Chapter 1: Olive Branch
An Olive becomes a Peridot.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The room was cold and the air was damp. The only sound that was heard was the eerie drip-drop of water coming from the faucet in the sink.
Olive Mendhisunhera squinted as she leaned forward against the sink, gripping the edge of the counter for balance.
She stood in front of the mirror, under the only source of light in the room. Her eyes strained as they slowly accustomed to the poor excuse of dim lighting the one functioning light-bulb provided. It casted shadows on her face, making it look more sharp and angled than it normally would.
The face on the mirror was aged. Eyes heavily bagged, losing their vibrant green. Her cheeks somehow seemed hollow. The freckles that spotted its way across her face looked darker against her current pale complexion. Her hair resembled a mop, dirty and clumped. The clothes she wore bagged on her body making her physique smaller and frailer than she really was despite her not being built to begin with.
Olive gave a quivering breath out as she stared into the mirror in front of her. The face that stared back was hers and yet it wasn’t at the same time.
To think just a few days ago she looked more alive – or at least as alive-looking as someone who spent their whole day in front of a computer.
She felt like throwing up.
Everything was going way too fast.
She couldn’t believe what had just happened.
She wanted to break the mirror. The person in it looked as if everything bad in the world consumed her, chewed her up and spit her back out, broken and tired.
A loud bang on the door echoed in the tiny room followed a gruff, muffled voice from behind the door. “Hurry up! We haven’t got all day!”
“Come on.” She gave a breathy whisper as she nodded to herself in the mirror. “You’ve got this.”
Her grip loosened against the porcelain sink. She gave another weary gaze at her reflection before she let go.
Olive unlocked the door and opened it, the room suddenly growing bright from the light that came from the other side of the door.
“I’m done.” She managed to croak. She hoped that her voice didn’t sound as shaky as she felt.
The person behind the door was a tall scrawny man. He wore a dark suit, his hair was slicked back and gelled. The slicked back hairstyle looked strange on him, seeing that it was intended to be some sort of Mohawk. The name badge that was clipped on his suit read ‘Laremie.’ His expression was hard and he met her with a slight scowl, indicating how much he really wanted to be there. “Just hurry up to the room. Further instructions will be provided.”
She simply nodded. That was all she could do. She gave a small playful salute. “Roger.”
“Start walking, Mendhisunhera.” He narrowed his eyes at her.
She gave a small frown, seeing as her attempt to make light of the situation was not appreciated. She began to walk back to the room where she was being held. She wasn’t a prisoner, at least not technically, but she has been holed up in that same room ever since she did what she did.
And boy, has she done it.
Olive liked to consider herself to be an average citizen of the great country of the United States. She never failed to pay the taxes and she upheld the law when it didn’t have anything to do with computers and privacy. Yep. An average law-abiding citizen.
She was the main computer engineer and hacker for the notorious underground organization known as ‘Homeworld.’ That is, until she uncovered a plot that could’ve led to global mayhem and alerted the CIA by hacking them.
During her normal routine of encrypting and de-crypting data files, she happened to stumble upon the plans for a project code-named ‘The Cluster.’ Curiosity got the better of her and she peeked into the files.
The plan was the average plot to invoke the standard chaos and anarchy on society – all over a mere trillion dollars. Causing a global technological shutdown in order to wire money to the ‘Homeworld’ accounts would lead to unpredictable catastrophic repercussions. This meant the shutting down of fail-safe technology in every facility. Not to mention, Olive thought that the programs and backups governments were dependent on were a joke to begin with. Something that affected such a system in this scale was all it needed to fall apart. Many lives could’ve been lost.
She knew that she couldn’t go through it and decided to sell the organization out. This led to the sudden bust into one of the main hideouts of the organization. She had made herself “public enemy number one” (as she had called it) to ‘Homeworld.’ And now here she was, holed up in a place that was probably some sort of underground facility in some desert.
They had said it was for her protection, but the many hours spent with a light shone to her face to the point of blinding her and the many unidentifiable faces behind it shouting at her to tell them what else she knew told her differently. So much for an olive branch.
She never trusted the government anyway.
In fact, she never trusted anyone.
It’s just me, myself, and I. She bitterly thought as she continued to trudge toward the room she took a restroom break from.
The man that was assigned to watch her didn’t hurry her, probably pitying the small woman and her current situation.
Olive had thought of it before, about what she had done. She had a lot of time to think about it while she was holed up in this shady facility. There were times where she felt regret. The days spent in ‘Homeworld’ wasn’t that bad and the pay was actually great. Much more than great actually, because of the illegal operations. It was still able to get her by without any problems.
There were also times where she knew that what she had done is right. If she had stood by and let ‘The Cluster’ form out from its initial planning stage, she knew the world would’ve been doomed. Because that’s me, the ethically moral illegal hacker.
She finally reached her destination and opened yet another door. She saw the familiar metal table she had been sitting behind for the past couple of days and the unoccupied metal chair that beckoned her return.
Seated in front of the vacant chair was yet another man in a suit. He was bald and wore a smile. The name on the badge read ‘Harold Smiley,’ and she couldn’t help but scoff at how he was just as his name implied.
“Hello, Olive.” He greeted her by standing up from his seat, a smile on his face.
“Smiles.” She could see the man’s smile twitch a bit to the nickname. “What you brings you here in my humble abode?”
“Like I said, Marshal Smiley is fine.” He gave a laugh and sat back down. He waited as she also took a seat in the chair in front of him. “Glad to see that you’re still chipper about things.”
“I’m not chipper about anything.” She huffed, crossing her arms. “I ask again. Why are you here?”
The Marshal’s smile fell and his face quickly became serious. “We managed to capture one of the leaders of ‘Homeworld.’”
She raised a brow. “Oh?”
The man slid a photo across the table. “Do you know who this is?”
Olive looked down and was met with the face of her authority, or now, her past authority. The woman’s cold stare felt as if they burned holes on her. She uncrossed her arms and let them just hang by her side. She was barely able to even say the name. “Yellow Diamond.”
“Her real name is Gia Timanti.” Marshal Smiley nodded his head. “We finally found her today. She’s been booked and incarcerated, not that it was hard to, considering the tantamount evidence your little stunt provided us. We’re very appreciative of you, Olive. We’ve been trying for years to try and catch ‘Homeworld’ in their act and take down the leader.”
She looked down at her hands that were on her lap and began to twiddle her thumbs. “You’re making it sound like the operation ends here.”
After a pause, the Marshal spoke. “It does.”
Her head quickly looked up, panic starting to form in her expression. “Excuse me?”
“The specifics are classified, Olive.” Marshal Smiley took the photo off the table and handed it to Laremie who stood behind him. “And we would appreciate that you don’t hack us again to find out more about it.”
“B-but ‘Yellow Diamond’ is not the only leader in this organization!” The volume of her voice rose, cracking after reaching a certain pitch.
“Baby steps, Olive.” The Marshal looked at her with understanding eyes, reaching over the table to pat her shoulder. “For now, we’re taking what we’ve been given.”
“You don’t understand!” Her breathing became shallow to the point where she was gasping for air. “The other ‘Diamonds’ will come after me!”
The Marshal took his hand off her shoulder. “Not if they can’t find you.”
“Wha-huh?” She leaned forward, as if it were going to help her understand what he said better.
“You’ve been approved eligibility for WITSEC.” The smile was back on his face.
“Wit-what?” She questioned the sudden change in his expression, dreading what it meant for her.
“The Witness Protection Program.” Marshal Smiley motioned Laremie to come forward and took the other folder he had in his hand. “This will be effective immediately by the start of the official trial of ‘Homeworld’ leader ‘Yellow Diamond.’”
It felt strange.
“My name is Peridot Farhidat.”
The name was foreign on her tongue.
She stood in front of the restroom mirror once again. This time, her appearance was different. The one staring back at her was not the person that she has grown accustomed to seeing in the years she’s been alive. She had a pair of glasses on her face, green frame against the pale, freckled skin. It brought out the green in her eyes. Who knew that a border around your eyes could make such a big difference in appearance. She didn’t appreciate that she had to cut her hair and dye it blonde, but aside from that, she looked well-rested.
No matter how strange it was, that was the name she would have to live as now. Not that she was complaining, considering how her actual name was tied to so many crappy things that she had done and what was done to her.
‘Peridot’ gave her a chance to start over anew.
She had to laugh at the name considering it was so close to her original name, but she gave Marshal Smiley some props for the creativity in creating the alias.
Today marked the day Olive Mendhisunhera was no more. Peridot Farhidat is to take her place.
There was a knock on the door and the muffled voice of her Marshal called out to her. “Are you ready? It’s time to go.”
“In a moment.” She puffed her cheeks and she gave a slight slap on her face, causing her to blow the air out.
“The plane leaves 0900 sharp.” She could hear the urgency in Marshal Smiley’s voice.
She took one last look at the mirror. Her finger subconsciously reached up to her hair and twirled it between her fingers. It was soft.
“Peridot.” She said once again.
Her breath was no longer shaky.
With a small smile, she walked away from the mirror and unlocked the door.
In front of her stood Marshal Smiley. True to his name, he greeted her with a smile. “You’re a smart kid, Olive. Don’t waste your life and stay out of trouble now, okay?”
She looked him in the eye and reciprocated the smile.
“It’s Peridot now, Smiles.”
Maybe this change wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
This is all probably not as accurate in terms of how WITSEC really works, but oh well! The first couple of chapters will be to build the story before introducing the romance plot, so please bear with me!
Thank you for reading! Hope you liked it!
Chapter 2: Newness' Law
And so it begins! Thanks for reading!
The whole flight to her destination, her heartbeat deafened her ears, the roar aligning itself with the aircraft cutting through air. She didn’t know if her heartbeat was due to the fact that she was in the air and the plane kept on going up and down or if it was because of what awaited her.
When she was first debriefed of her new life in some unknown city near Delmarva, Peridot was skeptical but she looked forward to the new beginning. For the sake of Marshal Smiley, whom she had gotten close to during her stay in the interrogation room in some unknown underground government facility, she would give this new life a chance with a positive mindset.
Her new life entailed her being enrolled to the Beach City University as a scholarship doctorate student. Despite her only finishing her Bachelor’s degree in actuality, Peridot was excited for the work load that awaited her as a doctorate student; considering she skipped the graduate student status, that meant she had a lot of catching up to do. But that was okay, she had always been one to love school.
She had begun to visualize of what she could accomplish now that she had a blank canvas. She could do what she had always wanted, study what she had always wanted. BCU was known for being one of the top Universities for Computer Engineering. This thing would be a breeze.
Or, she could reinvent herself into somebody entirely new, not that she technically already did that. Nobody in the city knew who she was, at least she had hoped.
Peridot was excited to have her own place. She could buy a dog to keep her company – a cat would’ve been nice too; she had always wanted to have a pet. She could imagine the interior design of her room. It would have multiple monitors hooked up on a large desk and on the walls, making it easier to keep track of all the data files she would most, likely get into.
It wouldn’t be for illegal purposes, of course. Why would she waste her newly given fresh start? Peridot had sworn off that part of her life the moment she resigned in becoming ‘Peridot Faridhat.’
No, what she had planned for all those monitors was much more pragmatic than simply hacking into systems to transfer money into her account. Instead, she planned to develop a code, a system that would help lead to technological security. Her stumbling upon ‘The Cluster’ made her want to prevent something of that magnitude from ever happening.
Everything was going to be great.
A change of the plane movement took her away from her pondering and she dared to lift up the screen that covered the window and peer out. She could see an airplane hangar getting closer as the plane began to descend.
Once the plane landed and she was off the plane, she was ushered into a government vehicle disguised as a taxi cab that was there to pick her up at the hangar. It dropped her off in front of a very pricey looking house in a well-off looking neighborhood. It was a two story wooden house that reminded her of the stereotypical summer beach house that rich people would have. She gave a low-whistle at the cleanliness of the area. It must’ve cost a fortune to even live on the front lawn of this place.
Laremie had been her driver. He was busy drumming his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the rock music that blasted from the car radio as Peridot unpacked the trunk of her suitcases. He wore a graphic t-shirt with a grunge design on the front and ripped black jeans. His usually gelled and combed back hair was let loose, the Mohawk free to take its form. It was strange to see him out of his official suit, but Peridot thought it fit him more than the governmental uniform.
“You could at least help out, you know Laremie.” She grunted as she pulled the last suitcase from the trunk.
“Would cost you extra.” Laremie clicked his tongue. The passenger side window was rolled down. “And it’s ‘Lars,’ ‘Peridot.’”
“Some gentleman you are, Lars.” She mumbled under breath as she slammed the trunk shut.
Peridot awkwardly walked to the passenger side and stood on the sidewalk. Now that she was unpacked, she didn’t know what to do. She saw Lars reaching into the dashboard compartment and pulled out a stuffed manila envelope.
He motioned for her to come forward and take it from his hands. “In here are all your new personal documents. Passport, driver’s license, social security, insurance, bank information, credit card; you name it. All of them are authentic and should be working.”
“Should be?” Peridot took the envelope, the reality of the situation finally registering in her mind. The jitters that she had felt during the plane ride returned.
“Smart mouth.” Lars smirked. He dug into the front pocket of his pants and took out a set of keys attached to a key ring that had a peculiar green charm. “The inside of the house should be set, all you have to do is fill the closet.”
He threw the keys out the passenger window towards Peridot who ungracefully caught them just a couple inches before it fell on the pavement. She inspected the key ring full of keys once she straightened herself up. The charm was a drilled through triangular piece of peridot that was no bigger than an average toe nail.
“Hey, don’t worry, kid.” Lars placed his hands back on the steering wheel, looking out of the driver side window. “You look great blonde.”
The comment felt weird considering that in her entire stay in the interrogation center, Lars had always been crotchety with her. She must’ve seemed like a hot mess and looked like she was about to cry for Lars to try and comfort her in his own way.
She gave a small chuckle. “Gee, thanks.”
With nothing else to say, Lars nodded towards her before rolling up the passenger side window and speeding off.
As she watched the car get smaller down the road, the nerves returned.
When she could no longer see the car from afar, Peridot tried her best to roll her many suitcases all at once to the front door of the house.
Taking a deep breath, she unlocked the door and turned the knob.
Her room full of monitors, her possible pet, her positive outlook – they all disappeared the moment she saw what awaited her on the other side of the door.
Everything could’ve been great.
Peridot was irritated.
Irritation would actually be an understatement.
It’s been a good month and a half since she first moved to Beach City. The city was great, the lack of people in the area was great, the house was great, but what was not great was her “house-life.”
Contrary to what she had envisioned her new life was going to be, Peridot found herself sharing the house with 3 undercover governmental operatives as her “housemates.”
She knew why they were there, of course. It didn’t mean Peridot was happy about it. The government obviously did not trust her and she figured she clearly needed protection, considering ‘Homeworld’ was never really shut down.
The first thing that they made her do as soon as she set the last suitcase down in her designated room was help solidify their cover story by creating a fake social media history of interactions between the four of them. If anybody was bored enough to even look, there would be cyber data that ‘proves’ their alibi. She was supposed to make it look as if they had found each other on some forum site, coming together and deciding to live with each other as they start their new journey as students in BCU.
The youngest one was ‘Amethyst Pumorado.’ A Honduran born American citizen who was getting her Masters in Nutrition and Interior Design. She was tanned, her long purple-dyed hair was cut into layers causing to curl up at the end to give a soft spike look. She had bangs that usually fell over her dark brown left eye. She and Peridot were about the same height.
Amethyst was a year older than Peridot. Because of the closeness in age, Peridot became quick friends with the Latina. In the time they lived together, Amethyst was the most honest to Peridot. She never gave the classified information, but she was more willing to shed some light into situations that Peridot would not really know about.
The next one was ‘Pearl Zhemkuzni.’ A third-generation Russian from Pennsylvania getting her PhD in 20th Century History as well as Musical Studies and Mechanical Engineering. She was a tall and willowy woman who had an overgrown strawberry blonde pixie cut. She had a set of big, round, electric blue eyes that seemed innocent on a first glance.
She and Peridot often clashed, most of their conversations usually ending in an argument. According to Peridot, there seemed to be an air of superiority that followed Pearl everywhere. Pearl had appeared to have taken over, dubbing herself as the ‘keeper of the house.’ She kept the place tidy and often reprimanded Amethyst and Peridot for leaving a mess.
‘Garnet Ukuthanta’ was the oldest of the three of them. A South African doctorate student attending BCU for her doctorate in Geology and Geography. She talked with a British sounding accent. She was a tall and well curved, her chocolate colored skin shone. Her hair surrounded framed her head in a squared afro.
From the month and a half that she has lived with her, Peridot couldn’t really place her finger on the woman. She was more off-put with her than the rest. Maybe it was because Garnet barely had any expressions that didn’t include a small smile and a neutral mien or the fact that the older woman hid her eyes behind dark sunglasses, Peridot didn’t know.
Though, as appreciative as Peridot was towards Amethyst, she preferred Garnet’s company because the older woman rarely interacted with her and allowed her to peacefully be alone with her thoughts. Garnet was the actual leader of this crew, but there was an unspoken visual leadership given to Pearl. It irritated Peridot that Pearl was given a reason to be so high and mighty towards her.
University students were not who they truly were, of course. Like her, they had their own fabricated identity.
She remembered the first dinner they had together at the dining table at Pearl’s insistence that they act their part, Peridot voiced her concerns about their names.
“Don’t you think it’s a bit strange that we all happen to have gems as names? It's kind of suspicious.” She had asked as she played around with her food. “Why gems in the first place?”
That had gained her a disapproving look from Pearl who refrained from serving her a spoonful of whatever it was she had cooked.
“They’re our birth stones.” Garnet had answered her as if it was common sense.
“Right.” Peridot had drawled the word out and had gone back to pick at her food with her utensil. “Of course they are.”
It was interesting though, how close to the truth their identities were. It was hard to differentiate which ones were the truth and which ones were the lies.
Peridot sat in front of a computer in the living room, a blanket draped over her shoulders to keep warm. It was already halfway through October. The weather had just started to become chilly.
Because of her little feat, she was prohibited from having any electronic in her bedroom aside from her cellphone. She was not trusted enough and was required to do her coding and programming in the common area so that her ‘housemates’ were assured that she wasn’t doing anything illegal. Peridot thought it was silly and it didn't really matter considering none of them knew much about coding.
She was currently looking over the bits and pieces of the program she was currently working on when Pearl interrupted her by tapping the back of one of her hands with Peridot's cellphone. Peridot stopped typing and looked up at the older woman.
“What is this?” Pearl shoved her phone in front of her face. Peridot squinted her eyes at the screen. A long text message was in front of her.
Peridot growled, her anger beginning to bubble. “Why have you been looking through my phone?”
“I didn’t mean to, I was tidying up the common area and just so happened to see the message appear when I picked it up to put—,” Pearl huffed, pinching the bridge of her nose with her unoccupied hand. “That’s beside the point! Why have you been neglecting your responsibilities?”
“I haven’t been neglecting anything.” Peridot hissed, snatching the phone from her grasp. “And what’s with the government and privacy?”
“Like you’re one to talk about privacy.” Pearl derided. She pointed an accusing finger at Peridot. “You better make an appointment to meet her tomorrow.”
"Yeah, yeah. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going back to my work." Peridot mumbled, placing her phone down on the table next to her folded glasses and went back to furiously typing codes on a document.
"I'm serious, Peridot." Pearl stood over her, hands on hips. "Do not jeopardize this operation."
Peridot scoffed. She stopped typing and pushed her chair back, narrowing her eyes at the taller woman. "Funny. I thought this operation finished the moment 'Yellow Diamond' was caught. Pack your bags everybody! ‘Homeworld’ is not a threat to the public anymore!"
Pearl balled her hands into a fist. "Careful. You don't know what you're talking about."
"Because nobody lets me know anything!" Peridot ruffled her own hair in fury. "This has something to do with me! I have every right to know what's going on!"
From her peripheral, she could see that Garnet and Amethyst had made their way to the common area, probably because of the racket that she and Pearl caused.
“It’s not like we wanted this arrangement either.” Pearl sighed, looking down at her feet and shook her head before she looked back up and glared at Peridot. “Honestly, I do not trust you. Statistics show that many of those previously affiliated with an organizations use this as an excuse to spread their influence.”
“Pearl.” Garnet cautioned her.
“I’ve changed!” Peridot was miffed. “And it’s not like I saved the world or anything. Do you know what a pseudo-global grid shutdown would mean? It’s unpredictable! It would lead to the plausible full shutdown of the country's multiple electrical grids. This could mean the loss of power and generators in hospitals and cause many to die from the lack of machine-support. It could also trigger a malfunction in the secret-not-so-secret missile systems that are always on the ready to invoke a nuclear explosion in many parts of the world.”
“You’re lucky I found out about ‘The Cluster’ in its semi-early stages. Good thing I knew the implications of what could happen if it was put into effect.” She reminded them of her act of hacking into the CIA intentionally from the ‘Homeworld’ Yellow quadrant cyber-frame in order to thwart the plans to basically create an Apocalypse. “So, yeah! You’re welcome!”
"Ugh. Enough!" Pearl threw her hands in the air in annoyance. "You broke the law, you have no ground to ask for privileges at this time. Now, please. Just go along with your cover so that you don't draw attention to yourself."
With that, Pearl walked away from her and into the kitchen.
After a few moments of silence, Amethyst walked over to her and patted her on the back. "Sorry about that, Peridot."
"What's her problem?" Peridot snarled as she watched Garnet walk into the kitchen to try and check up on Pearl.
"They don't really like to talk about it. But taking down 'Homeworld' is really important to us." Amethyst stopped patting Peridot’s back and shoved her hands in her pockets before she shrugged.
"I can see that. The only thing I don't understand is why." Peridot muttered.
Amethyst stared at her, deciding whether or not it was proper to continue the conversation and give the younger woman some answers. "Let's just say they've wronged all of us and we just want to return the favor in the way of justice."
Peridot wasn't stupid enough to press the matter any further and just nodded. She was thankful that Amethyst tried to be truthful with her.
She wasn't mad at Pearl or anything. She understood where the older woman was coming from, and she was right in the fact that Peridot had no place in knowing the things. However, the classifications pertained to her and the likelihood of her life being on the line. So, she felt justified at the fact that she exploded.
She pulled the blanket inwardly to cover herself. She looked at her phone on the table and took it. Peridot went to her text message inbox. She pressed on the message from an unregistered number and began to type a response.
Peridot grumbled to herself as she slogged towards and into the Student Union Building. She followed the smell of cheap American-Chinese food and roasted coffee beans until she reached a hallway. She rounded the corner, revealing a cafeteria full of tables and booths.
There were lots of people, their conversation bouncing off each other and echoing in the spacious room. Peridot rubbed her palms on her pants before going into a pocket and took out her cellphone.
She looked down at her cellphone, reading over the message to make sure she was in the right place. Her phone buzzed and a new message popped up.
She looked up from her cellphone and scanned the room.
There seated in a corner booth was a woman. Tan skin and dyed blue hair stood out against the red colored booth. She caught sight of Peridot staring at her and began to wave.
Some people stopped their conversation and looked at the woman waving. Others looked around the room to see who she was avidly motioning toward.
Peridot felt her cheeks go hot and she quickly walked towards her to make her stop.
She didn't want attention to be drawn to her.
Chapter 3: De Novo
Green meets Blue.
Happy that I can use some words from one of my native tongues! Not really particular to this chapter, but, oh well. Also, sorry for the late updates; school got really busy all of a sudden, but I think updates for this will be slow anyway.
Thanks for reading!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The first thing that Peridot noticed, aside from her blue hair and tan skin, was how big the woman's eyes were. They were wide and round, making her look younger than she probably was.
The closer she got, she became aware that her face was spotted with freckles just one shade darker than her skin. They moved ever so slightly as the smile on the woman's face widened as Peridot approached her.
To be honest, she would be mendacious if she didn’t admit the first thing she had noticed was how beautiful this woman was.
You have no tact, Olive Mendhisunhera.
Peridot looked down and met her eyes. They were so blue, and like the ocean, she felt like she could get lost in them. She had to look away from her eyes because of how cheery they seemed to twinkle.
"Lapis Lazuli?" Peridot mumbled as soon as she stood in front of the other woman.
"That's me!" The woman now known as 'Lapis Lazuli' gave a small laugh, as if she had just said a joke that Peridot missed, her blue eyes glinting with interest. “But you can just call me Lapis.”
"I’m Ol—," Peridot gave a sudden cough and cleared her throat. "Peridot Faridhat."
"It's nice to finally meet you, ol’ Peridot." She extended her hand, which Peridot reluctantly held and shook.
Peridot gave a dry laugh. “Nice to meet you too.”
Maybe because this was the first physical contact she’s had with someone outside of Amethyst’s shoulder hugs and Garnets occasional pats on her back, or maybe because it was something else, but the small connection of their palms made her whole body warm up. Peridot had to take a deep breath in.
“Noho! Have a seat!” Lapis motioned to the empty booth seat in front of her with her free arm.
The fact that Lapis was obviously not from around these parts caused Peridot to raise her guard.
“This place is too public and there a lot of people here.” Peridot let go of her hand and immediately brought her own back to her side. “Are you sure we can have a conversation?”
“We can go someplace else if it bothers you.” Lapis offered.
Peridot waved her hands frantically in front of her in protest. “No, no. I already made you wait. I wouldn’t want to make you move.”
“Shoots, ainokea.” Lapis shook her head and began to gather her things. “This time is for you, so it doesn’t really matter.”
She saw that the other woman was starting to pack her things. To stop her from leaving, Peridot quickly sat down in the seat in front of Lapis and placed her backpack on the booth by her side. She immediately faced Lapis and looked her straight in the eye. “This is fine, really.”
Lapis stopped packing her bag and raised a brow. The grin from when they first made eye contact had never left her face.
Peridot found it really charming how somebody could smile for that long and could not help but think of Marshal Smiley. She gave a small snigger at that thought.
"Can I just say,” Lapis continued to pack her bag as she talked, closing it after she was done. “I find it funny that your first and last name sound the same."
"Hah. Yeah." Peridot gave a strained chuckle. "My dad thinks he's got great sense of humor."
"He does!" Lapis gave a snort which was followed by a laugh.
Peridot perked up. It was the cutest thing she's heard in a while, maybe even in her entire life. She wished she had recorded it so that she could play it again and again. "The next time I see him, I'll tell him you appreciate his naming skills."
Peridot suddenly became silent. She just realized that she had referred to Marshal Smiley as her 'father.'
Lapis had placed her bag on the floor by her feet and turned her attention to Peridot. As if sensing the sudden change in atmosphere, Lapis changed the subject. “So howzit today?”
“Meh, it’s going.” Peridot fidgeted in her seat.
"That’s at least something." Lapis’s tone was even but Peridot knew that she was not happy with her answer.
Peridot wanted to skip the pleasantries. She leaned forward and looked at Lapis from below. "Can I ask you something? Is it really necessary for me to have a mentor?"
Peridot realized how offending her remark might’ve been and immediately defended herself. "Not that I’m saying you taking your time to meet me is unnecessary! It’s just that I honestly see no benefit in mandatory meetings if all we’re basically going to do is talk or something."
“Getting mentored isn’t all poho. It’s not all bad. Just chance ‘em, you know?” Lapis’ smile became taut as she tried to keep it on her face. "The first semester of any schooling is always the toughest, so it helps to have some guidance. I know when I was in your position last year, having a mentor helped with the transitioning. Plus, this time is for you. We can do whatever you want to do. If you want to do homework, then we could. Shoot, we could even go grocery shopping! Or if you simply want to talk, we can talk."
Peridot frowned and looked to the side, focusing on the table next to them. The last thing she wanted to do was talk. She didn’t want to divulge any more information, and talking was the best way to slip up and give herself away. However, she didn’t want to fabricate a made-up backstory and entangle herself in a web of lies. Especially not with Lapis; she didn’t deserve to be lied to even if it meant jeopardizing her alias.
She could hear Lapis take a deep breath in, as if she were going to sigh. "I’m not supposed to tell you this, but I’m required to give a quick report so we can track how the semester went for you and assess your eligibility for the scholarship."
Great. Now her lies would be documented, meaning Peridot needs to keep track of what she says.
Peridot gathered that if she were to act very disinterested and cold, maybe Lapis would leave her be and just fake the documentation of their meetings. Though, the ones in charge of her would probably kill her if she screws with the scholarship situation. She wouldn’t have to wait for ‘Homeworld’ to do the job.
"But don’t worry! It’s all confidential. Anyway it’s all about progress." Lapis gave her a look of understanding. "Trust me. It’s going to be worthwhile and it will help you out in the long-run. Sometimes you just need those times to vent, you know?"
All Peridot could do was mutter an, "I guess."
She must have a knack for sensing Peridot’s discomfort because Lapis changed the topic of the conversation once again. “So where are you from?”
“Nowhere special. Born and raised in plain old Plano, Texas.” Peridot recited her new identification. Peridot was glad that the topic was changed. The previous exchange was getting awkward and she was starting to close herself up. “You?”
“Hawai’i.” Lapis responded. “What are you studying?”
“I’m getting my doctorate in Com-Sci and CE.” Peridot answered her even before Lapis was finished asking the question. Her cheeks heated with embarrassment and she gave a rueful look. “And you?”
“PhDs in Marine Bio and Aerospace Engineering.” The soft smile was back on Lapis’s face. “If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?”
“Just turned twenty-four.” Peridot mentally kicked herself. She had answered without thinking. Good thing her birthday was one of the things she kept. “How about you?”
“Twenty-six! Wow.” Lapis gave a low whistle. “You must be some kine’a akamai, yeah?”
“Erm?” Peridot blinked. “What?”
“Sorry, I meant to say, you’re pretty smart, being your age and getting your doctorate and all.” Lapis gave an apologetic smile.
“I don’t think I’m smart,” Peridot dismissed Lapis’s apology. “Just a good study.”
Lapis gave a tiny giggle. “So, you’re smart.”
Peridot gave a small smile and shrugged her shoulders, entertained by the woman before her. “Then I’m smart. I’m sure you’re smart too.”
“Me? Naw!” Lapis gave another fit of her snort-laugh. “Perseverance is key, you know? I’m not the best when it comes to school, but I never gave up.”
“But you’re studying pretty hard majors!” Peridot could not hide her awe. “And from what I can gather, you seem like you’re not having a hard time.”
“It’s only easy probably because I like the topics.” Lapis waved her hand nonchalantly in disagreement. “It’s important to do things you enjoy because then you lose motivation and it just feels like a chore.”
Peridot had never really thought about it that way before. Was that the reason why even though she knew what she was doing was illegal, she continued it without question because she liked being around computers? She just uttered a, “Yeah.”
“Hmm,” was the only reply Lapis gave.
Knowing that she was the reason why the conversation kept going dry, Peridot initiated the new topic and said the first thing that came to mind. “Your birthday must be in December.”
“Hah, why? Because of my name?” Lapis graced Peridot with an encore of her snort-laugh and Peridot decided that she really loved that sound. “Hoʻomakeʻaka! Who would’ve thought a computer nerd would know about rocks!”
“I actually don’t.” Peridot shyly ruffled the back of her head. “One of my housemates specializes in some sort of Geoscience and I was given a crash course on birthstones.”
“My mother named me Lapis Lazuli because she thought the rock was pretty.” Lapis leaned back in her seat, mirth in her voice. “My birthday is actually in April.”
Peridot found herself making a mental note for some reason. It was probably because of how her brain was wired to remember every single detail. The long nights in front of the screen scrolling through multiple codes just to find that extra comma that prevented it from working at least helped her hone such a skill. “Is that why your hair is blue?”
“Naw. Ocean and sky.” Lapis beamed, proud of her choice in coloring her hair. Lapis asked back. "Why's your hair blonde?"
Peridot simply stared at her, pausing. Lapis stared back, not breaking the eye contact.
"I thought it was time for a change." It was technically half of the truth. Marshal Smiley had suggested she changed her appearance to make her new identity less conspicuous. "Plus, new city, new me, you know?"
Lapis's expression softened. "I know."
"So what brings you to Beach City?" Peridot sheepishly rubbed the back of her neck, breaking the eye contact with her and focused on the papers on the table. "Since your studies are Marine Bio and Aero—."
"Why leave an island with military bases and possible aircraft carriers?" Lapis finished for her.
Peridot simply nodded.
"Ku'oko'a. Freedom." Lapis grinned, propping her chin on the back of her left hand. "As much as I love them, I wanted to go somewhere I didn't need to depend on my family. Especially from my mother and one of my cousins. They would never let me do things on my own, always having me aggro, getting under my skin. You can only handle so much smothering, you know?"
Peridot blinked. This was the first time since she’s been in Beach City that anybody had been so willing to be open to her. She barely knew the woman, she met her today, and yet here she was listening to her life story.
Peridot didn't say anything. Growing up, she didn't really have the experience of being dependent on her family. The closest thing she's gotten to being smothered was by Pearl's constant nagging her over things she was responsible in accomplishing. As much as Peridot hated to admit it, Pearl's treatment of her was the closest thing she's gotten to motherly care.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the feeling of a hand softly on her shoulder. She gazed at Lapis and saw that there was worry in her eyes.
“Mihi,” Lapis mumbled. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say anything offensive."
Peridot shook her head. "No, I was just lost in thought."
Lapis knit her eyebrows together, she opened her mouth to say something else but Peridot interrupted her.
"Really! I'm fine." She gave a smile to reassure the older woman. "I really am."
Lapis took her hand off of her shoulder and reluctantly nodded, dropping the concern. “Shoots, okay.”
They peered at each other, a silence falling between them.
Peridot sighed, not being able to take the silence. “My housemate kept bothering me about this and it got so annoying. We had an argument about this last night.”
She ran a hand through her hair. “Sorry, it’s dumb and—.”
“It’s not dumb.” Lapis interjected. She bit her lower lip, pausing, before she spoke. “I have an older sister. Her name is Malachite. Our relationship was maika’i ole. We’ve never really gotten along, and one day we had a huge fight. I haven’t seen her since then.”
Lapis glanced down at her hands and began to fiddle with her thumbs. Everything about her was calm but Peridot could detect the slight strain in her voice. “But one thing I do know is that it will be one of my biggest regrets in life if I do not reconcile with her. You should resolve this with your housemate. The semester just started and you guys still have a semester and a half to live together, assuming this living arrangement is only for a year. Don’t make your living situation hard over some small argument.”
Peridot’s relationship with Pearl wasn’t as intimate as Lapis’s relationship with her older sister, but seeing how Lapis was quick to bare herself like that made her resolve to swallow her pride and apologize to Pearl.
Peridot softly smiled at Lapis, finding herself placing her hands over Lapis’s twiddling thumbs. “Hey, I’m sure you guys will settle your difference and bury the hatchet. As for me, I won’t do anything as dumb as making my life a nightmare and continue being mad at my housemate.”
Lapis looked up from their hands and beamed at Peridot. “Thanks, Peridot.”
Lapis seemed as if she was going to say more but she was interrupted by the muffled bells that chimed from the university clock tower in a distance.
“Has it been an hour already?” Lapis jumped from her seat, Peridot’s hand over hers flew back and almost smacked her on the face. “Sorry! I have to go to work now, but it was really nice to meet you.”
“Work?” Peridot scrunched her nose, raising her glasses up a bit. “But aren’t you a scholar?”
“The scholarship only covers my tuition, need money for everything else, you know?” Lapis snorted, quickly grabbing hold of her bag and slinging it around her shoulder. “Others need to live apart from school work, unlike you Peridot.”
Peridot felt a bit snubbed. “I have a life.”
“Oh?” A mischievous smirk was now found on Lapis’s face.
Peridot couldn’t handle such a devilish look. “Anyways! You should go to work!”
“It’s pretty chill. I basically treat it like a pau hana and just watch shows.” Lapis squeezed herself out of the booth and stood by the table, towering over Peridot. “You should drop by some time. I work at the corner stop in the activity center.”
“Would I get a discount if I go?” Peridot simpered, returning Lapis’s playfulness.
“Maybe.” Lapis winked at her and Peridot nearly died. She was way too cute. “Well, it was nice to meet you!”
“You too.” Peridot lamely replied.
She watched Lapis turn around and start walking away.
She suddenly stopped walking. Peridot was going to ask why the abrupt halt when Lapis suddenly exclaimed, snapping her fingers. She turned around and pointed her index fingers at Peridot.
Peridot choked on the air that she inhaled, she pushed herself from the table so strongly that the wall behind her shook.
Everyone in the room turned to look their way once again.
After her coughing from breathing in wrong, she managed to gasp a startled, “Wh-what?”
“Your eyes.” Lapis was amused at her reaction. She stared at Peridot in wonder. “I was gonna say they were the color of emerald but I’d say they’re kine’a more like olives.”
“O-oh.” Peridot gave a nervous chuckle as she eased her now tensed body. “Yeah.”
“Then, I’ll see you around!” Lapis beamed, giving her a final wave of farewell before turning and exiting the building through glass doors.
Peridot sent her off with a weak hand wave of her own.
The woman she watched leaving nearly gave her a heart attack.
Peridot unlocked the door and was about to turn the knob but the door swung open. There stood by the doorway was Pearl.
Both of them jumped back a bit, surprised to see each other.
“Peridot?!” Pearl cleared her throat, lowering her voice and hiding her surprise. “Hello.”
Peridot had already resigned that she was going to apologize to Pearl, but this was too soon. “Hey.”
Pearl looked at her feet. “You’re home later than usual.”
“Yeah.” Peridot toed at the ground.
“Did you meet with your mentor?” She saw Pearl bring her hands together in front of her.
“Yeah.” Peridot mentally berated herself. Say something more, idiot.
The air was thick with awkwardness that a machete would be needed to slice through it.
Finally after the pregnant pause, Pearl sighed. “Look, Peridot, I’m—.”
“No. I’m the one who should apologize.” Peridot quickly cut in. “I’m under a lot of stress with the whole new identity thing so I’ve been kind of a grump lately. I had no right to take it out on you. You’re just doing your job.”
She could tell that she caught Pearl off-guard because the older woman cleared her throat once again. “No, no. I’m sorry. I still shouldn’t have spoken to you in that way.”
Peridot dared to gaze up, she was surprised that Pearl was looking at her with a small smile on her face. “How about, we just let’s just let bygones be bygones?”
Pearl gave a nod. “I’d like that.”
Peridot immediately looked away, her cheeks growing hot. She gave a nervous joke. “I have to say it’s kind of weird being this friendly with you.”
Pearl laughed a genuine laugh. “Then I suppose as long as we’re in a mutual understanding, we don’t have to act like we’re friendly with each other.”
“Yeah.” Peridot thought back to earlier when she had thought of Pearl as a mother figure. It was strange considering she only knew this woman for a month and a half.
“Then I’ll see you at dinner time.” It sounded like a question but Peridot was sure it was a statement.
She simply answered with a, “Bye.”
Pearl patted her shoulder as she walked past her and toward the car that was parked in the driveway.
Peridot turned and watched as she got in the car and backed out of the driveway. She didn’t know why but she waved at Pearl as she drove away.
When she saw that the car reached the stop sign, she went inside the house and closed the door behind her, making sure to lock it.
Judging from the lack of Garnet on the couch reading something and sounds from the kitchen, Peridot was sure that she was alone in the house.
She dropped her bag by the coat rack and kicked off her shoes, making sure to place them on the shoe rack.
Her phone buzzed in her pocket. She looked at her phone as she walked towards the computer, a grin had crept up on her face.
She typed a reply.
Peridot chuckled but soon cut herself short. She shook her head clear and turned on the computer, reflecting on the day as it started up.
She was amazed at how their interaction went; Peridot found herself reciprocating the native Hawaiian, opening up to Lapis faster than she had with her housemates. Their conversation today never went past the point of sharing really personal things aside from Lapis’s insight to life, but in the future, it may.
That was dangerous.
The chances of being revealed just skyrocketed.
Peridot determined herself to be very careful around Lapis Lazuli.
It made her scared at the fact that it was easy for Lapis to make her talk.
Noho – “sit down”
Ainokea – slang “I don’t care”
Howzit – slang “How’s it going?”
Poho – “waste of time”
Chance ‘em – “give it a chance”/“try it out”
Kine’a – slang “kind of a…”
Akamai – “smart one”
Hoʻomakeʻaka – “That’s a good one (joke)!”/“That’s funny!”
Ku'oko'a – “independence”
Aggro – “annoyed”
Mihi – “sorry”
Maika’i ole – “not that great”/“bad”
Pau Hana – a term to explain the end of a work day where you can go home and relax
Chapter 4: Beta Enterprise
Never be complacent.
Time flies and we’re skipping the awkward initial meetings and going straight to when things happen. Thanks for reading!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was already November and the two of them have known each other for about three weeks now. The interactions prior were small tidbits here and there. They had met with each other twice a week ever since the meeting at the cafeteria. The meetings were not as productive as Lapis probably would’ve hoped they would be but Peridot was painfully aware that she was slowly opening up to the blue-haired beauty.
They were currently seated at the front row of the second level seats of the student movie theater on a Saturday night.
There was a special screening of the Camp Pining Hearts: How Time Flies movie and Lapis insisted that she and Peridot should go watch it knowing how much the shorter woman loved the show. Normally, Peridot abstained from going out of the house unless necessary, but partly because of her obsession to the show and partly because it meant a night out with Lapis, Peridot relented and accepted her offer.
This was the official first of their meeting that was not centered in scholarship and school talk, even if they never did talk about those things in their normal appointments.
Lucky for them, they seemed to be the only ones in the theater so they were free to converse.
“So you’re telling me that these two would make a much better couple even though those two are the ones who are already in a relationship?” Lapis raised a brow as she reached over to grab the paper popcorn bowl that was atop Peridot’s abdominal area. “’A’ole.”
“They’re not in a relationship.” Peridot scoffed as Lapis crunched on the salted popped kernels.
“But they were kissing and stuff?” Lapis gulped the handful of popcorn she had shoved in her mouth. “Also they live together and they have a pet together. Maopopo loa that’s what couples do.”
“It’s just for added drama.” Peridot waved her hand dramatically towards the big screen. “You can see how uncomfortable they were with each other.”
“Uh-huh, right.” Lapis chuckled causing Peridot to pout and give a tame glare her way. “And how do you know all this?”
“It’s subtext, Lapis.” Peridot rolled her eyes, and exasperated look donned on her face. “Obviously the people behind the writing have no clue in what they’re doing.”
“You do know that the show finished a couple of years ago, right? Super kahiko.” Lapis couldn’t help but smirk at the retro fashion of the campers. “And this movie is like 10 years old? So it’s not like things will change the way you want it to since it’s already been written.”
“That’s beside the point! These two,” Peridot gestured to ‘Pierre’ who stood to the left of ‘Percy,’ “are much more compatible with each other than those two.”
“Hmmm,” Lapis looked at the scene in front of her just in time to see Peridot’s preferred pair, who Lapis figured were ‘Percy and Pierre,’ interact by giving each other a big high-five handshake, pulling each other in a tight hug. She could say she understood the appeal. “Then why not just put them in a poly-amorous relationship?”
Peridot gave the strangest sound next to her. It was a mix of disgust and hocking a loogie. “That’s a cop out.”
“Depends, though. If the feeling is mutual throughout.” Lapis laughed. “But you’re right. Like if you and I and another person were ever in a poly-amorous relationship, I don’t think I would like it. I’d want you all to myself.”
Peridot choked on a popcorn. Did she understand what Lapis said right? There definitely were no underlying meanings to it… right? After clearing her throat with a couple hacks, she gave a weak a squeak. “Wh-what?”
“I’m just saying,” Lapis snorted, giving her a wink. “A relationship with more than two people would be paʻakīkī. It would be difficult to keep. Kudos to those who can, though.”
Of course it meant nothing.
Peridot found herself frowning a bit, her heart unsated at the fact she built some hope for herself. She did not respond and turned her attention back to screen in time to catch another snog session between Percy and Paulette.
In those three weeks of knowing each other, Peridot learned more about who and what kind of person Lapis was. Even though they had just met, Lapis was an open book. She actually encouraged Peridot to read her.
Peridot envied that: the ability to be free to be who you are without the fear of imminent danger the moment she exposed herself.
But that was something she would never tell Lapis.
Lapis seemed to do as she pleased, always acting on her whims. She learned that the woman quite enjoyed taking early runs across the beach and climbing the faux rock wall in the university gym without a harness. Any opportunity to get her heart pumping and lungs gasping, Lapis took it.
Past her physical physique, Lapis was good-humored and witty. There were many instances where her impish nature came through in the form of off-hand quips and joking nudges and winks here and there. Any time spent with her was never dull, as Peridot would confess.
She was a social butterfly as well and not at all awkward – the opposite of Peridot.
There was one time where Lapis suggested that they take a walk across the campus and explore, which Peridot begrudgingly agreed to. As they strolled through the campus, every few feet or so, someone would stop them to converse with Lapis. She knew that Lapis could feel how awkward Peridot felt being sidelined and would quickly give the person a greeting and blow them off so that she and Peridot could continue walking in each other’s company.
Deep down, that made Peridot feel at ease for some reason.
She learned a lot about Lapis but in that time, the information Peridot had given Lapis concerning herself never passed the capacity of her fabricated identity and her school life. She could tell that Lapis was getting a bit frustrated that Peridot was not really opening up with anything, though the woman tried to hide it.
There was not much Peridot could say about herself without giving away her actual identity. She could always fabricate answers to Lapis’ questions but she did not have the heart to lie even more to someone trying their best to make her BCU experience to be good one.
There is a limit to the lies one can tell to someone after all. There was not much to say about her actual life anyway.
Despite that strain in their relationship, she quite enjoyed Lapis’ company. Aside from her fellow “Crystal Gems,” as Garnet had begun to refer to the household members as a unit, probably because of their names, Peridot did not really interact with anyone else but Lapis in Beach City.
Peridot appreciated the fact that whenever they would meet up, every single time Lapis would catch sight of her, she would quickly brighten up and eagerly wave her over. It was as if someone had animated her just by the sight of Peridot. Maybe it was custom, she always did hear that Hawaiians were very warmly, but Lapis had exceeded her expectations of what warmly meant.
Not to mention that Peridot has been finding Lapis attractive with each meeting they had. She has always been aware at the attraction she felt towards people of the same sex or more of the lack of interest in the opposite gender.
Every contact with her would suck her into fits of heart flutters and heated cheeks.
The fact that Lapis was the type to be very intimately close, disregarding personal space as soon as she felt comfortable did not help at all.
It may be reading into things, considering she has no experience in relationships aside from what she saw on the screen, but Peridot couldn’t help but have the feeling that Lapis had an interest in her.
It made her happy.
Now Peridot would be flattered because Lapis was such a great person. She was great company, however, Peridot knew she couldn’t afford to get close to anybody because of her situation.
She hated the feeling, but there was also a small voice inside of her that constantly nagged, feeding the suspicion on the blue-haired lady. Peridot despised the fact that her life was so screwed up that she couldn’t even trust anybody.
Lapis was probably harmless and really did want the best for her and wanted to get to close to her as a friend but a part of Peridot truly believed it was all an act.
But there was always that slim chance of her possibly being a part of ‘Homeworld.’
Aside the one-sided CPH discourse mainly on Peridot’s part, Lapis and Peridot went to a nearby pizzeria and sat at the farthest table away from the crowd. They sat in front of each other. They had ordered a medium pizza, splitting the pie toppings in half to match each of their preferences.
As they waited for the pizza, they continued to talk.
It started with general small talk about the nights getting darker and the weather getting cold. The topic then changed to the movie they had just seen, prompting Peridot once again to get impassioned in her explanation of the series.
Their pizza finally arrived and they ate in silence. They didn’t realize how hungry they were. As they chewed, they shared eye contact followed by closed lipped smiles, cheeks full with pizza.
When neither of them could no longer take another bite, they reclined back in their chairs to let their stomach settle and continued to talk.
They talked about school and how their semester was going. Lapis reminded Peridot of the assignments due in order to keep her scholarship status for the upcoming semester.
They talked about Lapis’s new second job of babysitting a local. Lapis talked about the boy that she was taking care of and what a ball of optimism and happiness he was. Peridot couldn’t help but grin at the care that seemed to ooze in Lapis’s tone as she talked about the boy.
Peridot jokingly called Lapis a “mother,” gaining her a playful smack on her forearm from the older woman.
“I have to get married and do the do first!” Lapis snorted and Peridot choked on the water she was drinking, the water going up her nose.
It hurt a bit but the laughter that ensued was worth it.
Their fits of merriment was interrupted by Peridot’s phone vibrating, indicating that she was receiving a call.
She looked and saw who it was and immediately answered it, trying to distance herself from Lapis in an effort to make sure she did not hear the person on the other side of the call. She brought the phone to her ear. “Hello?”
“Hey, Peridough!” Amethyst’s voice drawled from the other end of the call.
Peridot groaned because she was interrupted from her night out and partly because of the dumb pronunciation of her new name. “What is it Amethyst?”
“Someone’s here to see you but since you’re out with your girlfriend,” Amethyst snickered, “calling you’s the only option.”
“She’s not my—!” Peridot stopped herself and gave a shaky laugh as she peered at Lapis who caught her gaze and smiled. “Anyway, who is it?”
Amethyst’s guffawing suddenly became muffled followed by a deep voice. “Hello, Olive. It’s been a while.”
“Smiles!” She subconsciously turned to Lapis and grinned. “What? Why are you here? How long are you going to be here?”
“Easy with the questions.” He chuckled. She wouldn’t admit how nice it was to hear that sound again. “I just got here today. I have news on the case and I thought it’d be best that I tell you in person.”
“Oh, right!” Peridot could see Lapis raise her brow at how vivacious she sounded right now, an entertained smirk on her face. “How’s everything going?”
She could hear Marshal Smiley clear his throat. “I think it’d be best if you come back to the house now.”
“Why?” She looked at Lapis who continued to look at her. “I’m kind of busy at the moment. I think it’s fine if you say it over the phone.”
He paused before he inquired, “Are you sure about that?”
“Yeah, I know how busy you probably are.” Peridot shrugged but then she realized that it couldn’t be seen through a phone call. “It’s okay.”
There was no answer.
“Smiles?” Peridot had to take the phone from her ear to make sure she didn’t accidentally hang up. The call was still going on.
She quickly placed the phone back at her ear in time to catch what he was saying. “I’m sorry. There is a likelihood that ‘Yellow Diamond’ will walk.”
Peridot’s whole world just crumbled. “What?”
Lapis who was smiling widely in front of her now had a look of pure horror, as if Peridot just died in front of her.
With the news of the likelihood of ‘Yellow Diamond’ being free to walk, she might as well have died there and now, considering the first thing the criminal on trial would do was hunt her down and rid of Peridot for outing her.
Of course this would happen to her. Just when she had one of the best days of her miserable life.
Peridot was starting to hyperventilate, her vision beginning to blur and the sight in front began to spin. “Tell me you’re not serious.”
“They’re appealing at the nature of how the information against her was obtained.” Peridot could swear that she could see Marshal Smiley’s frown just from his voice. “They’re pleading the Fourth and for some reason it has a chance to hold in court.”
“So it’s my fault?” Of course it was her fault. She was the one who started this mess. She should’ve just stayed silent and all this could’ve been avoided.
“No, no, Olive!” His voice cut through her inner thoughts. “It’s not your fault at all! Just you wait. We’re doing the best we can to try and lock her up.”
“Well try harder!” She practically shouted, her voice cracking and on the verge of hysteria. Lapis next to her jumped, startled at the sudden volume in her voice.
“I know, I know. Please don’t worry.” He crooned, tone was even and his voice soft. “You’re safe where you are.”
More was said after this but Peridot heard nothing. They were probably more excuses, and she had no use or need for more excuses. Her heart pounded fast and she was sure that the sound was audible to everyone in the whole city. The beat deafened her ears.
She looked ahead of her but she couldn’t focus on anything. “How can you be so sure?”
The question came out as a whisper she had not meant to ask.
Marshall Smiley sounded as if he was going to say something else but he stopped himself and sighed. “We’re not. But rest assured, your life is not in danger.”
“I’m not assured.” She retorted.
“I promise, Olive. No harm will befall on you.” His declaration was so firm that Peridot could do nothing but accept it.
Peridot closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She allowed the deep voice of Marshal Smiley promising her of her safety to replace the thoughts that stormed within her.
Her eyes flew open when a hand was placed over hers followed by a soft squeeze. She looked to her side and caught sight of never-ending blue full of worry and support.
Lapis looked so confused and fearful at what had just happened, but even so, here she was trying to calm Peridot down. Peridot's heart seemed to have lurched up to her throat, making it hard to breathe. She could feel the tears coming.
To prevent herself from crying, she croaked a response, interrupting Marshal Smiley’s ongoing promise. “Gee, Smiles. Don’t you know who you’re talking to?”
“I’m sorry?” He was caught off-guard by her response.
“Peridot Farhidat, that’s who.” She had to snigger at her response.
She heard a chuckle reply her from the other side of the call. “That ‘a girl.”
Unable to say anymore in fear of completely breaking down in public, she hummed in response.
“I have to go now.” There was shuffling heard and his voice was drowned in it. “Then, till next time.”
Before she could say anything, the call ended and all she was left to hear was the incessant beeping of the dial tone. She exhaled and brought her phone down at her lap.
“What was that about?”
Lapis’s question made Peridot jump. She had forgotten that she was still at the pizzeria. She could tell that she was unhappy at the fact that she was surprised by her query even though Lapis quickly put forth a smile to mask it.
“Just a case of bad news.” Peridot sighed and looked down at her phone, wishing she had turned it off so that the news could have waited and the night was not ruined. “Nothing special.”
Lapis frowned, obviously wishing Peridot would expound more but she held her tongue. She did not want to upset her more than she already was. “So I guess this marks the end of our night?”
Lapis looked at Peridot, appearing to be silently assessing her. Peridot did not want to look at her eyes, knowing the answer that Lapis wanted to hear from her.
She sucked in her breath and gave the opposite. “Yeah.”
Lapis reached into her front jean pockets and pulled out a wallet, grabbing a couple of various dollar bills. “Okay then.”
Peridot quickly reached into her own pocket to take out her wallet to help split the cost but Lapis put a hand out to stop her.
“No, it’s okay.” Lapis shut her wallet and put it back into her pocket. “I got it.”
Her tone was what made Peridot not argue with her.
It wasn’t the usual happy.
Rather, it sounded tired and… sad?
Peridot couldn’t really place it. She just knew that it wasn’t the usual Lapis.
Lapis stared at her, her expression held no smile. “What for?”
“I—,” Peridot hesitates, trying to collect her thoughts and come up with a reason. “I don’t know. I feel like I just had to apologize.”
“But why do you feel that way?” Lapis didn’t stop staring her way.
Peridot searched her face for any tell of emotion to understand what she could possibly be thinking. Finding nothing, she shook her head. “I don’t know.”
A hand tapped her forearm that was quickly taken back as soon as Peridot gazed down to look at it.
“It’s okay, Peridot. You don’t have to say it. It’s just,” Lapis rubbed her arm, scooting back in her chair. “I wish you could open up to me more. I can feel that you’re restraining yourself for some reason. Kūoʻo, you can really trust me.”
“Yeah, I know.” Peridot murmured. “Sorry.”
Lapis stood up and towered over Peridot. She gave the seated woman a soft pat on the head. “Let’s get you home.”
They were now parked in front of the house Peridot shared with the undercover agents. She saw no other cars parked on the street and knew that Marshall Smiley was not there. Even though he did say he was leaving, Peridot had hoped he would have been there by the time she got home for some reason.
The car ride had been silent aside from Peridot giving Lapis directions to the house. It was not the usual silence that Peridot would gladly welcome and bask in. Instead, the whole car ride, Peridot felt like she was being suffocated by it.
Seeing that there would be no conversation happening in the car, Peridot opened the passenger door and stepped out of the car. She stood by to opened door. Not able to take the silence any longer, Peridot cleared her throat to get Lapis’s attention. “I’m sorry.”
Lapis turned her body in the driver’s seat and faced her, a small smile on her face. “It’s okay, you have nothing to apologize for. If anything, I should apologize for goading you on. Mihi.”
Peridot looked at her in disbelief.
Before she could respond, Lapis asked her, “See you next week?”
Peridot took a step back onto the sidewalk. “Yeah, sure.”
Lapis’s eyes twinkled underneath the dim interior map light of the car. “Le’ a launa. I had a great time tonight."
Pridot gave a lopsided smile. “I did too.”
And that sentiment was truly genuine.
“Then, good night.”
“Night.” Peridot closed the passenger door, making sure not to slam it.
Lapis stayed positioned facing her direction. Peridot figured she was probably waiting until she got inside of the house. She gave a wave good-bye before turning on her heels and walking towards the door.
She dug for the keys in her pant pockets and got them, inserting the house key in the door knob and unlocking the door. She opened the door and stepped inside. She heard the sound of a car driving away as soon as she closed the door behind her.
At that moment, Pearl passed through the opening in the kitchen that was visible from the entrance. She had a bowl of what appeared to be sliced apples in her hands. “Oh, Peridot. You’re back.”
Amethyst’s head appeared behind the wall. It looked like she was leaning back in her seat. “How was your date?”
Peridot’s cheeks reddened. “It was not a date!”
“Sure, I believe it.” Amethyst wiggled her eyebrows. “But how was it? Did you guys share a kiss?”
Pearl nearly dropped the bowl in her hands and snapped at the younger woman. “Amethyst!”
“What? I’m just asking!” Amethyst laughed, leaning back in and disappearing from Peridot’s line of sight.
Peridot walked into the kitchen area and saw that the three of her housemates were by the counter-top that had multiple bowls full of assorted snacks. She raised a brow. “Did you guys have a party or something?”
“We had a visitor.” Pearl quickly interjected Amethyst who was about to answer her.
“Yeah, a visitor.” Peridot caught the glare and slight shake of the head Pearl directed to Amethyst who just shrugged her shoulders. She didn't say anything about it, knowing Pearl must have her reasons for hiding the identity of the person who was there earlier. The way they were talking, it probably was not Marshall Smiley. “Anyway, you still haven’t shared about your little night out.”
“Peridot looks tired, maybe we should let her go prepare to go to sleep.” Garnet stood up straight from the counter that she was leaning on and walked over to Peridot. “In fact, it’s been a long day for all of us. We should all clean up and head to bed now.”
Peridot knew they were hiding something but she was far too tired to be bothered about it like she normally would. “Thanks Garnet.”
Garnet patted her back and gave her a thumbs up, a small understanding smile placed on her usual expressionless face.
“Good night.” She left the kitchen are after hearing a chorus of farewells and walked to her room. She entered it, closing the door behind her before she kicked off her shoes to the side and fell on her bed with a poof, face first.
She turned her head so that she wasn’t smothered by her comforter and breathed.
She allowed herself to recollect the events that happened earlier in the day, mentally checking off her imaginary checklist.
The day started sub-par. She woke up early and did her laundry. The afternoon was spent working on her code. The evening with Lapis was great. It was an awkward start of Lapis getting lost in her way to pick up Peridot, but now it’s become a funny story to remember.
When Peridot received the text from Lapis asking her to go watch a movie with her, Peridot found herself freaking out about every single detail. She had formulated many possible scenarios that could’ve happened during their time together. When the time came, Peridot found herself forgetting all that she had planned in her head and just thoroughly enjoyed herself. She was touched that Lapis considered doing something pertaining to what Peridot liked to do, one of the small tidbits that Peridot let Lapis know about herself.
She wished the time with her lasted longer.
Everything was great until she received the phone call.
Just remembering the event made her have an inward battle with herself.
If ‘Yellow Diamond’ walked, what would happen now?
It’s not like they’re going to waste any more resources on you.
You’re already in the witness protection program. It’s unlikely you’re going to be found out.
Yeah, yeah, but what if?
Plus the others are in this house too.
Peridot felt a pang of guilt.
Just by being around her, she was putting her housemates and Lapis in danger. Getting caught would not actually bother her as much as involving them.
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
She needed to go as far away as possible from everybody.
A’ole – “nah”/“no way”
Maopopo loa – “I’m pretty sure…”
Kahiko – “ancient”/“old”
Paʻakīkī – “pretty hard/difficult”
Kūoʻo – “honestly”/“I swear…”
Le’ a launa – “It was fun meeting you.”
Chapter 5: Sense of Aliw
A day in the life of Peridot.
It's been a long time, hasn't it?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Peridot! Wake up, you have class in an hour!” Pearl’s muffled voice was followed by harsh knocks on Peridot’s bedroom door. She then heard the doorknob rattling indicating that Pearl was trying to open her door to get inside—probably to try to force her out of bed.
Peridot groaned and rolled over to her stomach, pulling her pillow over her head in an effort to silence the older woman.
“Don’t make me kick down your door!” Pearl pounded on the door once again.
Peridot knew that she was not kidding so she huffed as she got out of the comfort of her bed and trudged towards the door. She unlocked the door and ran back to her bed and covered herself with her blanket.
The door violently swung open and a very disapproving Pearl entered the room. She gave an inhumane noise when she caught sight of Peridot in bed. “Really? You already got up, why did you go back to bed?”
“I couldn’t sleep last night.” Peridot mumbled, snuggling into the warmth of her blanket. “Five more minutes.”
This was true. Peridot spent the rest of the weekend writing down plans on what she would do in the case that ‘Yellow Diamond’ did manage to get out of the trial. She had stayed up Saturday night and the whole day Sunday. When she finally decided to sleep, her brain would not stop formulating plans. She was a ball of anxiety and she did her best to calm herself down. It was five in the morning when she finally stopped thinking about it. It then took her about 30 minutes to fall asleep.
“No. It’s already eight in the morning. Time to get up,” Pearl grabbed a fistful of the blanket and pulled on it. She was met with resistance.
“It’s just Psychology,” Peridot whined as she wrapped the blanket around her legs in an effort to fight against Pearl’s surprisingly strong tugging. “It’s not even my major. I can skip it.”
“That’s not an excuse to blow off a class.” Pearl gave one last pull.
The blanket untangled itself from Peridot, causing her to tumble out of bed and fall on to the floor with an, “Oof !”
“I’m sorry!” Pearl dropped the blanket on the bed and rushed to where Peridot laid on the ground. She squatted down to help the younger woman up. “I didn’t mean to make you fall.”
Peridot pushed herself off of the floor and gave a glare her way, not accepting Pearl’s help. Peridot sat crossed legged on the floor, placing her face in her hands as she yawned. “Sure you didn’t.”
Pearl had an apologetic smirk on her face. She stood up and straightened her back. “At least you’re out of your bed now.”
“Wow, thanks.” Peridot grunted as she also stood up. “I’ll be ready in 12. Now leave.”
Pearl gave the top of Peridot’s head a pat before she walked out of the room. “Breakfast is on the table. Come join us once you’re done.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Peridot sighed as she walked over to her dresser and got out a change of clothes before walking to the bathroom to take a quick shower and prepare for the day.
Peridot went out of her room the same time Amethyst walked out of the bathroom. The slightly older woman had a towel wrapped around her head and only had on underwear.
Peridot found herself blushing. She thought after months of seeing Amethyst practically naked, she would get used to it by now. "Don’t people normally wrap the towel be on their heads once they’re fully clothed?"
“I don’t give a crap about what other people do. And, whoa!” Amethyst actually jumped back when she saw Peridot. “You okay there, Per? You look like death!”
“Sleep deprivation and two days of not showering and you can have this look too.” The micro expression of disgust that was on Amethyst’s face did not go unnoticed. Peridot merely winked at her.
Amethyst chuckled as she slowly walked passed her, arm up in front of her, emphasizing the fact that she did not want to be touched by Peridot. “You would think I would be down, but, believe it or not, I do quite enjoy being clean.”
“You? Clean?” Peridot snorted. “Ha!”
“Hey, hey, hey!” Amethyst shrugged. “Having a clean body and a clean room are two different things. What were you even doing in your room to be holed in there for a whole day?”
“Making a manhole under my bed so I can escape.” Peridot stuck her tongue out. “Now let me join you in being clean.”
“Be done in 10 or else I’m gonna eat your breakfast.” Amethyst said in a sing-song voice and waved at her before walking to her room which was at the end of the hall.
Peridot entered the bathroom and closed the door. She looked at herself in the mirror and nearly flinched. The fact that she did not sleep well was obvious in the dark eye bags and pale complexion. No wonder Amethyst jumped back at the sight of her. Peridot found it funny that she was seeing this look on her face again when she had thought the last time was in the restroom down in that bunker they held her in the time they interrogated her.
Having enough with staring at herself, she undressed and jumped inside the bathtub and turned on the water. She pulled on the string to direct the flow to the shower head. The warm water rained down on her and she could feel all the dirt being washed off of her body. She turned off the water and shampooed her hair before lathering her body with body soap. She made sure to scrub hard. She needed to clean herself of the past two days. Once she was covered with suds from head to toe, she turned on the shower once again and proceeded to wash the soap away with the dirt. Because she was covered with soap, she did not really look at the temperature she set the shower to turn on and was met with cold water. She gave a yelp at the sudden shock and quickly washed the soap off of herself.
Done with the shower, she dried herself before putting on the clean set of clothes she had brought with her. She wrapped her hair with the towel and brushed her teeth. Now that she was cleaned, she pushed her dirty clothes on the counter down to the hamper that was beside it.
Ready to start the day, she got out of the bathroom and walked to the kitchen to eat breakfast.
Her other housemates were seated at the dining table. Garnet was sawing through her sunny-side-up egg on toast using a fork and a knife to make it easier to eat; Pearl was sipping her morning coffee as she filled out the crossword puzzle on the daily newspaper; Amethyst was scarfing her tower of pancakes drenched in syrup and whipped cream. Peridot saw a plate with food similar to what Garnet and Amethyst had in her side of the table. She did not realize how hungry she was until she felt her stomach practically eat itself.
“Thanks for the food.” Peridot took her seat and began to eat her breakfast. She almost shed a tear at the fact that her food was still warm.
Pearl hummed in response, writing down a word before placing the pencil down. She took the final sip of her coffee before standing to place it in the sink. “I’m going to brush my teeth and get ready. When I get back, we’re heading to campus.”
“And you were hassling me about not being ready.” Peridot grumbled under her breath.
Pearl pretended not to have heard her and went upstairs to her room. Amethyst took a break from eating to snicker at Peridot, giving her a wink, and continued to finish her pancakes. Peridot smiled and finished her own breakfast in silence.
Ultimately, she was the last one to finish eating. Because of their house rule, it meant that she was the one who had to wash the dishes. She did not mind, washing dishes strangely calmed her down. Peridot finished washing the dishes and walked to the living room where her three housemates waited for her. When they saw that she was done, they opened the front door and walked to the car.
Garnet stopped by the front door and turned to look at Peridot. “Ready?”
“Yeah.” Peridot picked up her backpack that was by the front door and slung it on her right shoulder. “I’ll lock the door, you can go ahead.”
Garnet nodded and did as she was told. "Don’t forget your glasses."
Peridot sighed. She forgot. She did not really need the glasses to see, but it was a part of her disguise.
She went back into her room and picked up the glasses from her bedside drawer. She unfolded them and breathed on the lenses to fog them up. She then rubbed the lenses with her shirt in an attempt to clear them up. She placed the glasses on, the item finding support on her nose, and walked out of her room.
When she returned to the front door, it was left open with no Garnet in sight. Peridot dug into her backpack for the keys and sauntered outside. She turned and locked the door behind her. She returned the keys back in the backpack.
As she walked to the car she found herself smiling. She had gotten used to her mornings being this way.
Peridot absentmindedly tapped her pen on the wooden desk as she waited for Lapis to show up to their meeting. She sat in a corner in the main campus library, hidden from the other students who were there to study. She was studying a few minutes ago but she grew bored, and reading just made her eyes burn.
The sound of tapping helped her stay awake. She wanted to fall asleep but it would have been rude to Lapis if she came and saw that Peridot was sleeping. Knowing her, Lapis would probably let Peridot sleep after helping her to a comfortable position and draping a jacket over her.
She stifled a yawn. Peridot was really tired. A lot had happened in the past weekend and it was too much for her brain to properly process. That, or her brain just shut down because it did not want to think about the events anymore. It did not help that all her classes in the morning were really slow and were topics that she could care less about.
She did not really want to meet with Lapis because of all that had happened, but Peridot knew she was going to have this meeting either way. Plus, it could be a great distraction from everything else. At least she gets to spend time with Lapis. She just hoped Lapis does not pry about the way their get together on Saturday ended.
Peridot found herself smiling as she remembered their ‘get together.’ The tapping of the pen ceasing. Amethyst insists that their get together was a ‘date’ but Peridot did not want to consider it a date.
It would hurt less once Peridot finally garners enough courage to ask if Lapis took any interest in her in a romantic sense. That would be a long ways to go. Peridot was certain that Lapis was just a very nice person and everything they did together was nothing more than Lapis being nice or doing her job. Besides, she was sure this was just one of her infatuations, though most of them never exceeded the point where she just appreciated their looks. This was probably the first time that Peridot had actually interacted with someone whom she thought of romantically.
As if Lapis knew that Peridot was thinking of her, which she probably did as far Peridot was concerned, the woman appeared in Peridot’s line of sight. The blue haired woman smiled widely and waved as soon as she saw Peridot.
"Hey." Peridot lamely greeted her and Lapis sat in front of her.
"Long time no see." Lapis snorted at her own joke. "How was your weekend?"
Peridot could not help but chuckle along with her. "Great. I did nothing after Saturday night, so that was awesome."
She was lying but she did not want to bring the happy mood down. Being this hyped also helped her forget about her need to sleep.
"By nothing, do you mean coding or playing video games?" Lapis raised a brow, an impish smirk on her lips. "’Aka! Those eye bags are likely the reason why the term even exist."
"Funny." Peridot berated herself mentally, of course Lapis would notice her obvious eye bags. "And no, I was up all night just thinking about things."
Peridot kicked herself under the table. Why did she say that? Now, Lapis was leaned towards her, expecting Peridot to say more. The blue-haired lady was now curious and that was the last thing she needed at this moment.
Peridot racked her brain for something to say. "Um, about random things. Like, you know, those late night things that are profound for some reason. Like, can you cry underwater? Are you telling the truth if you lie in bed? Or, why is everything in the dollar store a dollar? Where’s the profit in that since they sell well-known brand names?"
Lapis burst into laughter. She laughed loud enough that they could hear the sound of shushing from other people they could not see but knew were in the library. She laughed so hard that she held her sides with one arm and softly banged the table with the other.
Peridot nearly melted in her seat. The sound was contagious and she could not help but join her laughing fit.
After a few seconds, Lapis began to calm her laughter to weak chuckles. She wiped the tears that had formed in her eyes. "Mihi. Those questions are so ridiculous! It’s funny, I can’t believe that they kept you up at night."
"Because they’re really important life questions? But the one that kept me up was, why does Percy keep going back to Paulette?" Peridot beamed at her. Good, she’s distracted.
"What an ‘ulala! Because that’s how the show writers wanted it to be. You’re such a dork." Lapis took a deep breath and sighed. There was a slight quiver in her breath and she started to giggle. "An adorable dork. You’re adorkable."
“I’m a what?” Peridot was in awe at what was happening in front of her. The very moment was so surreal that she felt as if she were floating in her seat. She did not even have time to process the fact that Lapis had called her ‘adorable.’
“A wizard!” Lapis guffawed,
“What?” Peridot joined in her laughter once again. “You’re an even bigger dork than I am!”
When Lapis began to hiccup, Peridot wheezed. Her sides began to burn. Maybe because of the lack of sleep, or the lack of oxygen from laughing way too much, or from a combination of both, but Peridot found herself very light-headed.
The sudden head pain made her stop laughing and hold her head. She hissed and began to massage her temples.
Lapis saw this gesture and immediately stopped smiling, her expression quickly changed to that of worry. "Shoots, Peridot! Are you okay?"
"I’m fine." Peridot grit her teeth but tried to play it off as a smile. "It’s just a headache. Midterms are coming up and I’m probably really stressed about them."
"Were you up studying all night?" Lapis slumped in her chair. "Tsa! I shouldn’t have asked you to go out on Saturday. Mihi, I can be lolo at times! I didn’t consider—."
"No, don’t say that! Besides I was the one who said I was busy. It’s not your fault, it’s mine." Peridot cut her off. The pain was forgotten for now. Peridot did not like seeing Lapis sad. And it was because of her. The sight of a frowning Lapis made it feel like Darth Vader was using her heart as a stress ball. "I should’ve studied throughout the semester instead of cramming in all the information only a few weeks before the exams."
Lapis looked like she did not believe what Peridot had said but she did not comment on it. Instead, she asked, "Are you sure you’re okay?"
"I am." Peridot offered a half smile. “Honest.” That was all she could manage at that moment. The pain in her head was starting to get more intense by the minute. "Just sleep deprivation is all."
"You should go home." Lapis began to gather Peridot’s things that were sprawled on the table. "I can count this as one of the two meetings, so don’t worry about it and just go rest."
Peridot gave her a thankful look as she helped Lapis gather her things and put it in her backpack. She had to admit the suggestion was very enticing. "Home is too far. I have something to do later, so I’ll probably just go to the Union and sleep on a couch."
"Peridot, no! Hoʻomakakoho mālama pono!" Lapis stopped Peridot from zipping her backpack shut by placing her hands on top of Peridot’s. "Your state of health is more important than those errands. And also what about your things? Someone might take it while you’re sleeping. Plus sleeping on a couch is never comfortable."
"It’s not that bad." Peridot shrugged, shifting her hands so that Lapis’ would no longer be on top. "I’ve done this many times before. Besides—."
"Then, let’s go to my place."
Peridot moved her head to look Lapis straight in the eyes so fast that she made her headache worse. She winced, "What?!"
"My place is only seven minutes from campus." Lapis was already standing. "Come on. I brought my car."
"U-um," Peridot fumbled out her seat in her effort to stand up. "I can go home, it’s just 27 minutes. No big deal."
Lapis shook her head. "Nawp. We’re going to my house. Let’s go."
"B-but! What about your afternoon classes?" Peridot stuttered, quickly putting her hands through the backpack strap. She followed after Lapis who strolled through the library and to the back door of the building.
"I have a good two hours and half before then. ʻAʻole pilikia. I can come back once I bring you to my house." Lapis pushed open the back exit door of the library and held it for Peridot. "My car is the blue Civic to your right."
Peridot hissed at the sunlight. She didn’t realize how sunny it was outside because of the lack of windows in the floor of the library they were in. Strangely, though, it somewhat eased her headache.
She heard a car chirp and walked towards the sound until she saw a blue Civic. She tentatively stepped to the passenger side and opened the door. Peridot was met with the smell of the ocean: fresh and salty. The interior was clean, she felt like she would mess it up just by sitting on the passenger seat.
"You really don’t have to do this." Peridot said as Lapis got in the car before entering it as well. She pulled the seatbelt across herself and secured it with a click. "You can just drop me off at the nearest bus stop."
"No." Lapis put on her seatbelt then shifted the car to Reverse. She looked over at Peridot and smiled before focusing on backing out of the parking space. "And I know I don’t have to, but I want to."
Peridot was silent the ride to Lapis’ house. She had her eyes closed the whole drive so it felt like an even shorter drive than seven minutes. When the car was parked inside a parking garage, they got out of the car and Peridot followed Lapis to an elevator. They took it up to the 12th floor. The elevator door opened to reveal a hallway of numbered doors. They walked and stopped in front of apartment 424.
"My cousin’s in town, so she’s taking up the guest room." Lapis unlocked the door to her apartment. "You’ll be sleeping in my bed."
Peridot felt her face go hot. "I’m really fine with a couch!"
"Ayy, don’t be ridiculous." Lapis snorted. "Just sleep in my bed."
They went inside the apartment. Lapis took Peridot’s backpack and placed it on the dining table that was near the door.
"Nice place you got." Peridot mumbled. Peridot was not surprised at how kempt everything was considering her car was basically spotless. She felt ashamed that she could not even keep her room clean, and yet Lapis managed to keep her entire apartment in order.
"Thanks." Lapis walked to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. "Do you want anything? Water? Snacks?"
"Just water, thanks." Peridot gave the place another look over before walking to the kitchen and standing behind Lapis.
"Got it." Lapis grabbed a water bottle from the refrigerator and gave it to Peridot. She then got one for herself. "Now, if you follow me, my room is this way."
Peridot followed Lapis to a hallway and to the room at the end of it. There were two doors before reaching Lapis’ bedroom. They were both open ajar. One was a bathroom and the other was what Peridot assumed to be the guest room.
The sound of snores were heard as they passed by. Lapis went over to close the door. Peridot caught sight of light colored hair before the door closed.
"Mihi. My cousin just came from a trip." Lapis gave a coy smile before continuing the walk to her bedroom.
Peridot simply nodded, giving a look at the guest bedroom door before following Lapis. They stopped in front of a teal painted door that had a sign that looked like a picket fence hung up on the door. It read, “Welcome to Lappy’s Domain.”
Peridot gave a little snigger before faking a cough to stop herself from laughing. “Lappy?”
Lapis turned the doorknob and opened the door, ignoring the comment Peridot just made. "Sorry for the mess."
Peridot looked at the room. It was so Lapis.
The wallpaper was blue, about the same as her dyed hair but a few shades lighter. The ceiling was dark blue with what appeared to be speckles and splatters of white paint, a ceiling fan lazily turned. Various posters of bands and other random aesthetically pleasing images were on all the walls. In the middle of the room was a full-sized bed that was made with covers that were the color of aquamarine. There was a bedside drawer that had a lamp on top on the left of the bed near the door. A desk was placed in front of the foot of the bed, the top covered with notebooks and other school supplies; a shelf full of books next to it. In a corner, there stood a surfboard with a surfer suit on a hanger hung on a nail on the wall. There was a built in window seat that had a large fish tank on it rather than seat cushions. There were two doors that reminded her of window shutters that were on the exterior of fancy houses.
"What mess?" Peridot gave a low whistle. "It’s a nice room."
"Thanks." Lapis patted Peridot’s back, lightly pushing her forward. "Well, feel free to dive into my bed and sleep. You can use the blanket if you get cold too.”
Peridot simply nodded. The sight of the bed suddenly made her entire body more tired. She just wanted to crawl in and sleep.
“I’ll be back in a few hours.” Lapis slowly backed out of the room and began to close the door. She stopped suddenly and tilted her head a bit. “If you guys meet, I apologize for my cousin. She can be naʻaupō at times. Don’t let her get to you if she does tell you something, she’s just a big jerk. You can leave whenever. Don’t worry about locking the door."
Peridot was going to say something but a yawn came out instead. She quickly covered her mouth and felt her face getting hot.
Lapis held her laugh and whispered. "Then, I’ll see you later, sleepyhead. Bye." She closed the door slowly to not make a sound.
"Bye." Peridot called after her the same time the door shut.
Now that she was alone, Peridot placed her backpack down by the door, kicked off her shoes, and placed them neatly by the bed and got inside the bed. If she was not so tired, she would be freaking out at the fact that she was in Lapis’ room and sleeping on her bed. She crawled on the bed and roughly unfolded the blanket and pulled it over herself. As soon as her head hit the pillow, Peridot’s eyelids became so heavy that they immediately closed. She made a mental note to ask Lapis where she got the pillow before knocking out.
Peridot woke up feeling refreshed. She did not have the groggy sense she normally had whenever she took a nap. When she opened her eyes, she was met with a starry night sky above her and the sound of water trickling against the hum of a machine. She could make out a few constellations here and there.
There was light seeping through the cracks of the window blinds and the fish tank on the window seat. Peridot turned to her side and saw the fishes in the tank swimming. She did not recall having a fish tank in her room. It took her a few seconds to get oriented to where she was before she immediately jumped out of the bed.
She had just slept on Lapis’ bed!
She looked around the room in search for something that would give her the time and spotted an analog clock on the desk in front of the bed. Peridot cheeped when she saw the time. It was seven o’clock in the evening. She could not believe that she had slept for 5 hours.
Peridot hastily made the bed, folded the blanket, and put on her shoes. She grabbed her backpack from the floor before running out of the room.
She was greeted with the smell of a sweet aroma that elicited a growl from her stomach when she opened the door. She stepped out into the hallway and saw that the guest room door was wide open to reveal a mess of scattered clothes and open suitcases.
Peridot cautiously walked towards the end of the hallway that led to the kitchen and living room area. Lapis’ cousin was probably a warm person as well, but Peridot was not looking forward to encountering a stranger and explaining herself.
She gave a sigh of relief when she saw the familiar blue hair by the stove.
Lapis looked up from the pan that she was stirring when she heard Peridot sigh and smirked. “Maka hiamoe! Hey there, sleepyhead. Nice hairdo.”
Peridot’s hands instantly shot up to her head. Her hair was sticking up in random directions. She quickly gathered her hair and put it in a makeshift bun. “Hey.”
“Mihi. I didn’t wake you up for the thing you had to go do.” Lapis gave an apologetic smile. “You looked really peaceful and deep in sleep. I didn’t want to wake you.”
Peridot honestly had forgotten about it and shrugged her shoulders. “It wasn’t anything important. Just an advising appointment to get the bar lifted for registration next month. I’ll e-mail the advisor that I wasn’t feeling well. Thanks for letting me sleep.”
“He mea ‘ole. Don’t thank me. You needed it.” Lapis returned her attention to the pan and continued to cook. “I made you dinner if you don’t mind. After dinner, I can drop you off.”
“Wow, thanks! You didn’t have to, seriously!” Peridot made the mistake of taking a whiff of the air; her mouth salivated and her stomach growled in the anticipation of food. “You’ve done enough. I can call a cab.”
“It’s no trouble.” Lapis turned off the stove and moved the contents on the pan on a plate that was nearby. She placed the pan in the sink and let the water run on it. The water hissed into steam from touching such a hot surface.
“Fine.” Peridot sheepishly rubbed the back of her neck. “But let me treat you out sometime for today. What’s for dinner?”
“Noted.” Lapis raised a brow, a playful smirk on her face. She took the plate of what she had just cooked and brought it to the dining table. “Dinner’s Orange Chicken.”
Peridot followed after her. She did not realize that the table was already set with two plates, utensils on a napkin by their side, and a cup of water on the other. A rice cooker sat in the middle, a bowl of steamed vegetables next to it. Lapis set the plate of the chicken she had just cooked down on the other side of the rice cooker. She then opened the rice cooker and steam rose from the machine; she stuck a shamoji inside and scooped the rice around before leaving it there.
“Come, sit down.”
Peridot gulped and nodded, pulling the chair back and sat down. “This has got to be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. This is straight out of a magazine catalog or something.”
“Shut up.” Lapis snickered, seating herself as well. “It’s nothing.”
“Can I?” Peridot was afraid to put food on her plate, not believing that the array in front of her was real.
“ʻAi ā māʻona.” Lapis gestured, scooping herself a serving of rice. “Bon appétit.”
Peridot picked up the fork and put many pieces of chicken and steamed vegetable on her plate. After Lapis, she scooped herself some rice. She waited until Lapis looked like she was ready to eat before Peridot prepared her first bite.
“Thanks for the food.” Peridot placed a spoonful of food into her mouth. When she tasted it, she groaned. “Oh my stars!”
Lapis was caught off guard by the noise Peridot made and stopped eating. She grinned at her companion at the table. “Feeling better?”
“Much!” Peridot said through a mouthful of food and continued to wolf down the food in front of her. After a big swallow, she looked in front of her to see an amused Lapis. Peridot flashed her an embarrassed smile. “Really, thanks a lot, by the way.”
“Ayy, No problem.” Lapis started to eat also. She gave a nod of satisfaction at her cooking, glad to taste that it wasn’t too salty. “You should really take care of yourself more. Overworking can lead to death, you know.”
“Wow. That escalated quickly.” Peridot chuckled before she chowed down the rest of the food on her plate.
Lapis shrugged, placing her fork in between her teeth. “Hey, I’m just stating the facts.”
“Uh-huh.” Peridot rolled her eyes a bit, but a smile was on her face. She proceeded to fill her plate with her second round of food. “I feel like my chances of dying from overworking is much smaller than a boulder falling on top of me.”
“Ha! How would a boulder even fall on top of you?”
Peridot quickly answered, “From a failed attempt at immobilizing a creature who is fast on their legs.”
“Alright-y, Wile E. Coyote.” Lapis pointed and swung her fork at Peridot.
“Nope.” Peridot snickered at her reference. “Just Peridot.”
Lapis snorted and suddenly made a face. She quickly grabbed a napkin and blew her nose.
Peridot raised a brow. “Food went up your nose?”
Lapis’ crumpled the napkin and tossed it towards the trash can near the kitchen. She grumbled a “Yeah,” as she wiped a tear from her eye.
“Gross.” Peridot laughed. She had never seen it happen to anyone in real life.
Lapis stuck her tongue out at her. “It was your fault.”
“Sure it is.” It was then that Peridot noticed it was only two of them at the dining table. She looked at the hallway and tried to listen for the sound of snoring. “Where’s your cousin?”
Lapis crumpled the napkin and placed it on the table. She followed Peridot’s gaze. “She probably went out on an errand for her job.”
The word ‘errand’ made Peridot shift in her seat. “What kind of job does your cousin do?”
“Ah.” Lapis placed her utensils on her plate and pushed the plate away from herself. She crossed her arms and leaned back in her seat. “I actually don’t know. She works in the same company as my mother, but in a different branch. Right now, I think things are pretty hectic because one of their branches collapsed. You know how business goes and the unpredictability of the demand.”
“Ha, yeah, economy.” Peridot did not realize how personal it became for her and decided to change the topic. “Your bedroom ceiling is amazing, by the way. How did you get it to look like that?”
Lapis uncrossed her arms. Peridot saw it as a sign that Lapis was letting her completely change the topic. “Glow in the dark paint and crappy artistic skills.”
“Are you joking me?” Peridot nearly shouted. “I wouldn’t say crappy! It looked like space in there.”
“No, really.” Lapis shook her head and leaned forward, placing her hands on the table. “All I did was splatter the room with glow in the dark paint. Nothing special.”
“Liar.” Peridot could not contain her slight chuckle at the sight of Lapis’ lopsided smirk. “I saw some constellations that couldn’t have been made by random splatters, Miss Aerospace Engineer.”
“You would be surprised.” Lapis tilted her head left and shrugged her shoulders. “Anyway, what would a computer connoisseur like you know about constellations?”
Peridot found the sight to be too much and had to divert her attention elsewhere at random things in the apartment. She can bet that her face was surely flushed. “You would be surprised at how widespread my knowledge can be.”
“Actually,” Lapis rested her head on her hands and gazed softly at Peridot. “I’m not surprised. There’s way more to you, Miss Farhidat, than you let on. Probably because you don’t know them yourself, but you sure are something.”
Peridot turned and stared at Lapis, her eyes wide. Has she been found out? Did Lapis know that she was not who she said she was?
Lapis’ cool blue stare made her fidget in her seat. The room suddenly felt cold and her full stomach was not as pleasant as it was a second ago. “U-um–.”
“Well!” Lapis suddenly proclaimed, pushing herself back from the table and standing up. She started to gather the plates on the table. “It’s getting late. I think it’s about time to bring you home.”
Peridot followed her every movement. There was a moment where she made eye contact with Lapis but the older woman quickly broke it and continued clearing the dining table. Biting the insides of her cheek, Peridot stood up as well and helped Lapis.
“You can just leave the dirty dishes in the sink. I’ll wash them when I get back.” Peridot could barely hear Lapis mumble.
She nodded and brought their dirty dishes to the sink as Lapis gathered the dishes that still had food on them. Peridot took her time to the sink and saw that Lapis was consolidating all the uneaten food on one dish from the corner of her eye. She was now aware of everything in her surroundings. Not knowing what to do next, Peridot stayed by the sink and waited for Lapis to bring the now emptied dishes to the sink.
Once all the dirty dishes were placed in the sink, Lapis turned to Peridot and gave a small smile. “Ready?”
Peridot said nothing and just nodded. She grabbed her backpack that was on the floor near her seat at the dining table and followed the blue-haired woman to the door.
“And so we’re here.” Lapis parked on the street in front of the sidewalk that led to the front door of the house Peridot shared with the “Crystal Gems.”
“And so we’re here.” Peridot repeated after her. She lifted her backpack from the car floor and on to her lap. “Thanks for driving me home.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Lapis unbuckled her seatbelt and unlocked the door. “Sorry for keeping you at my house.”
“I’ve been kept at places much worse than your apartment.” Peridot shook her head, smiling at a joke that was unknown to Lapis. “The dinner was great, by the way. I didn’t know that you could cook.”
“It was all pre-packaged stuff I just heated up over the stove, but thanks,” Lapis snorted, giving Peridot’s shoulder a playful punch. “For appreciating my work.”
Peridot feigned being hurt by the punch and rubbed at the spot, making a face. “I would offer you a home-cooked meal, but I think you would die after the first bite.”
Lapis turned off the car, the interior car lights turning on. “I’m sure it’s not that bad.”
“I’m banned from a state because I brought food to a potluck and was charged with trying to poison the population.” Peridot unbuckled her seatbelt as well.
“Oh my gosh!” Lapis removed the car keys and placed them on the dashboard.
“The CIA uses my home cooking as a way to get people talking.” Peridot grinned, turning her head to look at Lapis. Her hair seemed almost forest green in the dim light. “That’s how they catch most of the perps.”
Lapis snorted. “Snitch or Death by Peri-cooking?”
Lapis raised a brow. “How much do you get from the CIA?”
“No jail time for that potluck incident.” Peridot found this statement to be humorous and began to chuckle at how close to her situation it was. Lapis joined in on the mirth, a snort escaping her from time to time. “You think I’m joking but it’s true!”
A look of playful disbelief was displayed on Lapis’ face. “No it’s not.”
“Honest!” Peridot raised her right hand and drew an ‘X’ on her chest. “Look it up online! The incident even has its own Wikipedia page.”
“That doesn’t mean anything. You can make a Wikipedia page for anything.” Lapis shook her head, as if to indicate how ridiculous Peridot was being. “While I’m driving home, you’re probably go make the page.”
“Ha!” Peridot snickered, giving Lapis a wink. “You got me there.”
Lapis shook her head, a great big smile on her face. “I can’t believe the most you’ve told me about yourself was about the time you almost committed mass murder.”
“Unintentionally.” Peridot corrected her. “And yet you believe none of it.”
The laughter died down after a while and a silence fell upon them. A few seconds later, Peridot sighed and opened the door. “I should get going.”
Peridot stepped out of the car and turned back around to get her backpack. She was about to slam the car door shut when she was stopped by Lapis’ calling, “Hey, Peridot?”
“Yeah?” She stopped the door from closing in time and opened it a bit, bending down to make her face level with Lapis’.
“I’m sorry.” Lapis placed both her hands on the steering wheel and stared at them. “About earlier. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
Peridot saw Lapis strengthened her grip on the steering wheel. It was then that Peridot realized Lapis’ comments had no meaning behind them aside from their literal meaning. Seeing Lapis bothered by her misunderstanding made Peridot feel a bit guilty that she began to suspect Lapis.
“No, it’s just,” Peridot rubbed her right forearm. “I’ve never been told anything like that before so I was caught off guard.”
Lapis finally turned to look at her. Her mouth was a thin line. Her blue eyes stared at her, as if she were looking for something. “Was that all it was?”
Peridot smiled, silencing the suspicion that was starting to formulate. “Really.”
When Lapis said nothing, Peridot leaned inside the car and reached to pat Lapis on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, okay?”
They looked at each other in the eye, not saying a word.
Peridot rubbed Lapis’ shoulder and got out of the car. Peridot spoke in a small voice, “You should go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Lapis nodded and got her keys from the dashboard and inserted it. The car roared to life. Peridot closed the door and waited on the sidewalk as she waved goodbye. The blue Civic drove off.
Peridot entered the house and was met with the smell of food. She took off her backpack and bent down to untie her shoe.
“Peidot? Is that you?” She looked up from her shoe in time to catch Pearl peeking out from the kitchen. “Why are you late? I’m preparing dinner right now, are you hungry?”
“Don’t worry about me.” Peridot placed her shoes on a shoe rack near the front door “I ate dinner with Lapis. She just dropped me off.”
“Ohhhh~!” Amethyst came out of the bathroom, rubbing her face dry with a towel. “Per just came back from a dinner date with her girlfriend!”
Garnet, who Peridot realized was seated on a recliner near the front door, turned to her and gave her a thumbs up.
“How many times do I have to tell you that it’s not like that?” Peridot smirked, prepping herself for the playful ruffle in her hair that Amethyst will eventually do.
As expected, Amethyst slung the towel over her shoulders and walked over to ruffle Peridot’s already wild hair. “Deny it all you want P.”
Peridot gave her a playful glare, before she ducked her head to escape from Amethyst’s affection.
“You should really invite her over for dinner one day.” Pearl came out of the kitchen area, wiping her hand with a small towel. “We would like to meet this one.”
Peridot raised her brows. “Are you sure that would be okay?”
“What do you mean? It’s not like we’re hiding anything. We’re just four normal people advancing their education.” Amethyst nudged Peridot with her elbow, “Or are you embarrassed by us? Aw, guys! Little Peri here is embarrassed by us!”
“Right.” Peridot drawled, resisting the urge to roll her eyes at Amethyst’s comment. “Well, I’m going to my room now.”
Pearl nodded and went back into the kitchen to continue making dinner. Not liking that her statement was ignored, Amethyst lightheartedly patted Peridot’s back. “You don’t have to announce your dirty deeds to us, Pterodactyl.”
“Amethyst!” Pearl shouted from the kitchen. “Really now!”
It was hard to gauge Garnet’s reaction because her eyes were hidden; however, she had on a big grin and gave her a thumbs up. This probably has got to be the most expressive she had seen the older woman be.
“Oh–kay!” Peridot huffed, placing her backpack on and shifting the strap on her shoulder. “Inappropriate, much? I’m going now.”
“Just make sure you stuff it~!” Amethyst sang before she broke into laughter.
The sound of a pan falling on the ground echoes in the house followed by a very shrill, “Amethyst!”
Peridot turned red and grabbed her backpack from the floor and stomped to her room. She did not even bother commenting at Amethyst’s insinuation because she knew it would be wasted breath. She kicked her door open and let the door close behind her on its own, drowning out Amethyst’s laughter. Peridot shook her head, a shadow of a smile was on her face. Once the door was closed she gave a big exhale and placed her backpack down near the doorway.
Peridot had steeled herself of her decision and walked to her closet.
Today was a day of comfort.
She would not have minded if it was her last.
Aka – slang for "LOL"
Mihi – “sorry”
'ulala – slang for “dork” - kind of like "joker"
Shoots – just something said in instances of exclamation - something like "Oh man!"
Tsa! – “Damn it!”
lolo – “stupid” (sort of like "I don't think.")
Hoʻomakakoho mālama pono! – “It's important to take care of yourself first!”
Nawp – “nope”
ʻaʻole pilikia – “No problem”
ʻnaʻaupō – “Dumbass”
Maka hiamoe - "Sleepy eyes"
he mea 'ole - "Don't mention it"
ʻai ā māʻona – “Please eat a lot”
Chapter 6: Green Flash
Look at the stars and let the Universe speak to you.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Peridot gave a sweeping gaze around the room, giving a nod of approval when she saw nothing that she wanted to take unpacked.
She opened her bedroom door as quietly as possible and tried her best not to make noise with her enormous suitcase rolling behind her. Paranoid that the wheels rolling on the wooden floor was making too much noise, Peridot relented and picked her suitcase up, cursing herself for packing heavy. Luckily, her bedroom was the closest to the front door so the distance traveled was not long enough to stay silent for a long time.
Once she was at the front door, she unlocked the deadbolt on the door, cringing when the click echoed in the house. Peridot gave a quick glance behind her back, making sure no lights were being turned on, indicating that her housemates were awake. She waited for a while longer before she unlocked the door and slowly opened it. She gave a slight grunt as she lifted her luggage so it would not scratch the raised bottom doorpost.
Once outside, she locked the door behind her and normally rolled the luggage by her side as she walked to the street. When she was on the sidewalk by the mailbox, Peridot looked down at her phone as the drive service app continued to load. She hoped someone was willing to drive this late in the night.
"And what do you think you’re doing?"
Her heart nearly stopped and body ran cold.
She quickly turned to see Garnet sitting cross legged on the front lawn.
"Garnet?!" Peridot squeaked, trying not to raise her voice and wake up the rest of the neighborhood. "What are you doing out here?! How’re you outside? The front door was locked with the deadbolt!"
"Stargazing." Garnet spoke in her normal tone, making Peridot feel ridiculous on the way she reacted. Garnet did not have her usual sunglasses on and Peridot could clearly see that her eyes were two different colors – brown on her right eye and blue on her left. It was the first time she had seen anybody with heterochromia. Peridot looked away the moment she realized she stared longer than she should have. "I came out from the back door. Also, I believe I asked you first."
She knew that the older woman would know anything she would say was a lie considering the largest suitcase she owned was behind her, obviously overstuffed.
Might as well tell the truth. "I was going to go somewhere."
Now that she was able to establish proper eye contact with the older woman, Peridot decided that although the sight was beautiful to look at, she preferred it when Garnet’s eyes hid behind her dark sunglasses. At least that way, Peridot would not be able to clearly know how Garnet’s gaze can pierce through her. People were right when they said that the eyes were the windows to the soul, but in this case, rather than seeing Garnet’s soul, Peridot could see her own reflected in the beautifully mismatched eyes.
She sighed and placed her phone in her pocket. "Anywhere but here."
Garnet did not say anything. Instead, she just patted on the grass beside her, indicating Peridot to sit next to her. Peridot hesitated before abandoning her suitcase and walking towards Garnet and sitting next to her.
When she was in arm’s length reach, Garnet patted Peridot in the back, making the smaller woman look her way. "You know the best thing about stars is that, like the probability of things, we have the conception that it is infinite."
Peridot said nothing and followed Garnet’s gaze at the night sky. The best thing about living near the ocean in a small city was the lack of light pollution. The sky was navy blue speckled with so many twinkling lights. She had always thought the photos of starry night skies she came across on the internet were fake and that the night sky would never be that starry. She was mesmerized. She can now understand why Lapis painted her ceiling the way she did.
Garnet’s voice broke through her awe, bringing her back to her current situation. "Did you know that there is something on this earth that comes close to this phenomenon?"
“Probable outcomes in coding?” Of course she would bring everything back to programming.
Garnet turned towards her, eyes twinkling in a soft smile. "Sand."
Peridot scrunched up her nose, the top of her glasses hitting her forehead. “Sand?”
“Sand.” Garnet declared again. Peridot expected her to say something more to explain her answer but the older woman just smiled, her eyes wrinkling at the corner, before she looked back up at the stars.
Peridot frowned and looked down at her crossed legs. She could feel her pants getting soaked by the dew that she did not realized was on the grass she sat on.
Garnet broke the silence. “You were thinking of leaving without saying a word to anybody?”
It sounded like a question but Peridot knew it was a statement. She lamely nodded, her head, unable to see her eye to eye.
“That’s not fair to those around you.” Garnet shifted, uncrossing her legs and letting them lay in front of her.
Peridot rubbed her right forearm. "You can’t stop me from leaving, you know. I know I broke the law but I’m pretty sure I still have some rights."
Garnet chuckled. "I’m not trying to stop you, I just asked what you were doing and made a statement."
Peridot sputtered, unable to say her comeback she prepared in the case Garnet was going to stop her. Garnet’s chuckle turned into a laugh causing Peridot to shrug into herself in embarrassment.
"There are millions of possibilities for the future, but it’s up to you to choose which becomes reality." Peridot felt Garnet’s hand squeeze her shoulder. "You just have to be aware of the possible repercussions that will come out of you doing this."
"Then,” Peridot quickly stood, dusting the back of her pants that touched the wet grass in an effort to dry it. She looked at Garnet then at her suitcase that looked lonely on the driveway. “I can leave?"
Peridot did not move, waiting for Garnet to answer her. She could feel Garnet study her before giving a lopsided smile and a slight shrug.
"If that’s what you want."
Before she knew she was going to be trapped by another conversation, Peridot quickly made her way to her suitcase. She grabbed her phone and quickly tapped on the ride-share app she had to request a driver when Garnet spoke up and interrupted her from doing so once again.
"But, you know, you could’ve at least said good-bye.”
Peridot turned and saw that Garnet had turned her back on Peridot and was looking at the sky. She paused and turned to look Peridot straight in the eyes.
“These past months, you’ve grown to be a crucial part of this convoy. You are a ‘Crystal Gem’ now. It would leave such a bad taste in all our mouths if you just up and left.” It was Garnet’s turn to get up from the ground. “Even if you leave, life will go on for us. It will be changed, but it will go on. We’ve grown to care for you. That includes Pearl too, even though she may not show it.”
“I know. I don’t want to leave but I don’t want to put you all in danger.” Peridot grabbed hold of the suitcase handle and pulled it up. “If ‘Yellow Diamond’ walks, she will bring the whole organization after me and you guys will feel the backlash. At least if I leave, the wrath would all be on me.”
Garnet walked over to her and patted her head. “We can handle ourselves. We’ve been fighting this battle for a while now. We know what we are doing.”
From the corner of the street, a car was approaching them. Peridot was surprised at how fast her ride came. Garnet gave her head one final pat before she began to walk back to the house. “I guess that’s my cue.”
Peridot almost wanted to call out to her but her ride rolled up in front of her.
The car parked and the passenger window rolled down. The driver was a young looking man with glasses. His hair reminded Peridot of soggy French fries.
“Peridot?” The man asked pushing his glasses up with his finger.
“Yeah. Can you open your trunk? I have a suitcase.”
The young man nodded and the trunk opened with a small “pop!” Peridot rolled the overstuffed suitcase and heaved it into the car. The car jumped a bit from the sudden weight.
Peridot turned towards the house and saw Garnet was slowly walking towards the house. A small part of her wanted Garnet to turn around to try and talk her out of what was happening. And so she decided to stall her from going inside the house. “’The Crystal Gems.’ Where did that term come from anyway?”
Much to her dismay, Garnet continued to make her way to the house. Once she reached the gate that led to the backyard, Garnet turned to face Peridot and smiled. “A special someone to us three.”
She did not tell her to not go.
“You’ll probably meet him someday.” Garnet gave a small smile, her eyes twinkling in the dark. She opened the gate and stepped through. “You should get going, miss Farhidat. Wouldn’t want you to miss your flight.”
Peridot bit the insides of her bottom lip to try and to hide her disappointment. Even though she was expecting Garnet to be explicit and outright say that Peridot should stay, she knew the older woman would not have.
“I-I’m really going, y’know!”
Garnet nodded, the smile never leaving her face. “I know.”
“You’re not going to see me ever again.” There was a feeling of something getting caught in her throat. Peridot cleared her throat. “I’m really leaving.”
Garnet raised her hand and waved. “Have a safe trip, Peridot. Take care of yourself, okay?”
Peridot did not answer her. There was no point in prolonging the conversation any further. Peridot took one last look at the house before she got inside the backseat of the car, slamming the door close.
“Where are you planning on going so early in the morning?” The driver looked at her through the rearview mirror.
Peridot pulled the seatbelt across her body and locked it in place. “To the airport, I have a plane to catch.”
The driver snapped his fingers as if he solved a case. “Going somewhere to escape the cold?”
Peridot looked out the car window and saw no signs of Garnet.
“Something like that.”
Peridot sighed as she looked down at her phone to check the time on her phone again. It’s been two minutes since she last checked it, but it had felt like eternity.
Her flight was delayed for two hours because of some overbooking issue that had happened with her ticket. Because she had purchased the flight ticket just a few hours ago, the spot she was sold had the likelihood of not being free. Or at least that was what she was told when she was checking in. She had no choice but to catch the next flight.
It was three o’clock in the morning. About thirty minutes had passed since she checked in. An hour and a half more to wait before she boarded a plane. Her eyes were heavy but she was determined not to fall asleep in the airport in fear that she would wake up with her things missing.
Peridot was annoyed at the fact that they even sold her the ticket knowing that there may not be any room for her. Maybe if they had advertised that her flight was going to be delayed, she would have a chance to sleep a bit before leaving the house.
Maybe if she had known her flight was delayed, she would not have run into Garnet outside.
Glad to have something on her mind, she let her thoughts wander and wondered about things that could have happened.
She thought of a scenario where Garnet had stopped her and forbade her to go through with her leaving. Peridot knew that if Garnet had forced her into staying she would probably hold the Crystal Gems in contempt. She would have been convinced that she was not deserving of freedom.
Is that why Garnet was very obscure in her farewell and did not hold Peridot back?
She was probably so tired that her mind started to overthink things just to keep her awake.
Peridot looked down at her phone once again to check the time and sighed. Only five minutes had passed since she last checked it.
Knowing that she will constantly be looking at her phone to check the time, Peridot put her phone away in her pocket.
“Excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you, but,” Peridot looked up from her phone to see a short boy in front of her. He was dressed inappropriately for the November chill with having only a simple T-shirt, jeans, and sandals. His dark, curly hair bounced with every step he took towards her. “You’re doing an awful lot of sighing, is anything wrong?”
Peridot did not expect to interact with anybody else early in the morning, much less a child. “Nothing that involves you kid, but thanks, for the concern.”
She thought that being gruff would cause the boy to sense her unwillingness to talk.
He probably felt awkward because he did not say anything. Peridot began to feel guilt and shame creeping in at the way she treated the boy. He did nothing wrong, and yet here she was being rude.
As she was about to open her mouth to apologize for her behavior, the boy took a seat next to her. “You wouldn’t mind me sitting here, right?”
“You already sat down.” Peridot shrugged as she scooted over. Peridot looked around the airport in hopes of seeing some distressed grown-up running her way to pick up their child. “Where are your parents?”
“My dad’s chatting with my uncle before he flies off again. He’s a pilot.” The child nonchalantly disclosed.
“Your dad’s a pilot?” Peridot raised her brow.
The boy chuckled. “No, my uncle is the pilot. I got tired of them droning off about some old plane they used to fly in so I decided to walk around the airport. It’s such a small city that you’re the only other person here.”
Peridot frowned. This city sure seemed to be filled with people who are so open and quick to talk about their lives. “Didn’t your parents ever tell you it’s not good to talk to strangers?”
“Yeah, but my dad always said that it was always good to help people in need.” He looked up at her and met her eyes.
Peridot blinked a few times before she gave a playful scoff. “I look that bad, huh?”
“I wouldn’t say bad,” the child smiled. His ears wiggled, causing the curls behind them to shake a bit. Peridot could not help but to smirk at the sight. “But you do look like you need someone to talk to, and who would be better to listen than someone who knows nothing about you?”
“How would telling a stranger anything be the best thing? For all I know, you could be some 30 year old man who is acting like a kid and is ready to commit some type of fraud from the information I would give you.” Peridot’s tone suggested she was joking, but there was a small part of her that was serious.
“That’s some imagination you got there, miss.” The boy gave a low whistle before he grinned. “I like it! So tell me, what’s got you flying out early in the morning?”
Peridot stared at him to assess the situation. The boy seated next to her seemed harmless and the glint in his eyes showed he was genuinely interested to listen to what she had to say.
She sighed and decided; what was the worst thing that could happen from her entertaining the boy with half-truths concerning her situation?
“So, in order to prevent them from getting hurt because of my mistakes, I’m leaving.” Peridot felt like she had been talking for days. The little boy was surprisingly a good listener. His little comments and questions here and there helped give her a new perspective to things.
The little boy silently broke the eye contact he kept with her.
“The way I see it, miss,” He looked at his sandaled feet that where dangling from the chair and began to kick them back and forth. “You’re going to regret doing this.”
“Oh?” Peridot found herself smirking. “And why is that?”
The boy stopped swinging his legs and stared into her eyes again. “You’re letting your problem get the best of you and you’re simply running away from your shot of happiness because of it.”
His comment was so on the mark that she could not help but frown. “It’s not as clear cut as that, kid.”
“If you’re still going to leave, you don’t have to be afraid at looking back at what you’re leaving behind.” The little boy grabbed a hold of her hands in an effort to comfort her. “Because you’re lucky that you have something that is very hard for you to say good-bye to. Goodbyes are not forever. They are not the end. It just means that you’ll miss them until you meet again.”
Peridot could not stand the eye contact. It was as if he was searching her and her eyes were giving her away.
“But if you asked me,” The little boy let go of her hands and gave an apologetic look at touching her without permission, “I would stay and work it out. I wouldn’t let other people take away my shot at happiness just because I’m scared of them hurting the ones I care about. That just means I need to step up and protect them.”
“Either way, I don’t know anything.” He grinned and shrugged, trying to lighten the mood. “I’m just a kid.”
Peridot reciprocated the grin. “I guess it all comes down to me being a coward.”
The boy shook his head. “Somebody once told me that it was okay to be scared. Being scared meant that the thing you’re about to do is something really, really brave.”
Peridot looked at the boy in front of her in disbelief, taken back from his wisdom. How could a young child have so much insight? He gave such a simple solution to her fear.
Rather than taking ownership of her problem and facing it head on, she was running away like the coward she was. What was she doing?
This situation was supposed to be a fresh start, a means to become the best person she could be. It was a way to leave behind the scared Olive and become the polished Peridot.
If ‘Homeworld’ came after her and threatened to harm everyone around her, she just needed to fight back. She knew she could fight back. This time, she was not on her own.
What she had to do began to get clearer by the second. All her worries suddenly seemed like a silly waste of time. She began to feel ridiculous being at the airport.
Peridot smiled and dared to pat the top of his head, her hand disappearing in his curls. “You surprise me, kid. You’re pretty mature for your age.”
“A boy on the cusp of manhood can’t spend the whole day whickering!” He puffed his chest out and pointed at it with his thumb.
“I thought you were only a kid?” Peridot lightheartedly raised a brow.
“I am!” He crossed his arms across his still puffed chest. “But I can’t stay a kid forever!”
Peridot laughed at his silliness.
Her phone suddenly rang. The noise was so unexpected that Peridot jumped in her seat.
She fished for her phone from her pocket and fumbled to look at the screen. It was just the alarm she set before she had to board the plane. Peridot was surprised that talking to a child allowed the time to pass.
“Well, I’ve got to get going.” Peridot stood up and stretched her back that grew stiff during her wait. She saw the boy jump out of his seat and do the same thing. “It was a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for talking to me, erm, kid.”
“Oh, where are my manners,” the little boy stuck his hand out for Peridot to shake. “Hi, my name is Steven Universe: Beach City’s connoisseur of things Cookie Cat and proud member of the Crystal Gems.”
“What did you just say?” Peridot felt her heart go down to where her stomach was. Her throat felt really dry but she could not help but gulp.
“We fight monsters and protect humanity and stuff.” Steven placed his hands in akimbo. “Right now, we’re fighting this big bad called ‘Homeworld’.”
“Homeworld?” A squeak was all she managed.
Steven looked around the airport before leaning in towards Peridot, motioning her to bend down. When Peridot did so, he whispered, “They’re a bad organization full of corrupt and bad people who cheat the system and make people’s lives harder than they already are.”
She had an idea on who this Steven Universe and what he meant to her. “I-is that so?”
“If you’d like, you can join the Crystal Gems. We’re always looking for new recruits.” Steven leaned away from her personal space. “Currently there are four of us. Actually five. I was told that there was a new addition not a while back.”
Peridot’s eyes widened. Funny how the world works.
“I haven’t met her yet, but the other Crystal Gems say that she’s a lot of fun to be with.” Steven’s smile returned. “Anyway, I’m glad you opened up to me, miss.”
“Pe–,” Peridot stopped herself from exposing who she was. “–live.”
She knew this was not going to be the last time she would meet him. She would properly introduce herself when that time came.
“Anyway, I really need to get going. Thanks a lot, Steven.” She gathered her things and awkwardly stuck her hand out for Steven to shake.
Rather than taking her hand, Steven took a step forward and hugged Peridot. His small chubby arms barely surrounding her at the waist.
“Hope everything works out in the end, Miss Pelive.”
Embarrassed by her stunt and not wanting to confront Garnet so soon, Peridot went through with her plan and boarded the plane. She might as well considering she already paid for the flight and waited so long to be boarded. She had no doubt that someone will pick her up from her destination anyway.
At least she had a good six hours to think about things thoroughly and get some rest.
Peridot was certain she was going to stay. Her life in Beach City was not bad. In the few months she lived in the city, no threats were made.
If she were to be honest, she always had been contemplating on staying. Her talk with Steven just solidified the thought.
The plane ride, Peridot lulled herself to sleep with reassurance in her decision.
It was the first time she felt truly rested since the incident. She was almost sad that her flight ended and she had to get off the plane.
As she descended the escalator, she was not surprised to see a very disappointed Marshal Smiley with a face that was opposite his name.
She slowly rolled her luggage towards him. She stopped right in front of him. “I know what you’re going to say. I would like to go first to say that I’m sorry and I realized what I have done. It won’t happen again.”
Marshal Smiley held his hand up to stop her from going on further. “What were you thinking? Do you know how much paperwork this involved and what could’ve possibly happened if I didn’t intervene?”
Peridot flinched at his increasing volume.
Marshal Smiley must’ve realized how loud he was being and whispered so that only Peridot would be the only one hearing him. “You could’ve been put to prison for abandoning your status. Do you know how many people are ready to put you in there?”
“I know, I know.” Peridot could not find it in herself to meet Marshal Smiley’s eye. She toed at the floor. “I’m sorry. I just panicked.”
“I just want to know why you did it.” Marshal Smiley crossed his arms. “I told you to stay out of trouble and that I was handling it. What made you think that running away would help this situation?”
“I just thought that if I disappeared,” Peridot shrugged and stopped her foot from moving. Her shoulders slumped. “You guys would be safe and ‘Yellow Diamond’ wouldn’t hurt you guys if she gets out. I didn’t like the idea that I was putting everyone in danger just by being near them.”
Marshal Smiley sighed and placed a hand on her shoulder. “We know what we’re doing. Timanti won’t even have a chance to get out and hurt you or those around you.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Peridot muttered, barely audible over the sound of the bustle of the airport. “I’ve had the whole flight here to really think about some things.”
He said no more and walked over to her luggage and picked it up by the handle.
“I can roll it!” Peridot protested, reaching for it but Marshal Smiley turned so she grabbed hold of his wrist. She immediately let go and hopped away from him. “Sorry! I didn’t mean to–!”
Marshall Smiley softly smiled and motioned with his head towards the airport exit. “Come on, let’s get you home.”
Peridot watched as he walked towards the door. Seeing the distance between them growing, she sprinted to catch up to him.
They did not talk as they walked towards the parking lot. Peridot saw the familiar black SUV that she was picked up with the day the CIA raided the Yellow quadrant.
Marshall Smiley loaded her luggage in the back of the SUV before entering it. Peridot walked to the passenger side and opened the door.
Marshall Smiley was seated, a tight grip on the steering wheel and his forehead rested on the top part of the wheel.
Peridot pouted and closed the door after her and sat in the silence that followed them in during their walk to the car.
Suddenly, Marshall Smiley started to laugh, the deep sound seemed to shake the car. Peridot was startled at the noise and looked at Smiley like he was crazy for laughing out of the blue the way he did.
“Of all places that you chose to go,” Marshall Smiley said between his chuckles, “You chose the area where anybody different sticks out like a sore thumb.”
Peridot found herself slowly laughing along with him. It began timid and eventually the two of them laughed to the point they began to wheeze for air.
“I mean, if I did not already know you were going to be here,” he wiped a tear from the corner of his eye, “We would’ve been alerted of somebody suspicious and I would’ve had to come here anyway.”
“For someone who is supposed to be from here, I don’t know anything about this state.” Peridot muttered as she begrudgingly put her seatbelt on. The mirth was lost the moment Marshall Smiley made fun of her. She made a mental note to read up on Texas so that her cover would be believable. “Just drive.”
Mr. Smiley continued to laugh, shaking his head. He started the car and put in ‘Drive.’ Peridot was glad that she put on her seatbelt because she would have lurched forward and fallen off of her seat if she had not.
As they drove to the nearest military base, Peridot looked out at the surprisingly green scenery passing by. Wild flowers of assorted colors blurred together, as if it was a Van Gogh painting. It was November and yet the colors of Spring were present in the state, a contrast from the cold grey in Beach City.
She placed her forehead on the window, the cold glass easing her growing headache. Her breath fogged up the gloss, masking the previous sight of blurred green, yellow, and purples with white.
A blank canvas.
That was what she was given.
Now, she just had to accept it and start filling it with something new rather than being hindered by her past.
I really do apologize for the way updates are going. Also, now that Peridot is set, it's time to get on with the happy.
Chapter 7: Recrudescence
There can never be enough genesis.
Wow! This update is not 2 months later~!
I made a Tumblr (eien-cham), because that is apparently a thing! I don't know what I'm going to do with it but many of you wanted a place to interact!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
From the airport, Peridot found herself in yet another interrogation room. She was questioned on why she tried to run away and to give her reason as to why the government officials should not just throw her in a prison facility.
She did her best to argue her rational as to why she decided to get away from Beach City. Many of the interrogators seemed to not really care about any of it and just wanted to send her to jail but Marshall Smiley would pull and rank insist they continue with their job.
Peridot almost punched a guy because he insulted her very existence by saying she was a waste of resources. She bit her tongue and held herself back because she knew that Marshall Smiley was sticking his neck out for her.
After what felt like a couple of days, Peridot was let go with an obdurate scolding and warning to not do something like that ever again. At this point, Peridot just wanted to go home and apologize to her housemates so she halfheartedly agreed to everything they told her and signed all the waivers they shoved in her face.
She was permitted to shower and gather her things before they brought her to the front of the building. Nobody told her anything as she walked out the doors.
As she was walking out of the building, she saw the familiar taxi that first dropped her off in Beach City a couple of months ago. Leaning on the car was a familiar lanky young man.
Peridot found herself beaming as she walked towards the car with a newfound spring in her step. “Boy, it’s so good to see a familiar face. How goes it, Laremie?”
The young man scowled. “I told you, it’s ‘Lars.’ And glad to see nothing’s changed and you’re still breaking laws.”
Peridot frowned and punched him on the shoulder. “I take back what I just said. You’re still a sourpuss.”
“Ow!” Lars growled and rubbed the spot where he got punched. “I could get you arrested for battery and assaulting a law enforcement officer!”
“Abuse of power.” Peridot stuck her tongue out. “Where’s Smiles?”
“Stuck doing paperwork. These asses got him to do their paperwork to let you off the hook.” Lars grumbled. “You’re lucky you have the Marshall on your side. He’s the reason why you’re even being released. Again.”
“Yeah, I know.” Something stung inside Peridot and she gripped the handle of her suitcase. Peridot gave an apologetic smile.
She definitely was not going to do this again. She was going to tough it out and fight whatever was headed her way.
It was then that she noticed the change in his hair color. “Whoa. Pink surprisingly suits you. And is that a scar on your face? What have you been doing?”
“Not like I had a choice! And my job, short-stuff.” Lars snapped and opened the passenger door. “Anyway, get in. It’s gonna take a whole day to drive back to Beach City. We should get going.”
“Drive?” Peridot let go of her suitcase and made her way to the car. “I thought you were going to take me to an airport?”
“You and me both,” Lars sighed motioning her to hurry and enter the car. “But your passport is currently on freeze and you’re not allowed on a plane for a while.”
Peridot groaned and sat down in her seat.
“Yeah, trust me, I don’t like it either.” Lars closed the door and went to load her luggage in the trunk.
Peridot rested her forehead on the dashboard of the car as she waited for Lars to enter as well.
A day’s drive with Lars should be fun.
The drive from Texas to Maryland so far was actually very pleasant.
Peridot did not feel like explaining herself once more and Lars seemed to have sensed that and asked no questions. In fact, he did not converse with her much and let her drift off to sleep from time to time.
Eight hours into the trip, she offered to switch roles with him and drive some part of the way as he rested. Lars declined and opted to pulling over some shady road side motel and spend the night.
“I’m pretty sure you don’t even know how to drive.” Lars told her as he looked around for a place to sleep.
Peridot pouted. “How hard can it be to drive?”
“Well none of us want to die anytime soon, so,” He began to slow the car down. “There’s that. Also, we’re going to share a room. The good thing is that these places usually have two beds so don’t think much of it.”
“I wasn’t until you said something, perv.” Peridot cringed. “And don’t worry about it, I don’t swing that way.”
Lars simply raised a brow but said nothing more.
Peridot gave a false cough to cut the silence. “Besides, I’m not really sleepy because I slept during the car ride.”
Lars shrugged his shoulder. “I don’t care what you do while I sleep, as long as you don’t run away again. But even then, I wouldn’t really care.”
Peridot scoffed. “Right. Don’t be surprised if your possessions are gone tomorrow then.”
He smirked as he pulled into the parking lot of a motel and parked the car by what appeared to be office for the place. “Wait here while I go get the room key, miss hardcore criminal.”
“Don’t get jumped on the way.” Peridot waved him off.
Lars laughed as he unbuckled his seat-belt and opened the door. “If I’m not back in twenty, knock yourself out and start learning how to drive.”
Peridot snapped her fingers as Lars got out of the car. He slammed it behind him and walked inside the building.
A few minutes passed and Peridot was bored out of her mind. It was when Lars’ phone made a noise that she remembered about her own.
Peridot got out of the car as well and popped the trunk. She searched her luggage until she found her phone. She tidied up the mess she made and closed everything before going back in the car.
She turned on her phone and looked at the place while her phone loaded.
The place looked like it belonged in the set of some old western movies where you had your stereotypical cowboys. It was so rundown looking, as if it had been from that era.
The beep of her phone startled her. She looked down at the screen and saw all the messages and notifications she had missed. There were many voicemail and Peridot could take a guess on who it was from.
She first looked at the calendar and saw that it had been a week since she had decided to leave Beach City. She frowned. That meant that she was interrogated for a very long time.
Peridot then went over to her messages. A majority of them were from Pearl. She couldn’t help but laugh. The older woman was so maternal. She clicked on her thread and read through the messages. Peridot squeaked at the contents. She was going to get a mouthful once she gets back in the house.
The other person who texted her many times was Lapis.
Peridot gulped the block that she felt in her throat. It must have worried Lapis so much that Peridot has been MIA for a whole week. That is just the kind of person she was.
Peridot dared to read the messages that her friend had sent her. Many of them were reminders of their weekly meetings. She was glad that it was not anything serious until she reached near the end of the unread portion of her thread.
Peridot felt as if something stabbed her heart.
Peridot grumbled, having completely forgotten the fact that she was currently enrolled in a University. She made a mental note to brainstorm excuses she could e-mail to her professors.
Peridot groaned. Of course Lapis would feel that way.
Peridot turned her phone screen off, not wanting to read any more of the messages she had received.
She had a lot of explaining to do when she got back.
Not only to Lapis, but to her housemates as well.
Before her thoughts began to wander, she saw Lars exit the building and put up and shook the keys to their room.
Lars returned to the car and re parked it near their room door.
“You can shower first.” Lars could probably sense her low tension. “You’ve been whole up in that place for a long time and I doubt they let you take one.”
Peridot gave no response but a simple nod. She was far too tired to retaliate.
They unloaded the trunk of their luggage and entered the room.
It was the standard motel room of two full-sized beds separated a couple of feet apart by a dresser with a lamp on it. There was a much larger dresser by the wall in the direction of the foot of the bed with a flat screen television on top. Straight ahead, she could see two sinks and a door that probably led to the toilet and shower-bathtub unit.
Peridot strangely found comfort in the smell of mothballs that seemed to be the staple fragrance of motel rooms.
She plopped her luggage on the bed closest to the bathroom and took out the things she needed to bring in with her to shower. Since she was sharing the room with Lars, she did not have the choice to come back out and get her change of clothes so she packed some up and took it with her.
Peridot thought of nothing as she showered. She simply just enjoyed the warm water running along her body and the feeling of cleanliness it brought.
The next day, she was awoken by a nudge on her shoulder by Lars very early in the morning. It was still dark out but she knew they had a long drive ahead of them so Peridot did not complain. She packed her things up, half-awake, and loaded the car.
They stopped by the front office to return the keys and help themselves to the complimentary breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, and donuts before jumping in the car and driving the rest of the way.
After a good 10 hours, they were finally pulling up on a familiar driveway.
Unlike the first time he dropped her off, Lars got out of the car and took out Peridot’s luggage from the trunk. He walked with her to the front door.
“Is this so you know I won’t run away?” Peridot joked. “Because I know you’re no gentleman.”
Lars smirked. “You got me.”
Before they could say anymore, the door opened to reveal a surprised Pearl. “Mr. Barriga, to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit here?”
Lars cleared his throat and motioned to Peridot who somehow hid behind him in the time it took for Pearl to open the door
When her gaze fell on Peridot, her expression quickly changed to a scorn. “Oh. Peridot. You’re back.”
“Uh, hi.” Peridot gave a nervous wave but Pearl had returned her attention to Lars.
“Come in, come in.” She stepped aside and ushered them in the house. “Would you like something to drink or eat? I’m sure the drive here was long.”
“Water would be good.” Lars nodded as he looked around the house. “Nice place. Neat and clean.”
Peridot walked in last, closing the door behind her. She left her luggage by the door and awkwardly stood to the side.
She knew that Pearl was ignoring her for the most part and Peridot still felt stiff being back in the house.
This must be what it felt like to come back to your parents’ home from college after being gone for so long.
Pearl walked to the kitchen and returned with a bottle of water. She handed it to Lars who opened it and drank half of the contents. “Thank you.”
After drinking, Lars put the cap back on the water bottle and started to walk back to the door. “Well, I’ve done my part.”
“How about you join us for dinner, Mr. Barriga?” Pearl said after him.
“Would take you up on that offer but I think I’ve seen her face enough for an entire lifetime.” Lars chuckled as he motioned towards Peridot who was staying by the door.
“Back at you, Laremie.” Peridot stuck her tongue out. “You should at least stay for dinner though.”
“Nah, I have my own plans.” Lars walked to the door and patted her head before opening the door. “Catch you on the flip-side, short-stuff.”
Peridot smoothed the top of her head, hoping that he didn’t mess her hair up. “Hope not.”
Lars laughed and high-fived Peridot before exiting the house. “Stop your criminal ways, got it?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Peridot muttered and waved him good bye.
Once the door was closed, Peridot turned and saw a very disappointed Pearl ready to explode.
“Oh boy,” She gulped as she walked over to the older woman. “Here we go.”
“I mean, what were you thinking going off like that?!” Pearl waved her arms around, as if trying to find some reasonable explanation to grab on to.
Peridot kept her gaze on the floor. “I didn’t want you guys to get hurt.”
“Honestly, Peridot, we could take care of ourselves!” Pearl placed on of her hands on her hips while the other pinched the bridge of her nose.
“I know.” Peridot toed at the floor.
“What if you had gotten hurt?!”
“I know, I know.” She had nothing else she could say.
On the drive back, Peridot came up with so many excuses that she could defend her actions with but they all fell short when the time came to it. She could do nothing but agree to what Pearl had said because they were true for the most part.
Pearl breathed deeply and threw her hands in the air, as if she were calming herself down. “Whatever. I’m just glad that you’re safe.”
Peridot stopped toeing at the ground and looked up to meet Pearl’s gaze. “Really?”
“You’re our responsibility. We would’ve gotten in trouble if something happened to you.” Pearl shook her head and sighed, crossing her arms. “And don’t get me started on all that paperwork! I can’t even imagine it all!”
Peridot blinked a couple of times before she chuckled. “Gee, Pearl. And here I was thinking you actually cared about me.”
Pearl sputtered, clearly offended at Peridot’s implication. “Of course I care! That was a joke!”
Peridot shook her head and laughed. “I know it was. So was mine.”
Pearl exhaled and gave a shaky chuckle. “And you won’t do it again?”
Peridot looked at the older woman before her. She looked tired, as if she had genuinely worried for Peridot’s sake during the past week. She gave a sincere nod. “Yes ma’am.”
From the corner of her eyes, Peridot could see Amethyst trying her best trying not to laugh by biting her lips and puffing her cheeks. Garnet stood next to her with her arms crossed, a small smile on her face. Her glasses were back on, sparing Peridot from what she assumed to be a mocking gaze of, ‘I told you so.’
“Good. Then go put your stuff away and get washed up.” Pearl’s expression softened, satisfied with Peridot’s response.
Pearl walked back into the kitchen and resumed her dinner preparations.
Peridot walked to the door and grabbed her luggage and made her way to her room.
Amethyst came bounding her way, a goofy grin on her face. “Oh, man. That was so funny. You were in so much trouble.”
Peridot pouted. “I guess you’re here to give me an earful too. I’m sorry for what I did.”
“Nah,” Amethyst patted her on the back. “If I were you, I would’ve probably done the same thing.”
Peridot raised her brow. It was unlikely that Amethyst would ever run away but, knowing her, she wouldn’t put it past Amethyst to run away.
“Anyway, while you were on the run your blue-haired friend came by and asked where you were.” Amethyst wiggled her brow and nudged Peridot by her ribs. “Where are your manners, P? You know you shouldn’t make a girl worry.”
Peridot stopped in her tracks and looked at Amethyst. “I’ll talk to her tomorrow. And what’d she say?”
Amethyst thought about it for a bit before she spoke. “Not much, just asked where you were and she was worried because you suddenly disappeared and stuff.”
When Peridot frowned, Amethyst gave her yet another pat on the back. “Don’t worry, I told her that you were at some convention to look into some internship opportunities to join in during the break. It seemed like she believed it.”
Peridot was glad to hear that and gave a thankful smile towards Amethyst before she continued walking to her room.
Amethyst followed after her and continued to talk. “Apparently, you missed a major exam and your grade took a hit while you were away.”
Peridot cursed under her breath. She had to get those points back. Hopefully the excuse she’ll give to her professors would be enough to exempt her. “I’m sending all my professors an e-mail tonight and I’ll be going to talk to them after the weekend during office hours.”
Amethyst shrugged and opened her bedroom door for her. She stood by the door way, not really sure if she was allowed to enter into her room.
Peridot appreciated that Amethyst did not overstep her boundaries. “Thanks.”
“Sure, no problem.”
With that, Amethyst walked away towards the kitchen to probably help Pearl out with dinner.
Peridot was woken up by Amethyst who came barging in her room reminding her of the promise she made the night before.
"What the hell, Amethyst!" Peridot groaned. "What time is it?"
"It's already 12." Amethyst sat on Peridot’s bed and continued to nudge her awake. “You said you were going to talk to her today.”
“Yeah, but I can always go later.” Peridot whined as she shrugged more within herself, pulling the blanket up as protection. “Besides, I don’t even know if she’s going to be home.”
“Oh, she’s home,” Amethyst said in a knowing tone.
Peridot stopped pulling the blanket over her and looked curiously at Amethyst. “How would you know that?”
Amethyst raised her phone and showed Peridot her message thread. “I got yo girl’s number.”
“When did you—?!” Peridot started but was distracted by the phone screen.
She definitely saw Lapis’ name and a number underneath that looked familiar but Amethyst pulled her phone back before Peridot had a chance to read the contents.
“Nuh-uh! No reading through my DMs. It’s between me and Blue!” Amethyst playfully clicked her tongue disapprovingly at Peridot.
This news got Peridot sitting up from her bed. “How did this happen?”
“When you were on the run and busy being M-I-A. I hung out with her a couple of times to distract her and stuff. She’s pretty cool.” Amethyst chuckled when she saw Peridot’s face. “But don’t worry Per, I’m not gunning for her. I’m not all about that dating scene. Nobody can tie this purple puma down!”
Peridot frowned. “We’re not dating.”
Amethyst guffawed, forcefully patting her back. Peridot was sure she was awake now due to the pain. “Yeah, but I’m pretty sure you want to be.”
Peridot squared her back and defensively retorted. “How would you know?”
“Come on. You’re pretty easy to read.” Amethyst snorted as she rolled her eyes. “The first day you met with her, you had this weird dreamy look in your face. Besides, I’m pretty sure the stunt you pulled wasn’t triggered by the thought of us.”
Peridot opened her mouth to respond but Amethyst held a finger up to indicate she wasn’t done talking. ”At least not entirely. You know we could’ve handled ourselves. You ran away because you didn’t want ol’ Blue here to get hurt.”
Peridot shut her mouth and looked down at her blanket.
Maybe because it was early in the morning, but Peridot had nothing that she could respond Amethyst with.
She could feel Amethyst shift off the bed and gave a gentle pat on her head. “Face it, Peri. You’re pretty easy to read for someone who is trying so hard to hide stuff about them.”
“Oh my gosh, I’m such a screw up!” Peridot covered her face with her hands and groaned. “I can’t even do one thing right. First Homeworld, then the running away, and now this! Can I just restart my whole life? Better yet, just make me cease to exist!”
“Hey! You’re perfect the way you are, Peridot.” Amethyst snapped catching the younger one’s attention.
Her tone then softened with her next sentence. “You weren’t asked to be made, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take hold of the opportunity. Yeah, sure, sometimes life sucks, but, you know, when life doesn’t give you lemons, you make it yourself.”
Peridot stared at her and was met with a grin.
Trying not to avoid the inevitable, Peridot smiled back. “I thought the saying was, ‘when life gives you lemons?’”
Amethyst waved her hand dismissively. “Nah, lemons are mother nature’s science experiment.”
“So,” Peridot snorted, “life still gives you lemons?”
“Whatever.” Amethyst griped, “The point is, why don’t we stop feeling down and take the day by its horns and go make our own happiness. Sound good?”
“Ugh.” Peridot ruffled her own hair in frustration. “But what if she hates me because of this?”
Amethyst sighed and stood up, cracking her neck and knuckles. “Shut up and get your ass dressed before I do it for you.”
Peridot sprung out bed and gulped. “Okay, okay! I got it!”
She currently stood in front of Lapis’ apartment door on a Saturday afternoon.
She had already apologized to Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet more than once.
Marshall Smiley had called and checked up on her. She received a lecture and a stern caveat against similar future acts.
Peridot had apologized to him as well and thanked the man wholeheartedly for all the work he had done for her sake.
Now, it was Lapis’ turn.
She was going to make the best of this new beginning, even if it took her one step at a time.
But that did not mean that Peridot wanted to do it.
She had wanted to sleep in but Amethyst made sure she did nothing of that sort and kicked her out of the house.
They apparently had a bicycle which Garnet handed to her once she was out of the house. She didn’t question as to what the older woman was doing outside and how she knew that Peridot was going to go somewhere and that she did not want to catch a share ride because she was trying her best to stall.
She took the bicycle and biked in the general direction of the campus. She had no idea where Lapis lived but Peridot figured that she can probably make a guess once she was close to campus. She tried to remember any telling landmarks she remembered from the day that Lapis had brought her to her apartment.
After about an hour of biking around, Peridot stopped at a complex when she saw the familiar blue car that belonged to Lapis parked on the street. She propped and chained the bicycle by the stairwell, hoping nobody steals it during her visit.
She entered the building, thankful but worried at the fact that anybody could enter the building and made her way to the elevator. She pushed the button to the 12th floor.
Once on the level, Peridot exited the elevator and walked to apartment 424.
Peridot sighed for the umpteenth time before she lifted her fist and loudly knocked three times. She hoped it was not too loud.
She felt nervous all of a sudden, her heart starting to beat faster every second that passed with the door staying shut.
What was she going to say when Lapis opened the door?
Peridot was given no time to think as the door opened and revealed a Lapis dressed in shorts and an over-sized V-neck tee. Her hair was messy, like she had just gotten out of bed.
“Shoots! Peridot?!” Peridot could hear the astonishment in her voice. Lapis opened the door wider. “Wh-what are you doing here?!”
Peridot was going to answer her but Lapis continued to talk, as if going on a rant.
“He mea ‘ole! Never mind that! Where have you been?! Do you know how worried I was when you haven’t responded for a long time? I asked your housemates but the information they gave was nele. They gave me nothing but the fact that you were gone. They looked worried too so I was pīhoihoi something bad had happened. It was only yesterday when your housemate, Amethyst, I think her name was, texted me that you returned and where you’ve been.”
"Why were you hiding the fact that you were going to a convention? It's not like it’s a bad thing to hōʻike ! Come to think of it, it’s the akamai thing to do. Good job." Lapis took a deep breath before she continued. “Anyway! At least give me notice so I can have something to tell the uppers about your case and inform all your professors so that they don’t go around snitching to the scholarship foundation luna kiaʻi !”
Peridot was hit with the sense of déjà vu from the earful she got from Pearl last night.
She gave a nervous chuckle causing Lapis to stop with her interrogation.
Lapis blushed as she shut her mouth and looked down at her feet.
She mumbled an apology as she embarrassedly rubbed the back of her neck.
Peridot gave her an apologetic expression and opened her mouth and started, “Well you see—.”
He mea ‘ole – “never mind”
nele – “lacking”
pīhoihoi – “very anxious”
hōʻike – “disclose”
akamai – “smart”
uppers – slang “supervisor”
luna kiaʻi – “supervisor”
Also, I finally came up with a general idea of how it's going to end and what will happen in every chapter so the updates for this story will, hopefully, not be as delayed.
Chapter 8: Nossa
Saturday good times and enter cue.
Slowly but surely! The next school semester is upon me and it's going to be a pain!
I really do apologize for the really drawn out updates, whenever I write, I seem to need a month to write a chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I’m sorry I haven’t been responding lately. My phone fell into the ocean. Sorry I was gone too. See the reason why I was gone was because I had to go visit my dad to work through some personal things, and then we ended up going to the beach and my phone fell into the water and I lost it. But I got a new phone with the same number, so don't worry, there's a way to contact me! That week I also had to go to some internship convention or whatever that I had forgotten I signed up for so I didn’t notify anyone about it.” Peridot rambled as she gave her excuse to Lapis.
She knew it was a pretty lame excuse and could easily be countered but it already came out of her mouth so she had to roll with it. “So, yeah. I’m here because I heard you came over to see me but I wasn’t there and I just wanted to apologize because you must’ve been really worried and—!”
Peridot was cut off by Lapis suddenly giving her a hug.
Caught off guard, Peridot awkwardly stood still before hesitantly, and in a painfully artless manner, wrapped her arms around the taller woman’s midsection to reciprocate the hug.
Though the hug lasted a few seconds, it felt like an eternity to Peridot.
The sudden contact caused Peridot to start feeling hot, her heart bounding and feeling like it was lurching up her throat. She hoped that Lapis could not hear her heartbeat.
She suddenly felt like she could not breathe.
“Hey, uh, Lapis?” Peridot gasped. "Can you, um, maybe, loosen your grip?"
Lapis immediately backed away, her tanned skin graced with a pinkish hue. “S-sorry! It’s just that I was so worried for you and I’m a hepa who’s impulsive and acts without thinking! Mihi for the sudden violation of personal space!”
Peridot took a moment to compose herself before failing and burst into laughter.
Lapis followed with a set of embarrassed giggles that melted into a genuine mirth.
Once their laughter died down to hiccups and gasps, Peridot placed a hand on Lapis’ shoulder.
“It’s okay. I was just caught off guard is all. It was,” She paused, trying to find the right word to describe it, “Nice.”
“I’m glad.” Lapis smiled. “Gosh, it’s only been a week, but poino loa, long time no see.”
“Ha, yeah.” Peridot scratched the back of her ear and looked away.
“Wow. Where are my manners?” Lapis stepped to the side and motioned for Peridot to move forward. “Come in!”
Peridot reluctantly advanced past the door frame. Lapis closed the door behind her as soon as Peridot was far enough from it.
“You said your phone fell in the water, right?” Lapis walked over to the kitchen and grabbed a water bottle from the refrigerator. She walked back over to Peridot and handed her the bottle. “So this means you haven’t read any of my texts.”
“No,” Peridot lied once again. She had no idea how to respond to them anyway. “Why? Was there anything important in them?”
“No!” Lapis said much too quickly. When she saw that Peridot raised a brow, she gave a small laugh. “Nothing important was on them. It’s just me being silly. I thought you were ignoring me because of something I said over dinner, but I guess that’s just me making it about myself. Dumb, isn’t?”
Peridot put on a soft smile and patted Lapis on the back. “Hey, no, it’s okay. Sorry to have made you worry. It was pretty crappy of me. I could’ve found other ways to contact you but I was going through some stuff.”
“No, don’t worry about it.” Lapis rubbed her hands together briskly in an effort to warm them up from the cold she received from the water bottle.
“Either way,” Peridot tried to lighten the mood. “I didn’t have your number memorized and I don’t know your address, so even if I did have a way, I couldn’t contact you or anything.”
Lapis squared her shoulders and clutched her shirt where her heart resided. “Ouch. I’m hurt you don’t hold me to heart.”
Her eyes widened and she snorted. “Hey, wait a minute! If you didn’t know my address, how’d you end up here?”
“Oh, dang. You’re right.” Peridot laughed and raised her hands in surrender. “Whoops, you caught me.”
They shared another moment of laughter.
“Anyway,” Lapis sighed, clutching her sides, joviality still on her face. “I hope you figured out the stuff you were going through.”
Peridot drew in a long breath. “Yeah, I did.”
“It’s not something serious, is it?” Lapis bit her bottom lip. “Sorry for asking.”
“Nope. Just some personal drama.” Peridot lifted her shoulder in a half shrug. “Maybe I’ll tell you about it someday.”
Lapis nodded. “There’s no rush.”
“Yeah,” Peridot smiled. “Thanks.”
“Anyway!” Peridot clapped her hands together before pointing her joined hands towards Lapis. “I came here to make it up to you. Let’s go out and do something. Anything you want, it’s my treat.”
A wide and easy grin found its way to Lapis’ face. “My, my, miss Farhidat. How genteel.”
“Pfft,” Peridot rolled her eyes. “So what do you want to do?”
Lapis pulled on her left earlobe a bit before she rubbed the back of her neck and gave an apologetic shake of the head. “I kinda want to stay here and finish up my laundry. If I had known you were coming, I wouldn’t have started it till later.”
“Of course!” Peridot smacked her forehead. “I’m such an idiot. Sorry I don’t think sometimes. Sorry for suddenly dropping in on you.”
“No worries.” Lapis winked. “And geniuses have faults at times. Glad to know you’re human like the rest of us.”
“Ha.” Peridot shifted from one foot to the other “I could go if you want. Wouldn’t want to ruin your sacred laundry ritual. Apparently that’s a thing according to my housemate. I’ve seen it in action.”
“No, you can stay if you want.” Lapis nudged her with her elbow. “Though I’m not really sure how I feel of you seeing my literal dirty laundry.”
“There’s nothing dirty about you." Peridot gave a toothy grin. "I bet you the clothes don’t even have to be washed after you use them.”
“Guess you wouldn’t mind helping fold my underwear. Those are the last things I have to wash up.” Lapis' eyes twinkled in amusement.
“I, uh,” Peridot stammered, her face going hot and throat going dry.
“Kidding.” Lapis laughed and snorted. “Those are the first things I wash, perv.”
“Who’re you calling pervert?!” Peridot felt herself go full on red and feigned storming out of the apartment. “That’s it! I’m leaving!”
Lapis giggled, and reached forward to grab a hold of Peridot’s forearm. “No please, stay! I’m sorry.”
Peridot stopped in her tracks and raised her chin. “I suppose I’ll stay since you so clearly begged.”
Lapis playfully smacked her arm as she let go of her hold on Peridot. “Great! Maybe we could set up my laptop and we can watch a movie or something. I also have to catch you up on school things too, so good timing.”
“Oh, right.” Peridot jammed her hands in her front pocket. “Sounds good.”
“Hang on, I’m going to load the dryer.” Lapis walked past her and walked into the corridor and disappeared in a room.
Peridot could hear the sound of a door opening and some thumps as Lapis loaded the dryer before a slam followed it. After a few seconds of silence, the familiar hum of a machine dryer filled the apartment. Lapis stepped out of the room and closed the door behind her, muffling the sound, and walked back to where Peridot stood.
“Done.” Lapis looked satisfied and placed her hands on her hips. “So what do you want to watch?”
“Anything.” Peridot gave a dismissive wave of her hand. “This day is all about you.”
“Hmm.” Lapis pursed her lips to the side and stroked her chin. “Then how about a scary movie?”
Peridot felt her hands get sweaty. “U-um, I’m good with anything.”
Lapis’ eyes flickered with mischief. “How about a family movie then?”
Peridot audibly sighed in relief. “Sure.”
“Okay,” Lapis placed a fist on her other palm indicating she had made her decision. “‘The Conjuring’ it is.”
“Wait, what?” Peridot sputtered, and stared at her with wide eyes. “I-I mean, cool, cool. But I thought you said a family movie?”
“It is a family movie.” Lapis looked back at her with unblinking eyes. “It’s really touching how they got together in the end and became stronger because of all the crap that went down.”
Peridot looked at her in disbelief. “I-I guess? Never saw it like that before.”
“Great!” A knowing and taunting smile was on Lapis’ lips. “Then it’s decided.”
Peridot gave a weak smile.
Peridot had helped Lapis fold her laundry before they sat down to watch the movie. While they folded the clothes, Lapis relayed to her what her professors said and what the scholarship supervisors decided on her scholarship status. She was still in good standing, however, Peridot needed to write an essay as well a certain amount of volunteer hours to make up for lost time and to prove her sincerity in not doing something like the stunt she pulled again. Peridot did not know what Pearl would have done to her if she had lost the scholarship.
She was glad that all they had to fold were many types of shirts, pants, and shorts. She did not know how she would have reacted if they did end up folding Lapis’ underwear.
The two of them were currently seated on the carpeted floor of Lapis’ bedroom with their backs leaned on her bed frame. They were seated so close their shoulders touched; a blanket was draped over their shoulders.
Each of them had a cushion in their possession. Lapis had the cushion resting on her legs while Peridot clutched the cushion tightly and close to her face for easy access to hide her face behind whenever something scary happened.
Lapis’ laptop was placed on a small tower of textbooks a couple of feet away from them as a means for them to watch the movie.
The entire apartment was dark and nothing was heard but the movie because they ramped up the volume as per Lapis’ suggestion.
Peridot felt like she was going to die.
Her heart began to pick up for the umpteenth time in the past hour.
She was thankful that the musical score gave it away when something was going to happen so she was always ahead of the game and covered her face when she knew a jump-scare happened.
That very moment, the ominous music began to build up and swell.
Peridot readied her cushion.
The scene played out very slowly and Peridot found herself inwardly cursing at the character for being stupid and actively seek out the evil entity rather than bust out of the room running.
The mother in the movie slowly walked over to the wardrobe and took her time opening it, building the suspense.
Peridot’s breaths quickened as she leaned closer, her face almost covered by the cushion.
There was an abrupt flash of light followed by a gruff voice.
“Hey, what are you watching?”
The sudden appearance of a big and bulky shadow in the dark room caused the two girls to scream.
Peridot made a mad grab for Lapis and held on to her tightly, the cushion that was in her possession was sandwiched between them.
“Sheesh! Quiet down.”
Peridot realized what she had done and immediately let go of Lapis, scooting back and putting distance between them in embarrassment.
“Holy crap, Xan!” Lapis yelled. “You scared the living crap out of us!”
Peridot assumed the person who made her sudden entrance was Lapis’ cousin. She could not see her face over the bright screen of the laptop. She could only see her build. The shadow was tall and wide, her hair was in a ponytail, with the tail being wild and hair sticking out in many directions.
“I’m going to take a nap before dinner. Just popped in to tell you to lower the volume.” Her voice was sort of husky sounding. “Didn’t know you had company over, cuz. Sorry if I interrupted something.”
“Shut it, Xan.” Lapis muttered. “Go to sleep!”
“Alright, alright.” Lapis’ cousin chuckled, slowly backing out. “Don’t go screaming too much.”
Peridot felt her face go hot.
“Xanthe!” Lapis roared, throwing a cushion her direction. “Kāwaʻe! Ole pēlā!”
Her cousin immediately closed the door, the cushion hitting the door. From behind it, they could hear her booming laughter receding followed by another door closing before the laughter stopped.
Lapis got up and walked to pick up the cushion. When she came back, she paused the movie.
It was obvious their movie time just ended.
Peridot did not know whether to be happy that she did not have to sit through the horror flick or disappointed that she now had to go home.
Peridot was now calm but she felt really hot. “Sorry for grabbing hold of you.”
“It’s cute how you can’t handle horror flicks.” Lapis snorted.
Peridot groaned and brought her knees up, covering her face with the cushion.
“Well, I guess that’s that. Sorry for my cousin.” Lapis huffed. “Told you she was a jerk.”
Peridot looked up and rested her head on the cushion. “It’s no big deal. It’s a good stopping point. I’ve been here long. I should get going.”
The two of them tidied up their area: folding the blanket and placing the cushions neatly back on Lapis’ bed. Lapis picked up her laptop and placed it on her desk, connecting it to the wires it was connected to beforehand while Peridot put the textbooks back on the book shelf.
Once done, they stepped out of Lapis’ room and walked to the common area.
“I can drive you home.” Lapis offered, already walking towards her car keys which were on the dining table.
“No,” Peridot held her hand up to stop her. “I biked here.”
“You’re going to bike home?” Lapis blew out her cheeks. “But it’s getting late and that’s too far. Your place is not close to mine.”
“It’s a small city, how dangerous can it be?” Peridot crossed her arms and puffed out her chest. “Besides, I could use some fresh air. I’ve been cooped up in a building for the past week.
“Okay.” Lapis tucked a lock of hair behind her ears. “Text me when you get home.”
“Sure, but that could be in like an hour or two.” Peridot scratched her head.
“I’m a worry wart, so I probably won’t sleep until I know you’re safe.” Lapis gave a small laugh. “Just text me. Doesn’t matter how long it takes.”
“Fine.” Peridot nodded. She made her way to the door and opened it. She turned around and offered a smile. “Then good night.”
Peridot stepped out and Lapis walked to the door to close and lock it.
“Thanks for today.” She called out after her.
“No worries.” Peridot halted and gave a small wave before she continued walking.
Peridot trudged away from the apartment and took the elevator out, not really looking forward to the physical exercise. She was surprised that it was still bright outside when she stepped out of the building. The inside of Lapis’ apartment was so dark she thought it was already past 10 P.M. when it was only five in the afternoon.
She was glad that the bike was where she had left it and undid the chain.
Peridot walked out to the street before mounting the bicycle and riding it in the direction of the sunset.
She reached the house after an hour and a half, surprised that she got caught up in the traffic of people going home from work.
She was a sweaty mess but she was even hungrier so she opted in joining her housemates for dinner before racing Amethyst to the shower.
Amethyst won the race.
As she showered, Peridot spent the time unpacking her luggage from her failed attempt of escape.
After what felt like an hour, Amethyst finally got out of the bathroom. “All yours, stinky.”
“Took you long enough.” Peridot grumbled, ready to wash away all the dirt of the day.
Amethyst undid her towel and shook out her hair, droplets of water from her hair sprayed Peridot. “I had to deep clean.”
Peridot frowned. “Gross.”
Amethyst cackled as she continued to her room.
After a few minutes, Peridot finished her shower, brushed her teeth, flossed, and went to her room to change into her sleeping clothes.
Now, she contently sighed as she laid sprawled on her bed, her head dangling on the edge in an effort to dry her wet hair.
She reached for her phone and held it up to her face
It was late in the evening and she was ready to get on her social media when she realized she had forgotten to text Lapis as soon as she got home. It meant Lapis was probably awake worrying about Peridot’s safety.
Peridot felt bad and sent a text her way.
She received a response faster than she expected.
Peridot chuckled and rolled over to her stomach, her wet hair sticking to her cheeks. Annoyed, she wiped her face and moved her hair back.
Peridot assumed since neither of them seemed to want to go to sleep, might as well keep the conversation going.
It was childish, she knew, but Peridot could not help but feel giddy as she waited for Lapis’ response.
Peridot’s face stretched into a grin as she furiously typed a comeback.
She hoped it was not too much and it was worth the discomfort she had put her thumbs through. When her phone buzzed, she quickly looked at her screen in anticipation of what Lapis replied with.
Peridot felt like her face was going to fall off because she had been smiling too much. Her heart felt like it was flipping in her chest as she read Lapis’ messages.
She had no idea how follow up with that text. Luckily, Lapis’ speedy reply arrived.
Peridot was taken back at how silly Lapis can be and guffawed.
Peridot was about to turn her phone off when it buzzed.
Peridot chuckled when the screen indicated that Lapis had been typing for a few seconds, knowing that she probably stumped her and Lapis was thinking of a comeback to refute her statement.
Peridot stared at the screen and mulled over the invitation in her head. She had no idea why Lapis’ cousin would want to meet her.
It was probably to make fun of Lapis and tease her and Peridot about dating. Lapis and her cousin did seem to have that type of relationship.
Peridot’s heart skipped a beat at that thought of being Lapis’ partner but she ignored it.
She probably just wanted to meet Lapis’ friend. She probably had the impression that they were close considering Peridot was over at Lapis’ apartment and she found them practically cuddling each other – even if they were watching a scary movie.
From the glimpse she saw of Lapis’ cousin, believed it would not be a good idea to turn down the offer considering what a behemoth her frame looked like in the poor lighting.
The prospect of food was always inviting, and if this meant that she could spend some more time with Lapis, then why not?
Peridot sent the message before shutting her phone off and snuggling with her blanket.
She would worry about the possible awkwardness that had a high chance of happening in the morning. Right now, she just wanted to sleep and dream of her imagination’s theatrical production of an action-romance, glad that ghosts had no place in her dreams that night.
hepa – “idiot”
Mihi – “sorry”
poino loa – “damn”
Kāwaʻe! Ole pēlā! – “You jerk! It’s not like that!”