Lightning flashed nearby, and she flinched at the thunderous boom that followed. Icy rain poured down on her, leaving her shivering. She'd never experienced weather like this before. Homeworld hardly had weather at all, and it was never like this. The dark clouds, the endlessly falling water, the screaming winds, and worst of all the flashes of pure power and sound. It was awful…terrifying. It was one of the worst experiences of her life.
Peridot limped across the landscape of the outskirts of Beach City. She couldn't fly in weather like this; the winds were too strong. And to make matters worse, the Steven had forced her to detach her foot, leaving her unable to walk. She didn't know why she hadn't just zapped him, and cursed herself for her stupidity as she awkwardly hopped on one foot.
She was coated in mud and grass. She'd already fallen several times. Lightning touched down again, and the enormous sound was upon her. Peridot cringed and lost her balance, falling for the millionth time that night. She just laid there for a moment, feeling defeated and hopeless. She cursed and hit the ground with a clenched fist.
Getting to her knees, she looked around. She could see the lights of the town, but everything else was shapeless darkness. A flash of light, and she felt a touch of relief after the fear. Up the hill next to her was a sizeable building. There weren't any lights there, hopefully meaning nobody was home. She struggled to stand, precariously balancing on her one good leg as she painstakingly made her way to the shelter.
When she got there, she cautiously peered inside. Her scanners didn't detect any intelligent lifeforms around. The building appeared to be a storage unit of some sort, as there were various objects of a mechanical nature scattered about the space. Maybe there would be something that she could use to replace her missing foot. She really needed to, even if she despised this miserable planet and its nigh useless technology.
Peridot came inside, using nearby items for support. She sighed as the rain hit the roof instead of her. She went to the darkest corner of the building and settled down there, back resting against the wooden wall.
There were a few drips of water here and there, but the place was relatively dry. A small puddle formed under her. Luckily, her internal systems didn't seem to be affected by the liquid, but she didn't want to know what would happen if she were to be hit by one of those huge strikes of electricity. She shuddered.
Peridot wondered how long the storm was going to last, and how long she could hide out here. It was hard to tell, but it looked like someone might have been here recently. She summoned her holographic screen and began making yet another data log. "Log date: …Unknown. This is Peridot… Still trapped on cruddy planet Earth…"
She paused, staring at her right foot and the place where the other foot should be. "I-I don't know if this even matters anymore… I've completed my mission, but…" Her voice fell to a whisper. "Does anyone even care? I think my message got out, but will rescue even come? It's been so long… W-What if I'm stuck here forever… What if those clods get me and-and… Th-They want to kill me… I'm scared…"
She closed the screen suddenly. She shouldn't use her worker's log as a diary, but sometimes it helped to just…talk. She drew her knees to her chest, feeling very cold inside.
It was true. She was scared. Up until this mission, her life had been controlled, regimented, and simple.
She didn't know how to deal with the stress, the uncertainty, and the fear. She'd gotten out a transmission, yes, but it felt useless. She was only a technician, a Peridot. She wasn't important. She was…replaceable. They would never bother to save her.
She didn't know what to do. She couldn't get home by herself. She had no help, not knowing what had happened to Jasper or even Lapis Lazuli. She was alone.
Peridot was surprised she had survived this long. She had discovered herself capable of more than she thought. She had used weapons and abilities she'd never had to before. It was elating, in a way, to be challenged like this.
But it wasn't safe. Sometimes she forgot she was fighting for her life, and it was quiet moments like this where she realized how afraid she was. Those Crystal Clods were a team, and the likelihood of their victory only grew with each encounter. And now, she was crippled even more.
She felt a pressure in her eyes, and fresh wetness crept down her face. She touched a finger to it. She was crying? Yeah…she was crying. It was just another sign of the unnatural changes she was experiencing.
It was another doubt, another truth. Even if Homeworld did come for her, they wouldn't want her. She had become…defective.
Pain coiled in her chest, and she sobbed as quietly as she could. It only grew worse as the night passed, and the storm didn't relent. She sat there, listening to the pounding rain and shivering with each boom of thunder.
Steven tossed and turned in his bed, unable to sleep. The rain was just too loud, and the crash of thunder kept waking him up when he started to doze off. He buried his head under his pillow, but that didn't really help at all. He sighed, giving up, and tried to think of what to turn his mind to.
It'd been a while since Beach City had such a fierce storm. He hoped there wasn't any serious property damage or injuries or anything like that. He suddenly felt a nagging feeling, like he was forgetting something. Wait… Oh no! He'd left the book he was reading in dad's barn earlier! Connie had lent it to him, and what if it got wet!
He sat up in bed, creeping down the stairs to the front door. He looked behind him at the temple door and the warp pad, but there was no activity there. He gave Lion a pat (the pink feline had insisted his way into the house earlier when it started to rain) and grabbed a flashlight from a kitchen drawer. He slipped on shoes and a puffy jacket before leaving quietly, summoning his shield and using it as an unconventional umbrella. Pearl might think using it for things like this was unnecessary, but it was good practice for him, and hey, why not?
Steven set off at a jog, jumping a little whenever lightning flashed above him. He wasn't afraid of thunder, but this was a pretty wild storm and he had to admit it was a little scary. He was glad that Lion didn't seem too bothered by it; otherwise he thought there might have been some claws involved in that mess.
He arrived at the storage shed safely and ducked inside. He was relatively dry, except for his shoes and pajama legs. Now where had he left that book? He hoped it wasn't ruined. He clicked on the flashlight and searched around. He saw it on a nearby table, but a slight sound from further back in the barn caught his attention.
He paused, seeing the vague outline of someone huddled back there. Slowly, he directed the flashlight's beam onto them and gasped. "P-Peridot?!"
The green gem eyed him fearfully, hugging her legs to her chest tightly. She looked past him, searching for the others.
Steven lowered the light a little. "It-It's ok! It's just me…" He tensed, wondering if she would attack him.
Peridot returned her attention to him, then lowered her gaze as she relaxed the tiniest bit. "G-Go away, you Steven…" she muttered under her breath, not meeting his eyes.
He didn't move for the moment. He felt sympathy and pity well up inside of him. Peridot was covered in mud, and her missing foot was clearly giving her trouble. Curled up into a small shaking ball, she startled with every peal of thunder. He could see what might have been twin tracks of water marking her cheeks. She looked defeated, and miserable, and lonely.
She didn't move, only waiting for him to leave or do something else. A smile appeared on his face. He had an idea! He took the book and tucked it under his pajama shirt, giving the green gem one last glance before venturing out into the storm.
Peridot let her thoughts wander aimlessly, trying to ignore the way the lightning made her jolt every time. She hated the way it scared her, and the way the excess electricity in the air put her circuits on edge. That nervous energy coupled with her depressing situation didn't make for a fun time. She closed her eyes, trying to push back the pain inside her that had appeared more and more often over the last few months.
There was the sound of approaching footsteps splashing in the puddles outside. She raised her head, staring intensely at the entrance, bidding them to keep going and go away. She gasped softly and tried to seem smaller when a silhouette appeared and came inside. It was too late to get battle ready or hide. Agility had been removed from her arsenal.
The person turned on some sort of light-producing device and shined it around, looking for something. She bit her lip. It was the Steven! Of all the people! How had he known she was here? Had they found a new way to track her? Were they coming to get her now?
She considered getting her gun out, but what was the point? It was inevitable that they win, and she could never hope to fight effectively as she was. It was hopeless.
The creature thing settled his gaze on a small rectangular object, making a noise of discovery. She shifted her weight slightly to keep her balance, wincing when her metal body creaked the tiniest bit. The Steven paused and looked in her direction. She held her breath, but he saw her anyway. He pointed his light stick right at her and gasped, "P-Peridot?!"
She tensed. Where were those other clods? They should be here any second now.
"It-It's ok! It's just me…"
She snapped her gaze back to him. He was fidgeting nervously. He'd come alone? And how come he looked so surprised to see her? Hadn't he been looking for her? Well, if not, then he could just scram.
She relaxed a little, pretending to examine something on the floor. "G-Go away, you Steven…" she muttered, lacking the energy to make it a command.
To her surprise, he did. He stared at her for a few seconds, smiled, got his rectangle, and departed. She supposed that smile meant he was going to go get his friends, the ever so annoying Crystal Clods. She should go before they got here. But no matter how much she thought it, her limbs simply didn't respond.
She did an internal diagnostic. Everything was in working order, aside from the obvious lost appendage. She just…didn't have the will to move. She didn't want to go back out in the rain.
So she waited. It seemed like a long time before the Steven came back. The built-up stress and tension pressed down on her, and she started to cry silently once more. She wasn't ready to bear the brunt of those gems' wrath. She didn't want to be crushed!
The creature tiptoed closer. "Peridot?"
She closed her eyes and silently scanned him, again dumbfounded by the results. He had the energy signature of a gem, but it was mixed with something that wasn't. Somehow, he was some sort of gem hybrid. She had tried to report it to Jasper, but it just didn't make any sense. She didn't bother to put it into her transmission, not having the time. She wondered if they would come if she had, if only to see what this creature was.
She could sense his proximity and stayed as still as she could. Again, the hybrid softly called her name. Nothing happened. Peridot opened her eyes and lifted her head a little. The Steven was right there in front of her. She hastily wiped away her tears and looked elsewhere, ashamed that her enemy was seeing her in such a weak state.
"Hey, it's alright. I'm not gonna hurt you," Steven said, keeping a bit of distance between them. He could see she didn't like appearing so vulnerable. There was fear flickering in her eyes. She must think that the gems were coming to get her. He sat down cross-legged, putting aside the things he'd brought. "Just me again."
She blinked in shock. He had come alone again, without the others? He was either really stupid or really brave. She frowned a bit, her thought conveyed through her expression.
Steven blushed, picking up her confusion and disapproval. He rubbed the back of his head and grinned. Yeah, maybe it was kind of dumb not to tell the other gems, but he didn't think there was reason to. She wasn't hurting anyone here, and she looked like she had just given up. Why have fighting when this was a great opportunity for a friendly, peaceful moment? He'd always wanted to be friends after all, but the gems had never given him the opportunity to try.
Peridot was taken aback at the grin. Why was the Steven happy? What was he planning? She'd never viewed him as a dangerous threat, but that didn't mean he wasn't a big unknown. Again, she wondered why she'd restrained from harming him, aside from their first meeting where she'd sorta tried to smash him with a giant hand. He didn't even seem to care about that, as he was unusually polite and even friendly towards her. It mystified her to no end. The other gems wanted her destruction, but this Steven didn't seem to be on the same page as them. Frankly, she wanted to know more about him.
Steven felt Peridot staring at him analytically and decided to proceed. He scooted a tiny bit closer and said, "Are you cold?"
Not a question she was expecting. But yes, she was cold. Very cold. She was shivering because her temperature regulators weren't enough to keep her warm in this weather. She nodded. "Y-Yes…"
Steven nodded too. He wondered how someone who was apparently made of lots of metal bits could feel cold. He'd just thought she looked like she was freezing and had brought something to help. He unfolded it now and said, "This is an electric blanket. You just plug it in and it'll warm you right up!"
He smiled a little, but the green gem seemed completely puzzled and didn't respond. He stood and cautiously went over to a nearby electrical outlet, pushing the metal prongs into the first socket and returning to his place. He held out the blanket to her.
Peridot hesitated. "It's not gonna bite you," the Steven assured with a goofy grin, a bit like the one she had thoughtlessly imitated before. Carefully, she lifted her arm and hooked two fingers on the edge of it, recoiling a little at the feel of the unfamiliar material. The Steven let go and she could feel how heavy it was then.
"Just wrap it around you and it'll start heating up in a sec," she was instructed. She leaned forward a little and placed it around her shoulders, keeping a watchful eye on the hybrid gem. The blanket didn't do anything at first, but once it started to heat up like he said it would, she covered the rest of herself with it quickly. She felt a slight smile tugging at her lips. It was nice, really nice, to be warm on a terrible night such as this. "T-Thank you…"
The Steven smiled kindly at her. "You're welcome! I just thought you looked kind of cold, so I went and got it for you," he said cheerfully, as if that explained everything.
This creature really was the most confusing being she'd ever encountered. Logic dictated that he go and get his friends to capture her, if their end goal was her elimination. Something clicked. Perhaps…the Steven's goal was different? "W-Why would you…? I'm your enemy, right?"
Steven was expecting that question, and had thought of a good answer on the way back. "Well, yeah, sort of. But that doesn't mean I think you should be miserable out here by yourself." Peridot said nothing, so he continued, "I mean… I don't think anybody's really the bad guy here… We're all just…" He gestured around with his hand ineffectively. "We're just fighting to protect what we care about and for what we believe is right. And you are, too. It's just that we believe and care about different things, is all."
Peridot considered that. It made some sense. "But you Crystal Clods are traitors…"
"Believing in something different doesn't make anyone a traitor. They've just discovered their own thing! I don't think it's right to force everyone to think the same way…"
But wasn't it though? That's how things had always been… There were…other ways?
Peridot knew this line of thought was dangerous, but she'd already changed too much. She'd already been forced to think for herself, to think strategic and smart and outside of her mold. She rubbed her forehead wearily and waved her fingers in his direction. "Ugh, you're so confusing, you Steven, whatever you are…"
The Steven looked forlorn. "…Do we have to fight anymore? I don't wanna hurt you, and I hope you don't want to hurt me."
She snorted and rolled her eyes. "Apparently not. Stars know why I didn't just zap you instead of handing you my cruddy foot."
"Hey, yeah!" A mischievous grin appeared, and he pointed at her. "You like me, don't you!"
Peridot crossed her arms and looked away, blushing slightly. "I-I don't know what you're talking about! You're just a Steven thing is all."
He waggled his finger at her, but let it drop. "How come you call me 'the' Steven? You know that's just my name right? The same way yours is Peridot?"
Now that, he was wrong about. "No, there is only one of you, therefore you are the Steven, while there's…" She sighed sadly. "There's plenty of me…"
Steven took in her expression. That was one of the reasons she was feeling so down? He'd heard Pearl mention being "a Pearl" a few times, and had come to the realization that there was more than one of each gem. After all, there were thousands upon thousands of holes in the Kindergarten, and he didn't think there were that many gem types.
"That's not true," he said. "There are plenty of people named Steven too, but there's still only one of me, 'cause I'm an individual! Everyone has their own experiences and memories, which is what makes them all one of a kind! There might be other Peridots, but they can never have the exact same experiences as you. There's only one of you, too!"
Peridot didn't respond right away. The pain in her chest loosened a little, and when she glanced up at him, he gave her a kind and encouraging smile. He really was just trying to cheer her up, wasn't he, the little monster. She looked away. "That's not how Homeworld sees it…"
Steven rubbed the back of his head. "Well, I don't know much about Homeworld at all, but… Were you happy there, Peridot?"
Her immediate response was to answer yes, but she stopped herself and thought about it. Things on Homeworld were structured and safe, but had she been happy? She remembered what it felt like to discover each new ability and come up with plans; the burst of energy that coursed through her body and made her want to grin like an idiot. She remembered what could have been an hour ago, when the electrical blanket started to warm up and she felt thankful. "No…" she realized, eyes wide.
The Steven looked at her sadly. He was sad for her? Why? "I know the Earth seems pretty different and scary, but I think you seem…better here," he said. "If you want, I can show you stuff and maybe you'll see it's not so bad after all." He rubbed his arm.
She laughed. "W-What? You're kidding!"
"Well, why not?" His eyes seemed to pierce her expectantly, knowing there was something more to the root of her problems.
"Because! It's idiotic! This whole thing is stupid! I shouldn't be sitting here talking to you, I should be out there trying to get home and…and…" Her gaze flickered up, then down again. She felt like crying. "And-And… W-What if no one's coming for me? What if I'm not worth anything to them..."
She felt a light touch on her wrist and looked up. The Steven had closed the space between them and was now gently patting her arm, looking up at her with a warm, inviting expression. "It's alright…"
She didn't shy away, though she should have. It was an enormous risk to trust this creature, but she didn't have anyone else to turn to. She felt sick, sick at heart, maybe getting sick at mind, too. "I-I'm scared, alright…? I-I don't have a set future anymore…" Peridot felt a tear or two escape and didn't bother to wipe them away.
Steven rubbed little circles into the metal for a while. She was really hurting, wasn't she. He wasn't sure what else to do, then remembered that he'd brought something else and gave a little gasp of "Oh!" before getting up suddenly.
Peridot startled a bit, and watched curiously as he went over to a white basin and filled up two cups there. Then, he opened two strange packets and poured one in each cup, stirring the contents with a spoon. She couldn't begin to guess what this was about.
Steven stirred cheerfully, amused by Peridot's bewildered expression. When Pearl wanted to build her spaceship, she'd made sure that clean water was installed out here, because it was dangerous to use anything but filtered water for the science experiments she'd needed to do. There was no microwave, but hot water should do. He hadn't brought any tiny marshmallows because he thought that might have been too much sugar for the green gem to start with.
"And…done!" the Steven declared, apparently finished with whatever it was he was doing. Peridot blinked and drew back a little when he held out one of the cups for her to take. She did so very carefully, as if she were afraid it was going to blow up on her.
Steven sat back down and sipped at his own cup, smiling in enjoyment of the contents. "It's hot cocoa!" he explained. "People drink it on cold days with their friends and family. I know gems don't need to eat or drink, but I think you'd like it. And Amethyst eats stuff all the time, so it shouldn't hurt you."
Peridot looked uncertainly at the brown liquid. The Steven gestured at her to go ahead. It didn't seem to be poisoning him, and he was a gem of some sort, she supposed. And it was warm, little curls of white steam drifting from the surface of it. Very slowly, keeping an eye out for treachery, she took the tiniest of sips, and her eyes widened. It was…sweet. That was the word, yes? It reminded her of the boy himself, in a way.
Steven watched her expression warm considerably as she had another sip. "Do you like it?"
She nodded. "Yeah… What did you say it was called?"
"Hot cocoa. I like to make it for myself whenever it rains or snows and I can't sleep. I don't usually have anyone to share it with, but I'm happy to share it with you!"
She felt astonished yet again. This Steven was something else. He extended these small kindnesses to her for no apparent reason, and in spite of the fact that they were enemies. But he apparently didn't see her that way. She had vaguely heard him ask the other gems if they thought she was ok when that injector fell on top of her. Why in the name of the Diamonds would he ever care about her well-being?
"Oh, is it ok if I call you that?"
"I…suppose." No other Peridot had a nickname, so she would allow it.
"Do you think we could be friends?"
The Steven looked at her with hopeful stars in his eyes.
"Eh?! F-F-Friends?! Me?"
"Mmhmm!" he nodded enthusiastically. "There's no reason to fight. Like I said, you just believe in something different from me, and that's not bad. I thought maybe…I could show you my world, and maybe you could tell me a bit about yours, if you wanted?"
Was that a dig for information? Or an exchange? He made it sound like she didn't have to give up anything at all. It was a good opportunity. A sound tactical idea. But should she really use him like that, if he was willing to offer her real, genuine help? "…Alright. I accept, you Steven thing."
He laughed. "Just call me Steven, and I'll call you Peri!" He held out his hand. "Friends?"
She gently pinched it between a few fingers and shook it. "Friends…" She smiled a bit, Steven's magic working on her. She felt…happy.
They drank their cocoa slowly, not saying much else. The Steven looked happy, too. He did want to help her, she hoped. She'd been watching him carefully the whole time, even going so far as to analyze bodily functions as well. There had never been a waver in body language, tone of voice, words, or heart rate; nothing that could indicate insincerity. It was hard to believe that his motives could be as simple as getting a smile out of her, but the way he practically radiated warmth said otherwise.
Peridot had never had a friend before. She wasn't sure what it entailed, but felt willing to give it an honest effort if it felt like this. He was looking around idly now, done with his drink. He was way too trusting, his guard down almost completely. Even though there were no Homeworld rules against attacking non-gems, she knew it would be wrong to take advantage of his trust, especially considering the fact she didn't have many other options.
She felt how fragile the balance was for her. She knew she needed help. She'd never expected to receive any, even less so from a Crystal Gem. But there were too many possibilities she couldn't and didn't wish to face alone. Maybe things might be okay if she was careful.
It was foolish of her to be nearly as trusting as he was. It was hard to resist the light, bubbly feeling that was resting in her core. She had never come close to feeling this safe around another being. Steven's light soothed many inner hurts, some of which she hadn't even known about. This Steven was very, very different from Homeworld. She was beginning to think it was a good thing.
Steven noticed his new friend was thinking pretty hard. She was probably considering all the implications of letting him get close to her. He hoped she wouldn't change her mind, but he didn't think she would. There was softness in her eyes that hadn't been there before. Would she really choose to be miserable over nice things like this? He supposed it depended on how important Homeworld was to her. Why did she believe they would abandon her?
A particularly loud clap of thunder and burst of wind shook the barn, making them both jump. Peridot had forgotten about the storm completely. Now it didn't seem so frightening anymore. Another Steven effect.
Speaking of, he gave a huge yawn. He had no idea what time it was, but knew he wouldn't be 'awake' tomorrow unless he could sleep in. "Well, I guess I should go home before it gets too late..." He yawned again, getting up. He went over to the entrance and looked out at the pouring rain, thunder rumbling in the distance.
"Bye..." Peridot said quietly. Steven glanced back over his shoulder and the look on her face immediately decided the matter. He couldn't leave her just as soon as he'd finally gotten a connection. "Um... I guess I can sleep here if you promise not to blast me." He felt a stupid grin creep onto his face, trying to make a joke out of it.
Peridot smirked and chuckled. "Easy." She put her hand over the diamond on her chest and over-seriously said, "I solemnly swear I will not harm you during your stupidly necessary period of unconsciousness."
Steven laughed. "Hey, you're pretty funny, Peri," he said, going back over to her and sitting down.
"Why thank you." She did a tiny mock bow, earning another chuckle. Jokes felt nice. It was fun to put her sarcasm to good use.
Steven felt his eyelids getting heavier by the second and laid down, trying to get comfortable. "I really do need to go to sleep, though. It's like three in the morning or something."
"I suppose you do..." Peridot sobered. "You and your weird human things."
"Yeah, I knooow..." He dramatically raised a clenched fist in the air, as if he were dying. "Sometimes it sucks." He sat up and looked at her curiously. "Hey, why don't you get some sleep, too?"
She blinked. "Why? I don't need it, ya know."
"Yeah, I know, but you look pretty exhausted and it wouldn't hurt." He beamed at her, those stars in his eyes again.
She still looked uncertain. She felt uncertain. She was uncomfortable with being that vulnerable. "N-No, I don't think so…"
He looked disappointed but didn't push it. He edged closer and settled beside her, squirming and trying to find an adequate position on the hard ground.
Peridot wondered why he felt the need to be near her. She stared out into the pattering rain and felt a chill descend on her, despite the wonderful blanket around her. It was silent.
She was hardly surprised when she started to cry soundlessly again. In the silence, things still seemed bleak and hopeless. They'd just been getting worse and worse for her. She'd been discarded by those she was loyal to, and the other side wanted her crushed into powder. Even if the Steven helped her, it would mean he would come into conflict within his own group. What could he do by himself if the others overruled his decision? There was no way out.
She tensed and peered down when she felt something wrapping around her waist. What was the Steven doing now? Was he attacking her? His arms were around her, lightly squeezing her metal frame. "W-What are you…"
He looked up at her, eyes watery with sympathy. "Hey, Peridot...? It's ok if you wanna cry…" he whispered, pressing his cheek into her chest and hugging a little tighter.
Peridot's face contorted with pain. After a second, she clumsily encircled him with her own arms, and he climbed the rest of the way onto her lap to make it easier for her. Then she cried, really cried, softly sobbing with all the pain and the fear and everything else that pressed into her heart like needles. And Steven held her, unjudging and wonderful and quietly crying with her.
When she was able to stop, he was still awake, though he must be truly exhausted now. He displayed concern and…was that…love? How incredible…
She didn't release him, indicating that she would like him to stay there. She liked this warm feeling and didn't want it to go. "Aren't you uncomfortable? I'm not exactly soft," she asked after a moment, questioning how her hard metal body could make a good pillow.
He chuckled, shifting a little and snuggling up against her. "Hmm, a little. Better than the ground though."
She quirked an eyebrow, not quite believing that. She watched the rain again, feeling the Steven's breathing slow. Just when she thought he was asleep, she heard him mutter, "Not gonna…let 'em hurt you…"
Peridot felt another burst of gratitude, and smiled. No one had ever done anything like this for her before. Despite all the times she'd tried to smash him or his friends, he was still willing to offer comfort and a kind smile. Friendship was a completely new sensation. Different, but not bad.
Without being conscious of it, she leaned back and closed her eyes, letting her thoughts drift until she, too, slipped into the land of dreams.
The sun crept into the barn slowly, water dripping from the eaves. The rain had finally stopped, though a few angry clouds were still overhead. Garnet stood in the entrance, casually leaning against the doorframe. It looked like things had gone well.
Yes, she'd seen this, an hour or so before the storm had even hit. She'd been watching for Steven, as always, and suddenly Peridot had appeared. At first, her anger boiled over and she wanted to rush there and defeat Peridot once and for all. But she forced herself to look deeper, and what she saw was surprising. There were very few possibilities where Steven was attacked, and even in those he was able to defend himself well.
For all her arrogance and cynicism, she would have never guessed that Peridot was so afraid. It was what made Steven, and Rose, so different from them, that powerful empathy. While the image of Steven being so near to the enemy gem was alarming, it was also an image of peace and forgiveness. Steven had always taken Peridot's actions with a grain of salt, never believing for a single moment that anyone was truly evil.
Though her rage threatened to tear her apart, she managed to hold together. The rational part of her said to trust in Steven's judgment. He had done what Rose had never been able to; tame a corrupted gem. He taught them, thousands-of-years-old beings, new things every day. If he so strongly believed Peridot could come to care for him and this world, then she had to let him try.
She smirked. Of course, there was no reason not to let him know she knew what he was doing. She could keep a secret, and she had questions she wanted to ask once she felt calm enough to do so without a fight breaking out.
Garnet watched them for a while. There had been many positive outcomes, but this one was one of the best. Everything in Greg's barn was undisturbed; no fighting or arguing had occurred. Steven was nestled peacefully with a smile in the green gem's arms, and Peridot was as deeply asleep as him, a blanket from the house wrapped around her battered frame. There were discarded cups and packets for that hot drink he liked to have when it was cold out. Of course he'd shared.
She felt the slightest bit of sympathy as she examined the dried tear tracks on Peridot's face. She'd been like a robot at first, but had progressively been shedding the emotionless exterior. She'd become quite annoying, loud, and intelligent. Steven picked up on even more than that. Who knew what things he could teach her if she was willing to listen, as it appeared she was?
Garnet smiled a tiny smile. This was what Rose had always done. She offered a hand to anyone who would take it, and helped put them back together. She had done that for Ruby and Sapphire, herself, when they believed no one could possibly understand or accept them. Rose had only smiled, never once judging them for who they were.
Steven was just like her, sometimes truly wise beyond his years. It was frightening because he was much more fragile than his mother. He couldn't afford to reach out like Rose did, but he did it anyway because of the bright light inside of him that he loved to share with everyone.
Garnet had no doubt that Steven cared about Peridot. He had shown it before. It was going to be hard to accept this. She swore that if Peridot did even one thing to hurt Steven, there was no force on Earth that would keep her from letting her know just how much of an enormous mistake she'd made.
Steven stirred a little, and Peridot did too, her detached fingers tapping against his shoulder once or twice before stilling. Garnet decided she had better leave before they woke up. They both looked like they could use more sleep.
It would take time before Peridot was ready to talk to anyone else, and they were ready to receive her.
Steven didn't remember where he was at first, but grinned widely when he realized. He was quite comfortable actually, feeling the rise and fall of his fellow gem's slow breathing. She had fallen asleep after all. That was good. He hoped it would help, because she still looked pretty exhausted.
He liked the way her face had relaxed, all the stress melted from it. Now it showed just young she was, like he guessed she might be. She had likely been born after the war for Earth, at the least. Maybe she was only a few centuries old, maybe a bit more or less than that. He wanted to see her smile and laugh without being afraid.
Again, he turned over the reasons why she believed Homeworld had abandoned her. She felt as if she was replaceable, but Steven knew that no one could be replaced. Maybe she thought all her failures amounted to being discarded, or even…terminated. He didn't like to think of his anyone like that, but knew it was true. Not everything could be happy, and Lapis's despair on the gem ship said she had believed that they were all going to die, or worse.
Well, he wasn't going to let that happen. He would find Lapis and save her too, and maybe someday he could even get to Jasper. He had had hopes about Peridot as well, and was glad for this chance even if it meant she had to be vulnerable for him to get in. Now, he could do his best to make sure she never felt like that again. He couldn't ask for a better start to their friendship.
Peridot shifted and grumbled something, her arms tightening around him reflexively. He giggled silently and tucked his head back into the crook of her neck. He dozed on and off, waiting for her to wake up.
Peridot's return to consciousness was rather slow. Something didn't feel right. She gasped, eyes flying open. Something was on top of her, and she almost pushed it away before she realized that it was only the Steven. All the emotional details of the night came back to her, and she relaxed again. She had to remember that the Steven could no longer be classified as an enemy.
She felt disgust that she had fallen so low, then ashamed of herself for thinking that. The Steven was the kindest creature in existence, and at the very least he deserved to be treated as her equal. Just look at the way he was watching her, concerned and wanting to make sure she was alright after her moment of alarm.
She looked outside and saw that the sun was up. He was going to have to leave, she realized. The thought made her sad. She was feeling more like herself now, proud and worth something. But she still didn't want to be alone.
Steven gave her a brief hug and climbed out of her lap. He was sad too, especially when she asked, "…Will the Steven come back?"
His eyes widened, and he nodded. "Of course! This is my dad's storage shed, so you can stay here as long as you want and I'll come visit when I can."
"And…you're not going to tell your Crystal Clods about me?"
He shook his head. "Only when you're ready to meet them."
Oh no. Accepting his help was one thing, but theirs was another matter entirely. She shuddered and made a face.
"Yeah, I know. Don't worry, though. Gems shouldn't fight others gems, and I think we can all get along eventually." He smiled, ever optimistic. "I really hope you get to see all the good things here."
Peridot rolled her eyes. "I guess, since I'm stuck here and all." A thought occurred to her. "Maybe I can even have my foot back? It is mine, after all."
Steven chuckled. "Yeah, we'll have to see. The gems would notice if I took it, though." He rubbed the back of his head. "Maybe I can borrow dad's crutches so you can use those to get around."
She had no idea what crutches or a dad was, but nodded anyway. There was a moment of awkward silence as she blushed and looked away, her index fingers clicking together nervously. "The Ste-" She stopped and corrected herself. "…Steven? Thanks…"
He gave a thumbs-up and said, "Happy to help!" He looked over his shoulder, to the outside, and turned towards it. "Well, I'd better get home before the gems come looking for me... If anyone comes by, tell them I said it was ok for you to be here. See you later, Peri?"
He waved, flashing a big smile, and she waved back. Then he jogged out the door and disappeared down the hill.
She listened to his receding footsteps. What did the future hold for her now that this strange being had welcomed her into his life?
She opened her screen. "Log date: Unknown. This is Peridot, stuck on Earth. Something very unexpected has happened… The Steven…" She paused to gather her thoughts "Has offered me asylum. During a night of terrifying Earth weather, he discovered me seeking shelter. Instead of attempting to capture me in my vulnerable state as would be expected, he…brought me things to help me warm up and stayed with me all night, his only apparent reason being a desire to make sure I was well. Why he would extend this concern to an enemy is beyond me.
"I admit that I accepted his offer for peace. I am very tired of fearing for my life. …The Steven is very kind, and perhaps wise. I begin to question my worth to Homeworld in comparison to my worth as a intelligent being. Despite the attempts I have made on his life, the Steven did not hesitate to offer the hand of friendship. Friendship is strange and new to me, but I've never felt so warm.
"Instead of a few paths, all of which led to my death, there now seems to be an infinite number of possibilities. Such is the wonder of the Steven. For the first time in my life…I have nothing to do but discover. Perhaps this world has much more to offer than I thought."
She stared at her screen in contemplation before closing it. That was one of the longest logs she'd ever made, and she suspected that it really was going to become a diary.
Peridot struggled to stand and went over to the entrance, looking outside but staying where she couldn't be seen. She could hear the sounds of the nearby town and the cries of local wildlife. She stayed there, the slightest smile on her face as she watched the world. The colors had never seemed so vibrant.
"Maybe when Peridot gets to Earth, she'll see how nice all the people are, and she won't want to hurt anyone." ~ Steven Quartz Universe, The Return
A/N - This might seem a bit OOC, but I tried. For all her enraged screaming, I think Peridot's actually pretty terrified about her situation. When she said, "Please send help!", it showed.
(Looking over this I see that my headcanon for her being made almost completely of metal unconsciously snuck it. The concept of her needing prosthetics has some interesting implications...)
Anyway, this is what I'm hoping to see in the upcoming episodes, based on my personal speculations about 'When It Rains.' I'm probably wrong (hello future peoples looking back at this) but if not then you will find me running across the land singing nonsensically. I have zero doubts that Steven would help her if given the chance.
I had further ideas about this continuity, but I couldn't really figure out how to turn them all into a chapter fic. If you guys have ideas too, drop a comment or shoot me a PM and I'll see if I can put pencil to paper.
Edit: Wow, thanks for the overwhelmingly kind reviews people! I am no longer an author but rather a blushing puddle of goo.
I've figured out how to continue this, but I want to finish all of it before publishing, just to make sure the rest is as good as this oneshot. I don't wish to tarnish it's quality, after all. I wouldn't expect the chapters to be as long, since I would have split this in two if it had started out a chapter fic. But my inspiration is still going strong and I'm on chapter 2 now, so hopefully things will be good. If not, I'll let you know so it doesn't end up in limbo.
Once again, thanks so much! Space Dimentio out!
Edit 2, after aired: OH MY STARS AND STRIPES IT'S HAPPENING. THE PERISTEVEN FRIENDSHIP IS REAL!
-Ahem- Excuse me, I'm just super duper excited. I've been wishing for that to happen since Jailbreak, man. Turns out I was right that Peri was the one afraid of rain, but I could have never guessed all that other junk would come about. I've spent the last two episode grinning like an idiot and squeeing over the tiniest of things.
Anyway, I don't feel the need to continue this since the show has taken a new direction with that angry little slice of pie. This shall remain a nice oneshot. However, if you're dying to see what I've got of an unfinished Chapter 2, feel free to PM me about it.
Also, I wanna address a guest review I got, because it gave me a chuckle. To hmm: SU is definitely NOT a small fandom. I normally write for a much, much smaller fandom (Super Paper Mario), so getting flooded with wonderfully nice reviews almost immediately was a huge treat for me :P I definitely don't write for attention, but it was certainly nice.