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Growing to Love

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She’s genuinely surprised, when the obvious finally hits her in the face. Pearl prides herself in being able to pick up on the little things, so that makes it all the more surprising that she didn’t seem to pick up on this much earlier than she had. Sure, she knew that Connie and Steven cared for each other quite a bit. But, she had, until now, failed to see exactly what was growing between the two.

It had been another simple training session, both seeming properly enthusiastic about it. They always seemed so eager to learn what Pearl had to teach. That was a fact that only made the lithe gem prouder. Students so eager for knowledge were always the most fulfilling to teach. She smiles as she spins on her heel, facing the two young teens. “Alright, Steven, Connie. We’re going to start with some simple sparring to warm up. Then, we’ll be getting into the lesson. I do hope you’re both ready, as today’s lesson will be a good amount more difficult than previous lessons.”

Connie looks particularly excited, giving a determined nod. “Ready, Ma’am!”

Steven is equally excited, giving a mock salute and taking a serious expression. “Yeah!”

They both glance toward each other, only able to keep up the serious expressions for a few moments before snorting. A few giggles pass through them and Pearl shakes her head just a little bit. Honestly, these two sometimes didn’t take things as seriously as they should. Especially when one is in presence of the other. “We’re very serious, yes?”

“Super serious.” Steven replies, his voice dropping to a fake gravely tone. Pearl ends up with a small smile on her face despite herself, especially when his genuine smile comes in immediately after. Connie comes in soon after, drawing her sword swiftly and efficiently. She has a curious expression on her face as she does so.

Turning her head toward Pearl, she raises her eyebrow. “So… who are we sparring with? Holo-Pearls?”

“I was thinking something a bit more real.” Pearl replies with a hum, gesturing between the two.

“You want us to fight each other?” Steven says, looking a little less excited about that prospect. “But… But, that’s...”

“Extremely beneficial.” Pearl interrupts, giving Steven a calm expression as she walks closer. She places a hand on each of their shoulders, clearing her throat. “Especially if fusion is going to be deeply ingrained into your potential battle tactics. Nobody will know your own weaknesses like your fusion partner. And, be able to exploit them. The holes in your offense that you don’t seem to see.”

“C… Couldn’t you just tell us?”

“Steven, that would be counter-productive. To simply tell you is not helping. In order to change it, you must feel it yourself. I could ramble on all day about how you keep your legs too close together when holding your shield up… But, until you realize a little for yourself how you must change it, in order for it to be more successful, words will do little to help really explain it.”

He still looks unsure, looking over to Connie with a small frown. She rubs her arm a little bit, then flashes him a smile. “I’ll go easy on you.”

The boy blinks slowly, his cheeks getting the smallest amount of pink to them before he laughs. “That’s okay. I think I can handle it. Can you?” He says with a small smile that only makes Connie’s more prominent.

“Definitely. Bring it on, Mr. Universe.”

They giggle again, though it’s softer this time, and each draw their weapon of choice. This time, they look to be alright with this prospect. Laughing it off to show they’re both alright seemed to have taken care of the worries of hurting. Trust in each other. They share another warm smile before looking to their teacher expectantly.

It’s only in that moment that Pearl sees the obvious. The surprise that shouldn’t be a surprise to her. They had just… flirted. With each other. While true that it could potentially be written off as playful banter between sparring partners, the inherent warmth behind the words couldn’t be ignored. And, it really made Pearl open her eyes.

These two were growing up. And, their burgeoning relationship with them.

Sure, now it was just sweet and more than a little cute. But, she can almost see it as it progresses. The devotion and care they’d come to have for each other. She can see the timeline in front of her, this little moment opening up so many tiny doors to other moments that seemed to pass over her head. Stevonnie in particular. Rose had fused with good friends more than once. But, Stevonnie was a different breed of fusion altogether.

They were made from love of a different kind.

It explained a lot.

Even if the young teens were only just on the cusp of such an affection as love in that sense, it was still there. In their words, in their actions, in their fusion… There.

Pearl didn’t know what to think or say at the moment, though is taken from her thoughts when Steven inquires with a soft ‘Pearl?’.

She jumps a little, looking quickly between the two. They both have traces of concern on their faces, likely from the rather stern expression she takes when thinking particularly hard about something. “Oh! Hm? Did you say something?”

Connie lets her sword drop a little. “We asked if you wanted us to start… You, um… seemed kind of…”

Oh, no, they were worrying about her. That wouldn’t do.

Pearl shakes her head, hands brushing off the light worrying by her two charges. “Oh, no, silly me! I was simply wondering if I remembered to put the laundry in the drier. But, since I now believe that I did, you two are more than free to start. I will be watching, but try and pretend I am not there. Do your best. After this, we will start the lesson.” She says, clapping her hands lightly together.

The two watch her for a moment more before nodding and facing each other. Connie gives a bow to Steven, back bent straight in a proper posture for showing respect to one’s opponent. Steven’s is less correct in it’s posture, but his smile gives the intentions off more than the movement. Pearl watches carefully as they start, Connie beginning strong by charging at Steven with a loud cry.

Steven immediately throws up his shield, the sword cracking the middle loudly. They both look at each other from this position, another smile and nod coming from each of them before Steven pushes forward and knocks her off.

Pearl watches silently, though not only looking out for errors in battle this time. Though Steven had had initially been hesitant to spar with his best friend, Connie seemed to have gotten him around to it. Now, the two were seeming to have fun with it. Not really the point of the exercise, but it was nice seeing them flinging banter (and puns, in Steven’s case) back and forth at each other.

Enjoying each other’s presence.

It reminds her of all the ways love can be a good, healthy thing. Innocent and sweet. Genuine. Pure.

She slips over to the stadium stands and takes a seat, continuing to eye them quietly. The sounds of their sparring ring out in the airy arena, bouncing of the few walls left standing. She finds a smile curling her lips as she rests her chin on her interlocked hands. She was… happy Steven had someone looking out for him. That made him happy. This was a realization, definitely, but not a bad one. Nor a shocking one.

In fact, it made her understand them a little better. Who could find fault with that?

She rises to her feet again slowly when she sees Connie catch Steven off-guard, sliding under his legs instead of leaping like the first time, holding her sword toward his back. He makes a very dramatic dying sound, falling to his knees and clasping his heart before plopping onto the ground. “Et tu, Connie…?”

She snorts in laughter, dropping her sword on the ground and offering her hand to help him up.

Pearl watches the way both of them blush a little as he reaches out for it, the taller girl helping him to his feet easily. The gem sighs with a smile, getting their attention be clapping loudly. “Excellent work, Connie! Quite innovative! Steven, we need to work on your shield positioning a bit, but other than that, a spectacular performance from you both!”

Steven and Connie both beam, Pearl continuing with a elaborate gesture of her hands. “Now, let’s move onto the lesson...”

Chapter Text

Not much really got past Garnet. With both her future vision and skill at quietly reading people combined, she could figure things out pretty easily. She had long known of the potential for Connie and Steven. When she first met Connie, she sensed a close relationship would form. That the oddities of Steven’s life would not scare her away and the social awkwardness of Connie would not deter Steven from being her friend. She was pleased by that; pleased that Steven would have someone closer to his own age to talk to.

It wasn’t as if living with them had hurt him in any way, but there were some things one could only appreciate with those more similar to oneself.

Connie was that.

The girl who helped his human side. The one the gems didn’t fully understand.

As they had been together, she began to see more. Growth. From friendship to something more. To love. It made her smile when the vision overtook her. Her dual parts were equally ecstatic, love being the most important thing to them both. Garnet, herself, who was made entirely from the feeling, couldn’t have been more happy.

Amethyst had looked up at her with a slightly confused expression. Seeing Garnet suddenly start smiling widely out of nowhere was odd to see for the normally stoic gem.

“What up, G? Something funny?”

“Nothing,” She’d said. “Just happy.”

Her vision hadn’t shown her when or how. Just the feeling. The moment. The feeling of trust growing stronger, of love and appreciation becoming deeper. A bond too tight to be shattered. She’d kept the vision close to her, wanting to let it grow naturally. Telling the other gems to early would only disrupt. So, she waited and watched the days go by, proud as she watched them train and live.

She hadn’t known the moment would be so bittersweet.

She’d charged for ledge as she’d seen Stevonnie backing toward it, tears in their eyes and soft, frightened mumbles of things that weren’t real. She could feel Pearl right next to her, using all the strength in her lithe legs to try and make it in time. Neither could, the fusion falling from the edge with a shocked look on their face.

“Stevonnie!” Pearl screamed as they disappeared into the clouds below, panic stricken all through her voice. “Garnet! We have to…! We can’t…! We need to do something!”

Garnet stood at the edge, trembling a touch before shaking her head. “They’re going to be alright, Pearl. They can do this.”

“B-But-”

“Pearl.” Her accented voice said firmly, cutting through the air and silencing the panicked gem. She slowly takes off her visor, all three eyes gently closing. She’s silent a few moments before they open again. “They’ll be landing on the ground, shortly. Together.”

“Where?”

“I’m not sure. Somewhere down in the meadows.” Garnet says, looking back at Pearl slowly. Her fellow gem is watching her closely. She’s obviously and understandably afraid, having watched her prized pupils tumble off the arena. “I’ll find them. Don’t worry about it.”

“A-Are you sure? Do you need any help?”

“No.” She says quietly, turning back around to start toward the warp pad with long strides. “I’ll... have them back before dinner.”’


 

The warp pad brings her down into the meadows, all light greens and sparkly dew. She would take the time to appreciate this place, but she had a mission to accomplish. The newfound vision she had just received had been similar to the one she received mere weeks ago. But, with a sadder feeling clinging to it. It was sad and happy, grateful and sorrowful… regrets and loss and comfort all swirling into a confusing mass of emotion.

She knew a worried Pearl wouldn’t make these things better. She wouldn’t mean to, but she would make these emotions even more confusing and halted with her slightly overprotective nature.

She makes no noise as she walks through the wet grass and clovers, silently watching from behind her visor for signs of movement. She doesn’t have to search long, finding them just inside a clearing. Stevonnie is on their knees, sniffling quietly. She slowly steps behind a nearby structure, deftly resisting her urge to console them, and watches in silence.

“I didn’t know it was so hard for you.” Stevonnie says softly, their voice echoing with two voices. They sniffle again, wiping their face with the side of their hand. The relief of landing had passed, Connie’s words allowing them to form Stevonnie for just long enough to be safe. But, the temporary sealing of emotions had burst, breaking again into tears. “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry… You shouldn’t have had to see all that.”

The fusion’s voice is shaking, a hand covering their mouth as the sobs threaten to overtake them. Garnet expects to see a more forceful separation. But, instead, Stevonnie glows softly. One being gently returns to two. Steven is sitting on the ground, eyes awash with anguished tears. His head is on Connie’s shoulder, the girl’s face one of soft concern. Her hand slowly drifts up to run gently through his hair.

He hugs her tightly, choking back another quiet sob.

“It’s okay.” Garnet can hear her murmur. Her voice is soft and full of kindness. “It’s okay, Steven...”

“How is it okay?” He asks, sniffling loudly once more. “I let them...”

“You didn’t let them do anything.” Connie says quietly, gently tilting his head up to meet her eyes. “Steven, you tried to help them. It isn’t your fault they pushed away. They just… there was nothing you could do.”

His sobs quiet, much to Garnet’s relief. Her heart was twisting violently to hear him like this. All the things he blamed himself for…

He doesn’t say anything more, both of them falling silent. The mist seems to grow thicker, coating the marsh in somber grey. Connie speaks up first, out of them both. “You know how I said you have to face it? To move on from it?”

Steven looks back at her, red, puffy eyes questioning.

She wraps her arms around him gently, mirroring his tight hug. “That doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone. I’m here, too. Whenever you need me. I might not… know everything about the situation, but… you can tell me. And, I’ll listen. And… And, I’ll try to help. However I can.”

She offers him a small smile. “I’m your rock.”

He looks down, sniffling quietly again. “I thought you were the strawberry.” He says, his tone a mix of happy and lingering with bits of sadness. There’s also a good amount of gratefulness, Connie having seen what he saw and even felt what he felt for the moments they were together. It must have felt liberating.

He looks back up, finally showing a wobbly smile. She laughs gently in response, gently dipping down to place her forehead against his. They close their eyes, sharing a quiet laugh as Steven starts to glow. With another gentle flash of light, Stevonnie has formed again. They stand to their feet, looking shaken… but somehow stronger.

Garnet finds herself smiling a little as she leans against her cover. She can feel the emotion she felt from her vision even stronger than before. Love and trust. Growing stronger every day. Sharing sadness and happiness in equal quantities, helping through the good and the bad. She feels tears prickling her eyes, slipping her visor off to wipe at them. She doesn’t step out immediately, not wanting to ruin the moment. She watches as Stevonnie looks up into the cloudy sky.

“Thank you.” The fusion says softly, watching the butterflies drift away.

Chapter Text

Amethyst had found out about the relationship later than the other two, mostly having been too distracted with her own issues to notice. But, nowadays she was feeling much better about herself. Less bogged down with all the self-conscious garbage that had weighed her down for so long. It felt pretty good. Freeing.

That’s why she finds herself laying on the top of the beach house, looking up at the sky and enjoying watching the way the clouds lazily drifted over the sky. She chuckles, flattening herself on the roof just as lazily. “Me too, ya’ll. Me too.”

Her eyes close, thinking about taking a nap. That sun felt pretty good, after all…

However, her plans for that are dashed when she hears the sound of someone coming up the steps to the front door. Couldn’t be Steven, already. He just left to go pick up his order at the Big Donut. ‘Real quick!‘, he had said. Curious, she rolls her body over the side of the roof, hanging her head over the edge. She’s not really surprised when she sees Connie standing at the door, hand raised to knock at the door. She raises her eyebrow when she catches something vaguely colorful in her other hand, but can’t get a good enough view from her position.

She decides to be straightforward with the fact she’s here. “He ain’t here, homegirl.” She says in a voice loud enough that Connie can hear her, presuming that’s who she’s here for.

She wonders if she did it too loudly, because the girl jumps a good foot in the air with a loud squeak. The hand with the vaguely colorful item in it immediately goes behind her back. She looks up at Amethyst with a surprised, nervous smile. “H-Hi, Amethyst! He is? Oh, I’ll just… check in some other time, then!”

She starts to very stiffly try and walk away, but Amethyst speaks again. “Psh. He’ll be back, soon, though. You could just wait here, if you wanna.”

She purses her plump lips in slight consideration. “Waaaait, couldn’t you just call him to let him know you were here? That’s what ya usually do. And, I know cus he gets super excited.”

Connie blushes at that, looking away and fiddling with her free hand. It’s not doing anything to stem the curiosity about what’s behind her back. But, before she can add that question to the growing list of them, Connie’s speaking again.

“My, um… mom took my phone...” Connie says with a groan, leaning back against the railing on the porch. “So, I have to tell him in person, now, and I don’t know how long she’s going to have it and I-”

“Whoa, dude. That’s messed up. Why’d she take it?”

“Apparently, I’ve been… ‘spending too much time on it, recently’.” She replies with both air quotes and a voice that Amethyst presumes is her mother. “So, she took it. And, now, I don’t know what I’m going to do-”

“Hey, you know he won’t mind.”

“Yeah, I know… I just feel kind of bad I let it happen.”

“I know the feeling.” Amethyst replies, rolling onto her back and letting her hair dangle off the roof with her head. “She’ll probably let ya have it back soon. You’re a good kid.”

“I hope so!” She says with a little bit more enthusiasm, making Amethyst smile in return. Though, then her thoughts creep up to what’s behind Connie’s back. She’s still standing a little rigidly. She can’t help but wonder if the mystery item is the reason for it. Has to be, right?

“So, what’s that thing behind your back?” She asks, pointing at where she’d last seen it. This makes Connie blush a little more, a small cough being covered by her free hand. That just makes her more curious.

“Well, whatever it is, it’s got you all red and stuff~”

“What, really?” The girl says, patting her hand against her cheeks. When she feels that they’re pretty hot with her fluster, she sighs in defeat. Amethyst is about to say ‘whatever, dude’ and just forget about it, since it seems to be such a weird thing for her, but Connie takes out her other hand before she can say anything. She produces a deep red flower with speckles of yellow in the center, connected to a small pot with rich dirt at the roots.

Amethyst blinks a few times in surprise, rolling back on her belly.

“It’s a, erm… flower. It’s got nothing to do with the phone thing! I just… saw it and thought of him. Because it’s… red and yellow.” She swallows thickly. “Like his... shirt. Ugh, it's probably really stupid.”

Amethyst doesn’t realize she’s been staring until Connie looks away again, clearly becoming more and more uncomfortable with this situation the longer it goes on. She was just… surprised to see this. Wasn’t flowers what people gave each other when they… liked them? She finds a smile slowly blooming on her face and she rolls off the roof, landing on her feet in front of Connie.

“Nah, that’s not stupid! That’s awesome, C!” Amethyst says, coming up to give the girl a firm pat on the back. She actually can’t control how much she’s smiling, now, and it’s taking all of her effort not to ruffle Connie’s hair or hug her. That probably wouldn’t help. But, she was being so sweet! Like… sickly sweet! “He’s totally gonna dig that. And, probably give you, like, the biggest hug ever.”

Connie looks down at the flower in her hand, a small, unsure smile coming to her face as she looks back at Amethyst. “You think so?”

“I know so~” The gem laughs, pointing a finger-gun at the human girl. That makes Connie’s smile a little more sure, which Amethyst is pleased to see. She’s glad she could get rid of at least some of the worries the girl had. Mostly because Amethyst knew Steven was going to like it and probably not stop talking about it for a few days. And, his face would light up in that way it always did when he was talking about her.

Man, they were really growing up, weren’t they?

She tilts her head a little bit, smiling wider as she hears the soft patting of sandals on the sand. “Buuuut, I think you’ll find out when ya ask him yourself. I’m outtie!” She calls out, hopping off the railing to the porch and spinning off to the sounds of Connie sputtering ‘Wait, what?!’. She doesn’t go too far, looping back around the house and up onto the roof again.

Sneaking a peak, she sees Connie present the flower to Steven. He takes it with wide, sparkly eyes, mouth falling open in amazement. Then, he gently sets the box of doughnuts and the small, potted flower down on the flat part of the railing… immediately giving her a big hug as soon as his hands are free. “That’s so sweet!”

Amethyst couldn’t keep the smile off her face, now, if she wanted to.

Heh. Cuties.