When Lapis Lazuli smiled, Peridot felt at ease with herself. Her thoughts would shift from their usual manic flow and slow down, letting her appreciate the world. She forgot words like ‘coward’ and ‘traitor’ and felt like she was someone else, if but for a fleeting moment. She felt like a crystal gem. She felt like she belonged to a wider world—that the one she had left behind didn’t matter, because there, Lapis Lazuli was her prisoner but here, she was lucky enough to have her as her friend.
But today, she wouldn’t smile.
They went through their usual routine, beginning with watching Camp Pining Hearts. Peridot scoffed at all the places Paulette made an absolute fool of herself, but when she did so, she found that Lapis wasn’t scoffing with her. She just watched, near motionless, letting smiles or frowns ghost across her face. After a good three episodes Peridot could tell that Lapis wasn’t feeling it, and she turned off the TV.
Then, as per usual after some good CPH, Lapis went to lie back and read magazines in her favorite lawn chair while Peridot tinkered on a new invention. Peridot… really liked to work, and work on her (new-and-improved!) flying lawnmower had gone swimmingly today, but after a few hours she felt as though something was missing.
She turned to ask Lapis if she, too, felt that something was off, but the blue gem wasn’t there beside her. Peridot had frowned, and turned back to her work, when it hit her—the something missing was Lazuli herself.
Usually, she would tire of perusing her human rags and come over to watch, and talk, while the green gem worked, sitting beside her on an old barstool they had found abandoned in the barn. But today the barstool remained empty while Lapis silently read and Peridot turned, frowning, back to her work. Admittedly, without Lapis there to poke at her, or smear oil on her, or otherwise distract her, the lawnmower was finished and tuned up far before Peridot had anticipated; but she didn’t test fly it.
Without Lapis there to watch, she had felt that it wouldn’t be right—at the very least, it wouldn’t be fun.
She turned to look at Lapis, telling herself that she would ask her if she would like to watch the test flight, but internally she was just hoping that the taller gem had gotten up and left, had flown away like she always would when she was incredibly bored. She had hoped that Lapis would have done something, in short, rather than just sit there—but when she looked Lapis was still there.
Her arms were perched above her chest as if she was still reading, but she had let the magazine fall out of her grasp long ago. With the shield of the magazine gone, Peridot could see her face, and noticed that she wore a slight frown and her eyes were fixed on a point somewhere above her on the ceiling.
Peridot noted, with slight bemusement, that there were drops of perspiration on her brow (that was quite impressive, given that she was holographic,) but honestly seeing Lapis like that was profoundly creepy. She gave a slight wave, to catch the other gem’s attention, but when Lapis didn’t move Peridot realized she was in a stupor, dead to the outside world. Lost in her thougts.
It wasn’t the first time that this had happened to Lapis, and Peridot had recognized this to be some sort of coping mechanism; very occasionally, she would let herself slip into her thoughts, always with her eyes open, and remain motionless for some time. Admittedly, it had scared the gravel out of her when it first happened (she remembered a day of sitting silent, waiting for Lapis to do something), but ever since then it had just become semi-routine.
Lapis had been through quite a lot of trauma (no small amount of it, Peridot knew, because of Peridot herself) and she had a lot of things she needed to come to terms with. Peridot respected that, and although she couldn’t help her friend directly with her troubles, she could give her space and respect how Lapis chose to heal.
Things like this—though the magazine bit was a first—had happened before. They would almost certainly keep happening, and Peridot had no qualms being there for Lapis if she needed her and keeping out of her way if she did not. Such things… came with the territory, she supposed, and that was fine.
Peridot was an engineer. She was a stickler for structure, an aficionado of architecture, and when things went far beyond what she considered normal, she had a bad habit of panicking. Now, she hated to admit, was one of those times. Whenever Lapis had had trouble in the past, trouble like this, she would… wall herself off, like she did now. She would step back for a while and Peridot understood—when wounded, gems would withdraw their physical forms, and though Lapis wasn’t physically wounded, she was still hurt, and it made sense to Peridot that a gem would do something similar when under mental duress. To an extent, it even seemed natural—that such a vital defense mechanism would carry over, by proxy, to other aspects of daily life.
But, on the other side of the spectrum, it was always viewed as worrisome when a gem took an excessive time to reform, to tidy up and pull themselves back to reality. Sometimes, people got lost, or grew dissatisfied with themselves, and would take much longer than needed to sort it out. Sometimes, gems would never come back at all. Lapis understood this, just like Peridot did—that excessive withdrawal was tempting and dangerous.
After the hair-raising first time Lapis decided to remove herself like this, they had had a long talk about what was and was not ok. In the end, they agreed that Lapis should always pull herself out of her thoughts at the end of the day, lest she go in too deep, and if she needed more time she was free to do the same another day or to talk to Peridot afterwards.
Now it was at least a couple hours after sunset, and Lapis had not moved an inch. Her frown had grown deeper with the passing of the day and her hands, which were still outstretched, had slowly coiled into fists—they didn’t tremble, and looked to be almost limp, but the mere action frightened Peridot greatly. Here, Peridot realized the folly of their contingency, for though they had discussed in great depth, they had never even thought of how Peridot should wake the blue gem, if ever. Fearing to do that to Lapis, should Peridot somehow hurt her in doing so (or get hurt herself), she stood by and watched for far longer than she ever would have liked to.
I haven’t seen Lapis smile once today, she thought, while the word ‘coward’ loomed at her out of the darkness. It clung to her, parasitic, worming its way into her thoughts.
She tried to drive it away, before the rest of those words came out of the woodwork to trouble her, to remind her that she was watching her friend dig deeper, ever deeper, and she couldn’t help. Her mind took her back to the time spent at the barn with Steven and the others, back to the ‘camp fire’. Back to Peace and Love on the planet Earth. Stars, she could use some of that. She started to look for the kerosene.
She sat in front of the fire, alone, on the stump from which she had sung her first song. The flames flickered and cracked before her, but although it was hot, it didn’t warm her. She ran her fingers through her hair and knew that even if she leapt into the fire it couldn’t warm her in the way she was asking it to. Her thoughts kept fleeing back to Lapis Lazuli—her smile, her wings, her unseeing eyes as she sat in the corner, pretending to read. She buried her face in her hands as she let the tears come, as the magic of the camp fire reminded her it would only work if others were there and otherwise it was just petty arson.
Maybe to make the magic work she needed to sing. That seemed like the exact kind of sappy nonsense Steven would approve of, at least. Maybe, just maybe, if she sang she would feel better.
She took a deep breath in through her nose, and did so.
“Life and death and love and birth, and peace and war on the planet Earth.
Is there anything that’s worth more, than peace, and love on the planet Earth.
Is there anything that’s worth more than peace, and love on the planet Earth…”
She let the note fade into oblivion. She still felt bad.
“That was nice,” said a tired voice behind her.
Peridot gave a jump and felt like Garnet’s cold, massive gauntlets were squeezing the air out of her lungs once again. She steeled herself, hoping against hope that she was not merely hearing what she wished to hear, took a deep breath, and turned around. There, walking towards her, was Lapis Lazuli.
Her blue hair had lost its shape and fell wildly about her face. Despite the fact that she had no need to sleep, her eyes had dark blue bags under them. Her dress was wrinkled and sat poorly on her frame. Even her wings drooped, the water slowly dripping off of them to splash on the soil. She looked… like she had been shattered and glued back together, frankly—but Peridot felt the warmth of the fire fill her to her core when she saw that Lapis wore a wide, if weak, smile.
It happened before Peridot could stop herself—she felt her legs tense and let fly, and suddenly she was bounding headlong at the other gem, arms outstretched in an embrace. She only caught a glimpse of Lapis’ startled face as she smashed into the blue gem, bowling both over into the dirt. Granted, that was tactless of her, but to see her best friend up and well made her feel… made her incredibly frustrated, and worried. There was a beat of silence and then words were pouring out of her mouth as she lay next to Lapis in the dirt, looking up at the stars.
“You’re alright! Thank the stars you’re alright, you sat there almost all day and you looked so… and your hands, and you scared me so much, I’m sorry, I respect your boundaries, but you went so far over what we agreed was safe, you were staring there and your hands looked so angry and you looked! And I didn’t know what to do and I was afraid and I got the kerosene and tree bits and there was this night with Steven and the others and I wanted to feel safe, again, and… you…”
She realized she was rambling and let her throat close and kill the sound, and looked over at Lapis, wishing life was a tape recorder and she could record over the last thirty seconds. The other gem looked back at her, was smiling back at her, and Peridot asked what she had really meant to say.
“Are you okay? Please, please say you are.”
And she continued.
“—and if you aren’t, I’m here and we can fix it because this is Earth and anything can happen, even a giant bomb made of mutilated corpses can befriend itself, so we can fix this and I will be there I promise and holy smokes I want you to be okay.”
Peridot noticed that she had screwed up her eyes, so she opened them so as not to look as though (as Amethyst had once put it) she were going to ‘crap herself’. When she did so she saw Lapis scooting over to her on her side in the dirt, a kind of one-sided shimmy that almost caused Peridot to burst into laughter and ruin the moment.
When Lapis (finally) got to where she wanted to be, she reached out and let the hand that wasn’t pinned under her torso rest on Peridot’s shoulder. Their eyes met.
Lapis laughed as she stood up and brushed herself off. She paused for a moment, then started walking to the fire, motioning for Peridot to follow.
They sat across from one another, with the fire between them. Lapis was perched on an old crate, whereas Peridot sat on the makeshift log-bench. She silently drummed her hands on her knees while Lapis leaned back and crossed her legs—neither of them said anything. Admittedly, it was nice to just listen and look and hear the fire dimly roar—but there was something that needed to be said between them. Eventually, Lapis was the one to break the silence, though she did so by bursting out into laughter, for absolutely no reason. Though Peridot found this to be mildly worrisome, Lapis’ laugh was quite infectious and soon she found herself roaring along.
When they both had calmed down, Lapis looked over to Peridot with a wistful grin.
“Remember the day when the rubies came? And I ignored you all day but you just kept on trying to talk to me?”
Oh, yes, Peridot remembered, though perhaps not as fondly as the other gem did. Is that why Lapis had been laughing? She certainly didn’t find it amusing.
“The day Steven helped me write you that card which I now realize was completely insensitive? And I insisted we make you a smaller-than… make you a ‘pool’ in a colossal display of callousness? And then you broke my tape recorder and drove me away? Yes, Lazuli, I’m finding that that rings bells.”
Lapis’ grin dropped at Peridot’s somewhat icy tone and Peridot immediately wished she could bring it back.
The other gem stared at her for a moment, but soon Lapis gave her a sheepish smile and continued.
“I realize that that wasn’t a good day for either of us, Peri. I didn’t mean that I had found it funny, it’s just… I’m sorry I was so rude to you, but all those things you did; Steven didn’t make you do all that, right?”
Of course that wasn’t because of Steven! Peridot wanted to scream.
“Because I don’t think that’s the case, but… I’d like to know, if that’s okay with you.”
“Some of the ideas were Steven’s, yes. Most of them were. But I was the one who wanted to show you how I felt everything should be, I just didn’t know how to do so. To answer your question, it was completely of my own volition.”
Lapis tried to fight down the feeling of butterflies in her stomach.
“I thought so, Peridot, I really did. Don’t think I asked because I didn’t, I just… wanted to be sure.”
Peridot didn’t know how to feel about that.
She looked over at the other gem quizzically. “Why ask, then, if you already knew the answer?”
Lapis took a deep breath. “Because I want to thank you, Peridot, for not giving up on me. For being there and trying and, though I couldn’t see it then, you certainly were trying your best. You kept coming back with the cards and the pool and while I have to say, I have no idea why you thought that was a good idea, I know why you did it. Even in the end, you only ran away because I had asked you to. You didn’t give up, and I’m glad you didn’t and so sorry I tried to make you do so. So, while I didn’t appreciate it then, I certainly do now, and… thank you.”
Peridot was dumbstruck. She never expected thanks for that day, much less an apology.
She tried to express her gratitude in the strongest way Earth vernacular allowed her to.
Lapis was really glad Steven had taught her what it meant when Peridot said that.
They sat around the fire, swinging legs and kicking pebbles for a long time.
“That day, you said Earth didn’t feel like home… yet. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and I was wondering; do you think the Earth will ever feel like home, Peridot?”
The green gem looked over at Lapis, who was staring at the ground between her feet. Her wings were tucked behind her back, not withdrawn, but almost like a shawl.
Peridot felt there was something more to say, and waited for her to finish the thought.
When Lapis spoke again, Peridot noted that she almost pointedly refused to meet her gaze.
“I’m trying so hard, but I don’t feel it sometimes. Sometimes it is just another prison—but it isn’t like the mirror, and it isn’t like… Malachite.”
Peridot cocked a brow at the mention of that disaster, but let the other gem continue.
“It’s worse, somehow, if it’s even possible for something to be worse. There aren’t any chains, Jasper’s gone, I’m not in the mirror, and my gem is healed. My wings are healed. I can fly again, but the Earth keeps me here, though I can fly away. I’m free, but, somehow, I’m not. I can fly, but… there’s nowhere to go.”
She kept her head bent low and looked as though despair might overtake her.
“How old are you, Lapis?”
The other gem looked up sharply, a mix of confusion and amusement glittering in her eyes. Perhaps there were tears glittering in them, too, but Peridot didn’t really want to acknowledge that right now.
“Don’t you know it’s rude to ask another gem’s age, Peridot?” she said, chuckling.
She paused in thought, taking the other question in. “Seriously, though, I suppose I’d be around fourteen thousand cycles, if you counted the time I was in… the mirror.”
The amusement fled from Lapis’ face for an instant, but was back again before Peridot could be sure. She had been too busy trying to conceal her surprise at the figure; even for an era one gem, fourteen thousand cycles was a lot. Even nine thousand (which was fairer to Lapis, given the five she spent in the mirror) was a pretty decent number.
“About fourteen thousand, though I don’t see why it matters. My turn; how old are you?”
“Thirteen-hundred cycles, but it’s more like twelve if you count the time I spent in warpstream, given that time doesn’t really pass while you’re in it.”
This time, it was Lapis’ turn to look surprised. She didn’t bother to hide it, though, and Peridot felt her face heat slightly. She knew why Lapis looked at her like that.
Peridot was young. Almost embarrassingly young.
Rather than stay silent and force her to respond, Peridot soldiered on.
“Anyway, the reason I ask is to give you a point of reference. For about eighty percent of my existence I have worked as a technician, doing repair work across the galaxy and monitoring some of Yellow Diamond’s most productive kindergardens—which, admittedly, I loved to do and was quite good at doing. On the other hand, had I been given a couple of millennia more to do it, I think I would eventually have found it boring. Maybe I’m being generous.”
She rolled her thumb and forefinger together, letting herself take in the memories. Not all of them were good and very few were exceptional.
“To be honest, my life was pretty monotonous. Now, over the course of one cycle alone, my arms and legs have been taken from me, Steven and I made friends with the galaxy’s largest bomb, in doing so I committed high treason and now, I live in a barn with my ex-informant and best friend. So far as I can tell, this is all because of the planet Earth and its inhabitants, who have at once ruined my life and yet, have shown me that there is so much more to life than merely living it.”
She felt tears prick her eyes and tried to blink them away.
“That isn’t to say I don’t miss Homeworld, and I certainly regret not being able to go back to it or any of its many colonies for fear of being pulverized and having my remains used by Yellow Diamond as paving material. However, in retrospect, being trapped for one cycle on Earth has made me feel more free than I think another three millennia of traveling light-years across the galaxy under the Diamond Authority ever could have done. But still…”
“To answer your question, Earth doesn’t feel like home. Not yet, at least. But I think it could, eventually, feel like home.”
Probably because I’m trapped on Earth with you.
She didn’t say the last part.
Lapis got up, walked over, and sat to Peridot’s left on the log—but when Peridot turned to look at her she found she couldn’t see clearly.
That was… puzzling. Why couldn’t she—oh no. She was crying.
Startled, she took her visor off and swatted at her eyes, all of a sudden noticing that strange hiccups wracked her diaphragm. She was weeping.
She didn’t want Lapis to see her like this! She had tried so hard to make the other gem respect her, and now she was crying and Lapis could see.
Lapis would think so many things. Lapis would stop opening up to Peridot, because she’d think Peridot couldn’t take it, and then… Typical. It was typical of her to go and clod it up when her friend needed her most.
She felt something warm on her shoulders and sat bolt upright, feeling Lapis’ arm gently cup her shoulder and give her a gentle squeeze. If it weren’t for her blurry eyes, she could swear she saw a glistening wingtip curl around her to her right, staying a hand’s breadth away from her leg, sheltering.
It was probably just the tears, though.
“Peridot, we don’t have to talk anymore if you don’t want to. It’s fine, and I’m sorry.”
Peridot turned so hard she almost gave herself whiplash.
“You’re sorry!? What for! I’m the one who dragged you back to this clodding planet and now you’re trapped again! I’m the one who should be…”
Lapis frowned deeply. “Peridot, you said it yourself. You’re different now, and I… understand why you did it. But I should be sorry too. All this time we’ve talked and I never realized how much you’ve been through. I never stopped to think...”
She bit her lip and looked away. “All this time, I’ve been asking you to carry my burdens along with yours. This, what we have… It’s just like Malachite. I’m holding you down in the water so I can get to the surface. That’s what I thought about all day, how awful it would be if I did to you what I did to Jasper—if you got hurt just being there, like she did. In the end I managed to convince myself that that wasn’t the case. I thought this could be different… But now I don’t know.”
Peridot saw the joviality that had lit up her face all evening drain out, slowly, as she talked.
She saw the doubt and fear she saw in her own reflection sometimes—that she wouldn’t be enough.
That in talking and being there maybe she hadn’t been letting Lapis heal.
That when Peridot had tried to help, there was always the chance that she was only making it worse.
She saw that gaunt look in Lapis, now. She did not like it one bit.
“Lapis, it’s ok. We both need to talk, and we both can be there for each other. Having you here has made Earth so much better, and if you need someone , I can be here! I want to be here.”
“By the end of it, Peridot, that’s just what Jasper said. Jasper wanted it, and I wanted it. Even though it wasn’t healthy for either of us, but especially not for her. I hurt her so much, I can see that now. I saw that on the boat with Steven.”
Lapis looked haunted, and as she talked Peridot saw the thoughts overwhelm her. “But this is different. I don’t hate you. Our friendship is different, it’s built on something else than what Malachite was, and I thought that it was so much better—but I think that even that could just make it easier for me to hurt you, because… That’s what I do, Peridot. I hurt people.”
Lapis turned and stared her dead in the eyes, her voice taking on a sorrowful inflection.
“You help me but… I don’t see how I am helping you. I freeze up and you’re there, I get mad at you and you’re there. I’m never there for you. I’m a burden. I’m so afraid I’ll drag you down.”
Her voice broke as Peridot heard the swoosh of Lapis’ wings as they withdrew from around her and were poised, expectantly, in the air; Peridot turned around to see them, each spread wide and tensed as if to take off. A knot, so cold as if to burn, formed in Peridot’s stomach as she saw what she feared most to see—she made to search Lapis’s face, but it was turned away from her, the sinews in the slender blue neck drawn up in relief against her throat and shoulder. The arm around her own shoulder tensed for a moment, then drew away, as if to leave at any moment. Lapis spoke, her voice cold and dull.
“I won’t let you be another Jasper, Peridot. I won’t drown you with me.”
Lapis took her arm away and Peridot knew in that in a moment, she’d be gone. When the hand-ship had started to crash, she had taken an escape pod. When the Crystal gems had tracked her down, time and again, she had run away until, finally, there was nowhere left to run, and she was crushed and confined to a bubble. Had she fought back sooner than that terrible ambush on the ship, or done anything other than run, things might have ended differently. It was only for a moment of mercy that she didn’t reside in the… trophy room where she had woken up for the rest of her days. She couldn’t bank on second chances, never again, and she was tired of running.
She knew why Lapis felt she had to run. Human, gem, or animal, you run when you have nothing left to do.
She opened her eyes, not remembering having closed them, and hoped that Lapis was still next to her on the log so she could tell her as much, that she was mistaken and hope wasn’t lost.
When she looked to her right Lapis was no longer there.
Icy, slippery fear gripped her for a moment when she thought that her chance had fled, that Lapis was now the one who had left for good.
Then, Peridot realized that she was no longer on the log, either.
She had no idea where she was until she looked up and saw the slender blue foot above her, the two stumpy green hands holding on to it for dear life. She saw, with dawning horror, that she had grappled on to Lapis’ leg by mere reaction alone and was now quite unintentionally along for the ride.
Clouds, huge and soft, drifted past them, stars peeking through them while the setting moon cast bright, silvery light across all she could see. Far below, the barn drifted away until, slowly, it was gone, replaced by a rolling expanse of trees and fields. The view would have been nice, had it not been incredibly disorienting.
Momentarily, the rest of her senses kicked in—she felt the foot in her hands, the tenseness in the muscles as Lapis held it rigid to give her a… foothold, as it were, to keep from falling off. Her hearing returned momentarily, and she was assaulted by the whistling of the wind-noise engulfing her head.
She could barely make out Lapis screaming at her.
“…what are yOU EVEN DOING? ARE YOU INSANE? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW HARD IT IS TO FLY LIKE THIS!?”
She winced and wanted to answer that yes, as a matter of fact, she did know exactly how difficult it was to fly like this. Memories of Steven, her foot, and the crashed spaceship came to mind, and she remembered vividly that, apart from being difficult, it was also quite painful to fly like this too. She looked up at Lapis’ face, and saw that that was, in fact, the case, judging by her strained expression. Also evident on her features was a look of rage, confusion, and hurt—not just pain, but emotional hurt as well.
Fan-tastic. She shouted back, hoping that the time for talk hadn’t already passed.
“LAPIS, AS CRAZY AS THIS MAY SOUND, I RESPECT YOUR BOUNDARIES.”
Lapis’ scowl faltered at the absurdity of the statement. “I FIND THAT TO BE VERY HARD TO BELIEVE, PERIDOT! WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING? WHY DID YOU GRAB ME? FLYING LIKE THIS KIND OF HURTS. A LOT. I MEAN, IT REALLY HURTS.”
Seeing that Lapis' frown had wavered, Peridot had the idea to catch her off guard with... comedy. “BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I COMPLETELY AGREE. DON'T ASK HOW I KNOW, IT’S A LONG STORY. I'M REALLY SORRY TO HANG AROUND LIKE THIS, LAZULI.”
Lapis lost her scowl entirely at that. Now she just looked scandalized, instead of hurt and angry. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WAS THAT A PUN? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY MAKING PUNS RIGHT NOW?”
Peridot tell she had got the other gems attention and sallied forth, ignoring the question. “LAPIS, I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL RIGHT NOW!”
Lapis scoffed and looked at her incredulously.
“HOW ON EARTH COULD YOU POSSIBLY KNOW HOW I FEEL? I WAS MALACHITE FOR AT LEAST THREE MONTHS, PERIDOT! IT WAS AWFUL, AND IN THE END, I DROVE JASPER INSANE!”
That wasn't what Peridot was trying to say. “I DON’T MEAN THAT I KNOW WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH, I MEAN I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, LAZULI! WHILE YOU'VE BEEN FIGHTING JASPER, I'VE BEEN FIGHTING THE CRYSTAL GEMS THE ENTIRE TIME!”
Peridot continued, fighting the wind. “WHEN YOU’VE SPENT MONTHS ANTAGONIZING PEOPLE, IT SEEMS ABSURD THAT ANYONE WOULD EVER BEFRIEND YOU. WHEN YOU’VE DEVOTED A LOT OF TIME TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU GET AWAY FROM A SHARED DEMISE INTACT, YOU STOP HAVING PROBLEMS WITH THROWING THE OTHER PEOPLE TO THE WIND. PERHAPS THAT’S A POOR CHOICE OF WORDS ON MY PART. PLEASE DON’T DROP ME.”
Lapis gave a weak laugh. “I WON’T DROP YOU IF YOU STOP MAKING PUNS!”
“FAIR ENOUGH! WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY IS, AFTER A LONG TIME OF HURTING PEOPLE AND NOT EVEN CARING, YOU FIND IT REALLY HARD TO BELIEVE YOU CAN EVER DO ANYTHING BUT THAT. YOU FEEL AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS, TO DO NEW THINGS, TO LET PEOPLE IN, BECAUSE YOU FEAR THAT IN DOING SO YOU WILL GROW ATTACHED AND MAYBE YOU’LL HURT THEM BY ACCIDENT! SO YOU MAKE AN APPEAL TO WHAT YOU KNOW, TO THE OLD WAYS OF NOT CARING ABOUT ANYTHING. YOU TRY TO GET YOUR NEW, SCARY WORLDVIEW TO COINCIDE WITH WHAT YOU USED TO BELIEVE IN.”
Peridot let the words flow, speaking from a wealth of experience she wished she didn't have.“WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF THINGS, YOU DO IRRATIONAL THINGS, LIKE STEAL A COMMUNICATOR FROM THE MOON BASE AND CALL YELLOW DIAMOND, HOPING YOU CAN MAKE THINGS WORK, BECAUSE TO ABANDON ALL YOU’VE KNOWN FOR SO LONG IS FRANKLY HORRIFYING. YOU TRY, AND FAIL, TO SEE LIFE FROM TWO PERSPECTIVES, AND IT BLOWS UP IN YOUR FACE. LITERALLY BLOWS UP. YELLOW DIAMOND TRIED TO KILL ME WITH A BOMB.”
Lapis looked down at her with a look of pity on her face. “THAT SUCKS.”
Peridot nodded her head in agreement. “IT REALLY DOES. I HAVE SOME PRETTY COMPLEX FEELINGS ABOUT IT. LAPIS, I DID THE MOST UNREASONABLE THING I’VE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE WHEN I CALLED YELLOW DIAMOND, AND I DID IT BECAUSE I THOUGHT I HAD TO AND BECAUSE IT SEEMED LIKE IT WAS THE MOST REASONABLE THING TO DO. I LITERALLY CALLED AN ALL-POWERFUL DICTATOR WHO WAS WILLING TO BLOW UP AN ENTIRE PLANET AS A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT AND MADE AN APPEAL TO HER EMPATHY!”
Peridot looked up at the other gem, hoping that she was getting through to her.
There was no stopping now, she guessed."I KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE CORNERED BY YOUR OLD LIFE AND FORCED TO MAKE A HARD DECISION. HILARIOUSLY, I CONVINCED MYSELF I WASN’T A TRAITOR AFTER I WORKED WITH TRAITORS FOR MONTHS AND DIRECTLY DISOBEYED ORDERS THE WHOLE TIME. IT WAS ONLY WHEN REALITY WOKE ME UP AND TRIED TO KILL ME WITH A BOMB THAT I REALIZED WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON. THAT I HAD COMMITTED MYSELF TO THIS STUPID ROCK OF A PLANET LONG, LONG BEFORE I CALLED YELLOW DIAMOND, BECAUSE A GOOD DIAMOND SOLDIER WOULD HAVE JUST SAT ON THE EARTH AND DIED RIGHT ALONG WITH IT.”
She sighed, and the wind snatched it from her lungs.
“I’M NOT SAYING THAT YOU DON’T NEED TO DO SOME SOUL SEARCHING, LAPIS. THERE’S STILL A LOT OF THINGS THAT WE BOTH NEED TO DO. BUT, FORGIVE ME FOR SAYING SO, FLYING AWAY FROM ME BECAUSE I WANT TO HELP AND YOU’RE SCARED YOU’LL HURT ME IS DEFINITELY NOT ONE OF THEM.”
Lapis glared down at her and crossed her arms over her chest, which looked pretty hilarious considering to Peridot she was upside down.
“PERIDOT, THAT’S MY DECISION TO MAKE, NOT YOURS! YOU DON’T GET TO DECIDE FOR ME WHAT I WANT TO DO!”
Now was Peridot's chance. “Lapis, that’s exactly what you’re trying to do to me.”
Lapis looked at her confusedly. “WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!”
“I SAID, ‘LAPIS, THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO DO TO ME!”
Peridot raised her voice even more. “I SAID—”
“I HEARD YOU! WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?”
Peridot couldn't believe Lazuli didn't understand what she meant.
“YOU’RE DECIDING FOR ME WHAT I SHOULD DO! YOU’RE LEAVING BECAUSE YOU’RE AFRAID THAT I’LL GET HURT TRYING TO HELP YOU, SO YOU ARE MAKING THE DECISION FOR ME WHETHER I AGREE OR NOT! YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND AND IF YOU LEAVE, STARS WILL I MISS YOU, BUT I RESPECT IT IF YOU WANT TO LEAVE. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO LET ME GO, THEN I WILL NOT STOP YOU... BUT DON’T DO IT NOW, BOTH LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY. I DON’T WANT TO FALL AND DIE.”
Lapis rolled her eyes, but didn't interrupt the green gem's speech.
“IF YOU FEEL LIKE I AM, FOR A MOMENT, KEEPING YOU PRISONER, THEN GO. YOU DON’T HAVE TO TELL ME THAT YOU’RE GOING, THOUGH I WOULD APPRECIATE IT, AND YOU CAN LEAVE THAT EXACT MOMENT YOU FEEL TRAPPED. BUT PLEASE, I BEG YOU; DON’T LEAVE BECAUSE YOU’RE PROTECTING ME FROM WHAT IS MY DECISION TO MAKE. I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE, LAPIS; DON’T CALL YELLOW DIAMOND BECAUSE YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO—DON’T DO SOMETHING RASH THAT CAN ONLY SERVE TO HURT THOSE AROUND YOU. I CALLED YELLOW DIAMOND AND UNDENIABLY ENDANGERED EARTH FUTHER IN DOING SO. I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE LAPIS, AND I REGRET IT. DON’T MAKE MY MISTAKE.”
Peridot was weeping, tears flowing being blown from the updraft under her visor into her tetrahedron hair.
“PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, LAPIS LAZULI. DON’T HURT ME TRYING TO PROTECT ME FROM MYSELF.”
She looked up at the blue gem, who she saw also had tears being blown across her face. Even though Lapis had to shout, she still sounded hurt when she replied.
“PERIDOT, THE LAST TIME I SAW JASPER SHE WAS BORDELINE PSYCHOTIC. I HAD NO IDEA I COULD EVEN HURT SOMEONE LIKE THAT BEFORE THEN. IF I DID THAT TO YOU, I WOULD NEVER FORGIVE MYSELF. JUST ONE PERSON HURT LIKE THAT IS ONE TOO MANY.”
Peridot shouted back, “THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND MALACHITE IS THAT EITHER OF US CAN WALK OUT AT ANY TIME. YOU’RE FREE, AND I AM TOO. NO ONE IS FORCING EITHER OF US TO STAY—SO PLEASE, DON’T FORCE ME TO LEAVE. I MAY BE ROUGHLY ELEVEN TIMES YOUNGER THAN YOU, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I CAN’T MAKE MY OWN DECISIONS. IF YOU HURT ME, I WILL LEAVE, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.”
Lapis was silent for what seemed like an eternity, as Peridot waited for her response.
She spoke. “PROMISE ME YOU WILL. PROMISE ME THAT YOU WILL LEAVE IF I HURT YOU.”
Peridot took her own time to think.
“ONLY IF YOU DO THE SAME.”
A beat of silence from both of them, then they shouted it together over the roar of the wind.
Then they laughed, the great heavy darkness being lifted off of them as the sun broke over the hills and dawn flooded the sky, lighting up the awkwardly canted winged figure and the smaller one hanging from her foot as they continued their flight.
Several hours later, they were still flying. Lapis looked exhausted and Peridot felt terrible.
“WHY ARE YOU EVEN FLYING STILL? WHY DIDN’T YOU LAND HOURS AGO WHEN I FIRST GRABBED YOUR FOOT?”
Lapis glared down at her. “MAYBE BECAUSE SOMEONE IS ON MY FOOT AND I CAN’T LAND LIKE THIS.”
Peridot found that hard to believe. “WELL, WHERE ARE YOU EVEN GOING? WHAT DOES FLYING FARTHER CHANGE?”
Lapis hadn’t expected a follow up question, but answered anyway. “THE OCEAN, SO I CRASH LAND US THERE. IT WOULDN’T TAKE SO LONG IF I DIDN’T HAVE TO FLY INCREDIBLY SLOW SO YOU DON’T FALL OFF.”
Now Peridot really found that hard to believe. “IF THAT’S THE CASE, YOU COULD HAVE LANDED US IN THE SMALLER-THAN-AVERAGE—I MEAN THE POOL. WHY ARE YOU REALLY FLYING?”
Lapis snapped. This was really too much. “BECAUSE I’VE BEEN GOING THROUGH SOME HEAVY STUFF AS OF LATE AND I WANT TO SEE THE OCEAN, AND I WILL BE DAMNED IF SOME LITTLE GREEN NUISANCE IS GOING TO STOP ME, ALRIGHT?”
The little green nuisance resented being called that. “OH YEAH? WELL, YOU COULD HAVE SET ME DOWN AT THE POOL AND THEN HAVE FLOWN TO THE OCEAN. WHAT ABOUT THAT?”
“I THINK WE BOTH NEED TO SEE THE OCEAN, ALRIGHT?”
Peridot couldn’t argue with that. Well, she could have…
But she didn’t think it would have been right.
Plus, when they actually got to their destination, Peridot got to see Lapis’ face light up at the sight; it was an expression of true, calm joy. Seeing that alone was well worth the trip.