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Dancing on Tiptoes

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Sheena found the Crystal gems... interesting, to say the least. Fascinating and wonderful, to say at best.

When Pearl told Sheena that she was something else—that being alien from another world, no, galaxy—Sheena's skepticism kept up walls of suspicion and doubt. Years of broken hearts and crushed dreams left supernatural and sci-fi novels abandoned in trash bins. Nevermind any idea that they existed. Despite her girlfriend's sincerity, Sheena wanted to remain a realist.

Then she met with Pearl on their third date, the One That Changed Everything. Walking in the forest outside of Ocean City, as per Sheena's need to escape people for the day, the two had stopped upon hearing a disturbing sound. A monster with gnarly teeth and no visible eyes, nothing that Sheena had ever seen before, had began scouring through the forest not too far away.

Against the roars of the mysterious, feral creature, Pearl had pulled a weapon from within the depths of the gem atop her forehead and lunged into action, taking care of the threat with ease. Agile, graceful, elegant ease. And she did not hesitate, not even for a second.

It. Was. Beautiful.

The doubt vanished as quickly as the monster did after being defeated by her alien girlfriend. It was gone as she watched Pearl swing her weapon, twirl it in the air, and stab it like it was nothing.

And as if a light switch was flipped, Sheena found herself returning to her teen and college years, when her love of fantasy novels and those cute women warriors and monsters were at its peak. Questions were asked, thrown out in flurries she could not hold back, and only some were answered, which drove her mad but never drove her away.

Sheena had stayed. For Pearl. Had grabbed her hands after Pearl put the monster's gem away. Asked if Pearl wanted to stay over her house for the night. Pearl had smiled, cheeks a soft blue, and accepted the offer.

At first, Sheena worried if her infatuation was just that, if she only fell for Pearl because of who—or rather what—she was, if Sheena only loved the fact that she was otherworldly, weird, interesting.

Then she learned more and more.

It was the small things, in the beginning. Two weeks after she and Pearl started dated, just five days after Pearl revealed her origins (not that Sheena was counting), Sheena met Steven's pet Lion. And not just a cat with a funny and cutesie name, either, but rather an actual bright pink lion that sauntered into the house like he owned the place. He drifted in and out of the house very similar to a stray cat she met in her college years.

When their eyes met, the lion had startled at her presence, but regained his composure. Turning his nose up at her, he had swiftly walked outside and lay across the porch.

"Basically a giant, pink cat," Sheena had teased, mostly to herself, but she had grinned down at Steven.

Steven had chuckled. "You should see him try to fit in cardboard boxes."

Now that Sheena needed to see.

It didn't take long until Sheena learned about... poofing , as they called it. If there was a sort of "scientific" name, Sheena didn't care either way.

Sheena had arrived at the temple unannounced, simply to surprise her Pearl. Instead, she received a surprise upon hearing that Pearl was hurt while fighting a corrupted gem somewhere in the mountains far from Delmarva. And saw Pearl's gem in Garnet's hands.

She had held back the panic biting away at her, and it thankfully lessened when the others properly explained it to her. After learning about their regenerative powers, she had ended up sitting by Pearl's lonesome gem, which was kept secure on a pillow as given by Steven.

Steven had told her that Pearl took a while to return, but Sheena still sat there for hours, listening to the television from Steven's room faded in the background.

Sometimes, Sheena would hold Pearl's gem if only for a few moments. The round gem was cool in her grasp, strangely small and delicate. When her hands started shaking, Sheena had to put it down.

When Pearl had regenerated, Sheena had looked her over, checking for wounds that were not there, but Pearl was already on a spiel about how regeneration worked, how it kept them alive, and...

But Sheena had stopped listening. Not just because she already learned all of this, but because she had pulled Pearl into a tight hug, surprising herself by how much relief she felt. How good she felt being able to hold her girlfriend in her arms again.

Then there was fusion, or How She Met Ruby and Sapphire.

They were just names at first, brought up in the middle of a conversation by Steven as he lay back against the sand. Whatever he said made Garnet chuckle and mess with his hair. Sheena looked over at them, eyebrows quirked.

As the family sat at the beach, Sheena glanced down at Pearl, who leaned against her. "So who are Ruby and Sapphire?"

Pearl's gaze met Garnet's, and the latter nodded curtly. Pearl looked back at Sheena, a sort of twinkle in her eye. "They're part of the Crystal Gems, and well... that's another thing we've never really explained to you."

"Oh, man, what is it this time?" Sheena asked half-teasingly, but also half-honestly. It had only been a week since Pearl poofed (again, not counting or anything!), and Sheena still felt on edge at the idea of watching that happen again.

"You see, it's called fusion. It's a little complica—" Pearl began, bringing her hands together, a sure sign Sheena understood as Pearl falling into "teacher-mode," as she called it.

Sheena, however, cut her off. "Like in HydraSphereX?"

None of the gems reacted, at most looking at her with quizzical expressions. She sighed. "Nevermind. So you guys... fuse together and become another being?"

"That's the basics of it, yes!" Pearl perked up, ecstatic that Sheena could follow.

Sheena smiled, lightly blushing.

"It's actually a little more than just 'becoming another being... but I think Garnet wants to demonstrate that for you." Pearl, more formal again, gestured her hand to her right. "To give you a proper understanding."

"Garnet?"

Sheena looked at Garnet, who stood before the pair now. Garnet knelt down in front of Sheena, holding out her hands, and she waited. Sheena caught on quick and took Garnet's thin wrists into her large hands. At the center of both of Garnet's palms were gemstones. Two of them, glistening in the sunlight.

A wide grin met Garnet's face, and light shrouded over her body. She slipped from Sheena's hold. Only her two gems stood out among the glow. Then the light split into two, and where Garnet once stood, two other, smaller beings were in front of Sheena, who was now holding one of their hands each.

"Hello there, Sheena," said the blue one with her bangs covering her eyes.

"Nice to meet ya... officially," the red one said, sporting the wide grin that heavily reflected Garnet's.

Sheena pulled her hands away from the two gems, jumping back at inch. "Whoa!" she exclaimed, hurriedly looking back at Pearl, who still sat by her side, unfazed. "Where did Garnet go?"

Pearl clasped her hands around Sheena's arm, squeezing it. "Garnet is a fusion, Sheena."

"Oh... ahh..." Sheena muttered slowly, her shock minimizing enough for her to bring the pieces together. Her body relaxed, and her eyes grazed over the two new gems. They each had one gem on their palms. One right, one left. "So... you're... you two are Garnet?"

"Yes," said the blue one, who Sheena guessed was Sapphire.

"All the time?"

"Yup. With only a few exceptions." Ruby threw her arm around Sapphire's shoulder. Sapphire giggled in her grasp.

"Why?" Sheena asked, baffled. If they could separate, why wouldn't they?

Ruby and Sapphire turned to one another, just staring, before they pulled each other in for a kiss. They smiled into their kiss, which was just flowing with pure joy and love . Their hand gems lit up, glinting in the sun's glare. The light spread throughout their bodies, and Sheena heard them giggling. They blended together in the mass of brilliant, shining energy.

The light vanished, and in their place, Garnet gazed down at Sheena, hands at her hips. Her smile was wide and warm, and she adjusted her shades.

"Because they love each other."

Sheena blinked, mouth falling open slightly. Garnet posed in front of her, with Pearl bringing her hands atop Sheena's shoulder.

Catching herself, Sheena looked over at Pearl.

"Sheena?" Pearl asked, eyebrows raised.

Sheena blinked, returning to reality. She gave Pearl a smile. "Crazy," she finally said, breathless. "It's just... crazy, you know?"

"That's not a bad thing, is it?"

Sheena couldn't turn away from Pearl's smile. "Not at all."