EpicFlight13: "Is there a reason that you decided not to include Peridot in this story?"

Actually, there isn't a big reason why I didn't include her. At the time I was writing up the story, though, I really didn't care for Peridot. I wasn't sure how I'd write her- and since this is a relatively short story, I decided just to keep her out. That's a pretty good question, though! I didn't even realize I was excluding Peri until you brought it up.

The sun washes over Beach City like a wave, touching the hot banks of sand and the neon lights of the arcade. Inside the Beach house, Pearl is finally content with resting up and allowing her wounds to properly heal. Steven is curled up across from her on the pullout couch. He yawns softly, smiling in content. Lapis Lazuli still hasn't regenerated yet, though it has only been a few hours. Pearl wonders if she is ready to apologize to the smaller gem. She wonders if Lapis is ready to accept an apology.

Steven sleeps soundly, changed out of his torn shirt. He still wears his headband. A reminder, Pearl figures, of his regeneration. Lapis' gem lays on a pillow in the sunlight, facing the cool ocean breeze. Steven refused to rest until Lapis was settled somewhere safe.

"I'm proud of you, Pearl," he had said, almost sheepishly as he settled down to sleep.

Pearl had told him the same.

He had laughed a little bit, "Well, I can't say that I've saved a Universe. Get it? Get it?"

And for the sake of her tired boy, Pearl had tilted her head back and laughed.

She wants to know what has happened, but she knows he is exhausted. Steven will be in a better shape to tell her when he wakes up. She worries about Peridot's whereabouts, and more importantly, Jasper's condition, but she will tackle those problems when she's ready. For once, she's satisfied with herself.

She sipped some tea that Amethyst had brewed for her from a neon yellow silly straw. The small gem had hugged her furiously when she got home. She wouldn't let go until Pearl had wrapped both of her long arms around Amethyst's body and assured her that she was okay. Pearl has rarely seen that side of Amethyst- and it revealed just how terrifying and absurd this entire ordeal was.

Amethyst and Garnet had left on another mission an hour ago, telling Pearl not to run off again. Pearl could tell they were joking, but underneath their mocking tone, she wondered if they were truly worried that she'd take off.

She hears the salty sea breeze rustle the thick tree branches behind the house. Pearl hadn't always liked the beach house- she had originally found it both intrusive and painfully casual (especially for the home of the saviors of the earth), but now as she looks through the huge windows overlooking the sea, she smiles and decides that it's home. It may take time, but she can wait for Lapis to find home in it too.

Pearl hears a familiar whir behind her and senses a surge of energy. She gently eases herself around to prevent straining her neck and watches as Lapis' gem begins to glow. Engulfed in energy and light, the stone rises into the air. Pearl envisions the ocean air growing tangible and surrounding the gem as it reforms.

Lapis takes shape- mannequin, structure, and then details. She stumbles a little as her feet touch the ground and looks confused. Of course she's confused, Pearl thinks as her stomach clenches, she had told Lapis that she never wanted to see her again.

Pearl examines Lapis. Her top reaches lower, covering the spot where she was injured. It looks more like a cloth shirt with strings tying it back rather than her previous swim top. Her skirt is shorter- less constricting, with slits up the sides. Pearl thinks she looks rather pretty. Less elegant, less timeless and regal. More casual and free.

Pearl says nothing for a moment. She stares at the young gem. Lapis looks just as reluctant, if not more so. Eventually, Pearl nods cordially.

"Welcome back," she says, and even she cringes at how fake her tone sounds.

"So now we're back at square one on terms of relationships?" Lapis asks, drawing her eyebrows in and clenching her jaw.

Pearl swallows. Her eyes look everywhere except for Lapis. "I think we were always on square one," she says.

Lapis sneers, "so does this mean we're just going to forget this night ever happened? I got stabbed for you." She snaps, venom dripping from her words like melted chocolate. Lapis' hands shake. She's afraid of being alone again. She's afraid that Pearl will make her find refuge within her own thoughts. She's afraid of mirrors.

"No. I-I mean thank you? No, wait," Pearl says, exasperated. "I...I know that last night happened, and I know that I said some nasty things, and you did some nastier things. I just don't want that to be how I think of you. I don't want to forget what happened. I want to start fresh."

Lapis cringes. She hasn't been kicked out yet. That's about the only plus she can think of.

Pearl smiles sadly, "I think we're both a little desperate, aren't we? You want intimacy because you've never had it, and I want intimacy because I have had it, and I miss how it feels. In the end, we're just making stupid decisions."

Lapis feels her chest seize. That kiss had been real. She knew it. She didn't care that it was only built upon ten hours. When she pressed her skin against Pearl's, she felt electricity. But how is she to explain that?


"I don't know if I can love you, Lapis," Pearl snorted, smirking a bit, "goodness, I don't even know if I like you."

Lapis bites her tongue. She's glad she did.

"But I do know that I want to. You're not evil. You just keep making left turns. I want to like you, and I want to love you. I just... I don't know if I can."

Lapis exhales. "Same," she admits, and suddenly a weight is lifted from her chest. "Maybe you're right. I still don't care for the earth. Truthfully, I'm not sure if I ever will. But I suppose I can learn to at least appreciate it. Especially if he's here," Lapis nods over to Steven, who smiles in his sleep.

Pearl smiles. They're certainly not going uphill, but they're also not going down. They're finally on level ground. There's no ulterior task that forces them to need each other. There's just the crazy notion that with time, they might want to need each other. Pearl invites Lapis to sit down and they talk. About earth, and Homeworld, and about Steven.

Pearl notices Lapis' hand brush hers as they sit back on the couch and swap anecdotes. She goes to retract her hand, but she stops. Lapis stares at her with willful eyes. Let me have this, they tell her. Let me have this one moment.

Pearl almost refuses them the satisfaction. But she doesn't. Instead, she loses her train of thought and blushes the deepest shade of blue.

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