Crystal Gems Online Presents:

A Wrinkle in Time

Chapter Three: The sword and the shield

"What happens now?" Steven whispered softly to the other program from where he sat beside her at the dinner table.

Connie looked away from Greg and Pearl, who were lost in a deep conversation as they prepared whatever food they were making, to glance back at Sapphire who was drifting off on the couch. "Mom is going to wake up and go on a short adventure to look for an ice crystal. When she gets it, she's going to make the weapons that end up winning this game,"

Steven squealed quietly, stars in his bright brown eyes. "Oh man, I can't believe that we're going to watch history unfold!"

"We're not going to watch anything," Connie softly but sternly chastised him with a small glare. "Who knows what we will change if we go with Sapphire to get the crystals! Our best bet is to just stay here and wait for everything to fall into place."

The young boy nodded his head sheepishly. "I guess you're right. And we still need to go to the undersea shrine to get that time travel stopwatch, and we don't know how long it will be there. What if some other travelers pick the wrong one, then we'll have to wait another hundred years!" He whisper shouted.

"Don't worry," Connie placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "It won't take much longer. Once mom is ready to go then Pearl will give us full reign again. Then we can make up some excuse about finding some relatives in the game or deciding to take our own path."

Steven still seemed unsure but her trusted the other program with his life so he gave a firm nod. "Yeah, okay,"

A boisterous sound erupted from Greg as he placed a tray of pork chops, corn on the cob and barbeque ribs on the table before the children. Pearl, in the time that Greg had been setting up the table, had left to retrieve a still unstable Sapphire from the couch.

Connie couldn't help but lick her lips as the smell graced her senses. "Wow, this all looks amazing!"

"Yeah my dad—" Steven cut himself off before Greg could hear his slip, he swallowed. "Y-you seem like a really good cook. And I can't wait to try all of this," He grinned, eyeing the pork chops greedily.

Greg sat down across from the children at the head of the table, he looked at Pearl who had just returned with the blue gem. "I'll pack a few to-go plates for you guys to take back to the temple," He warily looked at the children before speaking hesitantly. "So uhm…what happened on the mission?"

"You guys can dig in," Pearl told the children who began to do just that. "Well," She glanced towards Sapphire as they each took a seat at the table.

Sapphire noticed the stare and gave a firm nod. "It's okay. I'm fine now,"

Pearl nodded apprehensively before looking back at the brown-haired male. "You're aware of the situation with us not being able to log off, correct?"

Greg sighed softly and looked away with a frown. "Yeah, who the heck isn't?"

"Well, in addition to that horrendous fact," Pearl tightened her fist and glared at the wood table. "It turns out that you may actually be able to be killed within the game as well,"

Sapphire whipped her head to look at Pearl; eyes wide in fear. Connie assumed that Sapphire wasn't aware that death could be a possibility at this moment. She wished she could tell her mother that everything would work out in the future but she couldn't chance changing everything.

Instead, Connie gripped her fork and kept her face down. She was sure she would snap if she had to see another painful look on her mothers' face.

Pearl continued, keeping her gaze away from anyone. "During our mission Ruby was stabbed in the side while trying to protect Sapphire and we thought it would be fine because what's twenty percent to your health points, right?" She swallowed thickly as her eyes began to water.

"A-and then we saw blood dripping," Pearl chocked on a sob. "And we thought graphics can't be that good and when we removed the tail she passed out onto Rose…" Pearl broke down into tears, Sapphire had to clench her eyes shut to keep herself from crying as well. "She's like a little sister to me, she can't—"

Greg rubbed his red eyes. "Hey it's okay, Rose knows what she is doing…" He paused before looking around the inside of his van. "I'm guessing that Rose will call you guys when your due back so in the meantime why don't you all get some rest; it's getting dark out,"

With a few arguments over the sleeping arrangements, they finally came to an agreement; Pearl and Steven would share the queen size bed in Greg's room, Connie would take the couch, Sapphire would sleep at the floor beneath her and Greg would tinker with his weapons and get rest in the morning.

The occasional sound of metal hitting metal could be heard from their spot in the living room. Connie tried, but even she couldn't sleep; Sapphire's insomnia had rubbed off on her.

Unknown to each of them, they both had their eyes trained on the ceiling above.

Connie did however, hear the defeated sigh that her mother let out.

"Can't sleep?" Greg's voice startled them from his spot where he leaned against the kitchen door.

Sapphire nodded firmly, keeping her guard up. "Yeah, I've a lot on my mind."

"When I can't sleep I like to tinker a little bit," He motioned for her to follow him. "Come on, I'll show you how to make a sword…Emma, you should come too," He said before walking back outside.

Connie cursed under her breath for receiving an unwanted invitation; this was supposed to be Sapphire's journey; she shouldn't get involved.

Sapphire lay still for a minute before getting up from the floor, she eyed the time traveler. "…aren't you coming? Maybe this can help get our minds off everything that has happened." She held out a hand.

Connie, not being able to resist obeying her mothers' wishes, took her hand and let her help her from the couch. "…alright." She muttered softly before following the older woman outside.

They found the brown-haired male sitting in a wooden chair outside the van. In front of him was a small wood table with a large iron hammer; Sapphire gestured for Connie to take the only seat available while she stood near the edge to observe.

Connie sighed, just another sign that she didn't belong here.

"So, before I can make you two a sword I need to know your fighting styles," He smiled softly at them, looking to Sapphire first; she needed this the most it appeared. "You're a gem, right? What kind of power ups do you have?"

"I have an iron fist," Sapphire motioned to the gem on her right hand. "And I had a sword but I decided to toss it away because it didn't seem very useful to me during my first battle."

Connie recalled Sapphire throwing her dingy sword away in the mist of battle in the arena.

Greg nodded thoughtfully. "Well you can't always rely on your gem so how about I make you a powerful sword that will make all the other players jealous?"

"It doesn't really matter to me," Sapphire looked down at her blue hands in thought. "Even if I had a proper sword it still doesn't change the fact that I don't know how to use it."

Greg shrugged. "That's why we have arena battles kid; to learn how to use your weapons well."

"I guess you're right," She sighed; still not in the mood to make a sword.

He noticed this and quickly went on. "But before I can make your weapon I will need something strong like an ice crystal." He called to his menu bar and pulled up a map of yet another unknown area to Sapphire. "This is called the ice kingdom and here they have large ice like crystals everywhere. Their strong cell structure makes for amazing shields and swords."

"How about you head over there and pick up a few of them?" His map went away and he smiled at her. "Nobody in the game knows that you can make swords from ice crystals and you'd be the only person with a sword or shield of such strength." He grinned at Connie. "What about you, are you a swords girl?"

Connie couldn't deny that she was indeed. "I am, but my weapons are up to date and I don't like fighting as much." She lied with ease, trying to find a way out of joining Sapphire on her mission.

"Can I get you to make me a shield and a sword?" The blue girl asked suddenly after being lost in thought for some time.

Greg smiled at her sudden interest, drawing his attention away from Connie. "If you get me enough crystals,"

"Then I'll go," Sapphire crossed her arms. "It's called the ice Kingdom, right?"

He nodded. "Yeah it shouldn't be that hard to find," Greg then sheepishly scratched the back of his neck. "Just uhm, try to get back before Pearl notices that you're gone; she doesn't want you to leave."

Sapphire rolled her eyes at her overprotective companion. "Then why are you letting me go," She snapped as she suddenly lost her temper.

Connie flinched at the brusque tone in her voice. She concluded that no Ruby equaled an ill-tempered Sapphire, one she did not want to get to know any time soon.

"It seems like you can use a break," Greg smiled sadly. "You're not the only one who cares about her Sapphire." The blue girl finally looked at the man.

Connie could tell that this was the first time that Sapphire took the chance to look at Greg.

To the large bags under his now red eyes and the fake smile he used to hide his emotions.

"Ruby is like a daughter to me," Greg chuckled softly. "On rare occasions when Rose isn't around she actually comes to me with her problems and asks me for help. Me of all people!" He continued to laugh ruefully. "The screw up,"

He looked to the ground as Sapphire listened quietly, Connie listened as well but she felt as if she were intruding on a private moment. "But she doesn't see me as a screw up. In a way, she and I are just a like," He smiles. "We are both outsiders who are judged; here and in the real world."

"Trust me when I say this," He looked over at Sapphire. "I know that Ruby can be a little bit short tempered at times,"

'A little?' Sapphire thought sarcastically.

"But she cares," Greg smiles softly. "She just has a hard time showing it."

Connie felt herself smile in quiet agreement and could tell by the look on Sapphire's face, that she knew as well. If Ruby risking her life for Sapphire wasn't a big enough gesture, then she didn't know what was.

"Thank you Greg," Sapphire smiled genuinely. "I can see why Ruby goes to you for advice-" Sapphire paused and sheepishly grinned. "Sorry if I seem a little impatient,"

The word itself seemed foreign on Sapphire's tongue as she spoke it.

"I'm not usually like this but Ruby…" Sapphire chuckled. "Let's just say she gets a reaction out of me."

Greg laughed along with her. "I think she does that to all of us Sapphire,"

"Do you want to come along?" Sapphire politely asked Connie.

As much as the younger girl wanted to see her mother go on a life changing quest, she knew that it was too risky. "…no thanks, I'm actually getting a little sleepy so I might head back to bed soon."

The blue girl seemed to accept that answer and called to her menu bar. Pale fingers typed in the directions and with one more gesture to the man; a bright light appeared.

She was gone.

Greg let out a small sigh once she was gone and turned to Connie. "You don't seem tired; you know you could have went with her right?"

Connie stood up from the table, she smiled softly. "It's not my place. She has to do this on her own,"

"You're pretty wise for your age," Greg said almost suspiciously before letting it go. "But you were right to let her go off on her own. Have a good night sleep."

Connie smiled softly as she walked back into the van.

Now that she knew everything was back on track, she was sure she would have no trouble getting some sleep.

Connie didn't know when Sapphire came in but when she woke up, she was in a deep slumber beneath her. Greg barging in with news was what woke her from her own nap, she rubbed the sleep from her eyes and yawned.

"I knew you would be able to calm her down," Pearl said softly as she and Steven walked out of the bedroom. "Rose just called and told me that I can bring Sapphire and the kids back now but I think that we should all wait until she wakes up."

Greg agreed. "Yeah, she needs rest," He motioned for all of them to follow him outside, he took his previous seat. "While I work on this how about you tell me what Rose told you," He sighed. "I haven't really spoken to her with everything that is going on."

"Ruby is well, I know that is what you were thinking," Pearl looked away as she took the seat opposite from Greg. "We all were,"

She continued. "Rose was able to stop the bleeding and then she used her healing abilities to patch Ruby up. Even though she is healed, Rose wrapped her up in the event that she is sore, but she needs her rest."

Connie and Steven chose to sit on the wooden steps leading up into the van, their heads tucked in their knees as they quietly listened. Steven kept rubbing his eyes, he leaned his head on Connie's shoulder and fought not to go back to sleep.

"Is she awake now?" Greg chuckled. "If she is I can imagine her fighting against Amethyst to get out of her bed,"

Pearl shook her head with a smile as she looked back at the van window where Sapphire was seen sleeping. "She was until Rose told her to get some sleep,"

"And before that?" Greg also looked at Sapphire's sleeping form.

Pearl smirked knowingly. "She wouldn't shut up about her,"

Connie grinned, knowing that everything was slowly falling back into place. Her parents were each falling for each other.

"Same thing on my side," He chuckled softly before letting out a sigh. "I'm glad she is alright though."

The skinny girl nodded in agreement. "Once Sapphire wakes up we will leave,"

"That sounds good but make sure that she sees me before she leaves." When she gave him a questioning look he scratched his neck. "I uhm, have some food leftover and she seemed to really like it so…" He lied.

Pearl merely nodded and gestured for the kids to go back inside to get some rest. Connie was wide awake and followed with a sigh while Steven happy trudged his tired body back to the bedroom. That left Greg outside to tinker while Pearl made her way to the kitchen.

Sapphire wasn't the only one who could get some leftovers.

When Sapphire woke up Pearl was towering over her with arms crossed. "We can go back now,"

She had never moved so fast before in her life. Sapphire began to teleport when Pearl placed a hand on her shoulder to stop her.

"I'm going to head back to the temple with the kids and you can do the same," She pointed to the door. "But Greg wants to see you before you leave."

Sapphire sighed softly as she walked outside.

Pearl looked down at the children beside her. "Okay, when we get back we'll get you a room set up where you can rest. I'm sorry you two had to go through this and I'm questioning if you two should even be fighting with us."

Steven nodded, looking for an out. "Uh, yeah! Fighting isn't really our thing; we'd just like to try and live a normal life in here."

"I understand," Pearl smiled at them for the first time that day. "I'll let Rose speak with you and she can decide what to do to help you out."

Connie wasn't thrilled with the idea of Steven being around Rose, just in case he said something he shouldn't, but she nodded. "That would be great, thanks,"

"Alright, I'll meet you at the temple." Pearl said, teleporting and leaving their presence in a flash.

Steven looked at Connie sheepishly. "We could just leave now,"

"No, then they'd look for us and waste unnecessary time." Connie mumbled before looking outside to where Sapphire was being given the ice sword and shield; a look of joy on her face. "…come on,"

"Okay," Steven looked at his father once more before grabbing her hand.

Together they headed back to the temple.

Steven and Connie took a seat at the kitchen island table as the others spoke from the living room a few feet away. Sapphire still hadn't returned and the others were starting to worry.

"I hope she's okay." Sadie whispered from her spot on the couch beside Lars.

The brown-haired boy crossed his arms. "Rose said she was fine alright! Just relax, Ruby is tough anyway," He said thoughtfully. "She would never go out that easily."

"You're right…" Sadie smiled.

The warp pad then turned on and Lars moved away from Sadie and to Sapphire. The blonde hair girl dropped her smile and looked to the floor.

Lars opened his arms for a hug. "Sapphire are yo-"

A soft 'not now' filled the air as a large gust of wind hit his empty arms. Sapphire had used her speed to find her way to Ruby's room.

"Rejected!" Amethyst shouted from the kitchen.

Steven laughed softly at Amethyst's teasing, he was glad that some things hadn't changed.

Lars blushed brightly as Sadie and Pearl giggled softly in the background; he folded his arms. "Yeah whatever she just needs some space from you losers,"

The purple gem shook her head as she picked at her macaroni and cheese. "Nahh she just needs some boo loving time,"

"Amethyst!" Pearl shouted with a blush on her face.

Steven jumped down from the chair, but before he could move Connie grabbed his arm. "Where are you going?"

"I want to see them make up," Steven said innocently.

Connie's face flushed, knowing a little bit more than the younger program. "W-we can't okay, it's a private moment for them and we have to speak to Rose so we can leave first."

She jumped down as well and looked him in the eyes. "Promise me you won't reveal anything. I know she's your mother and you want to know more about her but you have to understand that you can't do anything to change what happened to her," She couldn't stress that enough. "She died a hero Steven, you wouldn't want her death to be in vain by changing everything."

Steven couldn't lie and say he wasn't thinking about it. "But maybe a lot of good can come out of her staying alive."

"You won't exist if that happens Steven," Connie began, tears filling her eyes at the mere thought.

Steven shook his head. "I don't care about me I just—"

"Excuse me, Stiles and Emma, Pearl said you two needed to talk to me," Rose spoke up, startling the children to jump and face her. "Come into my office," She gestured to the universal door and used her gem to open it; she stepped inside without warning.

Steven was quick to run inside while Connie walked over slowly, she swallowed.

Connie had a weird feeling about this.

Hey, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This is not a thanksgiving themed chapter in the slightest but I felt like I had to update something and Going the Distance would have taken too long. I'll think about posting a new chapter for The Firebender but there is a lot going on in that story too so I'm not too sure.

I hope you like this chapter and enjoy your holidays.