provide proof back the reality of the situation weighed on her. She wouldn’t have guessed her mother would disown her so thoroughly but after picking one of her cousins to inherit the business it wasn’t much of a shock. Everything hurt so much she had stopped going to her appointments and stayed in her room for nearly a week, even skipping classes. Seeing the petition to rid her completely of her last name with no replacement had pushed her over an edge she hadn’t known was there.
Sleeping was hard.
Waking up was hard.
Standing was hard.
Walking was harder.
Talking was the hardest.
Ultimately Greg and Rose had come and taken her to Beach City for the weekends. They said it was to just ‘get away’ but she knew it was so that they could watch her. She hated the way that they had kept looking at her at the table, gauging how much she ate. Resentment had grown in her hollowed heart and it grew like cancer.
It wasn’t until she heard Rose on the phone with Lapis crying that she realized that she needed to pull herself up.
Little relapses happened here and there and it was starting to become obvious that tonight might be one of those nights.
She watched as Garnet opened a pair of gold earrings, a frame for her diploma, an airline ticket from an anonymous sender. It was easy to tell the ticket was from Pearl just based on how closely she watched Garnet. A trip to the Keys, some place nice and warm to get a perfect start to their relationship. It was sweet.
Peridot envied everything about Garnet as she sat glowing between her mothers and surrounded by friends.
Something bumped against Peridot’s hand. She looked down to see a wide, flat box.
“What’s this?” She asked, looking around.
Steven tapped her on the shoulder and smiled. “It’s from us!”
Peridot took the box in her hands and looked it over. Green wrapping paper, it felt kind of heavy.
“What is it?” She asked as she picked off the blue bow.
“You gotta open it!” Steven could hardly contain the excitement in his voice. He was watching her with stars in his eyes.
Peridot carefully took the paper off, noticing a familiar feeling. When she looked up everyone at the table had quieted and was watching her. Her heart pounded hard, even though Lapis put an arm around her.
“Go on, let’s see what it is.” Lapis said softly.
With shaky hands Peridot unwrapped a white box and set it on the table in front of her. Why would everyone be staring at her? Wait, what if it was plane tickets to Spain with Lapis.
That would be nice.
Too bad her passport was in the process of being rejected. Passport being rejected, plane ticket back to Russia cancelled, two interviews with the USCIS left before she found out if she could become an American citizen or not. Traveling abroad would be a huge hassle right now. Traveling outside of her dorm was a huge hassle right now. She hoped the tickets would be for next year, granted she was able to swear her oath, get a passport and be able to find a job…
She hoped it would only be a year without Lapis.
But thank god for Skype, right?
Because that’s enough when you’ve been disowned.
The thought felt like a dagger to the heart.
Her entire body ached as she lifted the lid from the box and saw tissue paper. Everyone was watching her. Garnet wasn’t holding back her smile any more. Peridot wanted to disappear, she didn’t have the energy to get excited or even pretend to be excited now that she remembered the severity of her situation.
She hated how everyone could see her hands shaking as she moved the tissue paper aside to reveal…
“Papers?” She said, looking down at a stack of legal documents.
“What kind of papers?” Amethyst asked excitedly, holding up her phone as she recorded.
Peridot tried not to feel betrayed as she looked down again. Why would they film her? She didn’t want to be filmed.
Lapis leaned in to her side and looked down. Peridot read the first line of text.
Then she read it again.
“What’s it say, Peridot?” Sapphire leaned forward with an expectant smile.
Had they all known?
“Petition for adult adoption.” Peridot said weakly.
Rose took the chair beside Peridot. “We know you’re an adult and that you don’t need parents, and we know that you may not wa-“
Rose was cut off when Peridot turned to her and wrapped shaking arms around her. In return Peridot was embraced by Greg and Steven as well.
“We’ve got the guest room fixed up for you to stay permanently.” Rose said softly.
“You’re next door to me!” Steven chimed in happily.
“We’re so happy to have you, kiddo.” Greg added. She had never had anyone speak to her in such a caring voice before, the voice of a father.
Peridot could only cry.
“And,” She heard Lapis add, “I’ll be here through Christmas so we can have a little time before I go back.”
The thought of Lapis leaving didn’t cripple her like it had before. Peridot wasn’t even sure if it hurt this time but she still wasn’t ready to lose Lapis or Jasper.
“We’ve already got her tickets back for her first break.” Rose told her in the language that it had taken so long for Peridot to understand.
“Thank you,” Peridot replied for her first words in that language. “Thank you so much.”
When she pulled back Garnet was beaming at her, offering a small box.
Peridot opened it to find a pen.
She laughed, wiping her eyes and held it to her chest.
Lapis kissed her cheek and slipped an envelope into her hands. “This is my gift,” she whispered. “Read it only after I’m gone.”
Ruby locked eyes with her. "Build a better life." She said.
The graduation ceremony was long and boring. The commencement speaker was a sports star that Peridot didn’t recognize and his speech was riddled with terms she didn’t recognize. She wanted to stand and stretch. She wanted to go to sleep after a long night of crying in ways she didn’t know she could. Still, the tears left her with a quiet peace.
Every time someone walked across the stage cheers erupted from different sections of the auditorium from happy family members.
Peridot hadn’t expected to be able to stand hearing her name called. When her row stood and she inched forward towards the teachers and the dean distributing placeholder diplomas and shaking hands she dreaded hearing her old name. Her old name that had been ripped from her and left her with insufficient information to order a formal diploma. Her old name that was on the roster for lack of anything to replace it with.
Until the adoption papers went through. But that would come too late.
It was the only thing that could tarnish the strangely elated feeling that gave her the vague sensation of floating.
The boy in front of her walked as his name was called. Peridot watched him shaking hands and looked out at the crowd of students and family staring down at the stage. The sight put a prickling feeling in her palms.
“Peridot Q-“ The announcer fumbled a minute with the name that was out of place with the rest of the student names. “Peridot Quarts-Universe.”
Jasper’s were the first cheers she heard.
Later Peridot would not remember the walk across the stage. She would never remember the placeholder paper being handed to her. She would never remember the hand shake. She would never remember walking down the other side of the stage.
The only thing she would be able to recall years later was that she had never been happier to hear her name called. She had never been so happy to have everyone looking at her. She had never guessed that hearing people cheer for her would be so satisfying.
Peridot would always wonder how Rose had changed her name at the last minute and Rose would never tell.
Peridot checked her watch for what must have been the hundredth time.
“Oh my god, Peridot, she’s going to be here in a minute.” Amethyst said.
“Let her be excited, Amethyst.” Pearl chided.
“Yeah, don’t be grumpy.” Garnet added.
Peridot couldn’t stop herself. Lapis’ plane had touched down what felt like ages ago and every time a crowd of people from a flight appeared up the escalators Peridot was scanning them for her girlfriend. It was a hard task since Lapis had washed the blue dye from her hair after returning to Spain. She wasn’t ‘color coded’ anymore as Amethyst had said.
“She should be coming up any minute.” Greg said.
“You’ve got the camera ready, right?” Rose asked.
“I’ve got mine!” Steven held up his first phone. “I’m gonna get the whole thing.”
“So when does her citizenship go through?” Pearl asked to help distract Peridot.
“Probably next month, that’s what the lady is telling us.” Peridot replied, fidgeting with the little box in her hands.
“Oh, that’s lovely.” Pearl said with a smile. Peridot just nodded, scanning as a few people came up the escalators.
“So when’re you going to get around to this?” Amethyst asked Garnet who just winked.
“You’ll see.” She replied.
Still no Lapis. Peridot sighed. She turned the box over in her hands and thought about the day she had gone to pick it up. It was the day Lapis left. After reading the letter that Lapis had handed to her at the graduation dinner she had begged Rose and Greg to drive her to a store.
She had bought it with her first paycheck from Adobe who had hired her almost on the spot.
The letter had been from Lapis’ mother and father. It was a letter of condolence, gratitude and an offer to visit along with a slight voucher. When Peridot had gone to Spain for three days on her first break for a federal holiday Lapis’ mother and father had pulled her aside with a suggestion.
“She doesn’t like diamonds.” They had told Peridot.
But she had known that.
Now Peridot stood chewing her lip as Rose snapped a candid photo of her.
“Look at my nervous baby!” Rose teased as she showed Pearl the photo.
Peridot blushed. “Mom, come on.”
“Oh, I’m just so happy.” Rose replied with a glowing smile.
The voice made her turn around.
A beautiful girl with deep brown hair, freckles across her nose and big brown eyes smiled when she saw Peridot. In a strange moment Peridot wondered who the girl was, not because she didn’t recognize Lapis but because she wondered why she had been chosen.
One thing Peridot never figured out was how she deserved the lovely Spanish girl’s love.
Peridot walked out to meet her feeling the eyes of all their friends and Peridot’s family on her.
Lapis threw her arms around Peridot and Peridot held her tight for just a moment, clutching the little box in her hand. It had been so long since she had felt so nervous. When she pulled back and looked into those shining big brown eyes Peridot understood why Ruby had frozen on that day over a year ago. Try as she might she couldn’t get everything in order and prepared in time to do this on that same date. Waiting until the tenth of September had been the hardest thing she would ever have to do.
Lapis stood looking at her with puzzled eyes.
“Peridot? Is something wrong?” Lapis asked.
It took her a moment to recover the use of her legs but Peridot managed to kneel and present the little woven golden band tucked inside the box. Lapis clapped a hand over her mouth, eyes wide and full of stars.
“Lapis Lazuli Riviera,” Peridot’s voice came out more of a squeak. “Will you-“
“Yes!” Lapis grinned as she pulled Peridot up and kissed her.
The way her heart flipped in her chest, Peridot felt as though it was their first kiss.
I never expected this fanfic to do what it's done and get the attention that it did and I damn sure didn't expect to touch anyone. I am so incredibly happy to have written something that's done so much for you.
I am truly thankful for you all. You're beyond wonderful and I hope that the end of this story, like the end of an exchange program, is not the end of our correspondences.
As an adopted child the ending was very important to me and I hope that you can all feel this last little part of myself I've put in and enjoy it as much as I do.
Thank you all so much.