I DO NOT OWN STEVEN UNIVERSE
This fic is going to transition between three protagoinists- Peridot, Lapis, and Pearl. I'm going to actually try and fulfill my goal of finishing it, but I'm untrustworthy, so you can just see how far I get for yourselves.
Explicit swearing, Explicit mentions of sex, and Unhealthy relationship dynamics.
This is Peridot, Over
As an avid reader, I'd be lying to you if I told you I hadn't read my fair share of sleazy romance novels. I'm talking about the ones you find in the drugstore bookshelves for desperate and dry middle aged ladies. You've probably seen them before- their covers almost exclusively depict a conventionally attractive woman and man almost kissing in some scenic area while the sun dips behind them.
Of course, I didn't fancy this genre all too much- I tended to lean towards the Science Fiction section if anything- but sometimes I needed a break from the smoke-filled air of a dystopian future to immerse myself in something a bit less exciting, like two teenagers falling in love and mouth-to-mouthing it in the moonlight. I even liked some of it.
However, it didn't take me long to notice some rather unsettling trends about these books. For example:
1.) The two protagonists were always of the opposite sex. The only exception to this blatant heteronormativity was a story where the main conflict centered around the trials and tribulations of not liking the alternate sex. (And doesn't everybody love the gay angst narrative?)
2.) Forbidden love was the ultimate trope. Love described in one too many flowery paragraphs as written with the warmth of one thousand suns, but couldn't possibly exist because of some arbitrary and flimsy reason. Maybe Mary-Sue has a traumatic past and abusive parents that would never possibly allow her to love her sensitive boyfriend? Sure. That's not a rehash of every other damn book out there.
3.) And the worst of all my grievances- the war metaphors. I'd be perfectly content reading about this rehashed plotline about a boy and a girl until I came across the constant and unrelenting use of figurative language comparing the passionate young love to war. It was sickening, and I downright loathed the glorification of blood and battles and weapons being used symbolically as the female protagonist gets eaten out behind the 7/11. Because how romantic is it to describe your boyfriend's tongue as a foot soldier navigating the battlefield of your, ahem, internal crevices?
I hated every book with these three clichés. As soon as I found a brief foreshadowing of the forbidden love conflict or read one war=love metaphor, I was out. I knew the landmarks of the grievances from the first chapter, and had the book returned to the library drop box by the second.
And that's why I hate myself for not seeing it coming earlier. That's why it's so damn ironic to me that my life has twisted into this horrid excuse of an overused plotline. In retrospect, I suppose it's easier to see the freight train coming to hit you when you're not on the railroad tracks. But Lapis Lazuli was not a freight train- she was a girl. And I didn't get hit by her, I got pummeled, thrown into the ocean, drowned, revived, thrown into the ocean again, and shoved into an active water mine.
So let me start this off by saying that my love was comparable to a war. And it was comparable to a war because it was wrong, immoral, and on top of all else, it hurt like a motherfucker.
Every time she touched me, it was like a brutal explosion, shooting up dirt like a geyser and sending me reeling without my basic senses. Every shitty kiss was like a bullet ripping down the fair skin on my neck, and every spoken word was an interrogation with a wet rag and water hose. And the only honorable thing about it was how willingly and eagerly self-destructive we all were. Going into detail gives me post-traumatic stress, and sometimes I can still feel the rumble of artillery discharging in my bones.
I know that this war story will never land me as an American hero with a half-hour special on Opera. At most, I'll get some sympathy from someone who cares to listen. But I feel like either way, I need to get this off my chest.
So let's begin. The setting is my home base. I'm in the middle of a meeting with my top covert specialist and best friend, Lapis Lazuli.
It's dim, and the dense musk of incense blurs my mind. We're both sitting on my plush carpet, leaning against my bed. Lapis' head falls to my shoulder, and a laptop playing YouTube videos warms my thighs. It's all very comforting. Just like how I prefer it. I'm not a very exciting person- my ideal hangout is something with very minimal talking and even less doing.
I'm still rolling something Lapis murmured over in my mind. The world around me spins sluggishly, like it's been laid thick in honey. She pulls her head from my shoulder (a real shame) and looks me in the eyes. She knows I can't break eye contact once I form it- so I'm stuck paying attention to every word she says until those brilliant blue eyes flicker away to look at something more interesting.
"So what?" I say, knitting my eyebrows. My lazy grin irons into a thin grimace.
"I don't know- you usually have input on this kind of stuff!" Lapis sighs, throwing her hands in the air and raising her brows. "I mean, damn, you're horrible at advice, but I'd still appreciate the moral support."
"Thanks," I deadpan, clicking on another video and trying to avoid the question.
Lapis is having none of my aversion tactics. "Well?"
I slam my laptop shut and swing my head over to face her entirely. I'm scowling now, my pupils feeling like the coal-black slits of a feral predator.
"Do you really want to know what I think?"
"Well now I'm not so sure anymore. But go ahead," Lapis says, trying to laugh it off weakly.
I turn my gaze away from her and stare straight ahead at the alien stickers decorating my dresser. I chose a glittery one with googol eyes as my focus point and sigh. "I don't like the sound of it. To be frank, you have the emotional range of a garbage can and Pearl sort of looks like she could cry at the drop of a hat." I see Lapis' posture go rigid.
"So?" Lapis snaps suddenly, "Are you saying I only deserve to love people who are as stoic and cynical as I am? Are you saying I should only date someone like you?"
It's the way she says 'someone like you' that makes a chill run down my spine. Like a filthy slur she's forcing to get past her teeth.
I lock my jaw to keep it from trembling as I reply, "No. I just don't think it'll work out. That's all."
"Whatever." She crosses her arms.
"You're the one who asked for my opinion," I remind her with a twinge of agitation making my tone waver.
She sighs. "That's fair."
We don't do anything for the next few minutes save for pretending to be interested in the wiggling habits of my pet snake. Alduin knows when there's tension in the air, and he tends to squirm as if it makes him uncomfortable. Right now, he's pressed up to the glass and bumping his nose on the grate keeping him in his cage. He's restless.
And so are we, because suddenly, I can't decide if it's my neck or my knees that itch more, and Lapis changes her sitting position every five seconds.
"Look," she says, breaking the silence, "I really like her, alright? I'm going to go on this date today, and if it turns out that we don't work or she's not interested, I'll let you say 'I told you so'. Okay?"
I cross my arms and turn away. I know that I'll melt into her stare if I catch it and give in. And this is a battle I refuse to surrender in without my dignity.
"I don't care. Do what you want."
She rolls her eyes and gets up to leave. Groaning internally, I stop her.
"But at least put on a bra first."
She cracks a smile and gestures to her nightshirt- a stupid Lilo and Stitch graphic tee that I absolutely despise. It's true that she isn't exactly in desperate need to protect her nonexistent chest. She's flatter than steamrolled concrete. "What's stoppin' me?"
"Societal convention? Plus, it's supposed to be a little chilly today and I don't think Pearl would be too keen on seeing your perky tits through your shirt," I smirk. Lapis blushes a bright red and crosses her arms, releasing a defeated sigh.
"It's not my fault you don't bring spare underwear to your swim meets," I laugh lowly, settling my laptop besides me to rifle through my top drawers. I sift through my bras until I come across a neon green sports-bra with cartoon frog eyes slapped on where the boobs go.
I toss the article of clothing to Lapis carelessly. "Here. Put this on, and don't blame me if Pearl laughs when she takes off your shirt." That last phrase is downright painful for me to choke out, but I manage to fit a forced laugh somewhere at the end of it despite.
I'm hit with another verbal torrent of flustered demands to shut up before Lapis tells me to turn around while she puts it on. I agree, shrugging and staring at my blinds. The urge hits for me to turn around prematurely, but I shove it to the back of my mind with a sneer.
I mentally slap myself. What am I doing? I plaster on a scowl in hopes that it will disguise my now furious heated face.
"Alright, Peri. I'm decent," Lapis announces. I turn around and smirk. The bra hasn't done much in order to flatter her. Still, she looks stunning. Even in that infuriatingly ugly t-shirt and her chlorine-stained jean shorts. Her unwashed blue hair still reeks of chlorine from last night's swim meet, and she's not wearing any make up to hide the garden of acne on her jaw, but somehow, she looks better this way. Lapis has the envious kind of natural attractiveness that makes people gawk.
I nod and swallow a forming lump in my throat.
She gives me an awkward smile before inching towards the door. "Well, I'm sorry for leaving so soon, but I've got a date to be on time for! Even though I know you're gonna be an ass about it, wish me luck!"
She closes the door gently behind her. I mutter out a solemn good luck, before crashing on top of my bed. It's messy and unmade from last night's impromptu sleepover, and my dark pillow is stained with drool. My room is far too warm to curl up with a blanket, but I'm feeling far to vulnerable to go without. So I settle for throwing my comforter over my chest and sticking my legs out.
There's this nagging pain in my stomach- like I've eaten something that didn't agree. Except this stomach ache probably won't fade with a Tums tablet and ginger-ale.
I feel sick.
I know why, too, but I can't dare admit it to myself. Instead of doting on the dull throb in the pit of my gut, I hook my bony fingers around my laptop and swipe it so that I can distract myself. All I find to look forward to is a Skype message from Ronaldo. That big oaf has the grossest crush on me, and he's still convinced that I'm anything except a full on homosexual. This time, it's a link to the latest post on his blog. Mindlessly, I click on it. After what just happened, I think I need a good laugh.
Suddenly, I hear a notification pop. My phone. I shove the laptop off me and dig into my hoodie pocket for my cell. And staining the luminescent screen of my top-notch smartphone is a text from her. Pearl.
Pearl: Hey, did we have homework from yesterday? I misplaced my planner in my locker.
I roll my eyes. Pearl and I are chem lab partners- good ones, too. We're at the top percentile of the class, and the difference between our scores is usually only a tenth of a percentage. For lab projects and partner work, we swapped phone numbers.
Me: yeah. were supposed to do that worksheet. arent you on a date with lapis or something.
I huff and roll my eyes. Of course Pearl would land a date with the captain of the swim team and still be more concerned about homework.
Pearl: Oh yes! But she's called and told me she was going to be a tad late. You're her best friend, right?
Me: well shes mine, but i dont know about the other way around.
I feel a tug in my chest. Lapis is quite popular, fronting both the swim team and the co-monitoring the astronomy club with Pearl. She has tons of friends. Tons of best friends. But me? I just have her.
Pearl: Nonsense! She talks about you all the time. But anyways, I have a question. What's her favorite kind of music?
As I read the text, I feel a little flip in my chest. Like something buried deep in there is gonna crawl out and show itself. I think it's called an emotion.
I want to tell Pearl all about how she gushes over Aerosmith. I want to reminisce about how in the seventh grade, she wouldn't leave the house without her Nirvana shirt tucked dutifully in her pocket or on her chest. I want to talk about the time when the Wizard of Oz was her favorite movie, if only because it mixed perfectly with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album. I want to tell her about how Lapis spent an entire summer saving up money for her own Fender guitar, but fell short and had to buy a Schecter, and about how she learned to play that Schecter as if it were a Fender. But I can't fit all of that into one text, so I fall short and reply:
Me: She likes classic rock.
I get no reply, save for a thanks and goodbye from Pearl. Still, I'm glad. She talks about me, I think, she talks about me.
And there's this buildup of warm fuzziness in my throat that makes me come to the conclusion I'd been avoiding this entire time. I smash my nose into my loose sleeve and growl under my breath.
I'm still not over Lapis Lazuli.
I never tried to deny that I was undoubtedly gay, and I never tried to deny that I'd had not-exactly-gal-pal feeling for Lapis for the longest time; I just figured I was over them by now. A seventh grade puppy crush on my best friend that would fade with time only amplified and burrowed deep within my chest. But now that she so unceremoniously decided to ask Pearl out on a date, and now that I'm imagining them pressing teeth to collarbones, those feelings have decided that hibernation time is over.
I release a bitter sigh and let the words slip past my chapped lips. "I love Lapis. Fuck. I love her."
And the swirl of affirmation in my stomach is all I need to know that I'm not kidding myself.
Maybe if I wasn't so interested in books, then my life wouldn't be transforming into one.
I don't want to just hang around today and mope about unrequited love or whatever. But I really can't think of a game plan other than following Lapis and Pearl around like a creep. Maybe I'll take a walk around the boardwalk and get some donuts for myself. And if I happen to come across Lapis and Pearl, then that's just how it goes down.
I suit up in a loose white shirt and green shorts, and them I'm out the door. Mom and Dad twist their heads in shock as they hear the screen door slam behind me. They hardly see me going outdoors on my own.
I hurry out of there before I can be met with taunts of "the beast has left her cave!" and "be careful! Don't want the vampire to burn in the sunlight!"
The boardwalk is only a few minutes away from my house, but the sun is beating down on my back, and I didn't bring any music along for the walk. Still, I have a crumpled five dollar bill in my sweaty palm, and I'm not leaving until it's replaced by three dollars and twenty-three cents in change and a glazed pastry.
God, my stomach is rolling like I'm on a roller coaster now. I'm debating internally on whether or not I really want to catch Lapis and Pearl. I know if I catch one image of Pearl's spindly fingers twined with Lapis', then I might barf. But I'm pretty thoroughly self-destructive, so I go for it.
I reach the sand-coated planks of the boardwalk in what feels like an hour and trudge to the Big Donut. I peer through the huge sun window to make sure Lapis and Pearl aren't sitting at one of the tables before marching in and slamming my five dollars on the counter. The air around me is cool and refreshing, and there's the low whir of an air conditioner to set my nerves. I wipe my sweaty brow on my sleeve and glace up at the register.
I'm greeted by a sly grin and a young man with curly orange hair leaning over the counter to meet my eyes. His name tag betrays his name- Lars- and I decide that it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.
"What'll it be?" He asks, "single, double, triple, or breakup?"
"The hell is breakup?"
"It's an assorted box of six donuts, plus a Taylor Swift song suggestion written on a napkin. It costs a little extra, but I can totally get my friend to cover the two bucks for you."
"Charming." I smirk. He seems to think I'm serious, and as if on instinct, I cross my arms firmly over my chest. He snorts and leans back, giving me a wolfish grin as if to say, "aw babe, don't be like that". I have to force myself not to give him my most opinionated appendage.
I mull over my options quietly, and because I'm lonely and bored and sort of feel like a garbage, I take Lars up on his offer and walk out of the Big Donut carrying a six pack with 'Shake it Off' written in sloppy permanent marker on my napkin. I walk slowly as I gnaw on the soft dough of a pink sprinkled pastry, and take the long way home, past the arcade and Funland. I can't help but to let my eyes flicker inside- hoping to catch them but dreading the possibility at the same time.
I don't see anyone with blue hair.
Back in my room, and now with a box of glazed guilt and powdered depression on my knees, I bring my computer screen back up and mull over the empty search bar before casually looking up a Taylor Swift song for the first time in my life.
As I lay on my bed, licking the icing from a chocolate donut, I feel my phone buzz. I tentatively ease it out and blink as I look upon the lock screen. It's a message from Lapis. My chest seizes and I almost choke on my food. Pretending I'm suddenly illiterate, I jam my phone under my pillow and crank my laptop speakers up to ten.
What could she possibly want? Maybe she seen me wandering around the boardwalk like a creepy loner. Maybe she's shoving her fingers into Pearl's mouth and she wants to update me on her progress. I groan and turn ideas over in my head for a solid five minutes before stuffing my hand under my pillow and yanking out my smartphone. I hold my breath as I read the message.
Lapis: i left my bathing suit at ur house. can u drop it off to me later?
I sigh and feel the rush of nerves leave me, if only for a little bit. Relaxing a bit, I reply;
Me: no problem. i'll be over at six. how did your date go.
Lapis: it went pretty cool. ill tell u the details when i see u.
And with that I shove my phone back in my pocket and finish the remains of my doughnut. I wrap myself within my suffocating blanket snuggly, thinking that maybe if I hold the cloth tightly enough, it will keep me from totally falling apart. And as if everything suddenly makes sense to me, I smile.